As my regular reader will know, I spend a lot of time in these blogs ranting about the ludicrous sound effects that Science Brian expects me to produce. Anyone who has listened to Episode 5, then, will expect this blog to be no different. Except that… when I first read the script for Solvay-nt Abuse – and saw that I needed to create a giant ant that rumbled, rattled its cage, smashed through the bars, roared, bit a scientist’s arm off, and then proceeded to crash its way through an explicitly marble-floored hotel – I passed straight through ‘ranting’ and emerged on the far side with a sort of cheery determination. Believe me, I was as surprised as you are.
So how, then, does one create a giant ant? By raiding Freesound, of course. Firstly, we need rumbling. This is simply one of the coloured noises – brown, I think – and a little digital jiggery-pokery (DJP). Next, the cage rattling and breaking, which is a mishmash of assorted pots, pans and other metal objects being thrashed around with abandon. And some DJP. Biting a scientist’s arm off, of course, sent me scurrying back to my exciting collection of watermelon sounds. So far so simple. Now the tricky bit.
Mr Twinkles will not stop growing. As he is confined to a solidly built early 20th-century hotel, this means that his head has the disturbing habit of breaking through each floor on which our scientific heroes take refuge. But before he can break through the floor, there has to be some ominous cracking. There are various wood cracking noises on Freesound – as people attack lengths of plywood with crowbars or their bare hands – but individually they sounded a bit thin. The final noise is therefore a mixture of two different cracking sounds to give a more solid effect. Similarly, the crashing noise was made by layering several sounds: a collection of digging and tearing sounds, two different explosions, and the sound of rocks tumbling down a hillside.
Which brings us to the roar. Typing ‘roar’ into the Freesound search box produces a wide range of different effects. So, for this month’s quiz question, which of the following (complete with DJP, of course) did I eventually use?
- A Tibetan Buddhist chant
- A drinking straw being pulled through a plastic lid
- A log fire
- A jet plane taking off
- Waves on a beach
- Some guy saying ‘roar’ into a microphone
There’s a bonus point if you can identify the source of this month’s blog title without recourse to a ‘Famous Web Search Engine’ (©New Scientist).