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Sound Foley in Theatre

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Devin Lavigne

on 14 April 2013

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Transcript of Sound Foley in Theatre

of Discussion 1) Introduction to Foley
Who and what is Foley and how it relates to the entertainment industry.

2) Foley Creation and Sound Libraries
Foley, Recordings, and Libraries, and discussion of benefits/disadvantages.

3) Theatrical Foley
Discussion of Foley in theatre Introduction to Foley Sound Foley in Theatre
By Devin Lavigne Who was Jack Foley? Foley Creation and Sound Libraries Ways to Create a Sound Library The Next Steps Where Do We Go From Here? Theatrical Foley How Foley Can Be Utilized in Theatre Questions/Comments/Concerns Thank you for joining me and participating! Who was Jack Foley? Jack Foley was a "Jack of all trades", as he thrived in Hollywood as a silent film
director, writer, stuntman, cartoonist, and athlete. During production of early films,
he was known to practice along with actors, mimicking their footsteps, clapping
along and dancing, or making odd sounds during filming. He could get away with
this because films were silent at the time, and no sound was ever recorded.

Jack Foley worked with Universal Pictures in Hollywood during the time the notion of sound recording onstage became a reality. Jack, along with other soundmen, studied the new sound technology, and began creating sound effects after filming. They created the sounds of clapping, footsteps, cloth, background voices and noise for the film, within the purchased Universal Pictures sound studio. It was more experimentation and amusement for the team at Universal Pictures to produce these sounds for film, but the expert creator was definitely Jack due to his various talents, and in honor of his efforts and contribution, the art and craft of these sound creations for film was named after him, hence the term, sound Foley. How has Foley evolved? How has Foley evolved? How has Foley evolved? As sound Foley becomes more popular and elaborate, the Foley team had to expand and develop into specific roles in order to effectively create and recreate sounds for film and television. During Jack Foley’s time, there were only a few soundmen available and trained to create the sound effects. As time progressed, technology advanced, and the art became further accepted, the Foley team expanded.

Every Foley stage and recording studio is different from one another. Some stages offer a vast variety of props, others offer unique recording settings and options that can help capture what is being recorded. Before Foley studios became a thing, many Foley artists brought their own props and items to use during the recording, ranging from shoes, socks, cloth, papers, hinges, bags of leaves, balls, bags, or anything else that can help portray what is trying to be mimicked. Today, some Foley studios are equipped with the bare minimum, including sheets of metal (thunder), half coconuts (horse hooves) and canvas stretched over wood slats (wind). Another great feature to multiple studios are Foley pits, which are comprised of various sections that can hold different mediums, such as gravel, sand, wood, concrete, water, mud, grass/foliage, and any other substance that can imitate different ground substances. Even with the advancement in technology, Foley sounds are being created on special software, eliminating the need for physical Foley. With the various tools combined, Foley artists can easily create a wide range of sounds that can mimic what is being portrayed on screen. The Operation of a Foley Studio
in Film and Television The Operation of a Foley Studio in Film and Television Today, as are introduced to more advanced technology and systems, there is usually a team of up to four Foley members. This includes a Foley recordist, Foley artist, Foley editor, and Foley recording mixer. Post Production
Foley Team Foley Recordist Foley Artist Foley Editor Foley Recording Mixer Responsible for running and recording the session Performs the actions
to match what is on the film Edits and prepares
the recorded clips for mixing Mixes the audio tracks into a final track for the film or feature The Operation of a Foley Studio in Film and Television In years past, any sound, whether effect, vocal, or musical, was recorded on a strip of magnetic tape and any editing required time and effort by cutting and splicing pieces of tape together, and then recorded on a master tape. There was little freedom in what editors could do and provide, and sometimes simple Foley sounds could not be done due to time constraints or feasibility with the tapes. Nowadays, all the recordings – vocal, musical, and effects alike – are recorded and edited digitally. With the advancement in technology, anyone can not only record and edit the audio, but they can manipulate the track/clip with various methods, change the pitch and volume, add effects such as reverb and edit non-destructively. These simple tasks can be done on numerous DAWs, or digital audio workstations, including WavePad Sound Editor, Adobe Audition, Audacity, Final Cut Pro/Soundtrack Pro, Ableton Live, and Pro Tools. Differences in Sound Design in the Entertainment Industry Differences in Sound Design in the Entertainment Industry The author of “Sound for Film and Television” discussed the importance of sound design, and how crucial
sound can be to the film, and described design as,

"[Being] used to emphasize the creative larger conception of a movie and the capacity of sound personnel to create imaginative sounds that advance the story. Thus, sound design is the art of getting the right sound in the right place at the right time. The right sound means that the correct aesthetic choice has been made for that moment in time. The right place relates to the high degree of organization that is necessary over the process..."

