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View Full Version : Lights that go "WHOOMP"?


mangeorge
05-31-2008, 11:44 PM
I've often heard a loud "whoomp" sound on the track of a TV show or movie when a lot of lights come on. Here's a scenario: There's a bad guy in a stadium on the fifty yard line, in the dark, crouched down and trying to not be seem. Suddenly, "whoomp whoomp whoomp whoomp", four banks of lights turn on and the nefarious one is exposed.
I used to be an electrician. I've been around a lot of times when a lot of big lights are turned on at the same time. Warehouses, an arena or two, stadiums, and like that. Not once did I hear any thing even close to that sound. The click of a switch, the clack of relays, sure. But no whoomp
I'm not saying it's not possible, just unlikely. Could be an inrush of quickly heated air, I guess. :dubious:
Anyone ever heard light?
Peace,
mangeorge

Jragon
05-31-2008, 11:48 PM
Well, punches also don't sound like hamburger being thrown at a wall and walking rarely has that CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK sound, so it's Hollywood trying to add mood.

At least that's what I think, personally I've also never heard this WHOOSH when lights come on in real life.

Argent Towers
05-31-2008, 11:59 PM
Also, if movies are to be believed:

All computers need to be constantly making bleeps, bloops, clicks and whirrs if they're being used by someone.

Any computerized security system will have an insanely embellished graphical interface, usually light blue or light green on a black background, with all kinds of three-dimensional effects, spinning menus and zooming effects, accompanied by the inevitable beeps and bloops, and lots of dramatic flashing and noise if the password is denied, and a pleasant tone accompanied by the text turning green if access is granted.

friedo
06-01-2008, 12:03 AM
Well, punches also don't sound like hamburger being thrown at a wall

Of course not. Everybody knows that punches sound like a rubber mallet hitting a cabbage.

Jragon
06-01-2008, 12:07 AM
Also, if movies are to be believed:

All computers need to be constantly making bleeps, bloops, clicks and whirrs if they're being used by someone.

Any computerized security system will have an insanely embellished graphical interface, usually light blue or light green on a black background, with all kinds of three-dimensional effects, spinning menus and zooming effects, accompanied by the inevitable beeps and bloops, and lots of dramatic flashing and noise if the password is denied, and a pleasant tone accompanied by the text turning green if access is granted.
Reminds me of... Things Hollywood think computers can do (http://cracked.com/article_15229_5-things-hollywood-thinks-computers-can-do.html)

Anyway, I (probably wrongly) always imagined people moving those giant metal switches (i.e. the giant metallic lever ones you see in Frankenstein). If those things stick I could see you overexerting and having them make that distinct whoosh/clang noise when you hit the on/off position. Maybe that's where it came from?

Squink
06-01-2008, 12:15 AM
Anyone ever heard light?The high voltage starting supply on a xenon-arc spectrofluorimeter can make sort of a funny crackly-wumpish sound when the coils contract under voltage.
I expect that firing up an open air carbon-arc lamp might also produce an interesting noise.

FoieGrasIsEvil
06-01-2008, 12:30 AM
The high voltage starting supply on a xenon-arc spectrofluorimeter can make sort of a funny crackly-wumpish sound when the coils contract under voltage.
I expect that firing up an open air carbon-arc lamp might also produce an interesting noise.
I have heard this sound in real life outside the movies with these types of lights and I always attributed it to some kind of massive power transfer and the instantaneous illumination of a very powerful light bulb.

beowulff
06-01-2008, 01:04 AM
Speaking from personal experience, HID lights (like sports lighting) are almost silent. The contactors that control the lights can be very loud though. Some of them make quite a "bang" when they are energized, and some buzz very loudly all the time they are on. Carbon arcs make a sizzling sound, but they are relatively quiet.

FoieGrasIsEvil
06-01-2008, 01:18 AM
Speaking from personal experience, HID lights (like sports lighting) are almost silent. The contactors that control the lights can be very loud though. Some of them make quite a "bang" when they are energized, and some buzz very loudly all the time they are on. Carbon arcs make a sizzling sound, but they are relatively quiet.
Does stadium lighting have the usual motor starter/contactor setup? If so, as you describe, contactors of varying sizes can be quite audible.

Didn't think of that. I can't imagine the Motor Control Centers for a lighting rig like that, and I work around a pretty substantial 480 volt setup at the carwash I run.

FoieGrasIsEvil
06-01-2008, 01:20 AM
Add on-

The contactors I deal with issue more of a loud "click" sound rather than a "whoomph" sound. I wonder if that sound differs for a larger contactor distributing that kind of electric power (what is that voltage, anyway?) to a stadium-style light.

Madgolf
06-01-2008, 02:43 AM
A great example of the whoomp is from The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rUt6wI23M9c

17 second mark.

I think Die Hard had the same effect going on too.

beowulff
06-01-2008, 10:34 AM
Does stadium lighting have the usual motor starter/contactor setup? If so, as you describe, contactors of varying sizes can be quite audible.

Didn't think of that. I can't imagine the Motor Control Centers for a lighting rig like that, and I work around a pretty substantial 480 volt setup at the carwash I run.
Well, I don't think anyone switches the lighting directly these days. Most sports lighting systems I run into are run on 277, with some on 480 volts, and lots of Amps - a typical pole will have 6-12 lamps, each 400W, so we're talking around 5,000W per pole. A contactor may control several poles, so they need to be pretty beefy. There has been a great deal of improvement in contactor design over the years - newer designs are much smaller and quieter than some of the ancient ones I run into, which may be as large as a 1/2 shoebox, and make a loud bang when energized.
The other thing to realize is that studio lights and stadium lights behave differently. AFAIK, studio lights are still mostly incandescent (for continuous color spectrum), whereas stadium lights are almost all HID. Incandescent lights have a huge current inrush when turned on, which means the contactors must be oversized to deal with it. HID lights take 10 minutes to warm up, and have essentially no inrush current spike.

