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Old 11-28-2017, 08:34 AM   #1
BazTheHat
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Article on how to use sound to tell a story

Hi,

I've made an article on LinkedIn on how sound design and music can be used to help tell a story. Hope you like it.

Last edited by BazTheHat; 11-29-2017 at 07:00 AM. Reason: Corrected title of thread
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:28 AM   #2
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They can be foley (everyday sounds), sound effects (aka SFX, usually big and bold and not necessarily 'real' sounds) or hyper-real (things that 'sound' real but are much bigger than real life).
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Hyper-real sounds are used to signify an important sound. This might be using SFX (in Master and Commander they used the sound of tanks firing as they sounded better than actual cannons) or foley (the bleeping sound of a bomb as the hero tries to dis-arm it whilst in a really noisy environment - not very realistic but it helps the story flow better).
First, always captialize Foley. It's a proper name. Second, You've given two contrasting definitions of Foley, and neither are accurate.

Foley can also create sounds that are larger-than-life and it often uses sounds of objects that are not the same as what's on screen. The defining line between SFX and Foley is whether the sounds used are pre-recorded (SFX) or performed live to picture playback (Foley). The beeping sound of a bomb timer is likely SFX. The sound of the character clipping the wire is likely Foley.

Foley artists often use things that create sounds for the picture, and have nothing to do with what's in the picture. A bundle of bamboos strips or a bag of potato chips ("crisps" for you all across the pond) for fire burning. The lid of a toilet tank sliding off for the opening of a crypt. A baseball bat and a head of cabbage for a fist punch, a balloon filled with corn starch for snowy footsteps. Many of these sounds are available in stock SFX libraries, too, but it's Foley if it's recorded live to picture.
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Old 11-28-2017, 11:45 AM   #3
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I don't capitalize french fry, but I do capitalize French people. When dealing with sound it is now a known process and I feel like we can lay off the caps, unless talking about the man.

But the rest of your post, noted!
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Old 11-28-2017, 03:49 PM   #4
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Hey AcousticAl,

Thanks for taking the time to read my article, I appreciate it.

I would argue that these days the word foley has been used and abused over the years and has strayed away from the purist "live recording of sounds" and wandered more towards "sounds made by human interaction." A quick Google search for foley sample packs demonstrates what I mean.

I would also argue that I'm discussing the technique not the man and so the term doesn't need capitalising - a semantic point to be sure.

I completely agree with you though that I could have used a better explanation and demonstration of foley. I'll edit it accordingly as soon as I can.

I also clearly didn't make the point that pretty much ALL added sound isn't made by the original item. Perhaps I should have been more explicit in that.

Hope that all makes sense. I also hope you enjoyed the rest of the article. 😀
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:03 PM   #5
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A quick Google search for foley sample packs demonstrates what I mean.
I've seen those and I'd argue that's still a misuse of the term. Just because some random company decided to sell and SFX directory as a "Foley" directory doesn't make it so. Motion pictures credit Foley artists under the proper terminology. There's a separate credit line for sound effects editors.
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Old 11-28-2017, 04:26 PM   #6
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That's a fair argument to make. I guess it comes down to the purist view or a post-modern bastardisation view of the term (pardon the phrase).
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Old 11-28-2017, 06:14 PM   #7
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I think if the aim is to educate, which ultimately it almost always is with articles like this, it's important to ensure you use the correct terminology and the correct definitions. You could even mention that the term Foley has been bastardised by some, but correct usage of terminology is what keeps this industry ticking. If you ask a Producer for Foley, they're going to book a stage and an artist (or artists).

It's similar, in some ways, to the term 'anamorphic' - some lower end users may have bastardised this term to mean 'a cropped aspect ratio of 2.35:1'. The reality is, 'shooting anamorphic' to those people may mean taking what they've shot and cropping it to 2.35:1. In the realities of the industry, 'shooting anamorphic' most likely means shooting with anamorphic lenses and de-squeezing later to get a 2.39:1 aspect ratio.

