Trailers love to play up excitement and mystery, and one favorite way to do this by tickling the ears with an unusual sound. One of these sounds is the Previews Pulse. It is often created by an instrument known as a blaster beam
which creates a single chord which ends up sounding technological and mysterious. Other methods are through mixing several instruments, usually bass, or altering the sound of a horn.
These "pulses" are used in trailers to create a feeling of sudden tension, similar to a Scare Chord
, but are rarely used in the movie itself, as it may be distracting. A trailer that uses them is often made up of rapidly cut snippets, with the chord announcing with each new scene.
- The second The Avengers trailer had some instances of this, coupled with Loki's Hannibal Lecture. So did its third trailer.
- So does Battle: Los Angeles.
- Battleship's trailer used these upon reveal of the aliens.
- The Russian trailer for The Counselor.
- Cowboys and Aliens's is fairly muted, but it culminates at 2:07.
- The Deep Note is the Ur-ominous sound before nearly every movie. You may know it better as the THX sound effect. Its ominousness comes from the fact that it sounds louder than it actually is, since it's made of a spectrum of frequencies that grow from small to large.
- District 9's second trailer featured pulses of many sizes. They're in-universe, to boot - they're the sounds the ship makes. One shatters every window in Johannesburg.
- The trailer for Europa Report has it (second half).
- Many also in Immortals.
- Inception is one of the most famous examples, featuring a distinctive sound in the trailers that became memetic. Buttons for it exist.
- Pacific Rim has one in its first trailer, though it's much less loud and more high than most examples.
- Prometheus used these, coupled with a strange howl taken from the original trailer for Alien.
- Red Riding Hood goes for the horn.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Sound familiar? The chord does show up in the film once, as spear-wielding apes appear on a roof.
- A trailer for Saw: The Final Chapter
- It's not just the shark that attacks in Shark Night 3D.
- The trailer for Snowpiercer.
- This trailer for The Thing (2011) has two different ones, a low one for suspense and a loud one for attack.
- Transformers, particularly the trailers for Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon.
- TRON Legacy plays one as Sam first enters the Grid and sees a Recognizer. Its trailer isn't free of them either.
- The trailer for Upstream Color has it.
- The Wolverine's first trailer features one, 1:20 minutes in.
- 12 Years a Slave: Pops up around thirty seconds in
- The pulses signal the end of the peacefulness in Terra Nova.
- In a 10 O'Clock Live segment on the media's treatment of the Japan earthquake in 2011 showed Sky News doing this with a preview for its upcoming coverage, accidentally underlining their own tastelessness in dramatizing a real disaster in such a way when it was immediately followed by a trailer for Game of Thrones that used exactly the same style.
- Diablo Swing Orchestra's "Justice for Saint Mary" (the final track off Pandora's Piņata). At 5:45 into the song, just after the final chorus, there are two low-pitched trombone notes, signaling to the listener that the song is about to kick it up a notch.
- "Pound the Alarm" by Nicki Minaj uses a blaster beam as the eponymous "alarm" that signals the end of the chorus and starts the beat break.
- Inna's similar song "Be My Lover" uses the same or a similar blaster beam sound during its dance break.
- In Halo 4, the orange pulses used to scan the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn create a noticeable rumble, possibly from the ship shaking from the scans.
- Spartan Ops: The recovered Forerunner artifact in Episode 5 gives ominous pulses as the crew approaches to study it.
- Endgame areas of Borderlands 2 use this liberally, especially in areas with volcanic activity or severe industrialization, as well as transitions into and out of combat.
- This trailer for Prototype.
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3: Another chord from Hans Zimmer himself.
- Mass Effect 3's trailers had them. The "pulse" is actually in-universe: it's the sound the Reapers generate when charging their massive lasers.