Career spotlight: Foley Artist/Dubbing Mixer

Foley Artists and dubbing mixers bring film and television to life through the recording, editing and mixing of real world sounds, dialogue and sound effects to create an immersive viewing experience.
icon contents
icon chevron

What does a Foley artist/dubbing mixer do?

Foley artists and dubbing mixers (sometimes labelled re-recording mixers) are two very different roles, but frequently feed into each other. As both roles exist within the realm of post-production, it’s not uncommon to find someone who specialises in both areas. For that reason we’ve decided to look at both roles in tandem for this spotlight. Let’s look at what each role is and then we’ll discuss how they come together.

Foley artist

The term Foley refers to the reproduction of everyday sound effects e.g. footsteps, object noises, weather sounds, that are added to mediums such as film, television, dramatised radio productions, video games and theatre. The name comes from sound effects pioneer Jack Foley, who developed the process and as such, future professionals were named ‘Foley artists’.

The reason for Foley’s existence, particularly in the world of film and television is due to the extraneous factors at play when recording, both on location and in a closed set. Things like wind, dialogue and a space's natural reverb mean capturing or recreating real-world sounds in a controlled environment is much more effective.

Dubbing mixer

A dubbing mixer’s responsibility is to treat, edit and mix every sound associated with a production, e.g. sound effects, Foley, music, and dialogue together to create the final soundtrack or print master for a film or television programme.


On larger feature-length productions, it’s typical that the dubbing mixer will work on a mixing/dubbing stage which recreates the listening experience of cinemas and allows the mixer to better understand how the final mix will sound. That being said, it’s very possible for a dubbing mixer to work in a regular recording studio space and achieve the same level of quality.

How these roles intertwine

Though these roles are very different, there are a lot of transferable skills between the two. For a large-scale production, any poor quality sounds that are delivered to the mixer can be flagged and the respective team tasked to re-record them. However, there are some instances where that’s not possible and requires the dubbing mixer to source or record a new sound to replace it.

Similarly, on smaller-scale productions or for freelancers, the post-production engineer may be fulfilling the role of Foley artist, sound designer and dubbing mixer all at once. Having a broader understanding of the component parts that go into a soundtrack is always of benefit and can be a huge help in the early stages of forging a career.

The day-to-day

For a Foley artist, a day’s work will remain fairly similar across all manner of projects, though the types of sounds will change depending on the type of film/programme. A Foley artist will always be working with a mixer during recording sessions so that they can focus on creating the sounds that are being captured and take direction from the mixer.

The turnarounds are usually pretty tight, so organisation is key and the day will start with getting into the studio early to set up the recording pits and props, so that sounds can be recorded in quick succession.

David Cherry (Foley artist and dubbing mixer)
“You get two days to do a 60-minute [natural history] film and that means covering every single move of every animal and insect you can see on the screen. People think you get a lot of time as a Foley artist to do this stuff, but that’s not the case. You've got to be quick and get it done and you’ve got to know what you're doing.”

- David Cherry (Foley artist and dubbing mixer)

The day-to-day of a dubbing mixer is much more variable due to the number of different tasks that they are responsible for. Mixing the component parts is just one strand, and their day can be spent cleaning up audio, creating sound effects or Foley, or recording voice overs and ADR (Additional Dialogue Replacement). Many dubbing mixers cite this constant shift in tasks as a highlight of the role as it keeps their week’s interesting and varied.

Depending on the size of a project and if the dubbing mixer is working in-house or freelance, they will often work with a team of sound editors, music editors, Foley artists, producers and the director.

“I usually have to design a workflow. I have a template for my audio and I'll bring in an edit from the editor and I’ll usually have a lot of notes from the director on how they want me to clean up the sound, how they want the music, what sound effects to use. And I'll usually use my gut and just work through the programme and just get it to sound the best I possibly can. After that, someone will have a look at it and will give me some feedback and we’ll exchange notes and then it will be a case of doing a final mix on the TV show and getting it released.”

- Tom Edwards (Dubbing mixer, Founder of Windwhistle Studio and dBs alumnus)

Why become a Foley artist/dubbing mixer?

What Foley artists/dubbing mixers love about their work

“I love troubleshooting. I love signal routing. Even though I curse a lot when things go wrong, and I get error messages and stuff, I still know that all of that stuff is necessary. By the time you get into a rhythm, you know that you're in that zone, because you got there by shaping the system and working out all the kinks and bugs and you know exactly where the sound is going now that you've got everything set, calibrated, and ready to go. And now you can just flow and that's pretty cool.”

Leslie Gaston-Bird (Dubbing Mixer, Author and Lecturer)


“It still makes me sort of chuckle when we put in a really good sound effect, and it really works or really changes a scene, or when you're doing a Foley and the talkback comes on from the studio and everyone's like ‘that was amazing’. The idea that I can go in every day and mess around with sounds, and mix sound together with music and make a programme really come to life, I think that's what I really love about it.”

