What is the difference between foley and practical?

My guess is that foley is after the film is shot why practical sound is after a movie is shot.

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    I don't know of sound being referred to as practical [but I'm not a foley engineer]. On a set, any light in a scene that is "supposed to be there" for the characters - a desk lamp, stand lamp or a street light etc is known as a 'practical light'. – Tetsujin Feb 10 '17 at 6:30

Film Soundtracks are made up of 3 components:

  1. Dialogue
  2. Sound Effects
  3. Music

Dialogue can be broken down into the following components:

  1. Production Dialogue (Sync)
  2. Production Dialogue (Wild)
  3. Post-Sync Dialogue (ADR) [usually sync, but sometimes wild]

Sound Effects can be broken down into:

  1. Production Effects (Sync)
  2. Production Effects (Wild)
  3. Foley (Post)
  4. Designed Effects (Post)
  5. Backgrounds (Post)

The "Practical Sound" you are referring to is going to be "Production Effects (sync)" which are effects that are recorded on set and sync to picture.

"Foley" is basically production effects that have been re-created in a foley studio by a "foley artist" - either clothing rustle, footsteps, or other similar sound effects - doors shutting etc.

The main difference is that "production effects" are recorded on-set, during production and foley is a "post-production" activity and is performed by a dedicated foley artist in a dedicated foley studio.

Dialogue, Effects and Music can further be broken down into two categories - Diagetic and Non-Diagetic.

"Diagetic" sounds are those sounds that appear to be directly related to action that is happening on-screen or is sound that is designed to be "in the world" of the story being screened.

"Non-Diagetic" sounds are those sounds that are not of the world that is being viewed, for instance, examples of non-diagetic sound:

  • a studio recorded voice-over
  • Soundtrack music
  • Designed sounds such as wooshes, transitions etc.

Examples of Diagetic sounds might be:

  • music or commentary coming from a television on-set
  • music being played by an ensemble on-screen

Diagetic sounds are always going to sounds as though they are being heard within the environment that is being viewed.

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