Below is a video of the scene used for this audio-visual analysis. First, I watched the video without sound in order to complete a visual analysis. Next, I played the video and listened without looking, in order to complete an audio analysis. Below the video is a breakdown of the shots, followed by a full audio visual analysis.
This shot breakdown was done using the masking method.
A. Relaxing and Reading
1. LS of young teen looking male sitting up against a tree, chewing on a piece of hay in the woods as he reads. Shot trucks or arcs from right to left. Everything is lush green, the forest floor is carpeted by soft looking vegetation. The setting looks very serene, peaceful, and relaxing. He becomes alert to something, turns his head to inspect further, and then closes his book and gets up.
2. MCU Dollying into a CU of teen’s face. He looks as if he recognizes what he hears and seems excited about it, and runs off.
Sound: The music contains a snippet of a playful piccolo sounding instrument, and then becomes very light and delicate consisting of only legato, calming strings that swell and grown in volume through the first scene. The backgrounds are lively and peaceful, containing sounds of birds chirping far and near, as well as insects. They are loud at first but drop in volume as a voice is heard. Life (as in nature) sounds abundant here. A voice humming and singing cheerfully is heard off in a distance and gets louder as if it’s getting closer. It sounds male and older. A rattling becomes present and also sounds as if it is getting closer. It sounds wooden but is faint. Teen’s movements sound light and delicate on the what sounds like crisp vegetation.
B. The Horse Drawn Carriage
3. ECU of wheel that cranes up and right into a LS. An open, wooden horse drawn carriage is shown moving away from the camera, being pulled by a brown horse. A person with long hair and ragged looking clothes and wizard looking hat is behind the reins, with his back turned to the camera. He travels down the grass road that has tracks of what looks to be from carriages taking the same path frequently. There is wooded land on either side of the “road”. The carriage has a couple of things on it, one hanging, looking as if to be some sort of cloth, or scarf. In the distance, the evening sun streams through the trees creating a peaceful, pleasant, godly looking background.
4. FS The 180 degree axis is flipped, and the carriage is now moving towards us with the still faceless character. Its a man with white hair, but his hat is tilted down over his face, and a shadow is cast by the overhanging arch of trees that the carriage passes under, in a way that makes him look almost like a silhouette (or at least dark enough for us to not be able to make him out). In the background a bunch of bugs float through the air, looking sort of mystical and peaceful. The brown horse with a white snout trots on, pulling the carriage.
5.Panning MS of teen running quickly through the forest and down a hill is seen.
Sound: A rattling, wooden, turning sound is heard accompanied by what sounds like horse foot steps. These together sound like a horse drawn carriage. Its loud and VERY present but reduces in volume, sounding as if it is moving away from us. It then begins to increase in volume as if it is now moving toward us. The backgrounds of peaceful birds and continue on, but are less present, because of a drop in volume. The voice of a Humming singing man is still heard, and its volume changes sound directly related to that of the carriage, becoming clear that the man is in the carriage. A metallic jingling is heard, that sounds like a chain rattling and occurs when the carriage sound is prevalent. The music continues on with legato, mellow strings, and the playful, bouncy piccolo flute is heard again while we hear running through grass and what sounds like a leap down an incline is heard when the carriage sounds more distant.
6. Crane to LS of Carriage moving towards us (180 degree axis crossed again). Teen runs into left side of view by low hanging vines or tree branches by a ledge above the road, stops, and folds his arms.
7. CU of teen speaking.
8. LS (same as previous) of carriage coming to a stop, wizard man’s face still hidden by the brim of his hat.
9. CU Wizard looking man speaking and turning his head, revealing his face for the first time. He has a white, long beard, and stern blue eyes. He seems angry.
10. CU teen’s face and looks frightened.
11. CU Wizard continues speaking in an aggressive looking manner.
12. CU Teen looks more calm now, and as if he’s smirking.
13. CU Wizard seems as if he’s fighting off a smile.
14. CU Teen fighting a smile that is breaking through
15. CU wizard smile breaks through and we see him laugh.
16. CU Teen’s smile breaks through and he joins in laughter. Cuts between the several more times and then the teen begins to leap from the ledge.
