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Côtes du Røde

Phil Ward finds out how to make red wine sound sexier as he joins Hackenbacker's foley engineer Keith Partidge in his Alladin's cave...

Hackenbacker Audio Post Production is the current occupant of the site well known for many rock and roll years as Red Bus Studios near London’s Paddington, and is now where Foley engineer Keith Partridge presides over an Alladin’s cave of props. As Phil Ward discovers, even the deceptively simple cue of pouring a drink demands the highest authenticity… Are drinks that important in a scene? “Everything is important, but the difference between one drink and another really tells when it comes to the highest quality Foley. It’s particularly true of wine and hot drinks, especially in close-up.” What are the issues? “You’ve got to capture the distance between objects, so in this case the acoustics of the pour are essential. And, from the Foley artist’s point of view, the energy and movement of the pour have to been interpreted creatively and accurately.” That’s the action, but surely liquid is just liquid? “Absolutely not! When we were doing the Foley for a particular scene in the Channel 4 drama Any Human Heart, one of the characters spends a lot of time drinking: whisky from a decanter, wine and beer from different bottles… and ideally you should use the actual beverage. Beer from a bottle has a unique fizziness, and you have to capture that texture. Wine has a different viscosity to whisky, of course, and although you can blag a quick wine pour in the background – like a table in the background in a restaurant – if it’s close-up and important to the scene it won’t work unless it’s the real thing.” I’m glad the wine and beer are from different bottles… how authentic does it get? “We’ll buy some cheap red wine for that density of the pour, and we’ve got a few decanters of it which we keep until it goes too vinegary and loses its texture.” You can’t justify a Châteuneuf du Pape if that’s what it says on the label? “I try to convince my boss that we should try to pay attention to this level of detail, but alas the budgets don’t stretch to that kind of authenticity. There are various ways in which the artist can make a cheap wine sound more expensive, but it most certainly has to be wine. You can’t do it with water.” What are you using to capture this cabinet of audio? “We’ve got two Røde NT2 multi-pattern 1-inch condensers, and the signals are fed through a Cedar Noise Suppressor and a small John Oram analogue desk into Pro Tools. The session files are then uploaded onto Hackenbacker’s FTP site for our editor, Stuart Bagshaw, who’s in Brighton. We’ll create a few layers for the mix, dividing the pour, the clink, the fizz and some ambience between different tracks so there’s plenty of space to blend the whole pour into the dub. A champagne pour can have several tracks.” Dom Perignon Rose? “Perrier water.”