- David Cherry (Foley artist and dubbing mixer)

Where a career as a Foley artist/dubbing mixer can take you

First and foremost, the roles of Foley artist and dubbing mixer are firmly rooted in the world of film and television. For a lot of people that aspire to work in either of these roles, it’s this industry that calls to them. That being said, both roles can open doors into industries beyond film and television.

Both Foley artists and dubbing mixers can find work in broadcasting where programmes such as audio documentaries or dramatised plays require the expertise of both real-world sounds and post-production mixing.

Foley artists can branch out into the world of video games, though it’s more common that they would take on the role as the sound designer, producing both real-world and synthesised sounds. As video games are a non-linear medium, the mixing of sound effects, Foley and music is controlled by in-game systems and adapts to player states, so the role of dubbing mixer doesn’t directly translate to this industry.

Other considerations

Like most roles in the creative industries, it’s highly competitive and it takes time and hard work to find your way in, but it’s totally achievable if you’re driven and dedicated to making it happen.

It’s rare for Foley artists to be on permanent fixed contracts and professionals are predominantly independent. The same can be said for dubbing mixers, though the variety of the work means that contracted positions are more abundant compared to Foley.

With this in mind, there are several pros and cons to be aware of. You’ll need to negotiate your fee for each job and knowing your worth and asking for it can be uncomfortable for some, especially in the early days of your career. Benefits such as sick leave and holiday pay won’t exist if you’re self-employed, however the lack of a permanent contract does bring freedom and flexibility to the projects and people you work with.

We should mention that if you’re looking to go freelance then you need you to have a suitable space to produce your work. While remote working is absolutely possible, having a dedicated and treated space to record and mix audio is a must to achieve the quality that’s expected outside of a professional studio. Freelance Foley artists will predominantly work in a dedicated space at the respective post-production house per project.

If you’ve read any of our other career spotlights, particularly around sound for media, you’ll already know that sound is usually way down the list in terms of priorities. This means tight deadlines and sometimes tight budgets. Both Foley and dubbing are late stage tasks in the overall production cycle, so being able to understand those time pressures and work to them is key to succeeding in this line of work.

Leslie Gaston-Bird (Dubbing Mixer, Author and Lecturer) Sitting in mixing suite
“Usually the mixer has the least amount of time because everybody's pushing everything to the end. I can't do my job effectively unless the picture’s done. So the picture has to be done and of course the picture and visual effects team always need more time. So you get to the end of the project and it's like okay, you’ve got a week!”

Leslie Gaston-Bird (Dubbing Mixer, Author and Lecturer)

Who is this role suited to?

Foley artists/dubbing mixers tend to have distinct personalities, interests and skillsets. You may be cut out for this role if…

You are:

Detail-oriented - A keen attention to detail is so important, whether that’s ensuring you’ve recorded every necessary Foley sound or keeping track of all the separate stems in a mix.  

Energetic - The work of a Foley artist is extremely physical and when you’re working to a tight deadline, recording sessions can be relentless.

Pragmatic - When you’re working to tight deadlines and the desires of a director, there’s no room for error, so being able to prioritise your tasks and manage your workload calmly is essential.

You like:

Sound - This always pops up, but a love of sound is so important to both of these roles. If you don’t love the sounds of the world and the art of transforming them into an immersive experience then this isn’t the role for you.

Problem solving - Things will go wrong and most of the time, it’s on you to figure out the solution so it pays to be the type of person that likes a challenge and can solve problems creatively.

Working independently and as part of a team - Both roles will see you working by yourself and with others, so it’s important that you are self-directed but also personable and happy to collaborate.

You're good at:

Listening - Really hearing sound, understanding its characteristics and how it behaves with other sound sources will result in much more immersive and impressive works.

Interpreting someone’s creative vision - The director or creative lead on a project will have a clear view of the final product and you need to be able to not only understand what they’re after, but also be ready to bring new ideas to the table.

Audio recording, production and mixing - Understanding how to capture, produce and mix audio to high standard is at the heart of both of these roles, so make sure you know your stuff.

How do you become a Foley artist/dubbing mixer?

While both Foley artist and dubbing mixer are popular roles in the audio industry, the way in which you can become one changes from person to person. However, one common thread amongst all professionals in these roles is an expertise in audio.

We’ve touched upon it briefly, but the more you know about audio, the better your chances are for breaking into this industry. Possessing the skills to record to a high standard, synthesise sound from scratch and adeptly mix, preferably using Pro Tools or Nuendo, is going to play a key role in finding work.

There’s always the opportunity to intern, but these positions are incredibly competitive and rarely paid, so both luck and no small amount of financial security are needed to be able to gain this experience.

More than ever, we can’t overstate the benefits of formal education should this be an area you wish to pursue. There’s a lot you can gain by being self-taught, but learning from experienced tutors using industry-standard equipment will expedite your progress into the industry.

