Foley is a funny term but all it is, is the reproduction of everyday sounds for use in filmmaking or for radio.
The term Foley was named after Jack Foley who began what this art in the twenties. He had started working with Universal Studios in 1914 during the silent movie era, but talkies soon came. Foley then became part of the sound crew that would turn Universal’s then upcoming “silent” musical Show Boat into the musical that it is known as today. Because the microphones used for filming could not pick up more than dialogue, other sounds had to be added in after the film was shot. Foley and his small crew would project the film on a screen while recording a single track of audio that would capture their live sound effects in real time.This was not so different from what was done to the silents except the sound artists had to be at the film’s screening. An early print shows how it was done then.
Jack Foley created sounds for films until his death in 1967. His methods are still employed today.Foley artists look to recreate the sounds that the film portrays.
Creating Foley is a lot of fun and can be added to any silent film you can find. My people created the sound for three short Buster Keaton films last year and discovered what a genius he was, and how funny. Below I have given a list of noise makers that give effective sounds and where you can get them.
- Fire Crinkle cellophane
- Horses hooves Coconut shells cut in half and stuffed with padding
- Birds flapping A pair of rubber gloves flapped
- Sliding Door A skate board rolled down a length of aluminium then hitting a door stopper.
- Ocean Churning a bucket of water with the mike held close
- Thunder Large balloons containing metal bearings shaken close to a mike.
- Sword fight Two garden trowels hit together
- Crowd noises Cue cards which tell the audience the sound that is needed
- Brake screech Sheet of glass in a box on which you pull a large nail across
- Falling body A telephone book wrapped in gaffer tape, then dropped.
- Footsteps A pair of leather shoes on your hands and walk across a wooden table
- Winches etc. Toy ratchet
- Creaking door Cotton rope rubbed with rosin and wrapped tightly around a dowel.
- Drowning Bubbles blown through a straw in a glass of water
- Gunshot Flicking a clip on a clip board
There are lots more things you can make to imitate real sounds, just keep your ears open but the most important and possibly the most fun sound effect device is the crash box. This is used for every type of accident from car and train crashes to medieval warfare. This you can easily make.
Take a large empty tin with a lid like a large billy.put in one broken ceramic coffee mug, one crushed aluminum can, a few pennies, a few screws, one piece of wood (about the size of a fist), and two handfuls of pea-sized gravel. Tape the lid shut with gaffer tape—around the seam. Keep the lid on tight or the junk or its soon-to-be fine dust will leak out. Don’t use glasses or wine bottles because they powderize too much. Ceramic coffee mugs are sturdier. Experiment with crash sounds, you can roll, shake or just drop the box. It all sounds different.
Look at an example of real life foley being produced in a studio
Now select your silent movie, and have fun!