Foley for Film

Foley for Film

A new class allows for sonic exploration.

Listen. The rustling of bubble wrap sounds like a rainstorm. The plucking of a taut string sounds like the shooting of a bow. The clanging together of two license plates sounds like sword fighting. And knocking on a wooden box sounds like knocking on a castle door. Students developed an ear for sounds and learned how to create and record unique audio effects using everyday items in Foley for Film, a new art class on the Hilltop.

Lachlan Warford ’25 records the sound of rain using bubble wrap.

Having the opportunity to study Foley in a high school is very rare. Foley is a difficult concept because it's a relatively unknown art form. “When a Foley artist does their job well, the soundscape sounds exactly the way it should, and it isn’t obvious that the sound comes from everyday objects,” says Music Teacher Mackenzie Christensen. “An extraordinary amount of work that goes into crafting sounds to create a high-definition version of what we see and hear on screen.” 

Over the spring term, students have been immersed in sound design, exploring how sounds can elevate the auditory experience of movies, television, and films. They’ve been learning to hear these sounds and observing videos to dissect all the little moments of audio recording in Foley that we take for granted. Additionally, they’ve explored Logic Pro, the industry-standard software, and honed their ability to compile, layer, and mix audio files, equipping them with the skills to bring scenes to life. 

As they delved into the intricacies of Foley, the students initially used pre-recorded sound files. However, to truly immerse themselves in the Foley experience, they took part in a sound lab to create and record their own unique sounds.

For their signature assessment, students removed the original audio from selected scenes in their favorite movies and videos, such as Top Gun, The Three Stooges, and LEGO The Lord of the Rings. They compiled a list of sounds they would need to create and add to the footage. Their lists were ambitious and included jets, moving air, sword fighting, rain, and explosions. 

Anson D’Alleva-Bochain ’26 experiments with string and license plate.

The class collected various objects for their recording lab. They set to work testing the sound each item made. They experimented with how each object sounded when paired with another. Glass, when struck with another glass sounds very different than when it is hit with metal or wood. A click of the pen could sound like rain falling, but the sound could also be achieved by crinkling some bubble wrap. One of the class’ favorite tools to experiment with was a wooden box. Different sounds were created when objects were placed inside. 

After experimenting with different sounds an object can make, the students and Christensen began recording the noises and pairing them with the footage they had selected. They layered and manipulated their recorded sounds to create their own audio soundscape. 

“I enjoy being able to record specific audio files that sound like something completely different,” says Lachlan Warford ’25. “I think the level of freedom this assignment awards us is amazing. It allows us to test our level of expertise and record and place sounds.” 

A small sample of what the students have been working on.

“It takes hours of work just to get a small scene, but the result is worth it,” says Christensen. 
“The main reason I wanted to offer this class, aside from the fact that Foley is so cool, is because students get to perform, somewhat musically, without having to be a musician. I love about Foley — it's open to anyone!”


Recent Posts

The Human Revolution

Pinterest Chief Content Officer Malik Ducard ’91 challenges the Class of 2024 to be "heroes for humanity."

Gearing Up

Members of the Class of 2024 open up about where they are going to college and why.