BURBANK, CA — Award-winning Foley mixer John Sanacore has worked on hundreds of projects, from Oscar-winning films that include Zero Dark Thirty, The
Hurt Locker and
Birdman, to Emmy-winning series like Fox’s
Bob’s Burgers and
Black Sails on Starz. He recorded Foley for the pilot episode of the Starz series
Ash vs Evil Dead that premiered October 31st. He recently completed Foley supervision on the upcoming Warner Bros./DC Comics film
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Disney’s nautical rescue adventure
The Finest Hours. “I’m really passionate about my job,” says Sanacore, who owns Foley studio Core Post in Burbank, CA (www.core-post.com), as well as works as a freelance Foley mixer/Foley supervisor/Foley editor at studios like Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and the Formosa Group in Los Angeles.
Sanacore’s multi-mic approach to capturing Foley uses one mic close to the sound source and one mic positioned further away to capture the sound of the room. “It is critical to try to get variety in the sound of the room. The room dictates what mics you can use to a degree,” says Sanacore. For the room mic, his studio is outfitted with an omnidirectional mic, like the DPA 4003, but in other studios, that particular mic may not be the right choice for the space. “I might not even be able to use a room mic in a smaller room if I can’t really get a convincing room sound,” he notes. “Sometimes I’ll take the room mic out of the equation if it’s not working.”
For the close-mic, Sanacore alternates between a Neumann KMR 81 short shotgun and a large diaphragm condenser mic depending on the character of the sound. “Most of the time we use the short shotgun for footsteps, typically set four to 10 feet away,” he says. Sanacore also likes the KMR 81 for the cloth pass. “It is very smooth and it has a darker tone than some of the other shotguns, which gives a little more fullness to the cloth. If I want a heavier cloth sound, then I will go to a large diaphragm condenser mic, like the Neumann U87.”
Sanacore always has a large diaphragm condenser mic ready-to-go for capturing props. While recording at Core Post with Foley artists Hilda Hodges and Christopher Moriana on the pilot episode of Ash vs Evil Dead, Sanacore chose a custom-modified large diaphragm condenser mic to capture the meatier, more over-the-top sounds. “I use it for big body falls no matter what the surface is. I frequently go to the large diaphragm for anything metal, especially bigger metal sounds like a car crash or huge metal impacts.” It’s also his go-to for recording glass and paper, which are typically very bright and harsh.
For capturing fine sound details in props, Sanacore prefers the KMR 81. “It can really help you focus in on the details and get more presence, which is helpful for delicate sounds,” he says. In Ash vs Evil Dead, he used it for the Foley of Ash’s corset being strapped on, to capture all the nuisances of the creaky leather straps and jingling buckles, and for the locking mechanism sound they recorded for Ash’s trademark weapon, the chainsaw, when it attaches to his arm. “When he’s not using the chainsaw, Ash has a wood hand that we also had a lot of fun playing up.”
At Core Post, Sanacore typically runs his mics through a GML Model 8304, or other esoteric mic pre-amps, into Pro Tools 10, mixing the mics on-the-fly and recording onto one mono track. “No matter what mics I’m using, it’s almost always a single channel as it is going into Pro Tools. I am mixing the multiple mics down to whatever I feel the final version of the sound should be,” Sanacore explains.
Sanacore had two days to record roughly 500 cues for the pilot episode of Ash vs Evil Dead. One major factor to his workflow efficiency is how well the Pro Tools session is cued by the Foley supervisor or Foley editor. If it’s well labeled, and categorized, then the Foley artist can perform more cues in less time. “It really helps when the cue session keeps a single character on the same track when we’re doing footsteps. And when we are doing props, we try to keep reoccurring props on the same track.”