An old SLR camera Asbjoern Andersen


You could reasonably say that recordist Chris Skyes went to great lengths to capture his new camera sound effects library:

Here's how a simple idea - and a passion for cameras - turned into a huge research project, weeks of recording at night, and ended up as an excellent collection of 3900+ mechanical sounds from 24 hand-picked cameras from the last century:


Written by Chris Skyes. Images courtesy of Chris Skyes.
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A few months ago, like most people on this website, I was running around thrift stores, looking for strange and unusual props that I could record.

As I was being stared at, undoubtedly due to me rattling what looked like a vintage purse next to my ear, out of the corner of my eye I spot a really old film camera, sitting on a shelf, untouched.

With the shop owner’s eyes pinned on the strange young man in the corner of his establishment, shaking all of his merchandise, I reach out for the camera, gently pick it up and lift it up to my face.

An Aiglon Reflex TLR (twin lens reflex)

It had obscure branding, Aiglon Atos-1 being etched into the leather case and onto the outside edge of the lens. It looked really old, and cool, and it smelled like my grandad’s suit, that he’s had since the 1950s.

I would later find out that I wasn’t that far off, as after some research, it turns out that it was most likely made somewhere in France in the 1940s or 50s.


Camera recording examples from Chris Skyes’ 20th Century Cameras SFX library


 

To the shop owner’s relief, I purchased it and left the store without actually breaking anything.

When I got home, I truly fell down the rabbit hole. I started researching old cameras, where they were made, how they worked, and more importantly, what kinds of sounds they could make.

A Kodak Six-20 Brownie D model

Over the course of the next few weeks, I ended up purchasing around 50 cameras, all manufactured between the 1930s and 1970s.

At first, I went through all of them, and set aside all the cameras that did not function to a satisfactory degree. Eventually, I ended up with 24 cameras which worked well, and sounded distinct enough from one another.

Fueled by an already existing passion for photography, I found myself researching into each of these cameras, and began writing a kind of informal eBook to go along with the library.

Once the research was complete, and I felt confident that I knew quite a bit about each device, I grabbed my gear, and thus began a two week process of recording the cameras at night. I’d wake up at 2 PM, start recording around midnight and then finish around 6 AM, and go to bed.

The night shift recording was necessary due to the nature of some of the mechanical sounds. Naturally, as these cameras were not specifically designed to make loud noises, I had to ensure the best recording environment, free of birds, people, and the creepy sound of Ice Cream trucks going past my house.

The library features recordings from cameras such as:

AGFA Isolette (1950s) • AGFA Silette (1960s) • AGFA Unknown Model (1930s) • Aiglon Atos-1 (1950s) • Atlas No 2 (1930s) • Beier Beirette (1970s) • GB Kershaw 110 (1950s) • Halina Viceroy (1960s) • Houghton Synchro (1930s) • Ilford Envoy (1950s) • Kodak 620 JNR (1930s) • Kodak Colorsnap (1950s) • Kodak Brownie (1940s) • Kodak Instamatic 25 (1960s) • Kodak Instamatic 155x (1970s) • Kodak Junior 1 (1950s) • Kodak Six-20 (1940s) • Minolta AL (1960s) • Pentax Asahi (1970s) • Photo Plait Splendor (1940s) • Polaroid Colorpack 2 (1970s) • Praktica Nova (1960s) • Voigtlander (1930s) • Zenit EM (1970s)

Additionally, after recording all the mechanical sounds, I also recorded old rolls of film being handled, and installed into cameras, but this will come as a separate update to the library.

After the recording sessions were over, I checked the length of the audio files, and choked a little when I realised that I had 9 hours of audio files to comb through, edit, and tag with juicy metadata.

https://twitter.com/SKYESAudio/status/985976911108165635

A few more weeks later, by the grace of the audio gods, the editing was complete. I finally found myself standing in front of my DAW, staring at 159 tracks, comprised of about 3900 sounds.

Now this was the crucial moment. I felt this immense desire to just get the library out there, and finally get it over with. But no, after all this time I put into editing and recording, perfecting the metadata was essential.

More sounds from SKYES Audio:

20th Century cameras is just one of the SFX libraries from Chris Skyes and his SKYES Audio label. Here are some of his other libraries:

  • Household Abandoned Doors Play Track 1400+ sounds included, 53 mins total $120 $60

    Finding the right door sound can be a pain, thus Abandoned Doors was recorded with that need in mind.

