A Foley artist is a person who recreates sounds for movies when capturing the sounds during filming is impossible or impractical. Like any artists, skills vary from virtuoso all the way down to plain-ol’ hack. Here are seven examples of bad foley effects that happen far too often:
- Screeching car tires on a dirt road – This is a matter of the Foley team just phoning it in. It’s like somewhere in their library of sounds is one marked “car sound” and they just go with it.
- Noisy readouts on computer screens – Even in the days of monochromatic screens, a computer didn’t make a clicking or beeping sound with each character that appears on a screen. In WarGames, not only did the computer do both, but the keyboard sounds like a raccoon digging in a trash can.
- Unrealistic gun sounds – In the movies, guns sound like they were loosely pieced together with the wrong-sized bolts. However, when it gets fired it sounds much softer than a real gun, which can shatter your eardrums. The latter is understandable, the former is not. Oh, and guns with silencers are still really frikkin’ loud!
- Same sound twice – Sometimes to fill space, the foley artist will loop in the same cat hiss or crash sound, apparently hoping you don’t notice it’s the exact same sample. It’s especially obnoxious when they happen within a few seconds of each other.
- Same thunder sound for dozens of movies – A true fact. The clip is called “Castle Thunder” and was originally used in the 1931 “Frankenstein” movie.
- Punches are super loud – Punching someone in the face isn’t something you can hear from thirty yards out. It especially doesn’t sound like the movies. I think they get the sound from dropping a side of beef on a concrete floor.
- Really long, two part explosions – Explosions don’t go “Bweeeeeeeeee-Bwoooooohhh!”, there’s just one loud crack or thud followed by some low-frequency rumbling.