Foley Theatre in a Box : Ten Acres of Sound

Committed Comix cover by Chris Welch Committed Comix cover by Chris Welch

Foley Theatre is an irreverent and improvisatory approach to Foley sound making for graphic novels. This will take the form of “Foley Theatre in a Box” which participants use to record their own sound scores. In relay style, this is then passed on to the next participants, who repeat the process. The end result is a collage of sounds recorded in relay at different locations.

Everything required to make the recordings will be packaged up and each participant will be tasked with recording a number of sound elements to accompany selected short graphic novels as well as documenting the process. Clear instructions and equipment provided! Estimated time for the recording session is between 1 and 2 hours. You will then be asked to deliver the Foley Orchestra to the next participant. If this requires a visit to the post office suitable stampage will be provided.

The graphics we’ll be focusing on are a selection from comix printed at Artslab in the 70s by the publisher Ar:zak. At this time Birmingham was one of the key locations for underground zine and comic printing and publishing with the first ever UK underground comix convention happening here in 1976. Expect teacher androids gone rogue and beautifully poetic space exploration. There’s a good blog about this period in time and space here.

After all recordings have been made, and “Foley Theatre in a Box” returns to Artefact, I will spend a manic weekend editing together all the sounds and graphics into 2 videos which will be presented at Stirchley Reading Room the following week.

*cover artwork above by Chris Welch (left) and Suzy Varty (right)

Hello Foley Theatre participants!

Thank you for enrolling on the Foley Theatre in a Box workshop at 10 Acres of Sound 2020! The box is starting it’s travels on th 12th of September and will continue until the festival week itself.

This is of course an exceptional time to be running and participating in a festival, so your willingness to be involved is much appreciated. The 10 Acres of Sound team will be putting together a schedule for the workshop sessions and transport of the box, you should receive detailed info from them about this. These are the instructions for completing the workshop in your own home, please participate as an individual, with friends or with family. You should allow 2 hours to complete the workshop, longer is of course allowed.

If you need any help with the instructions (sorry, I know they’re quite long), or if there are any technical issues please call or message me on the contact number or email provided.

After all participants have completed their recordings I will edit them together into soundtracks for the comics we’ve worked with. This will be presented in video format as part of the 10 Acres of Sound post festival exhibition along with the comics themselves and some documentation from the sessions.

Thanks again and please enjoy your noise making fun!


You can get in touch with me via phone / Whatsapp / Telegram or Email with any questions. Please send the requested documentation via these channels too. My email is contact[at], phone number will be provided seperately.

Foley Theatre Instructions

The Foley Theatre in a Box will contain the following items:

  • ZOOM h1n recorder with stand, power supply & spare batteries
  • headphones
  • microphone cover
  • 2 x comic strip photocopies
  • colored pens
  • diverse Foley sound objects
  • hand sanitizer (please use before and after the session, thanks)

Set up the ZOOM recorder as in the instructions below.

If everything seems in order then follow these instructions to begin creating your Foley recordings:

1) You will find 2 comics in the box, pick one to start with and read through it. Imagine what sounds are happening in the images you see. These could be things explicitly depicted, or they might be things out of frame. You may imagine atmospheric or soundtrack audio which spans several comic frames, or sounds concretely linked with discrete actions.

2) Choose one of these sounds and using the colored pens provided, draw it onto the comic where it occurs. This can be a visual representation of the sound, or a text description.

Drawing instructions Drawing instructions

3) Experimenting with the objects provided, try to create the sound you are imagining. This will be a trial and error process, many objects can create unusual sounds unrelated to their actual function. Think about the properties of the sound you are searching for. Is it smooth or rough, continuous or sudden, high or low pitched, is it made up of several different parts or just one clear element? You may need to combine different objects to make the sound you are after. Try putting on the headphones and listening to objects when held close to the recorder, it’s possible to capture unexpected results when listening up close. There will also be many objects around your home which may be useful for sound making. Some food items (which I unfortunateky couldn’t include) make good crunching and cracking sounds (carrots, cellery, cabbage etc..).

ZOOM recorder instructions ZOOM recorder instructions ZOOM recorder instructions

4) When you have a method for creating the sound you should practice it a few times until you’re confident in reproducing it. Now you need to record it following these steps:

  • position the recorder near to the sound source
  • put the headphones on
  • check levels, if the audio sounds distorted or the peak meter flashes you should turn down the input volume a little
  • press record!
  • say your name, location, what sound you are recording and where it relates to the comic
  • perform your sound
  • stop recording

If you aren’t happy with the recording, just record once more following the previous steps, no need to delete anything.

5) Repeat steps 2 - 4 choosing a different sound to annotate and recording each time. Make between 5 and 10 sounds for each comic.

6) Along side doing the recordings, please take some documentation of yourselves in action. Some photos and/or short videos would be great. You can send them to by email or phone. This documentation may eventually be included in the final video or other public channels, so only send things if you are happy with this.


Heroine by Suzy Varty

Heröine, March issue 1978
designed by AR:ZAK
printed and published by ARTS LAB PRESS
11, Gosta Green, Birmingham


The Legend of Bigfoot by Steve Bell

Committed Comix, 1977
printed and published by AR:ZAK the ARTS LAB PRESS
11, Gosta Green, Birmingham


ZOOM recorder instructions

The ZOOM recorder is a popular device for recording good quality audio. Don’t worry if you’ve not used one before, the steps below outline how it should be used.

ZOOM recorder instructions

1) Remove the ZOOM recorder from it’s box and attach the screw on stand

2) Choose one of the colourful mic protectors and place over the microphone. This is to protect against wind and breath which can cause distortion, and also for hygine reasons. Once you’ve finished the workshop this can be discarded.

ZOOM recorder instructions ZOOM recorder instructions

3) Insert headphones into the output jack socket (don’t put them on yet).

ZOOM recorder instructions

4) Attach the microphone stand to a secure table where you will be recording your sounds. Screw the stand attachment into the bottom of the zoom recorder and insert the mic stand.

ZOOM recorder instructions ZOOM recorder instructions ZOOM recorder instructions ZOOM recorder instructions

5) If you can, plug in the recorder to a power supply, otherwise use the batteries provided. Switch on the recorder. When it has powered up, click or rub your fingers close to the microphone, you should see the level meter move up and down. If it is constantly at the top of the meter, or the peak meter is flashing then turn down the input volume a bit. Repeat until the peak meter doesn’t light anymore. We want the volume level to be in the middle, not too low so it’s very quite, but also not too loud so that we hear distored sound.

6) Put the headphones on and check you can hear audio coming through the device.

7) To record, simple press the record button on the front. When you want to stop, press it again.

8) To listen back to your recording press the play/pause button to start and stop playback. For repeated listening press the back button.

Finally :-}

Well done!!! I hope you’ve had fun and made lot’s of noise.

Now all that’s left to do is pack up the box (good luck!) and pass it on to the next participant. The Artefact team will have been in touch to tell you how this will work. At the end of the relay all recordings will be sent back to me (Sam) and I will edit them together along with footage of the comics, into a video work. This will be presented as part of the 10 Acres of Sound post festival exhibition at Stirchley Reading Room along with the comics themselves and some documentation from the sessions.

Thank you!