Trailer trend: Here comes the BWWWOOOooommm


11th April 2012

Remember the Inception horn - that ubiquitous BRAHHHHMMM honking noise that popped up in every trailer last year? Well, now it has been replaced... by the BWWWOOOooommm. All will become clear.

I'd say there are but a handful of sonic tricks that are deployed in movie trailers; the same musical cues used over and over again that you just sort of take for granted. But once you single them out? You can't stop hearing them. The Inception horn was just one such effect, but you may also recognise the music cutting out briefly for a punchline, dramatic drums paired with a flickering image and the BWWWOOOooommm.

Yes, the BWWWOOOooommm. Let me explain. A character is discussing something of importance and pauses, but just as the camera cuts to the action, there's a sort of bassy, muffled compression sound effect. Typically it's trailer shorthand for 'bad shit is about to go down'. Truly it's the 21st century equivalent of the record scratch. And it is EVERYWHERE.

Don't believe me? I found this little lot with a minimum of research.

BWWWOOOooommms heard at: 0.24, 1.10, 1.16 and 2.05

Battleship is by far the guiltiest offender of late, with no less than FOUR BWWWOOOooommms in its second trailer. The film, like most on this list, is mostly filled with large mechanical objects, which lend themselves well to the sound effect. Listen!

Total Recall

BWWWOOOooommms heard at: 1.05 and 1.32

These are two classic applications of the effect. The first, just before a huge fight scene / effects shot, indicates the calm before the storm. The second, deployed just as Colin Farrell leaps from a balcony, signifies a large fall. Top notch BWWWOOOooommming by Len Wiseman here.

Transformers: Dark Of The Moon

BWWWOOOooommm heard at: 2.22

If I had time, I'd go back through all of the Transformers trailers and I bet you'd I'd find a dozen. As it is, the latest film - Dark Of The Moon - only featured one that I could find, over the closing title screen.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

BWWWOOOooommm heard at: 0.20

The first Transformers sequel on the other hand, had one right there in its 30-second Superbowl trailer. Note: big robots seem to invite this noise.

Fast Five

BWWWOOOooommms heard at: 0.20, 0.37 and 2.09

Proof that it's not just giant robots that are accompanied by the BWWWOOOooommm: big cars and even big men like Vin Diesel are using it as trailer punctuation. There are three of them to be found in Fast Five.

Katy Perry: Part Of Me 3D

BWWWOOOooommms heard at: 0.49 and 1.01

Yes, the BWWWOOOooommm is now so commonplace, it's no longer exclusively the domain of films about big robots and cars - it's appearing in trailer for 3D concert movies. Shame on you, Katy Perry.

So there it is: the BWWWOOOooommm. See if you can find any yourself, they're everywhere. Apologies if I've ruined movie trailers for you forever. See you in 2013 for my expose on the BWWWWAAANNNGGG!

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