movie trailer sound Asbjoern Andersen


There are few places where music and sound design intertwine as much as they do in movie trailers. And when it comes to trailer sound, Jan Hoeglund and the trailer sound team at Audio Imperia really know their stuff – so I was really curious to hear their insights on what defines the sound of the modern trailer. Here’s Jan’s overview of 10 signature sound elements in today’s trailers, complete with examples:

The right trailer can set the success of a film, a video game or a tv show before they are released. It is a major element in the big marketing machine of studios’ release plans and the music that goes along with the visual part of a trailer plays no small part in that. There is a lot of players in the game that have this formula down to a tee: Extreme Music, Two Steps From Hell, Immediate Music, Audiomachine, Brand X, Ninja Tracks, Really Slow Motion, Confidential Music, Hi­Finesse, Sencit, Riptide Music, just to name a few. And each of them bring a different flavor to the table.

One of the more exciting things in the modern trailer music world is the incredible phenomena where a single sound can make a trailer track stand out. Writing trailer music is a very different style of music and different style of writing as a composer to begin with. Here are some of the most recognizable trailer sounds of the recent years:

1. The “Alarm” in the Prometheus Teaser Trailer:

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Original Track: Audiomachine “Judge and Jury”

 

2. The “Braaam” in the Inception Trailer:

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Original Track: Zack Hemsey “Mind Heist”

 

3. The “Distortion Booms” and “Stutter Downers” in the Elysium Trailer

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Original Track: Hi­Finesse “Radius”

 

4. The “Pulsating Atmospheres” in the Titanfall trailer:

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Original Track: Danny Cocke “Sinister Intent”

 

5. The “Distorted Drum Kits and Synthesizers”:


– that you can hear in a lot of the music by Ninja Tracks, such as “Tension Ratio” or “Exposure” (below):

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6. The “Distorted Risers” at the end of Twelve Titans Music’s “Artifice”, used in Avengers: Age of Ultron:

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7. The “Filtered Guitar Alarm” in the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation Trailer:

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Original Track: Think Up Anger “Mission Ready”

 

8. The “Bowed Metal Sounds” in the Interstellar Trailer:

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Original Track: Confidential Music “View From The Voyager”

 

More powerful trailer sounds:

 
There’s a growing number of trailer sound libraries out there – here are some of the most popular new ones:

  • BRAAMS make everything feel bigger, more satisfying and dramatic. This library is totally dedicated to that vibration that enhances slow-motion shots, intros and outros in trailer sound design and soundtrack scores.

    Featuring a whole spectrum of BRAAMS in designed and single element version with pitch information, this collection offers 130 sounds of dramatic low-end musical tones, distant horns, massive low brass, bass morph and low key sound effects which doesn’t yet have a name.

    If you are building signature sounds or if you looking for “ready to use” designed BRAAMS, the material contained in this collection cover many aspects of the BRAAMS production.

    Also contained in the pack an extra folder of single hit/impact, woosh, passby which are great to enrich your custom sound design.

    Add to cart
  • Need trailer sounds? BOOM is back with a new pack to help you with that – available in two versions:

    CINEMATIC TRAILERS DESIGNED 2 – STEREO:

    The goal with CINEMATIC TRAILERS DESIGNED 2 was clear: To create a professional sound set that is easy to use and has the perfect amount of “punch” to shine through all other trailer sound sources (music, voice-over, etc.) and that will put a smile on your face when listening to your BOOM-Library-spiced project.

    The source sounds for this library are all other BOOM Library Construction Kits that we have ever created. Our designers chose their favourite sounds and layered, processed and designed them – always in mind to create a sound effect that surpasses everything they have ever heard.
      
    CINEMATIC TRAILERS DESIGNED 2 offers you a great selection of more than 450 ready-made whooshes, hits, cracks, bounces, slams, transitions, rises – basically everything you need to instantly draw attention to your movie, trailer, teaser, presentation, podcast or promotion video.

    • Library ships in 96kHz/24bit High Definition Audio
    • 450+ royalty free state-of-the-art sound FX – Whooshes, hits, cracks, bounces, slams, transitions, rises

    CINEMATIC TRAILERS DESIGNED 2 – STEREO & SURROUND:

    CINEMATIC TRAILERS DESIGNED 2 is unique. It’s the first sound effect library of the Cinematic Series where you can get powerful trailer SFX in Stereo and 5.1 Surround. This package contains both the Stereo and the Surround version. You will get more than 9GB of fresh sounds in perfect 96 kHz / 24-bit HD audio quality.

    Why should you spend countless moments of your life panning and placing your sounds in a 5.1 surround environment when you can just drag and drop our BOOM Library surround files into your projects and everything just sounds fantastic? It's really that simple.

    During the production process, there was never any up- or downmixing applied. Our sound designers worked really hard on each stereo and surround mix to achieve the maximum surround effect for each and every layered element. Oh, and you will again fall in love with your subwoofer as the LFE channel is just charming ;-)

    You are highly motivated to beef up your next project with some fresh sounds? Then it’s about time to let CINEMATIC TRAILERS DESIGNED 2 be part of your personal sound effect pool. It is the perfect tool kit for every sound designer who counts on professional sound design.


