No sound effect is called for in Rain in the Mountains that sounds like a watermelon being split with a sledgehammer. But we had a spare watermelon and sledgehammer.
There are lots of philosophical approaches to sound effects. Some people want the sound to be absolutely literal. I heard tell that Ang Lee made the sound designer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon break into a Nebraska greenhouse in the middle of the night to record the sound of a particular type of bamboo. On the other end of the spectrum, it is a common practice for Hollywood sound designers, according to a book I just read, to mix in animal sounds with non-animal things. Oliver Stone’s movies are especially known for this. Listen for the lion roars in Any Given Sunday.
What Joel and Christine did is watch through all the dailies and make a list of sounds to record, just like a Foley artist might do for an already-cut scene. Then they went out and recorded the sounds. Individual footsteps on gravel. Walking footsteps on gravel. Running on gravel. Individual footsteps on pavement… etc. They noted on their list what tape the sound was on and at what timecode. They will use these tapes to build a sound effects library that will hopefully cover 99% of the sounds. Will it sound just like a Hollywood movie, done by a professional foley artist? Probably not. Will any audience members notice? Only if they are bored by the story.
RELATED: Poor Man’s ADR
META NOTE: My days in Washington state have come to an end. Posting will be sporadic as I bounce around the country. Bear with me.