What is the Coconut Effect?
The “coconut effect” is a term used to describe sound effects, special effects or design elements that are unrealistic but need to be included because its absence would be noticeable to viewers.
The coconut effect is named after the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which two coconut halves were used to generate the sound effect of horse hooves clopping by banging the two halves together. The production lacked the budget to afford real horses so knights pretended to ride invisible horses while coconuts were used to complement the visual action.
Check out the following scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail below:
“Monty Python Coconuts” by 3qui1i6riM
While horse hooves can sound like coconut halves being tapped together, it is typically only when the horses are walking or galloping on a hard surface. Even in depictions of horses walking on dirt or grass where it would make more sense for the sound of their hooves to be muffled, the coconuts were still used for many years because audience members have come to expect it.
There are many other examples of unrealistic sound effects used to help complement the action occurring onscreen, including audible clicking noises when buttons on a remote control are pressed, the “whump” sound of a person getting punched in the face, and even the sound of scraping metal when a sword is unsheathed from a leather sheath. Some of these unrealistic sound effects are still used today while others have been traded in for more realism by using the same materials or objects portrayed onscreen.
Foley artists are the creative minds behind these sound effects, and their work is indispensable to producing a larger than life experience while watching an imaginative film. Using layers and layers of different sound effects, they create an amazing auditory experience that elevate the final film.
Take a sneak peek at some other creative ideas used by foley artist Stefan Fraticelli to produce realistic sounds:
If you are looking for foley artists or other post-production sound designers to help you create sound effects for your next production, check out our online Nevada Production Directory to find experienced Nevada production crew and support services or drop by our office and pick up a free printed directory! You can also give us a call at (702) 486-2711 if you need further assistance with your production!
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