Despite its big-screen bluster, RoboCop 3 owes a lot to video. You see, the distinctive whir of the crime-fighting cyborg’s servos — the mechanical muscles that convert electricity into limb movement — is actually the sound of videocassettes loading into VCRs. Meanwhile, his heavy footfalls are a blend of metallic bangs, low whomps, and the noise of a car engine’s timing chain slammed on whatever surface Robo is traversing on screen (broken glass, say, or cement).
These sound effects, which helped win the original RoboCop an Academy Award in 1988, were adopted by Robo 3’s supervising sound editor, Bruce Richardson, who added some of his own. To create the noise of the robot’s jet-propulsion gear, he combined recordings of an F-14 jet and a Huey helicopter. And for the sounds of strained servos on a sick RoboCop, Richardson manhandled battery- powered screwdrivers and drills, switching them on but holding them so that they couldn’t twist. ”You just get as cruel as you can to your motors,” he says. Sound reasoning, indeed.