Foley Sound: Definition, Examples and How to Make Your Own

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One of the most important parts of making a movie, video or any type of media is having the perfect music and sound effects added in the post-production. Foley artists are a huge part of this, since they recreate all the noises that were made in the set, but record them in a realistic and natural way that enhances the final result.

This makes the audience immerse in the movie on a deeper level since Foley sounds are so well integrated that they go unnoticed. No one would guess that the footsteps were actually recorded months after the actor filmed the scene! Without these background noises, the film would feel unnatural, quiet and probably uncomfortable.

In this article, we will explain what Foley sounds are, how they are created by Foley artists, and give examples of famous movies that use them, including some of HookSounds sound effects.

What is Foley Sound?

Foley is a word commonly used in the filmmaking world and refers to the use of everyday sound effects that are added in the post-production of films, videos or other media to optimize the audio quality. These sounds got their name after the artist Jack Foley, who specialized in sound effects and became famous in the 1920s when he recreated sounds on live broadcasts of radio plays. The term is very broad and can be anything from footsteps to doors, glass breaking, chewing, etc.

The whole idea behind them is to enhance the audio of the movie which creates a better experience for the audience. Sometimes it is used to cover up annoying noises that can be captured on the set during filming (like cars driving or airplanes overflying), but most importantly it is the art of recreating sound effects that match perfectly with the action or movement we see on the screen. This technique is much more efficient than manually editing sounds and gives the final result a much richer character and realistic performance.

What is a Foley Artist?

A foley artist is the person in charge of recreating the sounds of the film or video in the post-production. Their job is to replace the sounds that cannot be recorded on set or that need to be richer to make the audio experience more immersive. The artist works in Foley studios or stages that are acoustically prepared, where they have a vast amount of objects, textures and surfaces they can use to recreate the sounds. As we mentioned above, this is one of the last tasks of the filmmaking process, and it is done after the production of the film, so the Foley artist needs to watch the entire film and take notes of every sound they will have to create. From this list they need to decide and gather all the props and materials that will be necessary.

Originally, Foley artists used to record all sounds in one long take by projecting the film on a big screen and timing every sound effect as it happened. But today’s technology and modern film editing have allowed the artists to focus on individual sounds and do more than one take of each, and all sound effects can be further enhanced with sound editing software.

How to Make Foley Sound Effects

Foley sound effects are professionally made in Foley stages or studios, since the props and the set of a film do not react as well acoustically, making it hard to create realistic ambient sounds. Foley sounds are created by having a person mimicking the real sound sources and they can be categorized into three types: feet, moves and specifics.


Here are some tricks that can help recreate some of the usual sounds that need to be enhanced in movies or films:

1. Wooden creaks: can be made with a piano bench or an old chair.
2. Bird wings: can be created by a pair of gloves
3. Squishing noises: can be created by soap or gelatin.
4. Fire: can be done with cellophane, steel wool, or a bag of potato chips.
5. Horse hooves: use coconuts.
6. Thunder: large and thin metal plates can be bent to create this sound.
7. Cigarette inhale saran wrap.
8. Grass footsteps: scrunched up magnetic tape, hay or sod.
9. Snow footsteps: cornstarch in leather
10. Body hits: closing a book, using meat, baseball mitt, leather jacket.
11. Bones breaking: celery, carrots, walnut, dried sunflower.
12. A head being smashed: watermelon or pumpkin.
13. Removing a bullet from a body: tomato
14. Car skids: balloon.
15. Gun handling: doorknob, metal wine bottle opener, padlock.
16. Gunshots: staple guns
17. Rain: Frying bacon

There are many ways to recreate and enhance sound effects, so it’s all about using imagination and having the right elements to work with. As you see, the props can be really cheap things that are used on a daily basis. Of course, the trick is having a good sound recording system that will allow these noises to have great quality. 

Famous Foley Sound Examples

It is surprising to know that some of the world’s most popular movies that won Oscars and all types of awards for their sound effects used elements that seem so out of the blue. Here is a list of some of them and the props they used: 

E.T

The sound of the alien moving is the product of playing with pop-corn, jelly and liver.

Fight Club

Ren Klyce said that they had to experiment with all sorts of different things to recreate the punches and injuries on the body during the fights. Some of them included cracking walnuts, smacking around slabs of meat with pigs, and shattering chicken carcasses with baseball bats. 

Inside Out

To create the sound of the world inside the little girl’s mind, they recorded crabs walking in the sand. Everyone was very surprised with this idea Ren Klyce had and how he managed to portray what it sounded like to be in the character’s head so perfectly.

Star Wars

There are many Foley sounds that make this movie so iconic, but the most known one is the famous lightsaber sound, which was actually created by recording the microphone feedback from a tube television.

Terminator

In this popular movie, the Foley artist used pistachios to recreate the sound of crushing skulls.

Spartacus

In this movie there is a great scene where the soldiers are marching, and it is incredible that what they used to create this powerful sound were just keys.

Jurassic Park

To create the sound of the Velociraptor hatching they used an ice-cream cone. 

Free Foley Sounds at Hooksounds

But because not every movie, film or video producer can afford or has the time to recreate every sound that is needed for the project it is great to have other options. Here at HookSounds we offer high-quality, exclusive sound effects that are royalty-free and were created especially to use as Foley sounds. Here are some of them: 

 

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/wood-tree-crack-fall/1822754/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/wood-impact-02/1822746/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/wood-destruction-06/1822742/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/metwoodgl-9/1804637/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/metwoodgl-68/1804631/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/metwoodgl-51/1804555/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/creaking/1804491/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/pumping-air-twice/1804501/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/slow-ripping-creak/1804485/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/footsteps-run-hard-floor-02/1822621/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/footsteps-linoleum-slow-02/1822603/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/slow-heavy-footsteps/1578915/

https://www.hooksounds.com/sound-effects/woman-high-heels-footsteps/1578907/