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thunder = sheet metal


FredCDobbs
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Has anyone ever noticed that in many of the early sound films from 1929 and 1930, all thunder sounds like someone is rattling a large sheet of thin sheet metal?

 

Well, they are. That was the old fashioned theatrical thunder-making device used for stage plays and early film, before real thunder was recorded. The sheet could have been as small as about 4 x 5 feet or maybe up to 4 x 8 or longer, with one or two men doing the rattling.

 

Wind machines:

http://phonyweather.net/wind.html

 

*Thunder metal*:

http://phonyweather.net/thunder.html

 

viennaphil-thundersheet.jpg

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I've seen in old films lightning that was nothing but a series of matte paintings.

 

The best thunder effect I heard in movies is "The Little Princess" (1995) when near the end. the bolt hit a lightning rod on Charles Randolph's house along with a thunderous boom.

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What about all of the sound "special effects" used for radio shows? Maybe nothing as elaborate as that thunder machine but didn't they use similar devices for a long time? Or did they change everything over to recorded sounds for the live radio shows?

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I think they kept some of the old mechanical methods for radio but added some recordings of real sounds like car tire screeches. Before tape, they had to use recordings on disk, which was risky to use on a live show, in case of a groove skip, a scratch, or a needle-jump occurred. Some "live" radio shows were actually pre-recorded on large half-hour disks.

 

see this:

 

 

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Very interesting short. The location footage featured Lafe McKee, Richard Alexander and Bob Kortman. It must have been newly filmed with that nice new Chevy.

 

Three of the radio players sounded like the Jewel Players from WXYZ in Detroit, who did THE LONE RANGER. I would bet that's where the studio sequence was filmed, especially since Detroit was Motor City!!

 

Thanks for sharing the link!

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Often in old films, cannon fire and shell explosions sounded as if they were done with tympany (kettle) drums. As far as radio...

 

Does anyone remember Firesign Theater's "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger" in which a couple of "secrets" were revealed?

 

"It had been snowing in Los Angeles since the top of the page..."

 

"I had to shake the cornstarch off my muttlocks"

 

"If you're so smart, why don't you pick up your clues a little faster"

"Are those my cues?"

"Yes. They should be dry by now. Why don't you pull them out of the cellophane before they scorch!"

 

And in other radio shows and very early sound movies, that mechanical sounding device they used for the sound of wind. I think much of that stuff was developed on the fly...

 

Sepiatone

 

Edited by: Sepiatone on Mar 29, 2014 9:12 AM

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Times have changed, today we want to know everything about how films are made. Back in the days of early sound films people in the audience were so thrilled just by the fact that after decades of silent films they were actually hearing a movie they didn't give much thought or probably even cared how it was done.When they did find out something like how they made thunder it was like learning a magician's secret.

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Ray,

 

When I was a little kid, my family and I would listen to the radio every night. It was just like TV. We could almost see the actors and famous comedians because we had seen them in movies, so we knew what many of them looked like. So for the image of radio, we just imagined scenes from movies we had already seen.

 

The sound effects on radio sounded real, and I always thought, as a kid, that the radio shows were made on location, even outdoors, using real cars, etc.

 

The industry generally kept that stuff somewhat of a secret, so the audience would go along with the illusion.

 

Fred

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> The sound effects on radio sounded real, and I always thought, as a kid, that the radio shows were made on location, even outdoors, using real cars, etc.

 

 

 

That's funny, Fred. I remember when I was REAL little, I imagined the radio I was listening to was done much like I'd seen in old movies on TV. In those old movies, people were live in the studio giving performances for "The Acme Soap Radio Hour" or some such crap. So when Mom had the radio on in the house, and the announcer would say something like, "Here's Frank Sinatra singing 'One More For The Road'.", I ACTUALLY THOUGHT Frank Sinatra was at the radio station singing the song! The idea that they would be playing a recording somehow never occured to me! D'OH!

 

Sepiatone

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