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The Secrets Behind 44 Classic Cinema Sound Effects

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The art of sound began in 1927, when Universal employee Jack Foley helped turn the film studio’s "silent” Show Boat into a full-on musical extravaganza. Because microphones could only pick up on dialogue, Foley had to add in the other sounds later. He projected the film onto a screen and recorded the footsteps, the movement, the props – all in one track. He walked with a cane to create the footsteps of three people. He acted out the film, all over again.

As it turned out, Foley gave his name to an industry of post-production sound design, where aural artists “footstep” every character just as Jack did (utilising wardrobes full of shoes). Vegetables are chopped, watermelons are smashed, coconut shells are clacked, cooked chickens are squished, keys are scraped and jangled: all in the service of replicating noises that couldn’t be recorded live, or don’t sound “right”, or creating sounds that don’t exist in the first place. The following are 44 of the most creative examples.

“Foley is an interesting world,” actor Toby Jones mused, coming off his character’s own off-kilter audio post-production experience on Berberian Sound Studio. “The disconnection between the effect you’re trying to generate and what’s causing it is often comical or disproportionate. The artificiality of a film’s production compared to something you’re hoping to show as ultra-real is fascinating...”

berberian sound studio melon

Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

Effect needed: Melon smashing
Actual sound: Wet cloth and bits of wood
Source: Spoiler Alert Radio

listen to ‘01 Berberian Sound Studio - Melon Smashing’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Since we’ve already mentioned it, let’s start with Berberian Sound Studio: a film revolving around the process of foley itself, in which foley is used to artificially create the sound of foley – it’s all terribly meta. In the movie we see foley artists smashing melons, but if you thought the sound effect was achieved by, well, smashing melons, you’d be wrong. “I tried to do something with melons,” says foley supervisor Heikki Kossi, “but it didn’t sound wet enough, so I just used a wet piece of cloth. Then I also wanted to hear some kind of cracking, crashing sound, so I just used a little piece of wood. Cracking that gave the right kind of violent feeling for what they were doing. For the sound of the very sharp knife I used a very good sounding knife that I have in my studio. There were all these layers to make the final sound.”

raiders of the lost ark boulder

Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Effect needed: Rolling boulder
Actual sound: Rolling car without a motor running

listen to ‘02 Raiders Of The Lost Ark - Rolling Boulder ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Sound effects man Richard Anderson explained that the monstrous boulder that Indiana Jones outruns at the start of Raiders rolled to the sound of rolling stock. "It was rolling a car without a motor, and also one of those big, heavy lawn rollers to make your lawn flat: rolling that down a hill.” Some of the truck sounds in the chase sequences, meanwhile, were augmented with tiger growls.

Star Wars (1977)
Effect needed: Blaster pistol
Actual sound: Steel cable

listen to ‘03 Star Wars - Blaster Pistol’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Ben Burtt achieved that “peeow” sound of the Star Wars series’ signature blaster guns by beating a cable with a hammer. Perhaps going beyond the call of duty, feeling that a studio lash-up wouldn’t quite cut the mustard, he found the specific sound he wanted by climbing a radio mast and pummelling its guide cables.

Star Wars (1977)
Effect needed: Lightsaber
Actual sound: Microphone feedback from a tube TV

listen to ‘04 Star Wars - Lightsaber’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();
“I was carrying a microphone across the room,” Ben Burtt explained, “and I passed a television set which was on the floor which was on at the time without the sound turned up, but the microphone passed right behind the picture tube and as it did, it produced an unusual hum. It picked up a transmission from the television set and a signal was induced into its sound reproducing mechanism, and that was a great buzz. So I took that buzz and recorded it and combined it with the projector motor sound and that 50/50 kind of combination of those two sounds became the basic lightsaber tone.”

To get the additional sense of movement as the characters swished and clashed the weapons, Burtt simply played his sound over a loudspeaker. “The humming and the buzzing combined as an endless sound, and then I took another microphone and waved in the air next to that speaker so that it would come close to the speaker and go away and you could whip it by, and what happens when you do that by recording with a moving microphone is you get a Doppler shift: a pitch shift in the sound and therefore you can produce a very authentic facsimile of a moving sound."

