What's the Difference Between Traditional Sound Effects & Foley Sounds

What’s the Difference Between Traditional Sound Effects & Foley Sounds?

Foley sounds are often considered a “sound effect” in film, and in traditional filmmaking. You might recall that many of the same techniques that are now used by Foley artists were incredibly common. Sound effects, and foley sounds, are certainly both incredibly important, but what’s the difference between traditional sound effects and foley sounds in film? Is there a cut and dry, black and white, answer that will make this all appear to make sense?

foley sounds

Sound effects and Foley sounds are not the same, although some of the same techniques that are used in the creation of foley sounds may be present equally in the reproduction of traditional sound effects.

As we look at answering the question, “What’s the difference between traditional sound effects and Foley sounds,” we’ll also attempt to define how each is used and the benefits.

What are Foley Sounds?

Foley sounds are those sounds which are recreated by Foley artists to create an immersive effect for the film. Common foley sounds include things like character footsteps, the sound of a door closing or the sound of books or plates or a glass being placed on a table.

In fact, foley sounds can include a whole lot of different sounds that basically are those which accentuate what sounds already took place within the scene such as:

  • Character footsteps
  • The ruffling of cloth such as a jacket or sweater
  • Hands touching or rubbing together
  • Doors opening or closing
  • Glass breaking
  • Kissing
  • Books slamming
  • Windows opening

As you can see, many of the Foley sounds that are expected are natural sounds which likely already took place on the film but which otherwise could not be heard by the camera and thus which needed to be re-captured for audible sound in the film.

What are Traditional Sound Effects?

Traditional sound effects are those which were originally created for the enhancement of the existing sound of a film. Much like Foley sounds, sound effects are important to the believable nature of the story.

But what’s so different with traditional sound effects vs foley sound is the fact that sound effects are created artificially and which are enhanced similarly. For example, sound effects would be sounds created to enhance a mood.

But what if the mood doesn’t have a sound? EXACTLY! Traditional sound effects will create the illusion of a mood. Additionally, traditional sound effects are used to alter the mood that the audience feels. 

Foley enhances the believability of a scene, and sound effects create a desired mood or enhanced connection.

Still confused about the difference? Filmmaker IQ has a great informational video to help!

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