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Tips for Recording Foley Audio

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/29/2010

Here are some tips for recording foley audio for your film project, which adds in sounds that are supposed to exist within your story space.

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    Foley Sound Recording

    Foley audio is, as many people know, the recording of sound effects to match the video that has already been recorded. In most narrative scenes, not all the sounds that you would like to have in the story space are actually going to be able to be recorded on location. Instead, you will try to reproduce those sounds in a recording booth so that they will accurately match the supposed action in the scene that will go along with it. This is a very specific job in the audio post-production world and is a creative position that requires you to improvise as much as possible. Here are a few tips for recording foley sound during this process.

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    Foley Sound Insulation

    One of the main things that you are going to note is that foley sound insulation is of primary importance. When recording the foley sound files you will need to isolate those sounds as much as possible. This means that any outside noise or competing sound is going to cause a problem for the purity of your foley sound files, so it has to be eliminated. You can only record proper foley sound in a place where foley sound insulation has been constructed and is completely sound proof. This is often why foley sound files are recorded from an audio control booth in another room, while the microphone and foley equipment remain in the sound proofed area.

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    Associated Video

    Foley sound, kind of like ADR, is supposed to really match the video that has been filmed. You can record foley sound files for storage and later use, but most foley sessions are project specific. What this means is that you will want to actually be watching the event so that you can try to match your pacing and sound character as much as possible to what is trying to be portrayed. To do this the foley sound room must be equipment for video and audio playback, and you must be running a system where you can have video playback sans the audio. Along with this, foley sound recording sessions should be done after some preliminary video editing has already occurred.

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    Choosing Foley Objects

    There is no one way to produce foley sound, which is why foley recording sessions often look like a garage sale. When you are choosing items to bring into a foley recording session you will have to first have an idea of what you need. Watch over the video and see the kind of things that you are going to want to match, such as metal crashes, footsteps, cracking sound, etc. Take your list and try to find objects that you believe will kind of match that sound when you are actually in the foley booth, not just the outside world. They do not have to be exact because you can use audio equalization later to alter it, but you want to know that they will have general sound character that you want. Try them out first before bringing them in by closing your eyes and trying to picture the video along side them.