Archive for the Movies Category

Favorite Sound Effects

Posted in Movies on June 27, 2009 by conorsound

Favorite Sound Effects (SFX)

In no particular order, here’s my list of favorite sound effects in movies

  • Aliens (Dir. James Cameron) – Guns

A lot of times library gun sfx are reused over and over again.  Custom sfx were made for this film. The pulse rifle, smart gun, grenade launcher, hand gun, and flame thrower all had their unique powerful, futuristic touch.


  • Jurassic Park (Dir. Steven Spielberg) – Raptor vocals

What do dinosaurs sound like?  This movie is a staple and model of what they should sound like.  My personal favorite is the Velociraptor (SHOUT OUT to the philosoraptor crew).  Not the biggest dinosaurs but the detail and variety of vocalizations that were created for the raptors made them menacing.  My favorite vocalization was from the shot below in the kitchen scene.


  • Ghostbusters (Dir. Ivan Reitman) – Proton Packs

This was definitely a childhood favorite.  I remember vocalizing the sounds of the stream with my toy proton pack.  Sophiscated work for a comedy.  It’s one of the best for a reason.


  • Barton Fink (Dir. Joel Coen) – Doors

Yes, you read correctly.  I’ll consider this one my pretentious pick.  I had never heard such creativity in a door sfx.  Most movie doors squeak and just sound too boring.  These doors have character that compliment the location of the musty-air hotel.


  • Robocop (Dir. Paul Verhoeven) – Footsteps

Another pretentious pick I suppose.  I never thought footsteps could reveal that much emotion/insight (or lack of) in a robot.  Did you?  Various kinds of footsteps are used for robocop to convey his transformation from robot back to his human conscience.  Also ED209 footsteps, very clunky and busy.  Sonically telling you that the model has manufacture flaws.  Here’s the classic scene where the robots battle it out.  I love the sounds of ED 209 at 1:49.  Also note that robocop footsteps are not as synthy and clean as when Robocop is first shown at the police station.

  • Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Dir. Steven Spielberg) – Punches

All right, back to childhood favorites.  Yay!  This goes for all the Indy movies, not just Raiders.  Same with guns, most punch sound effects can sound soooooo cheap and comical when they aren’t not supposed to be.  Ben Burtt of course is THE MAN.  The indy punch has great bite and yet doesn’t stand out.

Indiana punch

  • Terminator 2 (Dir. James Cameron) – Guns

Another kid favorite here.  My notable favorite gun sound is the grenade launcher (shown below). Especially the reloading of the launcher.  For some reason I find joy in hearing it, am I terrible person for saying that?

Terminator 2

  • Spaceballs (Dir. Mel Brooks) – Human Radar SFX

Thought I’d switch it up.  Sometimes sound effects in movies/shows call for humans to vocalize the desired sound effect.  Performed by the very talented Michael Winslow (known for his work in Police Academy).  Shows that sfx can be used for comical use.  This scene is extremely hard for me not to laugh at.

To finish off the entry, I’d thought I would post a compliation of The Wilhelm Scream.   The first time I heard was in Spaceballs oddly enough.  I always laugh when I hear it in more and more movies.  I have many more sfx favorites (especially from Star Wars); however, I wanted to keep this post short and sweet.  Plus everybody knows about Star Wars.  Anyways, enjoy this montage of the wilhelm scream.


Aguirre: The Wrath Of God – Opening Scene

Posted in Movies on April 21, 2009 by conorsound

.:. Dir. Werner Herzog – Opening Sc .:.


This movie is more known more for its’ cinematography and storytelling aspects: not sound.  After re-watching it, I got a better perspective on the soundtrack (I don’t mean just the music).  The opening scene caught my attention sonically.  Particularly the transition from the 1st scene to the next.

The opening scene is slow-paced, filled with beautiful wide shots of the Spanish conquistadors walking through rocky terrain.  There are only two things you hear during this scene: ominous music and a brief exposition voice-over.  The scene is about 5min in length.  A lot of detail was left out in this scene: foley and various background sounds.  Werner’s intention, in my opinion, was to romanticize the opening scenery and then pull a 180 by using sound as a transition into the film’s theme anarchy (and into the next scene).

The music drops out at the transition into the next scene.  You hear an, almost surreal sounding, explosion of a cannon as it collapses into a river.  Almost sounding like a lightning bolt.  This is the point of attack that wakes the audience from their stupor.  I noticed a variety of details (birds, dialogue, hogs, water flowing, and foley) were now present after the cannon explosion.  It went from a gentle dream state to a busy sounding “real life.”

The majority of movies have opening credits sequence (music montage) but do not use it as effectively as Herzog does in this movie.  Most movies it’s just assumed that there will be an unimportant, story wise, opening title sequence (union rules dictate the need for credits to be listed).  This shows that subtle choices in sound can have an effect on the story and audience as well.

The whole movie is on youtube now.  Watch and listen to the opening scene.

Selective Sound – LOTR: The Two Towers/The Dark Knight

Posted in Movies on April 11, 2009 by conorsound

– LOTR: The Two Towers/The Dark Knight –

Selective Editing and Mixing

This is discussed in the extended dvds (LOTR) I believe.  It’s an effective technique that numerous movies use.  The two that come to mind for me is LOTR: The Two Towers and The Dark Knight. Both happen to have won an Oscar for Best Sound Editing.  Both movies have a scene that drops out the majority of the audio for a short moment before a big impact: LOTR right when the orc sacrifices his body to ignite the bomb in the helms deep battle scene and the truck flip over in Dark Knight.

Nowadays with DAWs (digital audio workstations), you have unlimited tracks to work with.  You can add as many layers of sound effects as you want.  Most times its best not overwhelm the audience’s hears.  That’s why I think this technique is effective especially in these movies.  Both movies have numerous long action sequences overpowered with music and layers of sound effects.  The respective sound editors and re-recording mixers knew this.  They decided to drop the majority of audio not only to give our ears a break, but to make the impact (of the explosion or truck falling) that much “bigger.”  Our ears can only handle so much. In the Two Towers, you just hear the foosteps and the growl of the orc before the explosion even though there are tens of thousands of orcs and humans fighting in the environment.

Here are both audio clips:

Dark Knight Clip

LOTR: The Two Towers Clip