One of the things that sound editors are seemingly always in need of is servos. They are needed for just about anything sci-fi or futuristic, and even lots of scenes that are supposed to be happening around us in present day. Mechanical grinds and whirs, hydraulic lifts, robotic movements these are all great ingredients to build the sounds of the servos in the movies and TV shows we all love. A lot of these sounds come from everyday house hold appliances recorded and then processed into huge sounding robot movements.
Recently a small SFX company called Rabbit Ears Audio released a whole collection of household servo/small motor recordings. It includes audio of just about everything you can plug-in in a kitchen (blenders, mixers, coffee grinders, juicers ect) as well as a thorough run through of everything in the toolshed (circular saws, dremel, drills ect) and a real robot called a "Maker Bot".
This is a great, invaluable collection that has come in very handy on one of the series I am currently working on. In the show there are a bunch of new massive, 10 story high, robot characters and I have spent a lot of time coming up with sounds to make these creatures really come to life. While the Rabbit Ears collection has been great but I have been on the lookout for more sounds to build the robots out of and recently I hit the jackpot with this little wind-up powered flashlight.
The sounds it makes as you wind up the crank has a lot of definition and depending on how fast you crank it you can get a wide variety of characterization from it. Here is a little section of the recording session I did with the flashlight.
I used these recordings as a base to build the sound for a sequence where one of the robots chest opens up and a giant weapon comes out, then this weapon powers up with a visual glowing. Currently I can not show a clip as the episode will not air for several months but I think you can still get an idea of the sequence. Here is an audio evolution of the how the flashlight sound was integrated:
The first sound is the raw flashlight servo edited to match the timing of the animation. Next up is the servo processed by pitch-sifting it down a bit, adding some modulation and GRM Tools "Warp" plug-in. The final sound is the full sound effects mix including all the other sounds that went into the this sequence.