17. LS Teen jumps from ledge into carriage and onto Wizard, and hugs him. He’s clearly happy to see the man and looks childlike and innocent in this action.
18-19. CU’s of Wizard and Teen while embracing. The two look like they’re filled with joy and laughter as they Embrace. Teen leans back turning the CU into an OS of the Wizard man, and he speaks.
Sound: The running through grass stops, and we hear the teen accuse the Wizard of being late. At this point the playful music stops, and there is no longer score present. The Carriage sound comes to a stop and the Wizard claims that a wizard is never late or early and always arrives precisely when he means to in a defensive and angry manner and reveals the teens name, Frodo. There is an awkward silence after this comment and the backgrounds are more present. The birds in specific, and one in particular, are used as pacing, and are brought up in volume at this point. After a little while, they both begin laughing and the music starts back up with a bouncy, mellow bass line, and then the strings section joins in along with the light, folky piccolo that carries the peaceful, relaxing melody. Frodo reveals the wizards name (Gandalf) and exclaims how nice it is to see him. We hear Gandalf say “woah” and then hear a crinkle of leaves or grass, then a wooden bang, and rattle of chains, which tells us that Frodo must have stepped or leaped into the carriage. Then we hear a pat on the shoulder, telling us they’ve embraced, and a lot of laughter from the two of them (clearly they’re filled with joy). Gandalf says “you didn’t think I’d miss your uncle Bilbo’s birthday?”
D. Arriving at the Shire
20. LS crane Carriage continues along the road, passing a stone wall that seems to be a fence of some sort, as Frodo and Gandalf converse.
21. Two Shot of Frodo and Gandalf in the carriage as they ride. 180 degree axis is crossed. Gandalf hold his pipe with his mouth and smokes it as he speaks to Frodo, blowing smoke while speaking.
22. LS Carriage passing along side of a field of yellow flowers. 4 women tend to the field with their tools as they pass, and one turns and shield her eyes from the late afternoon sun to investigate. In the far background, is a fenced area full of horses wagging their tail happily, and a windmill spinning away slowly and steadily. The location definitely looks like the countryside.
Sound: The two continue to speak about Bilbo and his party, and how “magnificent” and big it’s going to be. Their speech starts off quiet and raises in volume as they get closer. The same backgrounds continue on, only they’re lower in the mix. The melody in the music carried by the piccolo continues on into the scene and ends right when Frodo starts to speak of the party and the conversation gets more in depth. The bass continues alone playing pizzicato, bouncy notes up to the end of this scene when the conversation ends. At this time the characters are laughing and a melodic staccato violin come in carrying the melody. Through out the scene the sounds of the carriage and chains and wheels continue on but are lower in volume like the backgrounds (and the music that has been thinned out). This causes the dialogue to stand out in the mix. One exception, though, occurs right before the end of the scene, when the birds and insects in the scene bump up higher, and the last bit of dialogue is brought down in volume along with the carriage and chain sounds, sounding as if the characters are now further away.
E. Entering the Village
23. Pedestal LS crane shot of a river with a dock that has a man sitting, relaxing on it, that looks as if he may be snacking on some food. Theres a small folky, house looking structure with a watermill attached to it, right on the river, and a stone, double arch bridge continues the road that Frodo and Gandalf are traveling, from one side to the other, over the river.
24. Crane trucking and panning LS with the carriage passing by quickly as the two reach the bridge and cross into the village. Many of the hobbit villages are now shown going about their daily business. Children play by the edge of the river, chasing chickens, a woman shakes out a blanket, a man can be seen carrying a burlap looking sack over his shoulder, a bull is led through the village by a man, several more can be seen out on a distant grassy hill. Simple folk houses can be seen with hay-looking roofs and stone chimneys. Urban countryside village.
25. MS of a villager. He seems.. Odd.. Primitive in a way, uneducated and doofy looking. He shakes his hand and looks around in a confused manner.
