Archives For mastering

You rip apart the shrink wrap and pull your new audio recorder out of the box. You power it up. You flip through the menus and apply the settings. You string lengths of cables to a dozen microphones. Each microphone is wiggled into Rycotes and spun onto stands. Their position is adjusted and tweaked. Then you slip into headphones and twist tiny dials so that the levels are just right.

What’s that? There’s hum on the line? Which mic is it? Another is picking up a current of air across the diaphragm. You fix everything. Then, after the first performance, you struggle to get levels from the contact mic without peaking. Half an hour later you’re ready to record. You’re frustrated and exhausted. How can you possibly expect to capture inspired performances now?

It’s not easy to be creative on demand. It’s especially hard when struggling with the technical demands of field recording. Last week’s post shared ideas on how to use adaptation, imagination, and creativity to grow beyond gathering only “sufficient” technical sound effects. And why not? There’s an opportunity to inject each field recordist’s expression into the sounds they capture. That invests a sound pro into their recordings, and sparks excitement in listeners, too.

Is there room to grow in other areas of a sound effect’s lifespan? As we know, capturing a field recording is only part of sound effect’s arc. After being captured, a clip must also be cleaned. Just like field recording, mastering requires precise technical skills. Is it possible to inject creativity when mastering, too?

Last week’s article explored whether field recording can grow beyond the technical boundaries of the craft. Today’s post shares a new idea: that it’s not enough just to record sound effects with emotion; the best field recordings must be presented that way, too.

So, today’s post shares tips and tricks for detecting and applying creativity when cleaning sound clips. Next week will conclude the series with ideas for organizing clips so listeners will be inspired when they discover them.

Please note: I explore this idea in detail. This article should take you about 15 minutes to read. Click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.

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I experienced a series of surprises while browsing my Twitter feed earlier last month. The first was an announcement of Todd-AO’s new dialogue noise reduction software, Absentia DX. The second was that it was produced by respected Hollywood sound supervisor and field recordist Rob Nokes. The third was that it was priced at $49.

Now, I have zero experience editing dialogue for feature films. So, why would this announcement intrigue me? Of course, I didn’t expect to be cutting dialogue. Instead, my first thought was: “can this work on field recordings?”

I emailed Nokes. I asked if it was possible to use Absentia with sound effects. He mentioned that his teams were already using it with Foley tracks. That was all I needed to know. I purchased and installed the software a half hour later.

How well does Absentia work with sound fx tracks? Will it improve troubled field recordings laced with buzz or noise? Does it have potential to rival iZotope RX’s noise reduction software at a tenth of the price? Can “Absentia DX” serve as “Absentia FX?”

In today’s post we will find out. In this “first look” article, we’ll see if a dialogue noise reduction tool can be hacked to help master damaged sound effects captured in the field.

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Last week I shared an unusual idea: recording door sound effects is the best way to increase your field recording skill.

How can you learn these skills? What’s the best way to record door sound fx?

Today’s post is a quick-start guide to help you capture excellent door field recordings.

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IDCD 2 - Usenbenz 1

Last week’s article explored International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD). That event, hosted by UK organization The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, invited wildlife fans worldwide to appreciate the sound of nature as it emerges at daybreak. website owner Sebastian-Thies Hinrichsen spearheaded a recording project to create an album of dawn chorus field recordings made worldwide on International Dawn Chorus Day, May 5th, 2015. Last week he shared with us how the project began, and the history of his field recording news site.

As I downloaded the IDCD album, my eye spotted a familiar name: community field recordist Andreas Usenbenz. I noticed that Usenbenz contributed not only field recordings to the project, but also mastered every submission as well.

I was interested to learn about Usenbenz’s efforts capturing dawn chorus field recordings. Also, field recording and mastering sound effects are two very different skills. I was curious about Usenbenz’s experiences tackling both tricky tasks.

So, earlier this month I reached out to Usenbenz. I wondered if he could share his thoughts about the project with me. He kindly agreed, and described fascinating details about recording and mastering quiet nature sounds in a special Q&A.

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How Recording Tone Helps Field Recordings - Cityscape

I’ve been chipping away at revising all my sound effect books. I plan to release updated editions later this year (anyone who has purchased digital copies will receive updates, free of charge).

Anyway, while reviewing Field Recording: From Research to Wrap, I realized I had not mentioned one small but important step when beginning your field recording session: recording room tone.

Have you ever captured a noisy sound effect and wondered what to do with it? Have you found yourself wrestling for hours with de-noising plug-ins? Wondering how you can publish cleaner sound clips?

Today’s post was designed to introduce beginners to this vital – but often neglected – field recording step. It will explain why recording tone improves your field recordings, and helps you master sound fx clips.

