Our tips for using foley in the classroom

Deep within the recesses of a production studio you will find a small room filled with old shoes, car doors, a selection of fabrics, bits of wood, plates, scrap metal, the odd coconut and a person with a penchant for audio so intense that they spend their days being paid to make noise.

Foley is the art of creating sound effects. It’s an essential part of post production and is used to fill dips in audio, make props sound real (remember – that sword’s probably made out of plastic!), and to add missing sounds when movies are dubbed.

Lots of props are used for Foley but most of them are everyday objects, making it an easy thing to recreate in lessons. It’s a great way to get students involved by bringing in bits and bobs from home and can liven up any school play!

Foley is split into three areas: movements, feet and specifics. ‘Movements’ recreates sounds like the rustle of clothing, patting, and scratching. Without a movement track, the film would sound too perfect and sterile. ‘Feet’ (shockingly) recreates the sound of footsteps. This job is usually left to an experienced Foley artist known as a ‘Foley walker’. It’s renowned for its difficulty as every step has to be matched to the sync of the actor’s steps, the surface being walked on and their ‘feeling’.

‘Specifics’ are the real fun in Foley and the part of the job likely to go down best with pupils. Every time an actor touches something a Foley track has to be created to emphasise and enhance the sound. There are some weird and wonderful tricks employed: the crunch of snow is made by squeezing a box of corn starch; melting bin bags make satisfying drip sounds and taped up phonebooks are used to get the perfect punch.

Nothing too techy is needed for Foley in the classroom; just a mic, a Mac or PC, and perhaps some headphones. It’s a great way to get students working as a team making and recording the sound effects, and it’s good fun too (if a bit noisy!).

Some simple but effective things to try are:

1. Snapping fresh carrots and celery to get the sound of breaking bones

2. Using flubber or hand soap for squishy, squelchy noises

3. Shaking a sealed metal box filled with nails and bits of wood to make crashing sounds

4. Chopping a frozen head of romaine lettuce to recreate the sound of decapitation (perhaps one for teachers here, but little fingers can be put in charge of recording!)

The mic should be around 3 feet from where the sound is made and, if possible, the rest of the room should be quiet, so it’s a good idea to try to use a side room for recording. Sounds can be edited without too much effort using software like GarageBand and tracks can be uploaded to the internet for parents to listen to or, alternatively, they can be burned to CD to be used as sound effects to spice up assemblies, school plays and even lessons!


Give our education team a call on 03332 409 333 to discuss Foley or email us at learning@Jigsaw24.comFor more news on technology in Education, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter and ‘Like’ Jigsaw Education’s Facebook page.

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