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So I am currently busy doing the sound design on a student film which has a character snapping another character's neck with her hands. Thus far I have cut in a sound effect that I found of someone taking a bite out of celery. The sound effect hasn't worked perfectly, a pitch change to the sound helped a little, but it's still not right. Chicken bones have not worked for me either. Can anybody tell me a good idea to create this sound, or tell me where I can go to find it, I will be very grateful?

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It's interesting that the idea of celery foley for bone snapping has become so ingrained in people's minds. Many films and TV shows have used this approach, but it cannot be the end-all be-all sound; they key is layering.

How you create the sound design depends on the way the scene was shot, the amount of effort being exerted, the drama of the scene, etc. That being said, a few general comments about this type of sound:

  • An impact sound may be necessary to convey the idea of violence. Try a punch or body blow that precedes the snap;
  • Try other foods, like cabbage, watermelon rind or broccoli. Perhaps your should check out Tim's library;
  • An effort (grunt, exhale, etc) from either person will help attach your design to the image and make it more believable. Often times these sorts of sounds feel disembodied without the proper reaction from one of the characters.

UPDATE:

While re-reading my answer from 2010 (eek, that was a long time ago), I realized that I neglected to mention the easiest solution to your dilemma: Just go out and record one. Duh!

  • I spent a good half hour trying to find audio of real bones breaking - nothing like a celery sound, but gut wrenching all the same. Would be nice to see more realism in violent sounds.. – VCProd May 16 '10 at 0:44
  • So anything that causes the demise of more celery - I'm all for it. I really don't have the words to describe how much I dislike celery. It's the pariah of vegetables. Die Celery. Die. – Mark Dec 10 '16 at 0:47
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Think of the physical layers in the actual action eg flesh & skin ripping, cartilage twisting, spine twisting & then breaking - cut layers for each action with careful sync so the action quickly develops to follow the onscreen action & pacing...

It depends how overt it needs to be, but for breaking internal bones try wrapping objects in towelling eg the celery as one element, wrapped in a light towell & twisted can produce interesting 'internal' breakage sounds that are different to EQing... grab the free VEGETABLE VIOLENCE sounds from http://hissandaroar.com and experiment - maybe towelled celery + pumpkin + a little bit of orange?

  • I'd put a tinge of tomato in there for good measure... Possibly a bell pepper to taste. :-) – Utopia May 15 '10 at 21:15
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it might seem a bit silly but for me worked combination of layers: old chocolate! (you know, the one you used to find at your grandma's with this white-ish stuff on the top of it), tiny branches and tuned finger snapping. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the final sound, but I'll try to look again back home.

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