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badantheugly
2006-Aug-09, 09:46 PM
Hi everyone - I'm new here. A quick question, if that's OK (I'll have more, don't worry)
Why does everyone complain that a lot of space movies show things happening in space and also have sounds of laser beams, spaceship engines, etc?
I know that sound doesn't travel through a vacuum, but so what?
Imagine that we have two charecters in spacesuits, floating around outside a spacecraft. We see them from about 100m away. They are having a conversation.
No-one would ever complain that we could hear what they are saying because we apparently have 100 metres of vacuum between us and them. No-one has EVER complained about this, it's only ever laser beams, etc that cause people to bring out the "sound doesn't travel in a vacuum" rant.
Of course, technically we should move the camera point of view to a point INSIDE of one of the characters spacesuits, where the air in the suit can convey his speech to our POV. I don't think that a closeup of his nose from about an inch away would make for fantastic cinema, though.
You don't even have to go into space to see this: it's common to have movies where you see two characters walking romantically down a beach, for instance (I don't watch a lot of movies like that, though :-) ). Even though our POV is, say, at the top of a cliff, or obviously in a helicopter, again, it seems quite reasonable for us to hear them speaking. Even though we have air all the way between us and them, there's no way we could hear them from a helicopter.
So, in the case of a spaceship moving past the camera, I can accept that our visual POV is hundreds of metres away, with nothing but vacuum, between us and them. Why can't our auditory POV be inside the ship though? There would presumably be some pretty funky engine noises in the engine room. Any bits of the ship that had just been drilled through with a laser would presumably have had some noise to contend with, no? So isn't it reasonable to show us some sounds from the POV of humans inside the ship? Most (if not all) movies are told from a human point of view, after all, it seems reasonable to include those sensory stimuli that are relevant to us.
You might as well complain that you went to a cinema and the projected movie had only visible light present in it. Everybody knows that space has cosmic rays, UV, etc, that aren't present inside the earth's atmosphere in the same quantities. Don't the filmmakers know this? Are they trying to insult our intelligence by not including hard radiation?
Sorry for length of post, it's bothered me for years, I'll calm down now.

Wolverine
2006-Aug-09, 10:09 PM
Welcome to the forum, badantheugly.

Thread moved from Bad Astronomy Stories (which is a place to discuss articles from www.badastronomy.com) to Small Media at Large (the proper home for discussions of movies, TV, radio and whatnot).

Maksutov
2006-Aug-09, 10:27 PM
IN SPACE NO ONE CAN EAT ICE CREAM!

[/URL][URL="http://img74.imageshack.us/my.php?image=kkfoscz5.jpg"]http://img74.imageshack.us/img74/5792/kkfoscz5.th.jpg (http://img235.imageshack.us/my.php?image=kkfosmo4.jpg)

Welcome to the BAUT, badantheugly. Have fun!

Gillianren
2006-Aug-10, 03:24 AM
I don't complain when we hear conversations because we could, in fact, be on the same radio frequency as the two people having it. If they're not on the radio, if they're having a conversation despite vacuum somehow, I'd complain about that, too. I also get irked if we see people in an obvious longshot but hear their conversation as if we were right there, so I guess that's that part answered, too.

But welcome, anyway.

badantheugly
2006-Aug-10, 11:20 AM
Many apologies for misposting in wrong forum. I thought that bad astronomy stories was the appropriate place to post if I wanted to discuss matters raised on www.badastronomy.com

The whole "sound in space thing" is raised here:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/superman_returns_review.html
"Yeah, well, you know, no sounds in space and all that. Silly."

here:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/spacecowboys2.html
"In the movie, we hear sounds in space. Every movie except "2001" makes this mistake. Without air, there is no way for sound to travel."

here:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/starwars_aotc_review.html
"Then there is the matter of the seismic charges. In space, as it is said, no one can hear you scream."

and, I'm sure, in a few other pages besides. (I got fed up cutting and pasting).
Anyway, many apologies.

Jason Thompson
2006-Aug-10, 12:27 PM
So, in the case of a spaceship moving past the camera, I can accept that our visual POV is hundreds of metres away, with nothing but vacuum, between us and them. Why can't our auditory POV be inside the ship though? There would presumably be some pretty funky engine noises in the engine room.

