02: Foley Follies (Transcript)

George Drake Jr. It’s just that splat. That prrrcchhplcchk, kind of thing. I don’t know.

Craig Shank Alright so let’s try to find a sizzle; a kind of shhhhoooo…

George Drake Jr. Right.

Craig Shank …sort of sound.

George Drake Jr. …the spluuch. I’m gonna call it the spluuch.

Craig Shank …and you kind of hear the teeeeuuu. Let’s find a spluuch.

George Drake Jr. Yeah, yeah.

Craig Shank You kind of have a woooouuuooooo sound. Some sort of…

George Drake Jr. Right.

Craig Shank …pitch that’s associated with it, I think.

George Drake Jr. The only thing I can think of that fits is like a whoosh.

Craig Shank Usually that’s just a psssshhhhh

George Drake Jr. …like some sort of whoosh sound.

Craig Shank I think we’ve got a good starting point. I’m Craig Shank.

George Drake Jr. And I’m George Drake Jr.

Craig Shank This is Everything Sounds.

George Drake Jr. Now, you’d think that creating sounds would be easy. I mean, we do it every day.

Craig Shank I know. We talk, chairs squeak on the floor as we move them, we clap at concerts…but when we make sounds, it usually isn’t as deliberate or precise or for an

George Drake Jr. As you heard at the beginning, Craig and I…well, we were trying todo our best to come up with some unique sounds.

Craig Shank This is the guy who put us up to it:

Scotty Iseri My name is Scotty Iseri. I used to work in theatre as a sound and foley designer and now I have a startup that’s doing an interactive kids show.

George Drake Jr. Scotty is giving us our first lesson in foley.

Craig Shank If you’re new to foley too, here’s the dictionary definition:

Robot Voice Foley is the process of live recording of sound effects which are added to enhance the quality of audio for media and the arts. Named for Jack Foley, who pioneered sound effect production at Universal Studios in the 1930’s.

Scotty Iseri There’s a storied history of foley, you know, back from the radio days and even a little bit of live theatre. So there’s a lot of tricks that just get handed down like folklore.

George Drake Jr. And if you want to try this at home, you can.

Scotty Iseri …a pan full of cornmeal for steps walking on gravel or a box of corn starch for snow…for like, crunching snow.

Craig Shank If you’re really committed you can try this too:

Scotty Iseri Other stuff are devices that get built like a small door that you can use for, you know, opening and closing door sounds or thunder sheets, those big, big pieces of metal that you shake. And then some of it is, as the scripts have evolved throughout the years, you know, you get requests for different kinds of sounds. You’ll get, you know, sound of something squishy or sound of a tentacle oozing across the floor. And at that point, it just becomes a matter of experimentation. It becomes hanging around in toy stores and hardware stores and banging things and touching them…

George Drake Jr.  Oh, and he’s not kidding about that…

Scotty Iseri I got kicked out of a Home Depot for walking around with a hammer and whacking on things, seeing what kind of noises you can get out of ’em.

Craig Shank Even someone as knowledgeable and creative as Scotty had to start somewhere.

George Drake Jr. Now, what about creating sounds that are unnatural; that don’t have a sound associated with them? How would you go about trying to create those sounds?

Craig Shank Right. Like in Scotty’s first show…

Scotty Iseri The first foley show that I did was a show called “Kid Simple” by Jordan Harrison. That is about a machine that can hear the un-hearable. So, there’s hundreds of sound cues in it and some of them are crazy. You know, the sound of a heart murmur or the sound of an eyelash fluttering. There’s an emotional component to that. Part of it is the context of the scene you’re in. In that case, in that particular instance, the scene is…it’s a love scene. It’s about two teenagers that are falling in love and so the eyelash flutter is one of those little details that you notice about the other person as you’re falling in love with them. And so, you know, if you use your imagination you can think the sound of an eyelash flutter can sound like a twinkle of a bell as it wsht-t-t, you know. Or it could sound like the whip of the eyelash flipping, whipping through the air and I think what we ended up doing, if I remember right, was a plastic ruler that had a little hole at the end of it and like, whipping that as quickly as you could to get that kind of whrrwhrrwhrrwhrr sound. There’s a lot of onomatopoeia involved. You know, there’s not the same kind of vocabulary as there is for like music or visual stuff.

Cradio Shank If you don’t know what an onomatopoeia is; don’t worry. It’s kind of an odd word. It’s basically…

Robot Voice An onomatopoeia is the formation of a word by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent. Examples: buzz, vroom, or cock-a-doodle-doo.

George Drake Jr. And if you’re still lost, Scotty has a more recent example that may help you out a little more.

Scotty Iseri The one I’ve been using a lot lately is braaaaawm, which is: b-r-a-a-a-a-a-w-m. This is a sound that was popularized in the new Batman movies, which is, you know, whenever something…whenever they would cut to a different angle or something important would happen you would hear that braaaaawm.

Craig Shank That brings us back to the beginning.

George Drake Jr. This beginning:

Craig Shank  ….a kind of shhhhoooo…

George Drake Jr. It’s that splat. That prrrcchhplcchk…

Craig Shank …and you kind of hear the teeeeuuu.

 George Drake Jr. It’s like a whooosh.

Craig Shank Usually that’s just a psssshhhhh…

George Drake Jr. …the spluuch. I’m gonna call it the spluuch.

Craig Shank …when we were trying to make onomatopoeias for our assignment from Scotty.

George Drake Jr. Now, play teacher for a moment. You should give Craig and I an assignment. Give us three sounds that we should try to recreate, but not telling us how we need to do it.

