What Does A Foley Artist Do?

If you watch the credits at the end of a film, you may have wondered what a Best Boy, or Key Grip is*. Another of the more obscure technical jobs is that of Foley Artist. The foley artist has one of the most important jobs in ensuring that we suspend our disbelief and accept the film as being ‘real’. He or she adds sound to the final film… not the dialogue, but the ambient sound that makes what we see sound real: footsteps, cars, weather, and so on.

As you will find out (if you haven’t already done so), recording decent sound on location is challenging. As a result, it is sometimes easier to add the sound later and this is the job of the foley artist. And, thanks to someone somewhere making a mistake, we can now get a glimpse into the art (and it is art) of the foley artist.

Someone from Universal who made Everest, sent the BBC a clip with the ADR track rather than the final sound. As a result, the clip looks spot on, but the only sound is the dialogue. Here it is:

What they should have played is the final version complete with the foley artists contribution… so here it is again with all the effects…

Watch both clips two or three times and listen to just how much has been added for the final film: wind, the sounds of the ladder, the rumble of the avalanche, and so on. Foley work is crucial, and fascinating… and essential in creating ‘reality’. Enjoy!

*Best Boy: Is in charge of the lighting or grip department. Key Grip: supervises and coordinates the ancillary camera equipment such as cranes, dolly tracks, and so on.