The Art of Making Movie Sound Effects (Foley)
Would you believe me if I told you that all of the sounds you hear in a movie were added in post-production? Welcome to the world of foley artists! Foley artists take up all of the important sounds that need to be put into a movie to make it as perfect as possible. Most, if not all, modern big-budget movies have a foley artist who makes the movie sound crisper, more natural, or even overall better sounding. The purpose of a foley artist is to create all of the sound effects that a movie studio wants. whether it be the footsteps of a character or even the blast of a cannon, foley artists help to really immerse the audience in the movie.
The art of foley was truly brought into a spot light by Jack Foley. In fact, Foley was the primary reason there is sound in movies. In 1929, a movie titled Show Boat was released after the first ever film with sound in 1927, The Jazz Singer, and was a failure in box offices because many people expected it to be a sound picture and so the studio quickly got to work on making it a sound film and hired Jack Foley to make FX sounds for them. The sounds were recorded by a vitaphone and was first optimized by the Warner Brothers for usage in sound film recordings. During the making of Show Boat, a group of producers and Foley layered the sound over the film and created what is commonly known as a foley session. After his booming success with Show Boat, Foley was constantly called in to make sounds for films, big or small, Foley did them all perfectly. He would do all sorts of noises from footsteps to the basic movements of the film’s characters.
Foley had a very strong influence on modern movies by not only the addition of sound, but the craftsmanship and time put into the sounds. Alyson Moore and Chris Moriana are two foley artists who have been contracted by Warner Bros to create sounds for many of their many movies. Foley artists are required to be highly creative and many of them have big open offices crammed full of many different materials and objects they use to make sounds. Some of the most popular foley sounds include, coconuts for horse hooves, feather dusters for bird wings, breaking celery for the snapping of bones, and even staple guns for gunshots. However, the artists are just one step in the final production for the sounds. Many artists will use a producer/mixer to layer sounds, change sound pitches, and make sure the sound is good quality and will fit with what the movie studio wants the audience to hear.
Foley artists make almost one hundred percent of movie sounds and if we never had them, movies would not sound as crisp and atmospheric as they do. Many horror movies rely on their artists to make the more creepy sounds to build a scary or angstful environment to truly horrify their audiences and are the base elements of any movie. Foley has been adapted to most forms of media entertainment and even most popular video games. Foley makes up almost every aspect of sound in a movie and without these talented people working to create the freshest, cleanest sounds they possibly can so movies that want to set atmosphere and mood can do just that. So next time you go to the theater, try to imagine the movie without sound because, from creaking fences to footsteps, foley artists are the key to film quality and emersion.