Activity 2: Foley Art


Inception Trailer A Capella Re-Dub – YouTubeswf from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

Sound is a super important part of any film/video production, but on big productions the most carefully recorded sound on set is the character dialogue. All the background noises from footsteps to paper shuffling is usually recorded separately. That’s where foley artistry comes in!
Foley is the art of reproducing and creating sounds for film. It was started by a true O.G. of sound, Jack Foley, in the roaring 20’s. He projected a movie onto a screen while he and his team recreated the ambient sounds in the movie that the microphones didn’t pick up during filming. The sounds were recorded onto one single track. Check out this example by Nick where a silent film is given a whole soundtrack via live performance.
The art form has advanced considerably with the advent of multi-track recording. Modern foley artists can record multiple sounds in a studio and blend them together to make a complex auditory experience. Gary Hecker, professional foley artist, explains and demonstrates this process in this video by Michael Coleman.

SoundWorks Collection: Gary Hecker – Veteran Foley Artist from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

You’ll notice that Gary’s work requires him to be resourceful and to have have a good sense of timing. He has to be able to make almost any conceivable sound with the collection of objects in his studio or his own voice and body. Whether it something simple like footsteps or a complex crash or fight scene, every moving object in the shot is accounted for and given a sound. Without all these crucial sounds, movies would seem unnaturally still, especially during dialogue scenes.

Now, most of us don’t have a large studio with props and gadgets at our disposal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make some great sound effects. Look around your house/apartment/hut with the footage you’ve shot in mind, and you’re bound to find a myriad of objects that can reproduce the sound effects you need.
Using your laptop’s internal microphone to record the sounds is effective, but not ideal for quality recording. You’ll want to use a dedicated sound recording device for this and most importantly think creatively. Something simple like the sound of celery snapping can be used to give dramatic realism to a violent action.

Have fun experimenting!

Understanding sound

Sound waves: Sound starts with vibrations in the air, like those produced by guitar strings, vocal cords, or speaker cones. These vibrations push nearby air molecules together, raising the air pressure slightly. The air molecules under pressure then push on the air molecules surrounding them, which push on the next set of molecules, and so on. As high-pressure areas move through the air, they leave low-pressure areas behind them. When these waves of pressure changes reach us, they vibrate the receptors in our ears, and we hear the vibrations as sound. When you see a visual waveform that represents audio, it reflects these waves of air pressure. The zero line in the waveform is the pressure of air at rest. When the line swings up to a peak, it represents higher pressure; when the line swings down to a trough, it represents lower pressure.

Several measurements describe sound waveforms:

  • Amplitude: Reflects the change in pressure from the peak of the waveform to the trough. High-amplitude waveforms are loud; low-amplitude waveforms are quiet.
  • Cycle: Describes a single, repeated sequence of pressure changes, from zero pressure, to high pressure, to low pressure, and back to zero.
  • Frequency: Measured in hertz (Hz), describes the number of cycles per second. (For example, a 1000-Hz waveform has 1000 cycles per second.) The higher the frequency, the higher the musical pitch.
  • Phase: Measured in 360 degrees, indicates the position of a waveform in a cycle. Zero degrees is the start point, followed by 90º at high pressure, 180º at the halfway point, 270º at low pressure, and 360º at the end point.
  • Wavelength: Measured in units such as inches or centimeters, is the distance between two points with the same degree of phase. As frequency increases, wavelength decreases.



  • Students are to work with a partner on this activity (except for posting of work),
  • Students are to find a “Trailer”  and reflect on what they technical aspects they like (all content must be appropriate for school) and remove all the audio.  Students are to create their own version of the trailer by redo all the audio.  Video can not be touched,
  • Each student must post the following to an Activity 2 sub-page of their website:
    • Research:
      • In a Microsoft Word document:
      • Identify a Movie Trailer of your choice and the record the url of the “trailer,”
      • Identify the name of the trailer in a Word document,
      • Analyse all the audio components and record your findings.  10-15 points.  Consider score, sound bites, sound effects, etc
      • Explain why you like this trailer,
      • Both students will need to post the text of the Word dociument to their Activity 2 sub-page
    • Proposal:
      • describe a potential digital approach to the audio construction of the trailer,
      • students are to identify the titles of the Royalty Free scores, names of trailer and URLs for the trailer,
      • create and post a storyboard plan,
      • Both students will need to post their proposal to their Activity 2 sub-page
    • Creation:
      • Due date: October 29th, 2012
      • Students are to create the audio “redub” of a trailer,
      • Video must remain the same,
      • The trailer must be a minimum of 60 seconds in length,
      • All Audio must be created through Foley Art and the use of royalty free sounds, scores or loops
      • Trailer must have a minimum of 4 audio tracks,
      • Trailer must have 3 foley art effects,
      • Trailer must have a narrative/dialogue/sound bites throughout 80% of the run-time,
      • export as: in your activity 2 sub-folder,
      • Upload to your vimeo channel,
      • Embed your vimeo file to your Activity 2 subpage,
      • Students are to start the video with a title depicting:
        • Name of the “Trailer”,
        • Trailer redub by: your names,
        • Digital Voices, Video Unit, Activity 2
        • Intro should look like the image below:
        • text should read: The following FOLEY ART ACTIVITY has been approved for DIGITAL VOICES BY YOUR NAMES, WINNIPEG, MB., CANADA.  www.yourwix and
      • Students are to end the video with a title(s) depicting:
        • Original Trailer name:,
        • Original Trailer URL:,
        • Trailer created by: your names,
        • Digital Voices, Video Unit, Activity 2
        • Reference all music artists, videos and URLs at the end of the video,

Teacher Tutorials:

Video Unit, Activity 2 from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

Video Unit, Foley Art Activity from Digital Voices on Vimeo.

Video Unit, Title creation from Digital Voices on Vimeo.