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Enhance Home Movies With These 5 Foley Artist Techniques

Foley is the process of capturing realistic sounds with props to replace or enhance existing sounds in film, television, or radio. The technique was introduced around 85 years ago and is named after its originator, Jack Foley.
When a film is recorded, it's usually only actors' voices that are captured. Post-filming, sounds that weren't picked up by the cameras, such as footsteps or a key unlocking a door, are enhanced with Foley, in sync with the recorded footage.

There are three main categories of Foley:

  • 'Feet' involves capturing and syncing the sound of actors' footsteps

  • 'Cloth' deals with the sound of actors' clothing as they move

  • 'Props' refers to other sounds, such as pulling keys out of a pocket.

This article covers five simple Foley techniques that are easy to create and record, and will enhance your home movies.
The sound of rainfall can evoke feelings of sadness, but it can also add to a sense of hope such as rain preceding sunshine breaking out.
Recording rainfall may seem easy, but it's quite difficult to do it well; pouring water from a watering can won't be as realistic as it could be.
Instead, try the Foley technique of dropping grains of rice onto tin foil. The greater the distance from which you release the grains, the more prominent the sound will be.
When you think of winter scenes in movies, you think of snow. And you can recreate the sound of walking in it with a simple Foley technique which is ideal for footage you shot around Christmas.
It's important to create the feel of a cold, crisp climate, rather than a grey, sludgy one. Achieving this with actual snow can be very difficult, but there's another white substance that can produce the same effect.
Simply put some flour into a cotton bag and squeeze it in sync with the footsteps in your recorded footage. This creates a crunch, which reflects walking in fresh winter snow.
The sound of a heartbeat has been used successfully for many years to either create a sense of fear or to build tension. You can achieve the very same effect in your home movies with Foley methods.
For example, if you've recorded a relative in a game of sport, the sound of a heartbeat coupled with a close-up just before the deciding kick of the game can greatly enhance tension and anticipation.
And there are a couple of ways you can do this. Either screw up a damp flannel or cloth and sharply stretch it with two hands, or simply press the sides of a large plastic container or bin, in and out.
Movies you've recorded often show someone walking and, depending on the surface, the sound of footsteps will create a sense of reality in the scene.
Your camera or smartphone is unlikely to pick up the sound of those footsteps, but the Foley process makes it easy to reproduce. All you need is a section of wood, marble of whatever the relevant surface is made from, and a pair of suitable shoes.
Put the shoes on your hands or feet and sync the footsteps in time with your footage. Consider the effect you want to create; for example, someone walking on marble in a large room requires an echoed effect to convey the open space.
If you've captured footage at the beach, Foley can recreate the sound of the ocean which will greatly enhance your movies. For example, the lilting, soothing sound of waves rippling onto the shore can evoke a relaxing, placid feel.
You can replicate this by pouring a fizzy drink on to a hard surface such as tarmac. Be sure not to pour from too great a height because you don't want to capture the sound of the drink actually hitting the floor. And similarly, don't pour with the bottle held at 180 degrees which only creates an unrealistic glugging sound.
The best use of Foley goes unnoticed by the audience When produced and applied successfully, Foley sounds can add to the atmosphere of a scene, while appearing unmistakably realistic to the audience.
And the Foley process isn't just reserved for Hollywood blockbusters. Why not try the simple techniques above and enhance your home movies?

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