How Sound Effects Are Made

Sound Effects
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Have you ever wondered how on earth did movies can record every sound so clearly as if they were shooting in a closed studio all the time? Well, it turns out that the sounds in movies were not necessarily recorded on set.

Take recording footsteps for example. Getting the microphones too close will make them show up in the scene. Closing doors also don’t make sound quite as crisp and loud as they appear in the movies.

The people who are responsible for recreating sound effects in movies are called Foley artists. They use physical props to create audio effects that are too troublesome to record during the shooting.

If you want to recreate sounds either for fun or profit, here are pointers and guides on how some common sound effects are made.


How Are Sound Effects Made?

Wing Flaps

Gloves are perfect for simulating flapping sounds. Either fleece, suede, or leather gloves work well. For one big flap, such as the one an eagle makes, use an umbrella. Opening and closing an umbrella quickly also simulates bat wing flapping quite nicely.



Want to make fighting scenes more realistic? Visit your local butcher and buy the biggest cut of meat there. Use a baseball bat to beat that cut for a good punching sound. Break chicken thighbones to add more brutality to it.

Too troublesome? Try whacking a rolled up newspaper with a wooden stick. It comes pretty close to punching sound.



To make a storm, all you need is a 4” pipe, clear packing tape, and long steel spring. Cover one end of the pipe with the tape to create a membrane. Attach the steel spring on the membrane, and shake the whole thing.

Experiment with pipes made of various material as well as spring length. It’s fun.


Rolling Boulders

A car rolling down the hill with its engine off gives similar sound characteristics with a rolling boulder. If you can’t find a car to spare, use a heave lawn roller.



The iconic hum of a lightsaber is actually the feedback noise from a CRT TV. The sound designer for Star Wars, Ben Burtt, discovered it by accident. He then combined it with the buzzing noise from an old 35 mm projector.


Armies Marching

No, you don’t need to record a bunch of people walking in an orderly fashion to simulate a march. Jingling a stack of keys over a microphone gives that metallic sound you would expect from a horde of soldiers in armor.



Thankfully, the world is still filled with various animals making noises of different pitch and intensity. Follow the lead of Jurassic Park’s sound engineer who spends hours recording various animals making all kinds of noises. The T-Rex, for instance, used sounds from tigers, lions, and gators. The Raptors bark? That was the sound of tortoises mating.

Of course, there were plenty of digital tweaking involved to get the voice right, but you have to admit, it sounded really organic and convincing.


By the way, if you enjoy mixing and matching sounds, you should try the mixer at Mix various sound effects to create a complete ambient music. Share your work and see how many people share your artistic taste in ambient sounds.


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