Peter on Foley for Film

Peter on Audio Post Production for Film
March 6, 2017

Peter on Foley for Film

What is Foley?

An important stage in audio post production for film is the addition of Foley. Foley is the technique of recording audio for common “everyday” sounds in the film, such as footsteps or clothes rustling. It is a subtle addition that should ideally go unnoticed throughout the film but whose absence would seem very unnatural. Recordings of these sounds made during filming are usually not sufficient as they are too quiet or the acoustics on set make them sound unrealistic.

Foley recordings are made in a studio using props to mimic the desired sound effect. For example, banging coconuts together to mimic the sound of a horse trotting. Audio post production can be broken down into various parts. In the mix the layers of sound are usually grouped into dialogue, music and effects. These elements must be mixed individually and then together so that they blend well and so, for example, the music does not interfere with key moments of dialogue. This is usually done using a digital audio workstation (DAW) such as pro tools. In the DAW all elements of the soundtrack are mixed and can be synced up precisely with the video (see below).
Although the majority of Foley is for everyday sounds, it can also be used to create sounds that do not exist in the real world . There are some wonderfully creative examples of this in the world of science fiction. The iconic sliding door sound in Star Trek was made by sliding a piece of paper out of an envelope whereas the TARDIS siren from Dr Who is actually keys scraping along piano wire.

Once the desired sound is recorded, the next stage is to synchronise it with the video. This must be done with care as misaligned Foley can be very noticeable, and not in a good way. This, along with any further sound processing can all be done in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) such as Pro Tools where it is then mixed in with the rest of the soundtrack

For more about our foley services at LAPP please click here.