The sounds of Killing Eve: High heels, broken necks and watermelons


by: Adam Bloodworth

Earlier than I meet Ciaran Smith, Foley engineer at London’s Hackebbacker Studios, I’m despatched a warning. “Our work isn’t all glitz and smashing watermelons,” he tells me by e mail, as if to handle my expectations.

Ciaran’s reference will make sense in the event you’ve already received an understanding of the movie and TV business – however for these of us that don’t work within the enterprise, it’s prone to be extremely complicated.

Talking in broader phrases than the odd smashing of a watermelon, Foley is the time period for one key half of the sound results created for post-production for movie and TV. It sometimes describes the method of creating ‘on a regular basis’ sounds to layer into the sound combine. Foley is combined with the sounds of the actors’ voices, sometimes recorded on set, and the sounds added by one other sound results group, to create the completed audio product.

Foley is important as a result of it’s nigh-on unimaginable to report the sound of actual, on a regular basis life when engaged on a tv or movie set. In order that we will clearly hear the phrases spoken by the actors, publish manufacturing studios add the background sounds after the shoot has wrapped.

Footsteps, cans being opened, chairs being sat on, handshakes, garments being donned and tea cups clinking on saucers are some of the standard sounds created by Foley studios. Then there’s the extra sinister aspect: the punches, the neck-breaks, the physique drops and the attention gouges. Seems like doorways slamming and planes taking off are extra uniform and simpler to digitise, due to this fact extra prone to be created by sound results designers than in foley studios.

What’s fascinating is that in an business that strikes at a breakneck tempo due to the development of digital know-how, Foley nearly stands nonetheless. The strategies and strategies used to create the sounds you hear on TV right now are made largely utilizing the identical objects that had been used a long time in the past in a pre-digital time. Similar to that watermelon.

Killing Eve season 3, episode 4

“Generally you’ll see somebody on display pulling a knife out of somebody’s head and we’ll say, ‘Let’s get a very nice melon for that,” says Ciaran, sitting on the mixing desk on the Hackenbacker studio in north London. By the management room window within the Foley studio, the place the Foley artist ‘performs’ the sounds, cabinets and drawers overflow with odds and ends used for the recording course of. One stuffed lion toy friends curiously out of its drawer. In one other nook, a automobile door leans in opposition to a ragged outdated armchair. In one other, a pile of dozens of each kind of shoe you possibly can presumably think about are piled excessive.

“You’ve received to do the image justice,” says Ciaran, gesturing out throughout on the props. “They appear wonderful on display and you’ve an obligation to be sure you’re doing that justice. If there’s a gown dragging alongside the ground on display, you wish to hear the layers, you wish to hear the corset interacting with the underside of the gown. That texture is a small element, however in a world of small particulars, it’s fairly essential.”

One sartorially-minded character Ciaran and his group have lately accomplished Foley work for is Villanelle (Jodie Comer), the psychotic murderer from Killing Eve. “One of the large issues with Killing Eve straight from the off was we needed to differentiate when Villanelle was being her murderer self: creeping round and being very catlike. As soon as she’s strolling away from having achieved the deed, there’s this actual second of reduction from pressure and some sass comes into play.”

Ciaran has a course of for attaining Villanelle earlier than and after a kill. “You retain her in mushy trainers to provide her a presence, however when she walks away you place her in your heels. You stroll away such as you’re proud of simply killing somebody. Ensuring there’s these two sides… That occurred all through the method.”

Jodie Comer as Villanelle - Killing Eve

“I actually loved Villanelle, I received into her very simply,” says Foley artist Paula Boram, who’s additionally within the room. All of us snicker nervously. “I’m not going to go and assassinate anyone, not simply but.”

“I like to truly do what the character is doing, that’s simply my approach,” she continues. “In scenes the place I’ve to chop meals, I’ve my eye on the display, I don’t have my eyes on my hand. I put on leather-based gloves to provide me additional safety. In the event that they’re pouring a kettle on display we boil a kettle, as a result of boiling water sounds completely different to chilly water as a consequence of its density. I’ve received my eye on the display as I’m pouring. You simply need to be actually cautious.”

So as to obtain the peak of drama, on this case the peak of violence, as seen on display in reveals like Killing Eve, there’s collaboration between Foley and the broader sound results group. “When the crack [of a neck] occurs, it’s not solely Foley,” explains Ciaran. “Sound results will do some bones breaking, and we’ll attempt and make it sound actual and cemented so that you’re not simply listening to a sound impact – you’re listening to this Foley to assist mattress on this horrible sound.

It’s typical for Foley artists to exactly recreate what is going on on display in order to really feel as near the character as attainable when recording Foley sound. However surprisingly, it’s not at all times very best for sound results to truly sound real looking. That’s as a result of what we anticipate to listen to isn’t at all times true to how the precise expertise would sound in the actual world, explains Ciaran.

“Your mind expects to listen to the strands of the eyes popping out in a violence scene, for instance, so we use so much of fruit and veg. It’s not what eyes would really sound like coming out, however fruit and veg have water in them, texture to them, completely different types of texture that imply you may get some actually gross sounds of it.”


It’s not all gore and guts. One of the extra family-friendly reveals on the Hackenbacker portfolio is Downton Abbey, which required a unique method. “A key half of that present is the entire upstairs/downstairs divide,” says Ciaran. “So that you need upstairs to be actually delicate and posh.” Paula chimes in: “Posh, lovely, pretty, not too creeky. The downstairs generally is a bit extra creeky, a bit rougher.” Ciaran agrees. “You need your armchair to sound completely different to a settee to sound completely different to stalls. Now we have as much as ten differing types of leather-based which we twist and contort to attain the completely different sounds of characters sitting down.”

It’s all an train in discretion. “The gold commonplace is that if they’ll’t hear Foley on TV, and they don’t know that we’re doing our jobs: then we’ve achieved our jobs very well. You need them to be so intrigued within the present, you don’t need somebody to begin serious about us.”

Foley is so discrete, it’s doubtless that some of the A-Listing actors within the reveals Hackenbacker produce aren’t conscious of the Foley course of, which exists tucked away deep in post-production, far-off from the set.

Nonetheless, there’s at all times the temptation to surprise how it might really feel to observe an on-screen actor take to the Foley studio to carry out their very own toes. “It’d be very meta,” admits Ciaran. “Very thoughts blowing, if I noticed an actor doing their very own toes…”

Killing Eve debuts new episodes on BBC iPlayer each Monday from 6am, and airs on Sundays at 9pm on BBC One – check out what else is on with our TV Information


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