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Foley artist

The foley artist on a film crew is the person who creates and records many of the sound effects. Foley artists, editors, and supervisors are highly specialized and are essential for producing a soundtrack suitable for International distribution and exhibition.

Sound effects are rarely recorded at the same time as dialogue and action, since the sound mix is so difficult to balance; the foley artist listens to the dialogue track for the (usually quite faint) sounds of, for instance, footsteps, a door slam, etc. and records them onto a new track in synch with the action onscreen. Other sound effects are drawn from recorded libraries, but many directors prefer the direct involvement of the foley artist.

The foley artist also adds sounds that may not exist at all on the original track: for instance, thumping watermelons or cracking bamboo to create the sounds of a fight. Many foley artists take pride in constructing their own sound effects apparatus, frequently using simple, common materials. Some "the-making-of" features show foley artists at work. The contrast between the action on the screen and the down-home effects is striking.

The name comes from one of the original and well-known Hollywood practitioners of this art, Jack Foley, who got his start in the film business as a stand-in and screenwriter during the silent era and later helped Universal make the transition to sound.

How Effects are Sometimes Made

Effect How It Is Sometimes Made
Crowd Sounds Vocals (sometimes by a group of artists)
Horses' Hooves Hands hitting shoes into box of sand
Kissing Kissing back of hand
Punching someone Thumping watermelons
High heels Artist walks in high heels on wooden platform
Bonebreaking blow Breaking celery or bamboo
Footsteps in snow Squeezing a box of corn starch
Star-Wars sliding doors Sheet of paper pulled out of envelope
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See Also

Sound effects, Mellotron, Audio signal processing, Old-time radio