Italian Cinema’s Sound Archives
Foley Practices and Post-production Techniques, 1960–70
This article presents a historiographical inquiry into the instruments and technologies employed in Italian Foley art during the 1960s, drawing on an ethnography of the manual techniques involved in sound post-production. It draws on extensive research based on oral accounts of technical directors, Foley artists, rerecording mixers, and sound technicians employed in post-production facilities in and around Rome since the late 1950s. The first section considers the Foley artist’s status and responsibilities within the industrial organization of sound post-production in the 1960s; the second analyzes a category of sound effects in which Foley artists specialized early on, the so-called rumori sala(“Foley stage sounds”). The third section examines how Foley artists progressively extended the scope of their work to include ambienti (“ambient sounds”) and so-called effetti sonori speciali (“special sound effects”), which had previously been the prerogative of fonici (“re-recording and production sound mixers”). The final section discusses the long-term consequences of these changes in the creation of ambient sounds. There is also brief consideration of the introduction and development of the so-called macchina per ambienti(“ambient sound machine”), which remained in vogue in post-production practices until the mid-1990s and was, as far as is known, used exclusively in Italy.
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