The Sound of Noisiness



The world of post-production provides the pitter patter of steps and the creak in doors. Foley artist Marko Costanzo has provided the sound in such films at Silence of the Lambs, Men In Black and The Age of Innocence and says his work has led to his practice of magic and love of video games. He will be a guest speaker at this year’s PINC conference in Sarasota today. 

Is it important to make sounds as realistic as possible or is it better to exaggerate them on film? Costanzo: Foley artists must create sounds that suit the actions taking place in any given film. I like to make sounds that are as realistic as possible (sonically a little bigger and louder). I strive to make the foley match exactly the quality of sound you would expect to hear on screen. We listen to the background sounds, the dialogue and the music, then create foley effects that blend in with those elements. Of course on the occasions when an action in a film needs to be highlighted with sound, we will exaggerate those individual moments or reoccurring actions to the hilt. We provide the sound effects for editors to use how they feel fit. Sometimes sounds need to be exaggerated to emphasize a big moment (like the sound of a body hitting the floor). Dropping a large wooden crate onto a carpeted hollow wooden floor will give you a huge low-end (bass) sound. Played simultaneously with the body hitting the ground will make you feel the impact and the pain.

Why do we impart such important emotion to the sounds associated even with mundane activities? When typing that question did you hear the key strokes from the keyboard? Did someone walk by your office door, peek in, say hi or knock on the glass? How about that fluorescent bulb humming overhead? The refrigerator being stocked? Foley artists create reality through sound. All the sounds you hear in any given location help to create the environment of that location. Most films are shot on a sound set. The sounds of people doing everyday things are what sell the film environment. These sounds are missing and are created to give realism to an otherwise soundless background. Imagine someone walking down the street. A businessman on his way somewhere. I will create foley footstep tracks by walking briskly or sluggishly or even inebriatedly. Whenever an actor is on screen, I mimic the emotions they exude. The emotion I see in the actor is the emotion I carry into my performance of that actor's footsteps. We do this because footsteps will sound more realistic if the same amount of energy is put into making them. The same energy, the same cadence, the same degree of emotion. So with this concept in mind, a foley artist performs this with every character on screen. Footsteps, body movements and actions.

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