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10 Iconic Movie Sounds (And How They Were Made)

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While a movie’s dialogue and sound are recorded during filming, a majority of sound effects and foley work are created during post-production. The average movie has hundreds of different sound effects, from the sound of a door opening to water being poured into a glass. Considering that sound design is just as important to a finished film as its visual elements, sometimes sound designers have to get really creative to bring a movie to life. Here are 10 iconic movie sounds, and how they were made.

1. LIGHTSABERS // STAR WARS (1977)

Star Wars sound designer Ben Burtt created the distinctive sound of a lightsaber by combining the hum of an idle film projector and the buzz from an old TV set. “The motors made a musical ‘hum,’ which I felt immediately would complement the image in the painting,” Burtt explained to filmsound.org. “I recorded that motor, and a few days later I had a broken microphone cable that caused my recorder to accidentally pick up the buzz from the back of my TV picture tube. I recorded that buzz, and mixed it with the hum of the projector motor. Together these sounds became the basis for all the lightsabers.” Burtt then captured the lightsaber swooshing sound when he twirled and swiped a shotgun microphone in front of a speaker playing the combined sounds.

2. T. REX // JURASSIC PARK (1993)

Considering that it would be impossible to accurately capture the sounds of animals from 65 million years ago, Jurassic Park sound designer Gary Rydstrom had to get creative with making the T. rex’s iconic roar. He slowed down various animal noises—from a baby elephant’s squeal to an alligator’s gurgling to a tiger’s snarl—to give the T. rex life. The sound of the king (or queen, as it were) of dinosaur’s breath was the sound of air escaping a whale’s blowhole. Rydstrom even used his tiny Jack Russell terrier, Buster, to create the sound of a hungry T. Rex killing a fleeing Gallimimus.

“The way they animated the T. rex was very doglike, especially when it grabs the Gallimimus and the lawyer and shakes them to death,” Rydstrom told Vulture. “Every day I would see my dog playing with the rope toy and doing exactly that, pretending like he’s killing his prey.”

3. SLIDING THROUGH JAIL BARS // TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991)

In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 phases through jail bars to try to capture the T-800, Sarah Connor, and her son John at the mental institution. Sound designer Gary Rydstrom revealed that he came up with a very cost effective way that involved a lot of dog food slowly being sucked out of cans.

“What’s amazing to me is the combination of Industrial Light & Magic using millions of dollars of high-tech digital equipment and computers to come up with the visuals, and meanwhile I’m inverting a dog food can,” Rydstrom said.

4. WARP DRIVE // STAR TREK (2009)

Although the series got its start on television, Star Trek has made a big impression on the big screen with 12 (soon-to-be 13) movies in the franchise. One of the most recognizable sounds from the entire film series is the sound of the warp drive. For the 2009 Star Trek reboot, director J.J. Abrams enlisted Ben Burtt to create new sounds for everything on the U.S.S. Enterprise, while paying homage to the original.

“The original warp drive sound was a very musical tone that ramped up and down in pitch, with all kinds of hum and distortion, and it was undoubtedly produced with a test oscillator going through a plate reverb chamber,” Burtt told synthtopia.com. “I wanted to go back to that musical idea, and get something with an emotional feel to it, so I reproduced that sound in exactly the same way in analog fashion, using a 1960s-era test oscillator that was once in the physics department at my old school, Allegheny College. I went back there and actually found that oscillator in a basement, and brought it back with me to use on the movie.”

5. THE SHOWER SCENE // PSYCHO (1960)

Along with Bernard Herrmann’s brilliant score, one of the reasons why the iconic shower scene from Psycho is so terrifyingly effective is its sound design. Although you don’t actually see Mrs. Bates slice into Marion Crane, you can hear every stab going into her body. Alfred Hitchcock achieved this by stabbing through countless melons to find the perfect one for the scene. “In a recording studio, prop man [Bob] Bone auditioned the melons for Hitchcock, who sat listening with his eyes closed,” writes Stephen Rebello in Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. “When the table was littered with shredded fruit, Hitchcock opened his eyes, and intoned simply: ‘Casaba.’”

6. BOULDER CHASE // RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)

The first scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark is arguably one of the most memorable in adventure movie history. While Indiana Jones is trying to dodge spares and tarantulas, the archaeologist accidently sets off a booby trap that triggers a giant boulder, which begins rolling straight for him. The boulder, of course, wasn’t real; it was made of fiberglass. To sell an audience on its authenticity, sound designer Ben Burtt used the sound of a car set in neutral, coasting down a gravel road.

