Micro Foley | Create Sounds with Very Small-Sized Tools to Get the Job Done

by Bryant Falk

When making any type of video or film it is quite common to add sounds that either may have been missed during shooting or are needed to create a more interesting moment. This is often referred to as Foley work. Micro Foley is a term I coined where you create sounds by using only very small tools to get the job done. This style of Foley became necessary, as my recording space wasn’t large enough to accommodate all the tools a regular Foley artist might use. It’s amazing how limitations can lead to creativity. Another great strength about Foley is how you can satisfy the ear’s belief with audio that is not directly related to that object. This allows a lot of room for creativity. Don’t forget all the basic tools you should always have handy when creating Foley.

(1) Pitch Change
(2) Reversing (Play audio backwards)
(3) Reverb
(4) Delay
(5) Equalizer

 

One example is when I needed to create a lot of creepy effects for a “haunted house” style project. I needed lots of ghosts and goblins to be floating around here and there, not scene but heard. One good way to create creepy movement sounds is with a paint brush. Using different softness and sizes I would slowly drag the brush over different material. From small wood blocks and the back of a frying pan! Pitch shifting them down would add the mass I was looking for. The best part is I could fit it all in the sound booth.

Below is a list of “small” or Micro Foley tools you can use to get lots of interesting sounds. In brackets is one application of the tool being used. Keep in mind that with pitch changes and composting of sounds, (adding many sounds together) you can get many more audio treats for your film!

(1) Thumb Tacks and Wood (Shoes Walking)
(2) Retractable Pen (Clock Ticking)
(3) Two Keys, (Rub the Notched Section Together [Just cool])
(4) Rubiks Style Cube Puzzle (Springs Pitched Down to Sound Like Machinery)
(5) Paint Brush and Foam, (Combing Someone’s Hair)
(6) Duffle Bag, One 5lb. hand weight and Clothing, (Drop for Body Fall Sound, [Watch Your Feet!])

 

Now this is just a small sampling. The rule is there is no rule! Well, if it’s Micro Foley, it’s a small object being used. Having an actual car door you can open and close in a studio is regular Foley. Taking a Zippo lighter and making it sound like you’ve flipped open the hatch of a nuclear sub is Micro Foley!

 

Bryant Falk has been a producer and engineer for over 12 years working with such clients as The Ricki Lake Show, Coca-Cola, Sports Illustrated, Valley National Bank, and MTV’s The Shop. His company Abacus Audio (www.abacus.nyc) handles many aspects of the audio production field from creative and production to mixing and final output.

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