MATRIXSYNTH: Synths in TV and Film

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Synths in TV and Film

Note: some of the videos below have been pulled from YouTube, but I'm keeping mention of them up as a reference that they are out there.

Let the page load before scrolling - it's a long one.
Be sure to see the Synth Movies list and see the Synth Movies and Synth TV and Film labels for more.

1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Synths: ARP 2500 played by Phillip Dodds, head of ARP Engineering, Yamaha CS-?.

2. Fame Synths: ARP 2600, MOOG Minimoog

3. Brainstorm Synths: Triadex Muse

4. High Fidelity '82 (more info on this one here). Synths: Yamaha ?

5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off [video here] Synths: Emulator II Image via idiotsavant

6. Beat Street Synths: Prophet 5, Synclavier, ARP 2600, MOOG Memorymoog

7. Krush Groove Synths: DX-7 and Linn Drum

8. Better Off Dead Synths: Juno-106

9. Tango & Cash Synths: EMS Synthi.

10. Sneakers Synths: JX3p and SCI Prophet (2002?), Akai DD1000?

11. Lipstick (video here) Synths: EMS VCS3 (wall of ~6 of them)

12. Running Man Synths: Yamaha GX-1

13. Phantom of Paradise Synths: Tonto image via commeaucinema

14. La Boum II Synths: Drum synth - most likely ROLAND CR-8000 CompuRhythm

15. Contact Synths: Eventide (H3000?).

16. American Anthem Synths: room full of various synths

17. Flight of the Conchords Synths: Minimoog and a few others at around 2:00 on this video.

18. Mighty Boosh Season 2 Episode 2 Priest and the Beast 1 of 3 Synths: misc

19. Big Train Keith Emerson Sketch (previously posted) Synths: misc including SCI Prophet 5, Roland Alpha Juno, Korg Z1

20. Big Train does Roxy Music (previously posted) Synths: MOOG Minimoog

21. The Shout (1981) Synths: EMS gear, probably just about everything EMS made at the time

22. Stealth Synths: Korg KP2s in the command center

23: Masters of the Universe live action movie Synths: Casio MT-210

24. One Perfect Day (2004) Synths: Yamaha RS7000, Motif

25. "The Conversation" with Gene Hackman Synths: EMS VCS3 or a synthi A

26. Revenge of the Nerds Synths: Roland cr-5000

27. Chain Reaction Synths: Ensoniq EPS sampler. EPS makes a cameo as a nuclear fusion reaction stabilizer. Not bad for a humble 12-bit sampler.

28. Howard the Duck Synths: Roland TR-707 and MSQ-100 Note: I'm only listing the synths here. Check out the comments for more details on some. Inspired by the previous post. I want to create a list of film and TV that featured synths in it. Feel free to add to the list in the comments and I'll update the post. If you have a picture or video great, if not, no worries. Note I'm looking for stuff were the synth isn't the focus, but rather makes a cameo. Also, this isn't a top 10 list, so don't take the numbering into consideration.

Update: via Max in the comments:

29. Snuff Box - Empty Room: Roland SH-1000

30. The 10 Greatest Sounds from Star Wars

See this post for more info.

31. See the ARP 2600 in "Et la tendresse?... Bordel!"

32. via synthetic in the comments of this post: "Neil Diamond's "The Jazz Singer" was on cable a few days ago and the synth player was rockin' an ARP Quadra. I think I saw a String Ensemble in there too. The last concert scene, "Fahhh, we've been travelin' faaahhh..."

33. Monk: via Khoral "Fun shot of a Prodigy from 'Mr Monk goes to a rock concert', episode 8, season 5. Not very good quality... if somebody has the dvd, there's surely a better screenshot to do... Cheers Khoral"

34. South Park, 'Fishsticks.'

Paul Shaffer on Letterman with a mutated Moog Voyager and a "Gerg." The episode is available via South Park Studios online. Direct link here. The scene comes in at 3:21.

More "Gord" this time via Christian Rock Hard! via Mr. Array. Bottom shot is from another episode. Not sure which one, but I'm guessing that's the Jonas Brothers. Update via the comments: it's from "The Ring"

via Mr. Array. Someone at South Park knows their synths. :)

35. GE Dishwasher Production Session
YouTube via SuzanneCiani.

NED Synclavier. Note the Buchla in the background. You might remember this video from this prior post on Suzanne Ciani.