Star Wars (1977)
Effect needed: Wookiee language
Actual sound: Walruses and other animals

listen to ‘05 Star Wars - Chewbacca’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();"You have bits and fragments of animal sounds which you have collected and put into lists,” said Ben Burtt. “Here is an affectionate sound and here is an angry sound and just like with R2-D2 a mix of whistles, water pipes and Burtt’s own voice, they are clipped together and blended. With a Wookiee, you might end up with five or six tracks, sometimes, to get the flow of the sentence."

Source: FilmSound.org


Star Wars (1977)
Effect needed: TIE Fighters
Actual sound: Elephant

listen to ‘06 Star Wars - TIE Fighter’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();That screech as a TIE goes by is, at base, the sound of an elephant: although the noise has, obviously, been drastically altered in the studio.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Effect needed: AT-AT walkers
Actual sound: Machine punch

listen to ‘07 Star Wars - AT-AT’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The sound of the Empire’s rather unlikely dinosaur tanks is that of a machinist’s punch press. Somewhere in the mix there are also bicycle chains being dropped on concrete.

Return Of The Jedi (1983)
Effect needed: Speeder Bikes
Actual sound: Fighter planes

listen to ‘08 Star Wars - Speeder Bike’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The Speeder Bikes’ engines are a mash up of various plane sounds, including those of a P-51 Mustang airplane and a Lockheed P-38 Lightning.

Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
Effect needed: Battle Droids
Actual sound: Farm machinery

listen to ‘09 Star Wars - Battle Droids’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The clone robots march into battle to the aural accompaniment of an elderly seed dispenser.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Effect needed: Crushed skull
Actual sound: Pistachios

listen to ‘10 Terminator 2 - Crushed Skull’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The opening after-the-war shots of T2 show the metal endoskeleton-type Terminators advancing across a bombed out landscape. The ambient sound of the wind was simply recorded by sticking a mic at the crack of a door leading outside at George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch, with an element of a human voice making "whoosh" noises. The sound that accompanies the shot of the Terminator stamping on a human skull is a pistachio nut being ground into a metal plate.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Effect needed: Liquid metal morphing
Actual sound: Furniture cleaner

listen to ‘11 Terminator 2 - Liquid Metal Morphing’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();''It's not really liquid...'' reasoned sound man Gary Rydstrom of the liquid metal T-1000. ''It doesn't have any bubbles in it. It doesn't gurgle. It doesn't do anything visually except flow like mercury...'' The perfect sound to match the visuals was created by putting a condom over a microphone and dipping it into an evil solution of water, flour, and the furniture cleaner Dust-Off. ''It would make these huge goopy bubbles,'' says Rydstrom, ''and the moment when the bubble is forming, it has this sound similar to a cappuccino maker. I believed it...''

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Effect needed: Bullets hitting T-1000
Actual sound: Empty glass and yogurt

listen to ‘12 Terminator 2 - Bullets Hitting The T1000’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();What does a bullet sound like when it hits liquid metal? Turns out it sounds like a drinking glass being dropped end-first into a bucket of yogurt. The sound of the T-1000 morphing itself around the prison bars, meanwhile, is dog food being schlupped out of a can. ''A lot of that I would play backward or do something to,'' sound man Gary Rydstrom says, ''but those were the basic elements. What's amazing to me is ... Industrial Light & Magic using millions of dollars of high-tech digital equipment and computers to come up with the visuals, and meanwhile I'm inverting a dog food can.''

(Quotes: Kenny, Tom. ''T2: Behind the Scenes with the Terminator 2 Sound Team'' in Mix: Professional Recording Sound and Music Production 15.9 (September 1991): 60 -- 62, 64, 66, 116.*)

Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
Effect needed: Balrog
Actual sound: Cinder block
Source: David Farmer, Designing Sound

listen to ‘14 Lord Of The Rings - Balrog ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Reasoning that the mine-dwelling Balrog should sound somehow stone-like, sound designer David Farmer made its “voice” the noise of a cinder block scraping a long a wooden floor, manipulated to various speeds. Where it needed to sound more conventionally voice-like (in the moments where it's bellowing in rage or pain), there are donkeys and horses in the mix.

Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
Effect needed: Ringwraith
Actual sound: Plastic cups

listen to ‘15 Lord Of The Rings - Ringwraiths’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Beginning with doctoring the sounds of harbor seals, David Farmer eventually hit on a different tack for the screechy Ringwraiths. “Michael Kamper was working with me,” he recalls. ”He said the seal noise sounded like a plastic cup scraping. So I went to Target, bought a bunch of plastic cups and bowls, and then Harry Cohen and I did a record session in the foley room. So I finished that creature using nothing but the plastic cup scrapes. I used them in the Wraith screams quite a bit. They added a really nice, dry, aggressive raspiness that really finished off the sound. I still use those cup scrapes today.”

Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
Effect needed: Shelob
Actual sound: Toy alien head

listen to ‘16 Lord Of The Rings - Shelob’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Although it’s not quite what we hear in the finished film, much of the high-end basis of the horrifying giant spider Shelob’s voice is a plastic toy alien head filled with liquid. “When you’d squeeze it, it had this crazy wet screech,” enthused David Farmer. “I’d actually recorded it years before Rings and had always been looking for a place to use it, but nothing fit. Along came Shelob, so I recorded a lot more of it. Everyone thought it was a real creature, and that it was pissed! It was pretty high-pitched. I was trying to do a creature that had no low end since almost all the others had a lot, but it didn’t give us the threat I’d hoped it would. Peter [Jackson] wanted it to sound more alligator hissy instead. But I miss the character that alien head added.”

Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
Effect needed: Orcs
Actual sound: Baby elephant seals

listen to ‘17 Lord Of The Rings - Moria Orcs’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();A trip to Marin County’s Marine Mammal Centre saw sound designer David Farmer stumble upon his perfect Orc voice. “It was the time of year they had lots of baby elephant seals there,” he recalled, “and a few of them were very vocal. I’d never heard that sound before and knew that would be perfect for the Moria Orcs. The Moria Orcs were the smallest of the orcs, and Peter’s direction for them was “sort of cockroachy”. So we recorded ourselves scrambling around wearing cleats for the movement. But the major signature sound for them was the elephant seal pups.”

Lord Of The Rings (2001-2003)
Effect needed: Uruk-hai
Actual sound: Sea lions and big cats

listen to ‘18 Lord Of The Rings - Uruk-Hai ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Much larger than Moria Orcs, the Uruk-hai needed to sound more aggressive and dangerous. Hence David Farmer opted for bigger sea mammals in the form of adult sea lions, with tigers and leopards mixed in. “We also recorded ourselves a few times,” he adds, “most all of the sound team, and we peppered in those vocalisations to add variety and a more human reaction. Most of the wetter, slobbery-type stuff is human. Most of the character comes from animal elements, but the human stuff helps stitch it together as humanoid. It really needed to be a combination of animal and human to pull it off.”

Men In Black (1997)
Effect needed: Dragonflies
Actual sound: Handheld fan

listen to ‘19 Men In Black - Dragonfly’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The first MiB’s opening credits visual gag sees a dragonfly navigating the night-time air. The buzzing effect is nothing more complicated than a cheap handheld fan, embellished with some duct tape and a cloth across the motor.

Jurassic Park (1993)
Effect needed: Velociraptor hatching
Actual sound: Ice-cream cone

listen to ‘20 Jurassic Park - Velociraptor Hatching ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The cracking of the egg is an ice-cream wafer being crumbled, while the wet sound of the creature emerging was achieved by the foley artist squishing melons while wearing rubber gloves covered in liquid soap.

Jurassic Park (1993)
Effect needed: T-Rex
Actual sound: Various animals

listen to ‘21 Jurassic Park - T-Rex’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The T-Rex’s terrifying roar is an amalgamation of at least six animal noises, including lions, tigers, alligators, elephants, a whale and (ahem) a koala. The unpleasant sound of Martin Ferrero getting eaten is a horse munching a corncob.