26. LS trucking crane of the carriage round a bright green, grassy hillside that has been transformed into a house. It has a chimney coming out of the top with smoke escaping, a doorway cut into the side of the hill, a clothesline on the hill where clothes are hung to be dried, and a makeshift wooden fence out front. The carriage continues on down the road past this beautiful, relaxed, folk looking scene. 180 degree axis is crossed since we last saw the carriage.
27. Crane dolly FS becoming a LS as we see the carriage from behind and it moves away from us, deeper into the countryside village. many more houses built into the hills are revealed as the camera pedestals upward. There are what look like sheep grazing, and villagers in the grassy fields and hills. Everything is green and lush and covered in vegetation. All the villagers look like they are engaging in some type of farm work. The people of the village throughout the scene are all small, in comparison to the animals, and are also wearing folk looking, old style clothes that you would expect and old farmer to have worn way back when.
Sound: A voice over becomes the main focus now and a voice narrates as the scene continues, speaking of the Shire (village) and what life is like there. The background change from location to location, including sounds of children playing, villagers conversing, sheep making noise, birds chirping, insect making noise, faint breeze, water flowing and cascading down the small water mill. All of them are peaceful, cheerful, and welcoming. The sounds of the carriage rise and fall in volume throughout the scene, which tells us that the carriage continues to move through the village. The music is more present than the backgrounds and effects for most of the scene, and the staccato, folk-like, melodic tune is carried by a solo violin at first, and then an emotion filled, breezy, high pitched string orchestra carries the melody. All the sound in this section, though, falls inferior to the voiceover in terms of volume and focus.
F. Bilbo Finish Writing
28. FS Bilbo sitting at his desk writing with his back turned to us. He has white hair. There’s a fire lit in his fireplace, and the interior of his home is covered in books and paper. The furnishings are antique and the walls or doorways look curved and dome-like.
29. CU of Bilbo looking up, staring ahead and speaking. He looks depressed in this shot. He’s old and wrinkled, and his hair is white and curly.
Sound: The house is silent itself, but the outside birds leak through to the interior. The voice over from the last scene carries into this one, but becomes diegetic dialogue of the newly introduced character, Bilbo. He says that there will always be a Baggins at the Shire, but he sounds very sentimental by how he says it. The music begins to resolve at this point.
G. Frodo’s Concerns
30. CU of Frodo still in the carriage, looking worried as he speaks to Gandalf.
31. CU of Gandalf still in the carriage, looking a little guilty and curious as if he is thinking “is he catching on to me”.
32. MS of Frodo. Continues speaking and looks worried.
33. CU Gandalf looks like he is trying to figure something out in his head, thinking deeply.
Sound: Frodo begins to tell Gandalf that Bilbo has been odd lately, locking himself in in his study. The music changes to the minor key. It’s swelling, waves of light strings give an eerie, creeping feeling. The once “bouncing along happily” feeling from the music transforms into a slow “tiptoeing cautiously” fleeing. The backgrounds at this begin to be drop in volume as Frodo speaks. When Frodo begins to explain, they are almost totally gone, by how low they have been mixed. The carriage sounds continue to be present, but they are lower in the mix compared to the dialogue and music.
H. Franticly Searching
34. CU of map of different locations in mountains and all over.
35. FS of Bilbo looking at the mao and flipping through, searching for something.
36. ECU of Bilbo setting the folded mao down and patting it on a wooden surface.
37. LS of bilbo standing and realizing he has lost something. He looks very jumpy and nervous about what he has lost. He begins to nervously check his pants pockets, turns them inside out, pauses, and looks like he is thinking and looking around, and tucks his pockets back right-side-in.
38. ECU of Bilbo frantically searching under cushion, lifting it and slapping it back down in a rush. Tilts down to chair legs and we see the chair slide quickly forward and back, looking like Bilbo has checked somewhere else by it.
39. FS of Bilbo picking up a jacket and checking it nervously.
40. MS of Bilbo picking up what looks like a bag and turning it over.
41. Jump Cut to CU of bag being shaken to see if anything is inside (the house is a mess with stuff everywhere).
42. MS of Bilbo frantically picking up another jacket and checking it.
43. Jump Cut to MCU of Bilbo angrily throwing the jacket on the floor.
44. Jump Cut to CU of Bilbo feeling his stomach area and realizing something is in his vest pocket, and quickly, in a panicky manner, reaching inside.