Scotty Iseri Oh my. Umm…Three sounds. Let’s do the sound of a freshly roasted turkey that has just been removed from the oven and fully dressed and ready for Thanksgiving dropped on the floor because the dog ran in front of it, or the person carrying it.

George Drake Jr. *Laughter* Alright.

Scotty Iseri How about…the sound of a ghost passing through a wall?

George Drake Jr. Ok.

Scotty Iseri How about a hard one now?

Craig Shank Oh, those were easy?!

George Drake Jr. *Laughter*

Scotty Iseri How about one that’s a real-life one? How about the sound of a hard drive dying? That might be one that inspires some fear into some of your listeners.

Craig Shank We wanted to keep this assignment simple and complete it in a way that anyone could try it out. So, we didn’t buy anything to help us. We just used items you could normally find in a house.

George Drake Jr. So, after trying out more onomatopoeias…

George Drake Jr. hcccpchhhapcchh

Craig Shank I think we need a pit-eeeeeeeuuuuuuu.

George Drake Jr. …like a chhhh-kwwhh.

Craig Shank …or a shhhhwwwwwoo.

George Drake Jr. …shhhhhhhhhhhwee

Craig Shank …pwwocchh. Maybe a pfvvvvvoooo

George Drake Jr. ….and scavenging the house for sounds….

Craig Shank Ok, blender sound.

George Drake Jr. …attempt at a hair dryer.

Craig Shank …the plastic bag wheeze.

George Drake Jr. Ok, this is piano.

Craig Shank Ok, this’ll be dense fall with bread.

George Drake Jr. …..we recorded and edited our sounds for Scotty and then we caught up with him a couple weeks later on a video chat.

Scotty Iseri Alright, I am playing turkeyfoley.WAV…*laughter* Very nice! Very nice. My initial reaction is that I have a really good sense of place, so I can hear the sliding of the turkey pan across the oven. I love…I can hear a little bit of sizzle on there for the turkey still. I think the sense of getting the turkey out of the oven is awesome. I like the kind of a thud-splat you have for the turkey actually falling on the ground. There’s part of me that wants a little more of a splat. A turkey’s gotta pthhh when it, you know, it’s got the lovely like, fat drippings on the bottom and…yeah, a little more goosh on that would help sell the turkey…Here we go: ghost foley….*shudder sound* Cool! My favorite thing about this one happened at the very end where I hear kind of like a stretching, like a rubber…like a rubber glove going ehhhhrrrrrrrrrr. That was really great, like, I can see the wall kind of bending in after the ghost has passed through it. That was really fun…

George Drake Jr. What do you think that sound is?

Scotty Iseri Dishwashing gloves?

George Drake Jr. No. It is the hiss of a steamy iron.

Scotty Iseri Oh! Fantastic! That’s great! I’ll just do it one more time, give it another listen…

Craig Shank Sure.

George Drake Jr. Go ahead.

Scotty Iseri What is that high pitched part? It sounds like, you know it’s like…

Craig Shank Yeah, I was actually…I was just walking around the house trying to think of what would even be close to what we think of as a ghost and usually ghosts have some sort of pitch that people think about, kind of a high pitched oooooooo or something like that. And I thought, “What had a pitch that we could work with? Oh. There’s a piano.” So, initially what I did was run my fingers across the inside of the piano and it sounded ok at first and then George found…

George Drake Jr. I found a tassel.

Craig Shank …a little tassel that we actually were dragging across the inside of the piano with the microphone in pretty close to that.

Scotty Iseri That’s fantastic. Alright, here we go…Oh man, I’ve heard like ticking noises coming from a hard drive before. It just makes my heart stop a little bit. So, I think what gives me that sense is that the ticking noises, the tck-tck-tck-tck-TCK-TCK-TCK are very irregular and, you know, most hard drives the spin up. They go, vvvvussshhheeeeeee, and they’re this nice, consistent pitch so you know they’re spinning exactly how they’re supposed to and the minute anything goes a little awry…a little non-binary…if it goes sort of  dehh-dehh-deh-deh-desh-dehhh-dehhhhh, it induces that terror of, “Oh, crap, this thing is going down. Whatever the sort of servo motor you have…the peeeeooooom at the end…I think what I wanted…what I want it to do is go peeeeu…pb and then sort of stop. I think it works as a power down sound, but it almost sounds too safe for a failure.

George Drake Jr. So can you pick out any of the sounds? Can you identify what they are?

Scotty Iseri  The clicking kind of sounds like an arc welder…

George Drake Jr. Very close! Very close. It’s a…the ignition spark of the stove…

Scotty Iseri Ahhh…nice.

George Drake Jr. …and then the power-down sound at the end that you were talking about…any idea of what that might be?

Scotty Iseri Gosh, I don’t. You stumped me.

George Drake Jr. It is the end of a piece of paper shredding.

Scotty Iseri *Laughter* Nice!

George Drake Jr. You can find out more about Scotty and his projects at scottyiseri.com. that’s s-c-o-t-t-y-i-s-e-r-i dot com and if you want to become an amateur foley artist yourself, we have a list of tips and tricks to help you get started. Find that at everything sounds dot org

Craig Shank Music on this show was provided by Language of Kings. Find out more about the music you hear on the show and submit your own music at our website.

George Drake Jr. …and consider reviewing the show on iTunes…

Craig Shank …ratings and reviews on iTunes helps shows gain more visibility and move up the rankings.

George Drake Jr. And of course, you can find out more about the show, how to listen, where to listen, and more at everythingsounds dot org.

Craig Shank Until next time, I’m Craig Shank.

George Drake Jr. and I’m George Drake Jr.

Craig Shank …and this is Everything sounds

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