Science 4: Sound Effects

Without sound effects light sabers would probably just sound like two people swinging sticks through the air and wapping them against each other. Get the picture? We need sound effects. For the light sabers...among other things. 

4th GradeScience
Elementary and Middle School4th Grade
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:27

Vader's more than just his tall, dark, and not-so-handsome look: think about his menacing,

00:31

loud breathing, and the hum of his weapon. [Darth Vader holding a lightsaber]

00:34

He wouldn't be quite so scary if he hiccupped all the time, and his lightsaber meowed.

00:38

The importance of sound effects in storytelling goes all the way back to theater. [People sat in front of a red curtain]

00:42

After all, if part of your play takes place during a furious rainstorm, chances are you [Man is hit by a lightning bolt]

00:46

wouldn't be shoving a cloud through the roof.

00:48

A new tradition called Foley started with the rise of radio dramas in the early 1920s.

00:53

Foley is a fancy word for the reproduction of sound effects to make the drama seem more [Coop pointing at a blackboard]

00:58

realistic!

00:59

For instance, cornstarch in a leather pouch mimics the sound of snow crunching. [Someone squeezing the leather pouch]

01:03

And anytime a door opens slowly in a creepy horror movie, it's probably just a squeaky [Door slowly opens]

01:07

chair.

01:08

These radio dramas were broadcast live by a bunch of actors reading in a studio, and

01:12

all the sound effects were made live in the studio, too. [Picture of studio and a Foley artist]

01:14

Once movies started introducing sound, a lot of the Foley artists from radio made the jump

01:18

to the big screen.

01:20

After a film had been shot, they would watch it, and play the sound effects in perfect

01:23

time with what they saw onscreen, all in one take. [The movie playing with a microphone hanging down]

01:25

They'd do things like clomp shoes against wood to imitate footsteps… [Person making footstep noises with a pair of shoes]

01:29

…or clap two wet hands together to imitate the sound of a person getting slapped. [Person claps]

01:32

It's true, they could have just recorded the sounds of slapping people, but that wouldn't [Man gets slapped and his face is brusied]

01:35

be very kind to the Foley artists.

01:37

As technology progressed, so did sound effects.

01:40

Sound could be manipulated electronically, combining all sorts of recorded sounds to [Man looking at soundwaves on a computer]

01:43

make completely new ones.

01:45

We can see how this worked with the sound effects used in Star Wars for Chewbacca's

01:48

voice.

01:49

Unfortunately, there aren't any wookies out in the wild that could be recorded, so the [Man in the wild with a microphone]

01:52

people making the movie had to figure something else out.

01:54

The film's sound designer, Ben Burtt, combined the sounds from a whole bunch of different [Walrus on a beach]

01:57

animals: walruses, lions, camels, bears, rabbits, tigers, and even badgers.

02:01

Thank goodness they didn't have to get all of them into the studio to record at once.

02:05

Cleaning up after that session would have been a nightmare. [Studio full of animals]