Posts tagged “Themes

New Theme for Spring 2015

 

class

It’s been a while!  A new theme for the new year was long overdue so here goes….the latest theme is chosen by club member Eric Mooney.  His description of the theme is:

Walla of a crowd that’s trying to be quiet. An example of this would be at a library, or someplace similar where people are speaking very quietly and maybe even whispering occasionally. There could also be some fairly quiet and subtle movements taking place in the background. This seems like it would be a great backdrop of audio that could be used in pretty wide variety of scenes. This is something that I don’t have very much (if any) of.

More generally, Eric has provided some pointers for recording ‘walla’, which are worth bearing in mind when recording sounds for this collection:

Most of you are probably already familiar with walla, but if you’re not it’s basically just a recording of a “background” conversation that doesn’t contain any intelligible speech. By not being able to make out what the crowd (large or small) is saying the audience stays focused on the lead actor’s dialogue.

File Types to Submit:

Stereo recordings of walla will give the audience a more immersive experience than mono recordings would. For this reason all of the submissions should preferably be recorded and submitted in either stereo or surround so that they can easily be used in any professional project.

I wasn’t initially keen on this theme idea when Eric suggested it because Echo Collective have just recently released their Quiet Spaces library, and I do try to avoid themes that already exist in the form of independent libraries…though that’s getting harder and harder to manage these days as the indie library scene continues to grow!  However, having spoken to Rene and checked he’s cool for us to use the same idea, I did think it’d be really interesting to do an international version of the Quiet Spaces library, which I believe is all American locations.  Do check out Echo Collective’s Quiet Spaces library and consider grabbing a copy – hopefully the club’s collection will be a useful compliment to it.  I hasten to add, though, that despite my comparison with Echo Collective, I believe their library contains recordings of quiet spaces where people are NOT talking; it is mainly just the sound of subtle movement.  With our collection, the primary sound is intended to be quiet murmur or even whispers, though that element of shuffle and other ‘presence’ is still a vital ingredient in the quiet crowd sound that we’re after.

Final tip:  As I’ve often flagged before with other club themes, bear in mind the acoustics of the space you record in.  Old or unusual spaces that are very quiet and free of ambient noise such as background traffic or air conditioning may be the best spaces for adding character to low level signals such as quiet crowd sounds.  Oh and very importantly, please state location and country in the name or metadata of any shared files!

Hopefully this explains everything but feel free to drop me a line if anything is unclear.


New Theme for Summer 2014:

madewithOver

The club’s latest theme is chosen by club member, Rick Blything:

 

“I’m sure that everyone who has visited different countries and cities and pays attention to the city’s soundscape can re-call the feel and emotion from the city’s backdrop. 

I believe that vehicle horns help define a city’s soundtrack and that is what this month’s theme is all about:

Vehicle Horns: BGs

Sounds differ enormously from the near constant cacophony of horns heard in Delhi, to the slightly more constrained hoots from a tailback in an English town.

Recordings of these such sounds are great for building up scenes and can be used to good effect as both ‘off-screen’ and ‘establishing’ sounds. They can help to shape a location and sonically guide the audience to that space.

Recording techniques could range from mono directional recordings to wide stereo ambiences. Whilst recording locations could range from roof-tops, interiors, exteriors, mics out the window stlyie or straight up street level tracks. 

So next time you visit a city/town take your mics, find any one of a number of locations and pitch up, press the record button and try and capture some evocative tracks.”

 

Thanks for that, Rick – I can only add that, as with the dog barks theme, please bear in mind that this is a theme that is meant to provide sounds for BACKGROUNDS, not close up spot FX.  The horns need to have at least some ‘space’, i.e. echo or reverberation / ambience, around them, otherwise I’ll unfortunately have to reject them.  However, if you get a distant AND close sound then feel free to add the close sound too as sometimes these are useful to keep together.