“One afternoon we were coming down one of the hills here in a little Honda Civic station wagon that belonged to the sound department,” Burtt told the Los Angeles Times. “We were coasting on the road that had big rocks—sort of baseball size rocks. There was this great crunching and rumbling of a sound with the car moving over the rocks. I thought, ‘My God that could be the boulder!’”

7. WOLVERINE’S CLAWS // X-MEN (2000)

Throughout the X-Men film series, Wolverine unleashes a trio of adamantium claws from his fists to lay waste to anyone who would dares to cross him. Comic book fans know that his claws make a “Snikt!” sound on the page, but in film, X-Men sound designer Craig Berkey used the sound of a knife being drawn from a sheath mixed with the sound of a chicken or turkey carcass being torn apart.

“For the claw sound, essentially there were two main elements I was working on,” Berkey told Gizmodo. “One was the metallic blade sound, as it goes in or out. The other was the actual physical sound of something going through flesh and retracting.”

8. BALROG // THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (2001)

Sound designer David Farmer created the deep drones of the Balrog for The Fellowship of the Ring by recording the sounds of a cinder block being dragged on a wooden floor. He wanted to give the audience the feeling that this monster was trapped underground for centuries, before Frodo and the Fellowship accidently unearthed it.

“I think my favorite moments are the very first ones when he’s sort of waking up in the distance,” Farmer told DesigningSound.org. “The rock grinds were all by themselves in several places as vocals, but there were also moments where it really needed a vocal bellow. I used donkeys and horses for the bellows and also any pain vocals.”

9. GODZILLA’S ROAR // GODZILLA (1954)

Godzilla’s mighty roar has evolved over the creature’s 62-year history. While the sound effects team on the original 1954 Japanese film unsuccessfully tried to use various animal noises and roars, the film’s composer, Akira Ifukube, had the idea to use musical instruments to create the monster’s iconic sound instead.

“It was actually a double bass, using a leather glove coated in pine tar resin to create friction,” sound designer Erik Aadahl told NPR of the original Godzilla. “They’d rub it against the string of the double bass to create that sound.”

10. THE WILHELM SCREAM // VARIOUS MOVIES

The Wilhelm Scream” is a sound effect used in multiple movies when someone falls from a great height or during an explosion (take a listen). It was first used during the 1951 film Distant Drums when an alligator attacks a soldier, played by Sheb Wooley, and drags him underwater. It later got its name from The Charge at Feather River, in which a character named Private Wilhelm gets shot in the leg with arrows and makes the iconic yell. Over the years, sound designers have used the effect in movies as a hidden inside joke among colleagues. The Wilhelm Scream was popularized for its use in Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it also appears in countless other movies.

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Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
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Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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iStock
11 of the Most Extreme Junk Foods Ever Created
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iStock

It should come as no surprise that National Junk Food Day is traditionally celebrated on July 21—smack dab in the middle of the dog days of summer, when the streets run thick with ice cream trucks and county fairs boast the kind of fried treats that can only be described as “awesome” (both in the modern sense and the more dated, whoa, we are in awe of that usage). But National Junk Food Day shouldn’t be celebrated with commonplace junk food; oh, no, it deserves something far bigger and better. So save your potato chips and chocolate bars for another day, and get ready to try some truly wild treats.

1. THE KFC DOUBLE DOWN


KFC

Perhaps the most unexpectedly clever way to create a new extreme junk food item is to turn a non-junky foodstuff into something that just oozes calories and decadence. Fried chicken giant KFC knew that—and played it up to major effect—when they introduced the KFC Double Down to America back in 2010. The sandwich foregoes the most traditional aspect of any sandwich (the bread!) and substitutes two fried chicken filets. In between the two pieces of chicken? Bacon, two different kinds of cheese, and the Colonel’s “secret sauce.” There’s no room for a bun here, folks.

2. PIZZA HUT'S HOT DOG STUFFED CRUST PIZZA

We may associate items like fast food pizza and hot dog-stuffed anything with all-American palates, but cheesy juggernaut Pizza Hut saw things a bit differently. In 2012, the chain introduced a pizza with a hot dog-stuffed crust to our neighbors across the pond, treating their UK customers to the kind of taste sensation some people might have had literal nightmares about. Is it a pizza? Is it a hot dog? Somehow, it’s both—and yet something much more.

