Did you know that the sounds captured on the set of Fast & Furious aren’t necessarily the same sounds that end up on film? Foley, named for the technique’s inventor, Jack Foley, is the term used for a soundtrack or tracks that are added after the film is shot, during post-production, or just post. This is especially true for car movies, where most of the action is shot outside in an environment full of noise pollution. Formosa Group is a studio in Los Angeles—HOT ROD visited the Santa Monica location—that adds the vehicle noises to films you are familiar with. If you have seen Mad Max: Fury Road, the John Wick movies, or anything from the Fast & Furious franchise, you have seen, or more accurately heard, their work.
Their most recent car-guy–oriented movie is Hobbs & Shaw, a F&F spinoff that is loaded with Dwayne Johnson– and Jason Statham–level car abuse. To add as much authenticity as possible, the team at Formosa Group tries to use the actual cars used in the shoot, or a car of the same general make and model. Short of that, they might use a track from an existing sound library or even create the sounds in the studio. The creation of the soundtrack takes anywhere from 7 to 13 months recording two cars per day. The recordings are done off set, at a remote site far away from exterior noises or traffic; not easy in a city like Los Angeles. Vehicle sounds in the library can come from anywhere, natural sounds, artificial sounds created using non-automotive props, or sometimes unique motor and chassis combinations are sourced online.
We had the opportunity to spend a Friday with part of the crew from the Hobbs & Shaw production. Mark Stoeckinger, Paul Aulicino, and Charlie Campagna were willing to show us how the process works. We pulled Project X, our beloved 1957 Chevy, out of the HOT ROD garage to use as a movie prop, had the guys record its sounds on location, then went back to the studio to lay them on some Volkswagen SUV b-roll. The VW four-door utility blob never sounded better.