Foley: The Invisible Actor

Complete silence is impossible in nature whether it be the sound of our footsteps, the wind, birds or the people around you in a coffee shop there is always background noise, that’s why in movies and TV series there is an invisible actor: Foley, to help the scene sound and feel more realistic.
Foley is a unique sound effect technique that involves creating and “performing” everyday sounds for movies and television shows.

Foley got its name from Jack Foley, the sound effects artist that developed and shaped the technique when it was first used during live broadcasts of radio plays in the 1920s. Rather than using sound effects played by a phonograph, which was often low-quality and unreliable, radio studios hired sound artists to create the effects on cue.

There are three types of Foley sounds:

a) Feet: Footsteps, particular kinds of surfaces and shoes.

b) Movement: Clothes, brushes, touches, etc.

c) Specific: Phone ringing, door creaking, glass breaking, etc.

Vocabulary:

  • Performing: To do an action or piece of work.
  • Phonograph: Sound-reproducing machine using records in the form of cylinders or discs.
  • Broadcast: To send out a programme on television or radio.

Sometimes to record all these natural sounds it is necessary to use unexpected methods, like using cellophane paper to make the sound of a campfire or synthesizers to invent the sound of a dinosaurs, all these sound are recorded in real time while watching the film to make sure that the sounds are properly synced with the visual.

 

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