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:

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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