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A Foley artist is the person who creates sound effects for film and television shows. The name “Foley” comes from sound artist and screen-writer Jack Foley, one of the first people to guide the transition from silent films to “talkies” and the person who originated this style of sound input. Often, the sounds that you hear when you are watching a movie were put in later, after the filming was complete. This is because it would be quite distracting to have all of the sounds going off at once, as in real life. The actors might become rattled and miss their lines. The Foley artist mixes the sounds so that they balance well and the audience can appreciate them. The Foley artist produces that sound in a studio called the Foley stage. A Foley stage is really just a very large soundproof room that is designed for the recreation of real-life sounds. The Foley artist watches the edited version of the film. While doing so, he or she must match the sound effects exactly to the movements in the film. The idea is to put realism into the film.
In the soundproof studio, you will also find Foley pits. These are actual pits or containers for different kinds of debris—water, dirt, mud, gravel, sand, and rock. The Foley artist specializes in recreating the sounds of footsteps, people running, walking, crawling, and splashing in sync with the action on the screen. He or she creates these sounds by using different types of shoes on different surface materials. The Foley artist also uses an amazing variety of props, such as car fenders, chairs, glasses, plates, and just about anything else that can be found, to make unusual sounds.
The Foley artist is an expert at creating sounds that mimic those of real life. This is necessary because on the set of a film, almost nothing is real. The Foley artist also puts in all the background noises that make the scene seem more natural. When the film is edited together for a final product, it is very important that the sound flows neatly from one moment to the next. The Foley artist has the important job of making sure that the film sounds as good as it looks.
The future of the Foley artist is in digital sound effects. This means that instead of using real objects to make sounds, Foley artists will simply be pressing the keys on a synthesizer control board. They also record and edit sounds using professional computer programs such as ProTools. As a result, computer skills will become more valuable to Foley artists in the future.
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