Part of the legacy left by pioneer sound recordist Jack Foley, this technique was first used in his early work with Universal Studios, when "talkies" (films with soundtracks) became increasingly popular. Although similar to the process of ADR (check out Will’s blog post for more details), this technique keeps its focus on sound effects as opposed to dialogue.
The three main types of foley are:
The sounds made by people jumping, walking, running, etc. but also the recognisable impact sound people hear when actors fall. This could be used with a variety of creatures; humans, animals (horses, dogs), even aliens (tentacle steps?)
Imagine the sound of an arrow whistling through the air, or someone holding a weapon.
The rustle of clothing when in motion; a hooded figure removing his cloak.
Foley artists use these techniques in a synchronized way with the picture screen, adding a sense of realism to final picture. Many of the sounds in their finalized form, such as footsteps, are actually augmented versions of what they should really sound like. This is due to the evolution of film sound. We have become increasingly used to these sounds, and without them the scene would seem unnatural.
Other foley sounds like door handles , are added not necessarily because we’re used to them, but because we expect to hear them and their absence would be noted.
In some cases, foley is the only way to record sounds. For example, if a picture features a character suffering an injury, it’s unlikely that the actor and director would allow a real recording of the situation. Also, if the sound sought after is unnatural (as is often the case in sci-fi films), the best option is often to emulate a version of that sound with props.
To successfully sync recorded sounds with a film , artists use a large, open studio called a foley stage. These rooms are characterized by their large screen to view the film, a selection of shoes, clothing and props. These rooms also have what are called foley pits. These pits are filled with various materials such as water, gravel or metal and are used to record the sounds that running, jumping and walking would normally generate.
Sometimes recording certain sounds too close to the source can lead to unwanted results. This is why specific microphones such as the Neumann TLM-103 are extremely popular to answer this problem. The large diaphragm and wide dynamic range they offer, will capture a whole host of different sounds, without needing to be within close proximity of the source of the sound.
Part of the legacy left by pioneer sound recordist Jack Foley, this technique was first used in his early work with Universal Studios, when "talkies" (films with soundtracks) became increasingly popular.