Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Foley Foolishness

Of all the things done in movies and TV shows that make me want to throw my heavy WE 500[1] into the TV set are the sound effects added to firearms. The old annoyance is that every time a character pulls out a Sig or a Glock, the sound effects people, known as "Foley artists", add in all of the metallic clicks of a Single-Action Army Colt being cocked.

The new annoyance is the addition of spring sounds when a handgun is fired.

I am not really that experienced, I've maybe put a few thousand rounds each through 1911s, the Taurus clones of Beretta M9s and several hundred through Glocks. I've shot Sigs and HKs. I can't say that I have ever heard the sound of the recoil spring working. I've stood near people on firing ranges who were shooting all manner of handguns and all I've heard is the blast of the shots.

It is different with rifles, such as the AR platform and Garands. There, one's cheek is up against the buttstock and, provided that good hearing protection is worn, the shooter can hear the recoil spring working through bone conduction.

But not with handguns.

[1] About a year ago, my phone line got screwed up by Verizon. The repair tech came to check it out. When he got done with what he had to do elsewhere, he came back to check it out. I offered him the cordless phone, but he declined and used my old WE 500.


deadstick said...

Not unusual to see a news report of a shooting, where an earwitness says "I didn't know what it was...it didn't sound like a gunshot."

Which means it didn't sound like a MOVIE gunshot...

montag said...

Still a lot better than the old cowboy stuff where everyone of the 15 shots from a six-shooter went Pweee as it ricocheted off whatever.

Wicked Penguin said...

One reason for the prevalence of those gun sounds is that they're featured in many of the off-the-shelf sound effect libraries. The fact is, not everyone can afford to hire the equipment and engineer to go out and record live gun sounds of the actual guns used on screen. They need to purchase their effects.

For instance, my copy of Sound Ideas' SFX library includes the 1911, M-16, Peacemakers, and other common weapons. It's relatively inexpensive and very convenient. In the war between budget and accuracy, budget tends to come out on top. I've used erroneous sounds myself on occasion, because I know the people who can tell the difference between an AK-47 and an M-16 sound are in the minority.

One thing that does bother is me when the foley and sound designers insist on adding in a "k-chak" sound whenever someone merely raises a shotgun, or the sound of a racking slide when someone lifts a handgun. Those sounds only occur when someone is chambering a round, yet we hear the sound on screen when someone is just gripping the weapon.

It's as if they need to beat the whole "this guy is holding a gun and is serious" idea into the audience. The show "Lost" is notorious for this. I swear, it's to the level of a drinking game.

However, one movie stands out for me as the kind example of ill-used weapon sounds A few years back, my father-in-law insisted on watching "Exit Wounds", one of Steven Seagal's most recent "films".

Remember the movie "Airplane!"? Whenever they showed the Boeing 707's exterior, it was always the sound of a big 4 engine radial prop airliner. That was used for humorous effect. In "Exit Wounds", they're dead serious.

In this Seagal disaster, early on there's a gunfight (naturally). I have never to this day seen sounds so poorly used. It's one thing to use a Colt revolver sound instead of a Glock or another semi-auto pistol. But in this movie, we have people firing standard police pistols, but the sound effects are of fully automatic rifles. A cop leans over and fires a single shot - one muzzle flash - and we hear half a magazine being unloaded. What we're hearing and we're seeing on screen do not line up in the least. It's so jarring, so bad I was laughing aloud.

Cujo359 said...

I've learned over the years not to expect realism from most shows when it comes to either firearms sound FX or other forms of violence. As deadstick notes, the audience is generally unaware of what the sounds really should be.

A few years ago I was watching a show in which the main character used two or three different pistols. One was the typical hand cannon, another that he picked up was a comparatively small weapon. Both sounded exactly the same, but that sound was different from the sounds coming from other characters' guns. It was as though the sound went with the character, not the weapon.

Nangleator said...

Don't get me started on the use of the Red Tail Hawk sound, or the unbelievably annoying "guy being eaten by crocodile" sound that has damaged every action movie ever made, including silent films.

Sound editors: Normal people can recognize sounds, too, assholes. It isn't just some private joke you play with each other. We can tell when you're being lazy and stupid.