The TomCruise.com team welcomes your comments, feedback and suggestions, especially if you are a Foley Artist or have experience in this field. We’d appreciate any additional advice, information or resources, so we can include them in an update to our Foley guide! Please leave your comments below and be sure to use the hashtag #Aspiring2ActWriteDirect in all your social media responses to the Aspiring Guides.
At first glance, an old wooden chair, cornstarch, toilet tank cover, canned dog food, a leather jacket, and King crab legs might not have much in common. But if you’re an aspiring Foley artist and have an imaginative ear and a good sense of timing, these every day items are means to add live synchronous sound effect to the action in a movie.
Watch the art of Foley via the Los Angeles Times.
A Foley artist uses an arsenal of wacky items like these to match the sounds in a film that production mics do not pick up. Foley is a post-production process that takes more than clomping on wood in high heels or crunching celery at the right time. The TomCruise.com team will get your aural juices going with the Aspiring Foley Artist Guide.
Our Aspiring Foley Artist Guide is just the latest in the TomCruise.com series, joining our other #Aspiring2ActWriteDirect guides you may enjoy: Actor, Costume Designer, Director and Filmmaker, Film Editor, Producer, Makeup Artist, Screenwriter, Stuntman, Visual Effects Artist, Cinematographer, Movie Grip and How to Make A Web Series… browse them all, here!
Watch Foley artist Michael MacKinnon (Savalas, Glasgow, Scotland) at work.
Oh, by the way…that old wooden chair? Kneeling on and moving the chair can sound like old creaky wooden stairs. Squeezing cornstarch still in its box makes the same sound as walking on snow. The toilet tank cover – slide it off while slowly scraping the top of the tank mimics the top of a stone coffin opening. Canned dog food? Use a big can of paté-type food – the slow sucking sound of the food blobbing out of the can and you have an alien moving around.) No access to elephants? Waving a leather jacket makes an excellent elephant waving its ears. King crab legs? Obviously! Breaking bones – twist, break, and tear! All of this still takes impeccable timing and artistic manipulation, but it gives you a good idea of the creativity involved in Foley.
The Guide for Aspiring Foley Artist
As with previous Aspiring2ActWriteDirectGuides, we’ve compiled up-to-date industry information that gives you a head start with your Foley career. You’ll find information about the skills a Foley artist needs; industry jargon and terms, so you’ll know what you’re talking about; both print publications and online resources; schools and training programs, as well as professional resources, such as unions and certifications.
- An introduction to the Art of Foley including What is Foley?, skills, job titles and roles, equipment and tools, glossary, apps
- Resources – online and printed publications get insider info on the entertainment industry, job postings, tips and tricks of the trade
- Colleges and universities find film, film-related and post-production degree programs in Foley and Sound Design.
- Training programs or vocational schools get valuable vocational training or augment your classroom education to serve as your stepping stone into the world of Foley.
- Unions and professional associations generally open to working professionals, some organizations have special student memberships.
WHAT IS FOLEY?
Foley is essential in making a film’s screen environment feel full and real. During film production, the actor’s dialogue is the only thing the microphones record. Foley is the post-production process of performing actions and syncing sound effects to an edited film – recreating sounds that happen in the scene (on-screen). It adds the subtle sounds like someone walking in a forest, putting on a jacket, or poker chips being thrown on a table. The Foley artist creates layers of sounds that are recorded while watching the edited film. Once the sounds are created, the sound editor uses editing software and mixing boards to make the final sound clip. So when played back, someone in a heavy jacket running on a sidewalk sounds just like that – we hear the jacket moving, the shoes, and running footsteps on pavement. Essentially, Foley is the sound in the scene without any dialogue.
Is Foley a what or who? Yes!…and yes! Jack Donovan Foley (1891-1967) is credited for introducing this technique to film, which is why “Foley” is traditionally spelled with a capital “F”. A New York native, Jack Foley moved to Los Angeles and became a sound editor at Universal Studios. It was during the time of the “talkies” in the 1920s and 30s that he developed the art of Foley: adding environmental and ambient sounds to films. Most of the time, Jack Foley’s work was added footsteps to actors walking. Desilu Studios named its stage the “Foley Stage” and the name’s stuck ever since!
FOLEY ARTIST: “BE” THE SOUND
A Foley artist matches their own actions and sounds with the actor’s on-screen actions. Ideally, the goal is to capture what is being done on-screen in one fluid motion, as it would happen in real life. Time is money in this industry so being able to recreate the effect with fewer takes makes you an asset. Foley artists also hear outside the box – they are able to visualize the sound of using ordinary objects in imaginative ways to create realistic sounds. Often “real” sounds don’t sound real enough – punching a heavy bag may not give enough of a big “KO” sound…but a whacking an old car seat with a baseball bat might.
