Foley Editing Project
Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects which are added in post-production to enhance the quality of audio for films, television, video, video games and radio. These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. The best foley art is so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience. It helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.
Foley is created by the sound artist mimicking the actual sound source in a recording studio. Often there are many little sound effects that happen within any given scene of a movie. The process of recording them all can be tedious and time consuming. Foley art can be broken down into three main categories:Feet, Props, and Cloth.
To illustrate these categories, we will use the following example:
Two actors are walking down a marble staircase in a film, having a discussion while fishing in their pockets for their car keys.
The “Feet” category entails the sound of footsteps. In the example given the actors are walking down a staircase. What the audience hears are two Foley artists stamping their feet on a marble slab in a recording studio, which they do while watching the footage to make sure that their foot strikes happen at the same time as the actor’s steps on the screen. Foley studios carry many different types of shoes and several different types of floors to create footstep sounds. These floors vary from marble squares to gravel and rock pits. Creating just the right sound of footsteps can greatly enhance feel of a scene.
The “Cloth” category makes up many of the more subtle sounds heard in films. Foley artists will have to add the swishing of clothing as the actor’s pant legs rub together as they descend the stairs. This sound is created by rubbing two pieces of the same material together near the microphone at the same rate that the actor’s legs cross. Cloth is not always used and tends to be recorded at the discretion of the dubbing mixer who ultimately controls the final outcome of the audio post-production process.
Foley can also include other sounds such as doors closing and doorbell rings, however these tend to be done more efficiently using stock sound effects, arranged by "tracklayers".
The scene is only complete when a little reverb is added onto the new Foley audio and any dialog recorded at the set in order to recreate the sound of the hard, empty walls of the staircase. Reverb and echo can enhance the feeling of space in a scene. Both of these effects are subtle but descriptive to the human ear. Acoustically, these effects are how we judge the size of a given space. For example, a large hall will have strong reverberation, while a small room may have only slight reverberation. Open outdoor spaces usually have no echo/reverb at all.
Common Foley tricks
- Corn starch in a leather pouch makes the sound of snow crunching
- A pair of gloves sounds like bird wings flapping
- An arrow or thin stick makes a whoosh
- An old chair makes a controllable creaking sound
- A water soaked rusty hinge when placed against different surfaces makes a creaking sound. Different surfaces change the sound considerably
- A heavy staple gun combined with other small metal sounds make good gun noises
- A metal rake makes a fence sound (it can also make a metallic screech when dragged across a piece of metal)
- A heavy car door and fender can create most of the car sounds needed but having a whole car in the studio is better
- Burning plastic garbage bags cut into strips makes a cool sound when the bag melts and drips to the ground
- ¼” audio tape balled up sounds like grass or brush when walked on
- Gelatin and hand soap make squishing noises
- Frozen romaine lettuce makes bone or head injury noises
- Coconut shells cut in half and stuffed with padding makes horse hoof noises; this is parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail
- Cellophane creates crackling fire effects
- A selection of wooden and metal doors are needed to create all sorts of door noises but also can be used for creaking boat sounds
- A heavy phone book makes body-punching sounds
- Working in groups, or solo, choose a one-minute scene from a movie. I will help you download the clips.
- Use provided storyboard sheets to sketch out the scenes and sounds required.
- Gather objects needed to record sounds.
- Make your recordings:
- Use Garageband
- Use the iMovie voice-over utility
- Use the portable recorder