The Art of Sound: Foley Artists

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A working Foley Artist

Sound has the ability to sway people emotionally ranging from sadness to fear. When you are watching a film, you probably are not thinking about the art behind the creation of a specific sound. This art is the job of a Foley artist.

Foley artists create every single sound in films except dialogue. Their jobs entail the slightest detail of an opening of a door to even the sound of creaking shoes on a wooden floor. In horror films, especially, it is important to master each and every sound because the audience is more alert during intense moments.

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Two working Foley artists

Here is where it gets interesting. A lot of what people may not know or think about is that the recording of every single sound is not actually a recording of an object that makes the sound itself. When you watch a contemporary Western film, odds are the sounds of the horses galloping into the distance are not made from horses themselves. Several Foley artists have different tools that they use that they made themselves in order to perfect the sound of what a “horse galloping” would sound like for example. These sounds are mastered with syncing technology, as the Foley artists record their practiced skills to be shown in films in their own studios.

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Inside a Foley Studio

In an article titled, “Becoming a Foley Engineer” Eric Capreau a Foley artist, states:

“The Foley Department needs a physical space. Therefore, people must wait for an opening, where someone will take a chance on working with them. It’s almost impossible to create a space yourself and then prove your talent.”

As noted shown in the quote above, tensions can arise for aspiring Foley artists. People do not simply take interest in the career, apply for the job and then start working to become one. Similar to many jobs in various creative industries, practice is extremely important to this career. These artists have to practice and practice their own listening skills to be able to convince film watchers that the sounds that they are hearing are actually “real.”

Networking is also extremely important to people pursuing this career. Having connections with others in the film industry and audio experience helps aspiring artists. However, anxieties arise for aspiring Foley artists because of a lack of complete structure for their career path.

Next time you watch a film and hear a door close, know that it may not actually be a sound recording from a door after all and it is coming from a sound perfected expert.

Sources:
https://tarproductions.com/the-power-of-foley-sound-design-5-great-examples/

https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/art-of-making-sound-effects/

https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/foley-artist

“Become a Foley Engineer: Job Description & Salary.” Careers In Film | Film Schools & Colleges, 9 July 2019, https://www.careersinfilm.com/foley-engineer/.

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