How to Design Supreme Sci-Fi Weapon SFX (via @asoundeffect) | #sounddesign #gameaudio

Guns, guns, guns… many of the successful indie and triple A games are gun based (or, at least, guns play a great role on them). And for us, sound designers, creating guns and shooting sounds are one of the most fun experiences there are.

A gun model from Unreal Tournament 2014 alpha (take from the original post)

A gun model from Unreal Tournament 2014 alpha (take from the original post)

That gets even more interesting when we’re talking about Sci-Fi weapons: they have unique (many times, not real) sounds, that gives us almost infinite creative possibilities. But how can we create them?

Well, the A Sound Effect blog did a great, great post about this. Called How To Design Supreme Sci-Fi Weapon Sound Effects, it gives us some insights and techniques on how to record, design, create and layer many different types of sounds to make a Sci-Fi weapon.

Two of the things that most interested me on this post was the detailed info and tips it gives us, like synths used to create futuristic sounds, useful plugins, etc; and the way it was written: step by step instructions on how to create all the necessary layers for a great Sci-Fi weapon sound.

The structure for designing almost any real gun can be summed up in the following main parts:

• Body – actual gunshot
• Mechanics layer — magazine, safety switch, scope, trigger and bolt action sounds
• Bass (Punch) — low-frequency layer to enhance a weapon

Despite seeming limited for our subject, such structure provides a good backbone for designing any futuristic gun. However, it can be expanded to a much wider list of possible elements to accommodate better realism and uniqueness.

Possible elements of a sci-fi weapon:

• Activation sensors (safety on/off) — scanning sounds, confirmation or denial sounds
• Retracting/unfolding sounds — metallic clicks, servos, electronic sounds
• Intelligent aiming system — scanning enemies through a visor/scope, zoom sounds, laser aiming
• Charging – often used for big, slow-firing guns
• Energy discharge — this is one of the key elements in a weapon. It can be any matter or a heavy projectile, depending on a concept, but the possibilities are truly endless. Dark matter, antigravity, electromagnetic discharge, electricity, fire, liquid nitrogen, cold plasma, slicing beams and many more
• Heat management — sounds of overheating, overloading upon discharge, failure
• Rotating barrels — speeding up, slowing down

See?! And this is just the beginning of the article.

So, to finish, I share here also a sound example present on the end of the post:

Here’s a breakdown of the individual sound components that went into designing a futuristic weapon sound effect.

0:01 bleeping layer
0:04 charging layer
0:07 main gunshot (made in Massive + overdrive and eq on it)
0:10 same gunshot with a bit of explosion mixed in
0:13 mechanical layer – simple trigger
0:15 bass (punch) layer – made by vocoding the main gunshot with an explosion sound
0:18 punch – a kick drum
0:21 another bass layer – derivative of the first one
0:24 all layers together
0:30 all layers + explosion added to a gunshot

Hope this helps you. It sure did helped me! 😀

If you have any other tips, or articles about his subject, please share on the comments section!

Mauricio Ruiz –

One thought on “How to Design Supreme Sci-Fi Weapon SFX (via @asoundeffect) | #sounddesign #gameaudio

  1. Pingback: The Sound of the Cinematic Overwatch Trailer (via @asoundeffect)| #sounddesign | Audio & Music

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