THE SONIC SCOOP – Episode 2: The Art of the “WHOOSH!”: Sound Effects in Video and Film
In this installment of Sonic Scoop, we are going to focus on the wacky world of sound effects and how they play a significant role in shaping the soundscape of a film or video.
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Continuing our experiment from the last episode, turn on a video or a film and try to count all of the “woosh”s, “bangs”s and “beep”s underneath the music and the dialogue. If you give up after a few minutes I wouldn’t hold it against you. Whether it be a gust of wind blowing on a beach, the crack of a revolver from a distance or the text chime of a cell phone. All of these little sounds come together in a subtle but effective manner, helping to build a soundscape that the viewer can get lost in.
But sound effects don’t always happen in the moment on camera. In fact, that very rarely happens! Most of the sound effects you hear in a given moment on screen are put in after the fact and aren’t really there. This occurs in the post-production process to add heightened emotion and engagement. It’s done so in a meaningful way and in key moments. They make up for where the sound effect recorded in camera, if there even was one, falls short. But the process of finding that perfect apple bite or closing door can sometimes take hours to find the right fit… It’s definitely a process but good quality sound is always worth the time. And creating custom sounds like foley artists do can be, well, an “interesting” experience (but in a good way!).
Gary Hecker is a seasoned Foley artist who has done work on films like Robin Hood, Fast & Furious and Star Wars.
A foley artist in the video production and film production world is someone who essentially creates weird sounds with an odd variety of things to mimic a sound occurring on screen. Think back to when you were a kid and you would use an aluminum bin to make thunder sounds or cup your hands around you mouth to recreate the cheer of a crowd. These artists get payed to do things like this, but on a professional level. When they do it, they can sometimes look really silly. But the end results are what make up most of the harrowing and impactful sound effects you experience in everything from a Saturday morning cartoon to a Hollywood feature motion picture.
A foley artists is just one example. Often times with video projects, Galileo will source sound effects from our large in-house catalog or use internet libraries to find the right fit. And we have also created our own sounds in our Albany video production studio (though we won’t make weird noises into microphones if we don’t have to…).
Either way, these tiny “clacks” and “bangs” come together like a symphony. Creating immersive sounds that work in tandem with the music and the dialogue to drive and motivate our senses when watching a video or a movie.