Just a warning, I'll probably be referencing the Sound of Star Wars a lot in the next little bit.

In the introduction, by Ben Burtt, he talks about how he would record the sounds of movies -- and still does -- to simply listen to the audio. Instead of rewatching movies, he plays them back on headphones and listens.

I was wondering if any of you do that -- I know I've never done it, but I may try. Also, is there any software that can make this easier than setting up mics, or using Audacity to record what I hear in real time.

  • 1
    @Dave - I recently listened through Minority Report and Conspiracy on my way to/from work. I actually like it better than listening to music. It's really informative, and a lot of fun to try and figure out what the sounds are supposed to be if you don't remember the movie all that well.
    – g.a.harry
    Mar 21, 2011 at 17:38
  • Well I never did that with movies, but when I didn't know much about sound I tried that out with video games I recorded them with fraps and just listened to the audio wondering how I could do that lol, I still have those recordings on my iPod lol they were from Far Cry 2, Bioshock, Crysis and a cut scene from Warcraft III. Mar 23, 2011 at 19:07

6 Answers 6


Mac The Ripper and MediaCoder Audio Edition. Both free.

The cool thing about this is you can then import the multi-channel streams into Pro Tools and solo individual channels. Great for referencing how designers and mixers are using the surrounds, center and LFE channels.


Used to do that all the time as a pre-teen... of course VCR's were as commonplace in those days. I'd patch the output of the TV or rented VCR into my tape deck and hit record.

Today, you can try MPEGStreamclip for non-protected DVD's and MacTheRipper or Handbrake for commercial ones... There are similar pieces of software on the windows side (Do a search for DVD Ripper)


We used to have to do it at uni for many films. It is a form of what Pierre Schaeffer termed 'reduced listening' and it is a valuable exercise as it really gets you to listen too and analyse the sounds without our usual lazy spoon fed way of hearing them whilst the visual forces a context onto us. There is a chapter on this in Michel Chion's book Audio-Vision, Sound on Screen which if you have not read I highly recommend. I would not bother using software for this purpose as eyelids are great for stopping an image alongside a blindfold or earphones with a chair turned away from the screen. These techniques all work very well :-)


There used to be a piece of software for Mac called DVDxDV. It could rip the audio track out of a disc as a separate quicktime file. It's been a long time since I've had a need for that software, so I don't know if it's still around.

I believe there's a way to do it using MPEG Streamclip (which is PC or Mac), so you may want to look into that.


As a kid, I held a tape recorder to the Television while Aliens played on HBO or some cable channel. At night, my brother and I would listen to Aliens from start to finish and it was JUST as good as watching the movie. Ha! But I haven't done anything like that since then.


Not only am I well familiar with this practice but I developed a name for these pieces... since the name "soundtrack" is already in use as a term that means only the score. By calling them kinoscapes I emphasised the practice of visual dissociation. Two decades ago I was broadcasting these on my radio arts programme Missing 15 Minutes.

As for tools, I believe that the open source HandBrake is your man.

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