Raging Bull (1980)
Effect needed: Punching
Actual sound: Beef, plus extras

listen to ‘22 Raging Bull - Punching’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The visceral sensory onslaught of Scorsese’s boxing scenes has a complex soundtrack. At base, the punching sounds themselves were achieved with sides of beef. But layered with that are manipulated slabs of music, roaring animals, engine noises and flashbulbs.

The Wild Bunch (1969)
Effect needed: Guns
Actual sound: Guns
Source: David Weddle, If They Move… Kill ‘Em!

listen to ‘23 The Wild Bunch - Guns ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();For the rough cut, the Warner Bros. sound department laid in the same basic gunshot effects they’d been using since Errol Flynn made Dodge City in 1939. Every six-gun and rifle sounded the same. Peckinpah threw a fit, insisting that new gunshots be recorded so that each gun in the picture had its own individual sound. By the time they were finished more than a hundred different gunshots were used on the effects track. “To mesh all of those onto one track and still bring out those individual sounds was a son of a bitch, but it happened, you’ll hear it,” said [editor] Lou Lombardo. “You know when William Holden fires ‘cause that forty-five barks, and you know when Strother Martin fires that thirty-ought-six. Sam raised hell over that effects track, but he got them to bring it up to a level of quality that won them awards.”

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Effect needed: E.T. moving
Actual sound: Jelly, popcorn, liver
Source: Vanessa Theme Ament, The Foley Grail

listen to ‘24 E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - E.T. Moving’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Steven Spielberg had specified that he wanted his extra-terrestrial’s bodily sound to be “liquidy and friendly”. Hence sound artist Joan Rowe “walked through some stores and listened to the movement of packaged liver in a flat container. It had a cheery sound!” Revisiting the store for fresh supplies every couple of days, she became known as “the lady who listens to the liver!” Rowe also recorded the sound of jelly in a wet towel and popcorn in a bag. All three sounds are in the mix every time E.T. moves.

Spartacus (1960)
Effect needed: Soldiers marching
Actual sound: Keys

listen to ‘25 Spartacus - Soldiers Marching’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Here’s Jack Foley himself, displaying the ingenuity that made him a legend in the first place. The clanking marching sound of an entire armoured Roman army was achieved simply by foley jangling a bunch of keys.

Transformers (2007)
Effect needed: Frenzy
Actual sound: A clock and a cougar
Source: Erik Aadahl, Designing Sound

Listen to ‘26 Transformers - Frenzy’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The impish little ghetto-blaster Decepticon had a human voice courtesy of Reno Wilson, “who can do amazing contortions with his throat”. Sound man Erik Aadahl, however, also revealed that his “growls, chatters and movements” were “ticks from a metal wind-up clock, synced to the waveform cadence of a young cougar growling”.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009)
Effect needed: Jetfire
Actual sound: Windchime

Listen to ‘27 Transformers - Jetfire’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Elderly rustbucket Jetfire’s beard clanked to the noise of a purpose-built windchime, fashioned from shards of aluminum, saw blades and a monkey wrench attached to strings. His legs and arms, meanwhile, were made from sound editor Erik Aadahl’s creaky oven door.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009)
Effect needed: Optimus Prime flying
Actual sound: Fireworks

listen to ‘28 Transformers - Optimus Prime Flying ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();“Optimus’s flying sounds were made from a very small source: fireworks,” says Aahdahl. “His rocket jetpack sounds were made from a fireworks fountain recorded in my driveway. With eye and fire protection I could record the fireworks up close for a nice, rich, up-front sound. Some cracklers gave an edgy element that I dopplered to make some vicious flybys out of.”

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (2009)
Effect needed: Reedman
Actual sound: Ball bearings and BB gun pellets

listen to ‘29 Transformers - Reedman ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();“Reedman was my favorite,” says Erik Aahdahl. “Our goal was to play the opposite of big: to get tiny, quiet and intimate; to make the audience lean in, not get pushed back. For me, the scene plays like a symphony of little sounds.

We made Reedman with buzzing magnets, surging air rifle BB pellets, rolling metal ball-bearings, “chiming” steel washers dangling from strings, and a bunch of zippery sounds we constructed out of thousands of little metal clinks.” The gurgling noises Reedman makes were voiced by Reno Wilson, and his shrieks were voice-acting legend Frank Welker.

