Instigator / Pro

Audio vs Visual Effects for Movies


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics

After 2 votes and with 2 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
Two days
Max argument characters
Voting period
Two months
Point system
Winner selection
Voting system
Contender / Con

Audio effects: music, generated sounds, voice acting, etc

Visual effects: CGI, animation, camera angle, etc

Burden of proof is shared

Pro: audio is more crucial to master in a movie than visual

Con: Visual is more crucial to master in a movie than audio

Framework: for entertainment, keeping audience engaged, establishing mood/themes, etc.

Round 1
I have literally no time but basically Audio effects allow key ideas that would evoke emotion, including music, human voice, and sound effects. The difference of sadness, happiness, and creepiness rely heavily on audio more so than visual. There is very little CGI can accomplish emotionally other than providing the scenery and backing. Silence is also part of audio effects and is crucial due to being able to help the audience focus on the scene.

Jack Pierce had a somewhat obscure but nice video demonstrating some ideas, including the same running scene's context heavily influenced by the included soundtrack (happy, dangerous, etc.). Music therefore adds versatility to an otherwise ambiguous scene where information needs to be hidden, or if audience shouldn't be allowed to see crucial details. The unanimous enjoyment of music is something that is hard to replicate across the visual spectrum, and thus Visually speaking it's hard to think of many ideas to attract people's attention in the same way. Furthermore, Music composers are very famous, including Hans Zimmer, John Williams, so on and so forth. But other than animators, editors' names are hardly as famous. The ability for any trained user to use CGI or computer effects means that visual effects are less rare and easily accomplished. The masterful music is arguably far more important as a result.
Resolution: Audio vs Visual Effects for Movies
I Argument: A chronology of movie industry crucial mastery
I.a It is prudent, to define “movies,” which Pro declined to offer.  As a matter of protocol, I accept Pro’s two definitions. I offer the third:
I.b.1 Movies:according to the OED: A motion picture, a film.[1]
I.b.1.A Therefore, the defined term, movie,is a picture [visual] in motion, or, in the vernacular of the movie’s definition, a moving picture, as opposed to the first developmental product of the photography industry, a still picture. While it can be said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” an idiom meaning that “…using graphics can convey ideas more effectively than a large number of words,”[2]  the development of movies  took that idiom to a higher level of conveyance of telling a complete story rather than just a single “scene,”[3]  defined as a single movie shot, or a number of shots, in a single location, as demonstrated by a photograph.
I.c Staying, then, within the scope of movies, and its chronology, that art form was developed first as silent movies, motion pictures without a synchronized soundtrack of either voice, music, or other audio effects.
I.d To satisfy a true mastery of either audio or visual, it was visual effects which were developed first, thus describing the movie industry,  by which it is still known today, well over 100 years since the first movie. To be perfectly descriptive, a motion picture, and not a sound recording,  was developed first. 
I.d.1 The first sound recording was demonstrated in 1860.[4]. However, the first photograph [not including the camera obscura process, which is centuries old – practiced by Leonardo da Vinci,[5]  for example] was demonstrated in 1826.[6].  By application strictly to motion pictures, silent movies preceded talkies [integrated, synchronized soundtrack].[7]
I.e Therefore, the Con argument that visual effects were and are more “crucial to master” for the movie industry is demonstrated simply by the chronology of the industry’s developed technology. It follows that the Resolution is defeated.
II Rebuttal: Pro’s R1: Audio adds versatility
II.a Pro’s R1 argument can be summed up by these three words, but I’ll offer an entire quote from Pro: “Music therefore adds versatility to an otherwise ambiguous scene where information needs to be hidden, or if audience shouldn't be allowed to see crucial details.” 
II.b I accept this statement in full, but Pro’s justifying source, a short Jack Pierce video, goes no further than describing how a variably-applied soundtrack can add versatility to the comprehension of the same scene [visual]. 
II.c However, the demonstration ignores a different crucial factor: since each scene presented has multiple soundtracks, some in which there is no dialogue, the video remains the same in which all characters present rather bland facial expressions, thus allowing the music to emote for them. We know, however, particularly in silent films [movies], the characters themselves had exaggerated emotion by facial expression [not to mention other movements] to render a recognized emotion, the which is still a critical exaggeration on stage,  if not film, today. Actors, by visual clues only, can emote, to the recognition of viewers, even without a soundtrack, and such expression is vital even for non-actors in everyday life. Example: “Nonverbal communication makes up anywhere from 65–95 percent of our communication. An audition requiring only a reaction from you brings it to 100 percent. Since we are in the communication business, it makes sense that all actors master this nonverbal language.”[8]   [bolded for emphasis].
II.d Therefore, it is apparent that video, even with no soundtrack, not only can, but is the more crucial mastery than audio in movies. The Resolution is, therefore, defeated.

