Saludos a todos!

I'm about to be sent as a Foley Recordist in a big movie that landed in the studio where I work. The fact is, I've already gathered some experience in different sound-oriented areas, and although I don't consider myself a top-player, I've had the luck to work with some of the greatest sound professionals from my country. All is great. Except that I have never recorded foley.

Not once.

I've done a little ADR recording, I've Edited Foley,

But I never went to work as a Foley Recordist.

So, my question ( If you can call it a question) is, what things do I need to have in mind for this task?

Any help, ranging from session templates to little tips and tricks is welcome.

Thanks to everyone, and sorry for the bad english


8 Answers 8


Hey, I hope it's not too late. I reckon you should have a look at this guy: http://www.marblehead.net/foley/. No offense to anyone, but it sounds much simpler to me the way he presents it. However I don't have any experience with the subject and I may be missing a lot of points.


If you're doing stock Foley recording, meaning you have no picture you are matching and you are doing it for the sake of recording it, remember this:

For every action you record, remember there is a range of emotions you will wish you recorded it in.

For example,

Opening and closing a door does not always happen at the same, conservative speed and "normal" way. When you go to cut the sad scene for your artsy talkie movie when the teenage girl slowly closes the door after having been dumped by her boyfriend, you'll want a slow and soft close. But for the horror zombie movie you want some loud scary slams of that door. Record as much variety as you can.

I record doors in every possibly emotion: ranging from slow and sad, to fast and angry.

Same thing goes for keys in locks, gun foley, footsteps, you name it.

This of course doesn't apply when you have the action on screen to match because then it's obvious what sound you are looking for. This mainly applies to "generic" foley, those moments when you find something cool to record but don't have a project to use it for.

Have fun!

  • that seems like a good advice, but in this case I DO have a picture to match with...the edited film will arrive in a couple of weeks, and I'll be off to a Foley Studio with a Foley Artist to record everything in about 2 or 3 weeks...thanks again for the reply!
    – GMatijas
    Commented Jun 1, 2010 at 2:59

First off, see this thread about noise floor, mic choices and preamps.

Second, be prepared to deal with headphone monitoring. What goes through the cans can greatly affect the foly performance, so you have to have your routing set up ahead of time to make certain adjustments.

Specifically, you'll probably want to break your session into a couple of stems for the purposes of monitoring - depending on what elements you have access to. sync sound on one stem, spotted fx on another, music on another, foly on another. When I work alone, I generally cut without music, but if the score is finished (its never finished) you can watch a shot back in context to get a better feel of where you are at. I also usually cut with the rest of the stems down 10-15 db and the foly track at full res. This is so that I can hear some context without the risk of headphone bleed. I also usually cut with the sync track off, unless it looks like the characters are saying something relevant to the objects in their hands.

One of my coworkers likes to cut into a cut track, then bump the files up into playback tracks as he moves along. This allows him to do quick edits and makes layering easy. it also allows him to turn down the playback tracks a notch or so, so that the artist can hear the cut track in a little more detail as he's performing.

old cameras are great for guns.

plastic trees can sound like real ones, and are more durable. Also veggies work great.

don't take anything into the booth that you're afraid to break.

pay attention to when things sound "boothy" or when there is headphone bleed.

don't turn in crap.


Make it appropriate to the picture. That means sound, perspective, emotion, and timing. Does that squishy orange sound mean some fruit just got squashed or did a brain just get smashed in? Picture + sound tells the story.


In Denmark, where I live and work, we normally get around 5 days to do all of the foley for a feature film. This varies though, as some films may require more time and/or have more money. But anyway speed is important. If you work fast, you'll be able to make every single foley sound you can imagine for the film.

If you are going to work with an experienced foley artist, try to learn as much as you can from the artist. If you are interested and polite, you can have a lot of fun while recording good foley. The first time I recorded foley was with a foley artist who has made around 300 films over the years, so I learned quite a lot. I have worked with him on almost every film since then, and we have a very good working relationship.

Try to be fast and flexible, so you can improvise when you get new ideas.

I never write down cues in advance, but I know the film well.

We go through the film scene by scene.

First we do clothes. This is like a soft start, where we can get a feel for the scene. Clothes sounds aren't too dependent on being spot-on sync, so the foley artist can get a feel for the rhythm and we can keep a look out for what sounds we might need to do.

Then we do the steps.

After the steps we do everything else. And with everything I mean everything that moves or could make any kind of noise in the picture. Of course you may not want to have foley wind noises in the final mix, but you might want to have the sound of a flag waving in the wind.

I always give the sound files a name right after recording. I name them by scene, description and a number if i have more of the same, like: "murder knife 2" or "sex bed" or "airport steps Jack 3".

Always keep in mind that you have to work fast and make about a reel a day if you have 5 days for the film. So you'll sometimes have to accept things that are not perfectly in sync, but almost, and move on befor you get too tired of the film.

After a couple of days you will get a little crazy and start judging the sound of your own footsteps when you return home from work....


Setting ProTools to punch record your pre-roll is a good one. J

  • Why is that? Could you specify?
    – GMatijas
    Commented Jun 1, 2010 at 17:05
  • 2
    Just in case the foley artist preempts their cue and does something great. Recording in punch mode means that all of your pre-roll time will be recorded as well and if you need to get to it you can just extend the head of the clip. Commented Jun 1, 2010 at 21:37

Mic placement is important. Make sure the recording will work from the perspective of the shot. It's not always necessary to place the mic a few millimeters away from the prop.


I'm starting Foley recording today in Sound Eng class. All of this IS relevant, but don't be afraid to try something silly. I had to put together a bank of sound effects before for the same class, and did cut down on the silliness to the point of only including a basic coconut "horse hooves" track. I did pass, but it could have gotten a far better grade had I experimented more.

When you're having fun, it's going well. Don't get bogged down in "perfection" because more often than not you never notice the perfect take until you listen back because you're not focusing too much on it.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.