Jamey Scott, acclaimed sound designer and owner of Dramatic Audio Post, talked to the TomCruise.com team about his experience as a Foley artist and the more extensive art of sound. “I frequently have to record sounds of blood and guts which is always fun. Wet macaroni and corn syrup concoctions always sound good and require the use of a tarp in my studio,” he said. “From the ‘sound design’ perspective…I always get a kick out of designing supernatural kinds of sounds, things that work on a subconscious and/or emotional level to the viewer…it requires deep thought and insight into the soul of a film and the results can frequently be surprisingly different than the original intentions.”
Key skills include:
- Imagination and aural creativity
- Some physical strength and stamina are a plus
- Ability to collaborate and to work as part of a team
- Good sense of timing and hand-eye coordination are a given
JOB TITLES/ROLESWork for a Foley artist begins after the film has been shot. Although there are electronic libraries of sound effects or a production company can hire a sound engineer to produce Foley on a keyboard, these effects typically do not add the subtle realism that live Foley adds. Foley artist are surrounded by different props and noise-making gear, on a Foley stage in front of a big screen. Sometimes these items make sounds they don’t usually make or are used to enhance or control sounds that they do. Like most elements of a film, making Foley come alive takes a team of people; this sound studio team is called the Foley crew.
- Foley Artist – The Foley artist or “walker” (from historically, putting footstep sounds to actors walking) is the person who produces sound other than dialogue. Sometimes they are called Foley “Steppers.”
- Foley Mixer – The mixer electronically combines the separate tracks into one.
- Foley Editor – The editor transfers the film onto video and prepares cue sheets for the Foley artist and recordist. The cue sheets list time codes for the beginning and ending of any action as well as a description of the action.
- Foley Recordist – The Recordist is a multitasker: they record the types of sounds on separate tracks; play and rewind the video as the Foley artist moves and generates sound; and walks the Foley artist through the cue sheets.
- Sound Editor – This person is key in making sure the Foley artist’s sound syncs with the action on the film.
- Sound Studio Supervisor – The Supervisor is responsible for keeping the project on schedule.
EQUIPMENT & TOOLSWhat tools does a Foley artist need? Unlike the camera crew or grips, Foley artists don’t usually carry equipment or tools to their jobs. Foley stages are usually equipped with everything a Foley artist might need: pits built in with various surfaces and all sorts of objects from every day to special. You might find that toilet tank for the coffin scene, hollowed coconut shells for horse hooves, an entire wardrobe and more pairs of shoes than one could ever imagine…as well as car doors, weapons and things like actual spurs for a Western.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
The Foley crew doesn’t use as much jargon as other production crews; no “slating” or apple boxes or technical words like “azimuth”. But here are a few helpful film sound terms that come with being a Foley:
- Ambience – Room acoustics or the background sounds of a room or environment; also “room tone”. See Backgrounds.
- ADR – Automated Dialogue Replacement is recording dialogue in a studio in time with the action; also sometimes “Looping”. See Dialogue.
- Backgrounds – The ambient sounds of the world that fill out the sound and make on-screen worlds believable and realistic to the audience.
- Boom – A long pole that carries microphones and used to project the microphone over the set.
- Crossfade – Manipulating two or more mix console faders at the same time to gradually blend sound sources.
- Cue Sheet – Based on the video, these sheets list time codes for the beginning and ending of any action and a description of the action.
- Designed FX – Sounds created for things that don’t exist in our world. Designed sound is the most creative aspect of a film’s sound track. See Sound Design.
- Dialogue and ADR – Any spoken word from an actor or narrator.
- Foley – The recreations of the body movements of the on-screen actors or characters and the associated objects they interact with.
- Foley Stage – Where the magic happens! Foley stages often look like a huge garage sale with everything and the kitchen sink – from old furniture, appliances and bicycles to construction material, clothing, and pots and pans. The clue that makes a Foley stage a Foley stage and not a storage space is that there are a variety of floor surfaces built into the stage.
- Hard FX – The sounds of on-screen world objects such as cars, crashes, doors, phone sounds, sirens, etc.
- Looping – A continuous sound track that runs repeatedly as a guide for re-recording.
- Master – After the mixing process, mastering is the final step in balancing and sweetening all the recordings for final distribution.
- Mic’d – Microphone placement.
- Tight Mic’d – Placing the mic is three feet or less away from the sound source.
- Loose Mic’d – Placing the mic six to ten feet from the sound source. Indoor scenes are often loose mic’d to capture other room sounds.
- Mix – Electronically combining the tracks from various sources (microphones, tapes) into a stereo or mono file.
- Music – The musical score of a film.
- Natural Sound – A sound that comes from the actual source of the sound. Often these real sounds do not meet our expectations of how we perceive the sounds. Characteristic sound is what something should sound like based on a person’s perception of the sound.
