The (semi/un) technical term is ‘Woosh’, or maybe ‘Whoosh’ if you are American – i’m not so I don’t know, but hey i’ve seen a few files labelled as such, so call them whatever you like but they are those swishy, wooshy movements of air sounds that are often used as transitions, or to create the aural illusion of movement, or to simply compensate for something the director wishes was onscreen & isn’t….
As with most cliches, they exist for a reason – at the best of times they work & evoke much more than mere existence should allow…. and at the worst of times they are lame as the worst metaphor you could possibly come up with… but as with all art, its a matter of taste and as many rich people indicate without even trying, budget does not equal taste – often it is inversely proportional, but as with anything creative it is up to the depth of the creator to reveal whetehr that depth is from the shallow end of the pool or the divers end… In the end this rant is to hopefully provide a few starting points in terms of making wooshes of your own (and thereby avoid commercial librarys of genericized woosh fodder) but to also think & think again about whether a woosh is actually needed… maybe the ultimate woosh is in fact a silent one? The sound of one woosh, wooshing?
anwyay let me just say this: Death to the Woosh/Long live the Woosh!
Woosh revelation 001: Wooshes are directly related to the physical world!
If some geezer comes at your with a lump of wood & swings it, just missing your head, you will hear a woosh. It won’t be some cliche filmic artefact but a real physical phenomena. And at that point, best you run like stink in the opposite direction! But if it wasnt a bit of wood, but instead a samurai sword (in which case dont run, just say your last prayers) or as in the video, a length of vacuum cleaner pipe, the sound will vary accordingly… ie the physical sound of the physical event will vary. In the end, just like the wind we perceive outside, it is the sound of air molecules being cut by a surface. If its a fat, flat surface then it will sound a certain way whereas if its a thin sharp surface cutting the air then it will sound different…. and this leads me to my second conclusion; The best lessons are those learned from reality/nature
So get a length of string or rope, attach various objects to it & swing it around your head & listen (preferably also have a stereo mic recording at this point) Try a cheese grater, a tennis racket, a TV aerial – each will sound uniquely different & should go into the sound FX library labelled as such. I have natural wooshes in my library created by pool cues, golf clubs, vacuum cleaner pipes, cheese graters, tennis rackets, radio & TV aerials, swords of many varieties, sticks, canes, fishing rods, bird cages, kites, wood saws of many varieties & any number of obscure things I can’t even remember & didnt label properly…
Until I get around to writing Wooshes 102, please, go generate a library of your own! Just remember the object is moving air, so use a Rycote & fluffy on the mic… and also that way if you hit the mic with your cheese grater it hopefully won’t destroy it!
Some sound examples and videos with techniques for the use of plugins and processing, such as Waves Doppler and GRM Tools Doppler. You can see all the videos and examples at Music of Sound.
Did you like it? There are more! Tim has just published a compilation of the Best 100 Posts about Sound Design, Recording, Music, Film and more! Some goodies:
Sound Design Tutorials
- SD101: Tuning Instruments & Sound Effects…
- SD101: Shortcuts
- SD101: Backwards Reverb
- I Heart ProTools VCA Faders!
- Intern Applications – Mute FX Clip
- Berlinale Talent Campus – the good, the bad & the absent…
Film Sound Design
- Sound Design Book List
- Five Favourite Films for Sound
- The Role of Sound Effects in Film
- The Role of Breaths in Film Sound
- Directors on working with Alan Splet
- NZ Birds vs Extreme Pitchshifting
- Car FX, Car Chases… & Submarines
- Car FX – part 2
- Car FX – another classic movie!
- Buying (& Selling) Sound Effects
- The Wind of Breath
- Sound Effects for DUNE
- The X Curve & Double-Head Screenings
- Metaphoric sound
- Recording Tentacles…
- Unique Recording Techniques
- Recording FX at 96k
- Lens vs Microphone (& why i love myopia)
- Can You SCREAM?
- Crashing Cars for a Living
- BLACK SHEEP FX Recording (1, 2, 3, 4)
- Recording Vehicle FX
- Meditation & Wood Pigeons
- Capturing the wind (part 1)
- Capturing the wind (part 2
- Beach Record Mission
- Ambience – Neils Beach
- A stitch in time… (backups)
- Remote Collaboration via cineSync
- CALIBRATION 1 – Calibrate Yourself!
- CALIBRATION 2 – SYNC!
- Managing media: FX Library
- Are movies too LOUD?
- Studio Tools you never knew you needed