Question about sound design (Nature sounds)

Hey Guyz,
i hope you doin well.
when i watch some movies i very often realize that in action scenes i’d call it “natural sounds” are used.
If there is danger some “Rattle snake” Sound is used, every “monster” gets is voice from a screaming ape. Is this still state of the art? And are those sounds used because they set a switch in our brains?



Hey Michael!

I can answer this in some detail. The sounds you are referring to are know as diagetic sounds. These are sounds that have a connection to what is happening in the scene. Non diagetic sounds are the opposite, sounds that don’t relate to anything on the picture.

Sometimes these sounds are manipulated to make them sound more scary. The psychology of this comes down to two factors.

  1. Low rumbling sounds set of a fight or flight senario in our brains. So a roar or rattle will often create some suspense all on their own.

  2. Higher more piercing sounds actually set off a maternal instinct. As a baby cries it omits a loud scream which is apparently very hard for Us to ignore.

If we take two sounds of both the nature of these elements and put them Olin a scene correctly, then you can elicit the two responses. This answers your question. It is still seen as an integral part. There are other types of sounds that help us to feel certain things too.

However, this falls flat without another theory which is utilised in conjunction with these sounds. That theory is Barthes theory of Semiotics, which states that we interpret visuals and sounds through signs.

Ab example of this in action would be if we herd a rare, then a scream and then a pool of blood.

This would complete the puzzle in our minds. We then are able to imagine what the scene doesnt/cant show us.

This theory is also effective for setting up a scene or film and is highly prominent in the film shutter island. Which is about a man who thinks he is a detective. If you watch the very first scene on the boat, the whole film is actually mapped out by the signs and conventions that were placed in the scene. I won’t give it away, it’s a great film.

I hope this is useful for you :slight_smile:


Neuropsychology: much to read about there also just like midi composing. Extremely interesting.

Just a tip in the subject: The documentary about Lord of the rings, have interesting parts of how they were thinking when creating looks and sounds of the orchs. Same thinking in the neuropsycology.


There are interesting videos on how sound design in films often use sounds that are from things different than the action or scene its matched with. Like the sound of someone punching someone is sometimes from the sound of a lettuce being thrown on the floor or a surface. Sounds can come from something random to produce a real life sound or maybe one that is not real life but we think is a real sound because we have been trained to listen to these sound effects. Sound design is a whole other interesting field.


Yes this is the art of Foly. The most common foly technique people know of is coconuts to make horse trot sounds.

I used to work in a foly studio and I can say they one isn’t really done any more as there’s better ways to do it, but some of the things done are very obscure. Throwing grapes at a wall is used for some gun shot sounds. They record the grape bursting and use that as the fundamental sound. These are great for machine gun sounds.

Some sounds are harder to make but you can can be as creative as you like with it.

This is lots of fun and I really wish that i was working in this area still.


Didnt know they used grapes, that’s interesting. Looks like you’ve tried alot of things in music.


Sounds funny :slight_smile:
Thank you for sharing your experiences!
What i like most is that tire noise in a car chase, if they are on sand :slight_smile: i can’t help myself telling everybody, ok they are drivin on sand, why does a tire make a sound :smiley:


Had the pleasure to work in s few fields, yes. I’ve always focussed in the realm of sound and music though which gives me a broad experience I guess. :slight_smile:

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We used to make that sound by filling a thick balloon full of rubber and then roll that over any hard surface under pressure. The friction of the sand in the balloon rubbing while the rubber ribs together made that sound. But there’s lots of other ways you can make that sound :slight_smile:


Now I feel guilty eating grapes again.

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I bet this is also a lot of work to synchronize them with the pictures and to mix it, i could imagine, not all sounds are are the right volume while recording them…


Lots of zooming in. There’s a LOT of factors you need to consider but they’re mainly when recording. A lot of the time we would get the right sound but it might not match the size of what was on the screen. So we had to find multiple sounds of varying size equivalents… sometimes a small object you record is used for a big object on screen. Or vice versa. There’s no hard and fast rules.

You notice all the time in low budget or studio films when the Foly is too loud. When this happens it doesn’t matter how good your sounds are, they always sound fake and out of place.