    All the 1400+ sounds were recorded in abandoned mansions and houses with unique sonic characteristics, in stereo, usually from two perspectives (inside the room and in the hallway), allowing you a great deal of choice and offering sonic diversity.

    Additionally, splitting the stereo tracks into mono will give you two more slightly different perspectives on each sound.

    The Abandoned Doors library offers a multitude of door recordings, ranging from heavy wooden doors found in turn of the century mansions to cheap old doors in an abandoned warehouse, being opened, closed, slammed, knocked on, kicked, banged on, and even hit with a bat.

    Whilst most door libraries simply name files ‘door open 01’, etc, Abandoned Doors has been carefully tagged with rich SoundMiner metadata and multiple keywords, giving you a clearer image of what a file contains just by reading the title. For more information on what kinds of sounds are present in the library, feel free to consult the metadata file down below.

    Also, if you’d like to know more about how I recorded this library, read my blog post here.

    If you have any questions about this library, feel free to quickly send me an e-mail. I tend to reply within minutes.

    Buy Abandoned Doors today and augment your sonic toolbox with over 1400+ door related sound effects, recorded at 24bit/96kHz in unique and inaccessible locations.

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  • Water & Oceans Black Sea Play Track 30 sounds included, 30 mins total $49.99 $24.99

    Discover everything from the peaceful sound of waves gently streaming through slippery rocks, from inside a hollow, beached buoy, and on the beach, directly facing the sea, to the full force of mother nature, being recorded from twenty feet above, as massive waves crash onto a cliff face, salty water permeating the air

    The 30 separate audio files, free of seagulls, people, or ships, will provide you with a variety of pure and colourful recordings, which you can never have enough of. They bring character to any scene you might choose to lend them to, at the fraction of the cost and time required to go out and record them yourself!

    In addition to that, every single file in this library has been carefully tagged with rich, descriptive SoundMiner metadata, which will save you time when navigating it and allow you to finish projects much faster! The metadata consists of intuitive, visual keywords which allow you to more quickly and efficiently find the files you need!

    This library is useful for, but not limited to: Feature Films, TV Series, Short Films, YouTube Videos, Games, Meditation, and more!

    Also, if you’d like to know more about how I recorded this library, read my blog post here.

    If you have any questions about this library, feel free to quickly send me an e-mail. I tend to reply within minutes.
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  • Frustration. You’ve spent hours on a project, only to end up with a sound scape that feels incomplete. The action scene feels empty, the weapons don’t sound heavy enough, the transitions don’t pack enough of a punch, the space ship doesn’t feel large enough and the monsters aren’t sufficiently scary.

    The Augmentation Elements library has been built with this problem in mind. Due to the library’s abstract nature, the Risers, Stings, Swells and Whooshes can be molded and manipulated into adding that missing element that you’re looking for, and sweetening the whole mix.

    In order to save you time and help you quickly find the sounds that you need, SoundMiner metadata has been carefully created for each individual file. There are no ‘Scream, 1’ and ‘Scream, 2’ in this library! Every single file is individually described, and the use of numbers is not employed!

    Have a look at the metadata list further down the page!

    Now, Your futuristic energy weapons don’t sound full enough? Try layering some of the stings and swells underneath them.

    That large space ship doesn’t seem large enough? Grab some whooshes and pan them to your heart’s delight.

    The alien doesn’t sound scary enough? Some of the stings sound eerily close to vocalizations. Grab them and run wild.

    Are crucial transitions in your film lacking punch? Drag some of those risers into your DAW and see which one fits best!

    If you have any questions about this library, feel free to quickly send me an e-mail. I tend to reply within minutes.
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  • Drones & Moods Aberrant Drones Play Track 79 sounds included, 409 mins total $49.99 $24.99

    Discover nearly 7 hours of individually flavoured, hauntingly musical and ever-evolving drones, packaged neatly into 79 of the kind of audio files that you can never have enough of.

    In many ways, Aberrant Drones is the sister library of the Augmentation Elements library, as it provides you with the creative tools required to augment your sound design.

    Whilst the Augmentation Elements library arms you with tools such as whooshes, risers and stings, allowing you to sweeten specific elements of your sound design, the Aberrant Drones library allows you to augment the mood of an entire scene. Each audio file is populated with richly descriptive SoundMiner metadata, making it easier than ever before to sift through hours of abstract drones.

