How To

Foley Sound: What Is Foley Sound In Film & How Can I Make It?

Photograph of the blog post author, Jodie Francis

Jodie Francis

25.1.2021

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Would you like to take your film sound effects to the next level? Would you like to learn more about Foley sound? If so, then you have come to the right place! You may have come across Foley sound in passing. Whether that be through research or a colleague, but it is here that you will learn the ins and outs of Foley sound effects. 

foley sound

In this article, we will not only explain what is Foley sound but also how to make Foley sound effects. Additionally, we will explain where you can find free Foley sounds that you can use for projects!

As you will be well-aware, movies are a visual medium. However, if the soundtrack and sound effects are mismatched then the whole movie can feel off. So, keep reading to discover how Foley sound can enhance your filmmaking!

What Is Foley Sound?

foley sound

So, what is Foley sound? Put simply, it’s sound effects that have been recorded during post-production of a film, after the film has been edited. These sounds have been designed to blend with the soundtrack. As well as fill in the missing sound. 

It’s vital that these sounds correlate with the on-screen movement. Such as chewing, drinking, footsteps, keys jangling, the list just goes on and on! Fun fact: Foley sound is named after the creator of the art form – Jack Foley, back in the 1920s. 

The first recorded use of Foley sound was in 1926 for the film Don Juan. Whilst this film was pretty much a silent movie, the music score was added in post-production. Alongside some clashes of swords to add excitement to a fight scene. 

Why Is Foley Sound Important In Film?

foley sound

Well, it helps to create and set the mood and atmosphere of a scene. You see, if you notice sounds are missing, or that they don’t match up with what you’re watching, then you will be removed from the moment. Foley sound can help make the movie experience immersive for your audience, and that’s the end goal! 

The most effective Foley sounds won’t even be noticeable, as they will slip into the film with ease and naturalness. As you know, sound is a vital element of effective storytelling in film, so it’s important that you get it right.

What’s more, Foley sound is much more time-efficient than editing the sounds in yourself, and it can add an air of realism to the film. After all, our lives are filled with background sounds. And if this isn’t reflected in films then it would feel strange for the audience.

Sound Effects vs Foley

headphones

When it comes to Foley sound, people are often curious as to the difference between sound effects and Foley. 

The main difference lies in the fact that Foley is a technique for creating sound effects, as opposed to being a type of sound effect itself. 

What’s more, Foley sound is added after the film has been made and edited. As opposed to standard sound effects. For example, for sound effects for a smashed bottle, the sound would be recorded and then enhanced to make it sound realistic. Whereas Foley sound effects tend to focus on sounds that are caused by humans. These have been categorised into three different sections: 

Feet

This is one of the most common Foley sounds created by Foley artists, as it’s often tricky for filmmakers to pick up the sound of footsteps. Particularly if the film is set in a loud place. 

Adding in the sounds of footsteps adds a sense of realism, and there are plenty of different kinds of footfalls that can be used. As well as different sounding shoes on a variety of surfaces. 

Movement

Adding in movement sounds can help to enhance a scene

Movement could be people brushing past each other, particularly the sound of clothing rubbing together.

Specifics

When specific Foley sound effects are added to the film it’s referring to a ringing phone, creaking door, keys jangling, and so on. 

So, what are some common Foley sounds? Give yourself a gold star if you recognise any of the following:

  • Cellophane can create the sounds of a crackling fire. 
  • Gloves can sound like a bird’s wings flapping.
  • A stick can create a whooshing sound effect.  
  • The sound of creaking wood can be created using an old chair. 

In the next session, we will explore how to make Foley sound effects, let’s get started!

How To Make Foley Sound Effects

foley sounds

Now it’s time to address the most important part of the article – how to make Foley sound effects! 

Choose A Recording Studio

Foley artists will record the Foley sound effects on special stages. Where recording studios will boast plenty of objects, textures, equipment, and surfaces for them to create the necessary sounds. 

Before any recording can begin, you will need to watch the whole film and make notes where sound is missing or needed. This is best done scene by scene, and it’s a good idea to take your time so that you don’t miss anything important. 

Gather Your Equipment

Next, it’s time to collect everything that you need and get to work! Foley artists tend to record the individual sounds they need one by one, as this simplifies the process. 

What’s more, recording in real time is vital. As by watching the film you can assess if the sounds match the visuals. 

Let’s use an example. The scene involves an interview of a suspect at the police station. The sounds that would need to accompany the scene would be the footsteps of the policemen, the sound of the door opening, their footsteps, and the sound of the chairs scraping on the floor as they sat down. 

These are just the basic sounds to think about. As the Foley artists would also need to consider the type of shoes and the corresponding sounds that match them. What’s more, there may also be other background noises that need to be effectively portrayed. Such as people moving behind the door, especially if the filming process wasn’t able to pick this up. 

Originally, Foley sound effects would be recorded during one long take and then manually timed and projected onto the screen. However, as technology has progressed, so has editing Foley sound! 

You see, now we can go back and do multiple takes on the same sound, as well as further fine-tune these sounds with editing software services. 

