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Sound Effects and Foley

How Sound Effects & Foley Bring Your Scenes To Life

Almost any major film we watch uses many 1000’s of carefully-chosen sound effects and foley. And we barely even notice. In fact, it really isn’t until these elements of a film are missing that we notice their existence…via their absence.

In this article, we’re going to talk a bit about what goes into creating, editing and mixing these sounds into your film to breathe a sense of realism and life into your scenes.

Let’s start with the basics.

An Introduction to Sound Effects and Foley For Movies

There are three main categories of sound effects.

  1. Ambience – Atmospheric and environmental sounds that provide a psychological cue for space (EX: room tone, traffic sounds, birds chirping)
  2. Library Effects – Pre-recorded sound effects used to accent visuals and moments in the scene (EX: punches, gunshots, explosions, glass shattering)
  3. Foley – Sounds created and added after production stops to add back a level of audio realism often not captured in production audio (EX: footsteps, cloth, props)

This video goes into a lot more detail on each. First it describes how they fit into the entire cinematic process and then it shows relevant examples of each.

Take a look…

Behind-the-Scenes With a Professional Foley Artist

So now that we’ve talked about the “what” and the “why” of sound effects and foley, let’s take a closer look at the “how“.

In this short clip, we’ll go behind-the-scenes with professional foley artist Gary Hecker.

Gary has worked on the sound for some of the biggest movies in Hollywood such as Django Unchained (2012), 300 (2006), Pacific Rim (2013) and Furious 7 (2015)…just to name a few.

Gary A. Hecker Pro - Foley Artist
Gary A. Hecker Pro – Foley Artist

Check out some of the tips and insights he shares in the video below.

Expert Examples From Director Quentin Tarantino

So now that we know a bit more about how gather, create, edit and mix sound effects and foley into our films, let’s take a look at how one of the masters puts it all together.

Check out this short clip that highlights some of the most visceral and interesting sounds used in the films of director Quentin Tarantino.

Wrap Up

We hope that this has been an interesting look into the world of professional sound effects and foley. As with most aspects of filmmaking and editing, it’s one of those things that often goes unnoticed and under-appreciated. Another “invisible art” – if you will.

We’ll be going into a lot more detail in the future with step-by-step guides on using sound effects and foley in your own cuts. Personally, I think it’s one of the most interesting and exciting parts of the film editing process.

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