FOLEY: How Hollywood Sounds Effects Are ACTUALLY Made! | Filmora Workshop Series Ep. 1
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Learn to make EPIC Hollywood Sound FX using everyday items!
Have you ever noticed the sound design in a movie? Or were you so immersed in the movie that you didn’t even notice it? Well in that case, the sound designers did a perfect job. What you may not know, is that in pretty much every major Hollywood movie, each sound effect you hear is not recorded live. That’s Every Single Sound. Down to the footsteps of every character you see on screen. Sound effects like the rustling of clothes, punches being thrown, doors opening or closing, and almost every sound imaginable are recorded separately in a studio. When this happens, it is known as Foley!
Why is this done? Well it's because there are times on set, where the sounds are not picked up from the mic. For example if a prop is fake, like a machine gun, the sound of it will not be authentic. To fill in these gaps, the sound is recorded in the post production phase in a studio. This process is called FOLEY. Without these crucial background noises, movies feel unnaturally quiet and uncomfortable. If you’re new to video creation, you soon will learn that sound and audio if half the video. What that means is that how good and professional sounding your video will be just as important as your visuals.
Foley is created by a sound artist mimicking the actual sound in a recording studio. For example, to mimic the sound of bones breaking, I would break carrots or celery. A recording studio for foley has hundreds of different props to recreate or make new sounds. It has big tubs with water, wood surfaces, coins, sandboxes, cans, bicycles, scraps of metal, instruments etc.
Now, for the recording part, you will need a few things. Such as some audio equipment, a quiet place, and items to make your sounds. You do not need to most professional equipment or a foley stage, but here is audio equipment we use for our videos.
I recommend you use what you have, so if you don't have any of these things, don’t fret. Using your camera with a shotgun mic or even your phone’s audio recording ability in a quiet place will work great! Now the space where you record your foley is pretty important. But, depending on the space of the scene, for example filming in a large garage vs a box, the acoustics will sound differently. If I have time on location, I usually record the sounds on location but mostly I just use a quiet room as a studio.
Before you start recording any Foley, you will need to have an edited film and a way of viewing it. Reason why you need to have your video finished is so you are not doing more sound work than you need to. This process can be quite long, so streamlining the process is strongly recommended. Its also helpful to put up your film on a monitor / screen and play it while you record the sound. You do this to help match the timing and speed up the process a little. I usually use a laptop, but it can be kinda hard to see.
Foley can be recorded in two ways. 1 - reenact the actions of the scene you are making but only record the sounds, or 2 - recreate them with everyday objects. One other thing I have to mention is that the surface in which you create a sound really matters. Not only for footsteps but pretty much all foley. I suggest to always use materials that will make sounds that suit the visuals. Like this example, our subject is walking on a more hard / tile like surface. So using a wooden surface would not really work.
There are endless possibilities to the types of sounds you make. You just need to think creatively. Using simple household items, you can make sounds and bring your video to life. Most people talk about recording the perfect dialogue in a film but forget the environmental sounds that brings the film alive. To get you started we’ve added some super useful sound effects inside the Filmora Video Editor, like these. You can use all them for free when you try the software. If you don’t have it yet you can grab it here or in the description box below. We hope this Filmora Workshop episode was helpful. See you in next months chapter!