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Encyclopedia > Sound effect

Sound effects or audio effects are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of movies, video games, music, or other media. Sound is a disturbance of mechanical energy that propagates through matter as a wave. ... “Computer and video games” redirects here. ...


In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself. In professional motion picture and television production, the segregations between dialogue, music, and sound effects recordings are quite severe, and it is important to understand that in such contexts dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, though the processes applied to them, such as reverberation or flanging, often are. “Moving picture” redirects here. ... A dialogue (sometimes spelt dialog[1]) is a reciprocal conversation between two or more entities. ... // Music is an art form consisting of sound and silence expressed through time. ... This article is about audio effect. ... Flanging is a time-based audio effect that occurs when two identical signals are mixed together, but with one signal time-delayed by a small and gradually changing amount, usually smaller than 20 ms (milliseconds). ...

Contents

In film

In the context of motion pictures and television, sound effects refers to an entire hierarchy of sound elements, whose production encompass many different disciplines, including:

  • Hard sound effects are common sounds that appear on screen, such as door slams, weapons firing, and cars driving by.
  • Background (or BG) sound effects are sounds that do not explicitly synchronize with the picture, but indicate setting to the audience, such as forest sounds, the buzzing of fluorescent lights, and car interiors. The sound of people talking in the background is also considered a "BG," but only if the speaker is unintelligible and the language is unrecognizable (this is known as walla). These background noises are also called ambience or atmos ("atmosphere").
  • Foley sound effects are sounds that synchronize on screen, and require the expertise of a foley artist to properly record. Footsteps, the movement of hand props, and the rustling of cloth are common foley units.
  • Design sound effects are sounds that do not normally occur in nature, or are impossible to record in nature. These sounds are used to suggest futuristic technology, or are used in a musical fashion to create an emotional mood.

Each of these sound "food groups" are specialized, with sound editors known as specialists in an area of sound effects (e.g. a "Car cutter" or "Guns cutter"). In American radio, film, and television, walla is a sound effect imitating the murmur of a crowd in the background. ... The Foley artist on a film crew is the person who creates and records many of the sound effects, (thesedays many often associate the Foley artist with the job of capturing the natural/everyday sounds leaving the the role of special (audio-) effects to the Sound_designer. ... A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing or mastering of a television program or motion picture. ...


The process can be separated into two steps: the recording of the effects, and the processing. Large libraries of commercial sound effects are available to content producers (such as the famous Wilhelm scream), but on large projects sound effects may be custom-recorded for the purpose. The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect first used in 1951 for the movie Distant Drums. ...


Although effects libraries may contain every effect a producer requires, they are seldom in correct sequence and never in the required time frame. In the early days of film and radio, library effects were held on analogue discs and an expert technician could play six effects, on six turntables, in five seconds. Today, with effects held in digital format, it is easy to create any required sequence to be played in any desired timeline.


Also, if the soundtrack is processed through a foley, it can make the smallest sound look perfect on screen and the audience can never guess how much work went into the making of that specific sound.


In video games

The principles involved with modern video game sound effects (since the introduction of sample playback) are essentially the same as those of motion pictures. Typically a game project requires two jobs to be completed: sounds must be recorded or selected from a library and a sound engine must be programmed so that those sounds can be incorporated into the game's interactive environment. Historically the simplicity of game environments reduced the required number of sounds needed, and thus only one or two people were directly responsible for the sound recording and design. As the video game business has grown and computer sound reproduction quality has increased, however, the team of sound designers dedicated to game projects has likewise grown and the demands placed on them may now approach those of mid-budget motion pictures. Many games include built-in realtime sound effects, so that, for example, a gunshot in an enclosed room echoes realistically. “Computer and video games” redirects here. ...


Recording effects

The most realistic sound effects originate from original sources; the closest sound to machine-gun fire that we can replay is an original recording of actual machine guns. Less realistic sound effects are digitally synthesized or sampled and sequenced (the same recording played repeatedly using a sequencer). When the producer or content creator demands high-fidelity sound effects, the sound editor usually must augment his available library with new sound effects recorded in the field. A digital synthesizer is a synthesizer that uses digital signal processing (DSP) techniques to make musical sounds. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing or mastering of a television program or motion picture. ...


