Blind Man’s Buff, by Eugene Pierre Francois Giraud
Silence! Be quiet! Because listening is active, because the birds have already left but their sound still reverberates. Silent all ears that listen, stunned by the noise that is gone but still relishes. The soundtrack? Our life! That one of changes, transition, mutation and mysteries, that one that is able to peer into the recesses of the deepest realities, responsible for questioning the apparent manifestations of the abstract and the concrete to go into unexpected territories of consciousness itself. These are the realities of sound phenomena, the challenges of searching for a continuous vibration, a pure sonic experience.
Let the mind travel around 2.500 years ago: we’re here in the Pythagorean School, waiting for the teacher to lead us to the most unlikely truths of the cosmic harmony. Our eyes are eager, the heart rumbles and a curtain, the veil of listening, can be seen on the horizon. Suddenly, a voice is heard, the teaching begins. The eyes, yet expectant, cry for the face of the talking master, who is not (and will not) on the retina. The curtain is still there and is the only visual reference for the sounds being heard. The voices possibly emerge from the cloisters of the mind or perhaps from the same shadows in the curtain, where the teacher continues his mission.
Silence! Be quiet! Because the sound is active, the akousma has emerged and the sonic code is already running through the mazes of the passions and the cusps of thinking. Slowly and without seeing, the oral reality becomes symphony, opening the doors to an intimate universe, the acousmatic. The teaching behind the curtain now makes sense and invisibility brings a message to the cochlea that is impatient because of its blindness. Over time it gets calmed, the world of sound is clear and the government of tongue and thought becomes possible, and with them also the desires and the scars of those memories that despite of being absent, still hit the listener’s soul.
And so, behind the curtain, sitting in silence, the initiation begins.
“Footsteps with character: the art and craft of Foley”, a great essay written by Benjamin Wright, included in the Screen journal.
“In this essay I look more closely at modern Foley performance and aesthetics, giving special attention to the customized nature of Foley effects and the importance of creating sound with ‘character’. What interests me is not only how Foley professionals have negotiated their role as sound artists but how the professional goals of Foley have shifted in response to the increasing use of digital audio workstations.”
Download/read (PDF file) / via musicofsound
Guest Contribution by Rob Bridgett
For the past 14 years I’ve been a proponent of sound as a deeply integral part of the video game development process, getting audio involved earlier, allowing it to become a part of decision making and concepting, allowing sound’s early presence, excitement and enthusiasm to influence the other disciplines involved in the collaborative sport of video game development.
Recently, you may have noticed a trend towards narrowing down the focus of what we consider to be multi-disciplinary game development, there are small team, minimal, retro, and almost inevitably towards audio-only games. At the Game Developer’s Conference Nicky Birch of Somethin’ Else’s spoke about their audio-only games (such as Papa Sangre) as did Brian Schmidt on a similar theme in 2013). These are games in which the player has little or no visual input or stimulus, but relies entirely on spatialized audio cues.
Hidden within the program of the 2014 AFI Docs festival is a short film that provides a glimpse inside the world of Foley recording, mixing and performance.
The Secret World of Foley follows artists Peter Burgis (Edge of Tomorrow, The Monuments Men, Kick-Ass 2) and Sue Harding (The Selfish Giant, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Philomena) as they work their way through a challenging series of moves, walks, and other sync sounds. A deliberate ploy by writer/director Daniel Jewel was to not have any dialogue in the film, or wordy explanations of the Foley techniques involved. On the best way of showcasing the work and talents of Peter, Sue and sound designer Glen Gathard, Jewel says, “I thought we could create a specially shot short film and and then film the Foley Artists interpreting that film, with props of their choice and then cut between the two ‘films’. So without any words, we would get the sense of what Foley Artists do to bring films to life.”
The effect of this juxtaposition between the film and the Foley performance is quite mesmerising, and The Secret World of Foley will be screening on Thursday 19 June at the Goethe-Institut in Washington D.C. and Friday 20 June at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Maryland as part of the AFI Docs festival. Those not going will be able to catch it online later in the year, once it has completed its run of festivals.
The Secret World of Foley official website
2014 AFI Docs homepage
Third Man Films on Twitter
Photo courtesy of Hercules Lab.
The Royal School of Arts in Gent, Belgium, is holding six full days of listening technique and research this February and March. Elias Vervecken (sound recordist and foley artist) and Els Viaene (sound artist and field recordist) will each lead a three day workshop on listening, focusing on different relationships to the environment.
Starting from the point of silence, Elias Vervecken will investigate how noise can be made tangible and question how this relates to creating sound for image. Using the natural landscape as her starting point, Els Viaene will guide participants through investigation of the microphone as a subjective expression (rather than neutral observer) of the environment, and question how evocative aural pictures might then be combined with visuals.
The workshops will take place on 20-22 February and 20-22 March, respectively, from 10.00-18.00. The cost is EUR150.00 each or EUR250.00 if you attend both.
The language of the workshop is English or Dutch and the venue is Herculeslab – the conservatory’s audiovisual lab. Click on the link for more information and details on how to register.