Ghostbusters (1984)
Effect needed: Proton packs
Actual sound: Turbine

listen to ‘30 Ghostbusters - Proton Packs’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Backpack-housed unlicensed nuclear accelerators with a 5000-year half-life sound, it turns out, exactly like a studio-filtered engine turbine.

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005)
Effect needed: Chocolate river
Actual sound: Nutrient agar in a pool

listen to ‘31 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory - Chocolate River’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Foley supervisor Alex Joseph, achieved the gooey effect required for the chocolate river running through Willy Wonka’s factory by jumping into a swimming pool with a sack of nutrient agar. The algae-based jelly swells in cold water, absorbing up to 20 times its own weight. “I was swimming about in the stuff all day,” said Joseph. “It was very gloopy. I had to take four showers to get it all off.”

The Exorcist (1973)
Effect needed: Head turning
Actual sound: Wallet

listen to ‘32 The Exorcist - Head Turning ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();William Friedkin’s notorious shocker features the famous scene in which Linda Blair’s head turns a full 180 degrees on her possessed neck. The sound that accompanies the movement? Foley man Gonzalo Gavira manipulating an old leather wallet full of credit cards.

Kingdom Of Heaven (2005)
Effect needed: Decapitation
Actual sound: Green coconut

listen to ‘33 Kingdom Of Heaven - Decapitation’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Ridley Scott’s crusading epic, perhaps inevitably, needed the sound of a head being lopped off. “Some people would have gone with a watermelon or a frozen cabbage,” said foley supervisor Alex Joseph (him again). But, for Joseph’s money, there was no substitute for a green coconut. “The outside is fibrous,” he explained, “so it cuts like skin. And the hard shell sounds like bone. Inside is the jelly, which sounds like blood. When you slice into it, it sounds just like a human head. I imagine.”

Fight Club (1999)
Effect needed: Punching
Actual sound: Chickens

listen to ‘34 Fight Club - Punching ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();“We experimented with all kinds of different things,” explained sound designer Ren Klyce of Fight Club’s pummelling mixtape. “Shattering chicken carcasses with baseball bats, cracking walnuts inside them, smacking around slabs of meat with pigs' feet, and then processing them... We've done it all, and as a result of this project our 'punch' library has become quite extensive. When you hear the punches in a film like Rocky they usually just use one punch over and over again; it's very muddy and dark, and kind of boxy sounding. David Fincher, however, was much harder to please...”

X-Men (2000)
Effect needed: "Snikt!"
Actual sound: Knives and chickens
Source: Gizmodo

listen to ‘35 X-Men - Claws’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The metallic noise of Wolverine’s blades extracting and retracting is, reasonably enough, created by a knife being drawn from a sheath. But that’s not all there is to those moments. “For the claw sound, essentially there were two main elements I was working on,” explained sound designer Craig Berkey. “One was the metallic blade sound, as it goes in or out. The other was the actual physical sound of something going through flesh and retracting." The latter is a combination of chicken and turkey carcasses being ripped and nuts being cracked.

X2 (2003)
Effect needed: "BAMF!"
Actual sound: Dog food, compressed air

listen to ‘36 X-Men - Bamf ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();It isn’t just a bang: Nightcrawler’s teleporting noise also has to convey the idea that his molecules are being sucked in and out of physical space. The sound created included the sucking of dog food from a can; camera flash bulbs; and the release of compressed air. The air sounds were played forwards or backwards depending on whether Nightcrawler was arriving or departing.

Spider-Man (2002)
Effect needed: "Thwip!"
Actual sound: Fishing line, shaving cream

listen to ‘37 Spider-Man - Thwip!’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Spider-Man’s web-spinning was achieved with various fishing lines, including one strung between two posts and strummed, and the swish of the fly-fishing variety. There’s also the noise of magnetic film being tightened on a spindle, and a bit of compressed air being blasted. The wetness – Raimi’s Spidey spun organic webs, remember – comes from shaving foam.

