SFX for a dance/kung-fu show – Lightsaber sound

The sound was powerful and it was intuitively played in sync with the performance.

The show was produced by Blind Frame Productions. It was performed at the Solid Tricular LAN-party. The sci-fi inspired show used themes from Star Wars, Terminator and Transformers. The second half of the show was a lightsaber battle.

I checked out readily available material for the lightsaber sounds, but concluded that the available material didn’t sound evil enough and was inflexible for the show’s purpose, so I decided to create my own.

The lightsaber sound was created with Plogue Bidule. The fundamental waveform consists of PWM sawtooth and synced sawtooth waves. Envelope modulated PW creates the ignition effect. The waveform is put through and mixed with a couple of filterbanks, which add a bit of distortion too. The core of the sound is the fundamental waveform put through a customized and monophonic formant filter. In total the sound consists of three different layers.

The sound of movement is created by putting the original sound through a new set of filters, which mix with an amplitude modulated copy of themselves. An energy field rips through atmosphere. This second signal path is mixed to the original via a crossfader. The crossfader and a few other parameters were programmed to be controlled by the modulation wheel of a midi keyboard.

I originally envisioned to record the output of the process and replay it at the show. I ended up manipulating the process live with the midi keyboard, because it was much easier and I could better react to the action on stage. The contact sounds are adjustments of the original process, and they were launched with the keyboard. Besides the lightsabers a multitude of other sounds were created for the show.

The sound is not supposed to be an emulation of the original, but a unique rendering for a unique purpose. It sounded awesome through the party’s PA.