Why Angelina Is One Of The Most Remarkable People

BY ANNETTE LANGE

Angelina Jolie is one of those actors who would have the ability, means and even the excuse to withdraw from any work or the public eye if she wanted. She could be satisfied with her success, after being deemed one of the most beautiful and rich women alive by the media, and having won the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

She is an extremely busy and recognised woman, and I have no idea how she manages to balance everything. But all the awards and successes don’t seem to be enough to make her slow down.

Ever since shooting Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in Cambodia and her exposure to the worldwide humanitarian crises, she hasn’t stopped being involved in humanitarian causes.

Hollywood actress and Oscar winner, Angelina Jolie, looks at an Afghan refugee making bricks at a bricks kiln in the outskirts of Islamabad

Upon receiving the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, she shared in her speech:

“[My mother] was very clear that nothing would mean anything if I didn’t live a life of use to others.”

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Sure, Jolie didn’t always have the best reputation or set a great example. She’s always been considered a bit of a wild child. She’s been divorced three times, was accused of being a homewrecker, and the list goes on…

She doesn’t deny any of this, instead she recalls:

“I came into this business, young and worried about my own experiences and my own pain. And it was only when I began to travel and look and live beyond my home that I understand my responsibilities to others.”

She has gone above and beyond to take her mother’s advice seriously. She knows at the end of the day, what matters is not how good you’ve been in what you’ve done, but how you’ve used what you had to do good and love those around you.

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It’s such a common trap for one in the entertainment business to be self-absorbed and see a powerful performance, recognition or fame as the end goal.

When talking about her past, Jolie recalls being “absolutely self-destructive.” She continues, “I think a lot of young people in this business lose their way. You don’t know what is of value. You don’t know where you are. And you know something’s wrong, because it isn’t life as it actually is. It’s like living in some warped reality.”

She’s been exposed to the ‘real world’ with its cruelty and injustice, and she’s thrown herself right in to do something about it.

Her humanitarian efforts include the fight against the refugee crisis, conservation and community development, child immigration and education as well as human and women’s rights. Rather than just donating money and raising awareness about the crises, she’s determined to go there herself, visiting the respective people groups and taking time to hear their stories and giving them a voice.

I’m fascinated by her not stopping her involvement in film entirely. Now that she’s been exposed to more pressing matters, she could have seen the film industry as less important, but no.

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She is still doing what she loves. She acts, directs (shedding light on other actors), writes, and tells stories which challenge and encourage her audience, while being dedicated to her many humanitarian efforts.

Jolie isn’t perfect. She knows this, but she’s  trying to be the best she can be. Let’s cut her some slack, and use her as a source of inspiration instead of a target of criticism.

Are you living in a warped reality? Is it possible that you’re focused in achieving something that doesn’t matter at the end of the day? What legacy are you leaving behind? Is your life/art/craft of use to others?

Even though you probably won’t have the same means and resources as her, there’s always a way to invest in the lives of others and get a shift of perspective. Use Jolie’s willpower and drive as an inspiration.

 

“The Expanse” Will Make You Feel Lost In Space

BY KEATON J. EVANS

Netflix’s new show, The Expanse, is extraordinary, visually stunning, and has a gritty, realistic look which makes the show quite unique and creative when compared to other sci-fi shows.

There’s a lot going on right off the bat, with colonies across the solar system, a futuristic Earth, a militant Mars, and plenty of water shortage on some smaller worlds. I would say there’s a lot going for the show.

This being said, there are also a few things which the show isn’t so great at doing. Below are some thing it does well and some things where it misses the mark. All points considered, you’ll feel lost in space watching this show.

Now whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.

The Worlds Are Incredible

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The production quality is the shows number one quality, hands down. The worlds and ships they show glisten with details and have almost a Blade Runner vibe especially on the Asteroid colonies.

