What is Sound Design and Foley, How Is It Made?

What is Sound Design and Foley, How Is It Made?

“What is sound design and foley (effects) and how is it done?” Before answering the questions, it is necessary to separate the sounds in the TV series/movies. Sounds can be examined under 3 headings;

  • Music
  • human voices
  • Effects


It can be divided into different sub-titles, but to summarize, we come across with words that are specially composed for the series/film in question, in a non-verbal style that supports the image, or in a popular genre suitable for the genre of the TV series/film, or played by any character or heard from any device, and are presented to the audience. Definitely an impressive element. We can remember its effect by imagining the high-tension music used in thrillers when turning the corner or looking through the keyhole. How much would a thriller scare you without that soundtrack?

Human Voices

These voices may appear in TV series/films as conversations between characters, conversations with themselves or as an external voice. Although there are films with exceptions, they are the indispensable sounds of TV series/films today.


They are a wide range of sounds. In short, we can define it as all other sounds except music and human voice in TV series/movies. These are prominent sounds such as explosions, car collisions, or background sounds such as wind, sea waves, or the sounds of opening doors, bags placed on the table due to people and objects, or special designs that require design such as dinosaurs and spacecrafts that have no counterpart in nature. appear as sounds. 

All of the works done for these sound fictions we mentioned are also included. "sound design" or "sound engineering" is called. The person who produces and creates it is called a “sound designer” or “sound engineer”. This area, which has entered our lives and is nourished by Hollywood movies that make a sound for every movement on the screen, has been developing rapidly in Turkey recently. 

(Filimowicz, 2012: 29) It is used not only in cinema, but in many art fields such as sound design, theater, musical performance, and computer games. The aim is to make it possible to create meaning that is different from what is tried to be expressed in a scene or image and reaches wider dimensions. 

So, do productions really need sound effects? Yeah! 

The sound effects are the non-famous protagonists of most productions. They are clues that help us tell a story beforehand. Their use dates back to the 1700s, when theaters included sound-producing devices like thunder plates, and the funny thing about sound effects is that they don't go unnoticed unless they're lost. The silence or absence of a particular sound the moment it disappears is disturbing, like a loud emptiness in the audience's ears. 

Therefore, when a sound is not heard or the sound heard in a scene does not meet our expectations, it is removed from the viewing experience and subconsciously we ask ourselves “why is this sound not right?” we ask. 

So why aren't sound recordings of these sounds taken during the series/film shooting? 

In fact, of course, these ambient sounds reach the microphone during shooting, but the microphones used in the sets are primarily focused on the mouth of the speaker. Therefore, it reduces the amount of natural noise generated around the player during shooting, such as footsteps and other movements. The effect of this is clean dialogue, but the side effect is a virtual sonic void where all other sounds are completely dimmed or muted. Sound design and sound designers have a great role in filling this gap.


“Apply effects” can be defined as a process. It is the synchronization of the sounds of people and things that we mentioned in the effects section with the action on the screen by the “foley artists” in the studio. Meanwhile, the artists create the sound effects by repeating the movements of the actors in the movie with similar items. These actions include footsteps, clothing movements, and other auxiliary sounds. Therefore, foley studios have a variety of items, shoes and clothes, different surfaces such as wood, marble, pebbles for footsteps, bathtubs or children's pools for water effects, and many more items and tools. The name of the technique comes from the surname of Jack Foley, an editor in Hollywood in the 1940s. 

For a better understanding of the Foley technique, you can refer to the links below. In these links, you can see behind-the-scenes footage and foley studio designs of the effects applied in Hollywood.

Sound design, sound editing and music writing for TV series/films is a large field that has financial benefits and still needs to be developed in our country, and it is important for those dealing with this field to have knowledge (both technical and theoretical) not only on sound and music but also on imagery.

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