Free And Easy Sound Effects Ideas

Need some sounds? Here are some key free sound effects and sound making devices all of which can be made cheaply.

So you're working on your film, theatre or audio project and it's going along great but you are running out of funds. This problem is compounded by the fact that you still have much of the sound work to do. This is actually less of a problem than you may think. What you will find here is a simple list of cheap and easy sound effects and how you can easily achieve them. With practice and imagination, you'll be able to use these effects for a large variety of situations. Most everything needed for these effects are objects that can be found around the house or things that would be easily, and cheaply, attainable.

An important thing to remember is to always test an effect over your microphone, through the computer, on videotape or whatever other medium you will be using to make sure that it has the desired effect when played back.

Body Hitting the Ground - Plastic club hitting a cardboard box.

Body Falling in the Water - Push a toilet plunger into a tank of water.

Fire - manipulate a piece of stiff cellophane.

Slapping of a Face - slapping hand together.

Thunder - Shake a piece of Plexiglas.

Boiling Water - blowing through a straw into a glass of water.

Pulling Large Object from the Water - Fill a good sized tub with water and then pull a large bucket from the water.

Body Being Stabbed - Stab a melon with a carving knife.

Blow to the Head - Smack a head of cabbage with a bat or club.

Kissing - This is not as fun as you may think. The best way to get the sound of a good kiss is to kiss the back of your hand.

Flapping a Glove - A bird flying.

Rocket Hatch; Safe Dial - Spin the knob of a combination padlock.

Baseball Hitting a Bat - Snap a wooden match stick.

Bat hitting a person - Snap cucumbers, carrots, squash and other like vegetables.

If you are going to be doing a large amount of effects, you may want to think about building one of the following effects devices. (This is the basic design, the effectiveness of each tool will be decided by how well the user manipulates it):

If you need "˜walking' sounds and can't afford to cover your floor with sand, dirt gravel or asphalt you can make a "˜Hoof Box'. Historically, a hoof box is an open topped "˜box' (think sandbox) measuring 14x18x4. You can fill it with whatever your character will be walking on and then use shoes to simulate the walk. A trick to obtain exact realism is to use the proper shoes, if your character is an athlete, use sneakers or cleats, if it's a business woman, heels or flats. Look around today, you'll notice the way a person walks tells a lot about who they are.

If you want the stark sound of walking across a floor, you may want to fashion a "˜Walk Board' (two pieces of ¾ plywood piled on top of each other). If you are supplementing sound for someone going up the stairs, a nice trick is to prop one end of the board up.

Crash Box - (may be used for car crashes, explosions, objects being broken haunted sounds, etc.) The easiest, and tastiest, way to make this is to purchase a large popcorn tin from one of the "˜superstores'. They are very prevalent around Christmas time and usually stand around 12 inches high. Eat the popcorn and fill the tin with pennies, nails, small pieces of wood, an aluminum can, a broken glass, a coffee mug and some gravel (just a handful or two). You will then want to duct tape the top on and you are ready to go. All you have left to do is shake and roll it according to the needs of the desired effect. Over time the items inside will wear down so it may be wise to buy a couple of tins, depending on how much use your box will receive.

Although not entirely necessary to have, a turntable (which can be found in any thrift store) is a valuable tool. One with an easily manipulate-able arm and multiple speed settings will give you the most versatility. If you can't find this you may want to borrow an extra tape recorder. These electronics will help you create interesting sounds. Need the voices of aliens on another planet? Record some foreign languages (the more exotic the better. Try watching late night TV for some interesting choices) and animal sounds and then blend them all together. You can even slow the tape down or speed it up during playback for optimum effect. The computer offers other effects and manipulations that can be made to your sounds but you want to be careful not to twist things too much, the best and most effective sounds are those that are "˜real'.

No matter what effect you use or how you choose to make it, you should make sure that it is perfectly placed in the script. The positioning of a sound effect can be more important than how it sounds. Too many effects will make your event seem too "˜busy' while too few effects will draw out the pace of the program.

Above everything, always keep your ears and mind open, you never know what sound will present it's self to you next. Never forget that for his radio program, Orson Welles once recreated the sounds of the great halls of Paris by taping in the studio men's room.

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