- Pit – These pits are a few feet across and built into the Foley stage, then filled with different floor or surface material – dirt, gravel, marble, hardwood, etc.
- Prop – Any item that can be used to produce sound.
- Sound Design – The process of creating and generating sound and audio elements for any type of production (film, TV, theatre, live performance, etc.). Sound design can involve creating sounds for things that don’t exist (another world’s weapons or monsters) or creating sounds to set a mood or specific effect or emotion.
- Sound Designer – The person who is responsible for the overall sound production – creating sound elements or sound track material or unique sound of a film or television project.
- Sound Effect – A sound that visually matches some on-screen action.
- Soundscape – The sounds that define a specific period or location, such as early morning on a farm or a 1950s diner.
- Sweetening – Fine-tuning the sound in post-production; using equalization or another signal processing to enhance a recording or sound effect.
- Sync – The Foley artist timing their actions with the action on-screen.
- Track – When different layers of sound are recording, they are recorded on separate Tracks. Often different and separate tracks are recorded for different types of sounds.
- Moves Track – This track is for sounds such as clothing rustling, it provides ambient sounds that the audience isn’t always are of, but would miss if they weren’t there.
- Footsteps Track – Footsteps are an important element to the realism of a scene and movie. The Foley artist will match footstep for footstep of each actor on whatever surface (a flooded bathroom, forest path, marble staircase, gravel road, etc.) and even the quality of each step (tip-toeing, angry stomping, confused pacing; footsteps of a heavy wrestler or a slender yoga teacher, etc.). Each character in a scene needs a separate track as well as minor characters (male or female track) and background feet (B.G. Feet).
- Specifics Track – This track is for sounds not covered in clothing movement or footsteps. So anything from a body punch to breaking plates to the snap of a rubber glove goes on a Specifics Track.
- Walla – Background sound effects that are added to create an ambiance outside of the frame of action, for example, the murmuring of a room of people. A Walla group is a group of actors who do not have a script, but they are briefed on the period and location of the scene. They provide background dialogue and conversation that sounds real to the people and place of the film.
Seems like a smartphone or other mobile device is part of life these days. A Foley artist is no exception and there are a few apps that can help. For the most part, the apps the TomCruise.com team found for Foley are productivity apps. These will help you jot down ideas for sound – traditionally typing, speaking or taking a reference photo. A couple of these give you the option of recording your sound note as well.
Both iTunes and Google Play give you a gamut of sound effect apps – some are loaded with effects (think scary sounds or nature sounds) and some let you to make your own sound effects. We’ve found a few pretty robust recording apps with varying functionality. These may be a great way to learn about sounds, making your own sounds and manipulating them. They are also a smart way to get audio onto independent or student films at little or no cost.
Are you a Foley artist? What apps do you use? Post your favorite work apps in the comments section below or use social media networks and remember to hashtag us #Aspiring2ActWriteDirect.
Audio Evolution Mobile by eXtreme Software (Google Play) – Audio Evolution Mobile is a multi-track audio recorder that almost makes your Android into a mobile sound studio. Use this app to mix, record while playing other tracks, loop playback, automate and correct and make master to stereo files. Supports various audio files.
HiFiCorder Audio Recorder Edit by Ennovation LLC (Google Play) – A great tool for audio recording and editing, HiFiCorder allows you to graphically select parts of recordings, loop recordings and gives you high quality sound as well. Saves in various formats. This app can be used as a voice recorder too.
Sound Recorder by Needom Studio (Google Play) – Sound Recorder makes your Android a handy tool for recording and editing your sounds. This app features full recording functions, list management, editing saved recordings, controls of time for cutting, and sharing your audio recordings.
mySFX by TouchScience (iTunes) – Play your own sound effects with the mySFX app for the iPhone and iPad. Comes with 50 high quality effects which are assigned to buttons; you can assign any sound to a button and add buttons and sounds. Add your own SFXs sound library in “My” section and move audio and images from other apps into mySFX. Great for your own productions, mySFX is one of very few that allows you to add own sounds and make a custom soundboard.
Sound Byte by Black Cat Systems (iTunes) – Use Sound Byte to play sound clips anywhere! This is a handy app if you’re looking for audio for productions (from radio to TV to theatre to podcasts). Manage and control playback of audio files organized by “carts” of sounds; loop sounds; fade out sound and more. You can access audio files from your Music Library with iOS6 or later.Noise Machine HD by Jelly Biscuits (iTunes) – This is a very interactive app for the iPad that allows you to produce a wide range of sounds and textures, very useful for ambient/electronic sounds. A Noise Machine offers good functionality such as control phasing, use multiple tones in one work space, use slider controls for set up and more. Auto save/load feature and randomize all active tones by shaking device.
