Sound design is a team sport.
Foley artists are just one component of the sound team, which works together seamlessly.
Typically, in teams of two, Foley artists perform the actions that create the sound. They act out the sounds with props along with the film as it plays. Successful Foley artists take care of their body — they are athletes in a way, reenacting nearly every step and movement of every single character in a film. And they have a talent for conveying emotion through sound. “I think the best people at Foley have a bit of an actor in them,” says Roesch. “We’re telling a story.”
The Foley mixer records each sound as it’s made by the Foley artists and offers valuable feedback to the artists as they work. “The best thing I can do for my mixer is to let him know when I’m going to be touching and moving the microphone and then to listen to the feedback he gives me,” says Roesch. Coffey explains, “The mixer’s job is to try and capture organically what things might have sounded like from the perspective of the camera.”
Sound editors and sound designers.
Sound designers look at the project from a big-picture standpoint before recording begins and come up with a vision for the overall elements that should be included in the SFX. The sound editor or sound mixer works to make sure the Foley track blends well into the production sound track and will fit with the dialogue and music.
Foley is divided into three sections.
Foley artists and mixers divide their workload into three categories: walking, props and cloth. Within these three areas, they record various tracks of sound to cover each of the main characters.
Footsteps are an integral task for Foley artists, who used to be called “steppers” or “Foley walkers.” “It’s all about developing the subtleties. You don’t want any footsteps to sound repetitive,” says Barbanell. In addition to capturing the right mood, Foley artists need to find the right surface to walk on and the right shoe for a character. “I’ll walk around thrift shops with my right shoe off and try on just about every pair of shoes they have,” says Barbanell.
During props tracks, Foley artists recreate every sound made by a character as they interact with the world. Because of how many objects characters interact with, Foley studios can resemble a flea market full of odd knick-knacks. It’s important to always be on the lookout for objects with a unique sound. An amazing prop could be something you already have in your house, like a random piece of hardware at the bottom of your junk drawer — it’s all about experimentation.
During the cloth section of recording, Foley artists record the sounds of textiles and fabrics swooshing and rubbing together as characters go about their day. This includes anything from the whooshes of curtains to the fluttering of women’s dresses on a ballroom floor.