Transformers Sound: Autobots Roll Out

The sounds that transformers make are astonishing; sometimes it’s hard to believe that transformers are fictional characters. Hearing those transforming sounds just sound authentic as if that’s how they would sound if they were real beings. So the question is how do sound designers engineer such believable sounds to fit these massive robotic beings.  Well in an interview with Erik Aadahl on Designing Sound he explains how those unique sounds make it to the big screen. The transforming sound is an iconic brand for the Transformers franchise. The original Transformers cartoon featured a rising or falling 5 beat splatty pitch rhythm sound, which can be created through using Polyphonic synthesis. To recreate that basic transforming sound you would need a 500 Hz tone, adding a flanger plug-in to adjust the rate and create the splatty sound. Then you need to automate a pitch rise from start to finish ramping up the tone, adding a tremolo pattern, and tweaking that to get the 5-part rhythm. That’s basically how the original cartoon transforming sound was created.

The transforming sound that is featured in the Transformer films has that same basic idea as the cartoon but with a more complex process. A lot of tools were used to realize that robotic mechanical transformation sound. For example the transformer helicopter named Blackout, transformation started with a weird drone that was essentially an equalized medium delay applied to a slowed UPS battery buzz recording. A scanner servo with pitch acceleration, and sword blades sliding together were used for the helicopter’s rotors folding up sound. When Blackout Transformation builds up big metal crunches are introduced where his parts begin to lock into place like joints and sockets. The main component used for this was big ice crunches, recorded at 192 kHz, fattened with compression, reduced to about 20% in speed and layered with shotgun cocks. All this applied to the original concept of creating the transformers sound is how that beautiful sound we hear in the Transformer films come to life.


I do not know much about kHz and such, but I still found this interesting. One of the main reasons I enjoyed Transformers was because of the cgi and the sound effects. I found it entertaining trying to match certain parts of the transforming Transformer with the sound effects.

December 9, 2012 at 6:27 PM comment-delete

First off let me say I love that you picked Transformers because some people give Michael Bay a hard time about his movies and I'm a huge fan so I'm glad you went into the actual production and explained how the sounds were made. I feel like a lot of people get stuck on the visuals of movies, I mean you have the 4k Projector and RPX or IMAX but if you don't have that beautiful 7.1 Dolby sound the movie falls flat. Not to mention that there are so many different aspects that have to fit just right in order to get any sound from recording into post and into the film. I appreciate the post and I'll be looking back to see if you do more like this because it's really fun and interesting. thanks and take care


December 9, 2012 at 8:44 PM comment-delete

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