Why this cannot be true for theatre is questionable, since sound design in theatre follows the same attributes, and potentially viewed as a harder practice due to the personnel available in theatre. Film and television usually has a team to assist in the design of sound, whereas theatre has a fraction of the personnel accomplishing the same concept. After all, film, television, and theatre, are all part of the entertainment industry. There need not be a vast level of difference between each division of the industry.

Sound design within the entertainment industry can be quite similar and different at the same time. Within theatre, there comes a time when a composition is requested, yet the designer cannot compose. Depending on sound designers in theatre, they may stick to a strong suit if they are not comfortable with certain design aspects, while others are open to any design and soundscape and can produce a well-rounded piece of work. Film and television becomes different in that there will usually be a composer, song writer, or artist, who is responsible for the music for the film. Every other sound effect, audio recording, ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement), dub, and edit is developed by the production company's sound designer. Ways to Create a Sound Library There are numerous ways to initiate and develop a sound library; some techniques
are desirable while others are recommended for the entertainment industry. There are many
techniques that film, television, and theatre industries use in order to achieve this result. Beginning companies, designers, and technicians need to understand the rules of the trade when it comes to finding sounds and music online for a production, or for personal sound libraries. Online sounds: A simple search for a sound effect online can lead to a variety of clips, some having higher audio quality than others, or have that exact sound that is needed for a show. When an audio file has a fee to the customer, it means that the particular file created has a royalty attached, where the creator gets paid for every time the sound file is used (either in a single purchase or every time the file is played – often needing a cue sheet submitted to the producing company) which help pay the creator for their efforts to prepare the audio file and laws and security measures are in place to secure these files. Often, the purchased sound files are good or excellent quality, while poor quality versions are available for demo purposes to compensate for fraud and illegal usage. Sometimes, unfortunately, the poor quality demo recordings become part of a sound design because the theatre company cannot afford the high priced sound files. Ways to Create a Sound Library Commercial Libraries: In order to gain more access to a wide range of sound effects, loops, and compositions, sound designers, technicians, and theatre companies’ pay up to a couple hundred dollars for CD collections to an immense compilation of high quality sounds, either created digitally or recorded. These sound collections can be bought in themes, such as car sounds, nature sounds, city traffic, gunshots, footsteps, music loops and the list goes on, and each category can include numerous samples of the same type of sound effect. The benefit to this option is that designers, technicians, and mixers can use these effects, with specific needs, and produce an excellent audio quality design.

Along with this, “there are quite a few libraries that are commercially available today...containing thirty, forty, or fifty volumes each.” Even though these commercial sounds allow sound enthusiasts to gain an incredible sound effects library, there are a few disadvantages in terms of their usage. The authors of ‘Audio Production and Post Production’ agree that the commercial sound effects “are quite generic in the sounds that are available. Often many unique sounds will have to be re-created because they will not be an exact fit for the particular scene.” Ways to Create a Sound Library Foley: There are other ways to master an incredible and personal design, and the answer is sound Foley. Vanessa Ament, a Foley artist and editor, and author of “The Foley Grail” explains that,

"Foley can also be recorded “wild”. This entails recording a series of a prop or effect to be edited later as a library effect. In actuality, most of the sound effects that end up in the sound library were at one time either field recordings or Foley effects. Glass clinks, gun clicks, background dishes, background cop gear, papers rustling, desks creaking, and other such sounds are background effects that were, at one time, performed as wild Foley on a stage by a Foley artist or sound editor."

The best part of recording personal Foley sounds is recording to the liking of the sound designer/technician. There are a multitude of ways a Foley sound can be created and explored, how it can be edited (if at all), and most importantly, have a personal created sound library, and have the sound recording tailored to the production. Along with building a Foley sound library, a props inventory can in part, benefit with additions and manipulations to props. By no means, does Foley require purchasing random objects to create sounds; props are easy to handle, get a hold of, and to record. If an item is purchased for a Foley effect, it should be kept with props, just in case the recorded sound needs to be viewed again, or used in a show. Building a Sound Library – What You Need To Know Building a Sound Library – What You Need To Know Foley can be an impressive tool and aspect to future theatrical productions, as sound designs become more personal and focus on the dedication to a production, rather than finding sounds just because. Before dropping everything, forgetting sound libraries, and starting from scratch, an understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of Foley, sound libraries, recorded sounds, and CD collections must be met.