Predator (1987)
Effect needed: Predator moving
Actual sound: Chamois leather
Source: Vanessa Theme Ament, The Foley Grail

listen to ‘38 Predator - Predator Movement ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();“The Predator’s body required several tracks,” explains foley artist Vanessa Ament. “One track was a wet chamois. Another was hand lotion on my hands. A third was a wet leather purse. A fourth track was some mouth noises (the voice acting and clicking is credited to Transformers’ Peter Cullen). We called it ‘Predabody’. There was also ‘Predaface’, ‘Predahands’ and ‘Predafeet’!”

Speed (1994)
Effect needed: Elevator
Actual sound: Magnetic film rewinder
Source: Vanessa Theme Ament, The Foley Grail

listen to ‘39 Speed - Elevator’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The sound of an elevator could easily have been called up from an effects library, but Joan Rowe was slightly more obsessive. “She found a magnetic film rewinder that had a glitch in its mechanical action,” recounts her colleague Vanessa Theme Ament. “When she wound it backward it made ‘a good sound’, and she mounted it on a table on the stage. Then she put an editor’s metal trim bin upside-down on the table for echo. She wound the rewinder forward for the elevator going up, and backward for the elevator gears grinding. Then she banged wires against the trim bin to sweeten the sound for the gears.”

Godzilla (1954)
Effect needed: Roar
Actual sound: Double bass

listen to ‘40 Godzilla - Roar ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Ishiro Honda’s sound team played around with various recordings of animals for Gojira’s ominous bellow, but found nothing quite fit the bill. The sound they ended up with was the strings of a double bass being rubbed with a leather glove coated in pine tar resin. Intriguingly, the team behind Gareth Edwards’ most recent version have declined to reveal how the latest roar was created.

Tarzan (1932-)
Effect needed: Jungle call
Actual sound: Pick a story…

listen to ‘41 Tarzan - Tarzan's Yell ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Much debate exists around the mystery of how Johnny Weissmuller’s trademark ‘Ahhhhh-ee-ahh-ee-ahhhhh!’ Tarzan yell was created. The official line from MGM in 1939 was that it included Weissmuller’s own voice; a hyena’s howl played backwards; a note sung by a soprano being played back at various speeds; a dog’s growl; and the G-string of a violin. This is almost certainly bollocks. Elsewhere, opera singer Lloyd Thomas Leech claimed that he had performed it himself and been paid a thousand dollars for the continued use of the recording. That might be true, although it’s likely the sound was further worked on in the studio: it’s actually completely palindromic, sounding exactly the same when played backwards as forwards. Weissmuller, as part of his self-mythologising, always claimed it was simply his own voice. That’s nonsense too, although it’s certainly true that he learned to do a fairly close approximation of the call for later public appearances.

Tron (1982)
Effect needed: Lightcycles
Actual sound: Video game tones

listen to ‘42 Tron - Light Cycles ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();The lightcycles rip along the grid to a smorgasbord of mashed-up electronic Atari video game tones. That’s augmented, naturally enough, with actual motorbike engine noises, but there are also synthesizers and a buzz saw in the mix.

Back To The Future (1985)
Effect needed: DeLorean doors
Actual sound: Car window regulator

listen to ‘43 Back To The Future - DeLorean Doors ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Apparently the gull-wing doors on a DeLorean don’t sound enough like the gull-wing doors on a DeLorean. The sound of their lifting and descending is a car window regulator: the mechanism that makes the electric windows in your motor go up and down smoothly. The same noise is used at the start of the film for Doc Brown’s electric dog feeder.

A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Effect needed: Freddy’s glove
Actual sound: Much bigger knives

listen to ‘44 Nightmare On Elm Street - Freddy's Gloves ’ on audioBoom

(function() { var po = document.createElement("script"); po.type = "text/javascript"; po.async = true; po.src = "https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed.js"; var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })();Freddy Krueger’s weapon of choice is, of course, that knife-fingered glove. That means you need two sounds in your Freddy foley kit: leather and blades. For the former, a belt was bent and creaked and generally manipulated. For the sharper end, the effect was emphasised by sliding a surgical steel blade along a machete.