    • Library ships in 96kHz/24bit 5.1 surround WAV files
    • Track Layout: L•R•C•LFE•Ls•Rs
    • Stereo version also included

  • This library delivers a super-versatile collection of Whoosh and Impact sound effects. And yes, as the name suggests, this is the sequel to the very popular “Whooshes & Impacts“ Sound Effects Library from SoundBits. Two versions are available + a bundle:

    Whooshes & Impacts 2:

    It features everything you need to give your projects the sonic impact they deserve, from fantasy-style battles to intense sci-fi space combat. You get fireballs, magical projectiles, asteroids, space ship pass-bys, missiles – and of course a vast variety of designed impact sound effects from very organic metal hits to abstract, distorted, screaming strikes.

    All sounds are 100% dry. No reverbs were applied.

    This pack contains 266 files split in 116 Impacts with at least 2 versions of one sound per file and 150 Whooshes with at least 3 versions of one sound per file. Giving you total amount of 607 sounds.

    Whooshes & Impacts 2 – ELEMENTS:

    The ‘Whooshes & Impacts 2 – Elements’ Sound Effects Library features a re-designed and further processed selection of the sound layers from ‘Whooshes & Impacts 2’.

    Split into 3 frequency bands, this composite collection brings you production elements to spice up your own whoosh and impact sounds, or easily create new ones from scratch. You have a transition that sounds good but just needs some interesting movement in the low end for that extra weight? Just choose from 1 of 50 low frequency whooshes and layer it with your existing elements.

    You get 150 Impacts and 150 Whooshes. The Whooshes come with one variation per sound, giving you a total of 450 design elements for your productions in this library.

    Whooshes & Impacts 2 – BUNDLE:

    You can also get both versions in a bundle – with a great discount.

More trailer sound libraries here

9. The remix of Cat Stevens’ Wild World in the Mad Max: Fury Road trailer:

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Original Track: Confidential Music “Shepherd” (the track was also used on the The Martian campaign)

 

10. And of course the very iconic machine gun style electric guitar sound of Attila Ats track “Shredder”

– used in the Oblivion, World War Z, Star Trek Into Darkness and many other trailers.

The focus on these individual marker sounds will only become more important. We live in a world where technology progresses faster by the minute and there is so much noise that is trying to get our attention. To cut through that, you need to create something that is truly memorable and instantly recognizable, because as unappealing as this may sound, trailer music is music for advertising and is there to help sell a product or to help sell tickets. Since there is only a very short amount of time in which you can sell a story to the audience you need those “Musical USPs”.

 

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Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

It is very hard to predict trends or predict which tracks will work with the audience. Things that have shown to be quite popular are piano intros with a lot of reverb (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, etc.) and of course the trailerized covers of songs (see #9 on the list above). The last category in particular seems to be becoming more and more popular and prominent in trailers of all types and genres, so keep an eye out for those.

Other great reads on trailer sound:

Behind the excellent Star Wars Battlefront trailer sound design – ft Charles Deenen, Csaba Wagner, Thomas Brewer

Exclusive Insights From A Trailer Sound Design Expert – featuring trailer sound designer Bryan Jerden

Behind the cinematic sound of Blizzard’s spectacular Overwatch trailer – featuring Paul Menichini

 
I talk a lot to up and coming trailer guys and if there’s a list of things that you could hand out to people who are interested in getting into writing for trailers, I would say:

• Production value: Almost more important these days than proper orchestration is the quality of your track. You need to be able to deliver a high­quality, polished track.
• Be loud but be reasonable with your mastering and your compression. It is totally fine to use things like New York compression and multi­band distortion on the master bus, but do it within reason. Things can always be made louder at the end, but it is difficult to bring things back down from an overly normalized and compressed track.
• Write for the trailer editor and make that a priority: Provide a number of sections in each track that are easy to cut while still providing a great and cohesive piece of music.
• More than ever it is important to find your own voice as a composer. There is a lot more competition and it is very easy for trailer companies to find young composers. So take your time, do your research and find the style that suits you best. You won’t be able to do a lot of styles well, so really be honest with yourself and focus on your own style.
• Melody is still important. Despite the fact that knowing synthesis and sound design well is very important, being able to write a catchy melody still means a lot. There is only a few composers that can do that well. So you could be one of them.
• Song titles actually do matter, so keep that in mind. You want to catch the eye of trailer editor, so tailor your song titles to what movie genre you think clients could use it in.

Most importantly, if you decide to go for a career in the trailer music industry bring a lot of patience with you. It takes time to get your first placement, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t land an international blockbuster trailer within your first two months.

 

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A big thanks to Jan Hoeglund and the team at Audio Imperia for the insights on trailer sound today!

The Audio Imperia Producers & Developers
Valentin Boomes • Danny Cocke • Joshua Crispin • Histibe • Dylan Jones • Bryan Leach • Darin Leach • Tomás Lobos Kunstmann • Paul Ortiz • Jeremiah Pena

About Jan Hoeglund
After finishing his graduate degree in Chinese, Jan moved to the US from Germany in 2010. “Fresh off the boat” he got got job working at an artist management agency handling the day-to-day management for bands such as Periphery, The Word Alive, We Came As Romans, and others. Being very passionate about cinematic music, trailer music in particular, he eventually switched over to working in the field of sampled instruments where he started working for 8Dio first, before joining the amazing team at Soundiron. He’s also involved in the Audio Imperia label, which was created to provide talented trailer music sound designers a creative platform to showcase their talents.


 
 
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