Kinetic Clicking

In the search to be cool in TV and cinema there is one sound effect any budding director will need to fall back upon: the click.

Think about it, where would the action hero be without the crack of his knuckles and the cock of his gun to let everyone know he was dangerous? How else can we make a nerdy hacker seem cool and adventurous without his fingers blazing across the crackling keyboards?

The "click" sound effect, the sound that accompanies the sudden application and release of pressure between mechanical objects is often used in moments of action. The short, punchy noise is already connected in our minds to dynamics and machinery due to the way that it's made in real life: bits of metal and machinery slide over each other and strike each other rapidly. Therefore the sound will often be overlayed onto an action not necessarily just for portraying the real life sound but for denoting that something is actually happening at all under the surface, or that it's happening quickly or furiously.

So we get the Dramatic Gun Cock where a click shows everyone's ready for action or the Land Mine Goes "Click!" to give that "Oh Crap!" moment as something that the audience possibly still can't see is revealed. Knuckle Cracking can have the cricking of bones under The Hero's skin to show their hidden emotions or to portray their bodies as weapons made ready while Rapid-Fire Typing has the clackity-clackity of button clicking to emphasise a sense of activity, speed or urgent effort in the hacker's action while they're actually in a very still and sedentary position.

Subtrope of Rule of Perception.

Subtropes


Examples:

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     Anime & Manga  

  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha practically breathes this trope when the intelligent devices get an upgrade. Suddenly they go from being fun little quirky guns to being bad-ass revolvers, or hand-held artillery weapons with shot-gun shells.
    • The devices take this Up to Eleven when they begin transforming into more complex weapons and reverting back.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist has Riza Hawkeye does this to Envy the Homunculus (who was taking the form of Roy Mustang), causing him/her to panic and reveal itself by using its normal squeaky voice.
    • Then she proceeds to empty the clips of 5 guns on it at once.

     Film  

  • Any of the more drawn out transformation sequences in the Transformers films. They spent millions of dollars figuring out how all the machinery under the surface fitted together, dammit, and the audience was sure as hell going to hear about it.
  • Occurs in Forrest Gump and any number of numerous sequences where somebody has to reassemble a rifle or gun in several pieces and for every motion you get two click or clack noises. The audience will often never get to see this because the actor can only do it while looking like your bumbling uncle making an IKEA cabinet so we'll get it all happening just to the bottom of the screen while we hear all the Kinetic Clicking.
  • The Fast and the Furious film series loves this. Up there with the Dramatic Gun Cock is the dramatic gear change where just before some highly dramatic part of a car chase, the driver discovers some gear they apparently hadn't discovered until now and give the gear box a big crank, labouring each shift, cuminating in the reengagment of the gear disks. If the car has nitros and the movie has a cgi budget then the clicking action may continue as the shot goes into the engine and shows off a whole load of other parts that click before coming out of the afterburner.
  • A common Stock Sound Effect is the clicking of an audio cassette being inserted into a tape deck and set to play.

     Live Action TV  

  • Used symbolically in The Six Million Dollar Man whenever Steve Austin uses his bionics.
  • Every time Slim Charles in The Wire moves his head we get to hear the click of the beads on his braids. Word of God says the clicks were augmented cos they liked the sound. For a series with a strictly realistic soundtrack (only heard when someone has the stereo on in universe), this was the nearest thing to mood music for the tall man.
  • In the days before special sound effects, the Doctor operated the TARDIS' console with the clicks of switches and the ratcheting of dials.

     Web Original  

  • Painis Cupcake's stop-motion movements are usually accented with the sound of a shotgun being pumped.
  • Tether in Enter The Farside has the ability to link two objects together, and can send one flying to the other with a thought. Everytime uses his powers, there's always a click that can be heard.

     Real Life  

  • If your hard drive starts clicking, it is too late.
  • Some early keyboards had keys that made a very satisfying click when you pressed down on them. Possibly because most of the early clientele were more familiar with typewriters and expected all keyboards to be as as loud. None of your whisper-quiet, silicone pressure-matrix stuff; these keyboards sounded like a ratchet when pressed.
    • Mechanical keyboards have returned in popularity these last few years, being made by gaming gear companies such as Razer and Steelseries. The main benefit is that mechanical keyboards are nigh-indestructible (each keyswitch has a rated live about ten times that of the membrane contacts in a rubber dome keyboard), able to take the stress and anger any player can throw at it. Many advocates claim mechanical keyboards also give better tactile feedback, while others just find the feel and the sound satisfying, genuine.
  • The transcript of Cockpit Voice Recordings (CV Rs) from planes are usually punctuated with ominous comments about 'Clicking' noises in the background.
  • This is the reason why silent touch-screen buttons are incredibly unpopular among older users, people who have been conditioned to expect an audible click of some sort when pressing a button - this is interpreted as confirmation the machine has received your instruction and is acting on it. If nothing happens when swiping a hot-spot button onscreen, not even a reassuring button-click, older users can get disorientated or assume the thing hasn't worked. For this reason, digital cameras incorporate a shutter-click noise when activated. It isn't needed and strictly speaking it makes no sense on a digital. But it signals, to people used to hearing the shutter-click on an old-style film camera, that the camera has been activated and a photo successfully taken.
  • Arcade games. While the modern enthusiast scene generally favors silent buttons and joysticks for smooth action, to many nostalgic players the experience just isn't the same without old school clicky buttons and joysticks.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KineticClicking