How can people find your field recordings? Last week’s post shared one way: with thoughtful sound effects keywords.
But how can you add them to your sound files? What’s a good way to connect the valuable information in sound effects tags so you can actually find the sounds?
Today’s article shares one method to get the job done. It includes a step-by-step explanation as well as a video of how you can add sound effects keywords to your field recordings simply and easily.
Helping Sound Effects Get Discovered
As mentioned in last week’s post, the team at Pole Position Production had been working on a new electromagnetic sound fx library full of cool electrical drones, sputters, and zaps. To help find these abstract sounds, the Pole team wanted to use sound effects keywords to ensure someone who typed “crackling buzz” would also find a sound named “popping hum”. The team had been searching for a way to help a team of people add these keywords simply at a reasonable price.
Do you have a sound library you’d like to appear in more software or Web shop searches? Maybe you recorded the sound of a Ford F-150. That goes by the name of Ford Lobo in some countries. Perhaps you recorded sounds in Germany, and would like native speakers to find them with the keyword Deutschland, too. You may have captured the sound of spooky howling wind. Why not ensure your sound is displayed when people type Halloween, scary, or eerie wind?
Of course, if we add all these terms to a field recording’s file name, it will become overly long and convoluted. So, typically this is stored in sound effects metadata.
How to Add Sound Effects Keywords Simply
The problem? There isn’t an easy and accurate way to add these keywords swiftly.
Most of the time, people just add keywords to a spreadsheet, then bake them into sound file metadata later:
The idea is to match the file name with the keywords, row by row, and use other software to embed the information to the sounds, later.
As you can imagine, that is time-consuming and tedious. It would involve using a second app to hear the sounds, then write terms row by row for hundreds of field recordings in Google Sheets, switching back and forth over time. Surely there must be something better?
Yes, some sound library managers have tools to do this. However, they are far more elaborate than anything needed for this simple – yet important – task. It wouldn’t make sense to spend $900 per person on software just to write keywords. That’s a concern shared by hobbyists, too. Let’s not forget that not everyone is a field recording professional with deep pockets with access to elite sound browsing software.
So how can you write sound effect keywords simply with little expense?
Ideally, the solution would have four parts:
- Auditioning. Hear the sound you’re describing.
- Batching. Add keywords to similar sounds at once.
- Searching. Find common sounds and work on just those search results.
- Inexpensive. A reasonably priced or free option to instantly outfit a team to craft sound text.
One solution? Soundly.
How to Use Soundly to Add Keywords to Field Recordings
Soundly is a sound library manager mentioned many times here on the blog. It has a free version, as well as the paid Soundly Pro option which unlocks all features, an evolving sound library, and built-in sound collection marketplace.
Most importantly, Soundly also has metadata writing tools, which are ideal to use for composing keywords.
Here’s the process.
Prepping Your Playlist
- Back up your work. Store a copy of your library safely somewhere just in case you make a mistake while working with your files.
- Make a “Collection” or playlist for your sounds in Soundly. This will ensure your work is grouped neatly in one place, away from other field recordings.
- Add your sounds to Soundly by dragging and dropping them on the app.
- Drag these sounds into your new playlist.
- Click on the playlist. This will show just the sounds you want to work on.
Adding Sound Effects Keywords
Soundly supports embedding metadata in BWAV files only. Unfortunately, BWAV doesn’t have a dedicated “Keywords” metadata field. That’s OK, though. We will put our keywords in Soundly’s BWAV Description field for now. You can always export them to other fields later.
Here’s how we write metadata to the sounds:
- Find the sounds to which you wish to add keywords. Do this by searching in the playlist search field (not the main search field). In this case, we’ll write keywords for all sounds that “shut down”
- Select the sounds to which you want to add keywords.
- Type command-T, or right-click and choose Edit Metadata on Selected Files. The metadata modal window will appear.
- Click the “Update Description” slider.
- Click “Add to start” if this is your first time adding anything, or “Add to end” if text is already in the field.
- Write your keywords in the field below. If you already have info in there, just add a comma and space in front. This will tack the keywords onto the end of any text already there.
- Ensure “Save in wav files” is on. NOTE: this will save the text and modify the WAV file.
- Click the “Save” button.
That’s it! Your keywords have been added.
Continue searching for terms, updating as you go.
Here’s a quick video of the process we used:
My thanks to my good friends at Pole Position Production for letting me showcase their new library. If you’d like to learn about when their electromagnetic library is released, you can join Pole’s free newsletter.
Don’t forget, thanks to the kind people at Soundly, Creative Field Recording readers get one month free of Soundly Pro when signing up, just use the discount code creativefieldrecording.
- How to Write Irresistible Sound Effects Keywords
- A Fresh Metadata App Option: “Soundly” First Look
- A New How-to Series: Discover the Soundly Metadata App
Here’s an in-depth article about adding metadata using Soundly from the Creative Field Recording membership, a list of carefully curated articles that help you record, edit, and share inspiring sound with others: