Mark Vernon is a sound artist and composer who has been working with visual effects artist Loday Gonpo to create Sound Test 5.1, a short sound film commissioned by Pixel Palace for Tyneside Cinema’s auditoria. Since the end of February the film has been playing before main features unannounced, inserted guerrilla style after the trailers.
A playful riff on the standard speaker tests that cinema projectionists use to check that the surround sound is operating correctly, the film explores the mechanics of the 5.1 surround sound system and how it operates within the cinema auditorium. The rich electronic soundtrack in the style of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop is combined with Loday’s beautiful motion graphics that are designed to reflect on the screen how the sound moves through the space.
By drawing attention to speaker locations within the auditorium and exposing how the surround sound image is created, Sound Test 5.1 reveals a little of the magic that goes into the cinema experience.