"This video was filmed by Julio Cintron as a documentary about the GE "2800 Dishwasher" at my small studio in 1984." The following video, just posted by SuzanneCiani, is the finished commercial from 1984.

36. GE Beeping Dishwasher

"Here is the finished product after spending a lot of time in my production studio putting it together. All that beeping won me a Clio (Awards for Excellence in Advertising) in 1984."

And a few more just posted by SuzanneCiani on YouTube:

37. Black and Decker Cutter

"How many times have you seen this commercial when you were young?"

38. Columbia Pictures Introduction Logo

"This is my award-winning commerical. Amazingly, nothing fell (that's no bull)." I remember all of these. BTW, be sure to click here and scroll for some great posts on Suzanne Ciani including more video.

39. Violette & François (France 1977) ELKA Rhapsody and EMS Synthi HiFli

Unfortunately the original clip on YouTube is gone. Not sure when it comes in the above.

"Stars Jacques Dutronc and Isabelle Adjani as a young couple. Plot: François (french musician and actor Jacques Dutronc) hasn't a regular job and just work when he need some money. Now he works in an music shop. Bored by the his job, he prefer to play with an electric guitar an immediate damages an guitar amp. Violette & François (France 1977) Directed by Jacques Rouffio Isabelle Adjani as Violette Clot Jacques Dutronc as François Leuwen Seen Instruments: ELKA Rhapsody, EMS Synthi HiFli and at the end of the clip an MiniMoog and a lot of guitars etc. The movie tells the story of the young couple Violette (Isabelle Adjani) and François. Irritated by his former jobs, François becomes a thief. But after a few thefts he get's nabbed."

40. WHITE STAR (1983) Synths - embedding is disabled. You can see it here. "Scenes from WHITE STAR by Roland Klick (1983) Released in USA as LET IT ROCK Plot: Dennis Hopper plays the sordid music manager Kenneth Barlow. Moody Mudinsky (Terrance Robay) is a young and naiv synth musician which believs on Barlow. But Barlow thinks that the public isn't interested into Moody's music, and so he provokes fake riots and assaults in believe to push Moody's career. At the end, Moody recognizes how inability Barlow is. About the scenes: Moody plays his first gig in an punk shed (Barlow knew that the punks doesn't like Moody's synth music and initiated an riot) which ends in an free-for-all. Then Moody left the alligator studios and pack his synths in the believe, that Barlow will push his career. Moody works now in an professional music studio. Frustrated about the fact, that Barlow never achieve any profitable gig, Moody sits drugged in front of the PPG Modular, unable to play any note."

41. One Perfect Day - Final Moments
YouTube via qu4rkz

Update via reSEQUENCer in the comments: "When I worked for Yamaha in Australia, I provided the keyboards & other groove boxes for 'Queen of the Damned' & 'One Perfect Day' (both were filmed in Melbourne)" Synths: "S90 & MOTIF6, RS7000, DX200 & SU200:"

42. Xanadu: Update via pea in the comments: "in xanadu, in the scene featuring the tubes, the keyboardist can be seen playing an oberheim 4-voice and sem, an edp wasp, and some other synths i didn't quite catch."

43. Miami Vice TV Show Episode Cool Runnin: Update 7/18/2010: some spotted by swissdoc: "I stumbled across some moive scenes or TV shows showing same synth action: *** Synths in Miami Vice TV Show Episode Cool Runnin' (Friday October 5, 1984) for episode plot see:;recap Noogie seems to be a musician, he owns some roto-toms, two guitars, a guitar amp and a Realistic Concertmate MG-1

44. Miami Vice - The Great McCarthy - Party Scene

YouTube via jamesyireland | May 14, 2010

"For many the finest episode from MV. From Season One of Miami Vice first aired on 16 Nov 1984 on NBC. Featuring Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, William Gray Espy as Louis McCarthy and Maria McDonald as Vanessa. Enjoy!"

via swissdoc: Episode The Great McCarthy (Friday November 16, 1984):;summary There is big party scene whith a band playing, the keyboarder is playing a Moog Liberation Full scene here (band starts 1:19, Liberation first appearance 1:33)

45. *** Alvin and the Chipmunks - The movie (2007) There is a small homestudio shown, then instruments are thrown out, Roland D-50 and what looks like a TR-707. Later the instruments are taken again, rain is wiped off. Later there is a concert scene, where one Chipmunk is dancing and playing on a Roland Fantom X7

46. It might get load (2008) A documentary on the electric guitar from the point of view of three significant rock musicians: the Edge, Jimmy Page and Jack White. Jimmy Page has a Realistic Concertmate MG-1 sitting around

47. Tango & Cash (1989) There is a scene with Kurt Russel in the audio lab of the mad scientist who did a false testimony based on faked recordings he did, Kurt plays some digital sounding noises when the scientist enters, could be a DX7, there is a EMS VCS3 visible behind the scientist. Next scene shows Terri Hatcher in a club dancing to Yazoo's Don't Go and later drumming ahead on some Simmons pads.

