Take a movie clip and create foley sounds for it, do it all in one take.

Seemed an easy enough assignment. I set out to read and listen all the recommendations about Foley artists. The more I watched, listened and read the more I frowned. I could not understand why I should do it the way it was being suggested. Advise from fellow ds106ers did not seem to help. yes, I knew I could redefine the assignment and yes I knew that making sound effects was a fun and creative activity. I loved watching foley artists at work and really appreciate the efforts they go to to get just the right effect. Why one take? I kept asking. Why not use ready made sounds and use an editor? I kept talking to my fellow participants and went to bed frowning.

I woke up with an aha! moment. I said to Rochelle on Google plus:

This morning I woke up and I got my why :o) it is like acting and improvisation of course! I could not fathom why foley artists do it the way they do it. Now I see that (I think) if they did what I suggested yesterday, get sounds and add on garage band then there would be no performance. Ahhhh ! And that transfers through to the sounds. I was wrong and thanks for helping me see it :o) I will do my clip and perform my sounds in the kitchen this morning. Yes, mad mad mad….btw  your podcast was really helpful on the how. Reflecting on the how helped me see the why.

I did as I said and here is the result. We were not asked to create the film clip with the sounds, but I could not resist:

I cannot even begin to make an exhaustive list of what I learnt.

Yes, the performance to the film makes all the difference and hence you have to do it all in one take because there is a movement flow that adds realism to the sound effects. Whilst it may be okay to adapt the assignment, if had done that I would have learnt only how to use the editor and not about the depths that exist in sound and the continuity of sound. The silence is full of sound and it matters – I am not the first to say this, but this morning I experienced it. 

May be this is the appeal of radio, working with sound, music and the ‘noisy silence’. The meanings it carries are just below awareness but are there. A pause, a hesitation, a word mispronounced say something to the listener. What a gift to have learnt to listen a little better to silence this morning. i am glad I chose to do as I was told for once. 

Some details of how the video above came to be:

  • download and use Mpeg Streamclip to select the 30 seconds for the assignment
  • save as video only with not audio
  • used this tutorial to learn that GarageBand would do movie and sound editing – I was not up for iMovie yet
  • listed all the sound in my clip
  • rehearsed in my kitchen – learnt that I had to flow with the clip as if I were in the cage with the lion
  • used my iPhone on a tripod for the recording – no extras
  • emailed me the sounds
  • opened GarageBand and imported my sound file and my video clip
  • made sure it all lined up – it as pretty seamless. The only issue was I had to copy one sound to get better flow
  • I then decided to get experimental and add music to the sounds
  • found something appropriate in Jamendo 
  • I thought I wanted to do a bumper for Colin The Dog Productions and set to it. Colin obliged with a perfectly executed bark and Quicktime recorded sounds well enough
  • I was so happy with the result I did add the cheering crowds from Garageband sounds
  • had more layers in Garageband than I have dared to have until today. I even started to have sounds come from left/right for impact. I staggered sounds for smoother transitions. I tracked sound and increased and decreased volume depending on the impact I wanted. The fun ending was the hardest to pull off. 
  • upload to YouTube
  • embed here
  • revisited the track on its own to upload to Soundcloud, made sure it was 30 seconds and tagged as requested. I really do not have a clue why, I am expecting something big to happen with all that tagging

And an assignment that I was planning to get done in five minutes has taken days, rehearsals, water all over my kitchen, and profound learning about sound and its relationship with silence. Thank you to all those who engaged in the dialogue to help me learn. My favourite sound has to be my tiger.  I do a mean tiger don’t I?