How often have you sat watching the credits crawl at the end of your favourite movies and wondered what some of the obscure job titles were? One of the roles you might be wondering about is a “Foley Artist” – some of the most unsung heroes of movie magic!
Foley artists work in post-production sound and are responsible for bringing all of the footsteps, rattles, punches and sound effects to life. Often the best foley is the interpretation of a sound rather than the literal sound itself and is a confluence of several different sounds. The single sound effect of the goblins’ shrill growl in The Hobbit is made of 16 different layers!
Below are some examples of how every day items were used to create some of the most crucial sound effects that you may recognise!
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991)
The unique antagonist in this Science Fiction classic was a construction of mercury. So just how do you get the sound of liquid metal? Well, it turns out all you need is a bucket of water, flour, furniture cleaner and a condom.
The condom was wrapped over the microphone which was then submerged into a bucket filled with the above mixture. After some editing, it produces that slimy “glooping” sound that we’ve come to associate with the T-1000.
MEN IN BLACK (1997)
The film opens following a dragonfly cruising through the night. Now you would have a hard time capturing the sound of an actual dragonfly’s beating wings, so the actual effect was made using nothing more than an everyday handheld fan with a cloth and duct tape wrapped around the motor.
JURASSIC PARK (1993)
We all must have fallen in love with the baby dinosaurs when they emerged from their eggs. Of course, nobody knows exactly what a hatching dinosaur egg sounded like but it’s a safe bet that it wasn’t anything like a chicken egg.
The sound actually comes from crushing up an ice-cream cone and mixing it with the sound of massaging melon flesh whilst wearing soapy gloves.
THE MARTIAN (2015)
The red planet where Astronaut Mark Watney is stranded needed to be more than a landscape – it needed to be an antagonist. A monster. Amongst the tribulations which Watney endures is having to live in a habitation held together on one side by a sheet of tarpaulin and duct tape during a horrifying storm.
To create the ominous sound of being inside such an environment, low frequencies were played through subwoofers that had been installed inside metal filing cabinets. The result is that horrifying and somewhat alien crashing sound you hear.
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012)
Whilst on their journey to the Misty Mountain, Bilbo Baggins and the Hobbits get into trouble with a subterranean city of Goblins. Seeing as Goblins don’t exist, the team had to think outside the box and imagine what they might sound like.
The sound of their scuttles was achieved by one of the foley artists donning banjo picks on each finger and scratching, dragging and tapping them against a variety of different surfaces.
In case you were wondering, the term “foley” is named after sound effects artist Jack Foley who in the 1920s pioneered sound design in Hollywood (and subsequently the rest of the industry) by recording the effects in sync with the picture.
Whovian or not, EVERYBODY knows which sound heralds the arrival of the quirky Time Lord. But how does one work out what a time machine sounds like?
Well, the base for the iconic sound comes from a house key being run along the bass strings of a gutted piano!