3 Ways to Build Your Creative Sound Community

2011/04/14

I started my career as a sound effects assistant. I worked on TV shows and a few films at a facility called Casablanca in Toronto, Canada.

A lot of shows passed through that place before it was sold. At its height there were 40-50 people working there on one small floor. It was a really stimulating, fun and challenging environment. I learned and shared a lot with diverse, creative sound pros. More importantly, it created a great network of talented people.

These days it isn’t as easy to establish a strong community in sound. Facilities are generally smaller and staffed with fewer people. Sound editors work from home and only meet with others during the mix.

By necessity we need to work in dark, quiet rooms, often by ourselves. The nature of field recording requires few people around to avoid intruding sounds.

Why a Community is Essential

One of our most important resources as field recordists and sound editors is intangible: it is our creativity.

As I mentioned in this post, Creativity in Sound: Nine Tricks to Find Inspiration Again, staying in contact with other creative people is essential to remain inspired. Keeping in touch with these people provides different viewpoints and inevitably sparks creativity.

These days most of our meeting places are digital. I’ve listed a few places to meet like-minded people in the digital realm.

Here are three ways you can discuss sound effects and build your field recording community online:

  1. Groups, Boards and Forums
  2. Blogs
  3. Social Media

There’s a lot of websites. I’ll focus on those that discuss field recording and sound effects.

Groups, Boards and Forums

Groups, boards and forums allow users to ask questions and post thoughts and opinions. Forums like these also have endless amount of old posts you can sift through.

Usually groups allow a digest email of the day’s discussions. You can subscribe to their RSS feeds. Most require you to sign up.

  • The Yahoo! Sound Design Group discusses film and game audio. It’s been quiet lately, but from time to time you’ll see comments from very talented sound people. There’s also job postings, contests and some sound effects library specials.
  • The Nature Recordist Yahoo! group discusses field recording in the wild.
  • If you’re interested in production sound you can stop by RAMPS. For a while there it descended into bickering but if you sort through the spam you can find some good advice.
  • The Google Soundminer User Collective discusses ideas, fixes and suggestions about the popular asset management software.
  • The Gear Slutz post-production board has a mix of Pro Tools and mixing questions, sound effects requests, library reviews and more. Posts are well-written and everyone is incredibly helpful.
  • You can also visit the jwsound.net discussion group.
  • Social Sound Design has a website similar to reddit and digg where comments are up- or down-voted, and writers have a reputation score based on their experience and participation. Commenters earn badges based on input and voting (similar to achievements in video games), which makes the experience fun as well as helpful.

The web of people on these boards is immense. You are guaranteed to hear and be heard by thousands of other sound pros. That also means you have some great opportunities to connect with other field recordists.

Blogs

There are dozens of sound blogs. The list below focuses on sound effects and field recording blogs and post frequently:

  • Designing Sound is one of the biggest sound design blogs; it has a huge amount of posts every week. I honestly don’t know how he finds the time. Every month this blog has a featured sound designer who contributes articles.
  • Designing Sound’s sister site is Sonic Terrain, which focuses specifically on field recording
  • Music of Sound has a variety of thought-provoking posts by Tim Prebble. I like his “Detritus” posts, which are a random collection of things. Always interesting.
  • The Recordist blog documents how Frank Bry captures his pristine sound effects.
  • Fieldsepulchra field recordist Michael Raphael posts stories about recordings in interesting locations with sound samples.
  • The Noise Jockey blog has a lot of posts describing recording creative sound effects.
  • Dynamic Interference has intriguing sound challenges every month.

What’s great about these blogs are the comments. You can contribute your thoughts and engage the writer directly. It’s also inspiring to see what other people are thinking. It’s a good way to learn and share.

If I missed your blog, or if you know of a site that writes about field recording and sound effects, please share in the comments below.

Social Media

I find Twitter is the best social media method to connect with a sound effects field recording community.

I’m new to Twitter (you can follow me here), so I’m just getting my feet wet here. Just the same I’ve met some great new people via Twitter.

I follow the #fieldrecording and #soundeffects hash tags. Theres also a #sfx tag which seems to be a confused mix between ‘special effects’ and ‘sound effects’ but there’s a few interesting tweets in there. The #proaudio tag has some crossover with sound effects and field recordings and also discusses mixing and gear.

Twitter is great for building your community because of the immediacy of the responses. The fact that tweets are limited to 140 characters keeps things concise; thoughts are focused.

Build your sound community to stay inspired

A good community, contrasting opinions and new ideas will help you stay inspired. You’ll avoid ‘writer’s block’ and creative stagnation. Input and ideas from others will guarantee that you’ll remain motivated and stimulated.

If you want your community to grow especially quickly, comment, tweet and contribute actively.

It’s also OK to “lurk” too. Lurking is part of learning. Share when you’re ready.

Do you know other places where sound pros can meet? Post them in the comments.

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8 responses to 3 Ways to Build Your Creative Sound Community

  1. Jeff Wexler’s discussion board has a lot of good threads. http://www.jwsound.net/SMF/

    • Totally forgot about jwsound.net. Thanks, Thomas.

      I also discovered your new blog just today as well. If other readers haven’t been there, pass by at http://www.noiseofnorway.net/, Thomas has a recent post with great protest crowds up there.

  2. Steven Googe 2011/04/18 at 19:15

    For those in game audio there is the Game Audio Forum http://www.gameaudioforum.com/phpBB3/index.php

    and Lost Chocolate Lab’s series of posts Game Audio Relevance http://blog.lostchocolatelab.com/

  3. Marc-Andre Paquin 2011/04/26 at 21:13

    Thanks for putting all this information together.