“An incredibly quiet recording chain is achieved with an Audient ASP4816 console,” says The Laundry’s website, when detailing the equipment used in the brand new dedicated Foley studio, which opened in Essex at the beginning of the year. Combining the compact, analogue desk with a 3m x 1.7m projector screen, a NEC 4k projector, JBL 3678 screen channel speakers and two Crown DSI amps, they’re all set for high quality playback, whilst creating all manner of interesting sounds.
Owner Barnaby Smyth cites, “Patience, musicality and articulate direction,” as prerequisites for the job – he clearly has all of these in spades. “It’s hard work, but hugely fun,” he says. “If you want to good Foley you have to immerse yourself in the scene or character you are performing. Half-hearted Foley is all too easy to spot.
ASP4816: «an incredibly quiet recording chain»
“The challenge is trying to achieve good recordings for a huge dynamic range of sounds: from face touches to car crashes. I have a lot of ‘go-to’ objects, but each project usually throws up new situations in which we have to createnew sounds. This often involves sourcing new props – something that I’m now in a better position to do, having my own studio,” he explains.
“We tend to perform with the scene on screen, but we record a lot of wild tracks – not to picture – which are useful in the edit.” Audient wonders if he can describe some of the more peculiar ways of creating sounds. “When I’m rubbing my chest for lovemaking scenes, and kissing my hand and my arm,” he suggests.
The edit suite is located upstairs from the main studio, which where the Audient desk has fitted in a treat. “It’s been fantastic. Great, clean mic pres and the EQ is very versatile. It’s small but very flexible with a great number of returns from ProTools available.” Surrounding the desk is an array of seemingly disparate items all of which help create sound effects. A glance at the company website is enough to confound visitors: row after row of shoes, a butler sink, an alarm clock, a chest of drawers and numerous floor coverings, ensuring The Laundry has the capability to produce “…a range of sounds from rickety old house, to plush stately home.”
«Great, clean mic pres and the EQ is very versatile. It’s small but very flexible»
With his impressive credit list, including The Night Manager; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Downton Abbey, Smyth and his colleague, Emmy nominated Foley engineer Keith Partridge are a formidable team in this new venture. Between them they have a broad professional network to draw on, especially for TV work. “Clients, editors and mixers I have worked with and have a good relationship with, bring return work. Films are slightly harder to come by, but I usually do a few a year.
“Now that I have my own place, the best thing about my work is that I can do what I like with the studio and develop and improve as I need to,” he adds, definitely happy in his work. “We are being creative all day.” What’s not to love about that?