Ensuring you know the difference is crucial to clarity, and when educating I think it's extremely important to teach the correct terminology. Again, you tell a Producer you're shooting anamorphic you're going to end up with anamorphic lenses. If you don't know the realities and actualities of shooting anamorphic, you're probably going to be surprised when everything's squished. You're also probably going to have no idea how to best utilise such lenses.

Clarity and accuracy is extremely important, particularly in this industry we (try and) make a living out of.
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Old 11-28-2017, 06:34 PM   #8
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Hay Baz. I liked your article. Some great points and it's well written.

I agree with jax and Al AND with you. You are correct that the term
“Foley” has been used and abused. I'm with Al and jax in that as a
writer you have an obligation to not misuse it. Don't fall into the
current straying of the term. The more writers who use it correctly
the better chances we have holding to the purist meaning. Let's not
lose sight of our past when following post-modern trends.
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Old 11-29-2017, 04:03 AM   #9
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Thanks directorik for commenting on the whole article and for everyone elses comments. I really aprpeciate the time everyone has taken to read the article and give some healthy discussion on the topic.

I completely agree that clarity is important and I will edit the article later today.

I would also argue however that terminology does change over time. I'm old and British enough to remember a "billion" being a million million, and a "kilobyte" being 1,024 bytes. Today, a billion is a thousand million, and a kilobyte is exactly 1,000 bytes.

The purist in me riles at that - the pragmatist says that language changes over time.

So I think this has opened a discussion on if foley is the process or the product. For instance, I'd typically say that gun handling sounds are foley and the gun shot would be SFX, regardless of how they were recorded. If you recorded the sound of a rifle to replace and big up the sound of the gun shot, but did it in real-time along with the video, does that make the gun shot now foley? If the gun handling sounds were taken from a library (and huge production companies use libraries these days) does that make it SFX? Does it even make sense to have that distinction these days?

[EDIT: Checking up various dictionaries, I see that in UK English "foley" is a noun whereas in US English it is an adjective. This might well be the crux of the discussion right there.]

Got to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in this discussion; love the fact that we're all keeping it friendly and on-topic.

Last edited by BazTheHat; 11-29-2017 at 07:02 AM. Reason: Added new info about noun vs adj.
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:29 AM   #10
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OK I've made some edits. I know it probably won't please everyone but I feel it gives clarity to the writing.

Quote:
A quick note for clarity. In the UK the term 'foley' is treated as a noun - it is the product, the sound itself. In US English it is an adjective, as much the method of recording sound live over the film. Whilst named after Jack Foley, it can be written as a name ("Foley") or not ("foley"). For the purposes of this article I will be treating it as a noun.
I've edited the incorrect example of hyper-real foley:

Quote:
Hyper-real sounds are used to signify an important sound. This might be using SFX (in Master and Commander they used the sound of tanks firing as they sounded better than actual cannons; the bleeping sound of a bomb as the hero tries to dis-arm it whilst in a really noisy environment - not very realistic but it helps the story flow better) or foley (the swish and thwack of martial artists as they fight).
And clarity on the use of things different than expected:

Quote:
In fact, most of these sounds would be made by something other than what you'd expect. There are literally hundreds of examples online, but classic ones include: a letter being pulled out of an envelope and a running shoe squeak for Star Trek doors; cabbages being stabbed for stabbing sounds; and keys being jangled for the sound of a marching army.
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Old 11-29-2017, 06:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by BazTheHat View Post
I'm old and British enough to remember a "billion" being a million million, and a "kilobyte" being 1,024 bytes. Today, a billion is a thousand million, and a kilobyte is exactly 1,000 bytes.
Wait, when did a kilobyte start meaning 1,000 bytes...?

