An introduction to sound design – Recording your own sounds: Foley

It may not be easily done for everyone (depending on your setup), but as I said, sometimes it is better to record sounds yourself. And often it’s even easier too. You can spend hours searching for the sound of a spoon that is stirring in a cup. But it happens that it just doesn’t fit the image, no matter how you edit and tweak the sound.

In that case it’s often much better to grab a cup from the cupboard, a spoon from the drawer and while you look at the video, record the stirring sound. And you will end up with a custom made sound effect that fits the video perfectly.

Of course you should use a good microphone for this. I would suggest to use a shotgun microphone for it, like the one on the camera or in a boom pole. For example a shotgun microphone from Røde, or the Sennheiser MKH416. This could very well be the mic that has been used the most in film and TV over the decades. Shotgun microphones (and certainly the MKH416) therefore often give you the sound you ‘expect’ to hear and the sound will match the set-noise because it is often recorded with such a microphone too.

For simple recordings like this you don’t need a completely soundproof studio: a reasonably quiet space is good enough for short recording sessions where you keep the microphone close. If you want to re-record all ‘every day sound effects’ for a movie, it’s another story.

Actually, there is a name for that: Foley. In movies most every day sounds are re-recorded in specialized studios. In the clip below you see a Foley artist at work: