Sound effects change our perception of the world

We’ve all seen rough and tumble fight scenes or screeching shoot-em-up car chases in movies. But it’s what you don’t see that really makes these scenes so emotionally compelling.

It all comes down to sound effects. It might seem like a less-than-astute observation, but oftentimes we forget that what we’re hearing is something added after the fact by foley artists. Especially when it comes to animated films, where every sound needs to be created from scratch.

The Cognitive Daily science blog wrote about this phenomenon back in 2007, and they have some interesting examples of actual scientific studies on this topic.  But having recently re-watched Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a film with notably complex sound design, it got me thinking about how important sound effects are in film, TV and the media — The film won two Oscars for sound design and sound effects editing in 1991.

For instance, check out this guy’s retooling of the famous Hindenberg disaster. The original footage was silent, but he adds stock sound effects and Herb Morrison’s news report of the incident. The result is an emotionally compelling piece of news footage that, though containing unoriginal audio aspects, more clearly conveys the horror of that fateful day.

One of my favorite skits from the show “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” is when they pick people out of the audience to provide sound effects for a couple of the players. Compare that to when they have one of the players do sound effects. Quite a different experience.

Also, in honor of our recently deceased King of Pop, here is a (somewhat stupid) reworking of Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video with added sound effects.

Michael Jackson Bad (added sound effects)

The addition of “boing” sounds here and there distract from the song and make the video seem sillier than it really is.

It’s funny how sometimes when you really think about it, the most obvious things can surprise you.

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3 thoughts on “Sound effects change our perception of the world

  1. Pingback: Posts about Boing Boing as of June 29, 2009 » The Daily Parr

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