Sound Effects

Gray skies, a torrential downpour. You’re looking over the shoulder of a man driving slowly through a heavy rainstorm. Up ahead is an ominous looking house… something’s not right. The only sound you hear is coming from the windshield wipers, slapping back and forth. They don’t sound like your car’s wipers; they sound much more eerie, but you can’t explain it. Whatever it is makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. What you don’t know is that the film’s director and sound supervisor have added the sound of a woman moaning in sync with the wipers, giving the audience a tense and creepy feeling.
Whether subtle or exaggerated, sound effects are one of the most crucial elements of a film. If you consider the picture and dialogue of a film the most vital parts, then like a great painting, sound is the frame, never overpowering, but always enhancing your experience of the film as a work of art.
Sound effects can be organic, like a wave crashing, or manipulated in a sound design suite, like SPIDER-MAN’s web zapping. Sound effects can simply match the visuals you see on screen, or intensify a feeling the director wants to convey. Sound helps the audience experience a movie rather than just watch it, which is the filmmakers’ ultimate goal.
Sound effects come from a vast array of sources, and at Sony Pictures Entertainment, all sound effects eventually live in the same place. SPE’s state-of-the-art digital sound effects library is hosted on an Apple X-Serve, with 40 terabytes of storage space. Using simple interface software, up to 100 sound editors, designers and supervisors can access the library’s over 260,000 sound effects at one time. There is also ample room on the server for movies and TV shows in the post-production phase to store their work, so a show’s sound staff can access each other’s reels with the click of a mouse, without moving hard drives or staff from room to room. With this kind of technology, SPE’s post-production sound team remains well ahead of the digital curve.

The library's massive server holds sound effects on the left side and reels from active shows on the right.

A small section of the thousands of sound effects stored on CDs.

Sound Gallery

To listen to sound effects, click on the links below. More sound effects on the next page...