When the required sound effect is of a small subject, such as scissors cutting, cloth ripping, or footsteps, the sound effect is best recorded in a studio, under controlled conditions. Such small sounds are often delegated to a foley artist and foley editor. Many sound effects cannot be recorded in a studio, such as explosions, gunfire, and automobile or aircraft maneuvers. These effects must be recorded by a sound effects editor or a professional sound effects recordist. The Foley artist on a film crew is the person who creates and records many of the sound effects, (thesedays many often associate the Foley artist with the job of capturing the natural/everyday sounds leaving the the role of special (audio-) effects to the Sound_designer. ...


When such "big" sounds are required, the recordist will begin contacting professionals or technicians in the same way a producer may arrange a crew; if the recordist needs an explosion, he may contact a demolition company to see if any buildings are scheduled to be destroyed with explosives in the near future. If the recordist requires a volley of cannon fire, he may contact historical re-enactors or gun enthusiasts. People are often excited to participate in something that will be used in a motion picture, and love to help. Not to be confused with Canon. ...


Depending on the effect, recordists may use several DAT, hard disk, or Nagra recorders and a large number of microphones. During a cannon- and musket-fire recording session for the 2003 film The Alamo, conducted by Jon Johnson and Charles Maynes, two to three DAT machines were used. One machine was stationed near the cannon itself, so it could record the actual firing. Another was stationed several hundred yards away, below the trajectory of the ball, to record the sound of the cannonball passing by. When the crew recorded musket-fire, a set of microphones were arrayed close to the target (in this case a swine carcass) to record the musket-ball impacts. Digital audio tape can also refer to a compact cassette with digital storage. ... Typical hard drives of the mid-1990s. ... Nagra is a generic term referring to any of the series of professional audio recorders produced by Kudelski S.A., based in Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne, Switzerland. ... Not to be confused with Canon. ... Muskets and bayonets aboard the frigate Grand Turk. ... The Alamo film poster The Alamo is a 2004 movie, a second major studio film about the legendary Battle of the Alamo during the Texas Revolution, that was shot and scheduled for release initially in December 2003 and then rescheduled for release in April 2004. ... For other uses, see Pig (disambiguation). ...


A counter-example is the common technique for recording an automobile. For recording "Onboard" car sounds (which include the car interiors), a three-microphone technique is common. Two microphones record the engine directly: one is taped to the underside of the hood, near the engine block. The second microphone is covered in a wind screen and tightly attached to the rear bumper, within an inch or so of the tail pipe. The third microphone, which is often a stereo microphone, is stationed inside the car to get the car interior. Having all of these tracks at once gives a sound designer or mixer a great deal of control over how he wants the car to sound. In order to make the car more ominous or low, he can mix in more of the tailpipe recording; if he wants the car to sound like it is running full throttle, he can mix in more of the engine recording and reduce the interior perspective. In cartoons, a pencil being dragged down a washboard may be used to simulate the sound of a sputtering engine. A microphone, sometimes referred to as a mike or mic (both IPA pronunciation: ), is an acoustic to electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. ... Label for 2. ... This is an article about the film crew member known as a sound designer. ... In telecommunications a mixer is a frequency mixer. ...


What we would consider today to be the first recorded sound effect was of Big Ben striking 10:30, 10:45, and 11:00. It was recorded on a brown wax cylinder by technicians at Edison House in London. It was recorded July 16, 1890. This recording is currently in the public domain.


Processing effects

As the car example demonstrates, the ability to make multiple simultaneous recordings of the same subject—through the use of several DAT or multitrack recorders—has made sound recording into a sophisticated craft. The sound effect can be shaped by the sound editor or sound designer, not just for realism, but for emotional effect. The Tascam 85 16B analogue tape recorder can record 16 tracks of audio on 1 inch (2. ... A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing or mastering of a television program or motion picture. ... This is an article about the film crew member known as a sound designer. ...


Once the sound effects are recorded or captured, they are usually loaded into a computer integrated with an audio non-linear editing system. This allows a sound editor or sound designer to heavily manipulate a sound to meet his or her needs. The NASA Columbia Supercomputer. ... Note: Please see National Latin Examination for the standardized test that is also abbreviated NLE. A non-linear editing system (abbreviated NLE) is a video editing or audio editing system that can perform random access on the source material. ... A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing or mastering of a television program or motion picture. ... This is an article about the film crew member known as a sound designer. ...


