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Old 05-30-2011, 04:25 PM   #1
SiCurious
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Foley is a nightmare

Hi all

I'm currently in post production for a short practice film, and I want to pay serious consideration to sound. I'm dipping my toes into the art of sound design and I have a list of all the sounds I need to Foley, from footsteps and clothing rustles to branches blowing in the wind. But I'm finding it really difficult to record this, especially on my own.

All of the sounds occur outdoors, so I'm trying to record them outdoors. I'm using a Zoom H4n and a Rode NTG-2 + wind shield (not the greatest of combos as I have discovered, but I have to make do). So I'm walking around the park recording my own footsteps, attempting to synch them with the video footage I have on my mobile phone, and unsurprisingly, I'm finding it rather difficult!

Does anyone have any good tips on how to get passable to good Foley on a zero budget? I'd really love to read some advice or ideas for how better to capture wild, background and incidental sounds.

Thanks a lot
Si
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:40 PM   #2
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Well, if you want to be a foley artist, then the following advice is of course useless (cuz in that case, you should be learning/practicing).

On my most recent project, I also did foley for the first time. Yeah, it's difficult. There were a few sounds that I found rather easy (like the sound of a bycicle falling to the ground, or like a dude going pee in the grass). Pretty much everything else, though, I found rather difficult, and I just gave up. Cuz I'm not trying to learn how to be a foley artist; I just wanted to complete the project, with as good a quality as I could.

You can download almost every sound you need. There are some poor recordings out there, but there are also some really good ones. Most of the good ones will cost only a few bucks, but there are some good free ones, too.

P.S. The pace of your footsteps on your recording don't need to match the video, cuz you can (and maybe should) sync them individually.

Best of luck!
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:53 PM   #3
SiCurious
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker Funk View Post
a dude going pee in the grass
I hope it was someone you knew, rather than some random guy you happened to be passing... "Dude, that sounds awesome! I gotta get that on tape..."

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Pretty much everything else, though, I found rather difficult, and I just gave up. Cuz I'm not trying to learn how to be a foley artist; I just wanted to complete the project, with as good a quality as I could.
Aye, fair enough. I did have a list of about 40 sounds, but narrowed that down to 12 "I definitely need to get this!" sounds.

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You can download almost every sound you need. There are some poor recordings out there, but there are also some really good ones. Most of the good ones will cost only a few bucks, but there are some good free ones, too.
Yeah, I was thinking that for punches/kicks, blocks, missed punches... basically fighting sounds will be downloaded, but "everyday" sounds will be recorded.

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P.S. The pace of your footsteps on your recording don't need to match the video, cuz you can (and maybe should) sync them individually.

Best of luck!
Should have thought of that, it's a good idea! Synch each individual footstep in the mix, I'll give that a try

Thanks man.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:59 PM   #4
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I hope it was someone you knew, rather than some random guy you happened to be passing... "Dude, that sounds awesome! I gotta get that on tape..."


On-screen, it was a dude peeing in the grass. The audio is me, slowly pouring a bottle of water onto the ground, with the H4n held about a foot away from where it was landing.

Yeah, the footstep thing, syncing each individual step, is actually pretty easy. The good news, in all of this, is that syncing/editing your foley and/or sound effects is WAY easier than recording it, in my opinion.

Or, maybe that's just a reflection of where I'm skilled vs. where I'm completely useless?

I look forward to seeing it when you're done. Cheers!
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:40 PM   #5
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On-screen, it was a dude peeing in the grass. The audio is me, slowly pouring a bottle of water onto the ground, with the H4n held about a foot away from where it was landing.
One of the things I love about sound is how it allows you to be really creative when replicating sound effects. My favourite moment so far was creating a neck-slice sound effect by slicing a melon, and nearly hacking off one of my fingers in the process. A small price to pay for realism

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I look forward to seeing it when you're done. Cheers!
I'll definitely post it up here when it's done! Thanks for your help, man.
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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There are five basic requirements for doing Foley - a quiet room, a quality mic, a good sonic imagination, lots of props and patience.

Mistake #1 - DO NOT record the "Foley" outdoors; you will be piling on layer after layer of additional background noise.

Tip #1 - Make the sound "bigger" than you think it should be.

As a rule Foley is performed live to picture in a controlled indoor environment. If you want to be 100% technical about it, if you have recorded the "Foley" in the field and then synced it to picture afterwards it is no longer Foley, it is now a sound effect.

Foley is, in many ways, an art of audio illusion, the props you use are rarely the "real" thing. You don't need real leaves, you need something that sounds like leaves. You don't wear the clothes when you do cloth sounds; you manipulate several pieces of cloth with your hands.

