Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sound filmmaking!

When you're watching a film, believe *less* than half of what you hear when Foley artist Jamie "Foley Rambo" Hunsdale creates the sounds you hear on the screen. He works with the sound studio we prefer, Bad Animals.

Foley, (pronounced foal'-ee> is the art/craft of creating sounds that actors and objects appear to make onscreen. In some cases no sound at all is actually recorded when we're shooting, in other cases the microphone catching the scene can't pick up the specific noise needed to make the scene feel real.

Waving an old unraveled cassette tape in front of a high quality microphone, Jamie creates the sound of leaves blowing in the wind.

Scrunching the same cassette tape all bunched up sounds just like footsteps - walking on grass.

Jamie says he has to act out each movement just as the actor does in the film so the sound fits the scene and character perfectly.

Turning the pages of a book, handling a basketball - every boom, buzz, cackle, clack, clang, clank, clap, clatter, crash, jangle and rattle needs to be heard to resonate with the audience - pulling you into the scene.

Something as simple as a character tossing keys into a dish becomes a small production: metals used for keys have to sound like they are just the right size, the right number, the right weight and slide as they would from the distance thrown.

Jamie follows the action on the screen to bring scenes alive with Foley effects - I focus on sound quality for my films because if you can't hear the dialogue and all the action, you don't have the opportunity to feel like you're in the scene. I strive to make you feel like you're right there with the characters.

"Body slams" are tough. How high from the ground is the person on screen when she or he falls? Inside or outside? Alive -- or not so alive?

Here's a progression of Jamie taking off for a landing, and plopping on the sofa cushion to make the sound of a hard body landing!


Something we take for granted - the sound of clothes.

We need to hear someone putting on or removing a jacket, folding his arms in a judge's garment, pulling a coat closely around her neck, cloth rubbing against cloth as someone walks, pants ripping, the sound of a character brushing off lint from slacks or a shirt.

Jamie uses every type of material to enhance your audio experience of a film, helping you imagine you're hearing what you may or may not be seeing. In some cases, we use sound for action off-screen - you'll believe something is happening that you don't see because of the use of sound effects.

Jamie recently had to replicate the sound of a woman walking in sky-high heels for a film.

He understands all too well how much people suffer for fashion!

Restaurant sounds, money exchanging hands, eating, drinking, walking, dancing, just about anything you've seen a character do onscreen has been enhanced aurally by a foley artist.

Here he jumps up and down like a Hobbit to get just the right sound of an actor landing a leap.

My photo caught him just inches before he lands the leap.

What a great time we had shooting his Foley work - I took many more pictures of Jamie creating Foley sounds, but I don't want to make the blog too long and you definitely get the idea by now!

What makes a Foley artist truly superb is his or her attitude.

Well, here's Jamie after doing about a dozen body slams - ready to do a dozen more if it means getting an absolutely perfect sound fit for your film.

Like everyone at Bad Animals, he's a very sound thinking guy.

No wonder we love working with you, Ram- I mean, Jamie!

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