During week four of trimester four here at university my class and I were introduced to the post-production suite for a little bit of education on Foley/ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement). We were given the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and The Holy Grail to add Foley to. As a class, we managed to record and add a small amount of Foley to the clip, such as metallic sword sounds, body hits, footsteps and the ‘clip clop’ of ‘horse’s feet’ created by King Arthur’s servant. With what little time we had during class, we also managed to record and add a small bit of ADR to the scene. Finishing the Foley and ADR for the scene wasn’t compulsory but a small group of my peers and I decided that for educational purposes, we’d commit to finishing it off. We booked six hours in the post-production suite on 17/3/15 to get the recording of both Foley and ADR done (we’d do the editing at a later stage).
The people involved and their roles within the production were as follows:
- Ananda Duffy – Microphone technician, Foley/ADR artist.
- Abbey Harper-Green (myself) – Microphone technician, Foley/ADR artist.
- Lisa Meier – Pro Tools/hardware technician, photographer.
- Daniel Nelson – Microphone technician, Foley/ADR artist.
The equipment required was as follows:
- 3 x XLR cables
- Headphones + ¼ jack adapters x 3
- AKG C414 microphone x 1
- Rode NT5 microphone x 1
- Microphone stands x 2
- Zoom H6 Handy Recorder x 1
- Box of Foley objects
We also set ourselves a schedule as to when we should start certain aspects of the recording process and how long we anticipated they’d take giving ourselves extra time in case of unexpected technical difficulties etc. Our plan was as follows:
- 9:00 – 9:45 – Discussion of session plan and script practice.
- 9:45 – 10:15 – Microphone set up and sound check.
- 10:15 – 10:45 – Record grunts/arghs for Black Knight Vs. Green Knight battle scene.
- 10:45 – 11:15 – Black Knight ADR.
- 11:15 – 11:45 – King Arthur ADR.
- 11:45 – 12:30 – Lunch break.
- 12:30 – 13:30 – Location recording in Davies Park – capturing ambient sound.
- 13:30 – 14:00 – Record grunts/arghs for Black Knight Vs. King Arthur battle scene.
- 14:00 – 14:30 – Record Foley – metallic sword hits/slides, body hits, various chain sounds, running/scuttling on various surfaces.
- 14:30 – 15:00 – Pack up, save and back up of session.
Overall, we stuck to these times fairly easily, only running over time by 5 or 10 minutes on a couple of occasions.
Before this studio session, we’d discussed the different methods we could use to create a few of the sounds we desired for certain aspects of the clip. One of them being the muffled vocals of the Black Knight due to the fact he is wearing a helmet in the scene. I had agreed to be the voice actor for this character and I believe it was originally Ananda who had the idea of putting a bucket (or similar object) over my head to recreate the somewhat ‘muffled’ sound of his voice. We found this technique very effective so it was also used for the ADR of the Green Knight, whose voice acting was done by Ananda.
Though we hadn’t set out any time to practice our lines as voice actors, we were able to lay down around three takes of each section of dialogue. Quite a few of the lines weren’t perfect in regards to inflection and the emotion you can hear in the original Monty Python scene but we decided they were good enough given the time we had left to record and the fact that some of them were potentially comedic.
Half way through our session, whilst recording King Arthur’s ADR, Lisa noticed a static kind of crackling being produced by the C414 microphone. We couldn’t work out what it was but thought it was most likely one of the XLR connections. We tried swapping between another two XLRs but found the problem still persisted. We then thought it might be too much input into the microphone itself or perhaps the deep tone of Dan’s voice. We got him to move further away from the mic then tried Ananda’s higher voice to see if anything changed… it didn’t. We then came to the realisation that the crackling may have been present the whole time while recording earlier in the session so we had to go back and check that it wasn’t. Luckily there was no sign of it. As a group we sat back and thought about what could have happened between what we’d last recorded and when the crackling started to occur. We had opened another session from a couple of weeks ago to see if it contained the markers we needed from the original Pro Tools session we’d created in class so thought maybe a sampling or sync issue could have occurred within Pro Tools or the audio interface. That session could have been a different sample rate to the session we’d created that day. The only thing left to do before calling one of the supps up to have a look at it was to close our session and turn everything off and on again. Finally this fixed the crackling problem so back to recording we went!
After our lunch break we decided to take the Zoom H6 and record some ambient sound just for something different from a studio setting. The nearest suitable location to our university campus would be somewhere within Davies Park. We needed forest sounds and Davies Park contains a few large trees which numerous species of birds make their homes in. Though the sound of traffic travelling along Coronation drive on the other side of the river was quite audible, Dan found that recording near the ground behind one of the trees escaped a large part of that noise. Approximately ten minutes of sound were recorded and we decided that any unwanted traffic noise could be edited out later.
After that we were back in the studio doing some more grunts and arghs for the Black Knight Vs. King Arthur battle scene, which continued much the same as the rest of the recording we’d done for those characters.
We then moved on to creating some Foley for editing and lining up later during the allocated editing stage of the process. These sounds included the rattling of chains, hitting chains with metal bars, and dropping the chain in an iron skillet. These sounds were intended be used for the movement or hitting of suit armour as well as some sword sounds.
We also needed some more solid ground hitting sounds for when swords or the knights themselves hit the ground. The Foley studio contains a few ground surfaces that we implemented for this purpose. Dan covered the pebble surface with some tape (found inside cassettes) to soften the sound slightly like when something hits the forest floor. He then hit the floor with the iron skillet with varying speed and force. We then recorded a bit more running and foot shuffling sounds using this same surface material.
Other than packing up and saving what we’d recorded, that was essentially the end of our post-production studio session. I felt it to be extremely productive especially considering we were new to that area of audio (Foley/ADR) and we hadn’t used the studio by ourselves before. We captured most of the sound we needed for the scene. All that was left to do was capture a bloody pouring/gurgling sound and edit everything into place.