The most common sound design tool is the use of layering to create a new, interesting sound out of two or three old, average sounds. For example, the sound of a bullet impact into a pig carcass may be mixed with the sound of a melon being gouged to add to the "stickiness" or "gore" of the effect. If the effect is featured in a close-up, the designer may also add an "impact sweetener" from his or her library. The sweetener may simply be the sound of a hammer pounding hardwood, equalized so that only the low-end can be heard. The low end gives the three sounds together added weight, so that the audience actually "feels" the weight of the bullet hit the victim. If the victim is the bad guy, and his death is climactic, the sound designer may add reverb to the impact, in order to enhance the dramatic beat. And then, as the victim falls over in slow motion, the sound editor may add the sound of a broom whooshing by a microphone, pitch-shifted down and time-expanded to further emphasize the death. If the movie is a science-fiction film, the designer may phaser the whoosh to give it a more sci-fi feel. (For a list of many sound effects processes available to a sound designer, see the bottom of this article.) For information about computer bandwidth management, see Equalization (computing). ... This article is about audio effect. ... This article is about the audio effect. ...


Aesthetics in film

When creating sound effects for films, sound recordists and editors do not generally concern themselves with the verisimilitude or accuracy of the sounds they present. The sound of a bullet entering a person from a close distance may sound nothing like the sound designed in the above example, but since very few people are aware of how such a thing actually sounds, the job of designing the effect is mainly an issue of creating a conjectural sound which feeds the audience's expectations while still suspending disbelief.


In the previous example, the phased 'whoosh' of the victim's fall has no analogue in real life experience, but it is emotionally immediate. If a sound editor uses such sounds in the context of emotional climax or a character's subjective experience, they can add to the drama of a situation in a way visuals simply cannot. If a visual effects artist were to do something similar to the 'whooshing fall' example, it would probably look ridiculous or at least excessively melodramatic. A sound editor is a creative professional responsible for selecting and assembling sound recordings in preparation for the final sound mixing or mastering of a television program or motion picture. ... Special effects (abbreviated SPFX or SFX) are used in the film, television, and entertainment industry to create effects that cannot be achieved by normal means, such as depicting travel to other star systems. ...


The "Conjectural Sound" principle applies even to happenstance sounds, such as tires squealing, doorknobs turning or people walking. If the sound editor wants to communicate that a driver is in a hurry to leave, he will cut the sound of tires squealing when the car accelerates from a stop; even if the car is on a dirt road, the effect will work if the audience is dramatically engaged. If a character is afraid of someone on the other side of a door, the turning of the doorknob can take a second or more, and the mechanism of the knob can possess dozens of clicking parts. A skillful Foley artist can make someone walking calmly across the screen seem terrified simply by giving the actor a different gait. The Foley artist on a film crew is the person who creates and records many of the sound effects, (thesedays many often associate the Foley artist with the job of capturing the natural/everyday sounds leaving the the role of special (audio-) effects to the Sound_designer. ...


Techniques

In music and film/television production, typical effects used in recording and amplified performances are:

  • echo - one or several delayed signals are added to the original signal. To be perceived as echo, the delay has to be of order 50 milliseconds or above. Short of actually playing a sound in the desired environment, the effect of echo can be implemented using either digital or analog methods. Analog echo effects are implemented using tape delays and/or spring reverbs. When large numbers of delayed signals are mixed over several seconds, the resulting sound has the effect of being presented in a large room, and it is more commonly called reverberation or reverb for short.
  • flanger - a delayed signal is added to the original signal with a continuously-variable delay (usually smaller than 10 ms). This effect is now done electronically using DSP, but originally the effect was created by playing the same recording on two synchronized tape players, and then mixing the signals together. As long as the machines were synchronized, the mix would sound more-or-less normal, but if the operator placed his finger on the flange of one of the players (hence "flanger"), that machine would slow down and its signal would fall out-of-phase with its partner, producing a phasing effect. Once the operator took his finger off, the player would speed up until its tachometer was back in phase with the master, and as this happened, the phasing effect would appear to slide up the frequency spectrum. This phasing up-and-down the register can be performed rhythmically.
  • phaser - the signal is split, a portion is filtered with an all-pass filter to produce a phase-shift, and then the unfiltered and filtered signals are mixed. The phaser effect was originally a simpler implementation of the flanger effect since delays were difficult to implement with analog equipment. Phasers are often used to give a "synthesized" or electronic effect to natural sounds, such as human speech. The voice of C-3PO from Star Wars was created by taking the actor's voice and treating it with a phaser.
  • chorus - a delayed signal is added to the original signal with a constant delay. The delay has to be short in order not to be perceived as echo, but above 5 ms to be audible. If the delay is too short, it will destructively interfere with the un-delayed signal and create a flanging effect. Often, the delayed signals will be slightly pitch shifted to more realistically convey the effect of multiple voices.
  • equalization - different frequency bands are attenuated or amplified to produce desired spectral characteristics. Abbreviated EQ.
  • filtering - Equalization is a form of filtering. In the general sense, frequency ranges can be emphasized or attenuated using low-pass, high-pass, band-pass or band-stop filters. Band-pass filtering of voice can simulate the effect of a telephone because telephones use band-pass filters.
  • overdrive effects such as the use of a fuzz box can be used to produce distorted sounds, such as for imitating robotic voices or radiotelephone traffic. The most basic overdrive effect involves clipping the signal when its absolute value exceeds a certain threshold.
  • pitch shift - similar to pitch correction, this effect shifts a signal up or down in pitch. For example, a signal may be shifted an octave up or down. This is usually applied to the entire signal, and not to each note separately. One application of pitch shifting is pitch correction. Here a musical signal is tuned to the correct pitch using digital signal processing techniques. This effect is ubiquitous in karaoke machines and is often used to assist pop singers who sing out of tune. It is also used intentionally for aesthetic effect in such pop songs as Cher's Believe and Madonna's Die Another Day.
  • time stretching - the opposite of pitch shift, that is, the process of changing the speed of an audio signal without affecting its pitch.
  • resonators - emphasize harmonic frequency content on specified frequencies.
  • synthesizer - generate artificially almost any sound by either imitating natural sounds or creating completely new sounds.
  • modulation - to change the frequency or amplitude of a carrier signal in relation to a predefined signal. Ring modulation, also known as amplitude modulation, is an effect made famous by Doctor Who's Daleks and commonly used throughout sci-fi.
  • compression - the reduction of the dynamic range of a sound to avoid unintentional fluctuation in the dynamics. Level compression is not to be confused with audio data compression, where the amount of data is reduced without affecting the amplitude of the sound it represents.
  • 3D audio effects - place sounds outside the stereo basis
  • reverse echo - a swelling effect created by reversing an audio signal and recording echo and/or delay whilst the signal runs in reverse. When played back forward the last echos are heard before the effected sound creating a rush like swell preceding and during playback. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin claims to be the inventor of this effect which can be heard in the bridge of Whole Lotta Love. Foley is the art of sound effects.