Your next steps

Tips from the top

Tom Edwards (Dubbing mixer, Founder of Windwhistle Studio and dBs alumnus)
“Be patient. When I started, I worked for free. I just used to go down and volunteer and sit in, learning equipment all day. And eventually, over time as you develop your portfolio and your CV and your skills you will get that paid gig. Just keep going.”

- Tom Edwards (Dubbing mixer, Founder of Windwhistle Studio and dBs alumnus)

Portrait of David Cherry
“When you do get into these places, don't go in there like a bull in a china shop and start trying to really prove yourself. You've just got to go in there calmly and show that you're really interested in the work and show that you're keen and that you can fit in and gradually just let them know what you're interested in. ‘I’m really interested in Foley or voiceover, so when your next voiceover comes in, can I sit in with you?’ Just keep learning.”

- David Cherry (Foley artist and dubbing mixer)

Portrait of Leslie Gaston-Bird
“Listen; and listen someplace good. I went to Empire Leicester Square and watched ‘Frozen 2’. That was freaking awesome! It doesn't have to be high art - I mean, ‘Frozen 2’ was art. It doesn't have to be Film Noir or whatever. The rock people in ‘Frozen 2’, the giant stone people – the sound design for that. Holy crud! But don't listen on ear buds. Go to the cinema and watch these movies; find the best theatre you can with the best sound.”

Leslie Gaston-Bird (Dubbing Mixer, Author and Lecturer)

Getting into Foley is relatively simple; you just need a mobile recorder  - a smartphone is perfectly functional for this - audio editing software, and video to work with (YouTube is a great source for this).

Dubbing mixing is a little different. Rather than trying to practise what would be considered a post-production mix, which would require sound effects, Foley, music, dialogue and picture, it’s better to just get to grips with the basics of audio production, something that we recommend for aspiring Foley artists, too.

If you have a computer, a pair of speakers/headphones and an internet connection you can download pretty much everything you need to get to grips with editing and mixing audio. Be sure to check out our guide to free music production resources, which contains free digital audio workstations and effects to download and practise with.

Once you’ve become familiar with your tools you can begin to experiment with reproducing a soundtrack for a trailer or short scene from a film/game/TV show. There are plenty of resources for sourcing sound effects, Foley and music (which we’ve listed at the end of this piece) which can then be mixed and placed over the original footage.

We’d be remiss to not signpost the importance of networking here as it really does increase your chances of finding opportunities. Attend film festivals and exhibitions and meet the people working in the industry.

Make sure to reach out to students, too! Regardless of whether you’re in education or not, student filmmakers are always on the lookout for audio operators and this is a great way to not only build your network but gain hands-on experience and credits.

Tom Edwards recoding overdubs
“I would say be open and willing, network. Go and make friends with people. Go to places not expecting to get any work or job, just try and hang out and learn skills and see. Things will happen over time.”

- Tom Edwards (Dubbing mixer, Founder of Windwhistle Studio and dBs alumnus)

How dBs can help

You can gain everything you need for these roles in a broad music production and sound engineering course, but as both interest and demand for audio professionals has grown within visual media, so too has the prevalence of niche courses around Foley or post-production. At dBs, our BA (Hons) Music and Sound for Film & TV degree is the most relevant pathway you can choose, exposing you to all facets of audio for screen through an array of different size projects. That being said, many of our other degree courses will equip you with the skills and knowledge to progress into these roles.


For those of you post-16 or coming back to education after taking a break, the Access to HE: Music Production diploma, provided by our education partner Access Creative College, will introduce you to the fundamentals of audio recording, production, mixing and a module on sound for visual media.

Useful Resources


Women in Audio by Leslie Gaston-Bird

The Foley Grail: The Art of Performing Sound for Film, Games, and Animation Paperback by Vanessa Theme Ament

The Sound Effects Bible: How to Create and Record Hollywood Style Sound Effects by Ric Viers

Dialogue Editing for Motion Pictures: A Guide to the Invisible Art by John Purcell

Pro Tools Surround Sound Mixing by Rich Tozzoli  


The best free resources for game audio and film composers

Mix Messiah Productions (Leslie Gaston-Bird)


The dBs Masterclass Series – Learn from a range of industry professionals

The Magic of Making Sound

Footsteps | Short Doc about a trio of Foley Artists and How Movie Sounds are Made

Roaring engines and slamming doors: A look at the work of a re-recording mixer

Film Sound Tutorials

“The dubbing mixer is one of the last people who has their hands on a film, they make sure that it sounds smooth, that the volume is right, and that by the time it gets to the listener, you have a consistent experience from the opening credits to the end credits.”
- Leslie Gaston-Bird (Dubbing Mixer, Author and Lecturer)
“I love the gadgets and the technology. I love meeting people. I love a bit of the glamour that does come with it. Overall it’s great fun and what I love most about it is when you've delivered your product and the client’s happy and you know you've done your best, you get to do it all again the next day.”
- Tom Edwards (Dubbing mixer, Founder of Windwhistle Studio and dBs alumnus)