Iconic Sounds: How have they affected the way you work?



For composers, it may have been John Williams' unforgettable two-note motif from Jaws that got them into the business. What are the cinematic moments in sound design that drove you to pursue it as a career or lifelong passion, and how do they continue to affect the way you work today?

A few easy ones from me to get the conversation rolling:

THE SOUND: Darth Vader's breathing from Star Wars.
THE EFFECT: OK, this is the Jaws theme of sound design for me. I cannot think about Star Wars without hearing that sound in my memory; it made the character come to life. Much later I learned how that sound was made, by recording a person breathing through a SCUBA regulator. What I take from that today, and how it affects my work, is that sometimes the design element is just as simple and uncomplicated as what the visual medium is conveying, ie. it's a guy breathing in a helmet. So, try recording a guy in a helmet! (or SCUBA regulator, or some other practical prop). In short, I don't always have to be hunching over a synth or sampler to create effective sound design. Reach for a microphone instead.

THE SOUND: The Tyrannosaurus Rex roar from Jurassic Park.
THE EFFECT: I'll never forget that moment in the theatre. I was absolutely riveted, jaw dropped and frozen in my seat; I couldn't believe what I was seeing. But it was the sound that made it real for me. What I take from it today, and how it influences my work, is to not be afraid to shock people with sound design (this lesson comes from The Exorcist, as well). Embrace the reality of the moment and go for it, make it real. Be bold, because there will be times when music will not be there to cover up your track.

Looking forward to all of your contributions to this conversation.

Jay Jennings

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 15 432

1Fantastic questions! – Andrew Spitz – 2010-08-23T07:23:40.757

1You talking about the Vader sound reminds me of an interview with Gary Rydstrom where he said the multi-million dollar visual FX shot of the T1000 liquidizing and walking through the prison bars was made with a 49 cent can of dogfood turned upside-down to get that shlurp sound as it leaves the can... Sound is amazing sometimes. (p.s. that's another angle of how sound is so much cheaper than video, @Tim) - :) – Utopia – 2010-08-24T05:42:32.087

1Funny side story: I saw Star Wars at the drive-in when I was a kid; it wasn't until The Empire Strikes Back that I heard all the sounds in a proper theater, and not on a tiny little speaker hanging off the car window. I think that's 50% of the reason why my love affair with SFX started with that film, and not the very first. – NoiseJockey – 2010-12-01T17:20:09.380



My answer to this is going to be somewhat different or non-traditional to almost all of your responses thus far except for @NoiseJockey. This is also going to be a bit of a long reply, but hopefully interesting and insightful. I know there are a lot of questions on here about how you get your start in a field like this and I think the experiences I've had are a bit unique compared to most. This is actually going to end up being a bit of a bio more than anything. It's mostly because I will always consider myself a student and every project I work on ends up influencing me further and further because I really love this craft.

Being 32 years old now (the beginning of 2011), of course I was deeply impacted by Ben Burtt's work on the Star Wars franchise, Walter Murch on THX1138, Frank Serafine on the original Tron, etc. but my true influence is a slight bit different.

The Sound: The major influence that got me into what I do now was a 80's-Current day musical group called "Skinny Puppy". They were an Experimental/Industrial/Avant-Garde Electronic group out of Vancouver, Canada that heavily experimented with sampling film, tv, their own found sounds and making very intense and cinematic music and soundscapes out of it along with synthesizers and a heavy amount of effects by really experimenting and pushing the envelope of how recording equipment was being used or what it was initially intended for. I guess you could say that besides using Oil Drums and other found sounds as percussion or effect loops or impacts and sweeteners in their compositions, at times they were even re-designing designed sounds that they sampled from films. They would take sounds from films and reverse them or drown them in reverb, pitch shifters, delays, flangers, phasers, distortion and so on. Guitar pedals and various esoteric effects mangling all these already interesting sounds to a new level. So they weren't straight up "lifting/stealing" the sounds, they were making something new out of them and making them their own and I was a huge fan.

