November 28, 2014

Tired of the Wilhelm Scream? Learn the Basics of Foley & Sound Design

So, you've recorded some sound on location. You've got the dialog, and even some ADR. Now it's time to add -- essentially everything else.

Unless shot on a soundstage (or somewhere without sound pollution), it's actually pretty rare that when you watch a scene in a film to hear the original audio captured at the time of shooting, especially if we're talking about sound effects. It's difficult to record anything other than dialog with any kind of fidelity during a shoot, which is why sound design is primarily a post-production game that calls for extremely talented artists, like legendary sound designer Walter Murch.

Your projects are going to need a lot of sound work once you move into post, namely foley and sound effects, and Filmmaker IQ's final installment of their sound series focuses on teaching you how to tackle this step. In the video below, you'll not only learn about the interesting history of foley, but how to record it.

Granted, most of us aren't going to have access to an expensive sound studio to create and record foley, but that doesn't mean that you're relegated to settling for poorly produced sound effects from free sound effects libraries. (There are some really excellent libraries and collections out there, though.) Foley doesn't have to cost a ton of money if you get a little bit creative with the things you have -- you can record virtually anything in your backyard. And foley's just the beginning; you can create beautifully intricate ambient soundscapes by visiting your local salvage yard and banging mallets against broken bathtubs and ovens, as demonstrated by sound designer Ali Lacey.

If you're interested in strengthening your education on sound, we've got our coverage of Filmmaker IQ's series listed below:

A big thanks to our friends at Filmmaker IQ for providing us all with this great series on sound!     

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5 Comments

Love these last two Filmmaker IQ posts about sound.

November 28, 2014 at 4:54PM

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Zachary Will
Cinematographer
833

Ugh, I can't stand it when I recognise stock sounds used in movies or shows. The one I hear all the time is the rusty metal door hinges squeak. All the time. Medieval show - Squeak. Cop Drama - Squeak. Scandal - Squeak. Ugh.

November 30, 2014 at 12:26AM

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Evan Payne
Filmmaker
65

You lost me at "tired of the wilhelm scream"

November 30, 2014 at 7:43PM

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James Poremba
Cinematographer & Steadicam Operator
88

The "Wilhelm scream" is actually a bunch of screams by an actor that were recorded for the film "Yellow Sky" in the 50's. The actor managed some particularly agonizing screams and they have been reused countless times in all kinds of films and TV shows. So much so that they are recognizable by many people. There are also a number of designers and editors who have used them as a bit of a signature and sneak them in in one way or another in every project. Ben Burt is probably the most famous of those.

January 6, 2015 at 6:07PM

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Scott Koue
Sound editor, designer, rerecording mixer
81

I find it scary when the intro doesn't get it right. Two things off the bat Foley is always capitalized. It's a proper name. Second Foley is NOT sound FX it's actions recorded in sync with picture. While you can in theory record it in your back yard that requires video playback that you can watch and perform the Foley to. What you can record just about anywhere is SFX. The key difference is SFX are recorded wild and later put in sync and Foley is recorded live to picture IN sync.

January 6, 2015 at 6:00PM

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Scott Koue
Sound editor, designer, rerecording mixer
81