Home Theater Forum and Systems banner

What kinds of sounds can you make?

1736 Views 14 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  chonc
I, personally don't know a ton about creating SFX, only by foley for the most part.

Could someone describe how to go about making a sound? Does it involve synths and
other wacky effects?

I have always wondered how certain sounds are made, mainly in video games as I am an
above average gamer. Things like glass shattering, cash register sounds, clanking noises, etc. Would
those all most likely be foley or can sounds like that be crafted in a synth?

Fill a gamer's heart with knowledge plz? :D
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
There are many ways to create SFX... maybe as many ways as there are sound designers.

I'd say that for a video game most of the sound come from sound effects libraries. Things such as footsteps, or shattering glass as you say are programmed into a certain action of the character you're playing. Recording it as a foley would be pointless because the action changes with the player and is not exactly the same always.

I guess you program a certain number of SFX for a certain action (like footsteps) so that they play randomly, so that they sound less repetitive. You also have to program different footsteps for different types of floors (metal, dirt, grass etc.). If a sound effect is very specific and/or difficult to find in a library the sound designer has to record it from scratch in a studio if possible.

Now, those are only the sound effects that don't involve sound design. What about monster roars, or plasma guns or spaceships? Well those have to be created pretty much like the ones you create for any given feature film. You talk to the developer of the game about what kind of sound he envisions, maybe you make your pitch as how you imagine the sound should be.

Most of the time special SFX are made out of several (and I mean several) different sound effects. A monster, for example can be made with the beginning of a wolf (1 octave down) + a lion; the middle can be made with the squeal of a pig (with some low pass filter and harmonic exciter) + a walrus (time-stretched); with the end breathe made of a gorilla + your own voice recorded with an SM57 down your throat... you get the idea.

Some other effects can be made out of entirely synthetic sounds made with generators modulators synths samplers filters etc. These sounds tend to sound less organic, but you can make great sounding machines and cosmic rays...

But the most important thing is to try to hear any sound with a different perspective trying to imagine it out of context (flapping the pages of a children's cardboard book to create that ominous critter's walking), and try to break all the "rules" when you're searching for a sound (a spectral repair is used to correct errors in a recording... but how about using it to morph a sound into another by using it in a different way, maybe you WANT that odd sounding artifact that comes out when you do dynamic noise reduction too much).

Sound design for any media is a fun creative craft that involves a lot of techniques. It's never the same for any project (or sound for that matter).
See less See more
lol, pig squeals and wolves all combined sounds interesting.

Well I guess when it comes down to it, one can't necessarily tell whether it was an effect
done on the computer or recorded? I just wonder to myself how a glass shatter sound would be
made from synths and such.

If you were to try and create that without foley recording, how might you go about it? Glass shattering seems like it would be a complex thing to do :D. Let's assume there is no SFX library to use.

I'm not looking for an in depth explanation, just something similar to how you described monster noises...Would it be a combination of different things or impossible to create a shattering glass sound without doing foley?

It's funny you mention the book thing because in the legend of zelda: ocarina of time, the keese wing flaps sound like someone tore paper LOL.
let me see... glass breaking.

I would probably combine the crackling of ice carefully placed in a glass filled with hot water (trying not to get water sounds and trying to make the glass ring) maybe combine it with lots of different tones of finger nails tapping on wine glasses, with a tail of octave-pitched wind chimes maybe doing a bit of a pitch bend at the end.... or just crash a couple of christmas tree glass spheres just in front of a condenser mic! At the end you have to be practical.

You can do a complete synthetic from scratch glass break, but it would involve combining a lot of random harmonics with sharp attack envelopes maybe combined with noise. It would probably sound electronic and take lots of time, but then again maybe that is the sound you were looking for...

...and the squealing pig... actually I used it for a Zombie...
I also use to combine sounds too. Last month i needed a sound of a boy blowing a candle, found many on my sfx CDs, but none of them fitted the cartoon scene, so i decided to get a air ball sound with a guy blowing something, and mixed them to make one sound from it, used some eq filters and a little reverb, and now it is ready.

