Some things never stop being funny, no matter how much time has passed. This is also true for sound effects. Some classic sound effects and jokes we use have been around for more than half a century! Kate gave an excellent run down of animation sound's origin in her THE HISTORY OF ANIMATION SOUND post, and many sounds devised by Carl Stalling, Treg Brown and Jimmy MacDonald(and the derivatives of their sounds) are still being used by sound editors today! This week, I asked a few of our editors to tell me about their favorite cartoon sound effects.
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At Boom Box Post, we specialize in sound for animation. Although sonic sensibilities are moving toward a more realistic take, we still do a fair amount of work that harkens back to the classic cartoon sonic styles of shows like Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes. Frequently, this style is one of the most difficult skills to teach new editors. It requires a good working knowledge of keywords to search in the library--since almost all cartoon sound effects are named with onomatopoeic names rather than real words like “boing”, “bork”, and “bewip”--an impeccable sense of timing, and a slight taste for the absurd.
I used to think that you were either funny or not. Either you inherently understood how to cut a sonic joke, or you just couldn’t do it. Period. But, recently, I began deconstructing my own process of sonic joke-telling, and teaching my formula to a few of our editors. I was absolutely floored by the results. It turns out, you can learn to be funny! It’s just a matter of understanding how to properly construct a joke.