(Roughly) Daily

Special Academy Awards Edition: Sounds Like…

The goal of the Soundworks Collection on Vimeo is simple– and bold:  “we are dedicated to profiling the greatest and upcoming sound minds from around the world and highlight their contributions.”   From backgrounders on the sound design and recording on Black Swan, The King’s Speech, and other of this year’s Oscar contenders, to celebrations of and conversations with legendary practitioners, it’s a library of delights.

Your correspondent’s favorite (a very difficult choice) is an “illustrated interview” with a master of a woefully unappreciated craft:  Foley, the reproduction of everyday sounds for soundtracks.  Jack Foley*, the inventor of the technique, was working at Universal when sound came to the moving pictures.  Because then (as now) specific sounds (closing doors, ripping fabric, galloping horses; indeed, sometimes even ambient sound) needed to be added or sweetened, Foley developed a set of tools and techniques that allowed him to create and record in a studio virtually any sound that might be needed.  Ever since, the folks who perform that invaluable service to directors and producers have called themselves “Foley Artists.”

Foley is a remarkably challenging assignment– one in which the artist’s call is to create, often in original ways, the perfectly appropriate, completely believable, and at the same time, dramatically compelling sounds to accompany action on screen.  Soundworks Collection showcases Gary Hecker, a Foley Artist who was worked on over 200 films, including The Empire Strikes Back, Robin Hood, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Angels & Demons, Watchmen, and the Spiderman trilogy– and who explains how it’s done.

* Jack Foley, a man of many talents, also created the “CC in a TV” symbol, which is used to signal the availability of Closed Captioning for a TV show, and which he designed while he was the senior graphic designer at Boston pubcaster WGBH..

As we settle in the watch the Red Carpet parade, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Antoine Argoud, a former Colonel in the French Army was charged with organizing a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle.  Argoud was a leader of the OAS, an organization opposed to Algerian independence that used violence to promote its cause.   The plot failed, but did give the world the novel and film that it inspired, The Day of the Jackal.

Colonel Argoud (source)

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