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Foley Artist - Everything your need to know

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.

Ways Foley Effects Enhance a Film

The work of foley artists replaces sound recorded on set for several reasons:

  • Sound recorded on set is poor quality compared to sound recorded in a studio. It is often unclear or too quiet to sound realistic.
  • Recording sounds as separate tracks lets production studios adjust their levels individually. This means the sound of crunching leaves can be increased without increasing the volume of dialogue, for example.
  • Experienced foley artists create sounds that enhance scenes by making them seem more realistic.
  • Good foley sounds draw viewers into a production by adding atmosphere.
  • Recording foley sounds separate from dialogue makes it easy for studios to replace only the dialogue for foreign markets. The foley becomes part of a music and effects (M&E) track.

Etymology and the Origins of Foley Art

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.

The 3 Elements of Foley Sound

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:

-- Footsteps

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:

  • The type of shoes the character wears
  • The surface they walk on
  • The character’s weight
  • The character’s speed
  • The character’s demeanor

-- Movement

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/Specifics

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.

How Is Foley Sound Made?

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.