45. FS of Biblo pulling hand out of pocket with a look of relief.
46. MCU of hand holding whatever was in his pocket and hand tightening around it. Camera tilts, following the hand as he raises it to his mouth and presses his hand to his lips and looks extremely relieved.
Sound: Frodo’s voice from the last scene continue into this one, delivering his last line as a non diegetic voice over. You can hear the sounds of paper being handled and then something placed down and patted. Someone lets out a sigh of relaxation. There’s a brief moment of silence when birds that have been treated with an EQ, particularly a low pass filter, can be heard. The man now breathes in quickly gasping in way that seems like he is frightened. We now hear a rubbing or rustling of clothes and breathing that gets heavier and heavier. Bilbo then says, “where has it gone?” We then begin to hear sounds of cloth being rustled aggressively, something heavier being dropped or thrown, something being moved, all done in a frantic or aggressive sounding manner. The heavy breathing continue and even a sort of animal like snarl or growl seems to come from Bilbo. We then hear slight rustling or rubbing of cloth and and heavy breathing that both come to a stop. The music during this scene is growing and growing in volume and tempo. It gets more aggressive and dramatic as it goes, and the once legato strings become more staccato and play with a much more harsh attack. The key is minor and the music has an aggressive and evil feel to it. This specific piece comes to an abrupt end with the breathing and rustling of clothes. An evil, gurgling sounding sigh of relief is heard and the legato, evil, suspicious music comes in; slow in tempo, with swelling waves of legato strings, and a pizzicato bass lines that gives it a sneaky feel.
I. Guilty, Defensive Gandalf
47. CU of Frodo Staring into space, looking worrisome while still riding in the carriage with Gandalf.
48. MCU of Gandalf looking at Frodo cautiously as if he is guilty and hiding something.
49. CU of Frodo turning his eyes and looking at Gandalf and then turning, as if he’s realizing something is going on with Gandalf.
50. MCU of Gandalf realizing Frodo is catching on. He keeps smoking his pipe and tries to act as if nothing is going. He avoids eye contact and keeps looking everywhere but Frodo’s direction. Seems over dramatized as if he’s joking with Frodo.
51. MCU of Frodo laughing and speaking.
52. MCU of Gandalf reacting as if he’s confused and doesn’t know what Frodo is talking about.
53-57. MCU’s of Frodo and Gandalf, back and forth of Frodo talking and Gandalf reacting and still playing dumb.
58. Two Shot of Frodo and Gandalf. Gandalf is speaking and Frodo is laughing as they drive along in the carriage. Frodo says something that makes Gandalf react with surprise. He looks around.
59. MCU of village hobbit who looks back at Gandalf with disgust and anger.
Sound: The carriage sound is back, along with the birds and insects (very low in volume). The evil, suspicious, minor music from the last scene continues back into this scene as Frodo finish his sentence, saying “he’s up to something”. Gandalf lets out a “hmm” and the music cross fades back into the major scale, now sounding light and peaceful and uplifting again. There’s silence between the two characters for a moment and only the carriage and chains can be heard as well as the birds and insects in the background. You can then here a couple of awkward mouth sounds, and then an exhale from Gandalf, and then another “hmm”. The music at this point contains pizzicato bass or cello notes. and continues on for a while. Frodo says “alright then, keep your secrets” Gandalf says “what?” in a confused way, and then Frodo accuses Gandalf of having something to do with it. Gandalf mumbles something that can’t be made out, but in a confused and defensive manner. Frodo explains how his family used to be well thought of and never did anything unexpected until Gandalf come along. Here the music changes and becomes bouncy and folk like with a accordion present, and pizzicato of some strings and sustained staccato notes of other strings. The birds in the background are more noticeable now and have been brought up gradually since the change in music at the beginning of the scene from minor to major. Gandalf agrees with the first bit, but then defends himself and declares that if Frodo is referring the situation with the dragon, he barely involved. He pauses makes a sound with his mouth, sniffles, then says he simply gave Bilbo a nudge out the door. Frodo goes on to say “whatever you did you’ve been officially labeled a disturber of the piece”. A playful staccato, playful melody is carried by the piccolo in the music now and continues. Gandalf says “Oh really,” in a curious way. a tap or a stick of some sort can be heard with movement.
