Spike Snell is a Star Trek fan whose thing is the ambient noise that the series' sound-designers created for the fictional spaceships, sounds that are never meant to be in the foreground, but which are always informing the viewer about both the ship's architecture and layout and its current status.
The art of designing spaceships' aural ambiance has had a select group of practitioners over the years, and has emerged a praxis of hunting for interesting hums that can be added to audiovisual works. Warner Brothers SFX editor Peter Lago describes sneaking a mic into a freezer at a grocery store: "[it] made this incredible, 'OOOOMMMMM'."
In a profile in Atlas Obscura, Eric Grundhauser got Lago to annotate the loops used for a variety of spacecraft, from the Star Trek ships to the Battlestar Galactica reboot, all the way to the real-world ISS.
USS Enterprise (Star Trek: The Next Generation) (1987-1994)
‘This ambient loop feels like a heavily processed recording of an airplane in flight. I don't hear the nuts-and-bolts of the engine components, but rather the smooth, higher and lower airy sounds, which give it a soothing and steady feel. This feels like a practical ship; a working-man's ship, but with a slight hint of something more elegant underneath.”
Exploring the Secrets of Soothing Spaceship Sound
[Eric Grundhauser/Atlas Obscura]
(Image: Star trek U.S.S Enterprise Action Playset)
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