Alchemy Post Delivers Foley for Master of None
Alchemy Post Sound recently provided Foley sound effects for the second season of the Netflix original series, Master of None. Reprising its role from the show’s first season, Alchemy’s Foley team created hundreds of custom sound effects for 10 new episodes.
Created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Young, Master of None stars Ansari as Dev Patel, an actor trying to build a career in New York City. The show has been widely praised for its mix of comedy and drama and won a 2016 Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.
As with the show’s debut season, all 10 new episodes are available for download from Netflix. For Alchemy Post Sound, that meant that an entire season of Foley sound had to be delivered within a narrow timeframe. “It’s not like a regular broadcast series where we might be working on episode 104 while episode 103 is being mixed and episode 102 is on the air,” explains Alchemy Foley artist Leslie Bloome. “The whole season was finished as a package, so we had to deliver everything very quickly, but without sacrificing quality.”
Alchemy rose to the challenge by assembling two Foley teams, led by Bloome, Foley artist Joanna Fang and Foley mixers Ryan Collison and Nick Seaman. The two teams worked collaboratively in overlapping shifts and also divided responsibilities between sound effects that could be produced on Alchemy’s Foley stages versus those that needed to be recorded in the field. “Alchemy and its very talented team of Foley artists were great partners to Harbor Picture Company through to the mix,” says series supervising sound editor Robert Hein. New York’s Harbor Picture Company mixes the series. Having contributed to the show’s first season helped the Foley team tremendously. “We were already fully invested in the characters and the style of the show,” notes Fang. “Before we worked on the first season, we spent a lot of time watching Aziz’s comedy routines to get a feel for his sense of humor. This season, Bob Hein got in touch with us as production was wrapping to fill us in on the context of the new episodes.” One recurring theme of the show is Dev’s obsession with food. As a result, Alchemy’s Foley team was frequently called on to create realistic sounds to support scenes in restaurants and Dev’s kitchen.
“There is a lot of bacon in the show,” recalls Fang. “We spent a lot of time microwaving bacon to give it just the right crunch. We always go to great lengths to ensure what you hear perfectly reflects what you see. If Dev is eating tortellini, tortellini is what you hear.” Many other sound effects were created for comic effect. Bloome points to a scene from the new season’s debut episode where Dev is woken from a deep sleep by a loud alarm clock. “It was an old-style alarm clock and we found an old bell that produced just the right sound,” he says. “You hear it in a lot of different ways. Dev tries to stifle the alarm with a pillow, so there’s a muffed brrrinnng. Finally, he throws it out a window and we hear it continuing to ring as it falls to the ground. It’s like a doppler effect.” It can take a considerable amount of finessing to work out the timing and sonic qualities of such effects, yet, Bloome says, his team never settles for anything less than perfection. “We have deadlines and we have mix dates to meet, but we never sacrifice artistry,” he insists. “Every sound has to fit the picture and enhance a comic moment or build tension. Regardless of the time constraints, we make every sound as good as it can be.”
To complete its work on Master of None, the Alchemy team relied on a range of tools, including Pro Tools HD, Millennia Mic Pre VHV- 3D Apogee Symphony I/O and Neumann KMR 81 Microphones.