Audio Memos Free – The Voice Recorder by Imesart S.a.r.l. (iTunes) – This simple but robust app gives you fast recall of verbal ideas as well as those Foley sounds you want to remember – record them! Audio Memos has advanced features such as volume boost and normalizing, editing capabilities, sharing functionality and high quality sound recording (choose from 3 levels of recording quality). Compatible with other Apple devices and available in multiple languages.
Smart Voice Recorder by Andrey Kovalev (Google Play) – Need to record things on the fly? Want to record a brainstorming session? Smart Voice Recorder for Android helps your productivity stay mobile. The smart app gives you a live audio spectrum analyzer, adjustable sample rate, mic calibration tool and a recorder with great functionality. Recording time is limited to only your storage space. Share and manage your recordings easily.
Sound Recorder by PixelHead Studios (Google Play) – On the run with an idea in your head? Record it with this very clean and simple Android app for voice recording. Features high quality sound, MP4 format with AAC audio codec and a fully functional audio player.
Evernote by Evernote (Google Play) (iTunes) – Evernote is one of the top free productivity apps. Use it for remembering virtually everything – keeping notes and ideas, capture photos, create lists and if you’re a talker, record your notes. Everything is searchable and syncs with other devices and computers. Available in multiple languages. Evernote lets you keep all your creative noise-maker ideas with you everywhere!Evernote Penultimate by Evernote (iTunes) – This iPad app is for you if you have one foot in tech and one foot still on paper. Penultimate gives you the versatility of Evernote with the experience of writing on paper…take notes, sketch, take a photo and add notations. Available in multiple languages.
PenSupremacy for Tablets by Apking (Google Play) – Based on Penultimate, give your devices the power of a pen with PenSupremacy. Its simple user interface is intuitive and gives you easy access to all the tools you need for upping your productivity. Convert notes to PDFs and email them, share files with other apps and social media sites. Take notes, save sketches with this great android app.
Pro Sound News++ by NewBay Media (iTunes) – Read Pro Sound News, the professional audio industry’s monthly news journal, on your iPhone or iPad. Pro Sound News has been the news provider for the industry featuring everything from technology to analysis. NewBay Media offers two subscription rates for their online publication.
Lighting and Sound America by PageSuite Limited (iTunes) – Lighting and Sound America is the leading B2B magazine for professional lighting, sound and visual technology. Get the latest news coverage of technology, top industry movers and shakers from your iPhone or iPad. The app includes robust search function, zoom for easier reading, social networking integration and allows to you do download and save articles for later reading.
GearSource by Gear-Source, Inc. (Google Play) (iTunes) – GearSource is “the world’s largest marketplace” for used equipment – lighting, pro audio and stage. Use this listing app to add items to your online listings from any location without a wireless connection (syncs once your device becomes connected). GearSource offers a secure environment for managing your profile and listing items (description, price, quantity, availability, images). GearSource has been in e-commerce since 2002.
IMDb by Internet Movie Database (Google Play) (iTunes) – IMDb gives you all the information you ever wanted to know about everyone in the industry – past, present and future! Keep tabs on TV and film productions and cast and crew – biographies, credits and photo galleries.
Often some great preparation for a job comes from your own research. Learning about the history of your craft, its groundbreakers and innovators and how they became industry rock stars provides a solid foundation for building your own path. The TomCruise.com team has collected some eye- and ear-opening books and resources to help you get your Foley career in gear!
Audio Post-production for Film and Video: After-the-Shoot Solutions, Professional Techniques and Cookbook Recipes to Make Your Project Sound Better (2008, 2nd edition) by Jay Rose C.A.S. – Perhaps popular for his “recipe” format of step-by-step instructions and procedures for film sound and Foley, Rose’s 2nd edition surpasses the first. Rose’s expertise comes from projects for MGM, NBC and nearly 15,000 commercials and other productions. He’s taught and written extensively the world over. In this “cookbook,” technical information is written is an easy-to-understand ‘“plain English,” and still accessible to non-math people (stereo simulations + compression + equalization = math). Rose includes everything from building a post studio, budgets, recording Foley, creating your own sound effects and the technicalities of shaping sound, producing the final mix and testing your sound. The 2nd edition also contains information on Hollywood editing techniques for smaller projects and surround sound. (Yes, bonus! Listen to the concepts Rose writes about on the companion CD.)
Audio Post Production for Television and Film: An Introduction to Technology and Techniques (2004, 3rd Edition) by Hilary Wyatt – Wyatt provides updated techniques that cover sound for both television and film. The first part of the book is a primer covering the audio post-production, explaining the hows and whys of audio recording, syncing sound and motion and film and video technology. The second half of the book takes the original production sound to its final mix, including editing, sound effects, Foley, ADR, music, and mixing. Wyatt’s comprehensive overview is great for neophytes and veterans alike.
