How to Make Foley Sounds at Home Using Everyday Objects
October 19, 2022
Foley sounds are one of the most important elements in film and TV. They help to create realism, a sense of place and make the scene more immersive. In foley sound design, the aim is to create organic, everyday sounds that help bring a scene to life. They can be footsteps, doors closing, or any number of small, but important, noises.
Foley artists are the people responsible for creating these sounds. Traditionally, foley artists would create all the sounds needed for a film or tv show in a studio. However, with the rise of home recording and editing technologies, it's now possible for anyone to create their own foley sounds at home. In this blog post, we'll show you how!
1. Identify the sound you need
The first step is to identify the sound you need. If you're working on a specific project, make a list of all the foley sounds you'll need. If you're just practising or experimenting, think about the kinds of sounds you'd like to create.
For example, if you’re working on a a project where you’ll need to create footstep sounds, then you’ll need to think about what kind of shoe and what kind of surface is best to recreate that sound.
List all the types of sound you’ll need for your project. Once you have a good idea of the kinds of sounds you need or want to make, you can move on to the next step.
2. Create foley sound effects from everyday household objects
The next step is to find objects around your house or apartment that can create the kinds of sounds you need. For example, if you need the sound of footsteps, you could use your shoes on different types of surfaces like carpet, hardwood floors, or tile. Or if you need the sound of a door slamming shut, you could use a book or your hand instead.
Use recycled materials to create unique sounds
For example, try using old magazines or newspapers to create the sound of footsteps on different surfaces. Crinkling paper can also be used to create the sound of fabric movement. Just get creative and see what you can come up with!
Get outside and record your own foley sounds
If you want your foley sounds to be realistic, there's no substitute for recording your own organic sounds. Go for a walk and record the sound of your footsteps on different surfaces, or rustle some leaves to create the sound of fabric movement. You can even use a cup or pot to recreate the sound of raindrops hitting a surface.
Turn ordinary objects into musical instruments
This is a classic foley technique that's been used in movies and TV shows for decades (think The Drew Carey Show theme song). To do it yourself, all you need is a microphone and some imagination. Start by picking an object—it could be anything from a kitchen sink to a pencil sharpener—and listening to the different sounds it makes when struck in different ways.
Once you've found a few good ones, experiment with different rhythms and see what kind of music you can create. You may be surprised at how versatile some objects can be! For example, try hitting a large book with a drumstick to create the sound of a gunshot wound.
Be creative! There are all sorts of objects around your house that can be used to create foley sounds.
Here are some household objects used to create foley sounds:
Repurpose old sounds for new purposes
If you're feeling really creative, you can even repurpose old sounds for new purposes. For example, if you have an old recording of thunder, you could speed it up and use it as the sound of airplanes taking off in the distance. Or if you have an old recording of raindrops hitting a windowpane, you could reverse it and use it as the sound of water dripping in a cave. The possibilities are endless—just get creative!
3. Record Your Sounds
Now that you've found some objects that can create the kinds of sounds you need, it's time to start recording! If you have a quality microphone, that is great.
If not, no problem—you can always use the built-in microphone on your smartphone, computer or laptop. Just make sure that whatever device you're using is close enough to pick up the sound clearly without any distortion.
Once you've set up your recording device, it's time to start making some noise. Record yourself hitting different objects together or banging them on different surfaces. Experiment with different speeds and intensities and see what kinds of interesting results you can get. Remember—there are no wrong answers here! Just have fun and see what kind of cool foley sounds you can come up with.
4. Processing the sound
Once you've recorded the sound, it's time to process it. This step is important because it will help your sound match the rest of the audio in your project. For example, if your project was recorded in stereo but your foley sound is mono, you'll need to convert it to stereo so that it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb. You may also want to add EQ and compression to further improve the quality of the sound.
5. Edit your sounds
Once you've recorded a bunch of different takes, it's time to start editing them (if desired). If you're happy with the raw recordings and don't want to do any additional editing, great! But if you want to get a little more creative with your foley sound effects, there are all sorts of things you can do in post-production using Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software like Pro Tools, Logic Pro X, Ableton Live 9 Standard , Adobe Audition CC , GarageBand and more.
You can control everything from the sound’s reverb, to it’s panning and width. This can be really useful for matching the sound to the scene’s environment. For instance, if a scene took place in a cathedral, you might want to add some large room reverb in order to make the sound more believable.
Editing software gives you complete control over your recordings and allows you tinker with them until they sound exactly how you want them to sound.
That's everything you need to know about how to make foley sounds at home. With a little practice, you'll be able to create realistic foley tracks that will enhance your projects. There are endless possibilities. And who knows? You might just discover that you have a talent for Foley artistry!