Thursday, July 28, 2005

I was copying the MSN article, 10 Tired TV Clichés for posterity and in the process of "Googling" the word 'clichés' to get the exact stroke above the "e" I stumbled on a couple of sites expanding on the same subject. Both contain a list of overused, well, clichés used in films from the 50's till the present. The first site, Film Sound Cliches: Film Sound Stereotypes and Common Logic Flaws, lists almost all sound effects used in movies and TV programs from the 50s up to the present and I've taken the liberty of copying a great deal of those for your entertainment:

Dolphins always make that same "dolphin chatter" sound when spinning, jumping, etc.

Red-tailed hawk screeching - [Listen to and read about Red-tailed hawks!]

o Whenever we see a hawk or a bald eagle, the sound is always that same red-tailed hawk screeching sound that's been around since the 50's!

o Always just before/or after some dramatic part of an adventure flick, you will here the screeching of a red-tailed hawk.

o Whenever a cliff or mountain is shown, especially if it's high, the Red-tailed hawk will screech.

o The Red-Tailed Hawk scree signifies outdoors and a big, lonely place
Owls sound like Great Horned Owl. (a bird, that for the most part seems invisible) [Listen to and read about Great Horned Owls!]

In a horror film when there is a full moon there is either an owl or a wolf howling in the distance. [Listen to Wolves!]

The Loon is mostly found in lakes in North America. In the movies it seems to be just about anywhere in the world. [Listen to Loons]

Kookaburras (a type of large Australian kingfisher) are inhabitants of African/South American jungles, not Australian open forest. (laughing bird sound, see most Tarzan films). [read about and listen to Laughing Kookaburra!]

It's the same Cat scream over & over.

Bombs always have big, blinking, beeping timer displays.

If something explodes, it takes about a minute for the explosions to stop

Explosions always happen in slow motion. When an explosion occurs, make certain you are running away from the point of detonation so the blast can send you flying, in slow motion, toward the camera.

Text being spelled out on screen (whether computer or lower third) MUST make some sort of typing and/or dot-matrix-printer type of sound.

Until around the late '80s, whenever you heard a thunderclap in a movie, it was probably "Castle Thunder". [Listen to and read about "Castle Thunder"]

Storms start instantaneously: there's a crack of thunder and lightning, then heavy rain starts falling.

Thunder is always in sync with the lightning, and the explosion sounds are always in sync with the stuff blowing up, no matter how far away. Same for fireworks

Non-stop bubbles underwater

Doors always squeek

Enviromental sound to a shoot with the window open, are always next to a schoolyard or a construction-site.

Endlessly used on television (especially in TV shows produced at Universal Studios during the '70s and '80s) and in many films as well - is the sound of a telephone ringing. [Read about and listen to "The Universal Telephone Ring"]

Exterior Ambiences: No matter where you are outside, if it's not in the city, you hear a lonely cricket chirping

Whenever there is a fight or commotion going on in the upstairs of a house, the person downstairs won't hear a thing because the noise of gunshots, chairs falling over, screams etc will be totally masked by the following sounds; the phone ringing, the washing machine beginning its spin cycle, the dog barking, a drink is being whizzed up in the liquidiser or the maid beginning the vacuum cleaning.

An approaching airplane or helicopter will make no noise until it is directly over the characters, at which point it will suddenly become thunderingly loud.

Characters will never hear an approaching airplane or helicopter, even though in real life you would hear them approaching for at least a minute before they were close enough to see. This also holds true for approaching armies on horseback and tank battallions.

The WILHELM Scream
A series of short painful screams performed by an actor were recorded in 1951 for the Warner Brother's film "Distant Drums." They were used for a scene where a man is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator. The recording was archived into the studio's sound effects library -- and it was used in many of their films since. "Star Wars" Sound Designer Ben Burtt tracked down the scream recording - which he named "Wilhelm" from a character who let out the same scream in "Charge at Feather River (1953)." Ben has adopted the scream as sort of a personal sound signature, and has worked it into as many films as he can.
Steve Lee's list of films using the Wilhelm scream
Free Dictionary's list of films using the Wilhelm scream
L. Mangue's Wilhelm Scream List (at Nerf-Herders Anonymous.net)
NPR Wilhelm Scream feature tells much of the story of the Wilhelm Scream. (includes link to RealAudio file)
The scream de la scream (Guardian Unlimited)
The Wilhelm Scream - in WAV format, 170 KB
Video compilation of The Wilhelm Scream Clips - in MOV format, 48 MB
Even when depicted as foreigners (including aliens from outer space) all actors speak and understand a common language (usually English) unless the film's plot depends on a language barrier.

