How to create sound effects?

Community Forums/Developer Stations/How to create sound effects?

slenkar(Posted 2004) [#1]
How do you create futuristic sound FX, lasers,beeps,mechanical noises, etc, etc.

IPete2(Posted 2004) [#2]
With a little bit of imagination - it is a matter of taking time to find out what you want and then doing stuff to match.

Analogue synths are good - but may be in sort supply.

I find objects around the house can produce some excellent sounds - especially if you process them with echo and/or reverb.

Sometimes I just use my mouth and make a sound like I need then process it and speed it up or slow it down.

For mechanical things you need metal or stone or glass objects.


podperson(Posted 2004) [#3]
Random suggestions based on long experience desperately hunting up sound effects at the last minute for many, many projects.

First: if your project is at all professional, consider going to a professional audio studio. They can do amazing work for surprisingly little money. They have huge libraries of sound effects. It's AMAZING how much difference just getting (say) a pro voice over person and some decent sound engineering can make to a project. I've done the entire audio for moderately large projects with less than a day of studio time, which -- in the scheme of things -- is not much money.

I'd suggest you get yourself a copy of Audacity (very decent free sound sampler / editor).

You need a decent microphone. Also, you'll need a quiet place to record -- and anywhere with a PC won't be quiet enough (PC fans are surprisingly loud, for starters). Ideally you'll want a good tape recorder. A DV camcorder makes a great tape recorder in a pinch (they record digitally at CD quality).

As with digital photography, audio is a "garbage in, garbage out" business ... only MORE so. You want sound samples as clean as possible going in, or your end product will sound like crap.

Good places to record stuff:

Quiet bedrooms with PCs and other noisy junk turned off.

Bathrooms. Toilets. (Expect echos.) A lot of splash and "dripping cave" sounds are recorded in toilet bowls.

Outdoors if you're careful.

To give you some ideas:

The TIE fighter sound effect (the whine as they fly by) is a recording of an elephant, stretched and distorted.

Bags of rocks, gravel, beads, etc. can be used to make footstep sounds on different surfaces.

Grab a bunch of things you can rub against each other and bang against each other (different bits of metal, cloth, wood). Record them and then try changing playback speed (and hence frequency).

Upsampling -- playing something at higher speed than it was recorded -- makes higher pitched sounds that seem to be coming from smaller, faster sources. Downsampling has the reverse effect. Modern audio packages allow you to alter the pitch of a sample without changing its duration by using digital signal processing techniques.

If you make sound effects with your mouth, you'll be surprised how good they can be if you experiment with them a while -- try NOT to use your voice, just your lips and tongue. Vocalised sounds tend to sound fake, on the other hand you can make remarkably realistic sounding explosions with a bit of saliva in your mouth :)

Echo, reverb, white noise, and EQ are your friends. A sound that seems corny at normal speed can sound fantastic at half speed with some echo and noise mixed in.

If you really get into sound effects you may find it useful to get a good quality pocket tape recorder and carry it with you everywhere.

jhocking(Posted 2004) [#4]
I second the recommendation of Audacity. You might also want to grab Fruityloops (or FL Studio as it is now called;) besides being a good entry-level music creation tool, it has all kinds of funky electronic noises.

slenkar(Posted 2004) [#5]
thanks for your help everyone, looks like Ill have to download audacity again,
that was an interesting bit of info about the TIE fighter noise.
I wonder how they created the sound FX for laser guns in star wars?

BHoltzman(Posted 2004) [#6]
Try Buzz Modular Synth. It's very good and it's free! You'll be able to have access to a LARGE free public library of what they call 'machines'.

Cold Harbour(Posted 2004) [#7]
I used to use (when I wrote games) SimSynth. The old freeware version not the newer version.

It looks a bit crap and isn't realtime (you have to render the wav first) but it is by far the best thing ever for creating lasers, bangs, bleeps, bloops etc.

Especially if you can get a cheap version of CoolEdit Pro to do some outboard fx.

MadJack(Posted 2004) [#8]
Goldwave is another option for digital processing - shareware, although no time limit, and comes with a good selection of fx plugins.

Smarti(Posted 2004) [#9]
The laser FX in Star Wars were recordings of a high tension cable struck with a metal object.

I find the E-Jay products useful for creating sound effects, especially distorted speech. I prefer Techno E-Jay 2 for that. But there are many budget priced music creation packages around and most include some kind of sample editing/effects functions.

For creating RoboCop 'you have twenty seconds to comply' type speech: Record your normal voice and then lower the pitch. Add a bit of distortion, echo etc, and you won't notice the Welsh accent.

The thing about recording your own voice is practice. The more you do it the better the results. To start with you'll be self conscious and that comes out in the recording.