Sound Effects 101: How to Create Audio That Sells
Sound effects are the unsung heroes of entertainment, the unseen ninjas, the masked vigilantes of movie. They're the ones who make us jump when a door creaks in a horror movie, or who convince us that superheroes can fly, even if we all know the only thing lifted is our suspension of disbelief.
And if you're an audiophile who's always wanted to know how to make sound effects that could sell sand in the Sahara or ice to the Eskimos, then stay around. We're going to embark on an adventure into the humorous, strange, and fascinating world of Foley creativity.
The Birth of Foley or the Sound of a Cracking Whip
First and foremost, there is Foley. No, it's not a high-priced cheese or an arcane gardening word. Foley is the replication of common sound effects that are applied in post-production to film, video, and other media. This gentleman, named after the man who began it all, Jack Donovan Foley, can make two coconuts sound like a horse galloping. What a clever party trick!
Discover Your Inner Sound Ninja
Creating good sound effects is like to being a skilled chef. You're combining noises instead of tastes. You may also use celery instead of a knife. Yes, celery, you heard correctly. Have you ever wondered how sound designers make the crunching, squelching sounds of a zombie feast? Let's just say that the next time you create a salad, you'll see celery in a whole new light.
The Tools of the Trade, or How to Make a Cantaloupe Terrify
The secret to creating sellable sound effects is to think outside the box, or rather, outside the sound booth. Do you want to produce a bone-crushing noise? Do not initiate a bar brawl. Break up a bunch of celery. Do you need the sound of a corpse falling from a tremendous height? Throw a watermelon from your balcony. Just remember to first warn your neighbors.
The Consequences of Silence (and Other Lies)
In truth, quiet is the deadliest adversary of a sound designer. There's a deceptive layer of ambient noise even in the quietest of situations. Have you ever noticed how "silent" movie moments may nonetheless make you feel... something? That's because they're blended with subtle, ambient noises like an owl's distant hoot, the delicate rustling of foliage, or your movie partner's faint snores who pledged not to fall asleep halfway through.
Timing, Tone, and Tacos are the Three T's.
Timing, Tone, and Tacos are the three T's of sound effects. Tacos, indeed. Please bear with me here.
The importance of timing cannot be overstated. If your character enters a door and then hears a creaking sound, your audience will be too busy giggling to be terrified. Tone is also important. Depending on the tone, the same 'BOOM' sound may be a cannon launching, a door slamming, or a severe stomach pain.
Now, let's talk about tacos. You may be wondering what tacos have to do with sound effects. It all comes down to creativity. Creating sound effects, like preparing tacos, is all about experimenting with various ingredients. And, just as you may discover that pineapple tastes great in a taco, you may discover that crumpling tin foil sounds exactly like a fire crackling.
Sell the Sizzle as well as the Steak.
Finally, in order to produce audio that sells, you must sell both the steak and the sizzle. This ancient adage suggests that you must sell more than just the goods (the pictures) your film or video, but also the experience (the sound). A spectator must hear the buzz of the engines, the beeps of the control panel, and the whoosh of the doors in addition to seeing the spacecraft. This is the sizzle. That is what causes your audience to exclaim, "Shut up and take my money!"
The Encore: Finale and Mic Drop
Making sound effects is similar to pulling a joke. It's all about convincing the audience that something is genuine when it isn't. It's about being so excellent that people don't see (or rather, don't hear) it coming.
To generate sellable sound effects, you must think like a Foley artist. You must perceive the possibilities in common items such as celery and tin foil. You must learn the technique of sound layering, and you must remember the three T's: Timing, Tone, and Tacos.
Sound effects are the entertainment industry's secret sauce, the unsung heroes who may make or break an experience. And now that you've read this tutorial, you're ready to dive into the realm of sound design and produce music that not only sizzles, but sells.
So, whether you want to be the next Spielberg or just add some flair to your YouTube videos, remember that every sound tells a story. Now go ahead and create a commotion!
If your neighbors complain about unusual noises emanating from your place at odd hours, just explain that you're practicing your Foley. They'll be either fascinated or afraid. In any case, they are unlikely to urge you to be quiet. Isn't that the true dream?