Science Brian has promised that Episode 3 will have only a few simple sound effects, so I shall look forward to that
– My Episode 2 Blog
So, “a few simple sound effects,” is it? Let’s look at that statement, shall we? Firstly, “a”. Can’t argue with that. At the other end we have, “sound effects”, and yes, there were indeed sound effects in Episode 3; can’t fault Science Brian there. But, between these two unarguable bookends, we have the words, “few” and “simple”. This is where the sentence starts to fall apart. If you listen to Episode 3 again (because you’ve listened to it already, yes?) you’ll notice that the 21-minute running time consists of about 3 minutes of dialogue and 18 minutes of sound effects. Give or take.
Episode 3 contains, inter alia (many, many alia):
- A smoke grenade
- A knife being pulled out of a leg
- A lock-pick kit being unrolled
…and, my personal favourite…
- A spinosaurus skull being released from a complex pulley system and crashing to the ground seconds after our hero has cut through a set of ropes with a dinosaur tooth
Fortunately, the radio producers’ handbook contains a very useful section somewhere near the beginning, just after the explanation of how the accent-stabiliser works.* It is a list of common, everyday items, and the less-common experiences they can be used to represent. Every primary school child knows that two coconut halves can be used to create the sound of a horse clip-clopping along a road. But why stop there? Taking a knife to a watermelon can provide some very gory and squelchy stabbing sounds. A bamboo cane being swished through the air produces the ‘swoosh’ sound that throwing knives… probably don’t actually make, but would make if the world were a radio play. And dropping a bag of wet laundry can produce the thud of an unconscious body slumping to the ground.
All these and more can be found at the wonderful Freesound, where like-minded souls can upload their homemade sound effects for others to make use of. It’s quite heavy on the zombie/horror genre – lots of slashings, stabbings and moanings – but Action Science Theatre would sound very different without it. Sadly, typing “spinosaurus skull” into the search engine came up blank, so I had to improvise. The final crash effect contains a wooden desk being smashed, a person falling down, a Jenga set being knocked over, and lumps of wood being dropped onto a hard floor, all mashed together and turned up to 11.
So, now you’ve got the idea, which sounds in Episode 3 were actually the following:
- A set of screwdrivers and an old pair of jeans?
- The same old pair of jeans, this time with a carving knife?
- Chopping up a carrot?
Answers next time.
*What, you didn’t think they could hold those accents for the full 20 minutes, did you?