Thursday, December 6, 2012

Room Tones and Tuning Forks

Last weekend I had the great fortune to be a helper on the set of a friend's web series.  As screenwriters we spend most of our time buried in our rooms or coffee shops (or Facebook), dreaming up (or avoiding dreaming up) these complex worlds.  But we don't often get our hands dirty lugging the C-stands and lights and watching as the same scene gets shot again and again.

I was especially struck by a moment called "room tone".  Everyone in the room would be asked to completely still for 30 seconds, and the sound guy recorded that silence.  When you shoot a scene from different angles, the ambient sound can change, which makes the edited piece sound poppy and weird.  To combat that, you lay in underneath the room tone, and it makes the problem go away.

The thing is, normally on this set there was lots of energy and chatter and activity. To switch from that to absolute silence -- it was like discovering a whole other layer of existence all around us, a spiritually deeper, more profound place present in our midst.

We talk about Advent as a time of waiting, of hope. But maybe it's also a season of presence, a tuning fork season in which we allow ourselves to get in sync with the quietly nourishing presence of God all around us.

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