Trip to Foley sound studio
Learning more about the sound of sound
The Foley sound stage at the Alchemy Post Sound studio in Peekskill is the space where movie production magic happens.
On a trip to the studio on Feb.6, students in Sean Harty’s Sound and Production class watched lead Foley artist Leslie Bloome demonstrate how he and fellow editors create and record sound to be put in a television show. Mr. Bloome walked on a hard surface in high heels while Foley mixer Ryan Collison recorded the noise in order to enhance the sound of a woman crossing a city street for the HBO series “High Maintenance.”
This was just one of many recordings the studio has done for TV, movies, documentaries, public service announcements and more. It can record between 300 to 400 sound effects in a day.
“We are here to tell a story. Our job at Alchemy is to tell that story through sound,” lead Foley artist Mr. Bloome said. “We are creating incredibly detailed sound. It’s really what we are doing, we are the creators.”
The studio has space for recording music and ADR, or Automated Dialogue Replacement, when actors come in to record portions of dialogue that may have been muffled or are otherwise unusable.
The studio, however, is primarily a Foley operation. Foley, named after sound effects artist Jack Foley, refers to recording sound effects in post-production to enhance a film or TV show.
There is a creative element to being a Foley artist. However, the technical component requires a lot of knowledge of how sound works in any specific Foley studio.
“It takes five years to become a good Foley artist,” Mr. Harty said.
Students also watched Mr. Collison work as he viewed a demo tape and added in Foley sounds the studio had created. The scene featured a drawn-out physical confrontation which included glass breaking, axes chopping into walls and more.
“That is an extreme project for us to do. There is so much going on, so much destruction,” Mr. Collison said.
In answer to a student’s question, Mr. Collison said the studio rarely uses a sound library of pre-recorded sounds.
This news took Jason Balson, a student at Dobbs Ferry High School, by surprise. He later said he thought a library would be used more.
“It’s so much faster for us to customize a sound,” Mr. Collison said.
The few sounds they use from a library are those that would be too difficult to recreate in their studio, mostly due to space constraints.
“I understand more about the work flow of Foley,” Adam Pasqual, a student at Woodlands High School, said.
The field trip was the second time Christian Caseres visited the studio.
“It’s cool to check it out again and see how they have increased the sound effects,” he said.
“Just about anything can be used to make sound for a show or movie more realistic,” said Michael Ashner, a student at Eastchester High School.
“It gave me insight into the job,” Anthony DiGilio from Pleasantville High School said.
Taykeme Griffith of New Rochelle High School said seeing the Foley artists work gave him a new appreciation for the amount of detail that goes into the work. It’s something most people don’t realize when they watch a TV show or movie.
Abraham Sanchez, of Westlake High School, said he was surprised to see Mr. Bloome wear women’s high heeled shoes when recording the sound of a woman walking across a street. That demonstrates the commitment the artists have to their jobs.
“It made me appreciate the work more,” Liam Vanderberg of New Rochelle High School said. “You see how draining it can be, but also how focused they are.”
“When you watch a movie, you don’t realize how difficult a job it is. If you are off by a second it can be a problem,” said Maurice Banton of New Rochelle High School.
Mr. Harty and the Alchemy Post Sound Studio have developed a special relationship through the years resulting in spots for Career Services sound and production students to work as interns. Mr. Harty said they have to apply for the post and be accepted.