Hollywood Foley artist Gregg Barbanell

Zachary Crockett, for Priceonomics:

Barbanell is a Hollywood “Foley” artist, a member of a small, highly-skilled group of experts who add custom sounds into television and film scenes in post-production, using a bevy of makeshift props. Named after one of film’s earliest sound pioneers, Foley is an antiquated craft — and in a digitized era of cinema, it is one of the last of the industry’s “low-tech” jobs.

These folks are responsible for recording nearly every footstep and prop sound in the movies — the things that you never really notice, yet bring a scene to life. It’s at once one of the most important elements in film, and the most overlooked. Unlike sound effects editors, Foley artists don’t rely on libraries of pre-recorded sounds: they perform them “live,” using creativity, intuition, and a small dose of physics.

In his 35 years in the trade, Barbanell has over 500 credits, including huge hits like Breaking BadThe Walking Dead and Little Miss Sunshine — though you’ve probably never recognized his work: the best Foley blends so seamlessly with the scene, that it is lost to the viewer.

I remember seeing a short feature about Foley work when I was a kid, and it enthralled me. Ever since, I’ve paid attention to sounds in TV shows and movies, and knowing that the sounds were added later — and usually created in unexpected ways — has never taken me out of the story. I relish sound design.