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Sound effects in the movies

In the world of cinema, the subject of the effects of sound well deserves a separate chapter. Have you heard of the term “Foley”? This is the process of adding sounds to movies or radio programs with scenes already recorded. Handmade process, yes. Today it is digitized.

It is named after its creator, Jack Foley, a pioneer in the world of special sound effects. He started in the radio field and, seeing that the technique worked, made the leap to film. As you can imagine, it is very complicated to record live the sound effects of the successive scenes of a movie. What is done is to add externally is effect and, in the process of post productionadd volume and intensity so that, for example, the impact of a punch is greater.

The artificer of the technique

As we say, the father of FX is Jack Donovan Foley. In fact, he is credited with many other techniques still used in film today. However, his most outstanding contribution was this unique method of making sound effects live and in sync with the images. Sounds such as footsteps, clinking dishes, doors opening and slamming, glass breaking, birds flying, etc. Adding this type of sound effects a posteriori control of time, quality and volume is achieved.

In movies like “The Birds” the sound of flapping wings was created by waving leather gloves.

Classification of sound effects

Diegetic/objective noise: the one that sounds like it is. It can be the general environment (wind, rain, traffic) without the need to be synchronous.


– Non-diegetic/subjective noise: it occurs to create an emotional situation without the producing object being seen. For example, the ticking of a clock, slow footsteps, or squeaking doors.


– Descriptive noise: the one invented to produce unreal, fantastic or supernatural sounds. For example, the voices of aliens in science fiction movies.

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