BOOM sound designer David Osternacher took a deeper look into "The Foley Grail" by Vanessa Theme Ament. Check it out below
(dos)The Foley Grail by the accomplished Foley Artist Vanessa Theme Ament (Die Hard, Edward Scissorhands, Predator) was recommended to me a while ago. If you’re going to record sound libraries or to do some serious design, it can’t hurt to know a thing or two about „performing sound".
The book starts with a short history of the craft and an overview of different styles of Foley. Ament then gives a more detailed account of the organizational structure of a typical Foley session: who is involved, what kind of facilities you need, and how you are supposed to keep track of the massive amount of sound you have to record in Foley.
The third part of the Foley Grail is called „The Art and Craft of Foley“. The author dedicates quite a bit of space in the book to performing footsteps, for example how to get your steps to sound like the real thing while you are actually only stepping in place. (I’m sure most of you have at some point tried to do proper heel to toe steps without moving away from the mic and know what I’m talking about). Many Foley Artists have dancing backgrounds, and this makes a lot of sense when you consider how many different walking rhythms and weights they have to perform on any given day.
There is also a section about animal footsteps and sure enough, Ament doesn’t fail to mention the old „coconut shells as horseshoes“ technique, which is still widely used among professionals today. In fact, the next chapter confirms that a lot of those „almost cliché“ techniques are still very common. The coconut shells even are right up there on the cover oft he book, together with the dangling keychain and the bone-breaking celery. For the Medieval Weapons library, we laid hands on some fruits and vegetables ourselves here at the BOOM Library. Among other things, Axel Rohrbach really messed up some pumpkins with his trusted bow and arrows. The part I seem to remember most vividly though, is cleaning up the studio with Michael Schwendler after we had taken our swords to a giant melon.
The Foley Grail won’t give you many receipes for particular sounds like that, but instead provides a great general guide, not only to performing different kinds of sounds in varying ways, but also to choosing the right props (learn to choose by ear, not by eye!), and to the film sound business in general. And Ament manages to deliver all that with a funny and easily understandable writing style, littered with amusing anecdotes from the author’s peers’ and her own carreer.