I would suggest it's more of an ease of discussion - i.e. in general conversation the difference between 1,000 and 1,024 doesn't matter, but in industries where it does matter it would be important to ensure your calculations account for 1,024. I don't think the 'meaning' of a kilobyte has changed, and I think it's a good reflection of what we're discussing here. Perhaps to the layman who doesn't know much about movies and is not interested in making them, the correct usage of the term Foley doesn't really matter. But if you're educating those who want to make movies and those with a keen interest, and people who may eventually transition into the professional industry the correct and accurate usage should prevail and definitely matters.

For the same reason that not accounting for the extra 24 bytes per kilobyte could result in disastrous effects if you work in technology.

As for a billion, I have never heard of it being a million million...


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Originally Posted by BazTheHat View Post
ay that gun handling sounds are foley and the gun shot would be SFX, regardless of how they were recorded. If you recorded the sound of a rifle to replace and big up the sound of the gun shot, but did it in real-time along with the video, does that make the gun shot now foley? If the gun handling sounds were taken from a library (and huge production companies use libraries these days) does that make it SFX? Does it even make sense to have that distinction these days?
I'll defer to the audio guys as they're the specialists, but (as per my understanding), sound performed live to picture would be Foley and anything that's pre-recorded would be a sound effect. So yes, if a Foley artist recorded themselves hitting a punching bag live to picture to 'big up' the lower end of a gun shot, then that would be Foley. If the Sound Editor (Designer? Mixer? Is it just me or are all the sound-post roles blurring now..?) takes a sound from a library it is a sound effect.

The distinctions matter because they're important. Foley is a process. Sound effects are not. The placement and mixing of sound effects is a process, but Foley is a process in and of itself separate to placement and mixing. Foley has time and budgetary considerations that are different to using an SFX library. And in the end, you want to come off as a professional. You don't want to tell a Producer you're gong to use Foley, and then have them come back to you distressed telling you they've had to push deadlines and find some extra cash to get Foley artists and a stage, only to laugh at them and say 'oh no I meant sound effects, what did you think I meant?'

That Producer may not want to hire you again...
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:16 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
Wait, when did a kilobyte start meaning 1,000 bytes...?

As for a billion, I have never heard of it being a million million...

I'll defer to the audio guys as they're the specialists, but (as per my understanding), sound performed live to picture would be Foley
It's an English thing. A thousand million was an American billion whereas in England, it used to be a million million.

As for Foley, well I capitalise the 'F' sometimes and sometimes don't. Just like Foley artists themselves. e.g.

http://filmsound.org/terminology/foley.htm
http://ronnievanderveer.nl/foley/
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Old 11-29-2017, 07:19 PM   #13
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It's an English thing. A thousand million was an American billion whereas in England, it used to be a million million.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:15 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
I'll defer to the audio guys as they're the specialists, but (as per my understanding), sound performed live to picture would be Foley and anything that's pre-recorded would be a sound effect.
Correct; Foley is performed by a Foley walker/artist live to picture. Sound effects are brought in from a library, even if the library is custom made.

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Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
if a Foley artist recorded themselves hitting a punching bag live to picture to 'big up' the lower end of a gun shot, then that would be Foley.
Correct.

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Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
If the Sound Editor (Designer? Mixer? Is it just me or are all the sound-post roles blurring now..?)
Sound editors are exactly that, sound editors. They're the ones who do the sound effects work. A Foley artist/walker performs Foley, a Foley mixer records the Foley artists(s) performance. The Supervising Sound Editor is in charge of overseeing the entire audio post process, including Foley. The Sound Designer is responsible for creating the sonic palette for the project. The Supervising Sound Editor and the Sound Designer can be two different people or the same person. Randy Thom tends to do both (although not always). The ReRecording Mixer(s) take the Dialog (from the DX editor(s), the Foley (from the Foley mixer), the Sound Effects (from the sound editors), the Score and source music (from the music editor) and blend them all together into a cohesive sonic whole.
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:53 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by jax_rox View Post
Wait, when did a kilobyte start meaning 1,000 bytes...?

woah... apparently in 1998.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilobyte#1024_bytes

I was never taught about kibibytes in college
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