Diana Queirós, Class ’16

It’s all about storytelling

When you go to the cinema you accept another reality (even for a while), and for that period of time you are living the character’s reality and accepting it as truth. That’s storytelling.
My internship had the duration of five months, divided in two stages between Denmark and Finland. The first one was with the Danish Sound Designer Peter Albrechtsen for four months, and then one month with the Finnish Foley Artist Heikki Kossi.
I wanted to have an overview on sound post-production for film at the different mix processes. Along with sound design I’m completely passionate about foley, I couldn’t choose! I was very happy when I got the confirmation that I could follow both Peter and Heikki. It was possible to do it because they work together in many different projects. So I had the chance to follow both sound editing, foley recordings and mix for the same projects.

The internship started in Copenhagen at Peter Albrechtsen’s studio. There’s always a lot to do, different projects coming up, meetings with directors, DR P2 soundtrack to record once a week. I was following Peter on the different projects. It was very important to watch the process from the very beginning and slowly start to get on the rhythm.
I got the opportunity to be present both on the meetings with the movie directors, where they talk about which direction to take, what’s the mood of the film, what’s the story to be told, as well as the brainstormings with all the sound team. That’s a very important step on the film post-production, and the sound design process should be thought from the very beginning. From that point I was following all the stages.

During my time with Peter, came in the studio one Finish documentary, two Danish feature films, a Israeli feature film, a short documentary and a feature film from US (among others in editing process). Peter works together with Lars Halvorsen (sound effects editor) and Jacques Pedersen (dialogue editor), from whom I could also get a lot of editing tricks (lucky me)!
Besides that, I was doing some tasks like working on a sound library database, making some sound editing, sound effects and trying a little bit of pre-mixing on a short movie and a feature film under Peter’s supervising. At the beginning of the project Peter and I talked about the film, it’s story, the entire sound environment of the film, which kind of sounds would make part of it and how they could be related together throughout the film.

Shoes for foley footsteps

Among the Danish feature films, there was “The Model”, a film directed by Mads Matthiessen. Heikki Kossi came especially to Copenhagen to record foley for the movie (usually Heikki only works at his studio in Finland). I got introduced to his workflow, including a location foley recordings day. That was the week where I was both with Peter and Heikki.
For those who don’t know exactly what foley is: foley is a performative art, which gives personality/emotion to the actors and to what you see on screen. Usually during the shootings the main concern is the dialog recording, so all the small details which characterizes the scene and the characters (footsteps, gun shots, hits, punches) need to be recorded afterwards in studio to give the right feeling. That is what makes the scenes alive.
Nowadays sound libraries give us a wide collection of sounds, and with foley we can customize them, make them sound more organic.

Foley is also very important on foreign dubbing in TV-series, films etc. As all the dialogue has to be replaced according to the language, you need to record all the sounds as footsteps, touches, cloth rustling and so on. That’s what is called M&E (Music and effects), the sound mixer gets all the stems both music and sound effects and makes sure that nothing is lost with the ADR (audio dialogue replacement) .

Heikki Kossi is the owner of H5 Film Sound on the west cost of Finland. With him works Toivo Kallio as a foley recordist and Pietu Korhonen as foley mixer at H5 sound facilities in Helsinki.
I joined them in Finland for a month. We were working from 8am to 5pm everyday. The recording days for each project depend both from what kind of sounds are needed and the budget, how it can be distributed and what to prioritize. We were recording more than 300 sounds a day.

Foley on location

At H5 they follow the same spotting system used in US, and once you get through it, it can really save you a lot of time while recording. Spotting foley cues and preparing the session for the recording days is a very important step. You get an overview of what is needed, whats the story to be told, which props are going to be needed. In a foley studio there are special props (more than you can even imagine – one of my first questions to Heikki was “Don’t you forget about any prop you have here?”, his answer was clear: “No!”; you always need different kind of things and each thing has a unique sound). Most of the time the props on the movie won’t necessarily make the sound you need. You have to be creative all the time and find the perfect sound. Then: ready, rolling, record!

During my internship I was mostly giving assistance to Heikki during the recordings, learning foley tricks, but I got experiences both on foley recording, editing and mixing. I was preparing sessions for the spotting cues, making prop lists and preparing props for the recordings.
There isn’t a right way to do it. Each film has his own way and his own rules. You have to trust the people you are working with, know their tastes and what they are expecting from you. On post-production you have to adapt your schedules all the time. Sometimes deadlines can get delayed or sometimes you have to hurry up a little bit. And final mixes always mean long nights working (except if you are in Finland in June where there’s no night).

It was a great time! I’ve learned a lot!
Obrigada // Thank you // Tak // Kiitos, Peter and Heikki!