'KABOOMM ... wiiiiiiiiiiii...' - When did this audio effect begin in movies?

The scene is familiar - there’s a high-stakes confrontation two-thirds of the way through the movie and the hero narrowly dodges a BIG explosion - large enough to trash the car they were in. The explosion is deafening, and as the dust settles on screen you hear … a very high-pitched, almost inaudible monotone, and any background sound is muddied and dulled.

Clearly its intended to represent the post-explosion temporary hearing loss as seen through the hero’s ears, and give some sense of their disorientation and disconnection from the immediate action. Sometimes it works well, and now you see it all the time on movies and TV.

But it wasn’t always so. Back in the olden days there was none of this audio jiggery-pokery - the explosion exploded and then everyone just got on with their business. When did this particular explosion audio effect begin being used? The people demand to know.

I can’t answer your question, but. I can say that I do appreciate when they do that effect after a bunch of guns have fired near someone’s ear.

There’s a trope for that:

Also, there’s a study for that:


Thanks - its a great article, although I can’t claim to understand much of the acoustic science content.

It does confirm my recollection of it being post-2000 [I’ve only seen one of the earlier films that use it], and do now recall its impact on me in Master and Commander’s battle scenes.

Saving Private Ryan always seemed like the trope codifier for me. It wasn’t the first, but it included the trope in giant battle scenes that were highly memorable for all sorts of other reasons (like the tropey reduction in frame rate, low shutter angle [for a stuttery look], and cranked up contrast/saturation). Never saw Cop Land but I don’t think it’s stuck in the cultural memory like Saving Private Ryan. Pi is too obscure and the other examples are too old.

They mention this in the article. Great minds and all that!

Kaboom! wasn’t on the Wii. It was on the Atari.