The problem is that ships going past the camera in movies make the characteristic 'whoosh' sound that you would expect from a vehicle moving closer and passing by, complete with doppler shift in frequency. There is no way you could hear anything like that from inside the ship, so the intent is clearly that the viewers' auditory viewpoint is the same as their visual one in these scenes.

Any bits of the ship that had just been drilled through with a laser would presumably have had some noise to contend with, no?

Yes, but you'd never hear both the laser and its effect. You might hear a noise from the emitter on the firing ship, and you'd hear the explosion on the target ship, but never both as you do in the films.

So isn't it reasonable to show us some sounds from the POV of humans inside the ship?

Yes, but that is not what we get.

it seems reasonable to include those sensory stimuli that are relevant to us.

That's precisely why sounds are included in space scenes. You try watching Star Wars and muting all the space battle sequences. They're not half so good.

Krel
2006-Aug-10, 12:38 PM
"In the movie, we hear sounds in space. Every movie except "2001" makes this mistake. Without air, there is no way for sound to travel."


Not true, the movie "Moon Zero Two", advertised as the first space western had no sounds in space. No stars either. The movie "Robo Jox" had no sounds durning the space scenes, even while the weapons were firing.

There may be more, but those are the only two that come to mind.

David.

badantheugly
2006-Aug-10, 02:26 PM
Jason -

I'm not trying to flog a dead horse here, you are sooooo right in everything you say. Expescially the doppler - there's no excuse for that.
I think that it's not unreasonable though to show what they do in the way of sounds, possibly even the doppler.
Example: I don't know about the rest of the world, but I live in the UK. A few years ago some scientist showed that the human ear was very poor at discriminating the direction of the origin of a sound using certain tonal frequencies. This was a big problem for the sirens of emergency vehicles, as you can imagine. We now have (some) sirens that make the traditional noise, but also add in some bursts of white noise, to enable you to locate them better (can't say I've noticed a difference).
My point is this: if, in 1990 you made a movie set in 2006 which showed a character clearly reacting to the noise of a siren, and accurately pinpointing its location, you would have been fully entitled to say "That's impossible, the physics of the human ear don't allow accurate stereoscopic location of sounds of that frequency", obviously you are not to know that technology will change to take account of this.
Or imagine making a movie in 1990 that depicted people walking down the street with no mobile phone but talking to someone miles away. Bluetooth headsets anyone?
So, it's the future, you're in a spacesuit, floating around outside a ship. You can't see very well because you're wearing a helmet with a tinted visor and there's no atmosphere to enable you to hear your buddies, or any approaching spaceships. I think it's reasonable to assume that your helmet would have a Head Up Display that would artificially augment your vision (red lasers), and a sound system that will give you extra information to make you safer.
There's a spaceship coming up behind you on your left? That's fine, you'll hear a "whooshing" noise coming up behind you on your left. It'll have a doppler component too.
Your buddies are coming up behind you carrying a big, heavy beam which would crush you like a bug. You can't see them? Not a problem - your helmet will feed in some footstep sound effects coming from behind to let you know that they're there.
So by 2100AD it might be common knowledge that if you're floating around in space in a suit then you hear spaceships go whoosh and see and hear laser beams (your suit knows that the laser beams are there because your ship computer told it, by the way, I know that spacesuits can't magically see invisible laser beams either).
Yes, I know that all of the above is a bit contrived, but surely it's no more contrived than the filmakers pretending that there are such things as spaceships which can travel accross the galaxy? You want mundane and realistic? OK, well, sadly, health and safety law will follow us into space and we will have spaceships that go whoosh, just like we currently have trucks that go beep when they are reversing, and for the same reason.

I really must calm down...

regards,

David

Gillianren
2006-Aug-10, 05:54 PM
I would think having the spacesuit give you sound effects would be a lot less useful than just having a proximity alarm.

badantheugly
2006-Aug-10, 10:01 PM
Why rely on a proximity alarm?
We have genes that have proved themselves over a few million years.
We have an auditory cortex that is capable of pinpointing a sound to a few minutes of arc. Why would you downgrade this to a proximity alarm?
You can have a total immersion auditory experience which will give you information on nearby ships, personnel, solar flares, etc and not steal any processing time from your visual cortex or your frontal cortex, both of which are important iun keeping you alive whilst on EVA. Why would you not use such a system?
I maintain that it would be quite reasonable to suppose that human experience of life in space would include doppler effects, red laser beams, etc.
(Whilst I'm still admitting that sound does not travel through a vacuum,and that everyone who has engaged with me is sooooo right. If they were any more right then they would be left.) :razz:

Paul Beardsley
2006-Aug-10, 10:05 PM
I've long worked on the assumption that the visual POV is not the same as the audio POV. This doesn't account for the whooshing, but I accept it as a cinematic technique to convey speed and direction - or at least I do when it is used well.

