Sound Test 5.1 – a film by Mark Vernon (UK, 2104)
Sound Test 5.1 is a short sound film produced in collaboration with visual effects artist, Loday Gonpo. A site-specific cinematic artwork designed especially for Tyneside Cinema’s auditoria. For several months the film was surreptitiously inserted into the cinema programme, playing, unannounced, before all main features.
The film is a playful riff on more functional speaker tests used by cinema projectionists to check that the sound system is operating correctly. Typical tests check the volume, frequency range and position of each speaker plus any synchronisation or phasing issues between them. Under the guise of a sound test the work explores the mechanics of the 5.1 surround sound system, temporarily breaking the spell of the surround-sound illusion to draw the audience’s attention to the location of the speakers within the cinema environment.
The distinctly retro sounding electronic noises used in the sound test are matched perfectly by the backward looking motion graphics that were designed to mirror the way the audio moves through the space in three dimensions.
Sound Test 5.1 was commissioned by Pixel Palace for Tyneside Cinema. It was produced in 5.1 surround sound with both stereoscopic 3-D and 2-D versions. The film featured in Tyneside Cinema’s film programme from February to April, 2014.