J. Disturber of the Peace
60. LS trucking, starting with little girl running and other little kids meeting up with her and running towards Gandalf and Frodo who are still in the carriage in the distance of the scene. The kids are running through the rolling hills and more of the green, countryside landscape can be seen. The hillside houses have smoke coming from their chimneys.
61. A,B, and C. Various shots of children running down the road, excitedly towards the carriage. They pass the man who gave Gandalf a dirty look, and a woman who based on her age and her being at his house, you assume to be his wife.
62. CU of Gandalf not responding to the kids and keeping a straight but fidgety face.
63. POV of the view from the carriage, looking at the disappointed children who have given up on chasing the carriage.
64. MCU of Frodo smirking and looking at Gandalf as if he knows something is going on but is confused as to why he didn’t acknowledge the kids.
65. CU of Gandalf not responding to Frodo and keeping a straight but fidgety face, while looking straight ahead.
66. FS of the kids from behind and the carriage in the distance. The carriage all of a sudden shoots off a round of fireworks and the kids jump for joy.
67. Group shot of the kids jumping up and down and cheering.
68. MCU of Frodo smiling and looking at Gandalf.
69. CU of Gandalf laughing happily.
70. MS of Angry woman who walks forward. Camera dollies with her and reveals her husband laughing. She gives him a dirty look. The husband realizes shes mad and stops laughing with a act of fear in his eyes, and then fakes a angry face to appease his wife.
Sound: Then the music becomes full with string ensemble playing the melody in what seems to be unison, with the exception of a few that carry sustained notes creating major chords. The music is uplifting and serene. Children yelling Gandalf’s name in the distance can be heard, along with light footsteps of running through what sounds like grass. The voices of the children are all of a sudden a lot closer. You can barely make out the word “fireworks”. The children seem extremely excited and happy but their voice get gradually depressed and the running stops and then sound upset and then there is silence. The music has two repetitive bounces of a single note that occurs three times and then there is silence. and only the sounds of the carriage moving along can be heard. All of a sudden an array of fireworks can be heard exploding along with some sort of tingling, or wind chime type sound. The playful and cheerful, uplifting music comes begins. The kids scream with joy and Gandalf laughs. A new unfamiliar voice is heard laughing but a deep surprised breath in brings it to an end. The music stops on the same two bouncy notes. The brief period of no music at which time the birds in the background are brought up in volume. Then the playful music cuts back in.
K. Glad Your Back
71. Two shot of Gandalf and Frodo in the carriage. Frodo stands up and speaks.
72. CU of Gandalf. He turns and looks at Frodo while still laughing.
73. MCU of Frodo smiling and speaking to Gandalf.
74. Two shot of Frodo jumping off the carriage and walking off while waving bye to Gandalf; he waves back.
75. CU of Gandalf speaking and smoking his pipe.
Sound: The carriage is heard again along with the background birds and insect low in volume again. The children cheering has disappeared. Everything is more serene again. Frodo tells Gandalf that he is glad he’s back and Gandalf says he is too but says it a lot louder. A light thud and movement on grass is heard, like footsteps moving away. The main melody with the played by the piccolo returns and the music is much more thin and mellow. Gandalf repeats “So am I,” quietly to himself.
L. Arrived at Destination
76. LS Panning crane of the green, beautiful, grass covered rolling hills, with trees and village hobbits and poles with decorations shown in the background, and a tent that has been set up, along with a huge banner. A lady village is seen walking, and a horse is seen being led by another villager, down the road in the distance. Gandalf continues up this road in his horse drawn carriage as the shot zooms in on a home built into a hill where Gandalf begins to come to a stop.
