Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Video: "Depressed Benny Hill"

Yesterday I started thinking that although Benny Hill is fun to watch when you're in a great mood, I bet his show would simply infuriate a depressed person. And since Schnapps the Seal is always depressed this was a shoe-in for a short video, which I shot last night and edited today:

Backstage Expose

As usual the music was mostly built up from Apple Loops -- including some sound effects that came with Soundtrack Pro -- but this time I tried something entirely new: foley recording.

If you've ever seen Benny Hill (!) then you know that much of the comedy (!) depended on over-the-top foley of his trademarks was sped-up film with overdubbed sound effects. I was hoping to be able to avoid all that hassle, but as I was putting this video together it became obvious how essential that stuff is to slapstick.

So I did some brainstorming, and these were the techniques I came up with.

* Footsteps: I turned a pair of high heels upside down and hit the heel-tips with a pair of hairbrushes. Totally unnatural, but Benny Hill's footsteps never DID sound natural.

* Brushing: The aforementioned hairbrush rubbed across fabric. I enhanced the lower frequencies to make it sound richer.

* Slapping Schnapps' Head: The hairbrush again, slapped against my palm.

* Whip Effect: A thick hair elastic stretched between my fingers, then snapped on my leg. Ouch.

* Dominatrix Hissing: "Hiss! Hiss! Rah! Hiss!"

* Weightlifting Noise: This was the hardest one. I wanted something that sounded like a ratcheting wrench -- or maybe a jack -- but I'm not exactly swimming in tools. So I took three strings of cheap mardi-gras beads, wrapped them around the back of a wooden chair, and pulled them back and forth. It really worked!


Gary said...

Much fun!

Since you brought the seal to a club in an earlier post, this time you've brought the "club" to the seal! Those last few taps were funny, and you didn't overdo the laugh track.

If only Schnapps could chase you around the room...

The sound effects were also fun, and reminiscent of Benny Hill's show. Very creative!

I remember watching a show (or was it a movie?) about the early days of radio, showing the sound effects people using everyday items. I guess that's where the Foley was born?

Good show!

Adam Thornton said...

Thanks Gary!

The more complex the sound design becomes, the weirder and more counter-intuitive it gets. I originally didn't want to put ANY laughing in, because I thought that "dead silence" would more effectively convey Schnapps' responses.

But it just didn't work without the laughing, and that's probably because the laughter adds a cruel "at Schnapps' expense" element that I hadn't planned on at all, but which really works. That simple "laugh track" element turned the mood from "laugh at Muffy" to "laugh at the Seal."

And I deliberately used the same laugh clip to make it sound more artificial.

I imagine that radio WAS the origin of Foley...though of course stage shows have probably been using sound effects since time began (thunder sheets, off-stage shouts, etc.)

Adam Thornton said...

In all the right ways!

Adam Thornton said...

Thanks for the advice, Anonymous, and I'm glad you liked the video!

Be sure to keep an eye on this blog...there's always something fun happening.

Gary said...

Good comeback!

What you do is creative, fun, and - most importantly - a natural extension of who you are.

And it ain't pointless - I have learned from the various topics you've written about.

Nothin' wrong with a little fun, too..

Kimber said...

As a childhood fan of good old dirty, silly Benny Hill, I applaud your homage. Hilarious. Well done Muffy!