There were also other artists using similar techniques, Public Enemy (The industrial strength sampling terrorists of the hip-hop world), Artists off of Zoth Ommog Records, Older Industrial like Psychic TV, SPK, Cabaret Voltaire, Dive and Etc. Stockhausen, Reich, Cage, Kraftwerk and other Early Avant-Garde composers up to modern day luminaries like Amon Tobin, Aphex Twin, Autechre, etc. (Yeah, I think we'd get along well @NoiseJockey). None as initially influential as Skinny Puppy though. My A-Ha! moment was thus sort of similar to @NoiseJockey.

The Effect (in absurd detail): When I was 15 years old I started my own musical project (am I actually admitting this?) one night when I was in a tiny recording studio (I mean this place was about 20ft x 20ft at most) that was owned by a punk rocker friend of mine's older brother. The studio mainly specialized in recording punk bands. I was a slight bit of a goth kid around that time (though mostly listening to Industrial and a lot various electronic music from Electro to Industrial to Techno, New Wave and Experimental) and true to the cliche, I had a book of poetry. We were also drinking quite a bit of vodka. *Side-Note: At this point in time I was more of a graphic based artist and a bit of a dabbler in other visual arts. Drawing, Sculpting, Photography, Etc. The first career I ever dreamed of having when I was a child was to be a comic book artist. *End Side-Note.

In this studio they also happened to have a server rack full of various guitar effects units and they also had a Korg DW-8000 synthesizer, a Roland Octapad drum set and a VCR. My friend asked me if I wanted to make a song and happily enough I said "sure", always being one interested in experimenting in new types of art. He introduced me to the various gear and gave me a brief description of what each piece does. Having a thorough interest in my favorite musicians recordings, I already had a pretty decent idea of the natural order of these things and a basic idea of what they all do. We played around for a while and I haphazardly designed/created and programmed some interesting sounds with the Octapads, DW-8000 and etc.

One of the movies in the studio was "Silence of the Lambs" and we scanned through it for something appropriately spooky to sample from it and ended up with a loop recorded into a Roland Guitar FX rack unit of Jodi Foster saying "Screaming, some type of screaming like a child's voice" that we looped over and over with a backwards reverb to make it sound uber-spooky and cool. We pitched it to the tempo we wanted and then proceeded to come up with more cohesive musical parts that we had played around with just before. At this point I was playing the part of producer more than performer since I wasn't a musician by any means at that point. I was more directing him with my ideas and descriptions. I did compose some synth lines and played them on the recording though. I did also have a decent sense of rhythm. We recorded this sort of sound collage/song to the two track analog tape machine and moved on to something more upbeat which I ended up singing over (horribly, I might add) and then we called it a night or just ended up passing out considering the obscene amount of vodka we drank in the process of this excursion.

The next morning I woke up on the floor of the studio with a cassette tape in my pocket (and quite a hangover). I went home and listened back to what we had created and it just totally blew my mind. We had created something out of nothing and in the end, the result was that we still had nothing. Well, nothing tangible besides the cassette as the physical carrier. I realized that we started with just these vibrations floating through the air and we manipulated them to our will and in the end we still only had vibrations floating through the air. It was an intangible piece of art that will forever morph and change based on mood, hearing abilities, listening environment and so on. It was a forever changing piece of art. It was like being a modern day Michaelangelo... only instead of marble we were carving our creations out of slabs of noise. From that moment on I knew I had found the ultimate art form (for me at least). I then promptly bought my first synth from a pawn shop and started a horrible band that got much better very quickly.

Two years later I found a local studio to work at. This studio was the Audio Playground Synthesizer Studio and Museum. We had well over 1000 synths and over 300 drum machines. The largest known collection of synths in the world actually. My first job there as an intern at 17 was to chop up and archive recordings of all these (mostly antique and classic) drum machines into one hits and loops. I also had to sketch out the machines, photograph them and document my sounds. Little did I know, this was my first bit of training into creating my own sound libraries. I helped the owner Alpha/Beta test and create synth presets for boutique and major synth manufacturers, I designed synth presets for and recorded the legendary Patrick Moraz and a whole slew of other artists. I assisted the owner in building the largest midi network in the world and I learned how to solder and do basic synth repair. We networked all the various studio rooms so you could patch a synth from any room into any other room. I worked there off and on for around 10+ years. I cut my teeth here in the mid 90's just as DAW's were starting to go somewhat mainstream and Opcode created the first real DAW. Opcode Studio Vision Pro. The first sequencer to incorporate MIDI and audio. Yamaha had also just released the O2R.