77. CU of Gandalf arriving and stopping at the house. His face lights up with a smile and he looks relieved and happy.
Sound: The carriage and horse now seem very distant. The backgrounds are around the same volume as the carriage now, more noticeable than earlier. The music is the main focus now. A large reverberation is added to the chains of the horse. the carriage seems to gradually be getting closer. The horses footsteps are more obvious and on concrete now. Once th carriage sounds close and directly in front of us, Gandalf lets out a “wow” and the horse sound and carriage sounds come to a gradual stop. The melody carried by the piccolo also comes to a gradual resolution of one sustained note that fades out , as the once bouncy strings become quieter, slower in tempo, and more mellow and gradually sustained and fading.
Locating the Dominants
There is no specific dominant element throughout the clip, but the two most frequently dominant elements are the dialogue, and music; though each element holds a major role at least once. The tonality of the sound itself however is consistent. Throughout the clip, the timbre of the sounds are very warm. The chirps of birds, the tone of the instruments, the effects of the carriage and horse footsteps, and the dialogue all seem to be full in the mid range, adding a warmth to the overall mix.
The dialogue, being one of the two main driving forces in the clip, serves as a way of setting up the story by filling in background information (and seems as if it’s mostly ADR). It is in most cases diegetic, but is used successfully to smooth cuts to different locations by becoming non-diegetic voice over during cuts, and vice versa. In the outdoor sections, the reverberation added to the dialogue is minimal, and unnoticeable in most cases, but indoors it is more noticeable, and adds to the dramatic scenes that occur within this space.
The other most dominant aspect of the clip is the music. Throughout the scene it empathetically supports the emotion, and dialogue, even in a manner specific to the words spoken. The music is also used to describe the location, and a leitmotif is also established in the earlier part of the clip, though this wouldn’t have been recognized yet, without having seen the entirety of the film or at least more of it. The music makes several changes to account for mood, and also supports action in some cases, becoming programmatic in the sense that it mimics action such as running, heard in the playful piccolo line (using programmatic very loosely by definition). In addition, the lack of music in some sections adds to comedic tensity of events.
Though not dominant in many cases, the backgrounds play a big role in the clip. They create temporal animation and add a lively activeness to the scenes, and help describe the specific locations within shots, as well as the overall location (tying them all into one village by a repeated continuity in sound such as the chirping birds). A temporal ellipse occurs between locations, and is expressed through the use of hard cuts in backgrounds, which ensure temporal continuity. The lack of backgrounds, or gradual removal of them in certain parts add to the buildup of tension, and draw the audience into situations by “tunnel hearing” (tunnel vision of sound) the audience’s perspective.
Sound effects (including foley in this section) are most often passively diegetic, but they become more actively diegetic in some instances. Backgrounded hard effects, such as one louder bird actively chirping, are used to add to comedic situations. Aggressive effects are also used to add to the intensity of dramatic scenes. In some cases, louder effects serve as points of synchronization. In others, they smooth cuts and keep temporal continuity.
Locating Points of Synchronization
Throughout the Lord of the Rings film clip, there are numerous sync points, but some are more obvious than others. It is hard to identify a couple, but they still serve an important purpose, and therefore must be identified. In total, the five minute clip contains six points of synchronization.
The first point of synchronization occurs in the beginning when Frodo and Gandalf converse for the first time, and Frodo accuses Gandalf of being late. Theres a moment of tension at this moment and the mix is thinned out. A sync point, or a few arguably, relieves this tension. In terms of explicit sync between picture and sound, the sync point for this event would be identified as the sound of Frodo jumping from the hill onto the cart. It could be argued that the music and the laughter of both Frodo and Gandalf act as a sync point as well, since they are the two simultaneous auditory events that occur and resolve the tension.
A second sync point of lesser importance occurs later on in the clip during temporal ellipses between locations (or montage). This event, being the horse and carriage passing, may loosely be identified as a sync point as an anchor, or a loudness emphasis sync point, because it occurs toward the beginning of the short montage, and is mixed significantly louder than the other aspects of sound, which draws the viewers attention to it. The montage begins a little before this point, so it’s arguable, but the abruptness of the mix level, and its occurrence toward the beginning of a temporal ellipse seems too coincidental.
