Ideas to Create Unusual Sound Effects | #SoundDesign #GameAudio

You receive that email with a project idea. A crazy one, with creativity possibilities. You negotiate payment, dates…. you’re happy and glad you got such a creative job! But, you start to design the sound and you realise: “oh, man… for some of this sounds I have no idea what to do!”. We’ve all been there, it’s normal.

But, this post, from Epic Sound Blog, can save you from that creative blocking you’re having. Or, at least, give you a hand…

It’s a long article, called “The Guide To Sound Effects“, with tips and tricks on how record and create you own sound effects. From an airplane engine, to an ice volcano and sliding tentacles. Many, many ideas that you can use, blend with your own process or just get a starting point to create things your way.

I have selected some that I liked most (or were just really creative and funny…).

Bats flying

I used an umbrella opening and closing rapidly for the sound of bats flying one time… turned out great. I think I had to filter out some of the low frequency material, though.
-Tim Clarkebats

Blow to the head

Now I’ve heard, (and I’m not saying it’s true but…) if you get a water melon, stick cream crackers to it (Jacob’s or Sainsbury’s own) and then whack it with a hammer/axe it sounds very much like you would expect a similar type blow to the head. You can then bury the water melon under the patio and no-one need ever know.
– Nick Arundel

Car crashes

Actual car crashes sound lots different than swinging & smashing cars with hammers & such, because of the mass involved. When you run a 1 ton object into a concrete wall, the huge energy dispersion that takes place actually does translate into the audio, most notably in the initial transient. There’s not a ton of debris flying around in an actual wreck. We had to Foley the debris ourselves, and we did it on-site, using all kinds of car parts dropped from various heights onto various surfaces.

Most times, a lower speed collision will actually sound more violent than a high speed collision, because you can hear the car material “crumple” a bit, whereas in a high speed (70 mph +), the car gets pancaked so fast, that you get a big ol’ transient, but not a lot of “detail”, if you will.

Anyway, if I were trying to Foley an actual crash on a budget, I’d figure out a way to smash something with a lot of mass into an actual junked out car. Maybe just dropping a wrecking ball on it might do the trick, if you can talk the junkyard guy into it!
– Mike Carviezel

Dragon roars

A very basic approach to a dragon roar would be to experiment with a pitched-down human scream (add treble when pitch-shifting), combined with roars from animals such as walruses, lions etc (you can experiment with the pitch on these ones as well).
– David Filskov

I used a plastic patio table, dragged it long and short across the cement, played with the EQ and pitch and got some very interesting roars.
– Miguel Hilao

Innards of alien

For more subtle “Bloke examining innards of alien” effect, close-up mic work on your mouth, open and close mouth slowly whilst slowly taking tongue away from roof of mouth – sounds creepy as hell.
– Tim Wright

Rat shrieks

Pitched-up chickens.
– Ben Burtt

Up-pitched kittens. Especially the screechy ones.
– Gustaf Grefberg

UnknownRoaring animal

If you want to simulate the roar of an animal, an angry tiger or lion for example, take a corrugated cardboard box, place two condenser mics (one outside the box, recording overall and the second facing the surface from the inside, to catch the resonance of the space), take a pen and start drawing the surface of the box!

You’ll notice that depending on how you pressure the pen, the roar becomes more severe, more intense. Of course, you can experiment and change any of the variables mentioned it above, as for example: The size of the box, mic types and placement, writing tool (pen, pencil, marker ) e.t.c. Here’s an example.
– Kostas Loukovikas

Sea shore

I heard that pouring a fizzy drink onto tarmac or any floor is supposed to be very good for sea, or that’s what they used in jaws anyway.
– Matt Sugden

Space door opening

Put a piece of paper in an envelope and slide it out. I believe that’s what they used in Star Wars.
– Phlum

Walking, robotic hydraulics / footstepsls3

Photocopier sounds are good for robotic hydraulics/footsteps.
– Paul Arnold

Close mic a DVD player door closing, it will give you a motorised sound ending with a thud. You can then mix in the sounds of the surface the robot is walking on, e.g. cornstarch for snow etc.
– Ian Brooker


Try turning a bicycle upside down (a touring model rather than a mountain bike… the tires are smoother). Spin the tire and press a piece of stretched silk/parachute-pants/winter-parka against it. Out comes wind in the form of a modulating white/pink noise. You could also run a white/pink noise signal through a low pass filter and automate the cutoff frequency (and resonance). The other method will probably yield results with more character and natural variation. Digital methods tends to sound static. (Lame pun intended…)
– Sam Watson

I was trying to take the air out of a large ziploc (laying flat on the counter) at home and noticed how much it sounded like the cold howling wind you hear in the winter. I can’t say how much of the bag was closed but you can always experiment.
– Chris Leblanc

Well, these are just a few of the ideas there… really, there are a lot of cool stuff you can use for sound design and foley.

Hope this was helpful 🙂

Mauricio Ruiz –

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