The same women's recorded voice is heard in every spaceship, space-station, government building, etc. announcing something to the effect of the main computer has been shut down, this ship will self destruct in one minute.

Baby crying and bad news
o The Godfather: when Don Corleone is shot, Sonny barges in to his house and announces this. Followed by baby crying.

o Snow Falling on Cedars: the sheriff announces to a woman that her fisherman husband is dead. Followed by baby crying
Kids can always whisper even if they're two inchs away from a villian - he won't hear. If they step on a branch however, the villians will immediatly know its not some animal, and catch them.


o Whenever someone falls off of a cliff or building, no matter how much damage they take beforehand, they scream, even if they were shot through the lungs twenty or thirty times, or were apparently unconscious.

o When villains fall to their deaths, you can hear their screams gradually fade out, even if they only fall ten feet or so.
People's voices on telephones (and answering machines) always sound just like their normal voice, except a little bit more nasal. Their voices are never distorted by things like holding the mouthpiece too close to their face or breathing through their mouth.

Martial Arts: Arm and legs of karate-actors always make a funny "swish" sound when they kick,hit or jump, they also tend to scream in a funny way prior to any fighting-action.

Anytime a person speaks into a microphone, their first words will cause the mic to feed back.

When the star travels to...
o London, we see a shot of Big Ben and hear Rule,Britainia.
o Hong Kong: a Chinese junk and wooden xylophone music (or a deep gong).
o New York: a traffic jam on Broadway and frenetic xylophone music.
o Paris: the Eiffel Tower and accordion music.

o When listening to music on the radio in the car, the song on the radio never changes during a single scene. The scene rarely outlasts the song...if it does, one of the characters will turn the radio off before the end of the song.
o There are never any commercials on the radio.
o It's always easy to find romantic makeout music on the radio right when you need it.
The DJ always turn the music down when actors talk in disco and club-scenes

People in a wide open field or dense forest can make their voice echo if they yell loud enough.

When you get punched in the face, it sounds like you broke a salami over the back of a chair

Dreams are always drenched in a lot of reverb.

People never answer the door until the doorbell or knocking has sounded at least three times

Explosions in space make noise

There's a deep humming in space, no doubt about it

Applies to absolutely every movie: Some noisy event (crash, shot, explosion) occurs at quite a distance from the camera. Nevertheless, the sound is heard at the same instant. The speed of sound - usually 300 meters per second - here always is the same as the speed of light. (But not everyone - Titanic has a long shot as the boat starts sinking where a signal flare is set off. The sound follows a good 2 seconds behind)

Guns (handguns, rifles, machineguns etc) have a really deep "BOOOMMM!!" sound not a "CRACK!". Also, the there's old cliche about the number of rounds the average magazine holds, the good guys almost never run out of ammo, and they seem to be able to use a handgun accurately to over a 100 meter range (accuracy of weapons over distance is pretty much a factor of barrel length - handguns are for CLOSE distances).

Handguns: All handguns make a frightening clicking sound when handled as though to suggest that the parts are loose. The more advanced the gun (Men in Black) the louder, and more varried, the clicking. In real life any gun making noises like that would probably explode in your hand with the first discharge. Note: All energy type weapons will power up with a loud hum.

Approaching Sherman tanks at a range of fifty yards, roaring at a level that loosens teeth and sphincters alike, are never so loud as to obscure that "Foleyed" woollen sweater the officer is moving as he raises his binoculars. [Read about Foley]

The second site contains a great wealth of information that is guaranteed to get you laughing. The clichés, both visual and sounds, are listed alphabetically and according to category. Just click the logo down below to open another window.

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