At Develop I got the chance to sit down with Zoe Freed at Molinare.
How long Have you been working for Molinare how did you get into foley?
I first saw foley when I was 15 doing work experience I was hanging out with the runners at a postproduction company and they said oh we have a little foley studio upstairs.
I wasn’t allowed to sit in the sessions because they were working on topic secret stuff.
But just seeing the room and the rooms full of props and they explained it to me I couldn't believe that this sort of thing happened they still say it foley is one of the most secret industries in media
I thought do you know what I would really love to be a foley artist.
But it's very difficult and it's a very small industry as well in the UK there are not many of us at all.
So I forgot about it and carried on went to uni to study technical theatre and sound design but for theatre and in my final year I remembered this foley thing
Oooh, let's give that a go, and it went from there.
Got work experience in as many places as I possibly could, met as many people as I could, and ended up with the team at Pinewood Studios.
I trained with pete berges glen gathard and Jemm riley tosch
Started as a runner and made it very aware I wanted to be a foley artist and very quickly moved up through the ranks what was your first opening into that with those guys
Pete Burges is the foley artist there but I had actually gotten in contact with glen first through linked in and said id love to come to hang out work experience and just see what amazing stuff you guys do and just kept going back for work experience and they had an opening for a job as a runner.
So I applied for that, got it, then Pete joined the company as freelance and I trained under him with guidance from glen gemma and the team built and grew from there and then last year pinewood shut down their foley department
We all got made redundant and the majority of the team managed to stay together and moved to Molinare together
That was really lucky you managed to stay in that same team
Fundamentally what's the difference between working at Molinare and pinewood?
There's not a huge amount of difference to be honest because we're still doing the same stuff its different being on a studio lot say to be in Soho you can meet people whereas at a studio you're likely to encounter seeing stars working past all the time. And what was great about moving to Molinare was we were able to design our own foley pits in the middle of lockdown so all our building works were trying to happen in the middle of a lockdown
How did you manage that because you probably couldn't be in the same place?
We had to dry hire some studios as they were being built and it worked out really well; we have two massive studios n the basement studios off Carnaby street all the floor surfaces you could want there are all solid it's perfect.
Are there any microphones you like using?
I know from working with the team they change microphones depending on the project a lot of the time so if we are doing tom and jerry we used a U87 a lot. Whereas when we are doing stuff like fantastic beasts and the Witcher when they manipulate the sound a lot more we use the Sanken where they can slow it down we defiantly change mikes a lot dependent on what is needed.
Give us a Whistle stop tour of your production process getting ready for a film or a game?
For the film, we would watch the film first because they might be information later on in the film that might be imperative for us to know at the beginning.
As part of the storyline so the floorboard needs to creak because then when it's going to creak there that's the scary moment.
The character gets more and more powerful as she is going through
I want to be able to change her shoes, as we're going to start soft and move it up to like a really hard heal at the end to help that characterization.
For the game, it would be more getting information from the clients about what characters they want what surfaces they want.
And what the world of the game is because then I can think about what surfaces I need to build if it's on a ship do I need to get some more metal surfaces in.
How am I going to build this ship so even if there are 10 characters running around on this ship at once it's not going to be the same sound every time.
Exactly you can only hear three things happening at once.
What is the line between foley and sound design?
We have very close relationships with all of our clients so it depends on what they want for example our clients phase who we work with very closely on stuff like the witcher.
I know they love doing swords and all 'shwings' and all the detail that goes into that so for them I would just do the handling of the sword.
Whereas if it was for another production I would want to be doing the swings and adding all of that in it also depends on how far along in the process we join.
If they have done full effects pass then we will get their effects to stem and listen to it.
the client will go add whatever you want don't touch any of the effects stuff because we've absolutely covered it so you spend the time on these bits, please
Basically, it changes with every project.
It's a dance isn't it making sure you don't step on each other's toes
It's very much a collaboration are clients also know what we like to do is foley isn't typical foley in terms of just doing footsteps and putting a cup down.
We love getting involved.
We love making explosions I was using a blow torch in the studio the other day just because I wanted to be a flare.
If we have the time to do that on the project we will go all guns out and the client obviously wants us to as well we will be there for the explosions.
If there’s not the time you know just ad bits to it we can add the debris to explosions.
That settling sound afterwards and stuff like that always makes such massive difference debris you can set the tone of how serious the explosion is.
You can do a lot with just even the character
It doesn’t have to be a massive gesture it can be something quite subtle yeah so it's just the collaboration part of it adding stuff and helping to add those little nuances.
What is the average schedule for doing Foley for games and how does that change for doing budget vs time?
It's very much reliant on the budget basically it depends on what the client actually wants typically at the beginning they will send us a list of games.