Edit Your Sound

Why not try creating your Foley sound effects using Adobe Audition? Using audio software such as this helps to simplify the process, as well as enhance your sound effects

You can record your Foley sound effects directly into Adobe Audition. Simply import the video you’re using into it so that you can sync the video and sound effects. If you use the Multitrack Editor, the device will automatically save the clips that you record into a WAV file. 

It is recommended that you listen to your production sound effects track before you begin. As the dialogue microphones could’ve picked up some vital sounds that you need to enhance. 

For more information on audio editing software, check out our article on The Best Music Editors & Audio Editing Software 2020!

Foley Sound Effect Techniques 

foley sound

Before we get into some Foley sound effects techniques, here our some of our top tips on where to begin.

Firstly, watch your favourite movie on mute, as this is a fantastic hands-on approach to learning. Try adding your own Foley sound effects to what’s missing and see if they manage to sync with what you’re watching. 

Don’t overwhelm yourself though, you could just begin by watching one character and making the sounds for their walk depending on where they are. 

Once you’ve mastered their walk it’s time to move onto their other movement sounds, like their clothes. 

Make sure that you wear appropriate clothes while you’re recording your Foley sounds. The last thing you want to do is pick up unwanted sounds from your swishing jacket! 

Make sure that you play back your sounds to check that you don’t have any interference, otherwise all of your takes could be ruined. 

Lastly, get creative! Once you feel as if you’ve mastered the basics it’s time to make up your own and set your own trends. 

Here are some great Foley sound effects techniques to get you started with: 

1. A Pile Of Cash

For this you could use a deck of cards, or a cut-up book to create the sound

The point here is to use paper props that are flexible and soft to use. 

You could always use an actual note at the top of your prop for a more realistic effect. 

2. Horse Hooves

Now this is a fun one, as you could use coconuts! 

This is a legendary Foley technique, as it was used for the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail

You don’t have to just use plain coconuts, as you could stuff them with fabric to create some light and shade to your sound. 

It’s also important to consider the surface that the horse is running on, as this can change how the hooves should sound. 

3. Footsteps In The Snow

This is one of the more common Foley sounds, but it doesn’t make it any less effective. 

To create this sound a popular choice of prop is corn-starch in leather or balling up corn-starch and then putting inside a glove.

4. Breaking Bones

To create the snap you need to convey a bone breaking, you will need to select a prop with some resistance. 

A great choice for this is vegetables like carrots, as well as food like walnuts or crab legs. 

You could freeze these items if you need to create a sharper snapping sound. Or conceal the objects in clothes for a muffled break. 

5. Gun Cocking

This is a super simple sound to create, as a popular choice is a briefcase latch!

When a gun is cocked in a film you know that something dramatic is about to happen, and it often helps to build tension and set a tone of unease and anticipation. 

You can control the power and speed behind this gesture by influencing the briefcase latch. 

Free Foley Sounds

So, where can you find free Foley sounds? 

Here are some great places that may have just what you’re looking for: 

Zapsplat

zapsplat logo

This is a handy tool for creatives looking for the perfect sound effect, as well as royalty-free music

It’s a platform that’s been designed for filmmakers, podcast makers, game developers, and so on! It’s a popular platform. With over one million users worldwide. 

Check out their Foley sound effect page. They have so much to offer you from balloon sound effects down to shopping carts. 

FreeSFX

freesfx logo

This is also a great tool for artists and filmmakers to make good use of, as they have plenty of free Foley sounds to choose from. 

Check them out today and begin your search. Once you have decided on a sound, simply click on the link and you will download it as an MP3

YouTube Audio Library

youtube audio library

You can also check out the YouTube Audio Library for a ton of free sound effects, including free Foley sounds. 

Everything is in one handy section and there’s so much to choose from. Plus, they are all super specific so that you can ensure the sound will meet your needs. 

For example, ‘dress shoes on a wood floor’ and ‘jump on grass.’ 

Music Gateway

music gateway logo

Here at Music Gateway, we have recently started offering a selection of royalty-free music! Finding music available to use for free is extremely rare but we’ve put together a small selection of royalty-free tracks for you to download and use in your media at absolutely no cost!

We also have a massive music library. This is not royalty free, however, we have all of the copyright holder information and so we can help you license any track in our library very easily!

That Was Our Guide On Foley Sounds

foley sound

So, there we have it – our complete guide to Foley sounds! We hope that you have enjoyed learning about this super interesting topic, and that we have inspired you to get out there and begin creating your own Foley sound effects! 

The most important thing to remember is that creating the perfect sound will take time, and you should be patient with yourself while you seek out that perfect object for your scene. 

Remember to make good use of suitable audio software such as Adobe Audition to help you polish and enhance your sounds.

Why not begin your Foley sound journey by trying out some sound effects techniques? We’re sure that you’ll get the hang of them in no time! 

Most importantly though, don’t forget to check out our range of royalty-free music and discover some other super interesting articles on our blog! Audio Engineering 101 and The Best Movie Soundtracks Of All Time are bound to take your fancy! Be sure to share them across your socials and tag us @musicgateway!

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