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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 Bad Ass 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 shi-" 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:

Anime & Manga
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha The series 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.

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.

Web Original
  • Painis Cupcake's stop-motion movements are usually accented with the sound of a shotgun being pumped.

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 indestructible, able to take the stress and anger any player can throw at it. 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.

Idea DingSound FX TropesKnuckle Cracking
It Has Been an HonorHarbinger of AsskickingKirk Summation

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