NUTS’ foley artist Almut Schwacke loves the art of manual sound design

June 19, 2021
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Noodlecake Studios’ squirrel surveillance game NUTS stands out in particular for its exemplary art style and the way it sounds – no other game gave me the feeling of being in a forest quite like it. The latter aspect is courtesy of Almut Schwacke. Among her many skills – she’s a composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, sound designer and sound editor – I took a particular interest in foley design. Foley design is not a discipline many of us are familiar with, but it’s an integral part of sound design.

Schwacke has worked on all things sound in films, TV adverts and games for over 14 years now, and you can find games such as Curious Expedition 1 and 2, Dead Island 2 and Anno 1800 on her resume. In NUTS, her wealth of talent is on full display – not only is it one of the most realistic-sounding virtual forests I’ve come across in a long time, Swacke also plays the role of your boss Nina, composed the music and performs the ending theme. It was on Schwacke’s website that I came across the term foley artist first, neatly separated from sound design work – but why?

According to Schwacke, the term foley artist originated from film. In the era following silent film, sounds were added the same way as music, by artists performing live to the moving picture. Nowadays, that approach isn’t as viable anymore, and so we have foley artists matching exactly what you see on screen, as well as sound designers who don’t necessarily approach their work as a live performance. This distinction lead to the two different fields of work.

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