48. via sonicbrat "there is a sighting of Moog synthesizer in the American series "White Collar" Season 2 Episode 9 about 13minutes in [start at 12:45] as "Mozzie" tries to decode a music box message with, well a Moog. :)"

49. Delocated: This one in via a b. "Spotted a Doepfer A-100 on the cartoon network show 'Delocated' during a spoof of face-off :)" 53. Sun Ra - Outer Space Employment Agency 50. Sun Ra's Space:  via Gorgio of "the only known filmed performance of a Minimoog Model B is in Sun Ra's Space is the Place mind-blowing feature film... from 7:10" Also see this post, this post, and this post. : "Sun Ra - space-age prophet, Pharaonic jester, shaman-philosopher and avant-jazz keyboardist/bandleader--lands his spaceship in Oakland, having been presumed lost in space for a few years. With Black Power on the rise, Ra disembarks and proclaims himself "the alter-destiny." He holds a myth-vs reality rap session with vblack inner-city youth at a rec center, threatening "to chain you up and take you with me, like they did you in Africa" if they resist his plea to go to outer space. He duels at cards with The Overseer, a satanic overlord, with the fate of the black race at stake. Ra wins the right to a world concert, which features great performance footage of the Arkestra. Agents sent by the Overseer attempt to assassinate Ra, but he vanishes, rescues his people, and departs in his spaceship from the exploding planet Earth."

51. The Office: via Khoral "Hello, and happy holidays... Some fun synth spotting on The Office this season. Toilet serenade on the new XL for Ed Helms, eheh."

New Posts: ELI ELI LEMA SABACHTHANI? Electronic Music Studios (EMS) Synthi A, AKS, 100 1970 Mick Jagger on a Moog Modular WHITE STAR by Roland Klick (1983) Johnny Carson Plays THEREMIN Wheel of Fortune with Andrew Horton Pt 1 Revenge of the Nerds Talent Show MONEY MARK - Robot Friends - YO GABBA GABBA YMO Kirin Beer Commercial Edd Kalehoff Schaefer Beer Commercial past bored The Ghost of Faffner Hall "Thomas Dolby" - Synthesis Explained "El Monstruo" custom modular synthesizer system - MARKJENKINS.CO Mister Rogers - Look and Listen EMS VC3S Torture Device on MacGyver LECLERC Drive Synth Spotting in 1980s "Stunt Rock" Hammer House of Horror Roland System 700 Sighting Old Spice Muscle Music Synth Spotting with Trent Reznor in 1987 Light of Day Movie Speak of the Devil - Synths and The Head of The Church of Satan

See the comments below as well as the Synth Movies and Synth TV and Film channels for newer posts. Also see the Synth Movies list for films specifically about synths.


  1. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Emulator II:

  2. In the movie Beat Street, there is a Prophet 5 and i believe a Synclavier, as well as a 2600.

  3. re; Beat Street:

    There is also a MemoryMoog, and i think a few other analogues. Let's see... Krush Groove, DX-7 and Linn Drum. Better Off Dead there is a Juno-106 during the High School Dance scene.

  4. In Howard the Duck theres a Tr 707 and an old sequencer..a msq 700 i believe.

  5. Tango & Cash = EMS Synthi.
    Sneakers = JX3p and SCI Prophet in rack.

  6. I remember a movie "Lipstick" with a scene with a VCS3 wall (I think 6 of them IIRC)

  7. In the movie "Running Man" there is a Yamaha GX-1

  8. ChamomileShark says. I watched an obscure french movie where the central character was an electronic music composer. I think he was with a VCS3. well, he was accused of rape, in the court they played his "crazy music" to show how he was a disturbed person and not the nice person he presented himself to be. Yes really, and it irritates me to this day.Ho hum.

  9. Brian De Palma's "Phantom of Paradise" featuring Tonto

  10. A Sci-Fi movie or TV-series from the 70´s has a EMS Synthi 100. It was a famous actress in a fancy spaceoutfit resting her arm on the Synthi. I think that pic was up here for a year ago or so. Otherwise it´s somewhere on the net. I´d like to see that again.

