Archives For sound effects

Gear Hero

I finally polished off two major field recording gigs last week. After decompressing for a bit, I dove into my long list of sound articles gathered from Tweets, and various field recording websites.

I’ll share my selections of interesting articles and other finds in today’s post.

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Honda Indy 2013 Hero

Yesterday I shared some ideas on how to grow into recording complex sound effects. The idea was a three step process:

  1. Analyze.
  2. Articulate.
  3. Record.

Today I’ll describe how I put those ideas to work in a session I completed last summer: recording the Honda Indy.

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National Univeristy of Galway, Ireland, courtesy of Martie Swart

I was recently involved with an exciting project: lecturing about field recording for Edinburgh Napier University. I worked with Napier’s Dr. Iain McGregor to talk about capturing sound effects beyond the studio.

I’ve never really spoken about field recording before. I’m comfortable writing ideas, but speaking about them is a completely different matter. I didn’t have much practice, so, I wasn’t sure how it would settle on me.

The result? I really enjoyed the lecture. And, in the process, I had a few thoughts about field recording and community. I’ll share a bit about that, and the experience lecturing, in today’s post. My hope is that some discoveries I’ve made can help you with your own field recordings.

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Dark Park

Here are a handful of sound effects articles, websites, tutorials, field recordings, and free sound fx from the last while that I found interesting.

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Airborne Sound Logo

Those of you who follow my other blog on the Airborne Sound website already know some exciting news: I’ve relaunched the sound effects store there.

To celebrate, I’m offering over 3 GB of free pro sound effects.

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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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Frank Bry on Runway

How can you record great sound effects?

Field recording well requires using gear properly, having a solid recording sensibility, and knowledge of acoustics and signal flow.

However, as a listener, these things rarely come to mind when we hear an impressive sound. It’s similar to watching a movie: we never wonder how the gaffer lit a scene. That may come to mind after, of course.

It’s the same with sound effects. Whether hearing them on their own or skillfully blended with other audio or video, our first reaction is to simply experience them. We react to booming thunder, a crisp gunshot, or forlorn, howling wind. But, after we’ve assembled our gear, flicked the switches and turned the dials, how can we as field recordists create an experience for our listeners?

One field recordist who knows is Frank Bry.

Bry is a pioneer in the world of sharing sound. He posts frequently on,, as well as his Twitter stream and field recording blog.

Bry is well known for his voluminous collections of tricky sound effects. His recordings are known to be pure and powerful. But his recordings also contain something more: instinct, inspriation, and “vibe.”

Frank kindly spent some time answering questions about his origins in sound design, how he shares sound, and his method for evoking the best possible experience for his listeners.

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Modigliani, Portrait of Leopold Zborowski, 1917-Small

I remember precisely the moment when I began to think of field recording differently. I began to see sound effects as more than data files produced by metal and plastic in France, December 2002.

At that time I was dating a woman who lived in Bordeaux. We visited the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris. They were hosting a special exhibit of Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani. Modigliani is known for his style of crafting mask-like, elongated faces.

She was a fan of his work, and I asked why. Her answer surprised me. It had a large influence on the way I think about field recording. Of course, I didn’t make the connection between painting and recording sound effects then. That happened years later.

I was thinking of this when responding to a recent reader email. The reader was asking about posting their library online:

How will my sound effects perform? Will people buy my collection? Is selling a sound library a viable way to make a living?

The answer to each of these questions is commonly thought of in terms of competition. If you’re planning to share your work, and earning money from it, you’ve likely thought about your competition. This is common whether you’re cutting in an edit suite, or creating a shop online.

So, in today’s post, I’ll explain how you can evade competition and share clips that fans will be thrilled to support.

What was that comment that influenced me? How did I apply it to field recording? How can this help you share sound effects and sidestep competition?

I’ll explain more at the end of the article.

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Rob Nokes Recording Plane

I’ve written in these pages that field recordings have great power to become more than simple data files. A thoughtful recordist can add personality, emotion, and meaning to the sound effects they record. To do this, a recordist must invest themselves into their work.

One field recordist who practices this is Rob Nokes.

You may have heard of Nokes. He is a Hollywood sound recordist who has contributed to films such as Snow White and The Huntsman, X-Men First Class and 3:10 to Yuma. He is also a sound supervisor, having helmed projects such Bones, and The Finder.

He is well known for a relentless approach to capturing only the best sound effects. He has pursued seals and walruses while recording in Uruguay, and flown to Khazakstan to gather tribal recordings for the film Nomad.

What you may not know about Rob Nokes’ work is how he uses his passions and experience to enhance his sound effects recordings.

To learn more about this intriguing approach to field recording, I asked Nokes about his past, the impact of a sound library, the characteristic projects he’s joined, his current projects, and more.

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