Soundminer Adds FX Category/Subcategory Presets, Auto-Populate Feature


Recently sound effects metadata app Soundminer added an often-requested sound library curatorial feature: it is now possible to apply both category and subcategories to sound fx listings at once. What’s more, Soundminer provides a list of categories from a pre-defined list, making a once tedious exercise swift and simple.

Calls for the feature had been floating around for a while. Last month Tim Nielsen (Lord of the Rings, Avatar) posted on Facebook revisiting the idea. Well, the team at Soundminer took the concept and ran with it.

Today’s post will explain the value of working with a pre-defined category and subcategory to sound effects. It will share how to use the new Soundminer features. Finally, I’ll include step-by-step instructions for creating and adding your own custom category and subcategory list to Soundminer, and also one from the Airborne Sound library that you can use yourself.

The Value of Pre-Defined Categories

While this update snuck under the radar, so to speak, it’s actually a significant update to the app for sound librarians. Why?

Well, a pre-defined list applies metadata from a predictable source. It can cultivate category standardization across the industry. For sound librarians, it reduces the possibilities of mistakes. It also speeds metadata entry considerably; sound effect categorization is currently fairly open ended. Assigning categories and subcategories can be tedious because of this. So, a pop up list with all options makes adding two fields at once very simple.

Let’s see how it is done.

Using Soundminer’s Workflow to Apply Categories

Soundminer posted an article about the new feature. Please note it’s not in the existing version. It’s currently only available via manual download, which you can do by clicking the Help/Get Latest Download Info menu item in the app. A full release with the feature is coming soon.

Here’s how you apply the metadata in Soundminer v266.

  1. Select the sounds you want to modify in Soundminer’s main browsing window:
    • Command-a selects all search results.
    • Select a span of records by clicking the first sound, then holding shift and clicking the last.
    • Select random individual records by holding down Command and clicking every record you want to change.
  2. Click the Workflow window icon. The Workflow window will appear.
  3. Drag the “Assign Cats” item from the left sidebar into the right window.

    Dragging a workflow item

  4. Click the “Choice” button. A list of categories and subcategories will appear.
  5. Select the category and subcategory you desire.

    Applying categories and subcategories

  6. Click the Run button (upper right).

That’s it! All sound files will have be assigned both a category and subcategory in one swift stroke.

Don’t forget to embed your metadata, too! Use the menu item Database/Show Dirty Recordings to display files yet to be embedded with changes. Then, embed the metadata changes into the files themselves by right-clicking the selected sounds and choosing “Embed Selected Records” from the pop up menu.

The List of Categories and Subcategories

Soundminer’s list of default categories and subcategories is sourced from Tim Nielsen’s list. The list is quite thorough.

Want to add your own? It’s pretty simple. Here’s how:

  1. Download and unzip this LUA file. It’s a copy of the one Soundminer uses. If you’d prefer to find the source yourself:
    • Right click the Soundminer app.
    • Select “Show package contents” from the pop-up menu.
    • Browse to Contents/Resources/Workflows.
    • Find the file “Assign Cats.lua”.
    • Make a copy of that file.
  2. Create a spreadsheet with your categories and subcategories. It should look like this:


    Note that Category and SubCategory are at the top, and must have that precise spelling and case.

  3. Export the file to your desktop as comma-separated or tab delimited text.
  4. Modify the LUA script from step 1 in a text editing app:
    • Comment out line 449 by placing two hyphens in front of the line.
    • Uncomment lines 451 to 459 by removing the hyphens. It should look like this:

      Modified, commented LUA file

  5. Enter the name of your file you exported in step 2 in line 452, as well as the path where the file is stored. Here’s an example of what it may look like:

    An example file path for the CSV reference file

    Note: do not change the location of this file.
  6. Drop the LUA script into Soundminer’s Workflows folder. v4.5 users can find that here: “/Library/Application Support/Soundminer/Workflows”. There are instructions for other systems in the original Soundminer article.

You’re done! Simply follow the steps in the “Using Soundminer’s Workflow to Apply Categories” section above, and the list of categories and subcategories will appear.

Here’s the Airborne Sound list if categories and subcategories:

Airborne Sound category and subcategories

Note that this script is very flexible. This example updates two fields at once: the Category and Subcategory. It can auto-populate other fields at the same time, too. For example, by adding additional spreadsheet columns, the Workflow can populate the LongID and ShortID at the same time as the category and subcategory.

Two Types of Category and Subcategory Lists

The default list of categories and subcategories takes a broad-to-narrow approach to categorization. That means there are many categories, but fewer subcategories within them.

As we saw in a previous article about sound fx library categorization, another method is available to sound librarians: narrow-to-broad. The Airborne Sound library uses that method. Read a previous article about the ideas behind that approach. Download a free copy of the Airborne Sound category and subcategory list to use in the Soundminer workflow.

Read More

Many thanks to Justin Drury of Soundminer for helping me explore this new feature.

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