The show also hits well on the realities of space and what could go wrong. One example, is the water shortage on the asteroid belt. There’s moments where shipments of ice are delayed and the people on the belt suffer because of it. It goes even farther to point out that if a second shipment is delayed then people will die.

It was refreshing to see so much thought put into the mechanics of world outside of earth, and see the messy reality, and complications which could arise. The visual aspects of the worlds and the realism they present are both excellent.

Seeing all these real intricate worlds allows you to get lost in them, a feeling which was a pleasant surprise.

Wait, Who Are These People?

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After watching The Expanse, I noticed the one thing I didn’t quite like: the character development. Probably the weakest aspect of the film. While the production design is quite superb, the characters fall short, especially in the beginning.

I thought about why this was. The characters are interesting enough, they live in incredible worlds, and the plot is good, so what gives. Well, here’s the deal. While the characters may be interesting, it’s hard to know because they rush the character development.

It feels like we are supposed to know who these people are as soon as we see the first shot. It almost seems like the beginning of the show is the middle of a show. Now, there is development of the characters, a little.

But for the most part, all the introductions are rushed and end up leaving you feeling  little connection with the people you are watching. I think to myself, “A spaceship explodes and people might die! Oh no! Wait, who are these people?”

If they want the events to hold any weight, they need to let us get to know the characters, and then put them into dangerous life-threatening situations, or we won’t care.

If you feel stranded and not quite sure how to feel then don’t worry, it’s an effect of rushed character intros.

Feeling Lost Could Be Either Good or Bad

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Both the best qualities of the show and the worst qualities of the show will make you feel lost. But which feeling sticks with you? Does the production design and visuals carry you through the hard-to-know characters, or do you feel not knowing the characters takes you out of the show?

Either way, it’s an inspiration to anyone who wants to make a science-fiction show.

How To Dirty Your Actors Without Using Dirt

Written by Keaton J. Evans.

Across popular movies there have been teams of make-up artists getting the right look for characters who seem to never take showers. I’m talking Sam Neill in Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Matthew McConaughey in Mud, and Jack Sparrow.

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You get the point. Whenever a character rolls in the mud or falls off a pirate ship, there needs to be an authentic dirty look for the character.

I researched different ways to get the dirty look for any upcoming short films where I would need to portray a character who skips on the washing.

Here’s what I found.

Before I get into the steps of applying make-up, you’ll need to find these supplies:

Supplies needed:

  • coffee grounds
  • loose tea leaves
  • lotion (sunscreen)
  • brown eye shadow (I used Vino colour)
  • wet sponge
  • willing victim…er, helper

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After acquiring these supplies you’ll be ready to start with step one.

Step 1: apply eyeshadow

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In this step, you’ll use your index finger to apply the eyeshadow to the parts of the face where you think someone might get dirty. I noticed that the forehead and the upper parts of the cheekbones get dirty more than other parts, also the nose.

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty then you can choose to use a small make-up sponge.

Gently rub the eyeshadow back and forth over the surfaces you think is best. After doing this in all of the appropriate areas you’ll be ready to move onto the second step.

Step 2: mix lotion with coffee grounds

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For this step, first ground the coffee beans, preferably of a darker variety, and then mix with the lotion. I used sunscreen in this step, and it worked well. This step is quite messy.

You don’t need to use much of either. Small chunks of coffee and a bit of lotion should do the trick. After mixing the lotion with the coffee grounds, then move onto the next step of applying.

Step 3: apply the mixture

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As far as applying the coffee/tea and lotion to the person’s face, you’ll need to do step 2 a few times, as there may be a few spots to cover.

Do a little mixing, then a little applying. A little mixing, a little applying, you get the drift. Apply the coffee and lotion to the same places which you touch in step 1, to have those layers.

Add to any place where you think dirt would be, say if the victim fell down face first into the dirt. With the coffee grounds, you don’t need to apply heavily, just a few small chunks here and there, unless you really want you character to look like dirt was just caked on.

After doing this enough times you should get a result similar to this one. (For me, I was trying to get a “stuck-on-a-deserted-island-for-years” look).