This youtube video shows how foley people can be creative and make sounds from very crazy things not related to scene you wanna put the sound in.


I think for glass breaking... if you don't have a library, the easiest and quickest thing to do is just break some glass :huh:

I think for glass breaking... if you don't have a library, the easiest and quickest thing to do is just break some glass :huh:

I think for glass breaking... if you don't have a library, the easiest and quickest thing to do is just break some glass :huh:
Well yeah :p. I was just curious to know if it could be done ITB.

I figure this could get the design forum churning :).

I was told that for light saber effects they like swung around a pencil condenser in front
of a fan or something lol.
Now that I think about it, it's a great sound design exercise to recreate a sound without the actual sound being involved...

oh, and the lightsaber humming sound is made swinging a shotgun microphone in front of a speaker playing a hum made from an old projector.
:D No, I'm sure they just recorded a real light saber...much easier.....

I think it would be *really* difficult to synthesize breaking glass ...anyone prepared to give it a shot?
See less See more
One idea I got for breaking glass is to record the glass wind-chimes, then add a copy of that to each peak in the original, then a copy to each of those peaks... I don't know how that would sound; maybe like the sound of fractal glass breaking.
Well... this is by no means perfect... but it is a basic example of a synthetic crystal crash. It needs some work, but I just got back from out of town and thought to give it a try.

It took about 40 min to get here

It is basically the same chimes processed several times with a vocoder, being the chimes the modulator and noise the carrier. Then some of the vocoded signal was put through a ring modulator at different frequencies. All these with a bed of the same chimes played at 500% of speed from the original.


Not a bad effort that, actually...what did you make it in?

Looking around the web, wavelets / granular synthesis seems to be the way to go about this....here is an interesting analysis.....

Breaking patterns are time-varying, highly structured events. Straightforward random distributions or superimposed bounce patterns (Warren & Verbrugge, 1984) do not approximate the complex behavior of these sounds. A multi-level approach is needed. Careful observation of recorded breaking glass sounds provides some useful insights. The initial strike produces broadband resonances in the whole object. These resonances last for approximately five milliseconds and can be simulated with an enveloped burst of white noise. As explained in (Keller & Rolfe, 1998), the envelope shape provides a simple way to filter out high frequencies. Alternatively, a sampled grain can be used.

After the first five to ten milliseconds the object starts to break. Many small pieces hit a surface (possibly the floor) producing a dense cloud of impacts. Although these sounds share the spectral characteristics of the whole object, given the pieces’ small size their spectral profile has a higher frequency content. A more noisy sound is produced by glass pieces hitting each other. Thus, it seems reasonable to use a short-impact grain pool with two spectral characteristics: glass hitting a surface, and glass hitting glass. The amplitude of these impacts can be approximated by an exponential decay.

A third complex sub-event in breaking consists of randomly varying bouncing patterns. These patterns are produced by pieces scattered around the initial impact spot. Depending on the surface elasticity and the shape of the broken pieces, these patterns range from highly random with high damping factor to slightly random with low damping factor. The last configuration produces bounce-like patterns. The algorithms used for bouncing can be used to produce these meso patterns.

from http://www.sfu.ca/sonic-studio/srs/EcoModelsComposition/EcoMethods.html
See less See more
What I had been thinking about is transposing? compositing an additional layer inverse of the sped up layer, where slowing down the wave would be proportional to the size of the original object, so that say a larger object would have a lower frequency initial content. Wavelet and granular synthesis are interesting. Thanks for that overview link.
Not a bad effort that, actually...what did you make it in?
I made everything in Logic Studio, using the EVOC20 as the vocoder.

I agree that granular is a great way to achieve the effect, but I currently don't have access to a granular synth plugin. I once had a plugin called freeze to do it. Now I can only think of audio ease's river run. I think there is a demo of it at their webpage, I might give it a try.
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.