3. FRIENDLY'S GRILLED CHEESE BURGERMELT


Friendly's

Once again, a wily restaurant chain took a normal food item—in this case, a hamburger—and amped up its junk factor by doing away with something as commonplace as buns, in favor of an entirely different (and, yes, very junky) item. In 2010, Friendly’s rolled out its very own spin on the Double Down, slamming a regular old burger between not one, but two grilled cheese sandwiches. Who needs buns when you can have four pieces of bread, gooey cheese, and unfathomable amounts of butter?

4. GUY FIERI'S CHEESECAKE CHALLENGE

Whiz-bang chef Guy Fieri has long drawn ire for his more wild culinary creations, but what sets his cuisine apart from that of other junk food aficionados is his steadfast dedication to the key elements of any extreme item: size and odd combinations. Fieri’s “Guy's Cheesecake Challenge” is currently on the menu of his Vegas Kitchen and Bar, but it’s easy enough to replicate at home: Just halve a cheesecake, throw it on a plate, and douse liberally with hot fudge, pretzels, and potato chips. (What, no bacon?)

5. DENNY'S FRIED CHEESE MELT


Denny's

In August 2010, Denny’s introduced the Fried Cheese Melt, a grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with fried mozzarella sticks. Yes, it was served with both French fries and a side of marinara sauce, because it’s important to eat vegetables with every meal.

6. DUNKIN' DONUTS'S GLAZED DONUT BREAKFAST SANDWICH


Dunkin' Donuts

If you’ve ever hit up your local Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast and found yourself stumped when it came time to decide if you wanted a donut or a breakfast sandwich to get your morning motor revving, Dunkin' Donuts came up with a brilliant culinary brainstorm in 2013: the fast food favorite unveiled a breakfast sandwich that used glazed donuts as “bread,” wrapped around bacon and peppered egg.

7. JACK IN THE BOX MUNCHIE MEAL

What Jack’s Munchie Meals lack in creativity, they more than make up for in pure, unadulterated size and content. Each Munchie Meal—there are four total—features a massive sandwich (from the Stacked Grilled Cheese Burger to the Spicy Nacho Chicken Sandwich, and all sorts of wild fried things in between) accompanied with two beef tacos, “Halfsies” (a combo of fries and curly fries), and a 20-ounce fountain drink. These intense snack boxes are still available at most Jack in the Box locations, but you’ll have to wait until after 9 p.m. to procure your very own.

8. PIZZA HUT CHEESY BITES REMIX PIZZA

Apparently, there’s nothing that Pizza Hut loves more than using its crust as a delivery system for other junk food items. The hut that pizza built may have crammed hot dogs and hamburgers on to their pie sides, but there was something special about the Cheesy Bites Remix pizza. It featured fried cheese pockets stuffed with three different varieties of extra junk, from spicy seasoning to cream cheese and sesame to mozzarella and parmesan.

9. DEEP FRIED BUTTER

County and state fairs have long been hotbeds (sizzling, oily hotbeds) of wild, deep-frying invention. Dunking things in batter and then tossing them into a vat of oil is a nifty way to turn almost anything into a delicious crisp pocket of junky decadence, perfect for utensil-free eating—but that doesn’t mean that everything needs to get the deep-fried treatment. While deep-fried Oreos may be a stroke of brilliance, deep fried butter is just plain madness. Here’s a quick test: If you wouldn’t eat something if it weren’t deep-fried, don’t eat it if it is deep-fried. When was the last time you ate an entire stick of butter? See? Point proven.

10. THE BACON BUN BURGER

Not content to have a bacon sandwich between two chicken filets? Is a grilled cheese bun replacement not for you? Then try making your very own hamburger buns out of bacon. Carbs are bad for you, right?

11. FRIED ICE CREAM SANDWICH

The Florida State Fair is the proud home of the first fried ice cream sandwich, a junky treat that bears a name that doesn’t even begin to explain what it holds between its buns. It’s not a fried ice cream sandwich so much as a bacon cheeseburger (technically a sandwich) topped with a ball of fried ice cream. It might be a good meal for multi-taskers—no need to worry about dessert—but it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing good for anything else.

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