Sound Effects for Your DSLR Film - dummies

By John Carucci

There’s a big misconception that movie sound effects, including those in your DSLR film, are all about crashes and explosions. Not true. In fact, every clear detailed sound you hear in a movie is often the result of sound effects editing.

These include that crackling sound when the subject takes a draw from a cigarette, the clanking of wine glasses, or the accentuated sounds of someone typing on a computer. Although they often go unnoticed, these little sound details add to the overall effectiveness of the movie.

After you shoot your movie and are about to edit, feel free to go out there and find some “replacement” sounds for your movie. There are several ways you can go about this task.

How to find film sound effects

Most sound effects can be sourced from sound effects libraries where they’re often cataloged with precise descriptions such as ricocheting bullet or rope with heavy weight swinging. You can also discover the perfect sound while perusing through some non-linear editing software applications, compilation compact discs, and on a plethora of free online sound effects sites.

Popular sound effects include

  • Accelerating car

  • Airplane sounds

  • Beating heart

  • Body blow

  • Explosion

  • Falling rain

  • Glass breaking

  • Honking horns

  • Thunder

  • TV channels changing

Here are a few websites that offer free sound:

How to make your own film sound effects

Although Hollywood movies have budgets that can support a large crew and specialist, chances are you’re going to shoot your own movie and edit it too. Because you’re wearing most of the hats, you may as well be sure you have the proper sound in your movie.

Here are some ways to create custom effects for your next movie.

  • Bats flying: Open and close an umbrella to emulate the wing sound.

  • Blood and guts being torn out: Get your inner zombie on by recording yourself gargling milk.

  • Breaking bones: Gather some tree branches about a half-inch thick and use a bat to break them either by pushing or hitting. You can also break pieces of celery.

  • Crypt door opening (or closing): Record this one in the bathroom by slowly sliding the lid across the top of your toilet tank.

  • Elevator door: Instead of waiting in the lobby, you can produce a similar sound by closing a file cabinet drawer. And if you tap a bell, you can finish the effect.

  • Galloping horse: Nothing works like clapping halves of a coconut shell.

  • Glass breaking: The best way to make a glass-breaking sound is to drop a set of metal wind chimes on a hard surface. Afterwards, you can tweak the audio in Premiere Elements to match exactly what you need.

  • Kissing: Take a sip of water and kiss your forearm. Alternate the sounds and sloppiness of the kiss to fit your needs.

  • Prop airplane: Record a household fan from several different angles and layer them in Premiere Elements to get a multiple propeller effect.

  • Punching sound: There are several ways to create this sound, including smacking a rolled wet newspaper with a rolled newspaper, or strike a watermelon with your fist. You can even slap pieces of celery.

  • Thunder: Shake a large piece of sheet metal or acetate to create a thunderous sound.

  • Walking through leaves: Crunch some potato chips or cornflakes.