We recently caught up with Esrever Audio’s Tommy Bradly, having worked with him on the Krotos Cinematic Whooshes & Transitions Library. He gave us the low down on his designing process for whoosh sound effects, which we are sharing with you here. Let’s take a look and get you on your way to designing excellent-sounding whoosh sound effects for your own libraries and projects.
The four key components of whoosh sound effects
The base for all of my whoosh assets tends to be one of four things:
1. Ambience recordings
This is the sound that brings uniqueness, character and identity to your whooshes. Record sounds with interesting spectrums and unique characters, as these will make your whooshes stand out and be unique from other sounds.
Cymbal sounds offer lush bright swells and sweeping frequencies which really help to exaggerate the peak point of the whoosh. This is a powerful technique used in music production frequently, and it works equally as well for whooshes.
3. Synthesised noise
Everything from static crackles to pure white noise is a useful material for all kinds of sound design, and whooshes are no exception. The consistency of the frequencies and output make it much easier to work with to create sweeps and focus/remove certain frequencies
4. Synthesised bass
Similarly, synthesised bass offers the same consistency that you don’t find in natural recordings. a strong and consistent sine wave reinforces the low end, allowing your designed ambience recordings to stand out and bring the character to the whoosh.
The choice of base recording is where you would really set the tone and design off the whoosh. Ask yourself various questions – do you want something modern, cinematic, noisy or something else?
Find interesting spectrum content in outdoor recordings and use this as the basis of your design. I used internal recordings of buses as an example of interesting sounds that can be recorded anywhere, any time, with any device you have to hand.
The importance of volume automation
Once you have an outline of what you want to create, start with a few seconds of the chosen base recordings and sculpt the fades at the start and end of the sound. Play with different lengths and curves to change the impact of the sound.
One technique I recommend exploring is to layer up multiple volume
automation. This gives more control and precision when creating the rise and the tails of the whoosh.
The volume automation is also where you control the emphasis – do you want a long, slow transition? Or a snappy rise with an impact? This all can be achieved with volume automation.
Applying FX to your whooshes
Once we have the whoosh shape in place with its fades, we can employ some effects to the designs to make them come alive.
Be liberal with your EQ! Extreme bands or simple filter sweeps are incredibly powerful for generating momentum. Whooshes are abstract sounds so you can really sculpt the frequencies this way.
This can add emphasis to the bass or create air by removing the bass.
Subtle pitch rises can increase tension while pitch drops can release it.
Reverb can be helpful as a creative or technical tool to add depth or create artificial tails.
Incorporating creative sound design techniques
The last technique I used here is reversing, particularly on drum cymbals. This is a common yet effective technique in electronic music production/composer side.
Layering Whoosh assets
The last major step is layering. Really all these techniques can be used to create whoosh SFX which can be layered with each other. Creating a variety of quick and long whooshes means you can have layers of emphasis, and
you can sync up the peak climax of various whooshes to make a uniformed whoosh with a synchronous peak easily.
Some additional editing of the individual whooshes is required for layering, mainly carving out their frequencies to make room for each other, and some compression to further tie them together.
This layering step is achievable in a DAW or even better in Weaponiser by Krotos Audio, which allows you to fire multiple layers in random combinations quickly and easily.