Thunder, footsteps, breaking glass, squeaky doors, you name it! Foley artists reproduce everyday sounds to make movies much more natural and become a crucial part of the whole cinematic experience.
If you’ve ever taped anything on video, you’ve pretty much realized background noises are impossible to capture, even worst, they create distortion rather than harmony. So, how come every time we see a movie, sounds like footsteps, thunder or even breaking glass are so well recorded?
Well, they are done separately. Forget about computer-generated sounds or music libraries. Nope, these sounds are made by human beings, specialists called Foley artists (in honor of Jack Foley the inventor of this art) using every day things you could probably find around your own house.
The most interesting thing about Foley is the amazing sounds they can get by doing the right combinations, in a completely analogue process! Foley artists tend to experiment a lot when looking for the “perfect” sound: they might use a really heavy phone book to make body punching sounds, a thin stick to make a woosh, a pair of gloves to emulate the sound of flapping wings, or even coconut shells for horse hoof noises.
This amazing analogue art takes a whole new scale when you actually watch them perform, so I found this video on the LA Times website which I think is a great way to see how Foley artists create these amazing sounds with the most unusual materials:
And remember, in this day and age where digital is mainstream and instant gratification is a constant goal, there are still a few of us who decide to “leave the digital grind behind…”