  11. In the French movie "La Boum II" there is a scene with a Drum Computer on a grand piano. It is most likely a ROLAND CR-8000 CompuRhythm.

    In "Miami Vice" once Crocket and Tubbs run into a flat where some equipment shows up, including a synth...


  12. I think that your "obscure french movie" is "lipstick" (the story is the same)

    with mariel and margaux hemingway

  13. Contact from 1997 with Jodie Foster had an Eventide unit cameo (H3000?). I don't remember if it was actually used, or only appeared in the background.

  14. I remember in an obscure old '80s HBO-fodder crapfest called "Gymkata" there was a nerdy friend who made the synth pop music the hot babe lead character did her routine to at the big finale.

    He had a room full, FULL, of sexy synth gear. I'm not even going to bother YouTubing it... seems too obscure even for YT.

  15. Woah! I remember "Gymkata". Some karate guy had to beat up some folks in an obstacle course of death. I was too young when I saw it to notice the synths, though.

  16. Hang on, I was totally wrong. It wasn't "Gymkata." After a little creative Googling I determined it was "American Anthem" from 1986. The girl's best friend was in a wheelchair and she'd go and visit him periodically in his almighty synth pit bedroom.

    Not a YouTube trailer for it to be found, unfortunately, and it ain't even on Netflix. The good newsd is there's no fewer than 24 used VHS copies for sale on Amazon, but I can't bring myself to believe this subject has quite enough merit to buy one & grab the synth part. Dangit, I guess I'm just not hardcore.

  17. In "Sneakers", they had a SCI rack sampler (Prophet 2002?) that they used to analize a sound bite.

  18. youll have to check me on these :
    gremlins - gismo sings along to a vl tone?
    electric dreams - some stuff . ;)

    beat street is the best ., he breaks the synclavier :)
    thats going to cost a LOT to repair !

  19. "In "Sneakers", they had a SCI rack sampler (Prophet 2002?) that they used to analize a sound bite."

    Actually I seem to remember that was an Akai DD1000 - one of their super samplers intended for audio recording... I remember thinking it was the wrong tool for the job, but it looked cool.

  20. Flight of the Conchords - Minimoog and a few others at around 2:00 on the video.

  21. List updated. Dave, thanks for the Gymkata. Tortured myself a bit trying to find a video with the pit. Gymnastics and Karate. Nice.

  22. Ha Ha I just watched Tango and Cash the other week and spotted the Synthi. Ahh Tango and Cash, Cash and Tango to mice in a maze...

  23. oops missed a W

  24. #14 (Purple Haired Ladies) is from Gerry Anderson's 'U.F.O.'

  25. The Purple wigged women are from the UK Series U.F.O. which did not make use of any expensive modular synths as props. I have the original pic this one was doctored from somewhere in my collection, but I'm too busy to look for it at the moment. The following link features several shots with the actual console from the show.

    BTW, Wasn't there also a Prophet 5 in the Masters of the Universe movie?

  26. Thanks. Pulled it from the list. Here's a link to the old post for anyone that missed it.

  27. I remember that there was also an yamaha CS-* in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

    It was in the lab sequence where they were analyzing the sounds.

  28. "revenge of the nerds"?

  29. I can't believe no one has mentioned this yet, must be too obscure.

    The Shout (1981)
    Staring Alan Bates, John Hurt, Susannah York.

    John Hurt and his wife (Susannah York) live is a small English country village where John is the town's church organist. One day Alan Bates shows up unannounced, and invites himself to lunch. He tells John that he spent several years in the outback of Australia learning the secrets of the Aborigines magical practices, including a shout that will kill.

    Well it turns out that John's character isn't just an organist, he's actually an electronic music composer and the organ gig is his day job. There are several shots of his studio which is made up almost entirely of EMS gear, probably just about everything EMS made at the time. I have the film on video, I'm digitizing it right now, I'll post some stills from the film later.

  30. that crap movie Stealth with Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel flying planes (and there was the main guy, but I don't know his name). In the command center they had a bunch of Korg KP2s sitting there looking cool. They never touched them though.

  31. Masters of the Universe live action movie had a Casio MT-210

  32. Here's a link to a small pic of TONTO from Phantom of the Paradise

    In the Hammer House of Horror TV episode Witching Time, Jon Finch plays a soundtrack composer with a stack of (EMS?) synths ...


