Science Literacy Revisited

Today, my brother posted a video of the (possibly) overrated Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. In a press conference he is asked to explain the potential benefits of quantum computing.

Trudeau explained the differences in a very accurate and succinct manner, something we can be quite sure would have turned out differently if the same situation repeated itself further south.

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The Sound of Smaug

Lately, I've been fascinated by sound. Particularly the sound of the recorded voice. In movies, interviews, acoustic songs… the sound of a recorded voice is so intimate and raw. It's a great way to hear stories. I love stories that are told just with the voice, like the ones you hear on This American Life or the Kickstarter project, This Wild Idea. And the stories my grandpa would tell.

My curiosity was piqued after finally watching V for Vendetta about a year ago, which features the marvelous voice of Hugo Weaving as the man behind the Anonymous mask. I was intrigued by the clarity, richness, and closeness of the sound. Listen to a bit of it here.

I've since learned that most movies use a technique called ADR, or Automated Dialogue Replacement. The actor is brought into a soundproof audio studio with exceptional microphones, watch the footage of there scenes, and attempt a sort of reverse-lip-syncing. They speak their lines in sync with the video of themselves speaking on set. It usually takes many tries. Here's an awesome video of a similar recording process of voice actors for animated films.

(Of course, there's a lot that happens after the recording, such as mixing which is perhaps more important.)

Another voice that is just absolutely captivating is that of Benedict Cumberbatch. Much of the strength of Khan in the most recent Star Trek is portrayed through the dialogue and monologues of Cumberbatch. He was also the voice of the dragon, Smaug, in the second Hobbit movie released last Christmas.

I decided to play around a bit after watching The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and feeling inspired by the voice that was crafted by the actor and sound engineers. I wondered what I would sound like with a little editing. Here is my "impersonation" of the voice of Smaug.

If you want to hear the real Smaug, check out this full feature on the sound of the most recent Hobbit movie.

The Sound of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" via