Film, a Sound Art (2009) by Michel Chion – Chion wears plusieurs chapeaux cinématographiques (several film hats)! An associate professor at the Université de Paris, he is also a composer, filmmaker, and writer-critic on film, music, and sound. In Film, a Sound Art, Chion posts that movies are more than a visual experience; he calls it “audio-viewing”. Together, the audiovisual and its devices, gives the audience an experience full of different sensations of image and sound, thus “rendering” rather than reproducing the world in the film. The book discusses trends in technology, aesthetics and styles. It then explores how the auditory and visual mix, encouraging the industry producing film as well as the audience viewing it to revisit what sound means to cinema. Chion also wrote The Voice in Cinema and Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (Columbia University Press).
Film Sound: Theory and Practice (1985) edited by Elisabeth Weis and John Belton – Taking the reader from first recordings to final playback, Film Sound provides an extensive anthology of essays on the techniques and practices of sound design and sound filmmaking. The anthology analyzes sound styles from the world and industry’s most respected sound community including Rick Altman, Béla Belázas, David Bordwell, Noël Burch, René Clair, Mary Ann Doane, S. M. Eisenstein, Douglas Gomery, Arthur Knight, Siegfried Kracauer, Christian Metz, V. I. Pudovkin and Barry Salt. These essays illustrate the innovations and successes of Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Orson Welles and many others.
The Foley Grail: The Art of Performing Sound for Film, Games, and Animation (2009) by Vanessa Theme Ament – Ament’s book gives the reader information and insight about the art of Foley and creating authentic sound feel for the movie-going audience from her own experience in the profession. Learn how Foley is crafted and produced down to the brass tacks of cueing and performing sounds. The book is a tour of sound from making it, engineering it and looking at its business side. Readers can watch the included DVD of Foley artists at work creating sounds and explaining their creative process.
Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound (2011, 4th edition) by David Lewis Yewdall, MPSE – Yewdall is a sound veteran, having worked on over 140 films in all aspects of sound engineering and design. Updated and still accessibly written, Yewdall’s book gives the budding Foley artist common sense advice from his storied career in motion picture sound, from the technical to artistic recording process. Practical Art of Motion Picture Sound covers everything from each role in sound design, software, hardware, best practices, body mechanics, educational war stories and practical advice. And bonus! Included is a DVD of audio sound effects for license-free use.
The Sound Effects Bible: How to Create and Record Hollywood Style Sound Effects (2008) by Ric Viers – Viers, aka the Rock and Roll Professor of Sound, has worked in sound for almost every TV network as well as Universal Studios and Disney; he’s also produced sounds for the tech world including Adobe, Apple and Sony. In his Bible, you’ll learn about microphones, studio equipment, hard and software for sound, recording Foley and best of all, build your own Foley stage. Plus Viers gives tons of sound effects how-tos and even what-not-to-dos. The Sound Effects Bible contains a wealth of go-to information organized in a quick and easy to find way. He is also the author of The Location Sound Bible: How to Record Professional Dialog for Film and TV (2012).
Sound for Film and Television (2010, 3rd edition) Tomlinson Holman – Holman, an industry sound expert and developer of the THX Sound System, combines theory and practical application in his introduction to the art and science of sound. The book explores every aspect of sound, hardware and software, microphones and recording equipment sound technology and acoustics, as well as recording, editing and mixing. FAQs, The Eleven Commandments of Film Sound, dos and don’ts and troubleshooting techniques are definite added value to this comprehensive resource. Holman’s book has a companion DVD showing real-world examples of the book’s concepts. And, it has a second bonus – an access code at the beginning of the book is the magic key to a companion website providing even more resources and information! www.focalpress.com/cw/holman-9780240813301/
Sound Theory, Sound Practice (1992) edited by Rick Altman – Undeniably a great collection of essays of history, critical theory and physics of sound and sound design. Rick Altman, John Belton, and Michel Chion are among the essayists who discuss topics such as cartoon sound, documentary sound and examining the place and role of sound in films and movies.
Altman is also the author of Silent Silent Film Sound (2007), a critical look at the early history of early cinema and early film sound. Altman navigates the history of early American film from projection to nickelodeon. He dispels the notion that silent film was a homogenized soundscape of absent sound and argues instead that sound played as important a role to silent cinema as did the motion.
Keeping up with the face-paced entertainment world can be a full time job – it’s dynamic, competitive and you need to stay on top of your game. One of the best ways to keep your finger on the industry pulse is through connections and professional ties. Another way to get insider info about new projects and events, job postings and industry news is through the trades. Thanks to technology, you can find information more instantly with mobile apps and online-subscription based versions of the industry’s printed publication giants. Many entertainment publications offer users access to job postings, news about new projects, and “how to” tips.