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Field Recording Gear in Sunlight 2

Today’s post is the second post in a short series about pro audio career advice. The last article explored general pro sound tips and tricks.

Today’s post answers two of the more common questions I see in my email inbox:

How do I become a field recordist and share sound libraries on the Web?

How do I get and established selling sound, and what’s the most effective way to break into that world?

Do you want to record sound effects beyond the studio? Are you eager to share your field recordings with other sound pros? Today’s post includes suggestions to help you build a field recording career sharing sound on the Web.

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Tutorial: Pro Tools Track Preset Trick

Track Preset Hero

You’ve just returned from a field recording session. After backing up your work, you dump your raw sound effects into a Pro Tools session for mastering.

If you’ve mastered sound effects for any length of time, you’ve likely crafted a Pro Tools editing session template, arranged to taste. Perhaps you’ve built a session with tracks arranged, panned, and sized just how you prefer. You’ve stacked each track with the proper plug-ins. Of course, it’s a pain to recreate this layout every time you fire up Pro Tools.

Thankfully, Pro Tools’s session templates sidestep the hassle of redoing this every time you launch the app. That’s been around for a while.

Session templates are a global way of setting up your editing workflow. What if you want more control? Well, an intrepid Pro Tools fan discovered a hack: track presets. They work similarly to session templates, except on a more granular level. The hack allows users to add preset track arrangements within a session. How does this help you?

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Audio Waveform

You’ve finally decided to share your sounds on the Web. And why not? You’ve spent countless hours recording sound effects. You’ve tweaked endless plug-in settings. You’ve slaved mastering each clip: sculpting every fade, the slice of each edit, and each precise pinch of EQ.

The result? A collection of clips you can objectively say are excellent.

The problem is no one knows.

How, then, can you show off how impressive your sound library has become? With a sound library preview montage.

In today’s post I’ll take a focused look at this important part of sharing a sound library. I’ll describe:

  • What is a sound library preview montage?
  • How preview montages are used.
  • Why sound library preview montages are essential.
  • Preview montage errors to avoid.
  • What a superior montage must include.
  • How to create an irresistible preview montage.

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How to Name Text 2

When you decide to share your library, your sound effects begin to exist outside of your control.

They float around on networks and hard drives for other people to experience, and interpret.

I enjoy working as a sound librarian. I think about sound effects names, searches, and accuracy deeply. It is an important part of field recordings: it is the method by which our creations are accessed, and shared.

This is the last in my two-part series about naming sound effect libraries. The first post explored the philosophy behind sound names, and necessity for good ones.

Because you’ll develop your own style for naming, today I’ll share 15 tips I keep in mind when creating names and assigning metadata. They’re tips I’ve picked up over the years I’ve spent optimizing collections for Web shops. You can use them as guidelines for your own methods. They’re general enough that they’ll strengthen your names and improve the chances that your sound will be found, and used.

Since these posts are taken from my upcoming book, Selling Creative Sound, you’ll see there’s a slant on selling sound. You can also apply the ideas to sharing sound at work, or on your own.

Update: Selling Creative Sound is now available. Learn more about the e-Book.

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How to Name Sound Effects 1

A sound effect has a long lifespan.

Its childhood begins with scouting. Its teen-aged years are when it is recorded. The college years are when its direction is shaped with mastering. The longest part of its life, its adulthood, is when it is shared.

In my book Field Recording: From Research to Wrap, I said that sharing sound is inherent to field recording. We capture sound so it can be released elsewhere: in the projects we work on, or for the fans who are listening.

Sharing sound clips happens in two ways. The first is by transmission: you can share audio by playing it (alone or within projects), sending it to someone, or so on. Another part of sharing a sound is being able to access it. Or, in other words, being able to find it. After all, we all have thousands of sound files in our libraries. We need to locate them to use them.

I’d like to write about just one part of how a sound effect can be found: by its name.

Today we’ll take a deep look at the ideas behind naming sound. I’ll explain five reasons why a name is a vital part of a sound effect. It’s about the philosophy behind naming a sound. I’ve written it to get us thinking.

Next week we’ll look at a more practical aspect of naming sounds. I’ll share helpful guidelines for naming any sound library, and hazards you should avoid.

A sound’s name can be created quickly. It takes only seconds of tapping a keyboard to compose a name. This is usually done during mastering. However, a name has such a large impact on sharing your sound library that I’ve dedicated an entire chapter to the idea in my upcoming book, Selling Creative Sound. My hope is that the ideas will help you share your creations more successfully.

Update: Selling Creative Sound is now available. Learn more about the e-Book.

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