How everyday objects create movie sounds

A lot of special effects go into creating our favourite films but when it comes to the noises you hear on screen, things aren’t always as they seem.

Foley artists find creative ways to add sounds to movies using a variety of objects like vegetables, stumps, and apples.

These objects are used to enhance things like fight scenes or animal noises. Foley artists watch a scene and find a way to craft a unique sound to complement it.

Here are some of the objects used to create common sound effects in movies.

  • Horses: Artists slam rocks and even bathroom plungers on the ground to simulate the sound of the horses’ hooves.
  • Dragonflies: A small fan is used to simulate the sound of dragonflies on camera, since having a lot of real insects around could create a problem for the actors.
  • Dogs: Chains are used to simulate the sound of a dog collar clanging around with the Foley artist moving the chain in line with the dog’s movements and size.
  • Birds: Loose craft feathers are flapped around to create the sound of birds’ wings. For a flock of birds, jackets can be shaken to imitate the sound of multiple wings and even clapping leather gloves together sounds realistic.
  • Woolly mammoths: This one may not come up very often, but when it does Foley artists use tree stumps to create the sound of a mammoth stomping through the scene.
  • Gun cocking: Using a door lock to amplify the sound of a gun cocking creates a dramatic on-screen effect.
  • Sword fights: Kitchen knives create the perfect sound for sword fight scenes, (since a sword is basically just a large knife).
  • Missed shots in fight scenes: Thin wooden dowels are used to simulate the sound of someone taking a swing during a sword fight and catching the air.
  • Bones breaking: As gory as this is, that cracking sound you hear when bones break in movies is probably just celery stalks being snapped.
  • Punching: Punches are always being thrown on TV and in movies, so Foley artists get the sound just right by hitting a rolled up phone book.

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