I would suggest it’s worth getting 2-5 minutes of horns; it’s not that useful just getting one or two ‘toots’  unless they are particularly unusual or distinctive.  

As always, think about how submerged your distant horn sounds are within the roar of traffic – too much traffic noise and the horns won’t be usable because there’ll be a surge of engine roar every time your car horn is used in a tracklay.  

Lastly, as Rick touched upon in his brief, think about the space in which the horns occur – the acoustics of the space that surrounds them is what tends to make vehicle horns evocative rather than the actual horn sound itself.

As ever, I’m looking forward to hearing the results!


New Theme for Spring 2014

 

 

 

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Ever since starting the Sound Collectors’ Club, ‘Doors’ has been a frequent request whenever it’s been time to choose a new theme.  To date, I’ve always been reticent to go with it, as I feel Tim Prebble already ticked that box a while back with his epic crowdsourced ‘Doors’ collection that he orchestrated.  Although overlap with other collections is eventually inevitable, I prefer themes that don’t echo well-known independent libraries that already exist out there.

However, the thing is that a lot of people (including myself) missed out on Tim’s collection when it happened, so there is still a lot of demand from club members for new sounds in this department.  I finally caved in when club member Steve Papagiannis’ recently suggested an ‘Open & Close’ theme rather than just specifically doors, so that the theme can include all kinds of different hinged things, big and small, rather than just doors.  I’ll let Steve explain:

“How about opens and closes, building a “new” 9000 series.  Doors, drawers, gates, garages, cabinets, boxes, compartments, trunks, mason jars, etc – anything and everything, if it opens and closes, from the smallest jewelry box or door latch to the largest electrical utility box or hanger door, it’s fair game (would include knocking/pounding, latches, creaks if there are any, associated with said subject matter being recorded.”

The only requirement I’d insist upon is that you must submit the open AND close sounds of the item / object.  After that, any supplementary sounds that are useful bi-products of the opening & closing, such as creaks or the usual interior or exterior versions where relevant, are always very welcome but not essential.  Let me clarify that doors ARE welcome in this collection, but so are any other kinds of interesting-sounding hinged items too.  Oh, and obviously I’ll keep car doors in their separate collection that already exists.

So let’s do it – let’s make this the new 9000!!!

 

Addendums:

Rene Coronado has made a good point on Twitter regarding this theme:

“Cool theme!  I’d add:  What made Tim’s collection so good is the requirement of different performances and perspectives; i.e. soft > hard & near > far.”

& Steve Papagiannis has kindly contributed these thoughts on our subsequent approach towards labelling & metadata for this theme (and all other themes, for that matter):

“If there’s one takeway that was really successful about the 9000 Series, it was the naming choices.  Sure somebody might not care about obscure details like “Big Castle Wood Door” or “General Store Wood Door” at face-value, but these sorts of specifics actually helped search-ability (and memory recall of one’s favorites) immensely.  Hundreds of files just called “Refrigerator door open close” are not very useful in my opinion, and hard to decipher for those adding their own metadata after the fact.  Is it a steel fridge door?  Plastic/steel?  Is it more modern or maybe more of a 60s or 70s with the latches versus a traditional rubber seal?  Is it a household fridge door, or industrial (like medical or morgue)?  Is it clean and tight sounding?  or Old and busted?  Having some sort of unique descriptive “name” in the filename helps. I like to adopt the 9000 Series “Institutional” tag in my own library to mean a metal door which you might find in a commercial or insitutional structure (school, building, etc) which is that traditional, quintessential solid-panel (or maybe glass viewhole) metal door with the latch handle.  Often I like to tag my hearty, solid-sounding tasty wood doors as “Antique”, also borrowed from the 9000 series since well, we don’t make doors like that anymore and those high-quality wood doors of yesteryear have such a particular sound unlike modern household or apartment doors.  If anything, I personally think it should be a requirement that when you submit, regardless of a door or anything else like a box, please note in the filename a) what type of material(s) (or the case of something like a fridge, maybe modern or old) and b) any particular sonic characteristic (tight, heavy, thick, solid, hollow, etc) – but go by what you hear not what you see.  Countless times I run searches for solid steel door, or heavy copper door, or something like that and all I get back are dull, hollow-sounding metal doors which don’t sound like an assertive metal door I want.  I get said results as though I was searching for “hollow”.  But they get tagged as thick, solid, or heavy because of how they looked or felt when recording, not how they sound/translate.  Just some thoughts to possibly add to the page! :)”

