Have you ever attempted to record a prop, only to find that a small tweak creates an entirely different sound than you were going for? Sure a creaky door sounds like a creaky door, but what else can it sound like? How about hearing something while out and about that triggers your creativity? With the right tweaks, that bird would be a super cool laser blast!

As sound professionals, our ears are always open. Creatively, these discoveries can be the most exhilarating part of the job. I challenged the team here at Boom Box Post to come up with some of their favorite 'smoke and mirror' sound design moments; creating sounds from unexpected sources.

Jessey Drake


For season 4 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we were tasked with creating a whole new extra terrestrial world in which the characters of the show would be wearing space suits. The gear is not really metallic in nature, but more of a plastic type of space polymer. That being said, I went and recorded some tupperware for the space gear and pitched it down, along with some other processing to get that thick plasticy-feel. The final build of the gear is a combination of soccer shin pads, heavy military gear and these tupperware recordings. 

Brad Meyer

This is a sound I created for eye blinks in a short animation I did a while back. The characters used blinks to convey emotion often throughout the piece, and I wanted to give the blinks as much character as I could. I played around with several ideas, but ultimately decided to go in a wet, squishy direction. The sound you hear is actually a small, personal-sized, half-full hand sanitizer bottle that I shook in front of a microphone. It took a few dozen takes, but the more staccato (short) the sound, the better it fit the on-screen action of the characters. With a combination of pitch-shifting the sounds for each character, and some noise reduction and editing (to get rid of the unwanted sloshing of the sanitizing gel), I ended up with the unique and fun sound.

Eric Paulsen

For these sounds I thought that it would be fun to use some old recordings of my friends 2011 Ducati Monster and create some futuristic spaceship whooshes. I used my Zoom H4N to record him doing multiple pass-by's. I then used Soundmorph's WaveWarper tool. This tool allows the user to create really cool custom soundings whooshes from nearly any sort of recording. It's a standalone app that combines and loops up to 6 sound file layers to create one new dynamic file using multiple real-time controllable effects and optional VST plugins. Once I placed the raw recordings into WaveWarper, I adjusted a few parameters and messed around until I was happy with what I had! 

Tess Fournier

For this challenge I decided to try and recreate the sound of someone picking at or itching a scab. Whenever I do this kind of thing I always gravitate toward using food; the inner child in me must always wants to make a giant mess. I found rice cakes in the Boom Box kitchen and stole one for this project (Sorry Jeff! I will  buy you some more!). I figured the rice cake would be a bit too dry so I brought in a mug of water to help make it sound a little more gooey. Then I just picked and scratched at the soggy rice cake with my hands to make the final recording.

Do you have a favorite sound sourced from unexpected places? Tell us your story in the comments!