By the time I was 21 I got an audio post internship at the largest post house in the Southeast, Century III on the back lot of Universal Studios FL. because my girlfriend at the time was a 2D compositor there and the audio guy needed an assistant. I then learned more about audio post and sound design. I helped design sounds for the ride installations for Universal and Disney, I worked on a bunch of Industrial work for Lockheed Martin and started to do a little TV work as well. They eventually closed a few years after 9/11 and I then worked in a few other industries and worked in a few small studios, as a private studio planner and DAW builder. I also did some remixes for some releases and etc. until Full Sail University called me when I was about 28. They said they found my resume somewhere and wanted to interview me for a position as an Instructor in the Audio Post department of the Recording Arts program. I was hired on and I finally got that Full Sail experience I always wanted when I was 17 but could never afford. I learned a lot when I was there, met some amazing people, received some amazing training and got to spend 2.5 years sharing my extreme love for all things audio in some jaw-dropping and amazing studios that I also had the privilege of using when off the clock.

While working there I finally landed my first feature film job with a few co-workers in my department and I was lucky enough to take on the position of "Sound Designer". It was sort of a trial by fire and I was responsible for the major scenes and the core "sound" of the film (which was a horror film, so I got to experiment a lot and really dive in head first). I did roughly about 45-60 solid featured minutes of very extreme and in-depth sound design out of the entire 90m film (well over 500GB of all original, custom non-stock library material). We finished the entire film in about 5 weeks (which is obscene for a team of 5 people handling all of the entire Audio Post duties while also working about 48 hours full time at Full Sail. I also got to pre-dub all my sound design stems in surround.

About a month after that there were some layoffs and I ended up being one of them. I spent a few more months in Orlando, worked on a couple more feature films as a sound designer and then moved to NY to find work. I quickly realized NY is way overcrowded with people even more experienced that I was who were also out of work and righting for the same entry level/low paying jobs I was. I could hardly even find an internship position paying me more than turkey sandwiches and realized NY was a futile effort. I then moved to Denver (where I currently am) and I found more freelance work in 3 weeks than the 3 months I spent in NY. It's a modest market full of small scale Indy productions and a decent amount of advertising work and IT/Game development. Since being here I'm learning how to develop a freelance career since studios still aren't hiring due to the economy and I've started doing sound design for hardware and synth manufacturers. I'm developing my own sound libraries for a couple companies, doing a bit of local Audio Post work here and there and also concept designing a very extreme and versatile sound design plug-in for one of the software companies I do preset/sound design work for. So things are looking positive. I'd rather work for an employer since the business end isn't my strong suite and I'd love more feature film work. I really love the big scale crazy stuff where I get to experiment and innovate. I see this as a learning experience as well though. It's definitely teaching me my worth and how to be even more efficient.

All that being said... my initial focus and transition from experimental electronic music to film was just an obvious path for me. It just made sense since I was using similar techniques, but simply applying them to different forms of media in slightly different ways. I've unfortunately spent a lot of time starting over in new sectors of the industry and haven't been able to get a steady hold in one particular one just yet, but I also find that it's provided to be very useful and has taught me to think outside the box, be versatile and a bit of a jack of all trades. It's helped me in every situation I've been in since. Especially since it's always more than we sign up for or what we think the job entails. It's also helped me dive a bit further than simply entry level positions. I've had years of sound editing and design experience, just not on a feature film, but I was able to get into that position based on my other experiences and skill. Not many people get to jump the line like that on their first feature film and I got really lucky. My main focus in the long run is more sound design work for feature films, but sometimes I like the distraction of a sound library, musical project or developing plug-ins.

