Gravity's score


Firefly taught us that the only sound in space is soothing acoustic guitar.

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Well yea there’s no air in space, but you can’t live without air so you wouldn’t be able to scream anyway. Any people in space would be in a space ship, which does have air and other things that can transmit sound. Or you could be in a space suit, but they typically have a radio communications system to contact people on the ship and possibly people on the ground.

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My brother’s working with the crew making a movie (starring George Lopez) about underwater robots, which is a little like space. He’s having to make changes to the robot designs to make them look good on film. The real thing is very boring to watch, unless you’re heavily invested in the team doing the work.

So I give them some slack.

And Kubrick taught us that the only sound in space is the Blue Danube.

/Man! Look at the leg room on that Pan-Am space plane!

This reminds me that one of several chages the Saturday morning cartoon version of Star Trek made vs the original was that they redid the theme music and replaced the “swoosh” as the ship went past with a cymbal roll. I agree, that’s now a bit of a cliche, and I like the idea that he was asked to find sounds other than the obvious percussion… one of the best spurs to artistic solutions is to apply constraints.

(In space nobody can hear you swoosh, but they can hear the theme music. Apparently there’s a Muzak channel on the communicators, but it seems to play better-than-average stuff.)

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Oh… so that’s why no one can hear you scream in space. And all this time I’d assumed it was because of the ovipositor shoved rudely down your throat.

Our neighborhood theater is doing a series of 35mm silent films accompanied by a (very talented!) live pianist. It’s amazing how well music fills in the missing “dimension”.

(Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, by the way. It was awesome.)

As a nerdy kid, I used to get upset about all of the scientific flaws in movies and on T.V. Then as I grew up and learned just a little about filmmaking, I realized the difference between deliberate, artistic unrealism and poor writing.

The former gets a pass, while the latter gets laughter or derision, depending on it’s entertainment value.

Must… not… mention… grammatical… flaw… in… post… nnnnggh

I noticed Whedon ditched that tack so they could have more exciting-sounding action sequences in that Serenity movie, but I like to think those sounds were really just supposed to be Wash making “whoosh” noises as he watched other spaceships fly by.

Where was this scientifically inaccurate “sound”?

I just came back from the movie. In most of the scenes with sound, the character was in physical contact with a vehicle. Since humans can “hear” just fine through bone conduction (eg bone conduction speakers), this is not unrealistic.

For example, when the micro-meteor shower came by, the ISS would be positively “screaming” to anyone in physical contact because of the bombardment from the shower of particles too small to see – the “micro” in micro-meteorites.

I can certainly nit pick – Sandra Bullock had surprisingly strong hands and was improbably good with a fire extinguisher –

… but folks, it’s a movie. By Hollywood standards, the physics gets an A+. Indeed, the fateful scene between Sandra Bullock and George Clooney would make a fine for a freshman physics final.

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