“So… you produce a sophisticated laugh track… Filling in for an audience that isn’t there?”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I heard my craft defined in such terms… But on one level, yes. Since the location Mixer is concentrating on dialog many necessary sounds are not captured. Others sound out of place, suffer from low quality, or will be lost with dialog replacement. Still others, like the laughing audience, simply do not exist.
But Foley does more than just replace the obvious. Foley does what no sound effect library can achieve: it organically fills in all the cracks between major sound moments to create the rich sonic environment we expect when watching a movie.
Foley began as an art form pioneered by Jack Foley in the 1920’s. It was the end of the silent picture era and Universal Studios was trying to re-release their silent films with soundtracks. Jack took real-time techniques used in radio theater and retooled them for motion pictures. Because of the limitations of the time, all the sound effects had to be re-created at once. Jack developed a number of techniques for recording footsteps, clothing, and prop handling sounds in a realistic, efficient manner. The craft Jack Foley created would forever bear his name.
Today, Foley recording is a meticulous process of layering sound on sound to re-create a realistic environment.
I ran across this video and had to share it. Gary Hecker is an amazing foley artist. I look at his prop closet and get inspired, then I hear his work and am humbled.
Enjoy this snapshot into the world of a great foley artist. SoundWorks Collection: Gary Hecker – Veteran Foley Artist from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.