Hi guys,

Im just wondering if any of you have any techniques used to create Hollywood style booms and sweeps. Like the bass-heavy booms between cuts in trailers, and swooshes- in things like screen-wipes between scenes.

I made a few booms today by taking kick drum samples, eq'ing the high end away and adding different types of reverb but it still feels like somethings missing.

Any hints or tips?



11 Answers 11


Techniques? These are all very basic sound design techniques but how about doing some recording of sounds more closely related to what you're after? For hits/stings go record some big door slams/metal hits/train shunts etc ie sounds with lots of weight & resonance - pitch them down & layer them, and use a subharmonic synth (eg Lo Ender plugin) to add low freq energy.... Try convolution reverbs to make them more mysterious/less identifiable... For swooshes, try recording some objects being swished past a mic eg a tree branch.... or try reversing gun shots or explosions & layering them with the tails of other sounds... There are so many possibilities.....

  • @ Tim - Cheers Tim, ill definitely try out some of these tomorrow. Convolution reverb is something I wouldn't have considered. Time to swing some rope past my NTG-3! @ Ed- Thanks Ed, i'll make sure to try and represent some more frequencies in there to get that fuller sound. @phat controller- cheers, I was thinking of going down the synth path originally and was messing with some 808 drum hits, perhaps I could layer those with some more natural sounding hits too. May 19, 2011 at 23:16

When I build mine I tend to think in frequency layers.

loud things don't necessarily have a lot of low end, but instead have lots of midrange and distortion, so err in that direction for loudness.

For things that stick out in a mix go for dryness and pitch movement, and make them faster.

For things that stand alone well go for more low end and reverb, and make them slower.

Dont be afraid to experiment with massive pitch shift and unusual sound layers. I once made a bunch of impacts with Tim Prebble's seals http://hissandaroar.com/sd003-seal-vocals/ as a primary element.

I'll tend to make heavy use of dopplers and delays when I'm building mine. I set a doppler up as a send (like a verb) and then squash the hell out of the return, and sometimes add a pingpong delay to that as well. Then mix in to taste.

always be routed to print.

I like fluttery whooshes as preludes to the stings. Tonsturm's bullroarer http://www.tonsturm.com/Soundpacks/files/22722b8af3a3a40308b5d28b33dd9edc-5.htmls will get some special attention from me in the near future.

Listen to what other people do and break down the individual elements. Robert Etoll http://robertetoll.com/q-factory_catalog is kind of the king of this stuff and has tons of it available on his website to audition and learn from.


Never underestimate the power of reverb, reverse, speed, and doppler. Some of my coolest ones come not from doing anything super special to a sound but from manipulating unique samples. Crowd swells, metal scrapes, horse clops, wind buffets....I like to make the whooshes and swooshes theme to elements that would otherwise be in a piece or reiterate a central story element.


Different sounds/samples all layered and mixed, you want some highs in there, you want some bass you want some mids. You will want something hitting the sub bass freq too. EQ them, add reverbs and you got it. Same goes for swooshes.


buy a library, geez, most of the payed indivuiduals in this business don't create things from scratch

  • i think you should create a boosh or fwoosh maybe a zouche instead if you're going to make em from scratch route
    – Chris
    May 21, 2011 at 4:33

For a larger than life type of sound, my first port of call would be a fully featured synth and/or drum machine. It's definitely a matter of taste. You'll need layers as Ed says above, all carefully sculpted together. Wide panning can add drama, but can also end in cheese.


For some good swishes, us a thin dowel rod and pretend it's a sward, swish it around in front of the mic (careful don't hit it.) - You might want to record with a flat EQ and and maybe think about using a higher bit rate to get as much range as possible.

For booms, you can't beat a good trash can (well that's exactly what I would do) and I think you were on the right track with the kick drum, maybe see if you can find a concert bass, or a marching band drum, that will give you a different sound.

some other crazy sounds, if you have a access to a bow and arrows, set your mic near where you release and reverse the sound.

Also if you can fire a gun off, something with a low resonance, set the mic at a distance. You'll want to in post edit out the initial firing, but then use the percussion shock off of it, try reversing that too, or even slowing it down by about 25% that's a pretty wicked effect.


  • thanks, I really like the idea of getting these whooshes down from an organic source May 26, 2011 at 19:54

I tend to use a lot of layers for the sweeps/swooshes...just 1 example:

Sound Design-Sample-8 Jet Thunder Deceminator by BEC Sound Design

For this I used some white noise, pink noise and some thunder I recorded. I took the white and pink noise and added a good amount of reverb with a little echo too...then I took them and ran them through Doppler at varying speeds. I took all the different speeds and layered the long ones first with some varying pans and then added some of the faster ones at the peak to give it a nice punch. After I got the mix I wanted, I copied it and cut everything under 200hz out and used that layer to sweeten it at points that I wanted it to cut through. Then I took that layer again, reversed it, ran it thru Vari-Fi's slow down and then Trash to get a nasty crackle in the tail end. The thunder is pretty much raw except for a little reverb. Now that I write it...it seems like a lot...but it comes together pretty quick.

  • thanks thats pretty useful, I also thought about using noise as a source-i'll be sure to try that technique out too May 26, 2011 at 19:54

Check out this useful tutorial. There's more than enough here to get you inspired...





We recorded "a lot" of source material just for this purposes. Here you can have listen http://www.boomlibrary.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=53&Itemid=2

And this is a short making of video

Might be inspiring...

Cinematic Trailers - Construction Kit from BOOM Library on Vimeo.

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