Today, we are going to look into the wonderful world of Foley artistry. What is a Foley artist? A Foley artist is one who provides sound effects for a film through the use of everyday objects and materials that can produce the sound we expect to hear when watching a scene. If we watch some plates break, we expect to hear shattering. If we see a horse galloping, we expect to hear the hoof beats. Picking up these sounds during the actual filming of the scene is exceedingly difficult so Foley artists watch the scenes and provide the sound effects separately. They will watch the scenes, set up their areas, and then record the sound effects live while watching the scene again. In order to talk about some of the tricks up their sleeves, we will be using a very well done video showing a couple of Foley artists recording sound live for an action scene. Throughout the Instructable, we will be referencing particular segments to help visualize the different sound effects and how to do them.

A few general notes regarding Foley artistry:

  • Strategically place recording devices throughout the studio to fully capture all of the sounds that will be produced in full detail.
  • Include a screen with the movie scene playing to follow along with for timing purposes
  • Plan before recording
  • Determine each sound that needs to be produced
  • Determine how it will be produced and the prop that will be used
  • Set up the recording studio so that each prop is within reach and each sound can be executed in sequence
  • BE SAFE!
  • And Have fun!

Step 1: Door Sounds

Here we have some basic door sounds. When providing door sounds, the Foley artist will sometimes use a full freestanding door or a small door with a large number of different locks on it. A large door can make better opening and closing sounds since it has weight to it, but the small door can be used to provide the sound of locking and unlocking of a lock on a wooden surface. The small door could also be used to simulate shutting and opening.


A pair of metal pliers is a good tool to simulate the sound of a key entering a door. An older more worn out pair of pliers with produce a better noise. Newer pliers still open and close very smoothly and therefore will make too quiet of a noise. To make the noise simply hold one handle and let the other one hang down. Swing the hanging handle back and forth to create the metal on metal sliding sounds desired.

Opening and Closing doors

There is no trick to create the sound of doors opening and closing. These sounds are best captured through the use of an actual door. The size of the door can however be smaller than a typical door for convenience purposes (as in the video). The door must have a functioning door knob.

Simply open and close the door according to the scene being reproduced.

Look at 00:15 to 01:00 for examples of producing door sounds.

<p>This is quite interesting, and also something that I've seen done in live theater. I recall a production of <em>Our Town</em> in which a foley artist was actually cooking offstage while the actors pantomimed making breakfast. I find it very cool that some of the really basic techniques used in foley artistry (e.g. coconut shells for horse hooves or just making sounds with your mouth) are still in use in our modern age of digital effects. Your Instructable inspired me to poke around online, and I found this great video of a foley artist named Gary Hecker doing a whole set of horse sounds: <a href="http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/garyhecker" rel="nofollow">http://soundworkscollection.com/videos/garyhecker</a>.</p>
<p>This is really interesting!</p>

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