Foley Artists: The Secret Behind the Sounds

As you’re watching a movie, have you ever wondered how each raindrop sounds so clear, or why horse hooves make that crisp clopping sound even when the camera angle is so far away? Most people would assume that the crew behind the scenes just produced those sounds through pure on-location filming. But what most people don’t know is that those sounds that you hear in the movies and animation films are created by Foley artists.

I think that the sound editing teams in the movie industry are simply not credited or recognized enough for the amazing work that they do. Without them, the full picture would not come together when watching films.

Foley artists make the experience more real.

By definition, Foley artists are people who create -or recreate- sounds for the movie industry.

They often work in what is called a Foley studio, where they are provided with many unique props to make the detailed sounds we hear in a movie. The sound then gets recorded by a studio mixer, and they manipulate the pure sound to best fit the action being done in the movie.

The history behind this career started with a man named Jack Foley. He was originally a farmer and war veteran that decided to use his land for filmmakers to come to and be able to get the most beautiful landscaping shots for westerns in the 1920s. He took notice of what the sounds were like while shooting and decided to record the sounds in an enclosed, quiet location—thus making it easier for filmmakers to add the sound to the movie at the end during post-production.

Foley artists are now being discussed as a dying career because technology has become so advanced that we can now produce artificial sound from a machine instead of paying someone to produce real sounds.

My hope is for the Foley artist profession to stay strong. While technology advancements can be a good thing, I think that it’s best to have pure sound made by artists who have devoted their lives to this profession.

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