Wow, that was long. Sorry about that guys. Hopefully it was interesting. I desperately needed a break/distraction from an ADR/DX editing gig I'm not too enthusiastic about.


Syndicate Synthetique

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 2 050

1I grant you 1 up-vote just for the sheer length of your answer. Thanks for sharing - – Jay Jennings – 2011-02-14T09:31:56.967

@Jay lol, well hopefully you actually read it. Hahaha!!! You're welcome! – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-14T09:56:49.653

I can be a bit wordy at times being an ex-audio post instructor. I can definitely get the point across to many different people and learning types really well without confusing anyone too much though. – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-14T09:58:24.877

@Jay ... oh, and do I get an award for longest most drawn out post ever? lol I likely deserve it (and probably not in a good way).

You should add a tag for that that only one person can get based on character count if you can. That would definitely be amusing. – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-14T10:29:03.063

@Syndicate Synthetique +1 for being inspired by Skinny Puppy. Their work is a huge part of why I got into sound design as well. – Nick Maxwell – 2011-08-05T12:30:53.547


Honestly, I just edited my answer with this blurb because it's a fantastic question that has been inactive for far too long. More new answers please!

This was a great question, Jay. I had to take my time to really think about this one. Mulling over all the movies that I had seen before I knew I wanted into the biz. Trying to figure out which ones stood out and why. I kept coming back to these two:

THE SOUND: The score of Fantasia

THE EFFECT: Sound really can influence picture. This one is a bit of a cheat because, obviously, we're not talking about sound design here, we're talking score. But if anyone ever asks me of an example of sound influencing the direction of picture, this is mine. Sadly, this has yet to find it's way into my work specifically, it's more of an inspiration of what has yet to be. But I haven't given up hope.

THE SOUND: The Train from the Restaurant Scene in The Godfather

Spoiler Alert

THE EFFECT: This one has gotten a lot of write ups over the years (which may be why it keeps coming to mind), but I think for good reason. It's set up fantastically. I'd seen The Godfather many times before I'd really realized the effectiveness of the choices that were made in the scene. I still can't say that I'd be as daring as to play back the train that loud, but it does work so well. As the train had already been established in the scene a couple times I remember watching it with the thought of, "oh this is the opportune moment. With the train passing right overhead, less people would be prone to hear the gunshot. His getaway will be clean..." I was caught in the moment of the story, never fully realizing that the sound of the train ends with the first shot. What in fact I was always feeling, was this inner motivation of the character. The rush and frenzy of emotion and realization of persona. What I eventually realized was that even though on the surface it may appear straightforward, the sound of a train isn't always a train.

Steve Urban

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 6 009

1I think the statute of limitations on spoilers has long since passed on The Godfather... ;-) – Joe Griffin – 2014-03-24T05:42:58.803

Thanks for ruining The Godfather for me. I haven't seen it yet... Thanks... – Utopia – 2010-08-27T01:17:31.267

@Ryan LOL! Yeah, sorry! Spoiler Alert! – Steve Urban – 2010-08-27T01:58:59.610

About fantasia I remember that version for Fantasia 2000. It was my very first date and I couldn't make a move on her becouse the movie made me completly freeze... – eduardopolitzer – 2010-08-27T05:09:52.420


I haven't seen Punch Drunk Love in many years, but I remember a car crash that came out of nowhere. It made me jump and got me very unsettled. This worked perfectly for the main character's personality, which is very volatile. Very simple but super effective use of sound.

That's one that comes to mind, but I know there are many...

Andrew Spitz

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 6 251

I actually didn't answer the question correctly... Rushed into it. I was already at film school doing sound when I saw it so this wasn't my trigger to do sound, but it was a moment where I really clicked as to how sound can work wonders. – Andrew Spitz – 2010-08-23T14:18:54.517

1That is an awesome moment. That whole film has some pretty cool rulebreaking sound. The wind-on-the-mic sound in that tracking shot before the car crash totally opened my mind up to non conventional sound design. – Roger Middenway – 2010-08-23T14:25:26.713

@Andrew - There's also a scene like that in Meet Joe Black where he's hit by a bus and totally comes from out of nowhere. The sound in that film is also pretty great. Nothing crazy, but detailed and effective. Like the subtle background sounds in the diner scene are just great. – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-08-06T03:11:08.627

Oh ya @syndicate I remember. Hectic moment – Andrew Spitz – 2011-08-06T06:36:42.497


The radio static from Silent Hill, the first one.

