Audio Artifice | God's World News
Audio Artifice
Take Apart SMART!
Posted: March 01, 2024
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    Joo Fuerst records sounds made with a paintbrush in his studio. Foley artists come up with creative ways to make sounds. (Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)
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    In Star Wars movies, blasters make a pew pew sound. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)
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    Ben Burtt made the blaster sounds by whacking radio tower cables. (Courtesy of Ben Burtt)
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    Ben Burtt also came up with the hummm of a lightsaber. (Lucasfilm Ltd.)
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    The lightsaber noises came from an old projector like the one shown, plus a tube-powered television. (stock)
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Foley artists make more than animal noises. Wherever a movie needs sound, they can help. Their filmmaking tricks began back in the 1920s. A man named Jack Foley studied how to add realistic sounds to movies with only speaking voices.

Need some booming thunder? Don’t wait for a storm. Just find a big sheet of aluminum. Shake the aluminum and listen to the warping metal. Close your eyes. Does it sound like thunder?

Film legend says that Mr. Foley needed the sound of multiple people walking for one movie. So he recorded himself walking with a cane. Then he recorded that sound again. Putting both together made the sound of six feet!

In a more recent famous action movie, adventurer Indiana Jones runs from a giant boulder. But sound designers didn’t have any giant boulders on hand. They let a Honda Civic roll down a gravel road. It made the perfect heavy, rolling crunch. Filmgoers were fooled.

Some Foley doesn’t require any trickery. Like Mr. Foley, sound designers recreate footsteps themselves. That’s one way to get in your daily exercise! They also record the rustling of clothes. Think of all the little noises that go unnoticed every day. If they’re missing from a movie scene, something feels wrong.

But what about things that don’t actually exist?

When Star Wars needed sci-fi sounds, designer Ben Burtt didn’t need to travel to a galaxy far, far away. He just had to take a hike—literally. Burtt discovered the classic pew pew! of blaster bolts while hiking. He accidentally bumped into a metal cable. Pew! The sound got his attention. He went back with a hammer. He whacked radio tower cables until he found the perfect pew. What about the hummm of a lightsaber? That’s an old projector and a tube-powered television.

Foley artists think with their ears. Look around you. What fantastic sounds could you create?