Last week in part 7 of this series on Audio Post Production Workflows Using Pro Tools, we concluded our look at doing ADR on location with Dave Humphries. Now we move onto foley and Barnaby Symth shares some of his experience and The Art Of Foley….
The Background Of Foley
The art of foley is defined as sounds created by one or two so-called ‘artists’ in a recording studio. They essentially recreate an array of sounds to match what the viewer sees on screen. These are broken down into three areas:
- Moves – cloth, leather and other textures to imitate body movement.
- Feet – The footsteps, whether strolling, creeping or sprinting.
- Spot Effects – All other incidental sounds, like eating, drinking, hand touches, punches, guns, door, etc.
Hackenbacker’s foley studio in Lisson Grove
Why are these sounds not already captured?
On set, the job of the sound recordist is to capture clean dialogue. They try to isolate this from background noises as much as possible. However extraneous noises are sometimes picked up, sometimes beneficially i.e. nice clean footsteps or sometimes not, a plane overhead during a speech by Caesar; or on set in a cave where the feet sound like they’re on fiberglass rather than stone.
In addition, the sounds foley often concentrate on are naturally very quiet, so would very often be lost on set and so foley is used to augment and enrich a soundtrack with detail and texture.
Foley helps ADR and the M+E:
ADR: On set, noises always occur, along with unsatisfactory performances. So dialogue is inevitably replaced with ADR(automated dialogue replacement) or loops.
Where these pieces of audio are used to replace original dialogue, sonic holes occur, and foley comes to the rescue to fill these sonic holes. The moves, feet and spot effects not only fill the sonic void created by the ADR, but they also help to sell the ADR to the audience.
M+E: In the same way that foley helps to fill these ADR holes, foley is essential in creating a fully filled M+E (music and effects track) which is the original soundtrack but stripped of any English dialogue. Thus full of audio holes that need filling! The foley is used alongside the FX to create a rich sound bed on which any foreign language can be overdubbed. These are a delivery requirement for any production looking to sell their film or TV programme abroad.
Sound FX and Foley crossing over
These two distinct areas do overlap. We often sit down with the supervising sound editor before the foley shoot and work out where foley can best help certain sequences. Take for instance a car crash….
The FX would cover the car engine, skid and huge low-end thud.
Foley would deal with the impact detail, glass and metal debris across bonnet and onto floor, perhaps even a second layer of skid detail. These smaller unique sounds are harder to find on CD libraries, so the bespoke nature of the foley recordings come to the fore.
In part 8 we will continue to look at Foley with Barnaby Smyth.