Foley Sound.

The reproduction of everyday sound effects for media, added in post production to improve audio quality. Began in 1925 by Jack Donovan Foley, working on Universal’s musical Showboat, into an actual musical. Microphones could only pick up dialogue in those days, so sound was added in the post production process. The term Foley itself may also describe the “Sound Stage” a Foley artist might work on, which usually consists of different surface areas, from carpets, to laminates, to gravel.

An example of Foley sound would be a flock of bats. The heroic protagonist quietly edges through a dark cavern and disturbs a flock of bats, they then swarm past him, screeching and what not. While a hundred bats flapping would make noise, their squeaks aren’t actually audible to the human ear, but for the sake of atmospherics they are added in. Another instance would be just before an action sequence, where the hero pulls a gun from his holster and it makes that distinct “CHA-CHUNK” loading sound. Even though all he actually did was take it out of his holster. This enigmatic sound informs us of what is about to come. If I pulled a gun from my pocket, all you would hear is the sound of metal rubbing on fabric, which isn’t nearly as intimidating.

Examples for future use;

A snapping twig slowed down once or twice makes a could bone crunching noise, it also makes a could fire crackle.

(taken from

  • Corn Starch in a leather pouch makes the sound of snow crunch
  • A pair of gloves sounds like bird wing flaps
  • An arrow or thin stick makes a great whoosh!
  • An old chair makes a controllable creaking sound
  • A water soaked rusty hinge when placed against different surfaces makes a great creaking sound. Notice how various surfaces act as a sounding board to amplify and change the sound: this is an important principal of Foley and sound creation!
  • A heavy staple gun and a other metal parts make can make a good gun sound
  • A metal rake makes a great fence sound (and when scraped across metal makes a great metal screech – if you can stand it!)
  • You will need a car door and a fender which you can pickup at a wrecking yard – they are good for car and other heavy metal sounds. If you can fit a whole car in the studio, even better!
  • Burning black plastic Glad garbage bags (cut open a bag and strip it into thin pieces) will make a cool sound as the bag melts and drips to the ground
  • 1/4″ audio tape when balled up sounds like grass (we walk on it!) or flowers
  • A wet balloon makes a weird sound when rubbed: this is funny more than practical!
  • ‘Flubber’ (they sell it in toy stores) is great for wet swuishy sounds; so is gelatin and liquid hand soap.
  • Frozen romaine lettuce (I used this in the ‘War Of The Worlds’ television series for alien head squishes!) makes a great bone or head squishy noise
  • Coconuts shells cut in half and stuffed with padding makes great sounding horse feet (I swear I still use this trick): it takes some skill to make good sounding ones (not too hollow or thin) but it works!
  • Cellophane can make the sound of crackling fire (the effects editor should do the fire but in a pinch it does work)
  • You will need a wooden door – apart from door knocks and other movement sounds, they make great wooden boat noises when laid across a heavy wooden stool (the stool gives the door a resonance and helps with the creaking
  • A heavy rolled and taped up telephone book makes a good ‘body punching’ surface


Foley Sound.

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