Film Review: Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

Midge Costin’s documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is as immersive as its subject matter. 

Sound is an integral part of the filmmaking process. This film explores the art of sound design and editing in Hollywood, from the early days to the digital age…

Sound editor Midge Costin (The Rock, Con Air) has focused on a highly important aspect of filmmaking, in her debut documentary. It is an area that is often overlooked, as the film highlights. Making Waves functions both as an introduction to the medium, and as a comprehensive look at sound design and editing in Hollywood. 

The film tells its story in a largely chronological format. The story begins at early sound accompaniment, and works its way to the digital era.  Costin concentrates on key developments and films along the way. The documentary tells the story of the development of sound design in a way that is engaging and informative.

One of Making Waves’ highlights is that is very accessible. The film provides enriching viewing for both those well versed in filmmaking and those with the most rudimentary knowledge of the subject. 

The film concentrates on three main sound designers, each of which represents a different era of filmmaking. Costin links the development of technology and ideas with Walter Murch, Ben Burtt, and Gary Rydstrom, as well as others who came before and after. 

The frequent use of film clips is a great way to illustrate the importance and impact of their work. The explanation of technology, for example the introduction of surround sound, is similarly well conveyed. 

Costin speaks to a range of contributors, from household names to lesser known veterans. In the final third of the film, it is really interesting to hear from foley artists, ADR editors, and composers. Also integral to Making Waves is the contributions of directors and producers. Costin signposts just how important Figures such as George Lucas and Barbra Streisand were in making sure sound artists had the space and budget to explore and expand their craft. The interviews with directors also serves to emphasise just how important sound design is to their work.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is vital viewing for those with a love of film, and should prove engrossing for all audiences.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2019.

Trailer Round-Up

This week’s pick of trailers include horror movie Silent House, the George Lucas-produced Red Tails and Seth MacFarlane’s Ted.


Savages combines a number of enticing elements. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film is based on Don Winslow’s best-selling crime novel. Savages boasts a stellar ensemble cast that includes Salma Hayek, John Travolta, Blake Lively and Taylor Kitsch, who has very much been on the radar in 2012. The action thriller is due for release on 28th September 2012, in the UK.

Red Tails

Red Tails is based on the true story of World War II’s first African American fighter squadron. The first thing that struck me about the publicity for the film was the hot 80s-esque type font. Produced by George Lucas, Red Tails is directed by Anthony Hemingway (who has a solid career in television, including The Wire). Red Tails is released on 6th June 2012.


Just like the trailer suggests, as a child I always wanted my teddies to come alive. Actually, as an adult, I still wish for this. Ted is a new comedy from Family Guy-creator Seth MacFarlane. Written, directed and voiced by MacFarlane, the film is sure to offer the same brand of close-to-the-bone humour. Ted, which stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, is released on 3rd August 2012.

Silent House

Silent House is a horror film that takes place in real time and in one continuous take. I recently watched Rope again, which truly mastered the long take in the late 1940s. It will be interesting to see how Silent House compares. The film is a remake of Uruguayan film La Casa Muda. Silent House, which stars Elizabeth Olsen, opens on 4th May 2012 in the UK.

Confessions of a First-Time Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace Viewer

So up until Wednesday night, I had never viewed Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace before. I had seen parts of the film on television, but none amounting to more than thirty minutes. I am sure I was not alone in my ignorance of The Phantom Menace, however it was a little odd considering how well I know the first trilogy and the fact that I saw Episodes II and III in the cinema.

As a stand alone film, The Phantom Menace is fairly average, perhaps above average compared to some of the sci-fi action blockbusters that are churned out. Nevertheless, compared to the previous instalments, it is easy to see why so many Star Wars fans were dismayed when the film was released in 1999. The dialogue is terrible, with truly clumsy exposition. The plotting of the film is clunky, perhaps hindered by setting up the next two films to fit in with the earlier trilogy. Pacing is poor, with the pod racer sequence losing momentum for the sheer length of it. Finally, Jar Jar Binks is an abomination.

The Phantom Menace does, however, continue the Star Wars franchise’s flair for the visual. Sets are great, as are the costumes and the depictions of the non-human characters. The climactic light sabre fight is quite exciting to watch, although Darth Maul is underused earlier in the film. The 3D does not have a great impact on the overall film. It is not obtrusive; most viewers will forget it is there after a while. Given this, it is questionable whether the film was worth a 3D re-release, although ardent Star Wars fans will probably flock to see it regardless.

The best thing about The Phantom Menace is that is cements how fantastic the original films were. Viewers are likely to want to revisit the series after watching this re-release; handy for Fox, given its recent Blu-Ray release and the 3D instalments which are due to follow every year.

Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 3D is out now.