January 15, 2020

Cheap Household Items That'll Help You Create Common Foley Sounds

Need to create some foley? Here are some common household items that'll help you do it. 

In the wonderful world of foley, you don't build a fire to create fire sounds or go to the mountains in the winter to record footsteps in snow...or push a guy out of a 5-story window to create the sound of...a guy falling out of a 5-story window.

Nah, you use cellophane, cornstarch, and phonebooks for that stuff, because anything and everything can be used to create the sounds we hear in films.

In this video, the team over at PremiumBeat challenged themselves to populate some stock footage with foley they created in-studio with common household items, from cast iron skillets to kitty litter, and it's a really interesting exploration into some really cool and unique foley tricks.

Check it out below.

So, what cheap, household items were used in this video? Let's run through them quickly:

  • Frying/sizzling sounds: Water in a hot pan or soaking a towel in water
  • Popping sounds: Water and oil in a hot pan (be careful with this though)
  • Ironworking sounds: Banging a hammer on cast iron
  • Crackling fire sounds: Inflated plastic bag or bunched up cellophane
  • Windy fire sounds: Blowtorch
  • Realistic full fire sounds: Burning a small piece of steel wool
  • Spark sounds: Kitty litter on an inflated plastic bag
  • Punching bag sounds: Cardboard box (not a fan of this method, personally)

Here's one of the main things I like about this video: it proves that there is no right or wrong way to go about foley.

Yeah, there are popular tricks—bacon really does sound like falling rain and celery really, really sounds like bones breaking—but there's more than one way to create the sounds you need.

For example, Chuck opts for rubbing an inflated packing plastic bag and dropping kitty litter onto it to create the sound of a crackling fire, while Robbie goes for bunching up some cellophane, turning on a blowtorch, and burning steel wool.

However, some things don't require some weird item to recreate its sound. Sometimes you can...you know...just use the thing you're creating foley for, like when Robbie punches a punching bag for the boxing video.

Got any great foley tips or tricks? What's the weirdest thing you've used to create foley? Let us know down in the comments.     

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