From the creation of atmosphere to sound effects to make your film more realistic. Sound effects are an important part of getting your audience’s attention, especially when it comes to recording effective radio ads. Over the years, you pick up a few tricks of the trade. When it comes to sound effects, many can actually be made from a home studio, you just need a few everyday items and precise hands. Believe it or not, even from the home, you too can create cinematic sound effects that produce uncanny results.
Let’s go through how some of the big Hollywood studios produce their sound effects, with videos to show you how to do so yourself with a studio and microphone.
Action-related sound effects
Firstly, we’ll go through some of the more commonly used sound effects that you’d hear in action movies. So whenever you hear a slap, punch, or broken bone, this is likely how they did it.
Slap sound effect
Are you filming a drama show? Maybe you just want a slapstick-like sound effect for an engaging advert of some sort.
All you need to produce the same result are:
- A plate
- A large piece of meat
Next, you will place the meat on the plate, position your microphone above it, then slap away! Get a few in and see which sound works best, and there you have it, an original slap sound effect.
Check out our YouTube short on how to create a slap sound effect
Body blows sound effect
For intense action shots where you’re filming a fight scene or something similar, you’ll find this one handy.
To create the body blow sound effect, you’ll need:
- A pillow
When you get into your studio setup, bring your pillow, and hit it – Literally. So if you’re creating a short film and want some genuine sound effects, you can produce it yourself without relying on other commonly used sounds.
Squelch sound effect
Are you the next Tarantino? Maybe you want to create a Kill-Bill-Esque movie where the main character gauges someone’s eye out, or steps into a zombie’s corpse… Maybe something less sinister, like a footstep into unknown alien territory.
For an effective squelching sound effect, all you need is:
- A tomato
Now you can up your indie film’s special effects budget, with an everyday household vegetable – well, technically it’s a fruit…
Here’s what it sounds like…
Breaking bone sound effect
Ever wanted to incorporate a broken bone in your production? One for the horror movie enthusiasts, the classical bone breaking sound effect is one that also doesn’t take too much effort to create. In fact, it’s much harder to depict a bone breaking through visual effects than it is through sound.
To recreate the snapping sound of a broken bone, all you’ll need is:
- A celery stick
To create this effect, all you need to do is position your microphone above a celery stick, then snap it. With that you’d get a perfect, detailed snapping sound effect. It’s literally that simple, and you’ll never want to chop your celery normally when cooking again!
DIY atmospheric sound effects
Now that you’ve got to grips with how to create effective sound effects for action scenes, let’s go through how to create homemade sound effects to help set the atmosphere, or better yet, set the scene.
The sound of walking in snow
The ambience of snow, whether you’re setting up a winter wonderland scene, or working on a Christmas ad, you can help set a better scene by creating some sound effects that imitate walking through snow.
It’s also easier than you think, all you need is:
- A thick tea towel
- Walking boots
Now that you’ve got everything together, you will now need to capture two separate sounds.
The first is going to be the regular sound of footsteps, for this you can lower your mic and simply trod up and down on the spot in a rhythmic fashion, until you have enough to loop (around 4-7 steps should do).
Next, add a decent amount of cornstarch to the teatowel, fold, so as to block all gaps, and squeeze, to mimic the sound of crushing snow.
Lastly, combine the footstep sound effect to the snow crushing sound in an editing tool such as Logic or Ableton, then you’ve got yourself a stepping through snow sound effect.
The sound of a crackling fire
Want to create a cosy scene of ambience? Perhaps you have a short film with a scene of a family around a fireplace, or even want to encapsulate the crackling sound of a campfire.
This sound effect is surprisingly easy to produce, all you need is:
- Bag of chips/crisps
Firstly, empty the bag of chips and dispose of them how you deem best, you’ll only need the empty bag for this.
Next, softly squeeze the empty chip bag to create the ambient sound effect of gentle fire crackles. Then, add some firmer squeezes for a few of the harder snap sound effects.
Lastly, gently blow into the microphone to add somewhat of a white noise sound effect to the mix. And there you have it, a homemade fireplace sound effect.
The sound of rain (and thunder)
The sound of rain is key for sad scenes, or even to create an ambience of being in a rainforest. The thunder sound is a bit more tricky, but we’ll take you through.
You will need:
- A rainstick
- A sheet of aluminium foil
The rainstick is the easy part, all you have to do is flip it and vary between heavier and softer rainfall sounds, to create a rainfall ambience.
Next, with the aluminium foil sheet, ensure it’s rolled out flat, place it on top of the mic, and gently press it whilst on the microphone until you capture some sounds that mimic the sound of thunder.
This part is a bit more tricky, so we recommend getting a good few takes in before stopping. To create an even more realistic thunder-mimicking sound, play with the reverb in your audio editing tool, to create a truly realistic thunderous sound.
For those on a low budget, with access to a studio, here are 7 sound effects that you can do yourself. Alternatively you can speak to our sound design team and they can design unique sound effects that can be used for any type of production!
We hope you enjoyed this post and learned something of value today. Was there anything here that surprised you? Let us know in the comments below!