the gary paul agency logo
POST PRODUCTION SERVICES                    Foley Sound Studio  
We offer Foley Sound Design and sport Professional Foley Artists but if you want to try this creative form of sound track enrichment use the follow guide but if you need the professionals, let us know.

Setting Up a Foley Studio
The movie industry has special sound stages devoted to Foley recording; but you can set up shop anywhere it's quiet. The whole idea is to record effects with little or no ambient background sound. So work on carpet under an acoustical drop ceiling, if possible, with lots of draperies and other sound absorbing materials. For Foley work in the field, buy or rent furniture pads from your local moving rental franchise to help absorb ambient sound.foley

For equipment, you must have at least a VCR and monitor to play back the video, and a mike to record the effects. A camcorder mike works fine if you can snuggle up to the sound source, but an external, directional, shotgun-style mike is probably better. Use a mike cable 12 to 15 feet in length: long enough to permit flexible positioning and movement but short enough to minimize audio interference.

In addition to this simple setup, three other items are highly desirable:

• A manual record volume control on the VCR. Because effects are intermittent, automatic recording controls crank up the gain in the quiet spots between noises, amplifying the background noise.

• An audio mixer. Even without manual volume, an external audio mixer will let you send a hotter signal to the VCR. It will also let you change volume when it's impractical to do this by moving the microphone.

• A reverberation control. Reverberation adds space to audio effects. By recording sounds in acoustically dead environments, you can then add just the right amount of reverberation to match them to the environment displayed on the screen. For a chink or clank in a plush living room, use little or no echo. For the same sounds in a metal aircraft hanger, crank up the reverb control. For out-of-doors noises, of course, use no reverb (unless your characters are standing at Echo Point....OINT, oint, oint...)

If you are editing digitally, your software probably has variable reverberation available as an audio effect.

With the equipment in place, you need suitable noisemakers to record (see How'd they do that? Sidebar). Professional Foley studios have collections of stock props such as doors, bells, appliances and so-forth. Studio floors are laid with squares of concrete, hardwood, dirt, leaves and bark, etc. so that Foley artists can "walk" for the microphone on a variety of surfaces. (For better control, they often wear shoes on their hands --especially when male artists are faking females clacking along in spike heels.)

Foley Recording Techniques
We've mentioned that the key recording technique is proper miking: get the mike close to optimize the signal quality and screen out background noises. Also, a close mike minimizes reverb, which you'll add, to taste, later.

Incidentally, if you can't add echo, try to record the effect in a comparable environment. Want that aircraft hanger? Point the mike into that empty 55-gallon drum you got for Darth Maul's footsteps.

Another key technique is layering. If you need more effects than you can lay in at one time, make a dupe of your master footage and then Foley-record the first group of effects onto it. Now, put that dupe in your source deck, sync it with the master footage in the record deck, and mix the dupe tape audio with the second set of effects as you lay them down.

Of course, if you're doing digital post production, you can layer as many sounds as you like by laying them on separate tracks. If you're a SoundBlaster master, you may be able to record your effects directly to disk as .WAV files. For the rest of us, it'll still be easier to lay the effects on tape and then digitize the results.

Finally, here's a faux-Foley technique that can be very funny, if used judiciously (as with any joke, a little bit goes a long way). Instead of making actual sound effects, use your voice to post-sync vocal imitations. It's even more fun when several people are assigned specific tasks (he's the door; she's the footsteps). I've even had students who used comic strip-style words instead, actually saying, "click, creeeeeeeaaak, click, walk, walk, walk, walk...." etc.

But too much of that funny business leads from Foley to folly.