Round 2
Chronology of movie industry crucial mastery
Con's argument is a big red herring, arguing that a photograph alone is a visual effect, and that the first audio recording was 14 years later, and thus the chronology infers which effect is more crucial to master. However, the real development with regards to the title is much more tight-knit, with visual effects commonly associated with CGI, compositing, and motion capture that dominate the film industry today -- the majority of which were made during the computer graphic age, far after 1980's. (

Even if we accept the VFX as an overall effect, they were only credited in the 1920's, matching the sound effects in stride, with the first sound film being in 1927. (,glass%20mattes%20for%20scene%20extensions.) With only a handful of years of differing their conception, it's impossible to say for sure that con's case is air tight.

Con's argument is also fallacious because he assumes something begun first, means that we should finish/perfect it first ("master" in the description). He has no support for this. By the contrary, I would argue that because Sound design begun *later* than Visual, even if both were equally important, audio is more pressing because it is years behind in development (if we accept Con's timeline). In order for Con's logic to work, Visuals would have to be so important, or Audio easily perfected, that the development gap means nothing as a result.

By the contrary, I would argue that computing power is easily growing exponentially, making animation and CGI much easier to accomplish. The natural development of Visual means that its ceiling comes inevitably. But visuals still only give the viewer eye candy, and knowledge of computing power would greatly diminish effects of hard work from the people. By contrary, the acknowledgement of composers and difficulty within mastering sound means that you will always be rewarded for your efforts. The audience will be more impressed if they know something is difficult and you accomplish the impossible.

Audio adds versatility
Con realizes that my sound argument is slightly flawed due to person's expressions helping out a lot, with the scenes provided being bad example of acting. However, realize that landscapes and settings cannot give expressions, and the sound is still important for establishing the theme and mood. Furthermore, the nonverbal expression only slightly reduces my argument, and doesn't help his argument much. Furthermore, some scenes may be shot at a distance and make it harder to see the character's face. Even if we say my video was cherry-picked, a scene from Force Awakened without music makes it much more immersive and real what themes are meant to be felt. ( Both the inclusion of exclusion of sound design can completely change the awkwardness level of a scene, or ability to draw attention. All my arguments still stand strong.
Resolution: Audio vs Visual Effects for Movies
III Argument: Vision: The most crucial to master human sense
III.a The “movies,” by name and definition, are primarily a visual experience, in spite of adding a synchronized audio track. To emphasize the crucial importance of vision, as opposed to hearing, the scientific application of our typical human five senses has determined that of all five senses, when all five senses are functional, vision conveys 80% of our total sensory perception,[1].  leaving merely 20% to be shared by hearing, and the other three.
III.b Another article whose focus is sensory perception stated, The brain seems to have a vision focus. The primary brain area for processing visual stimuli, the visual cortex, takes up the largest area of any individual sense. Partly because of this vast processing resource, vision is the most acute sense we have for various kinds of discrimination.”[2]
III.c Therefore, audio is not the more crucial mastery than video in the movie industry, and the Resolution is summarily defeated.
IV Defense:  My R1 Chronology of movie industry 
IV.a Pro attempted to rebut the significance of movie industry chronology, but dismissed the crucial element of the argument by dismissing the core of half of the Resolution: visual effects.  The Pro R2 rebuttal is subtle, but misleading, by shifting the goal post. Let’s review Pro’s definition of visual effects: “CGI, animation, camera angle, etc”   By manipulation, you have been hoodwinked by Pro’s entire rebuttal that ignores the trailing word. You will note, for example, in Pro’s R1 argument of the David Pierce film segments demonstrating actors in single-scenes, repeated, changing only the audio effect to define what you should be seeing. Not a single Pierce sample scene uses variation in “CGI, animation, camera angle,”  but rather, all use “etcetera,”   the balance of visual effects,  to exhibit how static the visual effects are. In these scenes, the visual effects are static repetition, even though they are movies and not still photographs. 
IV.b Pro begins his argument, “Con's argument is a big red herring, arguing that a photograph alone is a visual effect…”   Remind yourselves, please, which sense of the five majors we have, by biological origin, is being stimulated by a photograph, as well as the historic beginning of the movie industry with moving photographic images in a sequence, each iteration of which is fractions of a second in duration. Yes, it is, literally, a visual effect, entirely meeting the Resolution’s meaning, as defined by Pro. I’ve merely accepted the definition as given. It is Con who now demonstrates the definition’s truncation: he removes etcetera.Will that shift be allowed to stand? Not by this debate participant. I take Pro at his original word. It is the R2 Pro rebuttal that is the red herring.
IV.c Pro says,  “Even if we accept the VFX as an overall effect, they were only credited in the 1920's, matching the sound effects in stride, with the first sound film being in 1927.”  Even though Pro offers a source for this claim [R2, [1]],  the source, itself, declares visual effects, as Pro re-defines them, to have begun in 1895, not the 1920s. He also completely ignores mention, in his own source, of the full definition of visual effects Pro offered in Description, by French filmmaker, Georges Melies, and his watershed 1905 silent film,  La Voyage dans la Lune [A Trip to the Moon].[3]
IV.d Finally, admitting in R2 that the David Pierce effort to justify Pro’s BoP was “flawed,” he argues in R2: “However, realize that landscapes and settings cannot give expressions…”  In 5 seconds, a current TV commercial for Flonase[4]disputes this claim, and you don’t need the sound track to see the landscape expression. This is classic CGI, a part of the definition of visual effects. No, this is not a movie, but it demonstrates the effect, nonetheless, and is demonstrated, now, after more than 100 years of movies, the viable landscape-expressive argument of CGI.
IV.e The Resolution is soundly defeated.

