Sounds of The Last Bookshop

The final leg of post-production on The Last Bookshop has proved a mammoth undertaking. Perhaps even slightly more mammoth than we were expecting, hence the slight delay. Personally, I was expecting a reasonable sized elephant of a task – but no, this has definitely been a full-on prehistoric woolly mammoth of a job. With massive tusks and an attitude problem.

I suspect a number of you are wondering what we’ve been up to of late.

The film has involved a collaboration between all sorts of talented people, friends old and new. From our actors (Joe and Alfred) to our fabulous musicians (Arlet) not to mention Bakery regulars such as Adam Droy and his band of Millers (Mikey and Chris) and of course the West Country powerhouse that is Alaric. Last but by no means least, the friendly bookselling folk who all kindly donated their glorious shops as filming locations for our film.

But the time comes when all these people have made their worthy contribution, and all that remains is for myself and Dan Fryer (the directors) to tackle the aforementioned mammoth alone. Truth be told, audio editing is – more often than not – a one man job. So it has frequently fallen to Mr Fryer to wrestle alone with this elephantine beast.

And so, on odd evenings and occasional weekends here and there, Dan has been staring at hypnotising banks of soundwaves and faders that look something like this. Dan Fryer is a man who has been known to fall asleep at his computer, wake up the following morning, curse those lost hours and resume editing.

Long-term followers of The Bakery will be aware of our famous whiteboard which is often the key to unlocking whichever project we are currently working on. Of late, I have been using it to build up an index of sound effects and their timings.

It has then fallen to me to consult this, and attempt to replicate these sound effects within the confines of the house.

First of all, this always needs to be done at about 3am otherwise there is simply too much background noise, either from the outside world or from housemates cooking and generally thundering around. Secondly, it requires a lot of initiative to make sounds with limited props at your disposal. Sometimes it has been easy to flick through some books to provide the sound of pages, but I have also had to run up and down our staircase, and indeed stroll in circles around our landing in order to have enough footstep sounds.

Yes, that’s right: I’ve had to foley almost every single sound effect heard across the whole 20-minute film.

Incidentally, the word “Foley” is named after Jack Foley (1891-1967) and refers to recording sound effects especially to match up with film footage. Which is exactly what I’ve been doing: watching the film and attempting to record sound effects that match the movements seen on screen. Easier said than done. Especially when – after I proudly deliver a folder full of mp3s to Mr Fryer for him to throw into his audio cauldron – he informs me that there are problems with some of the recordings…

Some of you may be wondering why there aren’t already sound effects in the film. Well, in some instances there are. But generally (especially in the case of footsteps) they are of too poor a quality. In other instances, the sound effects are missing altogether. This was usually because on location the sound simply wasn’t good enough (due to road works, shouting in the street, or even cases of real life weirdly not sounding as good as a sound effect would). Also, our microphone set-up was geared towards picking up dialogue when we were filming in the bookshops, with Gaetan pointing his boom at our actors’ mouths rather than at any additional noises going on in the scene.

Ultimately, we want the sound design on The Last Bookshop to meet the same standards as the visuals, and that takes time. But the hard work is nearly all behind us. So we hope you’ve not been getting too impatient for the announcement of our film’s completion. The hour is near at hand…

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One Response to Sounds of The Last Bookshop

  1. Owen Hewson says:

    Go go go go go go Dan and Richard! Slay that mammoth. Can’t wait to experience the finished product.

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