TOS Sound Effects

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by BMariner, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. BMariner

    BMariner Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Forgive me if this question has been asked and answered before here; the search function didn't return any previous threads on this topic.

    Can anybody direct me to some resources about how TOS sound effects were developed and created?
     
  2. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I understand quite a few of them were borrowed from previous TV series and films. I also understand the sound of the alien parasites in "Operation: Annihilate" was a kiss put through a sound moderfier or something. The photon torpedo sound effect was originally from the 1953 film War Of The Worlds.
     
  3. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Per Inside Star Trek, I believe the Enterprise's "whoosh" sound was actually Alexander Courage blowing into a microphone.
     
  4. BMariner

    BMariner Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I think I read that somewhere too. By the way, I'm loving your blog!
     
  5. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Many of the ambient effects were part of stock libraries. Among the disturbing elements in Chuck Jones's 1963(?) cartoon movie Gay Puree is that when Tom the cat detects a mouse he does so to the sounds of someone pressing a couple buttons on the Enterprise bridge.
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I thought that was debunked? That is to say, I remember reading on the board that they used the same idea, but it's not literally the same recording. I have no link to that though.
     
  7. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not even sure if this applies to Trek, but: When I was younger I noticed that whacking certain metal light poles resulted in the sort of "Pew! Pew!" noise associated with a lot of futuristic handguns. (More the "bolt"-style energy weapons as seen in Star Wars, etc. rather than the "beam"-style Trek weapons.)

    Later I read that was actually how they created the zap gun sound effects for some franchise or another. Possibly Classic BSG, but I can't find confirmation.
     
  8. Robert D. Robot

    Robert D. Robot Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ I saw a local, Central NY PBS special on Ben Burtt, Jr. which included him recreating some of the Star Wars sounds. One segment showed him hitting a support cable hooked to a utility pole, which created the "pew pew" sound that was modified and used for the blaster/laser fire. (His dad, Dr. Ben Burtt senior was a chemistry professor at Syracuse University who was the instructor for my freshman biology class years ago!)
     
  9. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ah, I had probably read some similar account of Burtt, Jr. then. Thanks!

    My own experience really was with a metal pole rather than with a cable, but as I recall it was specially shaped. One of those things with a square cross section supporting a street light over a basketball court, perhaps. I'm sure the shape would affect the sound; I doubt you'd get a similar noise out of any old length of metal. (This was 20-30 years ago, so I can't be more specific.)

    Anyway, it doesn't help much with BMariner's question, but I thought people would find it interesting.
     
  10. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    I seem to recall reading somewhere that the rumbling sound heard when the Enterprise cruises by was actually the sound of a jet engine modified into a rumble.
     
  11. urbandefault

    urbandefault Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I read somewhere that the transporter sound was of a toilet tank filling, recorded in a studio restroom.
     
  12. Redfern

    Redfern Commodore Commodore

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    Hmm, first I've read that it was "debated". Now, it is true the "wing tip" blasters of the war machines were fired in rapid succession and as such each "Thoong!" partially overlapped the prior, but I reasoned the base sound started with a single "Thoong!" and the sound labs that provided Trek's audio effects just played them at different rates. I also heard a single dramatic "recoil" used for comic effect in an early Martin and Lewis film. Jerry and Dean are riding a train and try to setlle for the night in a sleeper car. Jerry Lewis strikes his head against the the underside of the upper bunk and I heard the famous photon effect with a great trailing "echo". That film, like WotW, dated from the 50s.

    And to my (admittedly untrained) ear, I suspect the phaser sounds were originally created to depict the war machines' "magnetic legs". They were most noticeable as the machines elevated from their landing pit, the pitch of the cicada like droning rising in pitch as the machines themselves rose. Trek used the lower registers for the ship's batteries and the higher shrills were used for the pistol and pocket weapons.

    Now, how they created that sound, shoot, I have no idea, but I always thought they were derived from the same sources.

    And while some may wish to call me traitor for stating this, I've always loved the sound of the Jupiter II engines, the incredible buildup when the craft launches, the steady drone as it cruised and the power down as the ship landed, or more often crashed. For some time I've imagined the J2 "takeoff" "mixed" with the "revving" of the Enterprise's warp engines. That would, at least to me, sound like hell-aciously powerful mofo' of a ship! It would almost literally scream, "Outa' the way, b*tch!!!"

    Sincerely,

    Bill
     
  13. Warped9

    Warped9 Admiral Admiral

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    ^^ The Jupiter II engine and flight sounds are very cool! :techman:
     
  14. BoredShipCapt'n

    BoredShipCapt'n Commodore Commodore

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    The liner notes of the "Star Trek Sound Effects" CD gave these two accounts, true or not:


    • The pneumatic doors of the Enterprise were actually the sound of an airgun played in reverse.
    • Spock's viewing machine was in reality the thump of a torpedo firing pin played backwards.
     
  15. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I only know that the engine room ambiance was the transporter room played at half-speed...or is it the other way around? :shrug:
     
  16. wildstar

    wildstar Commander Red Shirt

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    I've got the sound effects on an actual record, back when it was first released.
     
  17. MGagen

    MGagen Captain Captain

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    I read somewhere that the phaser sound was a looped recording of locusts speeded up. Seems plausible, at least.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, that is in fact how the photon torpedo sound effect was made.


    Whoever claimed that was either joking or lying. The box set of the full TOS soundtrack reveals that it was created by electronic music pioneer Jack Cookerly, who'd invented several electronic instruments used by Alexander Courage in the pilot scores, including the "magic box," a proto-synthesizer made out of a Hammond organ, which was used to create the transporter sound. There's actually a track on the CD set where you can hear Alexander Courage and "magic box" operator Jack Cookerly discovering the transporter sound by accident as they experiment with tones while working on the shimmery "planet atmosphere" sound effect for Talos IV.


    No, they're very similar sounds, but not identical. The WotW sound is softer and less resonant with a narrower pitch range, more "muffled"-sounding, as well as considerably shorter. No doubt they were both created in the same way, by striking taut metal as described above, but they are distinct sounds. At least, if it is from the same origin, the WotW sound has been heavily processed. But it seems more likely to me that they were created separately, or perhaps were different variants of the sound created during the same session (although in that case you'd think the WotW sound would be used more often).


    It's also used as the sound of a giant spring that the Joker uses to escape from prison in a Batman episode.


    Not sure if that was the first use, but yes, it's definitely the same sound at different speeds/pitches.
     
  19. urbandefault

    urbandefault Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, that sounds much more plausible. I'll be honest though, I've heard what could have been the transporter sound myself in large cavernous echoey restrooms (though without the little "sproing" at the beginning). :lol:
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    There were of course multiple transporter beaming sounds, at least three.

    Was the beaming sound commonly used for materialization on planet surfaces created using the same set-up as the singing plants sound that was used in "The Cage"?

    Also, the singing plants sound seemed very similar to the sound heard on a lot of alien planets.
     

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