When you walk Foley you walk in place; every Foley walker figures out their own way to make steps sound "real"; for me it is putting my foot down on the "inside" of the heel and stepping on the "outside" or little toe side of the end of my foot. But a lot of times, especially when doing steps for female characters, I put the shoes on my hands. For cloth I tend use two different types of cloth at the same time (remember Tip#1?).

You should get the book "The Foley Grail" by Vanessa Ament.

Here's a few links to get you started:

http://www.marblehead.net/foley/

LOTS of good stuff here:

http://www.filmsound.org/foley/

Check out "Foley on a Shoestring" here:

http://www.equipmentemporium.com/fil...d-articles.php


You also have to keep in mind that Foley comes to life during the mix. You use EQ and reverb to give perspective and match the dialog and the audio space.

I do sound for a living, and it took me quite a while to get Foley right - selecting props, performing, editing and mixing. I'm not trying to discourage you, just let you know that your problems and frustrations are not unique
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:16 PM   #7
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Alcove,

Going to take a jab at you wherein foley is sometimes best recorded outdoors.

Reason being - realistic. It is way more realistic to record foley in the space it's filmed in, granted you don't have a lot of extraneous noise.

But, one of the last films I worked on we shot almost all of our foley outdoors to get the "lack of echo" on the recordings which is almost unobtainable in a foley studio's acoustics. However, this film took place in a forest environment which was rather easy to go out and find a quiet area. Obviously you wouldn't record foley in Times Square but sometimes your rule can be broken.
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Old 05-30-2011, 10:58 PM   #8
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My minor is Audio Engineering. Sadly I focused on wireless set-ups, not actual sound design but the connections and hook-ups. But I did get to play with it. As far as I know it's a pain unless it's all you do five days a week, eight hours a day, but damn it's boring to me. I need a picture or something otherwise I get bored, so sound ain't my thing. But what I did learn is that it's not what you have, but how you use it. For my projects I use Soundtrack Pro and GarageBand. I've recently gotten a technical award for sound in a short film which was remastered in garageband. I just didn't mention that part. So like I said, not what you have, (In most cases), but how you use.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
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But, one of the last films I worked on we shot almost all of our foley outdoors to get the "lack of echo" on the recordings which is almost unobtainable in a foley studio's acoustics.
Depends on the Foley room; it should be acoustically dead or live depending upon the needs of the sound(s).

Out of curiosity, did you perform to picture or just do the sounds? If you just created sounds and cut to fit later it's sound FX, not Foley.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:13 AM   #10
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Wow, thanks very much guys!

Alcove, great links, I now feel slightly more confident that I can do this. It's good to know about the FX vs Foley distinction as well.

I think I'll give it a proper go this evening with my band of filmmaking brothers. It's only a practice short that we're working on, so good grounds for experimentation. I'm mostly worried about the two or three scenes where characters are running through grass and suddenly skid to a halt.

I might write up my experience so that others may benefit from my failings
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:11 AM   #11
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Just to toss this out there...

My wife has performed foley for all 3 of my features. She's a former pro dancer so her timing and body control is impeccable. We recorded the tracks in a friend's basement studio. If someone needs foley tracks done at a reasonable cost, PM me. They might be able to do it for you.
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Old 05-31-2011, 11:40 AM   #12
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@Alcove We saw the rough cut in the studio and took it out on a laptop and recorded it with Sound Devices not synced to picture but referring to the actions with the quicktime file. We did go out before the film finished shooting and capture sounds throughout the Pacific northwest but there were specific sounds we wanted better sync on with something we couldn't feasibly bring into the studio (tree branches cracking a certain way, large mud footsteps / scuffles, etc). It was absolutely foley...
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:06 PM   #13
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ROC - I argued your way a few times and got stomped on by those with more experience (and the awards to prove it!). Foley has become a catch-all term for what you described, but the purist view is "If you are not standing in front of a screen and performing live, in sync to picture, you are not doing Foley."
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:24 PM   #14
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Whoever told you that may have won awards in the 1990s when acting it out to the picture was worth it, but he might not understand the term "digital editing" or what is possible nowadays with DAWs and non-lin editing.

The method we used was in the same vein as what they did with The Kings Speech, 127 Hours and even that submarine movie they cut all the foley on an actual submarine to get that echo.

Not having 3 beeps and a streamer doesn't make it any less of a foley recording. That's my opinion on the matter and if the person who shouted you down for challenging that definition like I am challenging it would care to talk I would gladly get in touch with him and have that conversation. :-)

/rant

Last edited by Utopia; 05-31-2011 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:29 PM   #15
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This is a fun (and educational) conversation. Regardless of how we define it, I got mad props for you guys! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
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