  33. I'm not sure if showcasing a 1000 synthesizers in a movie could save that stink-bomb known as Lipstick, It's without question the most offensive depiction of electronic music composers I've ever seen in a movie in MY LIFE. Total garbage! A curse forever on those that created this piece of crap!... Oh yeah, the star did kill herself... so we're off to a good start.

  34. Well, its more of a documentary than a movie, but in the DJ documentary "scratch" there is a part where they interview the owner of asphodel records and in the background there is a wall of Serge panels.

  35. One Perfect Day (2004) Best part was seeing the Yamaha RS7000 in it, even if it wasn't being used at all. I think it had a Motif or two too, but I couldn't say which? More toward the end, its a yawner though if you can make it that far in to it, I warned you.


  36. I remember there being either a VCS3 or a synthi A in "The Conversation" with Gene Hackman. It was in one of the scenes that showed his caged-in working area.

  37. there's a roland cr-5000 in revenge of the nerds:

  38. This is one of those "if I remember correctly" things, cause I saw this movie quite long time ago:

    In Keanu Reeves movie Chain Reaction there is a Ensoniq EPS sampler. EPS makes a cameo as a nuclear fusion reaction stabilizer. Not bad for a humble 12-bit sampler.

  39. Thanks. Last round updated. Regarding the DJ documentary, I'm leaving those out otherwise stuff like Modulations, the MOOG movie, and other documentaries come in. I also left out the Dr. Who soundtrack documentaries previously posted for example. I'm looking for stuff you wouldn't expect to see synths in. Stuff that surprises you a little and you end up thinking, "no way, that was a [insert synth name]." The two guys lugging the ARP 2600 and Minimoog in Fame for example. I had no idea that was in there. Smaller stuff of course is ok as well.

  40. I remember this one movie with Ben Stiller in it. He played a junkie (i think) and was renting a room from a friend. It had a Korg MS-10 and i think a Bass Station KB . Permanent Midnight?

  41. Howard the Duck's appartment scene has the tr-707 and a msq100 sequencer but don't remember which synth he's playing on.

  42. hey hey hey wheres the love for macgyver with his torure device the vcs 3

  43. How about this.
    From UK Comdey Show called Snuff Box

    Max Syrus

  44. Liquid Sky

    roland cr 78

  45. Hi Matrix, I didn't realise this section existed. When I worked for Yamaha in Australia, I provided the keyboards & other groove boxes for 'Queen of the Damned' & 'One Perfect Day' (both were filmed in Melbourne)

  46. cool. I updated the post with that.

  47. One Perfect Day clip:

    S90 & MOTIF6, RS7000, DX200 & SU200

  48. in xanadu, in the scene featuring the tubes, the keyboardist can be seen playing an oberheim 4-voice and sem, an edp wasp, and some other synths i didn't quite catch.

  49. Mighty Boosh at it again. Season 3 Episode 4(The Strange Tale of the Crack Fox)
    Bollo on the Moog

  50. In the movie Basquiat directed Julian Schnabel, there is a band scene where a guy is playing a Sequential Pro-One.


  51. Its a large system 700 in the Hammer horror "witching time", not EMS.

  52. IIRC, Masters of the Universe had a Rhodes (unknown, just had the Rhodes brand on the back) and Chroma, they were in a church and one of the characters played a little flourish for his GF.
    Monsters Vs. Aliens: A very well modeled MK1 DX7 is used to play Axel F.
    There was also some made-for TV sci-fi movie where the main character had a Roland JX-1. The movie was about some building AI going crazy and killing off people.
    Also the PBS kids show Ghostwriter had a Yamaha SY99 and, in another episode, an SY77 in one of the main character's apartments.

  53. Roland JX-3P makes an appearance in War Games 1983.


To reduce spam, comments for posts older than one week are not displayed until approved, usually same day. Do not insult people. For items for sale, do not ask if it is still available. Check the auction link and search for the item. Auctions are from various sellers and expire over time. Posts remain for the pics and historical purposes. This site is meant to be a daily snapshot of some of what was out there in the world of synths.


Patch n Tweak
Switched On Make Synthesizer Evolution Vintage Synthesizers Creating Sound Fundlementals of Synthesizer Programming Kraftwerk

© Matrixsynth - All posts are presented here for informative, historical and educative purposes as applicable within fair use.
MATRIXSYNTH is supported by affiliate links that use cookies to track clickthroughs and sales. See the privacy policy for details.