For me, this was the single solitary sound effect that at all gave me the idea that I could be a sound designer, and not just a composer. It gave me the realization that sound could create fear -- absolute terror, even -- without a single visual cue. (Also, on a game design level, it gave me some great thoughts in regard to lack of sound. In SH, if you turn off your radio and your flashlight, the monsters can't see/hear you, and won't come looking for you.)

Now, in everything I can get away with, I try to use sound to impart some sort of non-visual, non-spoken idea that something's happening... not just things off camera, but things like emotional and mental status changes. (Yeah, I think we all try to do that.)

Dave Matney

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 4 087

Good call on Silent Hill. Every time I hear that sound I instinctively want to turn off a console... – Jordan – 2010-08-24T04:46:40.183

1In Utah, we have a really foggy two or three weeks in the fall, and I have a 35 mile drive home every day that usually ends up with me changing radio stations a few times because I lose the signal -- In the fall, because of the static and fog combination, I usually drive in dead silence, or at least take all of Akira Yamaoka's tracks off my iPod and insist on that. – Dave Matney – 2010-08-24T13:28:41.100

1I was influenced by this too. I use a lot of static and electronic zaps as a result of Silent Hill and the dream sequences of The Cell in Investigation Discovery Promos. So effective! – Karol Urban – 2010-11-30T17:44:39.380


It was the totally immersive, emotional power of cinema that got me hooked on sound for film, but a couple of iconic sounds from my childhood would be the sound of The Six Million Dollar Man when he jumps, and the scary Dalek vocals on Doctor Who.... And maybe the witches cackle from The Wizard of Oz... And those freaky oompa lompas singing on Willy Wonka


Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483


oompa loompa…so wacky! – Jay Jennings – 2010-08-23T21:14:52.180

So Tim, do those sounds have any effect on how you design today? – Jay Jennings – 2010-08-23T21:16:01.460

1No, I dont think the specific sounds do - but the feeling they gave me? definitely - we are the sum of our experiences! – None – 2010-08-24T20:43:12.030


The Sound: The Discs in Tron

The Effect: I was a Tron JUNKIE... It's actually what got me into computers in the first place. Being a junkie I watched everything BTS I could get my hands on (and in those days there were no DVD extras..). Disney had a Making Of thing on the "Wonderful World Of Disney" (ok...dating myself there) and it featured Frank Serafine showing how he combined a whip and a monkey scream with some processing to create the sound. It was the first time my brain actually realized that sound was DESIGNED and created by someone.


Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

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I remember seeing that video... probably syndicated on the Disney Channel or something on one of the days I stayed home "sick" from school. – Dave Matney – 2010-08-24T15:13:22.500

@Dave They still played Wonderful World of Disneys at like 3AM on the Disney Channel when I was in High School. – Utopia – 2010-08-24T16:37:29.533

About 8 or 9 years ago, I went to an NAB show, and Frank was there selling his FX. I went up to him and introduced myself and told him he was the reason I went into film sound! He was very polite, but I think I might have freaked him out a little! :) – Sonsey – 2010-08-25T00:40:47.677


These are sounds that never left my brain and completely influence my sound design palette.

Sound: I like the quintessential computing sounds from the 70s. In fact, I must say the whole Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Battlestar Gallatica synthesized springy super hero jumps and leaps along with the almost arpeggiated electronic bleeps for computers forever stick in my mind. I loved it.

Effect: It was so wacky and primitively electronic while being extremely effective and innocently technologically optimistic unlike much of the ominous all powerful sounding electronic hums and drones we tend to associate with computers now. Perhaps this is symbolic of our use of computers as clunky helpers and timesavers in the 70s verses our almost absolute continual dependence on data storage and computation today. I felt like this is well represented cinematically with the vocal sound design for Wally and C3PO. Loved it soooo much. God love you, Walter Murch and Ben Burtt.

