There are two major steps to creating your own cool sound effect for free:
- Obtaining the sound effect
- Modifying the sound effect
1) Obtaining the sound effect
How many times have you heard the exact same sound of creaking door in different movies or video games? Or the exact same “Wilhelm scream”? The reason is simple: recording fresh sounds each time takes time, money and creativity some studios don’t want to invest. There is a library of stock sounds that get used and reused constantly, even in major blockbuster movies. One way of obtaining a sound effect is to visit such a stock sound library:
1. Go to AudioMicro and mouse over the Free Sound Effects label.
2. Click on any category, in this case, it is Amusement and Game Sounds. You will be taken to this page:
3. Clicking Play will open a new window in which you will hear the sound effect, while clicking Download original will get you to the registration page.
Note: While AudioMicro does require that you provide an email address to download sounds, there is no verification process. This means that you can type in any email address, username and password combination that comes to your mind in the provided fields. You will then be taken back to the same page and be able to download sounds.
4. Download the sound to your computer by clicking Download original and clicking OK.
Alternatively, you can record the sound yourself, but there are many variables to consider. The sound recorder you use will inevitably affect the sound quality. The highest quality recording is done by a DAT (Digital Audio Tape) recorder with all other devices producing at least some distortions in the sound. If you don’t have a DAT, a digital camcorder will do the trick too.
When you finally get the sound file, it’s time to edit it.
2) Modifying the sound effect
First, you will need a program that can edit sound files.
In this case, it is a completely free program called Audacity.
1. Open the file in Audacity by either using drag & drop or by clicking File and then Open.
2. Select the area of the sound effect that you wish to change and click Effect.
Here you can find a variety of different modifications you can perform on the sound effect file. Describing what each of them does would be beyond the scope of this tutorial, but feel free to learn by experimenting. Who knows, maybe your sound effect becomes a part of the stock library and you get paid every time it is used!
Unleash your creativity
Since in this tutorial we’re taking money out of the equation, you will have to invest a lot of time and creativity in making your own sound effects but, in the end, it will be worth it. Many memorable sound effects were made by using common objects: the sound of thunder in “Metal Gods” by Judas Priest was produced by whipping the pool cues while in action movies, the sound of bones cracking is made by snapping carrots or celery.