 

Definitely worth bearing these thoughts in mind when collecting & labelling your sounds.

 

 


First Theme of 2014!

metal photo

Happy New Year!  As I’m sure most of you are aware, it’s been a long time since I started a new theme.  It’s been mainly due to simply being so busy over the past few months but on top of that, part of me does also like to put new themes on hold for a while from time to time so that we can give a bit more attention to existing themes that haven’t become that big a collection a yet.  I’d rather have less but bigger collections of sounds than lots of very small collections of different themes.  In this way, when members do get access to a collection it feels more of a bonanza than if you only get a couple of new sounds for your trouble.  Anyway, like I say, it’s been a while and what better time than now to kick off a new theme?  I’ve had a few suggestions for new themes over the past few months (and some of those will be appearing over the coming months) but, for now, I wanted to go with a suggestion by Rene Coronado, who has offered up ‘Metal Impacts’.  In his words, we need:

“clean, thick stereo recordings fit to be twisted into other things.  The idea being that these would be useful in designing big stylized hits and slams.  Natural reverberation is fine, multiple iterations with clean tails would be great.  Good candidates include hits on large garage doors, big metal door slams, even just straight suspended sheets of metal.  Anything big and resonant sounding.”

So I’d say this theme is an ideal candidate for using higher sample rates which lend themselves better towards pitching sounds down.  Some contact mic trickery might be fun as well perhaps?  Just a small add on my part:  If you record lots of hits, please keep them condensed to as few tracks as is appropriate /suitable.  Don’t send me loads of short files of single, similar hits, or the theme folder will get unwieldy and confusing.  Other than that, it is just what it says on the tin (pardon the pun).  As Rene mentioned, I think ‘big’ and ‘resonant’ are the keywords to remember here.

This is always a popular one with sound designers or, for that matter,anyone who likes making loud noises!  So have fun with it – I look forward to hearing the results.

Have a great 2014 everyone!


Last Theme of 2012-13 Season

tools logo

The last theme for this season has been chosen by Jennifer Lewis, from Vancouver, who joined the club recently.  When Jenn joined, she suggested starting a page within The Knowledge where members can make suggestions for future themes.  She immediately added a few of her own ideas to this page, so I was more than happy to let her pick one of them this month.  Over to Jenn, to introduce herself and her theme:
“Greetings all, I’ve been working with sound for 30+ years.  My experiences range from linear to non-linear; sound design, dialog and music, production thru post.  The last 18 years have been focussed on audio for games and I’ve been fortunate to be involved with some amazing projects and people.  I recently bought a bunch of field gear and am re-broadening my explorations with recording adventuring.  A ‘back to roots’ of sorts.
 
Theme blurb:
Tools – an Unexpected Journey.
My dad was a carpenter. As a kid, I’d hang out in the shed and would play with vices, hammers, jars of nails, screwdrivers and chunks of wood, etc.  Fascination, for all the senses.  I don’t know about you but I have always wanted to schmooze my (and my recording gear’s) way into a big hardware store, while it’s closed. 
 
