20 Oct 2020 17:42 IST

Story behind Netflix’s iconic intro sound

Mollie Sivaram | Unsplash

The sonic logo had to tell a story in just three seconds or less, says Netlfix VP

In the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz, host Dallas Taylor invited Netflix VP Todd Yellin to find out the story behind the sonic logo. Yellin starts out by revealing that it's actually called ‘ta-dum’ internally as well. As a former filmmaker, Yellin has an affinity towards sound design, and he led the whole process of creating the ta-dum, something that’s immediately sonically tied to the experience of watching Netflix.

The challenge, Yellin says, is to conceptualise a sound that represented the purpose accurately in just three seconds or less. He immediately roped in Academy Award-winning sound designer Lon Bender for the project, giving him descriptors such as tension, release, quirky, and more. Bender came up with 20-30 sound effects and the frontrunner was close to the current ta-dum, but also included a goat noise. Yellin recalls liking something that bubbled like the ocean.

The main focus was about how it made people feel, more than how it sounded, says Yellin. A focus group associated the early ta-dum with "dramatic" "interesting" "beginning," and even “movie” without anyone knowing its purpose. Eventually, Yellin's ten-year-old daughter made the decision when he was torn between his top five contenders. After a year-long process of creating the sound, Yellin jokes that he's just thankful they didn't use the goat. Listen to the podcast episode here