Schools Training

The Art of Foley

16 DEC 2013

This interesting blog post by Trebas Institute describes the career and techniques inherent to the art of Foley production. Foley artists recreate sound effects found in television and film using a variety of props and innovative methods. For example, a sucker punch might be replicated by hitting a roast chicken or a stack of phone books. A pair of gloves waved in front of a microphone can mimic the sound of birds flapping their wings and crunching cellophane makes a realistic fire crackle effect. Jack Foley is the originator of this type of work. He began working for Universal Studios in 1914, the era of silent films, and since he had experience in radio shows he assumed a pioneering role in “talkies”, starting with the 1929 film “Showboat”.

Foley artists work behind the scenes in filmmaking, TV, radio and increasingly video games, recreating physical sounds using props and their own ingenuity.

Jack Foley never received a screen credit for his work but many of his pioneering sound effect techniques are still used today. Instead of reshooting a scene of the massive Roman army to capture the sound of shields and swords clashing during Spartacus (1960) as Stanley Kubrick wanted, Foley jingled some keys before a microphone and called it a day. Foley artists today work in post-production to not only save the cost of replicating difficult or impossible sounds but also inventing never-before-heard noises for newly imagined characters.”

Although he never received a screen credit for his work, he invented many of the techniques still used today.