What Famous Sound Effects Really Are

A ‘Foley’ is something you’ve probably never heard of, but you’ve almost certainly heard one. They are the sound effects added to a film to enhance the audio quality and give you a better experience. They can help to turn things that don’t exist into a reality and are essential in filmmaking.

Whereas visual effects are pretty easy to notice, Foleys often happen without anybody realising. The aim is for them to fit so seamlessly with what is going on on-screen that you’ll never notice that they’ve been added in. Sometimes new sounds need to be invented for things, but other times the actual sound of a prop or set just doesn’t sound that good, so Foley artists need to create these sounds using whatever objects they can find. For example, the sound of crunching snow is often created with corn starch in a leather pouch.

Although we’d hate to break the illusion that movies create, knowing what some of the most famous Foleys are will make for great trivia so we’re going to tell you anyway!

Star Wars – Lightsabers & Blasters

You’ve probably never given it much thought, but this is one of the most famous examples of a Foley. To achieve the iconic lightsaber sound that we all love, sound designer Ben Burtt combined the sound of an idling projector motor and the interference you get when you move a microphone too close to a TV.

The ‘pew pew’ sound of a blaster is something that every Star Wars fan will remember but there are no lasers used to create those sounds. To get the blaster sound, Ben Burtt climbed up a radio tower and hit the guide wires with a hammer, recording all of the sounds. We aren’t sure how, but that sound ended up as a blaster!

Toy Story – Bullseye Licking Woody

You may remember from Toy Story 2 a scene where an excited Bullseye (a ‘horse’) licks Woody’s face… well the story behind that sound is a pretty funny one. A crewmember had peanut butter spread all over his face and had a cow licking it off, recording the sound of the whole thing!

Jurassic Park – Dinosaurs

You didn’t think they recorded the sounds from real dinosaurs did you? To make the famous T-Rex roar, a slowed down recording of a baby elephant trumpeting was combined with the growl of a tiger and an alligator. Even a couple of koala bear grunts are chucked in for good measure.

Lord of the Rings – Balrog & Ringwraiths

You know that big, scary, flaming demon-like thing from the end of the second Lord of the Rings movie? It wouldn’t be so scary if you knew what made the sound. The Balrog’s roar is actually made with a cinderblock being pulled along a wooden floor to create a deep, grinding sound. The ringwraiths too have a pretty feeble sound effect. Their devilish scream is simply made with two plastic cups being rubbed together.


If you’ve got any home films, or anything else in cine format that you want turned into a DVD then we can help you out. Whether you’ve got iconic sound effects, or just great memories, our expert team can convert 8mm film to DVD so that you can continue to relive them. For more information about what we can provide don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 592 433 and a member of our team will be happy to help.