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After you’ve gotten all the shots you need with your actor, wash the makeup and coffee off with warm soap and water. Once you’ve washed the coffee and lotion off as well as the make-up, be sure to dry with a clean towel.

And there you have it! You now know how to make your characters look as dirty as ever, and best part is, you don’t even need to use dirt!

What is nice is you can also apply the make-up in a variety of places on the face as well as a variety of thickness, to get a unique look for each character in your film.

Hope this makeup tip helps all you independent filmmakers out there who are trying to get that professional look.

The Movie That Was To Be Poison At The Box Office

Written by Annette Lange.

If you want to know how to make movies, be sure to look at Michael Haneke’s work for inspiration in terms of affecting and capturing your audience through your film.

“How do you handle the suffering of a family member? What do you do when you stand helplessly and observe the merciless decline of a loved one’s mental and physical state?”

These are the questions Michael Haneke asks his audience with his latest film Amour (2013).

Haneke is known to be quite the perfectionist when it comes to his work. Every choice he makes has a specific purpose and is well thought-out. Haneke never gives answers. But he is able to stir up questions by getting to the very heart of his viewers’ emotions.

Amour deals with the question of how to deal with the suffering of a loved one. This same topic could have been explored through a story about young parents having to cope with their child dying of cancer, but Haneke chose a story that will concern us all at some point or another.

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The film revolves around an old couple of retired music teachers Anne and Georges. Their circumstances drastically change when Anne suffers a stroke and is left partially paralysed. They are forced to deal with their new set of circumstances as Anne’s physical and mental health gradually regresses.

Haneke chooses to tell the story through particularly long takes and steady shots. I found the distance of the camera to the characters very interesting because it was often far, while it’d be tempting to choose a close-up on the actors at particularly emotional moments.

Even these technical choices force the audience to witness and sit through uncomfortable situations we would intrinsically want to run away from, which makes the effect on us all the more impactful.

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This queasiness is added to through the choice of the location for filming. The story evolves almost entirely within the confines of Anne and Georges’ apartment – an exact replica of Haneke’s parents’ apartment. It feels as if the apartment is a character in itself, witnessing the succession of their challenges. We feel almost just as constricted as Anne who is unable to leave the apartment.

The story is not beautified through music in the background. In fact, the only music in the film is the music played by the characters themselves. This choice sets the film apart from being mere entertainment, to letting the audience feel entirely part of the story.

The audience experiences the events as they are – without embellishments.

Juliette Binoche, who has worked with Haneke, describes that “he has a drive to see and talk about the world ‘without fat’ so to speak, by removing the mask. […] A lot can be covered up in movies, and to get close to the skin, you need courage.” And Haneke definitely has that drive and courage, as well as his actors.

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His casting choice of Emmanuelle Riva (as Anne), Jean-Louis Trintignant (as Georges) and Isabelle Huppert (as Eva) couldn’t have been better. They allow themselves to sit in the emotion, the uncomfortable silences and the difficulties that come with dealing with Anne’s handicap physically and emotionally.

An example of these fascinating moments is when Georges’ realizes he just slapped Anne on the cheek in her feebleness. It hurts the viewer just as much as him. Or Anne having to be naked and washed by someone else is just as uncomfortable for us as it is for her. Most can identify with their daughter Eva who is left talking about investing in property because she doesn’t know how to handle her mother’s state.

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The situations themselves are ordinary. So ordinary, it’s scary. Haneke describes:

“My films are more difficult for the viewer to watch than they are for me and the actors to make.”

Haneke’s skill lies in the way he is able to make his audience feel.

When he introduced the idea of making Amour, his producer commented that it would be “poison at the box office” because of the taboos it would address. Countless awards later, it proved to have had the opposite effect.

