The point and Click of no Return: First Foley Session reflection

Well, we received the final edit files as promised from Jamey Brown our film director on the date promised! We were extremely happy that he had delivered these on the date specified which meant we could get stuck into creating the ADR and Foley for the short movie. We did face a hurdle however as our film student had dropped everything into a Protools to try to help us out but all the audio was missing! Just blank clips where the waveforms should be! So began the tedious task of finding the correct files and re-linking them. This took several hours to achieve and was extremely frustrating for us. We got there in the end and began to make a comprehensive asset list (view here), so we had a clear outline of what sounds we needed to record/create using Foley and Sound Design.

ADR Samson
Lead actor performing ADR

Our first 8hr session was used to record a bunch of ADR. This session was somewhat of a success and we probably got more quality work achieved than we had anticipated. My primary role however in the team is to create the Foley effects despite attending the ADR sessions and this is what I will focus on in this reflection. With the initial Foley session approaching I organised with the director to secure the props from the set so we could accurately match the sounds as best as possible with what was used in each scene. The asset list was not exhaustive as there are only two locations in the short film and limited props were used.

Foley day one was begun by collecting the props and ensuring we had everything we needed. Previously, we had created 3 sessions from the master session; one for ADR, one for Foley and one for Sound Design. We had agreed on using a AKG C414 large condenser mic AKG-C414-frontas we were looking for crisp clarity in the recordings. Some of the sounds were very detailed and soft such as the barefooted footsteps and the ashing of cigarettes, our experience with the 414 led us to agree it would be perfect for the task. We set up but immediately ran into a problem. The TV in the recording booth used to help the Foley actor sync sounds to the footage was making an audible hum. This meant that we could not use this asset which was a hurdle we would have to overcome. For some of the recordings, I was able to record viewing the TV in the control room but for the most part we had to just record the sounds and nudge them into place manually.

The hardest sound we had to make on day one which we didn’t anticipate was the barefooted footsteps. It is difficult to capture the authentic sound of footsteps when just stepping in one place (not actually walking), in the foley pit. I felt we should try to capture these just outside the recording booth where the floor is timber but solid and doesn’t creak. We experimented with a few methods placing the mic down low and close and in the end used the mic stand arm to create somewhat of a boom mic. Still not ideal with Shay following left to right as I walked but we got enough to use. There will be a bit of work choosing from the sounds recorded and syncing them with the footage but we have enough.

As seems to always be the case with Foley, there is a lot of experimentation and often the planned props for use do not record as they may sound when using them live. Some juggling took place with available items from everyone’s personal gear till we got what we needed. As an example, for the sound of ashing the cigarette we ended up using a styrofoam ear bud! I have always enjoyed my experiences recording Foley and seem to have a knack of being able to sync the sounds in position with the footage with minimal attempts.

A typical Foley recording studio

Eight hours of recording and we had 70% of our list completed. To go are sounds like the keyboard typing, chair rolling across the floor, plenty more footsteps (these ones with business shoes), and some clothing rustles. There are several sounds that we used in our previous sound replacement project such as keys in the door and door opening which we will find and utilise for this task. We have one more 4hr session in which we will complete all the Foley assets and I can then get to work on EQ, accurate syncing and mixing before the foley DAW session is added to the master. We are on target!



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