Round 3
I see that I have slightly misinterpreted con's argument as I thought he mistaken aspect vs effect. Nevertheless, my argument still holds for the description combined with the premise. Even though the foundation of audio vs visual seems tough to argue for audio, I don't know how this connects to "mastering". Notice how I point towards the modern effects and how most recent "masterpieces" are considered to use green screen, vast CGI scenes, so on and so forth. The basic effects from 1920's are taken for granted nowadays.

If this debate was about which effects were more crucial to hold the bare minimum, Con might win. But his argument avoids the idea of "mastering", where the Visual merely adds extra eye candy, without Con able to add any information that shows it is truly necessary. By contrast, the basics of audio builds up with award-winning songs and powerful soundtracks, along with applauded sound effects that grow more complex and useful as the movie budget goes up. If we had a song with basic visuals but excellent soundtrack and mood (Ex. Twelve Angry Men or Dinner with Andre as a prime example), it's very clear that the mastery of visual effects has very little effect. On the other hand, songs with excellent visuals and only basic level of audio is rare. Even among top CGI films like Avatar or Inception, they still had to establish the theme and environment by combining sounds like wild animals. Or the all-important "BWAH" along with other sound cues (such as reverb, pitch up, etc.) from Inception that helps build the ambiguity of the ending scene. []

Anyways, sorry about short round, little time little time. But voters notice that Con's argument misses the point of the description. My point is that Audio isn't necessarily foundationally more crucial, but the ideas it grants is more important than adding more money into the CGI or using more green screen. Con is only talking about any amount of filming or the minimal amount of editing possible to create a video. Any person could film a simple video. Even simple transition effects would miss the premise of "mastering" the visual effects idea. He still hasn't linked his argument well enough to fulfill the premise.
Resolution: Audio vs Visual Effects for Movies
V Argument: Vision: The most crucial human sense to master
V.a Movies are primarily a visual experience, in spite of having added a synchronized audio track with the film at the advent of “talkies,” with  The Jazz Singer  in 1927.[1].  Otherwise, ww would call them “hearies” when sound was added to film, if audio was to be the crucial, new effect. Do we go to movies to hear them? We do not ask a date, “Do you want to go hear a movie Friday night?” To emphasize the importance of visual effect, as opposed to audio effect, the scientific application of our five basic human senses has determined that of all five senses, when all five senses are functional, vision conveys 80% of our total sensory perception.[2]
V.b Another article states, “The brain seems to have a vision focus. The primary brain area for processing visual stimuli, the visual cortex, takes up the largest area of any individual sense. Partly because of this vast processing resource, vision is the most acute sense we have for various kinds of discrimination.”[3].  
VII Rebuttal: Con’s R3 “Eye candy”
VII.a There is no doubt that with CGI, the visual effect is transformed. The background scenery need not be a constructed studio set. Actors perform in front of a green screen. Eye candy.  Pro’s Resolution does not discount eye candy.  Description mentions CGI; the eye candy is inclusive. I argue for it. Mastery of that art form is an educated mastery. We, the audience, are the benefactors of that mastery. What's the Oscar for?
VII.b Con admits on R3:  But his argument avoids the idea of "mastering", where the Visual merely adds extra eye candy, without Con able to add any information that shows it is truly necessary.”  I have used the term, mastery, and applied it throughout my rounds. I’ve merely said that audio is not as crucial as visual. After all, audio, too, has added ear candy; sound produced without the need of microphone or recording tape.
VII.c I contend that with all the candy, between visual and audio, we have a greater capacity for visual than audio impressions, and visual effects are, therefore, more crucial.
VIII Argument: Pas de Deux
VIII.a To assure the value of video mastery over an audio effect, watch this brief, 2 min. movie clip of  2001: A Space Odyssey[4]   in an early scene featuring apes, and then…[5]    Mute the audio and watch the action in silence:  Clip  
VIII.b Even though the characters are not even human [though actors in suits], we understand just seconds into the scene that two separate groups of apes encounter one another. One ape, wielding a bone/weapon, strikes an ape from the other group, followed by other apes with weapons attacking weaponless apes of the other group. No sound is necessary to understand the action; it’s brutal and effective. However, the real video achievement of the scene is the first ape hurling his weapon, the bone, into the air, twisting and turning up, and up, then down, and… cut through millennia of time to a bone-shaped space shuttle on approach to a wheeling space station.  We watch a ballet, a pas de deux,the shuttle and the station. The scene is cut short in this clip, but of what we do see, we don’t even need the music, which was the brilliantly added Blue Danubewaltz by Strauss, to sense the dance’s fluid, synchronized “steps.” The entire scenes, from the apes to the “dance,” has all the violent drama, then passion, and anticipation, of a mechanized romantic encounter. The scenes achieve their crucial video mastery in our imposed, utter silence. Such a range of emotion is expressed visually.
IX R3 Conclusion 
IX.a I’m not sure how adding money, wallet candy, if you will, is related to the Resolution; expense is completely extraneous to the Resolution, and a null argument.
IX.b  Have I now  “…linked  [my]  argument well enough to fulfill the premise?”  Pro accuses otherwise, but what else would Pro do? It is to voters to decide which argument fulfills respective BoPs.  My claim: audio is not the more crucial mastery than video in movies. The visual effect prevails, and the Resolution is summarily defeated.

