The Magic of Making Sound: M&E and Foley

When talking about films, it is really a marriage between two things: visuals and sound. Visuals are the first thing that people often notice while watching a film, but sound is different by design. We are not meant to notice the sound, because good sound design is meant to be paired so perfectly with the visuals that they go unnoticed. How important is sound in films, music production, and video production? Let’s find out!Foley

When we watch a film, most of us don’t know that much of what we are hearing, was created using everyday objects (like shredded rope, bamboo sticks, wet rags, VHS tape). Basically, these sounds are created with the help of human interaction, such as footsteps, picking up or dropping items, the sound of clothes rustling, cutlery sounds, etc.

The term ‘Foley’ is named after sound-effects artist Jack Foley. It is the art of sound that engages the reproduction of everyday sounds effects that are added to the film, video, and other media during post-production to enhance audio quality. This art originated in 1920, as adding sounds to live broadcast of radio drama.

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Few examples of Foley used to create common sounds are techniques like:

• Plungers stuffed with cloth are horse hoof sounds.
• Gloves with paper clips are dog paws.
• A feather duster sounds like bird wings flapping.
• Corn starch in a pouch makes the sound of snow crunching.
• Pine Cones makes the sound of cracking ice.

Unlike sound effects, they are added near the end of production of a video. The term “Foley” also means a place, such as Foley-stage or Foley-studio, where the Foley process takes place in association with the Foley artists.

Music & Effects (M&E)

Another way to make a film more convincing using sound is to incorporate a few asynchronous sound effects – often known as background sounds. The music and effects are an incredibly important part of film and television. If incorporated correctly, it can enhance the emotions of any scene or even create an illusion in a video. Unlike Foley, sound effects are created artificially or by enhancing a sound. These sounds are like background sounds and therefore can bring a film to life. For example, including the background sounds of a city or rural area can help to make the film’s setting more realistic. Similarly, the sound of birds chirping and alarms signify a morning scene.

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