Sound Effects in Films

With courses in both Film & TV Production, and Audio Engineering & Sound Production, we have a vast knowledge about using sound in film. 

What are Foley artists?
Foley artists are the people who create the sounds in a movie that aren’t dialogue. For example, the sound of E.T. walking was made by someone squishing her hands in jelly. Foley is so important in creating the emotion and feel of a scene. Check out the recent release of the film ‘Everest’ without the Foley – it sounds ridiculous!

Here are some other great ways that Foley artists created some of the most iconic sounds…

Star Wars;
One of the most praised sound designers in film, Ben Burtt designed the sound of the lightsaber by taking two idling movie projector interlock motors. ‘The motors made a musical "hum" which I felt immediately would complement the image in the painting. I recorded that motor, and a few days later I had a broken microphone cable that caused my recorder to accidentally pick up the buzz from the back of my TV picture tube. I recorded that buzz, and mixed it with the hum of the projector motor. Together these sounds became the basis for all the lightsabers." An that ladies and gentlemen is how you get one of the most iconic sounds in film. 
Terminator 2;
In Robert Patrick’s T-1000 prison break scene, the robot walks straight through the jail bars with a slurpy metallic sound. According to Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom, the effect was achieved by a simple solution from the sound of dog food being slowly sucked out of the can.

In the famous Alfred Hitchcock Psycho Shower scene, it simply took plunging a knife into a Casaba melon to create the sound of the knife entering flesh. 

Indiana Jones;
The famous boulder chase scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as entertaining and realistic sounding as it is, was actually just the sound editor's Honda Civic rolling down the driveway.

Jurassic Park;

As no-one could really know how a long-exctinct creatures rawr may sound,
sound-designer Gary Rydstrom combined sounds from several present-day animals to bring the T-Rex to life – for example, a whale’s blow was used as the T-Rex’s breathing, while animals like a baby elephant, tiger and alligator worked together to build his roar. My favourite effect? The Tyrannosaur attacking the unsuspecting Gallimimus was actually from a dog chomping on a toy. Imaginative.

In M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs, the audience doesn’t see the aliens in until the very end of the film. However, they do hear them walking outside the characters’ house. So sound designer Richard King goat and horse legs from a taxidermist and recorded his team “walking” the legs around on the set to create the weird and creepy sound we know today. “We wanted it to sound solid, not fleshy, but organic.”

The Exorcist
The sound that has stopped many movie- goers from sleeping at night was the work of Gonzalo Gavira. The scene where Regan's head turns 360 degrees was actually created by twisting a leather wallet.

We've also added some of our own helpful sound effects;
  • To make the sound of hail, simply pour rice onto paper
  • To make it sound like rain, pour salt on paper
  • For the sound of wind, scrape canvas across wood
  • A half empty bottle rolled along a floor makes the sound of tires going around a corner
Find out more about our Film & TV Production Course, or our Audio Engineering & Sound Production Course. 

Other Articles you may be interested in: