What Is a Foley Artist - Featured - StudioBinder

One of the main reasons I personally love cinema is because of its ability to transport me to a world outside of my own. One of the ways it does that best, is by manipulating sounds. I don’t know about you, but when I open a door at home, it does not sound like it does in the movies. And my footsteps are not nearly as epic. Foley artists bring even the most mundane tasks to life. So what is foley artist and what do they do?

What is Foley?

Who and what is a foley artist?

One of the coolest jobs in the industry that requires a deep knowledge of sound, music, and rhythm is the foley artist.

FOLEY ARTIST DEFINITION

What is a foley artist?

foley artist is a person who re-creates sounds for film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality. They replace sounds that cannot properly be recorded on set. Foley studios have viewing screens, and props, as well as recording equipment for the foley artist to record sounds as they watch the film. These sounds include anything from the swishing of clothing, the breaking of glass, footsteps, or squeaking doors.

They use a variety of props to create specific sounds. Footsteps are created by the artist putting on a certain kind of shoe and walking on the appropriate surface (e.g., wood floors, asphalt, grass). Foley artists also re-record poor quality sounds from the initial set recording, which ends up being most of the sounds you hear in a film. 

The term ‘foley’ comes from Jack Foley (1891-1967), a sound effects pioneer. He worked with Stanley Kubrick but never received much credit besides the term itself. 

THREE TYPES OF FOLEY

  • Footsteps
  • Movement
  • Props
Footsteps

As mentioned in the foley artist definition, reproducing the sound of footsteps is done by wearing different kinds of shoes and walking on different kinds of surfaces to get the perfect sound for the character. 

Movement

The amount of detail and meticulousness required to be a foley artist is excessive. Even the smallest movement, like a person crossing their legs with jeans on, needs to make a sound. 

Props

Foley artist Marko Costanzo shows how leaves created the swirling sound of the witch from Into the Woods and how the cracking of celery was used to create the sound of breaking bones in The Big Lebowski.

Watch how foley artists make their magic with a brief history of the art form and some of their off-the-wall techniques.

A day in the life of a foley artist

Now let's look at how the foley artists for A Quiet Place tackled a world where sound equals life or death. Ever wonder what a stun gun zapping grapes would sound like? 

Foley artists at work for A Quiet Place

Foley artists are the unsung heroes of film production. Providing an immersive experience for the audience is paramount and sound is absolutely necessary.   

Up Next

Sound recording for film & video

Proper sound recording is essential for film and video projects. Here is a helpful overview of the equipment you'll need, including recorders and microphones, and the elements and techniques used to record the best sound. 

Up Next: Sound Recording Essentials →
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