World’s worst job? Sound effects man on a porn film

Grant Meyers designs sound effects for sex films. He seems like a nice person.

(There are no improper images on this short film. We share it as an example in sound recording and production.)

Labor-of-Love

Sample quote: ‘When you’re watching an erotic film, you’re watching pixels. Pixels are not real. Sound is real.’

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  • One of the most fascinating demonstrations I ever attended was the BBC’s senior sound effects technician recreating some of the brilliant effects for the 1950s Goon Shows. These all went out ‘live’ on radio and relied on extraordinary imagination and impeccable timing. The fact is that most of us simply ‘hear’ sounds and let our brains register them; we rarely actively ‘listen’ for sounds and work out what we are actually hearing.

  • Who needs porn when I get the same stuff, live, on the stages of the greatest opera houses of the world?

    Oh sure, it’s much more expensive, and you gotta dress for it, and the casting isn’t always to your taste, but the sound, oh the sound, is unbelievable: Live orchestra accompanying every writhing naked Salomé (Met) or Rhinemaiden (ROH) or Elvira (La Scala)…

  • Quote from 3:18 and onwards:

    “How many people do you meet that get to say that they can honestly get up in the morning and do what they love? Me.”

    So “world’s worst job”? Certainly not for this fellow. Seems more entertaining to follow him a day at work than attending another “night of the stars” in Verbier with ill-prepared chamber music or another dead boring opera galla. Out of the bubble, please!

  • Ah, the legendary Goon Show sound effects. During BBC Studio Manager training (1965), we trainees aspired to emulate those “fx”, such as dropping the needle down at a marked groove on a spinning 78rpm shellac disc with split-second timing. Other skills involved various noise-making gadgets and spliced recording-tape. Now all impeccably achieved digitally.

    By the way Nick, the Goon Shows did not go out live. The original scripts had the much-loved announcer Wallace Greenslade saying, over closing applause: “That was the Goon Show, a BBC recorded programme featuring…..” But all those sessions were prepared intensively by the sound effects specialists (obsessively cajoled by scriptwriter Spike Milligan), and they inserted the noises “as live”. Audience reaction was immediate and retakes were rare.

    Grant Meyers’ big statement doesn’t make sense. He says: “When you’re watching an erotic film, you’re hearing pixels. Pixels are not real, sound is real”. At this point you might realise you’re being taken for a ride. Nobody “hears” pixels. Suspicions should be confirmed with: “All sounds are erotic” (a condition that ought to merit specialist attention).

    The ultimate giveaway is at 3.33 when John, the baseball-capped video engineer, shakes his head in disbelief. John spends his life watching pixels and listening to audio tracks and he’s detected a serious hype-alert. His silent expression says it all.

    As John Riley points out, the whole thing’s a spoof (and it’s brilliantly put together). See:

    https://twitter.com/will_stephen/media

    • Thanks for the information. I had always thought the Goons went out ‘live’. I do recall a BBC employee telling me about a regular panel programme some time in the late ’60s that was recorded at one of the BBC’s theatres – I think it was the Paris near Trafalgar Square. I can’t recall the programme name but it also had an audience. If the audience did not respond to a joke, someone on the panel would immediately tell a very risque and ‘non-airable’ joke that would have the audience in stitches. The editor then just chopped the original reaction and the second joke from the tape so listeners assumed the dud joke had been far funnier that they’d thought!

      • Of the many panel radio shows in the 1960s, you may be thinking of the quick-fire “Does the Team Think?” (1957 – 1976) whose star turn was Ted Ray. His prolific radio career is outlined here:

        http://laughterlog.com/2009/03/09/performers-ted-ray/

        The Paris Theatre (formerly a cinema) in Lower Regent Street was an occasional venue for the Goon Show, along with the Garrick Theatre. But its regular home was the Camden Theatre. The series began in May 1951 and the final programme aired in January 1960. Tickets for the Sunday afternoon recordings must have been the hottest in town, and by the end of the run anyone lucky enough to be in the audience would have been aware they were part of what would become an enduring legend in radio comedy.

        It’s quite possible the editing trick you describe still enhances some of today’s comedy programmes, the main difference being that each digital edit would now take a fraction of the time it took to mark-up and splice together two pieces of recording tape!

      • Of the many panel radio shows in the 1960s, you may be thinking of the quick-fire “Does the Team Think?” (1957 – 1976) whose star turn was Ted Ray. His prolific radio career is outlined here:

        http://laughterlog.com/2009/03/09/performers-ted-ray/

        The Paris Theatre (formerly a cinema) in Lower Regent Street was an occasional venue for the Goon Show, along with the Garrick Theatre. But its regular home was the Camden Theatre. The series began in May 1951 and the final programme aired in January 1960. Tickets for the Sunday afternoon recordings must have been the hottest in town, and by the end of the run anyone lucky enough to be in the audience would have been aware they were part of what would become an enduring legend in radio comedy.

        It’s more than possible the editing trick you describe still enhances some of today’s comedy programmes, the main difference being that each digital edit would now take a fraction of the time it took to mark-up and splice together two pieces of recording tape!

      • Of the many panel radio shows in the 1960s, you may be thinking of the quick-fire “Does the Team Think?” (1957 – 1976) whose star turn was Ted Ray. His prolific radio career is outlined here:

        http://laughterlog.com/2009/03/09/performers-ted-ray/

        The Paris Theatre (formerly a cinema) in Lower Regent Street was an occasional venue for the Goon Show, along with the Garrick Theatre. But its regular home was the Camden Theatre. The series began in May 1951 and the final programme aired in January 1960. Tickets for the Sunday afternoon recordings must have been the hottest in town, and by the end of the run anyone lucky enough to be in the audience would have been aware they were part of what would become an enduring legend in radio comedy.

        It’s more than possible the editing trick you describe still enhances some of today’s comedy programmes, the main difference being that each digital edit would now take a fraction of the time it took to mark-up and splice two ends of recording tape together!

  • I’m reminded of the DVD extra for Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, which shows the sound guy’s heroic quest for the perfect toilet sounds

  • A guy I knew claimed to to really have such a job. He said the most effective sfx were chewing gum with your mouth open and a dog eating from a bowl.

  • You got that quote fundamentally wrong.

    ‘When you’re watching an erotic film, you’re hearing pixels. Pixels are not real. Sound is real.’

    He said “…watching pixels…”, of course.

    • Sorry I misquoted that line. However, although the video is a spoof, it does raise a perhaps worthwhile point: whether the aural content in erotic films arouses in the brain a stronger impetus than the visual. Being a man with a microphone, for “Grant Meyers” it does. But the spoof could have been made featuring an equally passionate cameraman with the opposite point of view, who loves getting up in the morning to make silent erotic movies (with explicit subtitles).

  • It’s an experiment everyone can easily do himself. Watch a flick with the sound off. Then watch a flick with the picture off and the sound on. Compare what had the bigger effect. Easy…
    I the case of XXX movies I would say the picture is more important than the sound. In case of classical music with video, clearly it’s the opposite, the sound carries the meaning and the picture only has illustrating purposes.

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