How to create gory sound effects from scratch.

Have you ever wondered how gory sound effects are made? Foley artists and sound designers record a variety of items to create hyper-realistic gory sounds in post-production. There are multiples sound effect libraries out but it is so much more fun to create your own! When recording Foley, you can then really perform in sync with the picture which will increase the realism of your sound design and save you a lot of time gathering and editing sound effects from libraries.

  • What microphone?

Typically, we want to record gory sound effects as dry as possible without picking up any of reflexion from the room we are recording in or unwanted sound if recording outside; We can spatialise the recording later on using reverb. For this reason, we tend to use microphone with a narrow polar patten – cardioid or hyper-cardioid – such as Shotgun microphones (Rode NT2, Rode NT3, MKH 416, MKE-600 ) or small diaphragm condensers (Neumann KLM184, Neumann KLM185, Oktava MK-012).

Fruits and vegetables are your friends.

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  • Stabbing, dismemberment and exploding heads.

Watermelon is one of the most popular fruit to use for gory sound effects and that’s because you can create a lot of different sounds and textures with it. Sound designer Saro Sahihi explains that you can get some great disgusting and splattering sounds when playing with the ‘guts’ of the melon. Try to grab, to whirl or to punch right inside the fruit. Watermelon is also useful when creating dismemberment and ‘body opening’ sound effects; experiment by crunching, cutting and ripping the peel apart. The Foley Artist Gary Hecker is another watermelon enthusiast, Hecker uses it for all blood splattering, blood dripping and spitting sounds. Dropping a watermelon to make it explode is also great for exploding heads and bodies sound effects. Cabbage is another vegetable you can use to create similar sound effects although the sound will result in being more crunchy – which might be what you need…

  • Bones cracking.

Celery became the go-to vegetables to create bones cracking sound effects in horror movies. On its own, celery does not sound amazing; “Part of the talent is performing it and recording it in a way that’s kind of hidden, with celery not recognizable as celery,” says Monat-Jacobs. Foley Artist Gary Hecker advises to wrap a big stalk of celery in a chamois cloth and to crack it in half. If you want to add the sound of the blood spraying, simply layer this with a wet chamois or even your own voice. You can also crack a carrot in a piece of leather, this will create a louder and shorter transient compared to celery. Try both and judge by yourself!

  • Flesh-biting and gut eating.

Biting and chewing apple and tomatoes sound really convincing for flesh-biting and gut eating sound effects. Try squeezing tomatoes on a wet towel to make realistic blood-spurting wounds or arteries sounds. Garry Hecker even puts water in his mouth and sprays it out: “Using my audio gear, I can adjust the pitch of the sound to make it sound thick, like blood. There are lots of different blood noises, and I can make them really specific—bubbling, squirting, oozing—depending on the scene”.

Recording yourself smashing vegetables is really fun and I definitely recommend it. This kind of sessions usually get very messy so make sure to protect your microphone with a windshield and don’t forget to bring some tools such as axes, baseball bats, knife to create all kind of different sounds. If your recording sounds too light, experiment with some pitch and EQ plugins but remember that Foley is all about the performance!

Here are some videos of Foley Artists performing some gory sound effects:

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