Consonants
06-01-2008, 11:06 AM
Maybe it's the real sound of studio klieg lights?

minor7flat5
06-01-2008, 11:08 AM
HID lights take 10 minutes to warm up, and have essentially no inrush current spike.That's the part I was wondering about. I have never seen big lights like that that didn't have a long slow startup. Not very good for flooding the bad guys with bright light and catching them in the act, unless they are kind enough to sit still for ten minutes while ignore the ever-increasing light.

Squink
06-01-2008, 11:18 AM
Maybe it's the real sound of studio klieg lights?They had to get the sound and the idea for the sound from somewhere.

mangeorge
06-01-2008, 11:42 AM
Has anyone at a baseball game that went into night time ever heard the lights come on?
The sound in the movies/tv is always from the lighted area point of view, not from a control room or mechanical room.

Darth Sensitive
06-01-2008, 01:22 PM
Right or wrong, sports movies have associated that sound with stadium light start ups for me. The noise just screams "SPORTS" to me.

Near the end of this trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Qzyp4qOW0F0

And I couldn't find the others I know are out there in Remember the Titans and others on YouTube.

The Scrivener
06-01-2008, 08:16 PM
Data point: there's an echoey whoomp-chunk sound when the arena lights are turned off in Miracle [Scene 7, when the team is made to skate drills after their tie with the Norwegian "B" Team]. The electrical equipment looks old; the arena guy pulls down on an old-fashioned handle switch [as in Frankenstein, only without the Tesla coils and Van der Graaf generators].

:D

mangeorge
06-02-2008, 07:44 PM
Right or wrong, sports movies have associated that sound with stadium light start ups for me. The noise just screams "SPORTS" to me.

Near the end of this trailer: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Qzyp4qOW0F0

And I couldn't find the others I know are out there in Remember the Titans and others on YouTube.
Yeah, that. Or usually very close to that.
Ol' Billy Bob sure can act, can't he?

Q.E.D.
06-02-2008, 07:54 PM
There are some very large case switches used on high-current power distribution equipment, typically rated 1000 A and up, like the one shown here (http://us.schneider-electric.com/us/products/circuit_breakers.nsf/unid/7AD8922937A2AAD985256B8E00584339/$file/masterpactntcbFrameset.htm). These have very heavy-duty contacts so hefty that powerful springs need to be "charged" by pumping a handle in order to toggle them. You saw a different type of these being energized in Jurassic Park. These make a pretty loud noise when you open or close them. I can see something like this being the inspiration for the sound effect.

Colophon
06-02-2008, 08:14 PM
A great example of the whoomp is from The Adventures of Ford Fairlaine:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=rUt6wI23M9c

17 second mark.

I think Die Hard had the same effect going on too.

That sounds like the old-fashioned camera flashbulb-popping sound -- which, again, I've only ever heard in movies, but I assume that old-style flashes, which did actually burn, used to make a noise like that.

I think it's just a case of a lazy "similar visual (bright light flashing on) requires similar sound effect" attitude from the foley guys.

mangeorge
06-02-2008, 08:30 PM
There are some very large case switches used on high-current power distribution equipment, typically rated 1000 A and up, like the one shown here (http://us.schneider-electric.com/us/products/circuit_breakers.nsf/unid/7AD8922937A2AAD985256B8E00584339/$file/masterpactntcbFrameset.htm). These have very heavy-duty contacts so hefty that powerful springs need to be "charged" by pumping a handle in order to toggle them. You saw a different type of these being energized in Jurassic Park. These make a pretty loud noise when you open or close them. I can see something like this being the inspiration for the sound effect.
I've operated those a lot in 12kV switchgear. In some, the spring is charged by an electric motor (actually a drill motor). When you trip one, it goes BANG ying ying ying. Scares the shit out of anyone not expecting it. Ask any newby engineer. What fun. ;)

Colophon
06-03-2008, 07:32 PM
Apparently this phenomenon is called the Coconut Effect (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCoconutEffect):
An element that is patently unrealistic, but which you have to do anyway because viewers have been so conditioned to expect it that its absence would be even more jarring...

The best example of this is the sound of horse-hooves. From the days of radio, banging two coconut halves together was the standard way to generate the sound effect of horse-hooves. Anyone who has ever actually been around a horse knows that horse-hooves rarely sound anything at all like that, and never sound more than just a very little bit like that. All the same, that sound became so ingrained in the public consciousness that, even when it later became possible to insert much more realistic sound effects, for many years, the coconut sound effect was still used, because the audience wouldn't be able to accept horse-hooves making a sound not generated by coconuts...

While audiences have finally outgrown that particular quirk, there are others which persist, such as the Bang Bang BANG effects of guns -- particularly the thwpt sound of a gun with silencer (which sounds nothing like an actual silenced pistol), the ping sound made by a specular reflection, the click of a remote control, the loud thump of lights turning on or off, or noisy explosions in space...

mangeorge
06-03-2008, 07:42 PM
Apparently this phenomenon is called the Coconut Effect (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheCoconutEffect):
There it is. Thanks.

mangeorge
06-03-2008, 07:56 PM
Speaking of which;
Years ago when I was about twenty I was sort of watching a then old movie on TV. Two men were sitting in a car at a RR crossing while the train passed. As they were talking you could hear the crossing guard go "dingdingdingdingdingdingdingdingding".
It took me a second or two to realize what was amiss.
Wish I could remember the movie. :confused:
BTW; are quotes appropriate for sound effects?

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