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Foley Artistry
Daniel Hayek by Daniel Hayek Staff Mar 11, 2011

Sound is a super important part of any film/video production, but on big productions the most carefully recorded sound on set is the character dialogue. All the background noises from footsteps to paper shuffling is usually recorded separately. That’s where foley artistry comes in!

Foley is the art of reproducing and creating sounds for film. It was started by a true O.G. of sound, Jack Foley, in the roaring 20’s. He projected a movie onto a screen while he and his team recreated the ambient sounds in the movie that the microphones didn’t pick up during filming. The sounds were recorded onto one single track. Check out this example by Nick where a silent film is given a whole soundtrack via live performance.

The art form has advanced considerably with the advent of multi-track recording. Modern foley artists can record multiple sounds in a studio and blend them together to make a complex auditory experience. Gary Hecker, professional foley artist, explains and demonstrates this process in this video by Michael Coleman.

You’ll notice that Gary’s work requires him to be resourceful and to have have a good sense of timing. He has to be able to make almost any conceivable sound with the collection of objects in his studio or his own voice and body. Whether it something simple like footsteps or a complex crash or fight scene, every moving object in the shot is accounted for and given a sound. Without all these crucial sounds, movies would seem unnaturally still, especially during dialogue scenes.

Now, most of us don’t have a large studio with props and gadgets at our disposal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make some great sound effects. Look around your house/apartment/hut with the footage you’ve shot in mind, and you’re bound to find a myriad of objects that can reproduce the sound effects you need.

Using your laptop’s internal microphone to record the sounds is effective, but not ideal for quality recording. You’ll want to use a dedicated sound recording device for this and most importantly think creatively. Something simple like the sound of celery snapping can be used to give dramatic realism to a violent action. Have fun experimenting!

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