How to Build a Mini/Portable Foley StageFebruary 4, 2015
So, I needed to do some sound effects for this indie game I was working on and I realized with such a low budget, I could not really afford to buy these sample libraries and customize them to my liking to fit the game. So, I decided to do a little research and do my own. I found it it to be highly effective and so I decided to share with my fellow game audio peers. For the most part it was well received and for others, well, let’s just say people don’t always read things carefully or they can be haters. Nevertheless, the article was featured on Gamasutra! Here is the full post or you can find the link to the article below.
I hope some of you will find it helpful as it is helpful for me. I also want to say that although the idea is not perfect, and was never intended to be, the idea is to inspire other beginner/indie sound designers and improve upon the idea for themselves. This is the foundation. Enjoy!
We all have sound design and Foley ideas that we want to carry out and implement. However, not all of us have the resources to book and use a Sound Sound Stage. So, why not build your own? Most people may want to turn their entire garage into a Foley Studio. Well, if you only need to do minimal things like record footsteps or trinkets, then you could use something that is compact, effective, and also portable. Something like a mini Sound Stage. Yea, that’s right a mini portable Foley Sound Stage. Built cost effectively for about $60.00 – $70.00. I know just the materials you need to get this done.
Note: You might be able to buy any of these materials from one hardware store.
- 4 plywood boards of Unbranded-Underlayment-Common-7-32-in. x 4ft x 8ft.
- Drill ( If you don’t have one, borrow one)
- Sound Isolation Foam – Wedges or Wedgies. (Alternative; Bedding from Walmart)
The dimension size of the portable Foley Stage that I chose to build is 3 x 2 x 1. You can choose to build a different size to fit your sound design needs. I personally, found this big enough to do Foley steps in such as indoor cave footsteps, vine footsteps and some other creative footsteps to match the environment of the project.
Steps to Build:
- Start installing the 3 brackets on the 2ft plywood sides
Make sure the brackets are spaced out appropriately
2. Drill bracket to 3ft plywood so that the 2ft plywood are jointed.
3. Continue the steps all around the perimeter
4. Drill 3 brackets from the 3 ft plywood to the foundation bottom plywood.
5. Cut the amount of absorption foam needed and glue it to the inside. Try to cover all the corners possible as it will help dampen extraneous noise and result in better recordings.
That’s it. You are pretty much done and your new Foley stage should look like this. (Unless you decided to go with different dimensions). I recommend you cover all the corners as much as possible with isolation.
Now there are some extra things you can begin to collect and use for your Foley Stage.
- Mover’s Blanket: This is multi-purpose item. I found that by kneeling a lot it becomes very painful and the movers blanket is a great cushion. It can also be used as an absorption blanket to go underneath the Foley Stage or inside it.
Purchase at: Local Hardware Store (Harbor Freight Tools)
Cost: $ 8.99
2. Storage Box: I like to call this my “Adult Toy Chest”. I used to have one as a child, ironically, made out of wood. However, as we get older our taste changes and most of us grow up. Inside here you can store as much sound design trinkets, gizmos, and oddities as you like that will give you cool sounds to record.
Purchased at: Walmart
3. Shoes: You can collect these from your siblings, friends, or your local thrift/Goodwill. After all, you probably will need them for some footstep recordings one day.
Purchased at: Thrift Store; Goodwill/Salvation Army
Cost: $1.00 – $20.00
4. Concrete Bricks: These come in great handy when you need to do some sound effects that might not be in a library, such as stone walls in an Ancient Ruin. For the game “I Can’t Escape – Darkness” I was tasked in making some heavy stone walls that open and close when the player enters a key. I couldn’t find them, so, I bought a couple bricks. Luckily, Home Depot had a sale going on (which they almost always do) and I was able buy them,, record them, do some editing and make this.
In addition, I used the flat concrete bricks for inside cave footsteps by placing 2 of them inside the Foley stage.
Purchased at: Home Depot and Do It Center also known as DIY Center
Cost: $0.43 – $1.19
These are just a few examples of items you can collect to enhance your new Portable Foley Stage and cool things to record in them. I like to refer to “The Sound Effects Bible” by Ric Viers for more ideas of things to collect and to look out for when shopping.
So, go out there and get started. Keep a lookout for free things on Craigslist or sometimes, in my case, a liquidation sale from a hardware store. You never know what you will find and you don’t always need a big budget to make great sounds.
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