In audio signal processing and acoustics, an echo (plural echoes) is a reflection of sound, arriving at the listener some time after the direct sound. ... A digital system is one that uses discrete values (often electrical voltages), especially those representable as binary numbers, or non-numeric symbols such as letters or icons, for input, processing, transmission, storage, or display, rather than a continuous spectrum of values (ie, as in an analog system). ... An analog or analogue signal is any continuously variable signal. ... Tape delay, also often referred to as analog delay, is an audio effect whereby an echo can be introduced to an audio signal by mixing it with a delayed version of itself. ... This article is about audio effect. ... This article is about audio effect. ... This article is about audio effect. ... Flanging is a time-based audio effect that occurs when two identical signals are mixed together, but with one signal time-delayed by a small and gradually changing amount, usually smaller than 20 ms (milliseconds). ... Digital signal processing (DSP) is the study of signals in a digital representation and the processing methods of these signals. ... Tachometer showing engine RPM (revolutions per minute), and a redline from 6000 and 7000 RPM. A tachometer measures the speed of rotation of a shaft or disk (from Greek: tachos = speed, metron = measure), as in a motor or other machine. ... This article is about the audio effect. ... An audio filter is a type of filter used for processing sound signals. ... An all-pass filter is an electronic filter that passes all frequencies equally, but changes the phase relationship between various frequencies. ... C-3PO (pronounced IPA: []., often shortened to Threepio) is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe, who appears in both the original Star Wars films and the prequel trilogy. ... Star Wars is an epic space opera saga and a fictional universe initially developed by George Lucas during the 1970s and expanded since that time. ... The chorus effect is a condition in the way people perceive nearly the same sound coming from more than one source. ... Flanging is a time-based audio effect that occurs when two identical signals are mixed together, but with one signal time-delayed by a small and gradually changing amount, usually smaller than 20 ms (milliseconds). ... For information about computer bandwidth management, see Equalization (computing). ... An audio filter is a type of filter used for processing sound signals. ... A 1965 Gibson Maestro Fuzz Tone FZ-1A, one of the first commercially available fuzz boxes. ... In mathematics, the absolute value (or modulus[1]) of a real number is its numerical value without regard to its sign. ... Time stretching is the process of changing the speed or duration of an audio signal without affecting its pitch. ... Pitch correction is the process of correcting the intonation of an audio signal without affecting other aspects of its sound. ... This article is about Cher, the entertainer. ... Believe is a Grammy Award winning Dance song which served as the world-wide lead single for American singer Chers studio album Believe. ... Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie (born August 16, 1958), better known as simply Madonna, is a six-time Grammy[1] and one-time Golden Globe award winning American pop singer, songwriter, record and film producer, dancer, actress, author and fashion icon. ... James Bond theme chronology The World Is Not Enough (1999) Die Another Day (2002) You Know My Name (2006) American Life track listing Mother and Father (9) Die Another Day (10) Easy Ride (11) Die Another Day was the theme to the James Bond film of the same name recorded... Time stretching is the process of changing the speed or duration of an audio signal without affecting its pitch. ... Most instruments includes parts which vibrate with and amplify the sound of the instrument. ... Synthesizer as used in music, is a term derived from a Greek word syntithetai < synthesis (συντίθεται < σύνθεσις) and is used to describe a device capable of generating and/or manipulating electronic signals for use in music creation, recording and performance. ... In telecommunications, modulation is the process of varying a periodic waveform, i. ... Ring modulation is an audio effect performed by multiplying two audio signals, where one is typically a sine-wave or another simple waveform. ... Doctor Who is a long-running award-winning British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The series depicts the adventures of a mysterious time-traveller known as the Doctor who travels in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension(s) In Space) time ship, which appears from the exterior... The Daleks (pronounced DAH-lecks; IPA: ) are a fictional extraterrestrial race of mutants from the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. ... Audio level compression, also called dynamic range compression, volume compression, compression, limiting, or DRC (often seen in DVD player settings) is a process that manipulates the dynamic range of an audio signal. ... Audio compression is a form of data compression designed to reduce the size of audio files. ... 3D audio effects are a group of sound effects that attempt to widen the stereo image produced by two loudspeakers or stereo headphones, or to create the illusion of sound sources placed anywhere in 3 dimensional space, including behind, above or below the listener. ... Reverse echo or reverb is a slightly unusual sound effect created as the result of recording an echo or delayed signal of an audio recording whilst being played backwards. ... James Patrick Jimmy Page, OBE (born 9 January 1944) is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. ... For the bands 1969 self-titled debut album, see Led Zeppelin (album). ... Whole Lotta Love is a song by English rock band Led Zeppelin from their second album, Led Zeppelin II. It was the bands first hit single and a cover version of it by C.C.S. was used as the theme song for the British television show Top of...

See also

Sounds include:

Sound effects include: Wall of Sound is a phrase used to describe the effect created by the music production techniques of record producer Phil Spector. ... The Foley artist on a film crew is the person who creates and records many of the sound effects, (thesedays many often associate the Foley artist with the job of capturing the natural/everyday sounds leaving the the role of special (audio-) effects to the Sound_designer. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Digital signal processing (DSP) is the study of signals in a digital representation and the processing methods of these signals. ... Acoustics is a branch of physics and is the study of sound (mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Effects unit. ... It has been suggested that Effects pedal be merged into this article or section. ... Guitar effects are electronic devices that modify the tone, pitch, or sound of an electric guitar. ...

The Wilhelm scream is a stock sound effect first used in 1951 for the movie Distant Drums. ... The Tarzan yell is the distinctive, ululating yell of the character Tarzan, as portrayed by actor Johnny Weissmuller in the films based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, starting with Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). ... This article is about the character itself. ... The Goofy holler is a stock sound effect that turns up frequently in Disney cartoons and films. ... Castle Thunder is the name of: Castle Thunder, a prison which was located in Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. ...

External links

  • A1 Free Sound Effects- "Download Sound Effects Samples in different categories such as Halloween, Animal, Transportation and Weather"
  • Sound Effects Libraries- Free Sound Effects & Professional Licensed Providers
  • The Guide To Sound Effects - Tips and ideas on how to create sound effects, submitted by sound designers from around the world
  • How to make your own Foley sound effects
  • DJ Resources on Sound Effects
  • FilmSound.org- "Sound effects carry meaning in more ways than simply by accompanying a visible object or person"
  • The Freesound Project - A collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds.

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