Director Haneke reacts after receiving the Palme d'Or award for the film Amour during the awards ceremony of the 65th Cannes Film Festival

At first, I was trying to figure out what Haneke was trying to say or achieve, until I realized that it is Haneke’s intention to leave the interpretation up to us. “The film asks questions, something I always try to do, and if you expect an answer from me, or to provide you with an interpretation, I have to refuse it. […] I shouldn’t tell you how you are to view the film.”

Amour definitely had an effect on me. After watching it, I immediately gave my grandparents a call to tell them I loved them. And my view of the film changed from aversion to absolute appreciation after mulling over it within the next week.

Whether I understand or agree with the ending or not, is not the point. Haneke proved to be a master in his craft once again – using the powerful medium of cinematography  to its fullest potential.

How to Willy Wonka Your Way to an Acting Technique

BY KEATON J. EVANS

Follow me and you will see a world of pure imagination full of creative ways to develop your acting technique into the stuff of wonders.

For me, my journey of developing my own unique acting technique was similar to the ones of the children in Gene Wilder’s, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

While I was learning about all the different techniques, Meisner, Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, to name a few, I was a bit overwhelmed by which ones to use and which ones to avoid. I didn’t have a clear picture of what to do.

Then I thought about the analogy of a kid in a candy shop. Similar to the children in the movie, I was able to choose different acting techniques like candy. And in doing so, created my own ‘collection of sweets’ comprising a pile of style.

Try all the candy you want!

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Contrary to what our parents would tell us about eating candy, in this metaphor of creating your own technique, the best thing you can do is try all the candy. From the zany sours of Meisner, to the chocolate of Stanislavski, there’s so much to choose from.

For me, it’s an easy temptation to try to find one proven method and just stick to it. I want to be able to have a technique which will get me through various acting struggles I know I will encounter.

But the thing is, one technique alone probably won’t be enough. It might take certain tips from other people and experiences to help develop your style.

It takes time

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Imagine being given the challenge to try every type of candy in the world. How long do you think it would take you? Chances are, a fairly long time.

Same goes for developing your acting technique.

When approaching your own unique style, the best thing to have is patience. It takes people years, sometimes even decades, to get comfortable with a certain style of acting.

Give yourself time to try all sorts of different ones to see which of them you like.

Create your own candy

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Just like Wonka had his own recipes and factory, make your own factory of techniques. When you’re under pressure to learn something, you’re able to come up with your own strategies.

For example, during the first few short films I was in I had to scramble to study the scripts. Under pressure I was able to find out how I study: through many scribbled notes.

I wasn’t taught this, but I used it all the same and it worked. Thing is, you don’t have to use the techniques people suggest. You have the creative freedom to come up with your own unique system.

What I have found, through wrestling with what it means to act, is there’s no one correct way, it all depends on what works best for you. You have the ability to try every approach and technique, you’re not limited to one specific one.

You may find the best thing you can do in your acting is adopt a few things from each technique and disregard other things. In this way, there’s no pressure to find a technique as quickly as possible, because again, it will take time.

There are no limits here; take as much as you want. And fortunately, unlike candy, you won’t get a toothache by taking too much. So let Wonka’s story be inspiration to your own acting journey, and step into a world of pure imagination.

How Failure Improved My Acting And My Life

By Keaton J. Evans Sr.

Attempting to dodge failure sucks. Trust me, I’ve done it a million times in my life. I consider myself to be the expert on the subject.

 

That being said, I’ve learned how to overcome a fear of failure and now wish to share with you what I’ve discovered about failing. Hopefully, these lessons will help you learn to fail well. The key lies not in planning to fail, but allowing yourself to fail and learning from what you’ve done wrong.

 

As an actor and artist, learning to fail has been the biggest success I’ve had yet. This idea didn’t really make sense at first. The idea that the way to succeed is through accepting failure.

 

We’re all going to fail and make mistakes, that’s one of the ways we grow. The process of moving on from a fear of failure requires you to do a few things.

 

The worst thing you can do is what I did and try your hardest to not make mistakes. If you do that then you will never take the risks you’ll need to take if you are worried about failure.

