Recording the Heavy Mechanical Sounds of Theme Park Rides

Learn what it took for these recordists to capture the powerful impacts and electric whirs of Rattling Rides.

Introducing Rattling Rides – our latest specialty library in collaboration with sound artists Chris Diebold (Spider-Man: No Way Home) and Tobias Poppe (Jojo Rabbit).

Recorded after-hours at a major theme park, this collection delivers a variety of well-isolated rattles, impacts, vibrations, and hiss sounds from a variety of mechanical devices. These 192kHz high-resolution recordings are perfect for creative sound design - whether you're creating the sonic world of a spaceship or designing powerful engines of the future.

We caught up with Chris and Tobias to hear more about their inspiration for creating this library and the work that went into capturing this unique collection of amusement park ride sound effects. Read our conversation below!


Rattling Rides - Available Now

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Pro Sound Effects: Tell us about your experience recording this library!

Chris Diebold: This was a very fun library to record. Tobi did most of the heavy lifting when it came to logistics. We went to Universal Theme Park after hours and met up with the guy who runs everything in regards to the rides. The Simpsons ride is set up in a way where you go into the ride itself and it lifts you up into an IMAX type dome, then it starts shaking around in sync with the picture. We had the lights on with no picture. So the shaking was super random. I had the pleasure of sitting inside the ride for the interior angles. Normally, I do not get sick on things that shake, but after doing that a few times with no visual reference... It got to me pretty fast.

While I was on the ride getting the close interior rattles and shakes, Tobi was below where he captured a ton of hydraulics and gears that were making some pretty gnarly sounds as well as the shaking. We also placed a mic on the top rafters to capture a more distant shake. The Transformers ride was a slightly different setup. We went to the back maintenance area where they do work on the individual cars. This allowed us to get very close to the mechanisms that were making the rattling sounds. 

Tobias Poppe: The collaboration with Universal was very smooth and we were able to record the sounds after hours with no crowds in a controlled environment. So no unforeseen complications, which you usually get recording something specific in a public space. Since we did this on our own and needed to be done relatively quickly, we kept the mic setup simple. On a sidenote: I did get lucky that Chris volunteered to be the onboard guy, because I could have not done it. After we were done recording, I did The Simpsons ride for “fun.” Not a good idea.

 

"The goal was to record rattles with a different kind of texture: Instead of a metallic hollow character, we were trying to find something more tight and modern sounding."

 

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Transformers Ride - Universal

What were your goals in the recording process?

TP: The goal was to record rattles with a different kind of texture: Instead of a metallic hollow character, we were trying to find something more tight and modern sounding.

CD: We wanted to record heavy sounding rattles that can be used in a wide variety of applications (rattles for cars, airplanes, spaceships, etc.). Although it was not a pre-meditated goal, we also were able to capture some awesome machine room ambiences for the rides.

What inspired you to record these sounds?

TP: The Inspiration came from the thought mentioned above and the movie First Man, which has a fantastic sounding opening sequence with great rattles. After talking to (Supervising Sound Editor, Re-Recording Mixer, and Sound Designer) Ai-Ling Lee about it, she revealed that one of their sources was theme park ride rattles, and off we went. We wanted to give it a shot, too.

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What will sound artists find most useful about these sounds?

CD: These rattles can be used in a plethora of applications. Sometimes, it can be difficult to find recordings of rattles that are isolated and sound heavy. Most rattles in libraries tend to be thin and small sounding, which can make a big action scene sound fake or it can make a spaceship or vehicle sound like a prop. These rattles and shakes will hopefully help make the process easier in establishing a heavy realistic sound for anything that shakes!

TP: I second Chris on that. The most important thing about these sounds is that they have a completely different texture than your usual rattles. Since we were recording at 192kHz and with Sanken CO-100K microphone in the mix as well, you should get some interesting results playing with pitch. I could see myself using a pitched down version for those sounds even for a general big machine room ambiance with big clanks and pneumatic elements. So not just hard FX.

"Most rattles in libraries tend to be thin and small sounding, which can make a big action scene sound fake...These rattles and shakes will hopefully help make the process easier in establishing a heavy realistic sound for anything that shakes!"

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Hydraulics under the Transformers Ride

What makes this different from other sound libraries?

CD: As I said, most sound libraries that I come across that contain rattles and shakes either sound small and fake, or they have something tied to it like a truck engine. These sounds are super clean and isolated while also maintaining a very heavy sound.  

TP: I think as soon as you go out to record for a specific reason and choose your location, recording techniques, props etc. you’ll get a more unique and solid result. You can also capture something amazing on the way, like on a trip, but in general a concept and craftsmanship pay off, especially going for hard FX. 

Can you provide any notable technical details of this library? What tools were used?

CD: On most of the onboard stuff, we used the RSM-191 and the 100k. This allowed us to get very close to the mechanisms that were making the rattling sounds. These both allow sound editors to have a full range of freedom. This way, there is a stereo field POV (as well as easily mono compatible since it’s M/S) plus an omni which records up to 100k allowing for aggressive pitching while still maintaining high frequencies.

We also used the MK41 and MK8 (as an M/S setup as well) on the exterior POV which picked up a super crisp recording of both the rattles and the hydraulics. The CS-1e and the RODE NT-1 were more experimental mics, but did end up giving us some creative freedom. The NT-1 is a large diaphragm cardioid condenser mic, which not only captures low frequencies but is very sensitive to loud SPLs. This is the mic that we place far away on the rafters to capture the distant sounding rattles. The CS-1e was placed very close underneath the rides which ended up capturing some cool guttural low shutters from the hydraulics. 

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Simpsons Ride - Universal

We're excited to discover what you create with these new sounds! Keep an eye out for more inspiring releases from Chris Diebold and Tobias Poppe in the future.

       
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