Sound: The flow of people in the hallway during the hallway scene for THX 1138.

Effect: I could just listen to that sound for hours on loop. There is a jem of a interview on the anniversary DVD where frequency variation is discussed. It can often be more effective at translating a feeling of largeness verses just doubling sounds over and over. Check it out on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnXad1aAXQs So amazing!! I love that sound.

Sound: The SFX silent music only (amazing music) blood elevator scene in Kubrick's The Shining.

Effect: That scene was so horrifying with the flashes of the panicked child, the twin girls, and blood raining down....but no object specific SFX. After the amazing design that was used in previous scenes (The Gold room, the snow maze) it was unsettling to feel the unnatural discontinuous lack of design on such an enormous scene. It really felt like all hell had broken loose. It reminds me that sometimes the best thing I can do for the effectiveness of a story is to let something stay mute.

Great discussion, Jay!

Karol Urban

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 1 614

@Mixing, thanks for your excellent contribution to the discussion! – Jay Jennings – 2010-11-30T20:03:11.487


The Scene In We Own the Night, the car chase scene that occurs in the rain with cars dipping and diving between the support columns of the elevated train tracks.

The Sound(s) The windshield wipers initially start out as a diagetic sound element that later transforms to become the heartbeat of this exciting chase scene. Most of the scene takes place from the point of view of Joaquim Phoenix inside the car. The muted sounds of heavy rain hitting the windshield creates a remarkably claustrophobic sensation. When the pace of the scene picks up, there is no music cue telling us how to feel. Instead, the muted gunshots heard outside of the car that threatens the life of Joaquim's father played by Robert Duvall and the pace and volume of the sound of the windshield wipers provide a distinct accent on the action that unfolds. When a key event occurs in the chase scene, the timbre of the wipers change. I believe it's a delay effect that gives it a new scraping quality but I'm not sure. It certainly contributes to the sensation of having your world torn apart by this event. The scene continues on for a bit and we're taken out of the car by the rising sound of a car horn just before the final crash. Music only comes in later as an afterthought after the scene has concluded.

The Effect Well I talked about the effect a little bit in describing the sound. Lots of car chase scenes feature hyped-up music and loud sound effects. However, this scene transports the viewer into the scene by creating a real sense of claustrophobia and helplessness as the world falls apart around you. It's a great scene and I highly recommend the movie just for that scene.

Douglas Murray was the Sound Designer/Supervising Sound Editor for that film.

Hubert Campbell

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 984

@Hubert, excellent study! – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-01T18:17:11.250

@jay jennings Thanks, Jay! I really enjoyed that scene. – Hubert Campbell – 2010-12-02T03:11:10.130

@Hubert - I love this movie and this scene. Good call! – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-14T10:31:05.680

Thanks @Hubert! Still haven't seen the flick, just added it to the Netflix queue. – Steve Urban – 2011-05-05T14:52:48.477

@Steve I hope you enjoy the scene. But I must admit that the movie in general has some flaws as an overall story. Sometimes, I think that if the movie was actually stronger, it would have gotten at least a nomination for some award for creative sound design. – Hubert Campbell – 2011-05-26T11:50:45.860


I guess it all started watching Tom and Jerry cartoons. I just love those old stuff!


Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

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[Jay, sorry this doesn't follow your format, but there are too many specific influences to list...]

For me, it started with Star Trek: The Original Series. Sure, I was all about Star Wars, who wasn't...but that was the show that was syndicated and on daily, and therefore wound up profoundly impacting what I noticed in media sound and how I listened to sound for picture. The transporter, the tricorder, warp drive, photon torpedoes, even how the ship phasers sounded different on the bridge from exterior POV's...so many items to list. And, of course, so many more bad sounds that to this day haven't aged well. The Bionic Man was the very first show, that had iconic sounds that I remember, but I don't think that really had much of an impact on my work. Dr. Who was another informative series. These early shows clued me into the fact that people had to make these sounds from nothing, and that was fascinating (and what spurred me to ask my parents for a home computer).