 

K(no)w risks, k(no)w failure, k(no)w success

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Picture this: you’re about to audition for a role in a new Marvel film, say, Captain Ironman. Now you are thinking about auditioning, but then suddenly you start thinking about how terrible you’ll probably do and how you might flub the audition and how it would be better to not even audition, cause why waste your time doing something you don’t do well?

 

Probable situation, right?

 

I’ve been in a similar place as an actor. While acting in a scene I would continually think about how I wasn’t reaching the standard I held for myself. I became a perfectionist in every sense of the word. (Ask my parents, they’ll back me up on this one).

 

Earlier on, before I got more used to auditioning, I hesitated and stopped from going to auditions or even trying new things out of a fear of failing. There are so many opportunities I could’ve taken but didn’t. You’ll never fail if you don’t try, it’s true. But you also won’t ever succeed either.

 

Besides, the continual fear of failure stops you from having fun! Speaking of fun.

 

Seriously, don’t take everything so seriously

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The pressure that the fear of failure and perfectionism both create not only hindered me from taking opportunities that would’ve helped challenge and grow me as an artist, but it also kept me from one of the very reasons people create art: for the fun of it.

 

An example of this idea in my life came in the form of painting. I liked to paint, but after attempting it a few times, I became so discouraged by what I was making that I stopped. The paintings were never as good as I wanted them to be. The fun of painting had been strangled by my perfectionism.

 

But just a few weeks ago that all started to change.

 

I underwent this beautiful mind shift where I decided to paint and just have fun. I no longer painted with the intention of avoiding mistakes, that is, having to create something perfect. While I was brushing away at the paper, making a landscape of hills and trees I had a revelation: I was having so much fun just making something. It didn’t have to be perfect or even that good. I made mistakes, but instead of getting rid of the painting immediately, I would fix the mistake or even turn it into something I hadn’t originally intended it to be. In fact, the mistakes were the very things that made me the most proud.

 

This revelation was huge for me. It showed me fun is found in the unexpected twists and turns that happen when making something. Also when there isn’t the pressure for the piece to be perfect, I am surprised by what I am able to make.

 

The same could be said of any art. When there’s the pressure to be perfect it keeps us from enjoying the creative process. I felt this in my acting. I was starting to take it way too seriously. Then I remembered that acting is about playing. Let us never forget that.

 

Perfectionism hinders your creativity and imagination

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With the pressure to be perfect and to create perfect things, starting out becomes a real pain in the butt. When starting something, I had the idea in my mind that I needed to be instantly good at it. I would quickly become frustrated when I discovered I wasn’t.

 

This kept me from doing a lot of things as well. I didn’t allow myself to be a beginner, I had to be excellent right out of the gate.

 

When it came to creating things or acting, I was the same way. And this need to be excellent right off the bat hindered me from experimenting with different ideas and methods. I had to choose the right course the first time. I couldn’t afford to be wrong. Needless to say, what I created and how I acted was fairly flat, and it would never get any better because I didn’t allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them.

 

I fortunately learned that when we begin something, we won’t be good. I learned that it might take awhile, a long while to get good at whatever I was attempting. But that’s ok. The sooner you learn that the sooner you can let go of needing to be perfect and cling to the desire of getting better.

 

If I had held to perfectionism when I started out in acting I would’ve quit early on. Fortunately the passion I have for acting helped drive me forward and push past some of the frustration that comes from starting something new.

 

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See, letting go of perfectionism and the fear of failure isn’t the rejection of excellence. Quite the opposite, in fact. Learning to accept our failings and learning from them is how we achieve excellence in what we do.

 

That is what I learned, and it has changed how I have approached art and even every day. I see each day as an adventure, not as a day where I could mess up, or things could go wrong. So believe me when I say, learning to fail is one of the greatest lessons you can learn. Don’t try to always be dodging failure. Beat it by seeing it as a necessary step towards growth. You’ll never look back once you do.