While the club’s theme descriptions tend to be quite specific, I invite you to explore the most unusual sounds that can be found in your tool drawer.  For me, it’ll be about the curious use of a given tool, as well as a unique space and recording perspective.  “Play” with the object and hone in on the unexpected.  Perhaps: use a vice clamp under water in your sink.  Or, roll a screw around in a bottle.  You could, turn a screw into a turnip with contact mics on it!  Why not? Who knows what you’ll end up with!”
So, rather than simply collecting literal sounds, we need to use tools as a starting point for interesting sound creation.  A wide variety of outcomes are possible, though I’d imagine an element of friction or impact will be common to most of them.  Rhythmic?  Mechanical?  Organic?  See what you can come up with – it’ll be interesting to see how many tools are actually recognisable in the sounds.  Do mention the name of the tool that you use and include a picture whenever possible; that might be particularly handy for this theme.
Just to be clear – no signal processing should take place.  This is about imaginative use of props, locations, mics and recording techniques to get interesting new sounds.  This is a bit more of an open-ended brief this month, so do shout out below or e-mail me if you aren’t sure of anything or have any questions.

New Theme: Child’s Play

Screen Shot 2013-02-06 at 20.52.06

AKA ‘Junior Street Voices’!

The easiest path to take for this theme would be to get recordings near schools or play parks.  However, as well as it being a tad creepy hanging around these places, I would argue that these will not be the most useful sounds to have in the collection.  As with the Street Voices theme, I think the most useful recordings will be of small groups or couples of kids in the street (or any exterior space for that matter) playing or simply shouting to each other.

Obviously, playground chatter is useful if you’re working on a scene in a school.  However, isolated kids’ shouts aren’t site-specific.  They are very evocative and are therefore a go-to sonic effect to describe a location, e.g. Broadly speaking, yobby shouts suggest feral kids and therefore a rough area.  Cutesy voices of kids playing games suggests a more idyllic, ‘safe’ setting.  A variety of different recordings such as these are invaluable in any FX library.

I will accept recordings of larger groups of kids too, as it will become a pain differentiating between group sizes otherwise.  I’m just emphasizing that recordings of smaller groups of kids are the most useful in my opinion.  Interior recordings will be accepted too (mainly because I can’t really imagine ‘Interior Kids’ being a future theme in it’s own right) and kept within a subfolder of the collection.

I’m also presuming that your recordings will be made with at least a little bit of distance between you and the subject, otherwise this enters the realm of crowd ADR.  However, this is not a rule and closer recordings will, on the whole, be considered acceptable too.  Oh – one last thing – let’s agree an approximate upper age limit of about 10-12 years old?  Otherwise, I think it’ll get tricky deciding whether a recording should go in this collection or ‘Street Voices’.

As always, anyone else’s thoughts on what you think this theme should consist of are welcome in the comments below.


First Theme of 2013!

sirens titled

 

Happy New Year!  I thought we’d start 2013 off with a classic  – you can never have too many siren recordings!  They are so evocative and loaded with meaning.

The theme really lends itself well to the multinational nature of our crowdsourcing group as well because sirens obviously sound different all around the world.  Plus, the location in which they are recorded makes such a difference too, e.g. surrounded by skyscrapers as opposed to passing through suburban streets or the countryside.  I believe that police sirens are actually the same in New York and London nowadays but I bet you could still often tell them apart in a recording simply from the differing acoustics.

Feel free to record close or distant sirens or passbys – I’m going to create 3 subfolders to cover these different perspectives but if you contribute a recording of just one you do still get access to them all within the main ‘Sirens’ folder.

My only pointers for this theme are:  if you submit passbys, try to get the whole approach and fade away.  If you submit distant recordings, make sure the sirens aren’t swamped with traffic noise and if you submit close recordings, try and get a decent length of recording to avoid having to do loads of looping.  As per usual, if anyone else has any useful advice that they think is worth adding then feel free to comment below.

Let’s get the year off to a good start!  Thank you to all club members for your support last year – we’re now 50 strong and rising and the collection is now over 35 gigs in size.  Remember that the new 2013 season starts in April and I always give free membership to the top contributors (generally the top 8 to 10) from the past year, so now’s the time to get your tally up!

