SFP: 'Robin Hood'

May 21, 2010 5:48 PM, By Mel Lambert



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Supervising Foley Artist Gary Hecker Develops Signature Sound for Robin Hood Soundtrack

“On an average film, we might spend 10 to 15 days recording Foley,” recalls supervising Foley artist Gary Hecker. “For Robin Hood, we spent 25 days, plus some pickups to accommodate picture changes.” Working at the Foley Stage on CSS Studios Todd-AO West facility in Santa Monica, Hecker provided the intimate detailing that a period action picture like Robin Hood needs to ensure a convincing atmospheric. “For the battle scenes, I developed a number of arrow sounds in the air and hitting shields and armor, as well as horse bridles, saddles, axes, chain armor, clothing, footsteps and the rest. Katy Rose worked with me on the Foley sessions, handling female footsteps and assisting with props and in group; Nerses Gezalyan served as Foley mixer.”

Hecker also developed characteristic sounds for each of the film’s primary participants. “I had a ‘leathery’ sound for [Russell Crowe’s] Robin Hood character to provide a sense of swiftness and agility. For the battle scenes, I had lighter armor sounds for the outlaws, and heavier, more metallic sounds for the knights and other figures. And for Sir Geoffrey, I developed a more ‘chunky’ leather sound, as well as characteristic sword, cape and armor sounds.

“We also prepared special ‘voices’ for individual horses ridden by the main characters, something I started doing with great success on Sea Biscuit, he adds. "I recorded horse breaths and grunts that I pitched down and processed using a sub-harmonic synthesizer and a Harmonizer to produce different sound signatures for Robin Hood’s horse and Sir Geoffrey's horse, and a slow-motion horse that we see in several scenes.”

For the final battle scenes that occur on the beach during an aborted sea landing, Hecker provided a number of water-related Foley elements using tanks at the Lantana Foley Stage. “For those climactic scenes between Robin Hood and Sir Geoffrey, we needed the intricate sounds of wooden ships in the surf and landing on the sand, with the creaks and thuds of oars, together with turnbuckle sounds. There was a lot of detailing required to fully envelop the audience in the action. I worked very closely with the supervising sound editors to determine what was being cut as hard effects and what custom sounds we should capture on the Foley stage.

“It is often easier to record a real sound on the Foley stage in sync with picture than to have to find a pre-existing sound effect, edit it to fit the action and then synchronize it to the image. We can try several different ‘reads' of the scene and record alternates in a short period of time. We like to develop those big, ‘killer’ sounds in real time on the Foley stage to save time in editing.”

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