Creative COW – Creative “Communities of the World” (COW) is one of the most comprehensive resource sites for anyone in the entertainment industry. The vision of Kathlyn and Ron Lindeboom, Creative COW has been featuring its magazines, tutorials, podcasts, videos, events and other services including the Creative COW Master Series presented by the COW peer-to-peer support group. There’s also an extensive blog page and an events calendar of seminars, conferences, festivals, competitions and more. The Creative Cow Career Center allows members to post job offers, jobs wanted, list services under a wide variety of categories (and countries) from audio editing and audio post-production to web video production, animation-modeling-texturing and 3D animation to television production and broadcasting.
CineMontage – Motion Picture Editors Guild Magazine is published bi-monthly and features industry news, production and post-production features as well as industry tips and regular columns.
Film Quarterly – Film Quarterly is a sleek authoritative journal from the University of California Press. First published in 1958, the journal offers in-depth and academic articles, reviews and interviews on every facet of the film industry. It features highly esteemed contributors and editors while examining film, video and television and its impact of our culture and society.
The Hollywood Reporter – Another heavy-hitter industry magazine of breaking news and reviews, Hollywood events, indie insider biz, videos, blogs – everything anyone working in the entrainment industry wants to be on top of. The Hollywood Reporter is a weekly publication with on-the-go options: you can access THR and its varieties via free apps, read online, as well as subscribe and get access to subscriber-only content.
Mix Professional Audio and Music Production – Mix is a magazine that you can subscribe to in print or online for your iPhone, iPad or iTouch. Mix is a comprehensive high-end audio source covering the professional recording and sound industry, its technology and innovation. Topics include audio for film and video, live sound and production, recording and music technology. Mix also offers an online magazine with today’s news, videos and a variety of blogs.
Variety – Variety is one of the most recognized of the entertainment trades. Since 1905, Variety has provided industry news and coverage for film, television, digital media, voice, video and more. Anyone in the industry or who wants to break into it, can access an online version as well as its subscription-based version, giving you access to even more content. iPhone and iPad uses can also keep up with the industry via free Variety apps and podcasts.
Though experience and connections may be a quick way to get your foot into a Foley job…how do you get experience? And what if you don’t have connections yet? Foley artists often stumble into Foley by chance working at a sound stage or, if they’re lucky, under a mentor learning their craft on the job. However, there are film industry-related degrees and fields of study that can help set the foundation for your Foley career. And while in school, if you can wrangle an internship at a soundstage or post-production studio, all the better! You might just make that connection you need!
To our knowledge, there is no formal degree associated with becoming a Foley artist and no schools dedicated to the Art of Foley; however, a few schools do offer post-production or sound degrees within their film or media curriculum.
A few areas of study include Audio Production, Audio Technology, Film and Media, Filmmaking and Video Production, Journalism/Broadcast Journalism, Music Production and Sound Design, Post-Production. Below is the TomCruise.com list of universities with film degrees or degrees in film and cinema…and some include post-production or sound programs.
American Film Institute – AFI’s Center for Advanced Film and Television Studies is one of most well-known and highly regarding film schools in the country – it draws A-list industry heavy-weights who speak and teach students enrolled in a two-year conservatory program. Students take on a thesis film project with financing and access to SAG members for casting. AFI offers an M.F.A. for its graduates, who include David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky.
California Institute of the Arts – Founder Walt Disney would be amazed at the talent that CalArts produces in music, theater, dance, animation, multimedia, and film and video…all in one institution. Animation giants Tim Burton and John Lasseter graduated from the creative environment of The CalArts School of Film/Video. The school offers B.F.A. and M.F.A. in film, video and experimental animation; M.F.A. in film directing; and B.F.A. in character animation.
Columbia University School of the Arts – Offering undergraduate studies, M.A. in Film Studies and M.F.A. in Film, Columbia University is an Ivy League big hitter that boasts alumni such as Milos Forman (ever heard of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Hair? Amadeus? The People vs. Larry Flynt? All directed by Mr. Forman), Lisa Cholodenko (writer director of The Kids Are Alright and Laurel Canyon) and Simon Kinberg (producer of X-Men: First Class and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, screenplay Sherlock Holmes, writer Mr. and Mrs. Smith). Another Big Apple school, Columbia’s curriculum emphasizes story and craft from screenwriting to producing, film to digital media. Undergraduates have opportunities for internships with production companies, as well as working on graduate student films and taking part in the Columbia Undergraduate Film Productions, a student-run filmmaking experience.
Along with its prestigious Film program, Columbia’s innovative Sound Arts program is an interdisciplinary study of the Department of Music and the Computer Music Center. Extremely selective, three or four students are admitted to the two-year program and graduate with a M.F.A. Focusing on studio research programs, students have an opportunity to explore sound in-depth and integrate sounds with a variety of media.