These are the assets or the cut scenes that we want and we will go ok that will take about this much time for us to do which will cost x amount that will open the discussion that we have x amount for it so what can you do for this and we will go okay we can do this.
But the process is very fluid I might say it's going to take 3 days when it could take four I think is the best way to describe it.
With game clients, quite a lot of the time especially if their new clients to us at the moment its remote sessions but there with us cause we still love the collaboration aspect
How has lockdown Impacted the collaboration?
It has made it more difficult because one thing we love to do especially with games is getting the clients to help like they have been thinking about this particular sound for a year and then I have to recreate it only thinking about it for a week or two weeks.
instead of them just giving me direction or a rough idea if this is something they really won't come down from behind the desk get involved go and have a look in the props store pick up have a play ill perform it but I want you to be as involved as I am because this is for you this your sound
You would love it if for example you were working for me and you said let's do this let's move this over here let's use this prop
Yeah and obviously I have my input into it again collaboration it all is and the sound is so subjective as well everybody has their own idea about it it's a very creative process.
Whereas with a film that looks like that so I can go like this is there a lot of revision in terms of if I say ok it's going to look.
Sometimes with games, the environment can change constantly for example they have added puddles (laughs )its no longer summer it's autumn.
Or when they come back and they have autoconfirmed it and everything is out of synch.
Yeah Haha stuff like that there are changes it depends again on how much we are doing on it because if we get involved early on a massive project like the one we are on currently
They have been on it for two years of course there are going to be changes whereas something else was on it basically right up until the end everything is completely in place and set in stone it wouldn’t change
Is that quite common to be working on a project for three years?
No that's quite rare for us this game, especially since it's very fluid and as long as we can fit it in our schedule we will move heaven and earth to do stuff all of us love our jobs so well make it work.
In a nutshell, what is the inherent difference between games and films?
If its assets for a game that is obviously very different for a film because I'm creating one single sound yes ill do 50 of them in a run but I have to think of every individual footstep
Because it's all going to be cut up and it's all going to be set off by the game engine.
Whereas in the film it's linear so I’m thinking about what this specific walk means in the story.
But for cut scenes for games id approach them in exactly the same way I would a film.
When you're starting out as a Foley artist there are three specific points
It will take you a long time to get all three of them you could make a really great sound that is in sync but you could have just grabbed them from a library because there is no characterization.
Or there is character and there is sync but the sound is a little bit off to get all three it takes
You really thrive on doing something bespoke there is no point in covering something that you can pull out of the library it's a waste of time
Can you tell me about the most challenging sound you created?
For games, it's a very exciting challenge things like creatures have got to be massive and we have made huge robots I'm just a human being at the end of the day if we were making a massive robot I would break it down then whoever I'm recording with if its glen or gemma they would go okay if you're going to do that I will do this and I would make it sound ten times bigger and working like that but it's always a challenge but a very exciting one
For Wolfenstein, we decided to get a glazing robot in
What's a glazing robot?
It got like Suckers are on the front of it and it holds the piece of glass to move it up so I was using that and getting bits of car parts and stuff.
There's a lot of prep that goes into creating creatures as robots things I guess that people wouldn't typically think of as foley
What is the relationship between foley artist and recordist do you use the same people?
So there is a team of three recordists Glen, Gemma and Fran and there are two of us as artists currently me and Rebecca and then we've also got some trainees joining us.
But we work as a core team like we've all worked together for the last glen and gemma have been working together for the last eight years ve been working for the last seven years we are very close and you definitely have got to have a good relationship because I have to trust that whatever I'm doing is going to sound good
And they have to trust me that I am confident in the sound that I'm making and that I can do it you get to a point where actually I know exactly what they're thinking before there going to say it
So you can just punch out rollback punch straight back in and I knew they didn't like that tiny thing I just did.
What makes a good client vs a bad client?
Organisation. We all want the same thing at the end of the day all of us want it to sound good so we've all got the same end goal to have the information and the time first-hand helps un plan the session and ensure that we can get everything the client needs to their specifications
Do you play games and what do you play now?
I am a massive newbie and didn’t grow up with a console at all I've currently got a ps4 and have started playing the Ghost of Tsushima but I'm mainly going off the story-loving the environment
Doing a bit of Sackboy it's a children's game it's not a huge fight game because I don't have the inbuilt dexterity do you know what it's so hard cause I don't know if you jump up here then that is going to happen
Tell me about your favourite pair of shoes?
It's going to be dr martins I have got a specific pair which are black my first ever pair were flowery and they started off as the typical dr Martos as they have gotten worn down over the last seven years they sound like hard men's shoes without the transient of it being like a leather sole but they don't sound rubber anymore
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