Dear All,

I am working on a trailer at the moment and I'm trying to put in a nice sound for a bright light/lens flare.

The best thing I can come up with is feedback, but it reminds me of something harsh. It seems to work, but I'm trying to find other options. I tried bowed cymbals and glass, etc, but those seem too harsh and unpleasant as well. I'm trying to put something subtle but noticeable and pleasant-sounding.

What have you used for a bright light/flash of light in trailers or any movie?

Or if you can point me to good examples of this in other trailers or movies, please do so!

Thanks in advance for your help.

  • whats the context? – user49 Dec 13 '10 at 22:47
  • Dear all, Thanks a lot! I've been working on this nonstop all day and it just got approved and out the door. I'm uploading the FX stem right now. Wish I could select best answer on all of the responses! Thanks! – Utopia Dec 14 '10 at 6:41
  • @Jay Arghhh I am trying to upload it to Soundcloud and it says I have an error at 10.09 mb out of 10.1. – Utopia Dec 14 '10 at 6:56

Bowed Vibraphone.


[Thanks for mentioning the emotional goal you're after, makes answering these questions way easier..!]

Try a 1980's era flashgun/on-camera strobe. Modern flashguns will work fine too, but 80's flashguns have a distinctive but soft pop and a whine as the capacitors recharge, and you can choose/trim/NR either side of the sound to taste. Recording it at 192kHz lets you retain that pop but stretch it out, or pitch it down, as the scene might require. :-p (I've never recorded one of the old one-use flash cubes but some thrift store shopping might be a fun way to see what kinds of sounds those make...)

In films I've often heard a heavy latch or switch when lights come on, even if the source of the switch isn't in the narrative/diegesis. The decay sound of a struck match might be nice for some sizzle. I concur with Jay that a short, highly stylized whoosh would be appropriate, and some resonance as Dave and Andy suggested sound like strong ideas, too.

Of course, these are mostly ideas for layers, not a single composite effect.


Maybe some kind of 'glassy' element might work? Like a resonant glass ting that reversed and manipulated with some pitch/time processing? Just an idea while I'm drinking my coffee! ;)

  • Awesome idea! Trying it out right now! Thanks! I'll let you know. – Utopia Dec 13 '10 at 19:53
  • Cool! Let me know if you have any joy :) Feel free to share the sound after too ;) – Andy Lewis Dec 13 '10 at 20:18


  • mid-high whoosh reversed in on itself, with some reverb
  • female breath reversed in on itself
  • crystal rub with finger, processed thru pitched delays, then reversed and delayed again

Just off the top of my head…pls post your final idea.


Without going in to the kind of sound too much (without image it's hard to say really). I'd say concentrate on the movement.

Movement is a very important factor. The afore mentioned hiss lends itself to be modulated by a cutoff etc, to resemble movement. Maybe even filter some white noise to accentuate the movement.


+1 on adding a soft "pop"! Had a project recently which called for a bright light to the face and I wound up combining the popping of a loosely inflated balloon, an aspirin bottle top popping off (one of my go-to's for a bunch of stuff!) with a bit of noise for the initial flash. then used a metallic drone + some footage of an old crummy florescent fixture from the laundry room in my apartment building, and just a tiny bit of hissing steam pitched up. barely audible, but it felt like it gave a little extra "heat" to the head-on shot.

  • There is a cop's flashlight in the first Matrix film that has this sort of effect. Not sure if it's the first scene or later, but it's in the first act or two. – NoiseJockey Dec 16 '10 at 5:24

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