How to become a Foley artist.

15 June, 2023

Wondering how to become a Foley artist but don’t know where to start? Then this guide is for you.

If you’ve ever been inspired by the sound effects in TV, film or games and wondered how they’re made then you’ve come to the right place. The process of creating sound effects is exciting and intriguing, and there are so many nuances to the art of being a successful Foley artist. So, if you consider yourself to be creative with an ear for sounds that could elevate a production, then this may be just the career path for you. 

But, what does the journey look like and what skills do you need to develop to ensure you excel? We’ve compiled this blog that explores all of this and more in greater detail, helping you understand what it takes to become a great Foley artist. 

What is a Foley artist?

Sound effects play an undeniably crucial role in transforming the production of visual media. Think of some of the most iconic films that have been produced throughout history. The use of sound helps build drama, suspense and excitement, and is designed to captivate and elevate the viewing experience. You may not have thought much about how these sounds come to fruition, or the thought process behind their inclusion. Well, this is where the work of a Foley artist is pivotal. 

What’s in the job description of a Foley artist?

Foley is a recording technique developed by Jack Foley, a legendary sound effects artist. It works to invigorate the soundscape by synchronising audio with the on-screen action. Essentially, Foley is the term used for a miscellaneous sound, that is neither the spoken word nor a piece of music. This could be anything from the crackling embers of a fire to the shuddering crunch of shattering bones. 

Any aspiring Foley artists will need to develop natural diegetic sounds for visual media using a wide range of props to get the desired sound. To become a Foley artist, you will need to advance your skills within a recording studio and have a sharp ear for sounds, as inspiration may come from anywhere. 

Examples of Foley effects

Foley effects are used across the film industry and across the wider creative industry space. They are a vital role that helps breathe new life into projects which may feel flat. Here are a few examples of Foley sounds and how they’re created: 

Foley SoundThe Creative Process
Wooden CreaksBending pallets of wood, shifting a wooden bench.
Fire effects Compressing and releasing an empty packet of crisps
Horse HoovesA famous example of this is when the Monty Python team used coconuts stuffed with fabric to create the galloping hooves of horses. 

A day in the life of a Foley artist

As a Foley artist, you will sit within the post-production team and provide the inspiration for replicating everyday sounds that simply can’t be created during the filming process. You’ll work alongside other Foley artists and sound recordists to recreate events in sync with sounds that occur in the filming of a scene.  

Foley artists are used to improvising and thinking outside the box to help refine the necessary sounds that will enhance production. In the role, you’ll carry out performative functions to imitate sounds that can’t easily be recorded in real-time. 

Your creative problem-solving skills will be put to use in the heart of a Foley effects studio – a specially designed environment containing various surfaces. It could be recreating the clunking of hasty footsteps thundering down a wooden staircase, or the haunting creaking of a door during an unnerving horror film scene that builds tension and suspense.

How do you become a Foley artist?

If you have aspirations of developing the requisite skills needed to be a successful Foley artist, then why not study a sound engineering course? We’ll help you discover what it takes to become a sound engineer in no time.

Foley is introduced in the first year of our BSc (Hons) Entrepreneurial Audio Production degree, with advanced Foley practices being covered in the second year. We also have a dedicated Foley module in our Sound for Visual Media industry course.

If you’re also interested in music production, Foley is covered in the second year of our BA (Hons) Music Production degree.

What skills do you need to be a Foley artist?

Learn some of these valuable skills so you can utilise them to the best effect and start to map out a potential career path in sound production:

  • Sound recording
  • Sound editing
  • Sound mixing
  • Sound design

This is a niche role within the sound production industry, so it’s commonplace for Foley artists to have a broad skill set. The number of specific Foley artist roles is limited, so developing your knowledge across a range of sound engineering and post-production editing is essential. 

Being able to demonstrate multiple sound engineering skills will make it easier for you to work in a range of roles and supplement your income. 

Become a sound engineer with Spirit Studios

Courses in sound engineering provide the best insight to hone the craft of being a Foley artist. You can also explore many other areas of sound production, and become an expert at mixing, mastering and recording. 

At Spirit Studios, we offer career pathways in the sound engineering industry. We’re passionate and committed to providing our students with the best insight and experience. Our range of tailored courses across many subject areas is designed to maximise your learning experience, equipping you with the skills and experience needed to excel.

Study at a Manchester music school with a rich history

As the first sound engineering and music production school in the UK, we’ve seen our alumni achieve success with the biggest names in the music and media industries for nearly forty years.

Students on our music production courses in Manchester are taught by some of the most talented industry professionals, and have access to our state-of-the-art recording studios and production facilities.

Apply now for the course that suits you, or if you have any further queries, then please contact us and we’ll be more than happy to assist you. 

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