A foley artist is in charge of the recreation of everyday sounds in real time, rather than pulling pre-recorded sounds from a soundbank. Foley artists work on foley stages with viewing screens, recording equipment, and props for creating sounds. Two foley artists and one mixer usually work together on one foley stage.
The well-recorded sounds that foley artists produce replace most of the sounds captured during filming. Foley artists do not re-record dialogue, even though this is usually replaced.
The work of foley artists replaces sound recorded on set for several reasons:
The title “foley artist” pays tribute to revolutionary sound man Jack Foley. A regular part of Stanley Kubrick’s crew, Jack Foley is thought to be the world’s first foley artist. Despite his work, Jack Foley’s name did not appear in the credits of any film. However, the job title is a fitting tribute to his innovation.
Foley sound is a type of diegetic sound, which is sound that occurs within the world of a production, such as a TV program or film. Music and narration are types of non-diegetic sound, because the production’s characters would not hear them. There are three key elements of foley sound:
The natural sound of footsteps captured on set is usually too quiet, so the foley artist must exaggerate it. Foley artists wear different shoes and walk on different surfaces, such as gravel and wooden panels, to create the right sounds. They must pay attention to the following elements that impact sound:
Movement refers to sounds other than footsteps that people make as they move. These sounds may occur when people are in motion or staying in one place. The sound of fabric rubbing together as someone walks or shifts in their seat are common movement sounds.
Props are sounds made by items that mimic the action on film. They are sometimes called specifics. Props sounds are sometimes created by the item that usually makes the sound. For example, a foley artist would likely write something down on a notepad to create the sound of a character writing. However, more unusual props can also make the sounds. For example, the sound of cracking celery can mimic the sound of a human bone breaking.
Prop sounds can mimic sounds that occur in the real world. They can also mimic fantasy sounds, such as the sound of a monster roaring. A single prop can make a prop sound. Layering several recorded sounds is another common technique.
Foley artists watch the production project through, noting what sounds they must make and how they could create them. They then gather all the props they need from a studio warehouse or storage zone. Once they assemble their props, they watch the production again and perform actions along with it to make sounds. They may stomp their feet, bang props together, and smash glass, for example.