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Swooshing Spacecraft

They say in space no one can hear you scream, so, how is it they can hear the sound of space craft engines and swooshing spacecraft going by? Well it's a matter of choice. In some science fiction movies, they don't have swooshing spacecraft. In 2001 a Space Odyssey, space scenes are accompanied by classical music such as The Blue Danube Waltz. This is very tasteful, but misunderstood by the majority of cinemagoers who expect more of a juggernaut passing rumbling or swishing sound effect to dramatise every space ship's movement. Everyone knows it's not scientifically accurate, but it somehow adds to the drama.

In Star Trek, the two schools of thought regarding space ship sound effects must have discussed this long and hard, because trekkies are known to be keen on things being scientifically accurate wherever possible. In the end they decided on having swooshing spacecraft. It's a theatrical compromise. It's as if, whenever a scene shows horses walking on soft ground, someone dubs coconut-shell clip-clopping because people horses always sound like that.

At a guess, Star Wars had a lot less worry about this, and just went for noisy spacecraft as a default option.

My own opinion, for what it's worth, is that I prefer the silent or musically accompanied space. Although I can put up with some swooshing, I feel it's a pipsqueak of the sound of the true motion, almost like seeing an ocean liner gracefully cruising along while accompanied by a badly overdubbed noisy small outboard motor recording, because someone was told to put a nautical motor on that!

Along with swooshing spacecraft, which have become part of the language of cinematography even though counter to science, the speeds of objects in space are generally adjusted a few orders of magnitude. This is mainly for practical reasons, so instead of trying to film spaceships going at ten miles per second, they are actually more visible on the cinema frame at 1000 miles per hour. But we KNOW the facts, oh yes we do.

Also see badly dubbed cats in movies.


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