Sound effects are used in film when an accompanying sound is required to fully convey an action. Dripping water, slamming doors, screeching tires, breaking glass, explosions and other sound effects help to add depth to the visual information. A gun firing off in silence doesn’t really do the action justice.
Some sound effects will be recorded as part of the shoot, captured as the action occurs to provide an ‘authentic’ feel. But this is filmmaking, who is interested really in ‘authentic’ anything? The best way to get just the right sound you want is to make it up later in post. This kind of sound is called ‘foley’. Like using the sound of smacking a cabbage in a fight scene. Sometimes things just don’t sound the way you want them to on screen. So use the environment at your disposal and a bit of creativity and you’ll be faking your way to the top in no time.
Incidental sound effects are any audio you catch during shooting. For example, if someone puts a glass down on table, the small noise of it hitting the table will be recorded by your microphone and you will want to use that sound in your film when showing the clip of the cup coming down.
Some incidental sounds can be undesirable, such as the consistent hum of a generator in the background. If these sounds are unavoidable (and you can’t remove them in post, see Static Footprint in Sound mix) then best practice is to show the offending noise polluter at least once in your sequence so your audience’s brain can forgive it’s omnipresence (see Show noise generators in sound mix).
Foley sound effects are things you fake in post later. The classic example is using a wet cabbage smack sound to create a convincing punch sound, but there are literally infinite possibilities. Experiment to see what yields the best results. Like this.
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