Raising Audio Hell

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Tim Gedemer of Santa Monica's Spank Music/Audio Group has worked on the sound design for many features, but the Hughes Brothers' latest film, the nasty Jack the Ripper tale From Hell, marks his first gig as lead sound designer. And a bloody good time was had by all. For the movie's knife-slashing effects, Gedemer's crew ruined a set of pricey meat cleavers from ritzy kitchen supplier Williams-Sonoma. Recalls Gedemer, "I went to their wall of high-quality knives and asked the salesperson, 'Can you get a couple of those out for me? I want to hear how they sound clanking together.' He didn't let me, so I just bought them and the Foley artists took the $250 knives and basically destroyed them." For flesh and blood sounds, Gedemer delved into his well-stocked arsenal under the category Dismemberment, and relied heavily upon his classic Pig Death file - a "famous recording of a pig carcass that a friend of mine pulled onto the Foley stage and pummeled until he couldn't pummel it anymore," he notes. The true impact of the sounds became evident during test screenings with varying intensities of sound design; a cut with jacked-up sound would actually create the illusion of a gore-fest. "The brothers were concerned because they didn't want it to seem like a slasher movie," notes Gedemer. "We could really enhance the gross-out level, so we had to walk a fine line between artistic and gratuitous."
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