Foley Sounds

Foley Sounds are the art of creating sound design and sound effects for video – film or TV. It’s a critically important part of the whole Filma nd TV experience. Every time a door shuts, and a gun fires, that’s the skill and art of the Foley Sound artist you are listening to.

Part of the Sound Engineering course required me to create a Sound Design for a short silent movie. This was fascinating task as it drew on all the other skills: mixing and mastering in the DAW; creation and recording of sound effects to apply to the movie; musical composition and editing.
I did a Sound Design for a short movie called “Connected”. This is linked below this article.

“Connected” is set in a future world where there would seem to have been a cataclysmic event in a city. The film features three characters as they seek oxygen. I’ll not describe much more as that would be giving away the story. I’ll link to it and suggest you go and watch it…..

Sound Design for ‘Connected’

The first thing I did was to watch the movie all the way through several times. I then created a plan for the types of sounds I would need to create and find. I then made a SPOT sheet to indicate which type of sounds I’d need to create or find. The SPOT sheet indicates the type of sounds which will be needed and where in the timeline of the movie they will be heard.

The DAW I prefer to use is Presonus Studio One Pro 4. I can use ProTools, however I prefer to use Studio One Pro. It’s a look and feel and familiarity thing I guess. They both do pretty much the same at the level I’m using them.

So I dropped the video with no sound into S1 Pro. I was then able to set markers in the DAW for where different audio events would occur. Researching available sounds to use, or to bend for use, in my sound design was a time consuming task. There are so many sounds available in public sound libraries. And that’s before you consider what you can do by taking a sound clip and processing it in a DAW. The limit is your imagination.

Here are some of the sounds I used to create my soundtrack for “Connected”. Watch the film and see if you can recognise where each sound was used

  • A 1970’s dial-up modem, dialling and then performing the ‘handshake” to connect
  • Breathing one: The sounds of breathing were recorded by placing a boundary mic in a metal pot above a two way radio. The actor then breathed into another two-way radio and the result was recorded. This was then blended with natural breathing recorded using a small diaphragm condenser mic.
  • Breathing two: The sounds of breathing were recorded by placing a boundary mic inside a motorsports helmet which was fitted with an intercom system. The actor then wore another motorsports helmet also connected to the intercom system. This sound was then dropped by one octave to create a lower, more menacing sound. This was then blended with natural breathing recorded using a small diaphragm condenser mic.
  • Breathing three: This was recorded by placing a small diaphragm condenser mic inside a domestic vacuum tube. This sound was then raised in pitch by one octave to create a different tonality. This was then blended with natural breathing recorded using a small diaphragm condenser mic.
  • Punching and slaps: Simply punching a sofa cushion.
  • Footsteps: a combination of directly recording walking on gravel with pre-recorded library sounds. (you ought to be able to hear bird song at some points)
  • Air escaping: Slowly opening a bottle of Pepsi, having given it a slight shake before recording.
  • Clothing rustles: An actor rolling around on a continetal quilt.
  • Music. All music was written, performed and record using instruments available at Fuaim Studios. Synthesisers used include There is only a breif guitar part which comprises of a knife being slid up all six strings of the guitar. This was blended with the same sounds pitch shifted to be one octave below.

“Connected” – with my Sound Design can be found here –

The image gallery below shows some of the equipment I used to create the Foley Sounds for “Connected”. It shows my DAW environment. Most were recorded using my Zoom R16 digital multitrack recorder with a pair of Behringer C2 small diaphragm condenser mics. A Beyer Dynamic boundary mic was also used when creating Foley Sounds.

The large pot with the small hand-held radio inside it was used, along with a bounddary mic being placed in pot was used to record breathing sounds for one of the characters in the short film. I breathed into another hand-held radio and the boundary mic in the pot recorded the sound coming from the receiving hand-held radio, also in the pot.