First and foremost, most sound effects created for any use, anywhere, is a basic Foley sound. An object had to be used to create the sound, and it had to be recorded and edited for use. A great solution to free up the many hours of searching for the right sound effect, or the purchase of a royalty free audio clip, or buy a few CD collections just for a couple sounds, is to personally record your own Foley sound effect. Foley, as Tomlinson Holman – author of ‘Sound for Film and Television’- describes, “seems to make things more real. Their ‘hyper-reality’, achieved through close mic’ing of small scale events, helps make this so.” Building a Sound Library – What You Need To Know By recording sounds that are actually needed or editing Foley sounds to recreate an event happening onstage, the overall sound design becomes personal and relates well with the production, instead of using poor quality audio files or recurring sound effects. Furthermore, Foley is very time consuming - from sourcing, experimenting, recording, and editing – and can sometimes be very expensive, depending on the materials needed or the type of sound needing to be produced. Audiences usually know when something sounds different, whether it is unique or poor sounding, or reoccurring, and it really does affect the story of a production.

Foley is not a foreign concept to the entertainment industry, however it is not even recognized in theatre, which is concerning to a well rounded sound design. Foley helps develop and nourish a personal and effective sound design for theatre. Now it's Your Turn! Now it's Your Turn! It is your turn to take part in becoming a Foley artist! Your job is to recreate a scene using the provided Foley prop items listed below. This is a fun and interactive session, so enjoy it! Your scene:
Bob is lost, and wandering around outside. He has been walking outside for days and is getting tired. Tonight is worse as a storm is approaching, and Bob has no strength to continue, and eventually he collapses. Then Bob hears a sound, it sounds like a party, and it seems close by. So, with all of his strength, he gets back up, stumbles against a bush, and tries to run to the sound, which is coming from a cabin nearby. He reaches the cabin, knocks on the door, which opens, and is greeted. They settle Bob down by a fire and open a bottle of wine, hoping to warm Bob up.

Your Foley Props:
Bubble Wrap (large and small) plunger slapstick heat pads
magnetic tape hand broom cornstarch glasses
wine bottle with cork jacket gravel Now it's Your Turn! Now hear the same scene with effects from a commercial effects library and found sounds online. It can be very difficult for sound designers and technicians to recreate sounds through Foley effects without doing lots of research, samples, and having a full context of what the action is onstage. Foley can be great, as long as all of the pieces fit together. How Foley Can Be Utilized in Theatre Introducing Foley into a design along with mixing the Foley with commercial sounds will allow the designer and mixer to understand the effectiveness of Foley and its important role within the theatre industry. Foley is a skill that cannot be learned and perfected immediately and time, patience, and practice are required to accomplish a mastered Foley design, and it also takes a considerable time to research, practice, and record, but the same can be true for sound libraries, by having to research and edit through the vast amount of audio files available.

The sound designer has to agree on whether or not Foley is appropriate for the production, as it may not be necessary for every project. Even if it is suitable, the entire production team, including the director, scenic/lighting/costume designers, actors, and stage managers, have to agree and understand the purpose. Everyone involved in a production deals with Foley in one way or another.

Some questions to consider are whether or not the Foley will be live, if a costume is required for the Foley artist/designer/technician, or if the Foley area is part of the set. Along with this, the creative team needs to agree if the performers will be affected by this and the plausibility of incorporating Foley into rehearsals, or if the actors perform the Foley. This may not be the case if Foley is being recorded and played back on a DAW, as the Foley just becomes a sound effect after recording and is treated as such throughout the production. Designer Feasibility Designer Feasibility For a small contribution to theatrical performances, sound design can also make or break a production, depending on how the design was treated and nurtured. To introduce Foley into theatre not only will help expand the design for a show, it will also help sound designers, technicians, and engineers develop Foley proficiency along with recording, editing, and mixing skills. Being able to think outside of the box and be creative and curious are desirable and transferable skills that can be developed as well.

