Where did the laser sound in STAR WARS come from anyway?

Twenty Thousand Hertz is a very cool podcast hosted and created by Dallas Taylor that explores the stories behind iconic sounds — from cartoon voices to tape reel mastering to the backmasking tactics of the "Satanic Panic." And just in time for May the 4th, they've just released a teaser for their upcoming episode that focuses on the sound design behind the Star Wars universe.

Because everyone's familiar with the mod specs on Han Solo's coveted BlasTech DL-44 blaster pistol. But the actual real-world origins of that iconic pkew pkew sound are less well-known. Check it out.

As it turns out, sound designer Ben Burtt quite literally stumbled onto the tone by accident while he was out hiking. After his backpack got caught on a guy-wire in the Poconos, he knew that the twang of elasticity was right — he just had to find a way to replicate and perfect it. Along the way, he also found the sound of a Y-Wing engine.

The full episode will be available on May 13th, with Burtt and host Dallas Taylor going even more in-depth into the physical and material voices that brought the Star Wars galaxy to life. But for now, this little clip is a nice snack for May the 4th.

Twenty Thousand Hertz Podcast

Image: Jon McCormack / 2ok Hz. Used with permission. Read the rest

How they make the gross sound effects for Mortal Kombat games

When someone punches you so hard your brain flies out the orifices of your face, how exactly does that sound? Foley artists know how that sounds, and they use a variety of clever techniqes to generate the wet, crunchy, nasty noises required to gross out and entertain players.

If you twist a bell pepper in just the right way, it sounds like someone’s chest cavity being ripped open. A lot of non-gamers may not be aware that Mortal Kombat is still being produced. In the early 90s, the game was at the bleeding edge of realistic digitized violence, and the franchise was so controversial that Congress held hearings about it. Believe it or not, the series has only gotten more violent since then.

MK always had interesting sound design, right back to the original arcade game from 1992. Here's the sound test, reeling off all the samples like a string of low-fidelity sausages: Read the rest

The amazing story behind the sounds of Star Wars: Episode IV

In this wonderful video, Ben Burtt, sound designer for Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, reveals the secrets behind the fantastic zaps, beeps, and growls in that first film in the series. His first task was to figure out Chewbacca's voice that, ultimately, came from a pet bear on a farm in Tehachapi, California.

Also, I distinctly remember when I was a kid hearing for the first time that Burt discovered the blaster sound during a hike when he accidentally banged his backpack on a guy-wire anchoring a radio tower. After I learned that, I hammered on any guy-wire I came across for at least a week.

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History of Mac startup chimes

Enjoy this history of the Mac startup sound, which Apple got rid of in the 2016 MacBooks after three decades of bongggggg.

Here's a video featuring just the startup sounds, complete with crash chimes.

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The story behind the sounds of Pong, Pac-Man, and Doom

Four video game audio designers explore the psychoacoustics of vintage video games, from the accelerating heartbeat of Space Invaders to the dramatic woosh of Myst's linking books. From Wired:

With only a few channels of audio to play with, early videogame designers had to get very creative if they wanted their sounds to stand out. Pong, created in 1972, took a single tone and made it iconic, while Donkey Kong utilized the limited sounds of a Game Boy to trigger a range of cues and emotions.

As the games got more complex, so did the audio, and the theories behind it. A loop, or short, repeated section of audio, acts as a recurring cue. Dissonant sounds communicate failure, while consonant ones—think of the sympathetic vibrations of Super Mario Bros.—encourage players to continue. The tones can even mimic human sounds—a modulating synthesizer approximates laughter, like the “wawawawawa” in Duck Hunt.

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Studying the sounds of Blade Runner

If only you could hear what I have heard with your ears.

Vangelis's fantastic score was reissued on a beautiful picture disc for Record Store Day 2017. Check your local independent record stores for any that may be left or, of course, Discogs.

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Sound design of Monsters University

SoundWorks Collection interviews Skywalker Sound sound designer Tom Myers about the Sound of Monsters Univeristy. Read the rest