A Foley Artist is a person who creates (or re-creates) sounds for movies. For example, if the sound of an actor's footsteps were not recorded well or lost when the voice was re-recorded, a Foley artist will recreate them. In fact, except for dialogue and music, almost all the sounds you hear in Hollywood films is Foley sound.
Foley artists work in a Foley studio, a room with many props, a viewing screen and recording equipment. The artist watches the film and creates the sound in real time. In most cases several different tracks are recorded, for example:
- A "move track", which includes the sounds of general movement, clothes swishing, etc.
- "Specifics" — individual sound effects for particular actions on screen, e.g. fights, etc.
Foley artists use a variety of props to create sounds. Some are the same as the actual sound source, for example, footsteps are created by the artist putting on the right type of shoes and walking on the appropriate surface (Foley studios include different surfaces such as wood, asphalt, etc). Other sounds use more inventive methods, for example, punches can be made by hitting a taped-up phone book or a roasted chicken.
Foley artists are named after Jack Foley (1891–1967), a pioneer of film sound effects. Jack Foley is credited with inventing the "art of Foley".
There are many stories in the film industry about Jack Foley's genius, such as the time Stanley Kubrick wanted to re-shoot a Roman army scene in Spartacus to get the sound right — instead Foley jangled a set of keys into a microphone and got the desired sound.
Jack Foley never received a single screen credit for his work, although to be fair, neither did most other film workers during this period. Today Foley artists receive the credit they deserve and Jack has the last laugh by having them all named after him.