We were very lucky recently to have Kim Cascone visit UCF.
Wikipedia says it better than I ever could: Kim Cascone
Kim was a very intense and provocative speaker who there was no doubt in my mind had tremendous passion for his work and field of expertise. He seemed to be hyper observant at a level where no detail was left unscrutinised. He took us on journeys through past memories reminiscent of the tiniest details, from the intrusive tones of coins dropping on to the hard sidewalk to noise of the birds agitated and overactive. I was really impressed by his work with World Building. Never before had I thought about the complexities of the sound design behind films. Kim explained what he called scope and focus as key concepts to understanding the situation of the listener. From his explanation my interpretation of these concepts goes as follows:
Focus is a directional aim of attention from the listener on certain points in the environment. The scope is the almost like the circumference around the focus point, the bigger the scope the larger the area where the listener is able to the sounds is. I am sure that my definition is not quite right but the way I imagine this to look visually is almost like a cone protruding away from the listener with the wide end furthest away. as the scope and focus gets larger and less specific the end of the cone becomes larger allowing a lot more sounds to be heard. If the cone’s base becomes smaller then the listener can really focus in on very specific sounds.
I was very interested in the battle that seemed to be persistant in Kim’s work between the auditory field being 3D and the stereo recording which exists only in 2D. Kim used the term ‘grain’ to explain how if done well a stereo 2D signal can be amplified to a 3D experience by the user. Grain follows the listener, past experiences and sensations amplify and reconstruct the 2D signal.
A small blog entry won’t do this man justice so if you ever get the chance to see Kim talk then it is well worth going.