A lot of the time people will forget about ambient noise… this still has to be present but nearly always in low budget films they forget about it. Without that the other sounds feel out of place, as if they’re in a vacuum.

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You mean, wind, rain, talking people around them?
I remember making a 30sec clip with a friend at schooltime, and we tried to make a sound for a fire. We took a piece of paper and scrumbled it together and recorded that noise,
omg, i think thas was with the movie creator of CorelDraw 8 or so… in the early 90s :slight_smile:


Does this mean using room tone
so the sounds sound like they are glue together and not just pasted their ?

Hi there I am been trying to learn sfx ,foley etc…

Here is a YouTube video on guy using foot steps and sync it to picture to a animated character


Looks good to me, don’t forget that as an object moves away from a source there is degradation in the sound. You don’t only need a difference in sample, but you also need a difference in volume, Pan and filter.

In your case the volume will decrease as the object moves away, the pan will start slightly off center and move more central as it moves away, and the low pass filter will take out some lows each time and the the highs will diminish a little too.

Then you also have the person behind walking in the same footsteps… this will just need a different sample and the pan will be more to the left, and a little louder.

Finally you then will need a very fast reverb… or slap back delay (probably plate) that’s mixed extremely low and added to the mix. This is the hardest to get right as you’ll be mimicking what the space should sound like.


Yes the sounds will be ambient natural sounds, such as birds or natural human from household appliances. Often you don’t notice these sounds are there but you know when they aren’t.


Man love this thread Geoffrey it’s got me pump in wanting to learn Foley,sound effects,sound designers etc…

Here a experiment

Wanting to “How to Create the illusion of distance” how would you make a sound seam very ,very and very far away sounding like behind the listener way back in the stereo field ?
Without using plugins at first later when I understand
More on how sound can be manipulated then I can to stay to use some plugins

My experiments and findings LW

friends around here none and I limited to what I can do due to physical limitations

I use my iPhone and found a moderating fast clapping sounds for a hour video on youtube

What I Did

place it across other side of the apartment playing at a pretty loud volume

then turn my back to the sound and walk slowly away to the far side of the apartment

I notice the following :

1.First I stood and facing very ,very close to the sound

a.I notice it was very,very loud over all volume wise but very a-little to no levels of dynamics to each over all claps

b.I notice the high sharp pitch of the clapping sound first

c.I could hear all the sounds of the claps with a-bit of separation between them to hear that there was more clap sounds

d.but maybe since it was super loud the closer I got

they all sounded like they were blur together almost like more of a wall of sound with less detail to each separate claps not sure why?

I had a hard time distinguish between the different frequencies layers of each clap the closer I was maybe I going deaf

2.Second I turn slowly around with my back to the sound

a.I notice the over all sound almost like somebody put a blanket over the whole sound weird huh? I slowly walk with my back to the sound away I started to hear a-bit more separation between the claps not much but some maybe I am going crazy

c.but I noticed that over all sound of the volume was decreasing over all over time-the further I went away from the clapping sound

d.the blanket effect was still there as I went into the distance but it like the sound was being more muffed the further I went werid huh?

e.I notice the high sharp pitch as I walk away was also decreasing in over all volume over time and and was going from sharper pitch sound to a more duller but pleasing sounding pitch further away

f.I also notice that further I went away from the sounds of the higher pitch seem to separate abit more where the other underneath lower sound layers frequencies seem to like almost keep decreasing in over all volume over time

I hope this make any sense sine I all very new to this audio design stuff

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Yep that made sense, this is essentially what I explained to you in the other video, but you are creating it in the analogue world.

As a sound moves away from you it loses definition. This is the same as just using a filter to take the highs out slowly.

You lose a little bit of low end but it mainly goes down in volume.

Also the sound of the noise will get more blurry. This is because of something called frequency blur.

Frequency blur is the reason we need to acoustically treat our studios. As sounds bounce off many objects and surfaces they cross eachother which creates phase cancelation. As you get more phase cancelation the sound gets less defined. This is essentially what frequency blur does to a sound as the sound gets further away.

Then after you’ve tried this you can use the techniques I mentioned in the other thread to mimic this with plugins.

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