One of the most interesting variations of the sound-in-space issue was in Gerry Anderson's series UFO, particularly in the episode "Survival". Although we the audience can hear spacecraft roaring past, it is made clear that the characters cannot hear them. The failure of vacuum to carry sound is put to very dramatic use when one character's suit-mike fails.

badantheugly
2006-Aug-10, 10:22 PM
>>Although we the audience can hear spacecraft roaring past, it is made clear that the characters cannot hear them.

I could go with that...

Kelfazin
2006-Aug-10, 10:33 PM
If they're not on the radio, if they're having a conversation despite vacuum somehow, I'd complain about that, too.

Well they could just do what the characters in sci fi books do when they want to speak without their voices being transmitted, they can touch their spacesuit visors together. The soundwaves can travel between the suits due to contact.

I'm not arguing against what you stated because I know that's not the point you were making. Just adding a comment :)

Wolverine
2006-Aug-11, 12:31 AM
Many apologies for misposting in wrong forum. I thought that bad astronomy stories was the appropriate place to post if I wanted to discuss matters raised on www.badastronomy.com

The whole "sound in space thing" is raised here:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/superman_returns_review.html
"Yeah, well, you know, no sounds in space and all that. Silly."

here:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/spacecowboys2.html
"In the movie, we hear sounds in space. Every movie except "2001" makes this mistake. Without air, there is no way for sound to travel."

here:
http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/movies/starwars_aotc_review.html
"Then there is the matter of the seismic charges. In space, as it is said, no one can hear you scream."

and, I'm sure, in a few other pages besides. (I got fed up cutting and pasting).
Anyway, many apologies.

Not at all badantheugly -- the apology is mine.

We see many new posts in Bad Astronomy Stories which, rather than addressing something specifically from Phil's site, offer general commentary about new instances of bad astronomy in media coverage, movies, and television. In the absence of specific references to the articles you've now provided, I'd incorrectly inferred you were interested in a similar, general discussion -- and thought you might receive more participation from our sci-fi buffs in Small Media at Large.

My bad! Sorry for the confusion. :o

Moved back to Bad Astronomy Stories.

Gillianren
2006-Aug-11, 04:11 AM
Well they could just do what the characters in sci fi books do when they want to speak without their voices being transmitted, they can touch their spacesuit visors together. The soundwaves can travel between the suits due to contact.

I'm not arguing against what you stated because I know that's not the point you were making. Just adding a comment :)


Oh, yeah--it's in several of Lois McMaster Bujold's books, and I'm okay with that--because there's a medium to transmit sound, so it's not despite vacuum.

Van Rijn
2006-Aug-11, 07:31 AM
The touching helmet dodge has been around for many decades. See Heinlein's "Have Space Suit, Will Travel" for example.

On positional information: I have thought that for short range communication, especially for walking around on Mars or the moon, it might be handy to have a short range IR communication system and use a computer to put directional stereo and distance hints into the sound of a voice. So if Bob is nearby to your rear left, his voice would be loud and sound as if it came from the left. Joan, a hundred feet back to the right, would sound more distant, and apparently her voice would seem to be coming from that direction. The key advantage is that you could more easily keep track where people were, especially if there were a good number of them. You would still want other methods to track people, but it could help you keep track unconsciously.

IR would be handy because it would be line of sight and short range, allowing for relatively private local communication. Of course, you would switch over to longer range communication as needed.

Roy Batty
2006-Aug-11, 09:20 AM
Great idea! though might I suggest Bluetooth rather than IR as a bit more practical? :)

wollery
2006-Aug-11, 12:53 PM
I don't remember there being any sounds (other than stuff from the intercom) in the external scenes in 2001. I also believe that there were no sounds from the external shots in Silent Running.

As always, I may be wrong.