AB BP2: History Of Sound Design

What is Foley?

Foley is recreating sound effects for a piece of media on a sound stage in a Post Production Studio. By using many different types of props and objects that are available, a Foley Artist can recreate and replace the original sound completely or they can use existing sounds and augment them to create a better quality and useful sound track.

Sound that is recorded on the set of a shoot is usually more focused at capturing the dialogue audio rather than the sounds that are created on the set. This is down to the fact that most things on a film set aren’t real so they won’t create the real sound that the object should make, meaning that Foley needs to be used to enhance the audio of the media. Also other sounds that are captured in the background from the loud modern world also can be captured and this becomes a problem in the final edit, especially if the background noise mask out the dialogue, so the sound is cut and Foley or the actor re-recording dialogue [ADR] and this being added in at the post production stage.

Foley can be broken down into three main category’s, Footsteps being the characters movements, Cloth being the sounds of the costumes that the characters are wearing and Props, which are the sounds that objects make in a scene.

History of Foley

19th-20th century: Vaudeville was the first trace of Foley being used as on stage shows, a live band accompanied the visuals and the drummer was usual used to highlight dance kicks or joke gags using a symbol or snare hit.

1920’s: Silent films transitioned to talking pictures. Universal were releasing a big budget silent film version of a musical but as Warner Bros had released Jazz Singer, containing sound, a year before, audiences wanted sound to accompany the films, so Universal began to use sound in their films, using a forty piece orchestra and singers on a sound stage at their studio, they recreated the music of the musical. But the sound engineers still had trouble at the time. They found it difficult to sync the right sound effects with the visual gestures, which is when Jack Foley created the idea of watching the film and recording the sound effects live at the same time, so the sounds sync with the picture and this process is what is now called Foley.

1930’s: Introduced radio broadcasts, which used the same sounds as Vaudeville to highlight gags in the shows. Radio stations then began to create scripted shows and relied on sound effects to create a mental picture of the scene to the audience. Silent film movie houses began to employ orchestras to provide a soundtrack and sound effects to the film that was playing above them on the screen. This way of tracking action on screen is still used nowadays in cartoons such as Looney Tunes.

Pioneers of Sound

Jack Foley: He created what is now known as Foley sounds. Working at Universal Studios on a silent picture, where the technology was changing and movies had started to use sound and become talking pictures, and with help from co-workers, he helped this transition of films. He decided that sound effects and the sound track would be easier to sync with the picture if the film was playing in the background and the sounds were recorded live on one reel and played against the film. This was then called Foley sound recording in later years and Jack received a number of awards for the contributions and changes he made to the film and sound industry. This process of Foley sound recording is the main basis of the media today and even though technology has advanced, the process that Foley created remains the same as it did when it was created.

Ben Burtt: Most famously was the sound designer for the Star Wars films, having a reputation for using the most famous and used sound dubbed the ‘Wilhelm Scream’. He has also worked on other films by Lucasfilm Limited with Skywalker Sound, as well as WALL-E and Star Trek. His most famous sound creations are The Lightsaber, Darth Vader’s Breathing and R2-D2’s ‘Voice Sounds’, as well as creating the languages included in Star Wars, for which he has written a phrase book and travel guide.

Walter Murch: Created the term ‘Sound Designer’. Been editing sound in Hollywood since 1969’s The Rain People. He has edited sound on American Graffiti and The Godfather in 1973 and 74. He won a range of awards including academy awards and Oscars. He has also directed and edited a range of films. As a sound designer and editor, he is one of the few universally acknowledged masters of the sound design field. Along with Ben Burtt, he has helped to elevate the creation and impact of film sound in the modern era.

Relating to my project

These all relate to my project as they have all shaped the way sound designing is done and how sounds can be created in the modern era for film. This means that by using their strategies, I can design, record, produce and edit the sounds that I need to create the final project.









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