As the title states, I'm curious what sound effects edit has truly stumped you before, at least in the sense of having to spend time to create from scratch. Ironically it' seems to me to be most simple of real-life things that can be bane of one's existence.

The kind of sound situation I speak of is one where you roll up upon it while cutting, do a library search and realize you don't have anything relating to or being the actual recording it - there's a deadline looming with no time to record it yourself, no usable PFX of it to build off of, can't rely upon the Foley dept for covering it or fully realizing the sound in which said situation it needs to fully sell it, no time to research buying another library or even the time sampling online options like Sounddogs et al. The kind if situation where it's just you, your library in front of you, a little elbow grease and some magic and luck.

What sound effect edit has had you the most stumped (even if you managed to create it after a bit of effort)?

Recently for me it was the sound of a tree stump (ironically) being kicked - it was a makeshift stump which was essentially a 2 foot tall, 1 foot diameter midsection slice from a tree set on the ground. The actor pulls out an axe stuck in it then kicks it closeup and it tumbles head over heels in the dirt and leaves and rests in the dirt. The entire procedure lasts a mere second - the equivalent amount of time of hearing a bodyfall essentially. Now the leaves and dirt were quite easy to toss in there. But the stump, seriously, had me stumped for some time. It was tough to create that muted high frequency wood hit reminiscent of solid wood (think of the sound when you knock on a tree), but have enough hollowness and thumpiness to carry the weight of wood - but a dense "thocky" hollow, not like the thin hollow sound of a door being kicked, and not small or chunky like small wood pieces being dropped. Such a particularly-targeted frequency content. Needless to say the final sound was arrived at after a little elbow grease so it was a happy ending, but boy was it tricky to pull that one out of the bag - even to find the right source elements.

I'd love to hear what's had you stumped the most, regardless of how ornate or or simply literal of a situation it was.

  • @Stavrosound, this is a long since dead thread, but just for kicks I'll recommend the 'tomahawk' recordings in the PE library for this sort of thing. Great 'thocky' impact with plenty of real wood and body. Aug 27, 2012 at 6:58
  • @Jay Haha, all good! I figured PE might have something, alas I don't own any of the sets yet so this sound creation had me somewhat sonically confined. Thanks for the tip! Aug 27, 2012 at 7:37

3 Answers 3


Doing a series of commercial ads for survivor , they by this im referring to the agency ( agency team of blue haired , bad dressed , cell phone glued freaks ) wanted the following within their ads

Ad 1 : Sound of piranhas eating meat of a man's left leg. Ad 2 : Sounds of a a python slowly crushing a human arm Ad 3 : A squawk of a parrot that has just been frighten by the sight of a big spider. oh and we need to hear the spider move like its menacing Ad 4 : The sounds of the amazon jungle but without birds. and last but not least Ad 5 : water dropping into a pool of water in a cave , but the water droplets must sound dirty.

I sht you not. after two days of relentless efforts i was stumped.


I'm relatively new to sfx editing, so I've had a lot of stumps in recent times. The worst was probably the sound of a tree landing on the groun after being cut down (those pesky tree sounds huh!). I had recorded a lot of material, like creaking, rustling of leaves and branches breaking, but that heavy "whomph" as the tree struck the ground had me stumped for a long time. I couldn't use any of the impact sounds I had, they were all too sharp and punchy, and I couldn't use rustling and creaking alone. Eventually I managed to approach the effect by layering various pitched down impact sounds, and fiddling with their attacks, but I was never very happy with the sound. A few weeks past the deadline, I got a new library, which happened to contain a recording of a tree falling - with the excact "whomph" I had been looking for.


For me, it was the Spinfusor sounds in Tribes: Ascend. I must have gone through 30+ different revisions for the spinfusors before finding something that made everyone happy. The Spinfusor is the iconic disc launcher weapon in Tribes, so I had no room for error.

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