[4D] Assignment 2 – Task 2: Research and Process

Be sure to watch my final work here before proceeding.


  1. Foley Sounds Research
  2. Ideation
  3. Making of Foley Sounds
  4. Post-Production


Part 1: Foley Sounds Research

Foley is the reproduction of everyday sound effects that are added to film, video, and other media in post-production to enhance audio quality.


Image source: Wall-E. (2017). PIXAR. Retrieved 9 October 2017, from http://pixar-animation.weebly.com/wall-e.html

The reference that I looked to is Ben Burtt. He is the sound designer for iconic films such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones film series, E.T. the Extra-TerrestrialWALL-E,  and Star TrekHe is responsible for creating many of the iconic sound effects heard in the Star Wars film franchise, including the voice of R2-D2, the lightsaber hum, the sound of the blaster guns, and the heavy-breathing sound of Darth Vader, which he made by breathing into a scuba regulator.

Here are 2 videos of him sharing about his process of creating the sounds for Pixar’s ‘WALL-E’, in which he also gave insights on the importance of sounds and how to use them to enhance the mood of the films. (Part 1 | Part 2)


These are some key points that I picked out from the videos:

Wall-E sound design:

  • Wall-E is a multitude of motors and sounds were deliberately picked out for each of its movements. They can orchestrated together to punctuate the emotions with sounds that are justifiable as part of his function.
  • Eve has soothing, high-tech, quiet tonality – gives her an air of mystery and enchantment with her.
  • All have an array of sounds that are character-based.


Importance of sound design:

  • Because there isn’t much dialogue, more emphasis is put on the seemingly insignificant sounds (the squeaks and squawks). All of them need to mean something.
  • We should be in complete control of whether there should be sound, how many sounds there are and when they happen.
  • Make the right choice, for the right sound, for the right moment.
  • Figure out what’s the overall language for the movie and its characters, how they fit into the overall soundscape
  • If the sound is realistic but doesn’t convey the mood, the emotional sound can be used instead.
  • The more inventive sounds get, the more they become subjective and they become sounds in the ears of the beholder.


Part 2: Ideation

Possible Story Structures:

Our story mainly employs the technique of contrast, as it compares the past events with the present events.

  1. Contrasting a past event with a current event, then repeating this throughout video
  • Clarity in terms of storytelling aspect, as audience will be able to make the connections in the differences immediately


2. Showcasing all the past events first, then reveal what happens in the present

  • Can be a chronological or flashback sequence in our story
  • A twist waiting to be revealed


3. Showing all the present events first, then reveal what happens in the past

  • Flashback sequence


The story structure that I decided to adopt is number 2. As the past events in our story are full of joy, I wanted to create a false sense of hope for my audience, then reveal the tragic reality.


My Story Outline:

This is a rough outline that I came up with to guide me through the post-production process. Not only does it contain the sequence of events, it also contains information about the visuals (eg. colour schemes) and sounds to be included in each scene. It is a masterplan basically. Of course, many things changed along the way.



  • Middle sequence will be a mirror of beginning sequence
  • Whenever little sister is in scene, birds chirping sound – Signifies her cheerfulness, and joy that she brings to her big sister.


Flashback: Colours are faded.

Beginning – Start off with a happy note:

Text: She dreams of being able to soar freely in the blue skies. Then title card.

  1. Big sister watching little sister hang up paper aeroplanes – Ambient bg noise, folding paper sound
  2. Scenes of little sister playing with paper aeroplanes – Ambient bg noise, jet engine sound
  3. Big sister throw paper aeroplanes over little sister – Ambient bg noise, whoosh sound
  4. Little sister lying among paper aeroplanes, blissful – Ambient bg noise, birds chirping sound
  5. Sisters squabbling playfully over toilet – Echo sound (foley washing machine sound)
  6. Running around grassland with paper aeroplanes – Foley plastic bags sound x2, birds chirping
  7. Paper aeroplane stuck in tree – Toned down foley pape crumpling sound (represents trees rustling) , birds chirping
  8. Big sister wheeling little sister around in trolley – Cart rattling sound, traffic sound, birds chirping


Bleak reality: Colours are darker.

Middle – Crisis:

Blank screen. Sound effect – Dull thud!

  1. Wheeling trolley full of paper aeroplanes alone – ears ringing sound
  2. Retrieving abandoned paper aeroplane from grassland – Foley plastic bags sound
  3. Sitting alone on toilet seat – Jet engine sound (foley freezer sound – life is cold when little sister is not around)
  4. Show big sister sitting all alone in room. Looking reminiscently at the box of paper aeroplanes – Jet engine sound (foley freezer sound)
  5. Taking down the paper aeroplanes from roomm – Jet engine sound (foley freezer sound)

Not-so-bleak reality: Colours are brighter and have higher contrast.

End – Acceptance:

  1. Close up of paper aeroplane in big sister’s hands – birds chirping
  2. Shows big sister looking at the paper aeroplane with ghost of little sister standing beside her – birds chirping
  3. Big sister getting ready to fly the plane – birds chirping, whoosh sound
  4. Blank screen


Original ending:

My original ending included the scene of the big sister looking to the plane with the ghost of the little sister standing beside her. However, after showing it to a few friends, this was the very scene that threw them off. It made them confused as to whether the little sister was imaginary or part of a parallel world. My ultimate decision was to remove this crucial scene since I wanted my story to tell the death of the little sister clearly.


*The relationship between the two characters have been changed from sisters to best friends.

Original ending sequence
New ending sequence


Part 3: Making of Foley Sounds

I experimented with creating a few foley sounds but only 4 made it into the final video.


  1. Echo foley sound
Achieved by hitting the washing machine repeatedly with my hands.
Appropriate to be used in the bickering over toilet scene as the toilet often has good acoustics and is echo-y.


2. Grass stepping foley sound

Achieved by pressing into a bag of plastic bags repeatedly, then the sound is sped up.
Used in running through the field scene since the crumpling sounds that the plastic bags make are similar to stepping on grass.


3. Loud thud foley sound

Achieved by releasing a rubber band against a paper box, then making it many times louder in Adobe Audition.
Used in the blank screen after this trolley scene, to suggest that the little sister was fatally injured.


4. Freezer sound: Not exactly foley, but it is used in the context where the character is feeling grievous and cold emotionally.

Achieved by simply placing my phone in the freezer to record the low humming sound that it makes.
This sound is first introduced in this scene, and continues to be in the background throughout the middle part of the story.


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