I am doing some sound design for an animation and it has camera angles that are very close to flaming arrows shooting past. I have made a base sort of sound using a coat hanger swishing through the air, but I need something with more impact that whistles through the air.

My question, how can I make that whistling arrow sound you hear in films?

3 Answers 3


find a large quiet place to record. warehouses are ok if the ext traffic noise is low enough. protect anything that could be damaged from a flying projectile before you begin.

grab a bunch of props to swing. Things like rack panels with holes, small pipes with holes, certain musical instruments (chimes, flutes, etc) and even light helmets with holes will do. Odd shapes flutter, holes whistle. Simple shapes sound boring.

The weight will help you get it up to speed and the holes will create the whistling.

Attach each prop to a long piece of nylon string (nylon is very strong). when you tie knots, tie in one direction and then the other - this will prevent the knots from untying.

Record the whoosh bys as you spin each prop past with the string at full extension. Try for big hard individual whooshes as opposed to fast spins.

be sure to have your shoes off so you don't record your foot movement.

Use gloves to protect your hands from string friction.

protect your mics and your rig.

some izotope RX or multiband expansion in post will help with cleanup of the recorded files.

  • Excellent advice, thank you very much I do own quite a few weird woodwind instruments but never thought of attaching it some nylon string and swinging it around. Thanks!
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 11:04

While I don't know the exact recipe he used, David Farmer came up with some pretty cool stuff for LOTR by attaching different items to real arrows to make them whistle.




I would imagine with the right amounts of plastic / paper / foil, you could make some cool sounds.

If you don't have access to a bow, you could try attaching something similar to the end of a chain or something (maybe a rope, but the rope itself would make a whoosh) and swing it above your head.

I know it's not a direct answer, but hopefully some inspiration?

  • Yeah apparently you can also do the same with a pingpong ball by cutting slits in it, but alas I do not own a bow and arrow lol. Thanks for the reply :)
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 11:05

Someone here mentioned they set plastic bags on fire and recorded the dripping plastic rushing by the mic. I don't remember how he said it sounded, but it might be suitable for the flames. Robin Hood (2010) used bees for a large arrow volley. I don't remember where I saw it. Might have been soundworkscollection.com

  • Ah yeah I remember that, they mentioned is had a 'zip' sorta sound if I remember correctly. Thanks for the tip about bees though :)
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 15:40
  • Just added bee sound to group of arrows about to rain down, epic suggestion!!
    – Andrew
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 16:06

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