As we are currently working on our new “SciFi” BOOM Library I had to do a lot of research about science fiction sounds and their specific sonic characteristics. Axel is always busy gathering together the best video material to provide an excellent inspirational resource and I spend a lot of time watching them over and over again to meet the high expectations. One particular movie has always been very important for me as its sound design is renowned for being top notch and unique: The Transformers Series.
If you type “Transformers Sound Design” into Google you will be amazed how many requests there are for “how do I create Transformers sounds and how do I get that special, unique sounding effect on their movements?” It is indeed a quite tricky process, but our new BOOM Library “SciFi” will definitely help to get a good sounding result.
First of all a lot of people make the mistake to think that all the morph sounds are just synth based. Of course you can create a wobbly, building up sound with one of the thousands synth plug-ins out there which will probably also go along with the movement of the Transformer. The most important parts though, which you will hear when you listen really closely to the Transformers movies, are the metallic rattles, the squeaks and hydraulic movements which bring the robots to life. For the transformation process in this video (which can be watched at the very bottom of this post) I just used BOOM Library SciFi’s metal rattles, hydraulic movements, car door impacts and one rising synth sample as my base material. No special plug in chains were applied either as you can see in the following picture.
The Logic Flanger, Vocal Transformer (it’s in the name already isn’t it?) and Tremolo are among my most used plug ins of all time. It’s one of the reasons why I still work with Logic for particular projects, Pro Tools simply doesn’t provide me with these little helpers. (Yes I do indeed use both Logic and Pro Tools for SFX, a future post will explain why). So I used the Flanger for the typical flanging effect, then added the Tremolo to make some kind of a stutter movement and finally automated the pitch using the Vocal Transformer.
To spice up the overall sound design I also added rock slides, rock scrapes, a tire skid, and two different car sounds. The rock slides were recorded by Axel Rohrbach and me about three years ago. They have never really been used as they were recorded with our old and not too good equipment. Anyway, heavily pitched down and enhanced with the UAD Pultec Pro EQ they really fit in well in the mix and provided an aggressive sound for the Transformer hitting its claws into the concrete.
I used BOOM Library – Everyday Cars for the car sounds. The BMW 318i engine accelerating sample was pitched up some semitones and provided the perfect amount of anger for the chasing police car whereas the Transformers Truck got a pitched down, deep and powerful sound of the Subaru Forester. The tire skid was a pitched down and normalised start sound of the Fiat Panda (Yes, Fiat Panda, you heard right). To contain the BOOM Library – Only attitude for this particular clip I finally muted the police siren I added in the first place. Some mighty EMP shockwave probably destroyed it the scene before..
Here is the redesigned scene taken out of “Transformers 2 – Revenge Of The Fallen”. It is courtesy of Paramount Pictures. I uploaded it with new sound effects for research purposes.