Round 4
Resolution: Audio vs Visual Effects for Movies
Since Pro has no opportunity to present any rebuttal to any new argument I might present in R4, even though Pro has not forbidden it [a tactical error, I believe], not to mention that Pro has forfeited R4 [I regret], I will not offer new argument, but will only present rebuttal, defense, and conclusion.
X Defense: My [Con] R1, R2, R3 Arguments
X.a R1 saw argument that the movie industry chronology was clearly visually-oriented. The first movies were silent. We still call then “silent movies,” retaining the full impact of “movies” meaning: Moving pictures.
X.b R2 saw argument that physiologically, vision is the most crucial-to-master skill among our five human senses. We learned that, of all five human senses, humans depend largely on vision, with 80% of our sensory input coming from our eyes, alone, and, that of the entire structure of the human brain, the visual cortex, takes up the greatest quantity of brain tissue.
X.c R3 further expanded on R2’s argument, and introduced the final argument, the “pas de deux” of the 2001: A Space Odyssey    Clip  
X.c.1 Let’s look at the clip again [link above]; this time, with the audio engaged. What distinguishes the two combative ape groups? The aggressor group wields bones as weapons. Not many animals use fabricated, or as-found tools, and the few that do use them primarily as utensils; food-related. These apes display an entirely different category of tool use: a weapon.
X.c.2 The point of this review is that even with the audio track, the audio, alone will not convey the visual impact of either using tools, nor their use as weapons. Only the visual effect gives you that information. The tool use is clearly effective; the weaponless group withdraws. The audio track does not help convey this outcome. In fact, the audio track is merely ape vocalizing; not even a human language.  Further, the audio track [of the clip’s truncation] is void of music. Strauss is not heard until the scene shift to thepas de deux.
XI Defense: My R1, R2, R3 Rebuttals
XI.a R1, Pro: Audio adds versatility. This was effectively rebutted in my R1, II.
XI.b R2, Pro: Defense of my R1 Chronology. This was effectively rebutted in my R2, IV.
XI.c R3, Pro: “eye candy.” This was effectively rebutted in my 3, VII.
XI.c.1 My rebuttal against Pro highlighted that, indeed, CGI amounts to “eye candy.” However, since Pro included CGI as an element of visual effects by definition, the use of eye candy, far from a negation as Pro attempted to make it, CGI is a valid, if effect-enhancing medium that is difficult to match by any other visual effect, or, frankly, an audio effect. Not to mention that audio, as well, in our modern age, has ear candy that is not produced by microphone nor audio tape. Pro was anxious to shy away from this fact.
XII Rebuttal: Pro R4
XII.a As there was no Pro R4 by forfeit, there is no further Pro argument to rebut.
Does sound effect really have a point of view? If it really did, shouldn’t PoV be called something else? Do you see how visually oriented we really are?
Con has successfully rebutted Pro’s arguments, and has demonstrated sufficient evidence by R1, I movie industry chronology, R2, III vision physiology, R3, V vision mastery and VIII “pas de deux”to convince that the Resolution is false; that visual effects are the more critical mastery in movies. So, vote for Con, and let’s go see a movie Friday night.