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Post Production
| equipment | editing | foley

Many people forget film is a multi-sensory experience. As a result, sound is neglected.

While watching an action movie, listen to the sound of someone getting punched in the face. Now go find your red headed step brother and hit him in the face. Does it sound the same? No. That's because the sound you heard in the movie was not the sound of a person getting hit in the face.

Sound foley is the art of taking a visual action in a film and "embellishing it" with a sound in post production. When listening to someone get punched in the face in a movie, the sound was most likely made after the shooting by a sound foley artist. You probably heard a combination of sounds mixed together: a wood stick being broken, a rod hitting rubber. Many times using another sound in place of the original sound will give more impact to certain actions, such as a punch or a title graphic. Other times it is beneficial to record a sound in a manner that is similar to what is seen on camera because the editor can have more control of the volume levels of a particular sound or the ability to add filters to a specific portion of sound.

In the recent past, when home video editing was performed by recording from a video camera to a VCR and using a pause, using foley sounds were not practical for average home video hobbyist. But with the advent of DV video, foley has now become a reality and a great way to make home video productions appear much more professional.

There are four basic components for sound foley:

  1. A sound source
  2. A method to record the sound
  3. A way to manipulate the sound
  4. A program to add the layer of sound to the video

A Sound Source

Spend an hour listening and comparing different sounds. Listen to the sound of a car door closing while standing on the outside of the car, now listen to the sound from the inside of the car. How do they differ in tone? How do the sounds resonate differently? Hit a pan with a stick, or flick a pillow with your finger. Soon your ears will open up to millions of sounds you never thought of. Each one of these millions of sounds have potential to act as foley sounds for: Foot steps, doors closing, computer graphics and just about any other action you can think of.

Method of Recording

Using a DV video camera to record sound is probably the simplest way to record foley sounds. But there are also other options for attaining higher quality foley sound: recording directly to your computer with an expensive microphone, using a mini disk with an expensive microphone, or capturing isolated sound effects off of a DVD movie.

Manipulating the Sound

Because most video editing programs lack the precision and control necessary for sound editing, it helps to have a specific program designed to edit sound. There are many sound editing programs on the market(ie Sound Forge, Sound Edit 16). One that has recently been made free is DigiDesign' sPro Tools which is available for both the Mac and PC. Most of these programs differ in price based on the amount of features. Go to the company websites and try the demos before you buy to find the one that is best for you.

Make sure that the foley sound sampling is the same sampling as the DV source sound. Sampling, is the amount of times per second the source makes a sound. The lower the frequency, the more choppy it will sound. For example, CD quality sound has a 44,100 hertz sampling rate. Sometimes when the putting together the sound in a video that is of a different sampling, errors occur which result in popping because the video program has to mix two different sampling rates. Resample the source in a special sound editing program before putting in with the video to greatly help reduce the chances of hearing popping or clicking.

Layer the Sounds
The foley sounds in movies are many times combinations of multiple sounds layered together. Experiment with layering different sounds on top of each other to invent new exciting sounds for your production.

Adding Foley Sound to Video

Watch a person hit a tennis ball against a wall from a distance. Notice the delay from when you see the ball hit the wall to when you hear the ball hit the wall. Foley sounds shouldn't necessarily be added at the exact frame of visual impact. In the real world, sound takes more time to travel than light. The same rules apply in the video world. When inserting the sound effects, adjust the position in time the sound starts based on the distance away from the object making the sound.

If two identical sound waves are layered on top of each other with the same starting time, the volume will increase two fold. With this increased volume comes the opportunity for clipping. To avoid clipping, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of certain sounds.

Introduction | equipment | editing | foley




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