During the scene when Bilbo frantically searches for his lost possession, several sync points occur with actions, and quick cuts of picture. They include Bilbo throwing a bag on the ground, grabbing a jacket hard, and throwing the jacket on the ground in anger. These minor sync points, along with the fast cuts and jump cuts of the film, add to the intense, franticness of the situation. During this scene, the music increases in tempo and volume, acting as a vectorization, but when the music finally cuts, there is no major sound, which creates a false point of synchronization, leaving the audience at the edge of their seats.
Further along in the clip, we enter a short temporal ellipse again during which another sync point as an anchor occurs, being the voices of the children running by in pursuit of Gandalf. This one was not as obvious, but it does mark the entrance to this very brief temporal ellipse. Further along in this same scene, another point of synchronization occurs. The children want Gandalf to shoot off fireworks, but he passes and ignores them. At this point the music stops, backgrounds disappear, and all that is heard is the upset voices of the children. Then, out from his cart shoots a bunch of fireworks that explode loudly, acting as a point of synchronization, bringing back the cheering voices of the children and the bouncy, uplifting music.
A few moments after this event, the last and funniest of the sync points occur. A close by villager hobbit laughs at the situation, and his wife looks at him with anger. The music stops awkwardly, and as he changes his facial expression, the music cuts back in, acting as a sync point. Although less explicit, its execution in complementing the comedic situation is effective.
In order to fully dissect the clip, a comparison of visual and auditory material must be completed. In this section, comparisons will be made in order to analyze the accomplishments within the narrative, and a more technical comparison (referring to camera shots and use of perspective) will be completed following.
In the clip, the audio and visuals don’t always accompany each other, for instance, in sequence A, we hear a humming, offscreen diegetic “back-voice”. Image shows a young hobbit ready a book in a lush forest, and his attention is grabbed by the sound of this voice, which leads to the revealing of it’s source in the next shot.
In most cases, sound does a brilliant job of accompanying visuals in the clip. The backgrounds, for instance in all of the sections, excluding the brief interior scenes, create an audio-vision of a beautiful, lively, countryside environment by use of territory sounds, such as active birds, farm animals, and later on in sequences D and E, include voices of villages conversing, water flowing through the village, children playing and laughing, and animals grazing.
The shots through a lot of the clip, are dynamic, establishing, and scenic, which are narratively successful in setting up the location, and developing an understanding of what the location, and people of the location are like. The visuals stress the idea that the people of this village are at one with nature by depicting their houses as being built into the hills, and displaying locals farming, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors. Everything here is lush green, wide open, and is empathetically supported by audio with the extension of the sound space, which creates and open, free, and peacefully welcoming space, which is countered by warmth in tonality, providing a sense of coziness.
Music plays a major role narratively in this clip, from beginning to end. It empathetically supports the visual action, and content in dialogue. During situations of awkwardness, seen in sections C and J, music pauses allowing time to pass slower, effects to support the awkwardness, and reactions to be focused on by the viewer. The instrumentation supports the location by use of folk-like or country-esque instruments such as the accordion, piccolo flute, and a playful fiddle line. In sections when Frodo runs, a playful piccolo is heard. When Gandalf and Frodo converse, a bouncy, strolling bass line is heard, and as intimacy in dialogue and visuals occurs (laughing and close ups of happiness), a more swelling, sustained string line is heard accompanied by a sentimental tremolo piccolo or violin line.
In sections when scenic establishing wide shots occur, during the mini montage montage of cuts between locations, some textual, non diegetic speech occurs, and supports the visuals of the village. The speech becomes diegetic when the shot reveals the source of this dialog, and the voiceover becomes diegetic character speech. In the next section, an overall mood change takes place, and sound and image work together brilliantly to create a narratively affective scene.
Frodo begins to speak of his concerns with Bilbo, our newly established character. Shots become tight, backgrounds become quieter, and music changes the the minor key, and contain swelling tremolo notes that create an eerie, sneaky feeling. In sequence H, visuals reveal that Bilbo has lost something, which is supported by the dialogue which suggest the same. The mood becomes frantic along with Bilbo as he searches for whatever it is he has lost, which is never shown, leaving use uneasy due to the unknown.
