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Foley sound

This step is an introduction to Foley art, and has a video clip with Foley artist, John Fewell.
These are stuff that I usually use in my more gory projects. We have the ordinary lettuce here. We have celery. And we have a melon. Foley art is a form of enhancing sound and sound effects. It doesn’t make the whole scene, but what it does do it just enhances what the sound crew have actually done already. It’s footsteps. It’s basic domestic things, like cups, downpours, things like that. But what you’re doing, you’re actually enhancing the original sound. So what I would use first of all, is with the lettuce and a knife, if we come a bit closer to them, I can– [CRUNCH] So I think you get the– [CRUNCH] –idea of that. That would be one track.
Then on top of that track, we would put the ordinary celery. [CRUNCH] And then to top it all off, just the ordinary melon there. So it’s a case of– [SMUSH] If a scene is a chapter, say, I would say Foley is a description. So for example, if somebody’s going to a shop and we hear the footsteps of somebody coming from outside the shop to inside the shop. Because if the performance is there, it can just enhance. It’s a descriptive thing of what the actor or the actress is doing in that scene. So it kind of brings it to life a bit more. So it’s a bit of– as I like to say, a bit of light and shade.
So I’ve used these in ordinary dramas, film and TV stuff, and I’ve also used these in wildlife films and documentaries. And it’s, basically, people or animals, which are in snow. Now the three components I have in each of these socks, one is rock salt, one is dishwasher salt, and the other one is common old garden corn flour. So this is the dishwasher salt. So if you’d like to bring the boom in a bit more so we can get a nice sound, this I will obviously sync up with if there’s somebody on the screen then I would just– [CRUNCH] We need it for two reasons.
For technical reasons say, for example, if somebody’s doing a period piece by a motorway or something like that. And then when all the sound and the rushes come back they’ll notice that, perhaps, a plane’s gone over or the M40 motorway or somewhere. So in that position, the whole scene has to be recreated in a studio, which means that the actors have to come back and re-voice themselves. We need it to also enhance. So say for example in the mix, the director or the producer or even the mixer of the sound scene themselves will say, “Oh yeah, this sounds very nice and everything, but it would be nice to hear that person’s footsteps who was just walking past.”
And so the mixer can go, oh yeah, that’s in track seven. So we can just enhance this or we can just bring that out. We can do the sound of a small animal. [PATTER] If you have a DVD or a film, just play a scene and see if you can walk along the same time that person’s walking. If somebody, I don’t know, sits on the chair or pulls a chair out or pours a glass of water into another glass, see if you can do that at the same time that they’re doing it. People have said to me through the years, well, actually, you’re doing your footsteps, but we’ve got thousands of discs we can get these footsteps.
But the two things on that one is that by the time somebody actually cuts in each footstep on the scene, I could’ve done it about a hundred times quicker. And this is containing corn flour, which gives it a really nice texture. So with a human it would be– [CRUNCH] When we walk, we scuff. Whatever mood we’re in, we might be in a panic. We might be loitering. We might be sad. We might be happy. But whatever that actor or that actress is doing on the screen, it’s not OK to just walk in the same way that they do as far as putting their feet down when you put your feet down or the other way around.
It’s how that person walks. It’s a performance.

Foley sound is live action sound recreated in a studio. The hands-on nature of the creation of Foley sounds, using everyday objects, makes it achievable for people of any age. Foley sound takes its name from Jack Foley, a sound editor at Universal Studios.

Of course, sounds can also be created using musical instruments or apps, but the kinaesthetic learning process, without the need for specialist musical knowledge, makes creating Foley sounds a sensory experience to draw upon when reading and writing, and enables deeper learning.

John Fewell has been a Foley artist for over 20 years, working on films including Gosford Park (2002) and Panic Button (2011).

In the interview above, John shared with us some of his best kept secrets on the creation of Foley sound, and in the following steps we’re going to create some written text using images for inspiration and then create Foley sound to illustrate our writing.

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