3 Life Lessons from Hollywood's Art of Sound Making

life lessons perspective Jul 19, 2023
Illustration of Charis Santillie watching Foley artists create sounds for films
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🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #066 here.

I love to find life lessons everywhere I can. I recently saw a cool video titled "The Magic of Making Sound" on the YouTube channel 'Great Big Story' about Warner Brothers' Foley artists.

If you haven't heard that term before, a Foley artist is a person who creates sound art that is used in special effects in filmmaking for TV and movies, and you may be surprised to learn that it's not just the fancy sounds they are dealing with.

A lot of what they do is recreating all the "natural sounds". If you see someone walking through the snow, a bird flying, or water rushing down a river, the sound you are hearing is usually not actually captured from the live event when the video is filmed. The sounds we hear are actually made by Foley artists in a production studio.

They have big screens so they can visually follow whatever's going on in the film as they create the sounds to match up. Be sure to check out this video to see Foley artists at work.

So how does this relate to life in general besides the fact that these sounds help us feel immersed in films we watch?

Three life lessons came to mind that were inspired by this video.

#1 Things aren't always what they seem.

You've likely heard that phrase before, yet I want this video and the art of sound making to provide you with a new way to relate to this old concept. 

Let these examples I'm about to share from the video become reminders to help you remain open-minded to see things from a different perspective and know that maybe things that you experience in your life really are different than they seem.

  • Gloves with paper clips attached to the fingers are often used to create the sound of dog paws on the floor.
  • A feather duster is used to create the sound of bird wings.
  • Pine cones are used for making the sound of cracking ice.

The video shows many more examples that will likely surprise you.

#2 You create your own reality. 

I'm sure you've also heard this before too, and now you can relate it to how Foley artists literally create seemingly real sounds that we hear.

Creating our reality is a bold power we have, and I don't think we give ourselves enough credit for it.

#3 Emotions are energies with a lot of subtle distinctions.  

In Foley art, wind is really interesting because wind itself does not make sounds, aside from the fact that if you have nothing around you and you have wind rushing by your eardrums, you might hear a buffeting sound. The sounds we associate with wind are due to whatever it's interacting with, whether that's water, trees, or something else. The sound created by wind doesn't occur until it passes through or comes into contact with an object.

If you think about wind being energy, it is similar to our experience of an emotion, which is also energy. Emotions can be totally different depending on the circumstances. When you experience sadness or anger or disappointment, for instance, those feelings can show up differently for you, depending on the different circumstances that are in your life at that moment. Something I have learned over the last 11-plus years of my deep dive into personal development is that the more I recognize and understand my feelings, the better my life is. One of the ways this shows up is that I'm better at communicating with people around me, whether that be close relationships or acquaintances because I have come to understand and have compassion for their emotions.

If we relate this back to Foley art, you can't just say, "Make the sound of wind," because there's so much more going on than that. The artists need to know what the wind is moving through so that the correct sound can be made. Similarly, having more details about the subtleties of emotions is really crucial in understanding yourself and others better.

Don't forget to watch this video to see Foley artists at work.


“The secret to film is that it’s an illusion.” 

– George Lucas

🎧 👉 Prefer audio? You can also listen to me share about this in podcast episode #066 here.

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