The Infinite Art of Foley.
The reason I have decided to write about the art of Foley is due to the sheer amount of detail involved within the art form. There are many things people are yet to explore when it comes to Foley. Likewise the Foley industry is a never-ending gateway to success and discovery.
It is my intention to investigate what skills, resources and equipment is required upon creation and recording of Foley, what to consider (money, techniques, etc.) upon foley creation, The different microphones and recording techniques used when recording Foley and to ultimately find out how Foley effects my career pathway and what I feel the future holds for Foley itself.
First of all we must understand the origins of Foley itself. So, where did it all begin? Most people don’t realise that Foley was actually named after a person. A man named Jack Donovan Foley first introduced Foley. Jack Foley began his career in the motion picture business, during the silent picture era. Later moving on to sound for film. “Since the 1930’s Foley artists have been a huge part of film and television soundtracks, capturing the movements of actors recreating reality.” (Rodrigues, P. 1995) Jack Foley first used this method in 1929’s Showboat
Foley has developed massively due to the drastic advance in technology. From using foley to capture few sounds for film during the 1930’s has drastically changed up to the present day. Now almost every film you watch will contain some form of Foley. weather it be subtle or throughout it is hard to find a film that doesn’t use Foley. The change in the way we record and create Foley over the years is due to new software, new opportunities, new audiences and expectations.
One of my favourite Foley artists goes by the name of Adrian Medhurst. Adrian Medhurst created sound for some of my favourite film(s) of all time (E.g The Hobbit) and is exceptionally good at what he does. The reason he is so exceptional at what he does is due to the way he does things. Medhurst experiments with new techniques when recording and creating Foley which is a usual thing within the industry. However the efficiency of his work is exceptional and better (in my opinion) than most, if not all foley artists out there.
“Foleying is an excellent means of supplying the subtle sounds that production mikes often miss.” (FilmSound, 1997) Foley creation is a vast industry and can range from simple sound recording to movie sound recording. People create Foley in order to capture the sound more clearly and what is being recreated sound as realistic as possible. When recording sound as it happens, it can sometimes become distorted, or can even be a little loud/quiet. This is why we use Foley to get the right balance.
There are many different things to consider when creating/recording Foley and what makes people so good at it. For example, when trying to record Foley for feet you will have to consider that, “In order to mimic the noise for a character’s footsteps, Foley artists will usually take into account what type of material the character is walking on, how fast the character is walking, and any gait abnormalities of the character.” (The Art Career Project, 2014) and furthermore “You will need many kinds of well worn shoes – a trip to the Salvation Army store will yield many treasures (cowboy boots, pumps, hard and soft souled shoes) at a reasonable price. You may need to ‘gaff tape’ any squeaky or loose ornamental bits so they don’t clutter the sound of the steps.” (Rodrigues 2013). Most importantly, when recording Foley for a characters footsteps you will need to be looking at the right thing. As stated “To get “in sync” with the actor, you must try to watch their shoulders (not their feet!) – if you watch their feet then you will never be in sync because this technique is too reactionary. The shoulders however, will give you the sense of movement about to happen and when you sway and move as the actor does, the feet just tend to naturally sync up!” (Rodrigues, P. 1995) There are many tips and tricks that can improve the way one records and creates Foley. Ultimatley it is down to the person to record the way they want and decide to create the sound how they expect it to be.
This leads on to different ways of recording Foley and what microphones suit best to each individual area of recording. When venturing into the world of location based recording It is best to use microphones and recording apparatus that suits both your budget and needs. for example you can buy a cheap portable recording device for as little as £5. “mobile recording models include Tascam’s iM2 (£5), Zoom’s iQ5 (£35)” (Virostek, P. 2015) However if you are looking for something more expensive you are looking of a price range anywhere between £200-£5,000. I personally will be using the Zoom, as it is easy to operate and easily portable. Furthermore from past experience it is cable of capturing sounds and a exceptional quality for how much you are paying. You can buy most of these microphones on online shopping websites or from the manufacturer. The Zoom is a multi purpose recording device that can be used to record a lot of basic Foley. I will be using the Zoom for both locational and studio recording. Value for money, in my opinion the Zoom is the best choice. I believe its HOW you perform and record foley more so than what equipment you use.
On the subject of different ways and techniques of recording Foley, lets talk about the different ways of microphone placement and how it effects the sound you create. There are many tricks you can use in terms of microphone placement. “Proximity and placement of the microphone in relation to the source of sound greatly affects how the foley is recorded. Close-up shots may require closer microphone placement, or put distance between the mic and sound source if you desire more room sound.” (Hibbard, M. 2005) experimenting with microphone placement should always be high on the list of priorities when recording and creating foley. To get the sound you want you must experiment with different microphone placement.
Another huge priority should be the environment you are recording in. Elsea, P (1996) States that silence is the best form of noise when recording. However it is very expensive to soundproof a room. Elsea goes on to talk about detailed yet expensive soundproofing materials you will need in order to get that almost silent feel. Although it is impossible to achieve complete silence, you can use methods to make a room as quiet as possible for a price. In my opinion it is vital to make the room as quiet and as soundproof as possible in order to get the most clear sound possible. Experimenting with different methods of soundproofing may lead you into success or could leave you with a huge lack of time. Due to the price and excessiveness of the soundproofing. It would be in my best interest to experiment with similar, yet cheaper ways of soundproofing.
So, what do I personally think the future holds for the Foley industry? Well personally I believe that the Foley industry will slowly die off. Not necessarily completely. But with all of the new technology and equipment coming into the music and film industry, it will be very difficult for future Foley artists to make a living. Nevertheless the pure raw sound of a Foley artists recording is never going to be matched. Technology and editing soft-wear is too literal and doesn’t sound as raw.
It was never apparent that i would have a passion for foley. No more than a year ago i was unaware of what the word “Foley” meant. Now i understand how beautiful and vital Foley is when recording and creating film. I see Foley as the “Real” part of film recording. I hope to take what i have learnt over the year with me to my future career opportunities. I hope understand and realise that there are never-ending possibilities when it come to the creation of Foley and to ultimately make a career somewhat using Foley.
Rodrigues, P. (1995). The Art of Foley – What Is It?. Available: http://www.marblehead.net/foley/whatisitman.html. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
FilmSound. (1997). FOLEY. Available: http://filmsound.org/terminology/foley.htm. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
Virostek, P. (2015). Field Recording Gear Buyer’s Guide. Available: http://www.creativefieldrecording.com/2015/11/18/field-recording-gear-buyers-guide/#portable. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
The Art Career Project. (2014). Foley Art. Available: http://www.theartcareerproject.com/foley-art-career/569/. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
Rodrigues, P. (2013). Feet. Available: http://www.marblehead.net/foley/feet.html. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
Hibbard, M. (2005). Recording Foley and Sound Effects: The Fundamentals. Available: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/recording-foley-and-sound-effects-the-fundamentals/. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.
Elsea, P. (1996). Studio Acoustics. Available: http://artsites.ucsc.edu/ems/music/tech_background/te-14/teces_14.html. Last accessed 5th Mar 2017.