‘NCIS’: The Surprising Way the Scene-Transition Sound Came to Be

As one of the most popular shows on television, NCIS has been making waves for nearly two decades. One of the longest-running police procedural dramas on TV, NCIS debuted in 2003 and has been going strong ever since. While cast members tend to come and go on the series, a few things have remained consistent over the years — including that unique “whoosh” sound that occurs during scene transitions. The history of that sounds is as unique as NCIS itself, with direct roots to the show’s creator, Donald Bellisario.

How did Donald Bellisario create the distinctive scene transition sound for ‘NCIS’?

When Bellisario was crafting NCIS as a spinoff of the hit series JAG, he knew that it needed to stand apart. Along with a fan-favorite cast, including television mainstay Mark Harmon, Bellisario was determined to create a unique transition sound that would play in between scenes. According to Looper, Bellisario wasn’t too sure what he wanted that sound to be, so he started playing around with a microphone in the recording studio.

Bellisario came up with a lot of different sounds that emerged as contenders for the scene transition sound, but the one that the show creator went with sounds like a cross between “whoosh” and “foof.” He got the sound from tapping on the microphone with the palm of his hand, as reported by Looper. It ended up being perfect for Bellisario’s vision, and the sound stuck.

‘NCIS’ is known for behind-the-scenes drama

NCIS became popular with fans quickly, and over the years, a vibrant community of viewers emerged. These fans have been following behind-the-scenes tales from the beginning, and many are well aware that the show has a reputation for some drama with the cast and crew. Most notably, series star Harmon reportedly had beef with Bellisario, clashing on set and creating tension with the NCIS cast and crew. Eventually, the rumors leaked to the press, resulting in Bellisario getting fired from the show he helped create.

There have also been many rumors of problems between Harmon and Pauley Perrette, who played Abby Sciuto in NCIS. After playing Abby for 15 seasons, the actor abruptly left the show, later slamming Harmon for allegedly causing unsafe working conditions. Perrette alleged that Harmon’s dog a******d her on the set of NCIS, causing her to feel as though she couldn’t film in safety. To this day, fans are keeping their fingers crossed that the fan-favorite performer might eventually return to the show that made her a star.

Other TV shows with distinct sounds

NCIS might stand apart in terms of behind-the-scenes drama, it isn’t the only TV show to feature a very distinct sound. The iconic TV series The Andy Griffith Show might not have utilized a lot of music in the show itself, but the credits of the beloved classic feature a unique whistling sound that many viewers believe makes the series even more folksy and charming.

Anime fans know that Cowboy Bebop is a very unique series — and anyone who sits down to watch the series will find themselves enthralled by the jazzy intro, which blends elements of film noir, western classics, and action movies into one fascinating montage. According to Screen Rant, The music throughout the entire series helps it to stand apart, but the beginning credits do a lot of the legwork in setting up the show’s theme. Cowboy Bebop also utilizes unique transition sounds on occasion, including catchy jazz riffs and violin music.

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