How sound effects are really made

What does a snowman being impaled on an icicle sound like? And how is the noise of Batman landing on a car bonnet recreated? A foley artist reveals her secrets.

The jangle of car keys, a door slamming, the clatter of plates. Ordinary, everyday sounds, which foley artist Alyson Dee Moore has to recreate in extraordinary ways. “You may not know you’re hearing, but you’re hearing them,” she says in a video revealing how she creates the sound effects in films like The Matrix, The Dark Knight and Frozen.

Moore has been a foley artist for more than 30 years, painstakingly recreating sound effects that are timed to match what’s happening on the screen. “You shouldn’t notice it – it should just fit seamlessly.”

The video offers a glimpse inside Moore’s studio, which is “full of junk” – scuffed shoes, piles of plant pots, crutches leaning against the wall and shelves filled with coconut shells. And there’s an insight into the process of making sounds like space helmets colliding (involving a pine cone) or knuckles cracking (using uncooked lasagne sheets). As Moore’s mixer Mary Jo Lang comments, “Foley is a unique kind of sound, because it’s bigger than life but it still sounds like life”.

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