Although similar, there is a difference between Foley sound and general audio use. Foley is what is used to make a movement or action seem more believable by adding iconic sound effects to make the audience know exactly what is happening and connecting the classic sound effects with the actions being shown on screen. Foley sound is used in all film and TV shows to make them more realistic and to give a certain effect. For example some of the most classic uses of Foley are creaking doors to add suspension and thumps to emphasise the power of a punch. Although we wouldn’t necessarily hear all these sounds in real life, they are still added in to film and TV shows to create effects and emphasise the point that is trying to be put across. Also, another reason why Foley sound is used in all productions is because it has become a necessity in today’s media which means that without the added effects, actions and movements would be lacking an impact to the audience. This can be very problematic when finding new ways to get the message across to an audience by the use of sound. Foley designers and engineers are only in control of the sound effects added to make the actions within the shot seem more realistic. All other aspects of sound such as the use of microphones, and maintenance of equipment are held responsible by the sound team. This can include a sound engineer, designer, mixer or even assistant.
How to become a Foley Designer or Sound Engineer
Similar to lighting and just about any other aspect of the industry, sound can be a difficult profession to get into as there is a high demand for work and a shortage of placements. This is because sound is a very specific area and often can’t be worked with for an entire year (unless you work as a Freelance) due to the simple fact that films and most TV shows do not need people to work on set all year round. This is why working as a freelance Sound Engineer or Foley Designer can be a great idea as it allows you to work for the entire year and earn an income. However, working as a freelancer is easier said than done as it requires a lot of time and effort to get into a good position where work can be done on a regular or long term basis. Also it requires a lot of experience to get into as clients will be paying for your work which means that it will need to be completed to a good quality.
A good way to gain experience is to find work at a theatre. Theatres are great for gaining experience as they have very similar setups to what would be found on a film or TV production. It is also a great way to meet new people which is also very important as it will allow you to market yourself and find work. Another method for gaining experience would be to find an internship or apprenticeship. Both are extremely effective for gaining experience in the industry, however they do have there advantages and disadvantages. Internships are often easier to find as they are essentially unpaid work, therefore less people will apply for that position. As there are less people who are willing to work for free it is more likely that you will get the position as employers often take the opportunity to get free labour. Doing an internship sets a great impression of who you are as it shows that you are hard working and willing to help others with work. Apprenticeships are similar, however they are paid work. This means that it is often more difficult to find, although it does give you an offical qualification which is not given when you finish an internship. Both routes have there differences but are still effective for different reasons.
Famous Sound Engineer – Mark Mangini
Mark Mangini, a Sound Engineer born in Boston is known for his work on films such as Die Hard, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Green Mile, and Aladdin. He dropped out of college at the age of 19 to move to L.A to work in the film industry (IMDB, 1994). Before stetting up his own post production sound company he worked at Hanna Barbera Studios. This was his only recorded job before working for himself. Marks company, Weddington Productions Inc was situated in Hollywood and was owner of the business for 25 years.
University Sound Courses
As said above, going to university is a great way to progress with your education and to gain experience. Although it comes with a high price, in most cases it gives the best chances of success in the industry as it gives you the skills and the knowledge to make a good start. Also it gives you a new opportunity to meet new people who are in the same position as you.
Here are two courses that specialise in sound engineering and design. These would be suitable for anyone who would like to go to university and is planning on becoming a Sound Engineer or Designer. The first is at the University of Bolton:
The second course I found was at the Birmingham City University and also focuses on the use of sound and how it us used effectively:
Sound is a crucial part of how film and TV is consumed in today’s industry. In many cases it has been known for sound to forgive bad visuals, or even a lacking story as it makes the film or TV show seem more professional, therefore a higher quality of work. With this in mind becoming a Sound Engineer or Foley Designer can be a good way to contribute to the industry and is an extremely underrated profession to be in.
IMDB (1994) ‘Mark A. Mangini’, in Available at: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005625/ (Accessed: 8 October 2016).
UCAS (no date) UCAS search tool – sound engineering & design (2 years) – summary. Available at: http://search.ucas.com/course/summary/720058/sound-engineering-design-2-years?Vac=1&AvailableIn=2017&Query=Sound&ret=providers#coursedetailsmenu (Accessed: 8 October 2016).
UCAS (no date) UCAS search tool – sound engineering and production – summary. Available at: http://search.ucas.com/course/summary/714878/sound-engineering-and-production?Vac=1&AvailableIn=2017&Query=Sound%20Engineer&IsFeatherProcessed=True&ret=providers (Accessed: 8 October 2016).