All the best for 2013!  Here’s to another great year of sound collecting and sharing.

Best,

Michael

 


New Theme – Burps ‘N’ Farts!

But sir! Sir!  It wasn’t me, it was Coronado!

What can I say?  Don’t blame me, talk to Rene, it was his idea.  BUT, all jokes aside, this could be a very useful collection.  Many a film depends on a good old-fashioned fart gag, and as far as I’m aware, there’s only one or two ‘body wind’ libraries out there currently.

Feels a bit weird to give you guidelines – bit of an invasion of privacy ‘n’ all – so use your own judgement on this occasion!

One request:  This is one occasion when editing is necessary; if you’re providing a recording of several burps or farts, please edit your track down to the important bits, in an easily auditionable series.  Other than that, let rip! 🙂

 

 


Church Bells Meetup, Anyone?

Picture courtesy of St. Anne’s Church, Highgate

In line with my intentions to had more meetups organised, I’m happy to say that Raoul Brand got in touch with me recently, with a great idea for the next recording trip.  I’ll let him explain:

“Over the last few weeks I have spent a lot of time in Hampstead Heath, North London, where I am currently recording sounds for my dissertation. 
This involves going up to the same location in the park at different times of the day and at night to record the soundscape with a pair of omni mics rigged in the canopy of a tree. 
At night especially when it’s quiet but also on Sunday mornings I noticed that I was able to hear the distant bells from St Anne’s church in Highgate, which is about half a mile away. 
I went up to the church to check out the exact times when the bells are ringing and found out that the church offers a drop in class for their bell ringing practice! – http://www.bird-dog-demo.com/stannes/bell-ringing/
I always thought it would be great to be able to record church bells with some degree of creative input and to spend some time thinking about the best mic placement without disturbing the sunday service, so I spoke to the person in charge and he was very welcoming and supportive of the idea. 
As it would be useful to cover a recording session like this from different microphone perspectives, I thought it would be a  perfect opportunity to have another soundcollectors club meet up. 
It looks pretty certain that we could record the practice session there [in early September]. Apparently access to the tower is a bit tricky and tight so it would definitely be worth setting up before the ringing starts. I think this would suit about 4-5 recordists and I think it would be cool to cover interior as well as exterior perspectives. 
That’s about it – except that there is a nice pub down the road to grab a pint after.”
Drop us a line at thescclub@btinternet.com or comment below if you fancy getting involved and I’ll let you know the exact date, time and location.  Remember, it’s first come, first serve!


New Theme – Dog Barks: BGs

The Club’s latest theme comes courtesy of one of the club’s top contributors and ‘word spreaders’ (I was going to say ‘ambassadors’ but it felt a little transparently Jobsian!), Rene Coronado.  He fired a load of great suggestions at me on Twitter last month which I’m more than happy to add to the Club’s collection of themes over the coming months – especially as I’ve been hogging choosing the theme recently.

So, seeing as it’s Rene’s choice, here’s his own description of what he’s looking for:

My primary motivation for recording the dogs in the first place was to have a nice bgfx element that can be layered in with other stuff.  As such, light traffic noise and other suchwhat are fine in the recordings.  
 
Generally its best if the recordings are made in stereo and at least 3 meters from the dog so that we really get a sense of what they sound like in the environment.  I’ve gotten some great stuff from about half a block away.  
 
Often the dogs don’t need to be agitated in any way.  Just standing there with a recorder tends to be enough to get them barking.  
 
Single dogs are more useful than groups of dogs – more editable.
 
I tended to get my recordings just by walking the neighborhood with my D50, and stopping to lean on a tree or pole when one of the dogs started barking.  Best time for recording is after dinner, since the dogs are often out in the yard.
 
Rene has also expanded upon this subject in a post over at his own terrific blog, The Sound My Head Makes.  Do check it out for more info on his theme choice.