 

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. -J.K. Rowling

 

Shank You for the Foley

Written by Keaton J. Evans.

A watermelon produces a million sounds. Well, maybe not a million, but pretty close. This was the realisation I had when I wanted to get foley of a guy getting stabbed.

What started out as innocent clean fun turned into a massacre of life’s bigger fruits. At the end of the project the watermelon was stabbed so many times that it was just a heap of red and green.

Below are the materials you’ll need to get some good stabbing foley for yourself.

  • A helper (to either make the sound or capture it)
  • A sound-proof room (or something of the equivalent)
  • Half of watermelon
  • A knife
  • A large plate with rounded edges
  • Two microphones: 1.) a Hypercardioid mic (“shotgun” mic), 2.) a large Diaphragm Cardioid studio mic
  • Task cam
  • Portable mixer
  • Headphones
  • Microphone stands
  • SD card

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If you don’t have access to this kind of sound equipment then you can also use a smartphone.

Here’s what I learned from my foley.

Step 1

After you have procured a quiet room, a helper, and the necessary equipment, the first thing to do is set up the two mics so they are about 6 inches from the watermelon. Simple mic stands can do this easily enough. Also connect the headphones to the mixer to monitor the best placement for the mics. Make sure to put the watermelon on a plate in order to avoid spills. Again, If you don’t have mics or a mixer, then set up your smartphone to record the sound.

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Step 2

Once the mics are screwed into microphone stands, make sure both are connected to inputs on the portable mixer, which is used to adjust the gain level for each microphone. The mixer I used has a line-level output which sends the two signals to a 2-channel portable audio recorder, which records Stereo Digital Audio files (in .wav format) to an SD Card. Your mixer may or may not have this.

You don’t necessarily need the sound mixer and could just use the mics directly connected to the Tascam recorder, if you have one, but the mixer has a louder headphone output and could also be used to adjust the sound mix between the two microphones to taste. Once you’ve turned everything on and made sure your equipment is working, you can move on to the next step.

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Step 3

Make sure before you make your incisions into the watermelon, you put it on a plate with edges that curve upwards. We had our watermelon on a plastic bag and when it leaked its juices went all over the place. So yeah, to avoid any spillage, best to have a plate, or even a bowl.

I found it was rather difficult to stifle a laugh when we went to town stabbing the watermelon. In saying that, make sure you are as quiet as you can so that the squishy sound from the watermelon is the only thing heard.

Now what we did is took turns listening and stabbing. We got pretty creative with the different ways we made sound with the watermelon. We would make stabs, stabs with twists, long cuts, stabs with the handle part of the knife, etc. The quick stabs made nice squishy sounds, and the stabs and twists created an almost bone-cracking sound. The stabs with the handle had a nice hitting sound to it, which could be used for a punch or a knife stab.

Here’s some different audio examples we created:

It’s also good to note that for the sake of simplicity, use different recordings for the different techniques you use to get sound. You’ll thank yourself later when you go to edit and sync it with a clip.

For instance, if you need a simple stab, have that on one recording, and the next one could be stabs with the handle of the knife, the next one being when you punched the watermelon. After you’re done getting the sound you need then turn off the mixer and the task cams and unplug the mics and the headphones.

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Step 4

In this step make sure to tear down any stands or equipment you used and clean up the watermelon carnage that is likely to remain, depending on how many stabs you made. After everything is cleaned up then you can simply upload the SD card to your computer and voila! You now recorded foley. The next thing to do is to edit the sound and sync it to the clip that requires the stabbing foley.

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Here’s some clips with the synced foley.

This clip is with the sound of a stab:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgip6MnRnwc&spfreload=10

This clip is with the sound of a stab and twist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joKgJ7H86Z0

This clip is with the sound of the blunt end of the knife stabbing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD7Z6SAFPrA&spfreload=10

This clip is with the sound of a rind stab and twist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT68XR18fGE

You can shank me later.