The first step to creating an immersive soundscape for your video is to account for every noise in your composition, but sometimes you can’t capture all of it on set. That’s where Foley comes in.
The art of Foley, or recording sounds to layer onto the audio track of a film or video project, is one that dates back to the age of radio plays. To create a more realistic soundscape for the dramas and comedies of the time, technicians would create sounds in real time, such as hoof beats, or wind passing through the trees. Today, Foley replicates sounds that weren’t recorded on set, such as footsteps or ambient sounds like rain.
Since there are whole sound libraries out there on the internet you can use, creating your own Foley may seem pointless. However, when you tailor sound specifically for your video by recording it yourself, you can create sounds that are unique to your sound space.
But, it’s still nice to have a few stock effects on hand, so here are 40 free sound effects that we recorded during this shoot, which you can use in your own projects.
Download 41 Free Foley Sound Effects
Since we were recording the sound effects for this video anyway, we thought, why not go ahead and give them away? Click below to download 41 free Foley sound effects — from things like footsteps on different textures to soda cans popping to tree branches breaking.
Recording Your Own Sound Effects
All you really need to get started recording your own Foley is an audio recorder, a reliable microphone, and a pair of headphones. We assembled a whole table full of objects around the office — and some produce from the grocery store. When you put the headphones on and can hear the acute sounds the mic pics up, you can start experimenting with different textures and objects to see what sounds they produce.
I started experimenting with stalks of celery, and found that it can mimic both breaking bones and crackling tree limbs. From there, I just picked up different objects and tried to find what sounds I could get out of them.
Creating Your Own Foley Studio
For our bare-bones Foley studio, we set up our shotgun mic and zoom recorder in a quiet corner. To replicate three different textures without having to go outside or make a gigantic mess, I purchased a kiddie pool to contain three different texture zones.
The three textures we’re working with are gravel, dirt, and snow. For gravel, we chose a $4 bag of rocks from the garden store. This can recreate footsteps on any type of uneven, rocky surface, such as a mountain trail or even concrete rubble.
For dirt, we just used a $1 of potting soil. The soil will absorb much of the sound of a footstep, so it’s ideal for situations like a muddy beach or a trodden hiking path.
For new-fallen snow, we put a few cans of corn starch into a pillow case. When you step on the sack, it will mimic the familiar sound of crunching snow.
So when you want to tailor footsteps to a video, set up a laptop or a monitor and watch your video a few times to memorize the motions of your actor.
Watch the video and track the movement with your footsteps. It will probably take you a few times to get right, but just remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect. Unless the footsteps are the main focus of the shot, the footsteps will be just a little seasoning to the sauce and will most likely get drowned out by the music and other featured SFX.
All in all, this setup cost us less than $20. You could recreate it in your living room, and if you have room in your house for a kiddie pool full of dirt, then it’s reusable!
Looking for more video tutorials? Check these out.