"Everything you see is a prop"

Last week we met to watch silent films and learn about foley art in preparation for an installation we're constructing. 

Sound FX will be a portable foley studio around that will make appearances in public around Seattle and is being lead by design nerd and resident re-use expert James Taylor.

How does it work?  Participants will be shown a short film and asked to add sound effects to it by using a variety of found objects. 

We watched silent clips, tried to add our own sounds, and viewed several short documentaries about foley artistry.  Foley artists use a variety of objects to add the sounds to the films and shows you watch every day, from the sound of footsteps to the rustling of leaves.  Foley studios are filled to the brim with random objects used to create sounds (for example a long spring makes a great sci-fi laser sound) and as one foley artist said "It may look like a mess but everything you see is a prop".  That sense of creative re-use if something we're really hoping to highlight with this installation.

From our film sessions & experiments we came away with a few notes:

  • Bright loud sounds work best. 
  • Foley really is a complicated art that requires skill and practice so simplifying the process for users will be very important. 
  • Film clips with big, broad movement work the best when using a simple set of sound makers. 
  • Given those parameters, finding clips in the public domain that work seems difficult at best.  Making our own would be more useful and more educational. 
  • Traditional foley work relies upon lead-in timers or graphics. 
  • Graphics, icons, and some explanatory video would be useful. 

With all those considerations we've made the decision to film our own short clips which will give us significantly more control over the experience. In the coming weeks we'll be storyboarding a series of 60 second films and filming them around Seattle.  Don't be afraid to say hello if you see some people in inflatable green suits.

If you'd like to get involved with our guerrilla film-making sessions email us at seattledesignnerds (at) gmail (dot) com