Emerson College Department of Visual & Media Arts – Boston’s Emerson College offers two programs that could jump start your Foley career. Its Sound Design/Audio Post-Production (B.A. and B.F.A.) is an intensive program covering all aspects and phases of creating and producing soundtracks for film, video and new media. This program takes students through sound and audio production, ADR, Foley techniques, sound design and mastering. Earn a B.A. or B.F.A. in Post-Production, which focuses on media arts theory and history, writing, production (film, television, video, studio, field), and, of course editing. These programs have recommended electives that cross both disciplines and would benefit either field. Along with these specializations, Emerson’s extensive Visual & Media Arts program offers B.A. or B.F.A. in Animation, Cinematography, Direction, Documentary Production, Experimental Media, Film, Interactive Media, Producing, Screenwriting and more.
Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts (FSU) – Tallahassee may not be at the top of your list when thinking about the entertainment industry, but FSU offers an unusual emphasis on hands-on learning: students have worked on more than 40 feature films that were shot in Florida. Students also work on their own films with generous support to offset production costs. FSU offers a B.F.A. in production, animation and digital arts; M.F.A. in production and writing.
La Fémis – Looking for an opportunity to study across the pond? La Fémis (Fondation Européennee pour les Métiers de l’Image et du Son) in Paris, France is worth a serious look. But this film school is tough – only a few percent of students who apply are accepted. The prestigious school gives students a balance of artistic and professional development and technical training. Its alumni have won the world’s most sought after film awards (Cannes’ Golden Palm, Venice’s Golden Lion and Berlin’s Golden Bear) ten times, surpassing even the NYU’s Tisch School. Femis offers four-year undergraduate degrees in directing, editing, film distribution, producing, screenwriting, and sound design.
New York University Tisch School of the Arts (NYU) – New York City and NYU give students a very different perspective of filmmaking from the glamour of Hollywood. New York University Tisch School of the Arts seems like a great way to the top graduating masters such as Oliver Stone and Martin Scorsese. Vince Gilligan (producer/writer of Breaking Bad), James Franco (actor Milk, Eat Pray Love), and Joel Coen (screenplay No Country for Old Men, writer Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink) make great company for Tisch School of the Arts alumni. NYU graduates B.A., B.F.A., M.F.A., M.P.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degree programs in cinema studies, performance studies as well as moving-image archiving and preservation (earn an M.F.A. at the Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Singapore in animation and digital arts, dramatic writing and film production). NYU also offers summer programs, professional workshops and non-credit certificate courses.
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) – UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television ranks the highest among film schools with a challenging and diverse curriculum integrating study and performance, film, TV and digital arts – including sound design! UCLA offers undergraduate and graduate programs in acting, writing, directing, producing, cinematography, costume design, lighting design, set design, and Moving Image Archive Studies. The UCLA Film & Television Archive also offers students a Ph.D. in Theater and Performance Studies and Cinema and Media Studies. Prestigious alumni include Francis Ford Coppola (list is too long for this article!), Tim Robbins (Shawshank Redemption, Oscar winner Mystic River), and Alexander Payne (writer, producer, director The Descendents, Sideways). As the schools manifesto says, “We create the creators. We make the makers. We challenge thinkers to think and doers to do.”
University of Southern California (USC) – When it comes to education and connections (think Robert Zemeckis, Ron Howard, and George Lucas to start), USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and the Peter Stark Producing Program are tough to beat. USC has thousands of alumni supporting the school as well as more graduates working in the entrainment industry. Offering state-of-the-art facilities and technology and top notch B.A., M.A., MFA and Ph.D. programs in all things film and television, animation and digital arts, USC makes a film school graduate most marketable.
However, at The Marcia Lucas Post-Production Center, the Cinematic Arts Complex is what should grab your attention here. Work with industry-standard Avid equipment and color correction station’s Pro Tools and Creative Suite software. Students have access to stages for sound mixing, ADR and Foley effects. This facility provides students with hands-on experiences to learn the art and science of audio and video post-production.
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING/CERTIFICATION/SCHOOLSLos Angeles Film School – In the heart of Hollywood, the Los Angeles Film School offers an Associate of Science Degree in Film, Game Production, Computer Animation and Recording Arts. Within the school’s Film program is the Advanced Post-Production course where students study technique, editing, basic engineering for post-production, digital editing effects and more. Advance sound post-production includes ADR, design, effects, Foley and mixing.
The Recording Arts Program is your entrance into the world of recording music, film, television and video games. The Recording Arts program at Los Angeles Film School exposes students to all areas of recording using industry-standard digital audio equipment, soft and hardware. It will help prepare you for recording music, sound effects, sync dialogue as well as operating boom equipment or mixing sound. You’ll also learn practical skills such as communication skills, presentation skills, time management skills, navigating the entertainment business as well as providing guidance for interviewing, internships and entry-level positions.
