The Strange and Unusual Methods Movie Sound Effects are Made

The sounds that are added to movies, TV and radio often have unusual origins that can range from from everyday objects to manipulated animal voices.  Foley is the process of adding sounds to films, television and radio after they have been recorded.  The process was pioneered by Jack Foley in the silent film-era of the early 20th Century. The sound effects are artificial, created with props or sources that are often radically different to what appears on screen. In cinema, the sounds of monsters or futuristic technology, for instance, have been created using everything from envelopes to breeze blocks and biplane motors.

You might think that in today’s futuristic era of movie making that sounds would be produced by computer.  While that certainly does happen, and the use of keyboards and other types of sound production devices occurs, sometimes it’s the simple crinkling of bag of potato chips that can represent a bone shattering.   In order to fill you in on some of the actual objects used in the Foley process, we located 12 different and unique methods of sound production.  Here they are:

  • In order to make the sound of snow being crunched under shoes, a leather pouch filled with corn starch is often used.
  • Balled up audio tape is used to emulate the sound of people walking on grass.
  • In order to achieve a good bone crunching or head squishing noise, frozen romaine lettuce is often used. Walnuts are also a good option.
  • Branches swatted quickly in the air are used for that nice ‘whoosh’ sound.
  • The sound of the Balrog waking up and making it’s way towards Gandalf and company in “The Fellowship of the Ring” was made by slowly dragging a cinder block across a wooden surface.
  • To make the noise of fictional monsters, animal roars are often meshed together and slowed down.
  • The iconic sound of a lightsaber is a combination of the hum of an old projector and the subtle buzz of a TV picture tube.
  • To make that sound of horses trotting along the road, recordings of coconuts being slapped against each other are often used.
  • Rubber gloves being shaken at a high speed almost perfectly emulates the sound of birds flapping their wings.
  • Cellophane being crunched up can be used to emulate the sound of a crackling fire.
  • To emulate the sound of a body being punched, rolled up and taped phone books are often used.
  • Full stalks of celery are used to emulate the sound of bones breaking. They simply break them in half into the mic.

Thanks to The Chive for sourcing these methods


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