Gore sound effects
I think every sound designer should do his own gore and splatter sound fx at least once in his/her career. It’s not as if there weren’t many great sounding, positively disgusting Gore Sound Effects libraries but it’s so much fun that I would do it just for fun in my free time.
There are many ‘standard tools” for blood soaking, bone cracking sound fx. These tools mostly are vegetables and other kinds of food.
Take bone breaks, for example. You want to use something crunchy and snapping. For this I’d dhighly recommend Chinese cabbage or celery. Single leaves or sticks make great bone-snapping sounds when broken fast. When breaking or twisting several sticks or leaves at once it gets really brutal. This is perfect for crushing rib-cage sounds or any kind of dismemberment.
Carrots folded in a piece of leather make awesome ‘bone-snapping-under-the-skin’ sounds – and as sweeteners crunching e.g. cornflakes gives very good results. For all that splattering, blood dripping and -spurting sounds we’ll stay in the realm of food.
The number one go-to fruit for gory sound effects is the watermelon; there are so many great sounds hidden in it. You can crunch, cut and rip the peel apart which is great for dismemberment and ‘body-opening’. Dropping a watermelon from a ladder to the ground that it explodes is great for… well… exploding heads and bodies.
The number one go-to fruit for gory sound effects is the watermelon; there are so many great sounds hidden in it.
Playing with the ‘guts’ of the melon by grabbing, whirling and punching right in it for really disgusting splattering sounds. Cutting through the pulp with a knife is great for flesh slices (combined with the ‘Ching’-sound of a knife). Just play with it.
Biting and chewing these and other foods like apples, cereals or pudding is also great for flesh-biting and gut-eating zombies or monsters. Also remember to make some smacking and slurping sounds. Using a wet towel dropping it to the ground is very good for body part drops. Punching it works great as basic stabbing or brutal punching sound. Dripping blood works great if you softly pour water or e.g. canned tomatoes on that wet towel or wood or concrete ground. Squeezing tomatoes makes awesome blood-spurting-wounds—or-arteries-sounds.
There are so many possibilities, so experiment away.
For editing I am currently using iZotope RX5 Advanced and Nuendo. For designing and editing I mostly use a combination of a Multiband Transient Designer, Waves Vitamin and iZotope’s Final Mix to give them that extra smack, crack and punch.
Ghostly sounds effect and ambiences
When it comes to ghostly sounds low mid and high frequencies are what we’re after. Good source sounds are e.g. metal or wood squeaks, metal scrapes and moans (like in my libraries ‘Just Metal – Scrapes and Scratches’ and ‘Just Metal – Squeaks and Moans’). Also effective are whistling winds, squeaky doors and vocalizations of course (especially children’s voices). In the editing stage there is much that can be done even to make natural sounds very haunting. First two are reversing and pitch shifting sounds to make them instantly surreal. Next is playing with time stretching. And of course reverbs and delays to give it that other-worldly touch. Especially if reverbs and delays are reversed!
There is this classic reversed reverb effect where you reverse a source (e.g. voice), apply some reverb to it (not too much and not too long) and reverse it all again. The result is the voice playing back normal again with a reversed reverb in front of each verb. Make it move with automation.
If you’re looking for some ready-made (and brutally efficient) horror sounds, these three libraries from SoundBits are definitely worth checking out.
Need more horror sounds?
Here’s a whole category devoted to horror sound effects!
How to create jump-scares / shocking sounds
What works for jump-scares are sounds that are suddenly approaching, loud and high frequency sounds and/or distorted effects – especially when contrasted with a scene that was more quiet and calm before. This, combined with haunting sounds like screams, dissonant strings or added sub bass effects will REALLY send people flying. You can use metal hits or any kind of drums for the impact, and maybe use reverb or other sustaining sounds for the tail. This will make them jump out of their seats, especially when working in surround.
You can rise the tension in before by a crescendo sound.
This, combined with haunting sounds like screams, dissonant strings or added sub bass effects will REALLY send people flying.
Sometimes it can be more subtle of course, and more ‘trailerish’. For reverb and delay effects I mostly use Audio Ease Altiverb 7, Waves H-Delay and D16 Sigmund and Multiband Transient Designers (mostly self-built with a Blue Cat Audio MB-7 and Ni Transient Designer in each band).
Here’s an example of what Saro’s ‘Just Gore’ sound library sounds like – made using the techniques outlined here
Monster sounds effects and vocalizations
Creating monster sounds can really be fun, and there are so many possibilities. I’d say the first place to go is your own voice. Try to vocalize the monster. Make growling, snarling, hissing or gurgling sounds and record them, layer them and edit them with pitch shifting, time stretching and reversing and maybe some distortion. The better the performance the better and more ‘authentic’ you monster will sound. This works especially when making Zombie sounds. Another approach is to use animal sounds. There are many animals that make haunting monstrous sounds. Starting with pigs, cats, some (tropical) birds – and wildcats of course. Many of these have an instant monster-like ring to them when used in the right context.
But when layered, pitch-shifted or reversed – and maybe even combined with your vocalized monsters – you can easily create disgusting creatures from hell. As monster sweetener sounds it can be helpful to use releasing steam, breath, flamethrower so, moaning, squeaking and scraping metal and maybe sizzling oil or boiling water.
Here are some of the tools and plugins that I work with most of the time: For Pitch shifting I use the offline pitch shifter or Pitch Driver in Nuendo or RX5 Advanced, the zPlane Elastique Pitch V2, Waves SoundShifter. Time stretching is mostly done with the algorithms provided in Nuendo, Studio One, Ableton Live or Pro Tools. The Dehumaniser tool also does a great job, as it combines several pitch engines, doublers and other effects.
When layered, pitch-shifted or reversed – and maybe even combined with your vocalized monsters – you can easily create disgusting creatures from hell
Another very interesting and powerful techniques are Vocoding and Formant Morphing. Both can be used to blend two sounds and their characteristics with each other. For instance a human voice with an animal sound like a tiger or something else. Put simple, vocoding transfers the filter characteristics/modulation of one sound (voice, mouth) to another (Tiger growl). I really like the Waldorf Lector and Sugar Bytes Robotronic for Vocoding. Formant Morphing, however, transfers/morphs the Formant- or Spectral Characteristics of one sound to another or lets you seamlessly blend between each other.
Dark soundscapes and spooky ambiences
The easiest way to generate a dark, unsettling soundscape is to start with a dark drone. This could be a deep, LowPass-filtered Synth Sound or Roomtone, or a heavily pitch-shifted Ambience Sound (with at least 96kHz). It gets very interesting if that ambience has several sonic events in it, like a construction site ambience with hammering, drills and excavators. You can use several pitched and edited ambiences and layers, crossfade and mix them to get very unsettling textures. A really great tool that I’d like to mention here is iZotope’s Iris 2.
Unsettling sounds – and things that go bump in the night
This one is quite similar to creating ghostly sounds. Sounds that can’t be directly recognized or classified, like reversed, stretched (natural) sonic events and very high or very deeply pitched sounds. Uncontrolled rattling or rumbling sounds or very high ringing and suddenly dwelling and moving (Panorama, Surround) sounds.
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