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Tag: sfx

Favourite sound of the week #7

As I promised before, here’s this week’s favourite sound of the week, which is a poor old Digi002’s fader pack in its last days of existence.

I’ve recorded this last year without any serious purpose. One morning when I switched on the unit, I heard these strange, very interesting sounds and I couldn’t help but record them. The files were backed up and only a few days ago I found them, listened to them and again, immediately fell in love with the weird, mechanical, rhythmic clickety-clack.

I managed to “force” the unit to make these sounds again by using its own utility menu in standalone mode, testing the faders with step fader and with vegas mode. As it really was an old unit I had to make multiple takes as sometimes it didn’t want to even move the motorised faders. Finally, before the unit died, I was able to record the faders.

The first part is the step fader mode with obnoxious noise from the unit, which is good for us. The second part is the “vegas” mode when the faders supposed to move like a snake. The nice mechanical clickety-clack accompanied by the not so usual noise of the motors. The third part is while the poor faders are acting-up, struggling with the necessary movements.

Without the intent to restrict your imagination, these sounds are good for many mechanical, electrical, industrial effects. Mangle these as many ways as you would like to, pitch them up or down or both, cut, use only the noise part of it, etc. Have fun with them!

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Experiments from the fx lab #1

Electronic door effect from a shoebox.

This whole thing happened as an accident. I recorded some foley while a regular shoebox was at the wrong place and as I moved it from my way, accidentally I ran my hand over the box in a way it produced an interesting sound. Fortunately it happened almost right before the microphone. I didn’t even thought about it for a long time, but suddenly when I edited those recorded tracks I stumbled across the “shoebox” fx and it somehow reminded me to the old Star Trek door fx which was made with paper and envelope. And I thought, why not, let’s make some electronic door from this too.

It is not a re-creation nor some imitation, simply some experiment with a happy accident.

The process

I quickly made a new session with a few audio tracks, a master bus and a re-record track. I prefer to re-record stuff to a new track instead of bounce to disk, but that’s entirely another post. So after I set up the little session let’s the fun start.

I simply trimmed the original to a short length, made a little fade in and out. This is our door’s main ingredient.

Then quickly throw-in some other effects for fun: steam, gas, wind, hisses, etc. Really anything is good, remember, this is an experiment, so there’s no wrong choices here. If there is something you won’t like, you can throw it out anytime during the process.

Search your effects library for keywords that are reminiscent of an electronic door, or simply quickly audition different sounds, and whenever your brain unconsciously pick a sound, put that into your session. The point is, do not over think this. If you find 1 or 2 effects that is enough. If you find 8 or 10, good for you.

Now we have all the ingredients let’s start doing something. I tell you how I did this, but don’t take it as the right way, if you have other workflow that’s completely fine. I quickly counted how many sweetener fx I’ve found, and made a quick copy of the shoebox fx with with alt+drag the original clip.

Then place the sweeteners right under the shoebox effects. I prefer to have every additional fx on its own track as this way I can process them separately without harming any other sweetener.

Now one by one nudge and trim the sweeteners so they start where they should and their length is appropriate for the original. If you’re confident enough, at this point you can make the fade ins and outs too, but if you would like to play with it later, that’s fine too.

Now add some eq to both the original and the sweetener tracks. It is a good idea to process them separately, this way you can have even more variation from the same thing. At this point anything can happen. Throw in some other plugins and have fun!

With only some eq and a touch of reverb you can have many doors from this accidentally recorded shoebox. The following examples are all in a very close perspective, you can add reverb to make them fit into the scene. Here’s the result of a five minute fun session:

The sweeteners are:

  • steam engine
  • steam machinery
  • servo motor
  • boa snake hiss

Enjoy!

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Favourite sound of the week #6

It’s been a long time since I posted some sounds, but now, because of a project, I have something for you.

As you know vegetables give endless possibilities for great sounds. Recently I needed some bone break sounds but I wasn’t satisfied with the library sounds I’ve found. Then suddenly I knew the solution. Back in the middle of this summer I’ve recorded some material which may just fit to this task.

Many times the easiest, mundane tasks provide the best sound. Shelling peas is not the greatest and more exciting tasks to do, but it sure sounds incredible, perfect sweeteners for bone breaks, cracks, etc.

After some editing and layering I knew I found the perfect bone break sweeteners for this project. As usual, I share it for free, these are the original recordings edited, mastered to some degree. They are free, standard EULA applies here. Enjoy!

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Made me grab my recorder #1

This is going to be a mini series. There are so many things that grab my attention, and sometimes these things make me grab my recorder to capture the moment, the ambience, the sound.

Today, we had a storm, which was very short, but after it, the rain was still pouring down gently. The after-storm atmosphere was somehow so dense yet so peaceful (at least in live). Unfortunately I missed the storm.

So here it is: city atmosphere with some light rain, wet roads, car pass bys.

As usual, free to download and use. Enjoy!

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The assignment

I had been on an assignment for a few days. The Hungarian National Theatre of Szeged (my main job) had a guest performance in Romania, Satu Mare.


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Unfortunately our schedule was extremely tight so I had no chance to go out to a mini field trip and record ambiences and other things, I was fascinated by the old theatre’s acoustics.

The building is 120 years old and it is almost untouched. Only minor renovations happened just to keep the building usable. It means that the technical capabilities are very low, frankly surprisingly low. However this also means that the original acoustic is preserved. This is one of the most spectacular sounding theatre hall I’ve ever heard.

It’s a small place with 365 seats with two floors and some boxes. The boxes are all made from wood and plaster. It’s really a classical style hall designed and built for natural voices. It’s really amazing that if you stand at the back of the stage and have a conversation with someone, it is completely intelligible at the back row of the hall. What is even most amazing is that very loud sounds are still sounds balanced. As if the building had some equalising and auto-balancing feature.

Because of this, the whole performance is very intimate and as we had lots of sound effects, I had to re-balance everything in order to have a nice, believable sonic picture. It was mandatory to test everything as we have atmos and special effects throughout the acts.

The sound system was not particularly good, but somehow the hall made it sound nice. It’s remarkable how a 120 years old building reacts to a little PA system. It’s extremely rare to hear this kind of magic even in modern theatres. Sonically it seemed to be a perfect match whether you play music, or sfx, or prose.

Fortunately the performance was a drama by Henrik Ibsen, so we had a pistol. It’s a cheap modified italian alarm gun which is loud as hell (which gun isn’t…). During the rehearsal the propman shot some test rounds which really caught my attention. Even the loud pistol shot has a very nice, balanced sound. Loud, but with nice impact and the hall really made it sound like a serious gun.

As usual, I had my trusty Sony PCM D50 with me, so during the actual performance I recorded the shots. I was 15 meters (49ft) away from the gun.

With a little processing you can make them sound as a really great gun shot, or use them as an impulse response. Of course I’ve tried to do that, and the result is better than I expected.

Quick tip: before you start to eq the shots, try different saturation plugins instead. You’ll be surprised.

To make an ir from this recording, cut out one shot and bounce it to a discrete .wav file. Make a new folder, name it as you like, copy the .wav file into the newly created folder. Launch Pro Tools and insert one instant of e.g. Tl Space onto a channel. In Tl Space go to EditImport other IR folder and import the .wav file, that’s it. You are ready to use your brand new ir.

As usual, the sounds are free, the only thing I ask in return is to tell even more people where you’ve found them. Enjoy!

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