School of Audio Enginering Institute (SAE) – SAE offers a program diploma in Audio Technology at its campuses nationwide. The curriculum can be done full time or part time and incorporates hands-on studio lab time. Students learn a wide range of theory and practical skills. From the fundamentals and technical aspects of sounds, recording, mixing, acoustics, microphones, mastering and more to working on real projects using various consoles and studio equipment, mastering hard and software such as Pro Tools. The program includes Audio Post-Production where students hone in on sound for film and video production including sound, synchronization, sound editing, and editing.
LABOR UNIONS and PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
There’s always a “behind-the-scenes” world that supports every movie, television show, theatre production – a wide variety of craftspeople play their part of making our entertainment experience as full and robust as it can be. Labor unions and professional organizations work to ensure that a high level of safety and working standards remain intact for these crew members. Some organizations unite like professionals to provide support, training, networking opportunities as well as special recognition for their achievements and contribution to the industry. Labor unions and professional organizations provide a great way to find resources and keep up-to-date with a dynamic industry.
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences – Generally, membership to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is open to people who work in the entertainment industry with specific requirements for each of 28 groups as described in the Academy’s membership requirements. Members can additionally join the Television Academy’s Film Group which entitles them and a guess to attend up to 60 first-run screening at the Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood. They may also subscribe to the Academy’s industry magazine, Emmy.
Association of Motion Picture Sound – The Association of Motion Picture Sound, founded in 1989 by a group of film and television sound professionals based in the UK. It was formed as a means of information exchange to solve common industry problems as well as keep at the forefront of emerging technologies. The Association offers different levels of membership that includes recording and sound professionals in British motion picture and television. The group has a growing international membership of boom operators, Foley artists, maintenance engineers, production sound mixers, re-recording/ADR/Foley and music mixers, sound and music editors, and other related crafts.
Audio Engineering Society – Founded in 1948 in the US, the Audio Engineering Society is now an international professional society for audio technology. AES includes audio engineers, artists, scientists and students from all over the world. Local AES events often include guest speakers and workshops, technical demonstrations and professional networking. The society offers a wide variety of publications in their e-library as well as their peer-reviewed Journal of the Audio Engineering Society.
Cinema Audio Society – The CAS was originally formed in 1964 for information sharing between sound professionals in the motion picture and television industry. Through the years, it’s grown as is a philanthropic, non-profit as well, contributing to the House Ear Institute. The Society also hosts educational meetings as well as its Awards Banquet honoring industry achievement in the sound field. There are seven categories of membership and an application process to go through before becoming a member. Active Members are mainly production and post-production Mixers working on feature films, television, commercials and those who specialize in ADR, Foley, music scoring and video post sweetening.
International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (I.A.T.S.E.) – Founded in 1893, the I.A.T.S.E. is one of the largest unions representing almost every type of behind-the-scenes crew in all forms of theater, television and motion picture production as well as concerts, trade shows and exhibitions, and television broadcasting. The union represents the technical, construction and equipment shops supporting the entertainment industry. I.A.T.S.E. represents its members in all areas of the work environment from safety and healthcare to ensuring pension plans and fair wages.
Motion Picture Editors Guild (MPEG) I.A.T.S.E. Local 700 – The Guild represents over 7000 post-production professionals, setting the standards for excellence and professionalism in the post-production industry. Local 700 stands with nearly 500 other affiliated locals throughout the US and Canada with a membership of over 110,000 crafts persons.
Motion Picture Sound Editors – The MPSE was organized in 1953 to increase the recognition of and educate the community about its sound editing members and their expertise. From sound effects editors to Foley artists to dialogue and ADR editors and music superiors and composers, these craftspeople shape our onscreen world with sound. Even if you never see them sound workers are represented in most of what we watch – movies, television, video games, music media and new digital media. The MPSE presents its Golden Reel Award, recognizing the best each year in ADR, Dialogue, Effects, Foley and Music.
Social Networking and Media – Don’t forget social media groups and networking sites are also very valuable ways to create or join a community of Foley artists and sound professionals! Once you join, stay active and participate in discussions or forums, post questions and links to industry articles that are informative or interesting. By engaging the community, you can establish yourself as an industry networking “hub”!
Foley “can be performance art, and there is certainly much artistry involved in the craft,” says sound designer Jamey Scott. “I consider all of the best Foley craftsmen artists in the highest order. But it is also a technical craft as it requires a high degree of technical skill to accomplish it technically.” Artistry and technical skill…and as with most things in life, passion for what you’re doing will get you started on the right path to becoming a Foley artist.
Creativity and a good ear, as well as some academics in film or post-production definitely add to your marketability. Foley artists spend long hours on their feet working and having a lot of fun making sounds with some crazy things! Foley artists are one of the many behind-the-scenes artists who make our movie and television viewing experience rich and real with audio. If having fun with sound sparks your interest and you’re willing to put in the work, a career in post-production Foley may just be for you! If you are just getting into the industry or are already a professional Foley artist, the TomCruise.com team would love to hear from you!
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