Foley, sound, audio, film, history, art
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Each time a feature-length film or a television episode reaches its end, there appears on the screen a slowly rising roster of each individual involved with the production. Several of those names are credited with roles that are quite familiar to viewers: the cast, director, producers, stunt doubles, and makeup professionals, as well as their contributions, are readily apparent. These more glorified crew members, however, can only produce if supplemented by the nuanced efforts of the hundreds of other names that scroll across the screen. One of the more unsung heroes is the Foley Artist, whose tasks are hardly glamorous, but are nonetheless essential to maintaining the realism of visual and audio media.
The Art of Foley is the sect of sound design which deals with performing and recording various sound effects in time with edited footage. Specifically, it applies to the movement of the subject(s), in the form of footsteps, the rustling of clothing, and the sounds of props with which subjects come into contact. The technique's inception in 1927 was sound designer Jack Foley's response to the quickly-evolving "talkie" form of motion picture, and since that time, the art form has ably adapted to monumental advances in technology across all forms of media, including film, radio, television, and video games.
My reason for devoting the Spring 2013 semester to Foley research stems from a desire to analyze the impact that sound has on the way that viewers and listeners perceive what they see and hear, even if the sound is as subtle as a footstep. My aim is to establish a lucid connection between the accuracy of these everyday sounds and the quality of the media in which they are found, in order to demonstrate the significance of Foley art's influence in the past, present, and future. In the context of this particular semester, it is a terrific opportunity to educate cinephiles, avid gamers, and even casual consumers of media about the passionate artists behind the seemingly mundane, but ever-necessary subtle sounds that make today's media such an enjoyable experience.