My big "ah-ha" moment was Star Wars, however, precisely because its marketing materials (behind-the-scenes and making-of documentaries) showed how, unlike the shows I had seen before, the sound effects were largely of real-world sources and not synthesized. This, therefore, clued me into how ALL film has potential for sound design, not just genre fiction.

I also have to add one thing that's not filmic that I found hugely influential: The inclusion of samples into music (sorry, I wasn't aware of musique concrete or Steve Reich until much later!) was a big ah-ha for me, in terms of recognizing that any sound could be used for any purpose, in any medium. Public Enemy, Skinny Puppy, and Pop Will Eat Itself were big influences for years, and so many more (now the DJ Shadows and Amon Tobins of the world)...


Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

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@NoiseJockey, love this answer! Much insight… – Jay Jennings – 2010-12-01T18:16:05.993

Very nice answer @NoiseJockey – Steve Urban – 2011-05-05T14:46:42.933


Since I've noticed sooooo many people her citing the "Six Million Dollar Man" signature sound effect in this thread and I thought I'd post a little about it. Obviously, I love and found it to be iconic as well. A while back I did a bunch of research to find out what it's origins were.

The source of the original sound is from the tone leakage of a Hammond B3 Organ. Here's a sound file of it: files.me.com/synsynth/zfqb3u.wav *not sure how long that will last if I don't update that particular ftp account, so you might want to re-host and re-post to preserve it's legacy.

The rest of it was all post processing which was simply an analog tape delay (I forget which model).

Feel free to experiment with it. I did and I found it extremely rewarding. I had a lot of fun re-living and re-creating the legendary and detrimentally shaping sounds of my youth.

Some notable and free analog tape-style delays for me that will produce similar effects if tweaked right include Valhalla Freq Echo (Mac only) and the Mdsp/Smartelectronix Analog Delay (Mac/PC) found here, as well as the +Delay found in the Soundhack "Delay Trio" bundle (Mac/PC)

Happy Tweaking!!!

Syndicate Synthetique

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 2 050

Tarantino's designers would have a blast with that sound. Thanks for the share. – Matt Cavanaugh – 2011-02-14T11:16:09.190

Yeah, it took me about 12 hours google-ing different variations of terms and following endless links to really sort this one out considering it has had so much speculation and is indeed iconic even outside our field and there have been many useless comentators. So I had to sort through the BS and this was the most solid and reaffirming info, mostly based on an ex-tv-producers account of all of it from what I recall. The fact that he remembered any of this and his recollection (and attention to detail) wasn't so messed up from drugs in those days just blows my mind. – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-14T11:22:28.717


I can't quite remember when I knew that this was the line to pursue, but I actually think that it just slowly build up and somehow subliminally shaped my path, since I eventually started to realise that many of my great film moments where due to the soundtrack, especially the score and specific sfx. Once I started learning the constructed nature of a soundtrack it became so much more interesting and I just knew that's what I had to do.

In no particular order:

Scores: Fifth element, Ghost in the shell, Star Wars, Bladerunner, Jurassic Park, E.T., 2001, Cast Away, No Country for Old Men...

Sfx: everything about the Lightsaber, Smartgun from Aliens, Predator vision, Bullet-time and the matrix code, every facet of the pod race sequences, voice of HAL, grenade launcher in T2, T-rex scream...

They have all informed and expanded my sonic vocabulary and I could go one for a long time listing fragments. When I'll be able to structure, execute and facilitate that level of sonic storytelling and make it as iconic and memorable as these guys then that would just be great.

Great question!

Thomas Miksa

Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 116

I find it interesting that you mention "No Country for Old Men", especially since it has only two very distinct music cues. It's mostly vacant except when his best friend gets killed/he finds out and is walking away from the hotel/crime scene and also some other point later on I'm not remembering too well at this particular moment. I actually loved the use of "Less is More" in this film. It suited the picture and it's a very noteworthy example of such. – Syndicate Synthetique – 2011-02-14T10:35:51.273


The sound of silence has profoundly affected the way I work in so many ways.


Posted 2010-08-23T07:16:50.483

Reputation: 2 594