Films have great sound thanks to foley artists and sound mixers, they bring their creative input into all the details you hear at the movies. However, not everything runs smoothly on a film set and the quality of sound can be affected, let’s face it, you can’t stop a plane from being loud, technical problems happen, and sometimes it’s just hard to record real life sounds. We leave the perfecting up to the foley artists. They’re the ones that re-create the sounds and play a vital part of bringing a film to life, it’s a practical job that requires them to think outside the box and follow a character’s movement and actions. \
You might be blown away when I say food is involved in making realistic sounds, yes food. In most fight scenes, celery, raw meat and watermelon are used to create hits, slams, stabs, punches and kicks. Creating sounds for injuries ranges from stomping on apples, dropping watermelons and slicing raw chicken, by the end of the takes there’s hardly anything left, this job is clearly not for the clean freaks.
There’s a lot they need to take into consideration, like what materials the characters are wearing? Where the scene is taking place? In a large room or tight space? What are their surroundings etc? All these things affect how they should sound.
Not all sounds are fake, hand to hand combat and body grabs are made of exactly what you would expect. Foley artists actually use their arms and hands to make natural sounding punches, and if they need more impact they use gloves to beef it up. A lot of the time they create sounds that seem unrealistic, but sounds great on film.
For sword fights, using the real thing is always going to be best. They actually use real swords and knives to capture the clanks and whooshes you hear on screen. Foley artists have one of the most creative jobs out there, but it can go unnoticed. Next time you watch a film, pay attention to fight scenes, I think it’s pretty cool to think that someone spends their creative time recreating sound for each scene.