To facilitate the plausibility of introducing Foley into theatre, a specific question must be answered before committing to a Foley design: can professional Foley art be achieved by sound designers and technicians for theatre? First, we must understand what a sound designer’s roles entail. Tomlinson Holman describes a sound designer as “one who provides special sound effects specifically created for a particular part of the film, such as a processed voice of a character or device or other especially creative use of sound, often involving original recording.” Although this may be true, it is a generalization and not an ideal definition. Sometimes it is the sound editor or mixer that has these abilities, while some sound designers enjoy composing music, underscoring, and soundscapes for a theatrical production. Foley should be practiced in the same way as a sound design. If a designer wishes, Foley can become a musical composition, or can become a unique way of producing a sound effect. There is no rule how to use Foley. Feasibility Within a Theatre Feasibility Within a Theatre “Foley is a fascinating, highly skilled craft that requires, at the bare minimum, a Foley artist and the Foley recordist.”

This is a typical issue that the sound department faces when dealing with Foley recordings; the number of team members involved in creating a Foley recording. Previously, I laid out the ideal film Foley recording studio and its key members, which involved a minimum of three people. To effectively pull of a recording of Foley, one must be at the mixer or computer ensuring the recording is at its best, while the other is portraying the Foley artist position.

In theatre, often there is one person in charge of audio. This causes a problem when attempting to record Foley; however, if a performance incorporates live Foley into the show, the designer has the ability to perform Foley effects without needing to capture the audio, unless the sound has to be mic’d for level purposes. Feasibility Within a Theatre Another main issue why Foley does not appear in theatre is its requirement of physical space. Commercial sound effects do not occupy physical space unless the purchased CD’s are at hand. Foley alternatively could potentially utilize a vast amount of storage space if the Foley objects are kept for future use, or are stored in a props/scenic shop, and not to overlook the recording space needed to record a Foley effect.

Depending on the effect, Foley pit may be required or assembled either in a studio or onstage. In the film and television industry, “Foley stages are unique in that they are built with various surfaces covering the floor...typically concrete, wood, carpet, tile, linoleum, and dirt. They often also have pits that may be filled with sand or gravel or water...” In theatre, the audio department does not have a designated space to perform these practices, nor ever needed a permanent Foley studio. Depending on the theatre or the designer, they may have a small recording space or an office, and the stage.

A simple solution could be to fit up the sound booth to become a Foley stage if space is an issue, however, keep in mind of the amount of equipment and electricity running through the booth. Foley can sometimes be messy and if recording/capturing is occurring, keep in mind that sound racks, boards, headset communication, etc might be captured. Sound baffles might work for a converted sound booth. Examples of Foley in Theatre Examples of Foley in Theatre With the assistance from the University of Alberta’s Undergraduate Research Initiative Grant, I have been able to acquire a Zoom H2n Handy Field Recorder in order to experiment Foley practices and amalgamate these recordings into educational purposes and for my sound designing experience for the show “Tape” in the Media Room in the Fine Arts Building. “Tape” was set in a motel room, with common sound effects, containing telephone effects, toilet flushes, radio sequences and traffic noise; most of these effects were recorded as Foley effects within my own house, at the university, or in the sound studio. This is a superior illustration of how to use recorded Foley sounds for a personal and effective sound design for a theatrical show. Examples of Foley in Theatre A different scenario for a Foley design deals with live Foley effects onstage during a show. My only personal experience was during “Death and the Maiden” in Media Room in 2011, however the Foley effects were performed blind backstage. This forced me and other crew to assume an action was occurring and the audience not appreciating the true art of Foley.

Some theatres have experimented with live Foley for theatrical use, in performances of “Under Milkwood” by Dylan Thomas and produced by Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto, and Manitoba Theatre Centre’s radioplay of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. The concept of Foley was introduced in early stages, even being incorporated into the set design, to allow a full development and appreciation of the famous art form. Examples of Foley in Theatre An interesting concept of using Foley has even expanded into CBC Radio Edmonton’s “The Irrelevant Show” as local sound designer Dave Clarke and the help of others help create unique live Foley effects – in front of an audience – during the radioplay and then is produced on air. With just these few examples of how Foley can be introduced live into a theatrical production, it is safe to say that Foley should not be forgotten, but should be interpreted as a new form of design and communication in theatre. Where Do We Go From Here? How can Foley be incorporated into a theatrical environment and how can everyone learn from this unique and extraordinary experience? I think the doors to sound design should be open and the possibilities wide and personal and students should continuously experiment with new ideas and concepts. Students currently educated in audio production,

