Produced exclusively for Newspapers In Education

Ever notice how noisy people are?
You probably don't pay much attention to most of the sound around you. But if it all suddenly went away, it wouldn't take long for you to notice how weird the world just got. That's what a movie or TV show would be like without Foley artists.

What's a "Foley," you ask?
Actually, it's who. "Foley art" is named for Jack Foley, who worked in Hollywood in the 1950s. He was the first person to make movies seem real by adding everyday sounds.

When a film is shot, the actors' words are recorded, but other noises can get lost or seem wrong. Foley artists fill in those missing sounds.

In a movie with a sword fight, for instance, a Foley artist may add the sounds of footsteps on stone and swords clanging together. Why? Because the floor on the set may look like stone, but it's really painted plywood—and the swords are just made of plastic.


Make Your Own Foley Sound Scenes
You can start with this newspaper. Crinkle it up. Rub it between your fingers. Roll it up and whack it on your shoe. Soak it in water and squeeze it over a bucket. How many different sounds can you make?

Now find some other things that make interesting sounds. Test them on your friends. Can they think how these sounds might be used in a movie?

Can you make a "sound scene" that you can hear, but not see? (Like footsteps followed by a creaking door; then the door slams and SOMEONE SCREAMS! Instant horror flick.)

When you get good at this, you can make your own movie soundtrack.
You'll need a tape recorder with a clean tape (NOT the one your big sister has her lecture notes on), and your favorite video.

Just turn down the TV, record your own sounds, and then play the two together. Voila! You're a Foley artist!


Some Cool Foley Sound Stuff

  • Newspapers
  • Silverware
  • Sandpaper
  • Old Shoes
  • Rubber Bands
  • Box of Cereal
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Pile of Pennies
  • Squeaky Chair
  • Block of Wood



2001 The Exploratorium