The shots in this section consist of quick cuts that become shorter through the scene, mostly including close ups. Sound Effects in the section are harsh and abrupt points of synchronization that add to the frustration of Bilbo’s movements. The music now sounds evil and the tempo increases as we experience a crescendo in volume and an arpeggiation that increases in pitch and speed, all coming to an abrupt ending with the finding of Bilbo’s lost object; when at this point the music becomes eerie again. The transition back to more the major key occurs through a fade, and peaceful, playfulness is restored. Frodo begins accusing Gandalf of being the cause of the suspicious activities and some emanation speech of Gandalf mumbling in a surprised but guilty, sarcastic way occurs.
Sound effects, such as one specific chirping bird, are used throughout the clip to add to the awkwardness of scenes. For example, when Frodo and Gandalf pretend to be mad at each other in sequence C, and when a village woman is mad at her husband’s reaction in section J, a close chirping of a bird can be heard which resembles, in a way, the classic “cricket chirp” of awkward silence.
Overall, sound and image tend to accompany each other in an empathetic manner throughout the clip in order to successfully achieve the narrative goal, and relay sufficient information about the location of the village to the viewer.
The comparison of film and sound through the clip will be kept broad, because of the in depth comparison done in the narrative analysis; few more elements must be pointed out. As mentioned previously, sound and image empathetically support one another throughout the clip, but in a more technical sense, speaking to the shots and dynamism of the shots, this is not always the case.
There are some instances when perspective is altered throughout the clip. In example, Gandalf is heard humming clearly at the beginning of the clip, when in reality, he is off camera and distant, which is noticeable when one listens to the sound of the horse and carriage (which is completely unheard at first) and later notices the distance between the two locations when Gandalf is shown. Another such scenario occurs when the visuals cut from a medium shot of both Gandalf and Frodo conversing, to two scenic shots of the characters continuing along the road in the carriage. The viewer experiences a slight reduction in volume and high pass filter on the dialogue, but the characters sound much closer than they appear; in the second following shot, the characters aren’t even seen while they’re heard.
Speaking in terms of the dynamics of the scenic wide shots, the visuals and sound often do not match each other. While shots tilt up, pan over, truck, and dolly, sound remains static. This can be seen in two sections, one being the tilt up from the small river that flows on the outskirts of the village, and later reveals the rolling green hills. Another example is the shot that follows directly after this, which pans and reveals the village that is heard the entire time, and for the most part is sonically centered.
Generally speaking, image and sound sometimes match, in other times do not, but each scenario plays out effectively and works to accomplish the narrative goals.
The Audiovisual Canvas
The overall audiovisual canvas consists of a few broad elements. In all, sound and image remain empathetic and directly support one another through changes. Certain elements stand out and can be used to described the overall structure.
Moments of awkward long holds in characters’ reactions are supported and filled in with a hard effect that adds to the awkwardness and creates a comedic moment, while music is nonexistent. Dynamic visuals throughout the clip are smoothed out by static backgrounds. In addition, the overall peacefulness, and country-side look of the visuals is supported by the backgrounds, and instrumentation of the score. While perspective is wide visually, sound perspectives or angles remains closer in terms of dialogue to ensure clear interpretation of information, while allowing for better description of the location through visuals.
During the drastic change in mood in the middle of the clip, handheld shots occur along with quick cuts, and are supported by the minor key in music that contains a build up created by an increase in tempo, pitch, and aggressiveness of performance by instrumentalists, along with the addition of an aggressive drum.
The relaying of information and backstory is very important in this clip. The wide visuals, lively backgrounds, and bouncy music develops the overall tone of the location, and allow for voiceover to occur, to fill in the back story.
The audiovisual canvas is artistically developed by the use of sound and visuals together, successfully creating a serenity during the majority of the clip, and a dark, eerie and then aggressive section during our point of hectic conflict. Together the two elements (sound and image) support each other in communicating necessary information seamlessly, and successfully.
This audio-visual analysis was done for educational purposes, and is in no way intended for profit. I do not claim ownership of any content other than the shot list and analysis specifically. This audio-visual analysis was completed according to the guidelines contained in the book Audio Vision: Sound on Screen by author Michel Chion.