"need to explore...the delicate balance created in a [sound design] between production effects, edited effects, and performed Foley effects. They need to learn the process involved with spotting the effects to be recorded, cueing the Foley to prepare for the Foley stage, performing their own Foley... and editing and mixing the Foley. These skills are not an integral part of sound effects edited [on any DAW software]. They are custom effects that are particular to the project involved." Where Do We Go From Here? With the acquisition of a professional field recorder and a portable sound card interface, students in the Technical Theatre and Design program can now practice recorded Foley, editing, and mixing. Visits to the props storage room, trips around the university or city and with other local theatres will heighten interest in the art of Foley. After the experimentation with recording and manipulating Foley effects, there is no harm in introducing Foley into a production. The choice of onstage or offstage Foley stations is up to the creation team, including the sound/Foley designer and the rest is history. Where Do We Go From Here? This way, the types of Foley effects needed become clear and evident, and helps the sound designer/Foley artist to come up with creative ideas to produce a sound effect. Have fun, try new things, and allows everyone, including audiences, actors, and production staff observe the fascination and possibility with Foley. It changed film and television, so why not develop and create new theatre? It is possible. I anticipate to experiment with Foley or create Foley concepts within my future career, and foresee theatre companies to begin incorporating Foley into productions. With a relatively mature concept, it is a shock to see only a portion of the entertainment industry using this successful tool and I trust theatre companies to expand into this amazing realm of possibilities. After researching and developing Foley techniques and performing these concepts in an actual production and with the presentation, I await to see Foley grow into a creative industry and successfully develop into a new tool for sound designers and technicians to enjoy and love. Bibliography / Resources Devin Lavigne
dlavigne@ualberta.ca Ben Burtt - Sound Designer for Film Pinocchio - Moonfish Theatre Blue Bridge Theatre - It's a Wonderful Life
Foley Artist - John Gzowski "It's a Wonderful Life" 1 1 “Audio Production and Post Production” – Chapter 12, Pages 219-220 2 2 - “Sound for Film and Television” – Chapter 10, Page 146 3 3 - “Audio Production and Post Production” – Chapter 12, Pages 217-218 4 4 - “Sound for Film and Television” – Chapter 10, Page 145 5 5 - “Audio Production and Post Production” – Chapter 11, Page 208
6 - “Audio Production and Post Production” – Chapter 4, Page 70 6 7 7 - “The Foley Grail” – Chapter 3, Page 32 8 8 - “Sound for Film and Television” – Chapter 10, Page 148 9 9 - “The Foley Grail” – Chapter 3, Page 31 10 10 - “Sound for Film and Television” – Chapter 10, Page 145 11 11 - “Audio Production and Post Production” – Chapter 4, Page 75 12 12 - “Audio Production and Post Production” – Chapter 12, Page 222 13 13 - “The Foley Grail” – Chapter 14, Page 159 University of Alberta: Undergraduate Research Initiative Grant.
Zoom H2n Handheld Recorder
M-Audio Sound Card Audio Interface for Pro Tools

Holman, Tomlinson. Sound for Film and Television. Third Edition.
Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2010
Gottlieb, Gary. Shaping Sound in the Studio and Beyond. Audio Aesthetics and Technology.
Boston, MA: Thomson Course Technology, 2006
Woodhall, Woody. Audio Production and Post Production.
Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2011
Ament, Vanessa. The Foley Grail.
Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2009

The Freesound Project <http://www.freesound.org>
APM Music <http://www.apmmusic.com>
CBC Edmonton’s The Irrelevant Show <http://www.cbc.ca/irrelevantshow>
Moonfish Theatre <http://moonfishtheatre.com/pinocchio>
Partners in Rhyme <http://www.partnersinrhyme.com>
Sound Rangers <http://www.soundrangers.com>

Live Sound Effects on latest Blue Bridge Theatre Production. Youtube.com, 15 December 2008.
Ben Burtt on Lightsaber Sound Design. Youtube.com, 23 May 2007.
Animation Sound Design: Ben Burtt Creates Sounds for Wall-E. Youtube.com, 30 December 2009.
Belber, Stephen. Tape.
Dramatists Play Service Inc., 2002
Thomas, Dylan. Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices
New Directions, 1954
Grecian, Philip. It’s a Wonderful Life.
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