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OK I'll try to change the typical "what's the best mic, best recorder, etc." question and ask something about Sound Design!!!

To the point now! I have to make a sound like jet engines (airplane fight scene), and I want to achieve that characteristic Shoooooooshhhhh effect with NO field recording at all and I was thinking that maybe white noise with a sweepable band pass filter might get the basic sound right! What do you think, or have to propose instead?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I've done this before, with white noise, sweeping the frequency of a low pass filter and with a really short delay, automating the right and left times between 2 and 10m/s to create the phasing that Tim mentioned, it worked out well with some more layers mixed in, although you might have nasty clicks if you automate the delay times to fast.

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Calling it sound design & then stating no field recording seems somewhat at odds but anyway...

First, disregarding movement for a minute, a real jet engine doesn't sound like white noise. If you looked at the spectrum of of a jet engine it would have very pronounced harmonics, so recreating those would be a starting point, whether its by comb filtering white noise, or by adding very narrow band whines etc. to white noise. Also if you band pass it you may lose the bottom end, and jet engines have a lot of low frequency energy, so I'd be more inclined to use a low pass filter with lots of resonance

Second, the reason it goes whoosh is based on physics so I would then mess with doppler and possibly flanging or phasing.... but that depends on the perspective: are we onboard? Is it passing by? Or has it already gone by & its the away sound you are after? Or is it approaching? Each of these are totally different scenarios.

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i did not exclude field recording from sound design in any way of course but i was talking for the possibility that i cant do field rec and i have to recreate the effect with other means... and the perspective i wanted is a dogfight with the camera outside the jets –  Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis Mar 20 '10 at 14:49

Have you thought about recording a vacuum cleaner? Some of them already sound a lot like jet engines. They might have a speed control, and by partially 'choking' the hose you can make the motor work harder - emit higher pitched sounds.

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Awesome idea :D –  Miles B. Dec 2 '10 at 2:58

I've gotten a pretty cool jet sound (interior perspective) from two industrial fans that were on the set of an airplane interior shot. Sounded pretty real.

But I'm assuming you meant exterior Jet sounds (dog fight style?). One that I've had some success with is using a pencil and a desk fan. If you put the pencil in the fan while it's on medium or high, you get a really cool buzzing sound that sounds almost exactly like a prop plane. You can change the pitch based on where you hold the pencil and how hard you push it into the fan. I've never tried it, but I'd imagine if you pitch it up and layer it with some wooshes and wind sounds you could get close to the whine of an engine. Maybe also layer in some fans/hard drive noises from the back of a computer for the high pitched whine part of a plane? You should be able to do it with about 10-15 layers I'd imagine. Once you get a sound you like, you can automate pans, volumes, and doppler to match the Jet Bys on the screen.

Other mechanical sounds might be helpful for layering, such as a pitched refrigerator motor or air conditioning compressor.

Hope this helps!

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Really cool ideas! Loved the pencil in the desk fan thing, gotta try it! –  Filipe Chagas Mar 20 '10 at 0:35
    
I've used hard drive whine for part of a helicopter sound; I suppose it could work for jets too.... –  Joe Griffin Jun 3 '10 at 5:51

I'm in agreement with Tim, definitely look into using doppler, flangers and amplitude modulation plug ins on a wide variety of source material. Gather all sorts of stuff, from constant noise-based sounds to high-pitched whines and low growls and rumbles. Speaking of whines, that is one characteristic of a jet engine that will really play to your favor as they emit several different frequencies of whines depending on where you are in relation to what the engine is doing (taxiing, taking off, high speed passbys, etc).

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Andy Farnell has a nice example of jet engine noise done with Puredata.

Render some of that and load it in a doppler plugin. :)

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Andy Farnell is a god... –  Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis Mar 20 '10 at 14:51

Darren Blondin wrote a short series of articles a few years ago - one of them went into quite a bit of detail on just this subject. Find it here: http://www.dblondin.com/032308.html

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I like using pig squeals as sweeteners, gives a nice searing heat sound, especially when jets are fired up for the first time (a la Top Gun visuals). Sometimes monkeys pitched up really high do the trick too, but have to be careful about having source material that doesn't have too many modulations - the steadier, the better.

These also work wonders for designing gnarly flamethowers when mixed with lion growls.

I'm always an advocate for experimenting with blending in animal noises when a moment calls for a cinematic sound of ungodly proportions - and sometimes it's the animal timbres that breath life into and take it from a 10 to an 11 ;)

Just my 2 cents.

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I did a tutorial video on this a while back hope it helps.

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facebook.com/… the whine you hear as the jet engine is preparing to launch was done with the Farnell Pure Data patch as mentioned in another answer. to give the launch more impact I added a shotgun blast and other elements to it. –  Rory James Mccutcheon Apr 4 at 14:48

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