In this video from the BAFTA Guru library, delve into the world of film sound effects with Pinewood Studios' foley team. Learn from Pete Burgis - lead foley artist, Zoe Freed - foley artist, Jemma Riley-Tolch - foley & edit assistant and head of audio Glen Gathard about why foley is essential in the film production process and how they go about creating the foley.
What Is Foley?
Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality and got its name from sound-effects artist Jack Foley. These reproduced sounds can be anything from the swishing of clothing and footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. Foley art should be so well integrated into a film that it goes unnoticed by the audience. It helps to create a sense of reality within a scene. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable.
Foley artists recreate the realistic ambient sounds that the film portrays. Often the props and sets of a film often do not react the same way acoustically as their real-life counterparts, floors that look like marble could be wood so all the actor's footsteps will sound wrong and will need replacing to make the scene believable. Foley can also be used to cover up unwanted sounds captured on the set of a movie during filming, such as overflying aeroplanes or passing traffic.
Also when films are dubbed with a different language the original dialog tracks which may have some non-verbal sounds made by the actors in it, has to be stripped away and those sounds need to be replaced with foley so the foreign language version is as believable as the original.
The term "Foley" also means a place, such as Foley-stage or Foley-studio, where the Foley process takes place.
The History Of Foley
What is now called Foley is a range of live sound effects originally developed for live broadcasts of radio drama in the early 1920s in various radio studios around the world.
Jack Donovan Foley started working with Universal Studios in 1914 during the silent movie era. When Warner studios released The Jazz Singer, its first film to include sound, Universal knew it needed to stay competitive and called for any employees who had radio experience to come forward. Foley became part of the sound crew that turned Universal's then-upcoming "silent" musical Show Boat into a musical. Because microphones of the time could not pick up more than dialogue, other sounds had to be added in after the film was shot. Foley and his small crew projected the film on a screen while recording a single track of audio that captured their live sound effects. Their timing had to be perfect, so that footsteps and closing doors synchronized with the actors' motions in the film. Jack Foley created sounds for films until his death in 1967.