    This is why the metadata is usually described in terms of feeling and mood, like so:

    Drone,Sci-Fi,Abstract,Cacophonous,Glowing,Impending Doom
    Drone,Sci-Fi,Abstract,Textured,Vibrating,Oscillating,Anxiety

    Augment your creative tool-box with Aberrant Drones, and transform your sound design work!

    For really in-depth reviews, check out the articles on 344audio.com and strongmocha.com

    If you have any questions about this library, feel free to quickly send me an e-mail. I tend to reply within minutes.
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Even though I do my metadata as I go along, there is always a crucial step at the end where I perfect it and make sure it’s consistent not only throughout the library, but across my portfolio of libraries.

I spent a few days figuring out how to best describe the mechanical sounds, making sure I was as precise as possible, and checking spelling and numbers over and over.

An Asashi Pentax Spotmatic F Shutter release

Additionally, in the spirit of the library, I shot buttery smooth slow-motion B-roll of the cameras featured in the collection, and used it for the library preview.

And then, finally, it was over. The library was packaged, ready, and looking pretty. After consulting with Asbjoern about details here and there, with a mighty push of a button, the library went live.

If you want to grab a discounted copy, the library’s introductory discount will run until the 1st of June.

A big thanks to Chris Skyes for giving us a look at the making of ’20th Century Cameras’! Check out the full library below:

 

 
  • Discover the obscure sounds of 24 film cameras designed between the 1930s and 1970s. Carefully organised into 159 files, the 20th Century Cameras library offers over 3900+ sounds recorded at pristine 24bit/96kHz, thus allowing you to not only use the mechanical sounds of the cameras for their intended purpose, but also for sound design.

    In order to help you navigate through the plethora of sounds available, rich SoundMiner metadata has been carefully crafted in order to describe the sounds as simply as possible, using multiple keywords and terms, where needed.

    The library contains mostly mechanical sounds, such as the sound of shutter release at different shutter speeds, knobs, latches, wheels, and more, in addition to some Foley sounds as well.  Due to the age of the cameras, most of the shutter release sounds have slight variations between them, even at the same shutter speed.

    The library also comes with a free eBook which can be viewed and downloaded here.

    In addition to the SoundMiner metadata sheet down below, the eBook provides information as to how older cameras work, and more details as to how each of the cameras recorded for the library work. The book goes into a fair bit of detail as to what sounds each camera offers, without getting too technical.

    If you have any questions about this library, feel free to quickly send me an e-mail. I tend to reply within minutes.

    If you would like to hear more, here is a slightly extended version of the video preview:

    Video Thumbnail
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    44.1 GENERAL LIBRARY (VOLUME II) (2.06 GB, $32)
    A hand-picked variety collection of 1,000 sound effects covering numerous categories at 44.1kHz and 16/24-bit stereo recordings. Here are some sound categories that can be found in Volume II:

    85+ Seamless Loops
    Ambiences: Deep Abysses, Train Stations, Seaside Waves, etc.
    Camera: Shutter Clicks, Flash Lifts and Falls
    Dialogue: A creepy, deep male voice
    Fireworks
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    Roller Coasters: Full Rides, Chain Hill Lift, Screaming
    Screaming: Crowds and Roller Coasters
    Toilet Flushing
    Trains: Arriving, Leaving, Passing, Idling, Doors, Clip-Clop
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    Vacuum Cleaner Hoovers
    Vinyl Record: Glitching, Needle On and Off
    Water: Streams, Bubbling, Swirling, Splashing, Movement
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    PARTY PACK (1.98 GB, $40)
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    SEWING MACHINE (2.73 GB, $32)
    This library brings you 800 mechanical sounds created entirely from an electronic sewing machine, including: 20 different rhythmic seams all recorded at up to 5 different speeds with 2 microphone positions; over 200 seamless loops; various gradual revvings, ramping up and down, clicks, ticks, movements and warm-up checks – all recorded at the standard 96kHz 24-bit stereo.
    UI – MECHANICAL (381 MB, $32)
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    Cancel: A cancellation sound useful for backing out of a selection, or returning to a previous page.
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    Error: A negative error alert useful for a problem or issue.
    Loading: A loopable sound for a mechanical device that is loading, processing or analysing.
    Move: The quick, small movement sound as you move between different options in a menu or list.
    Notification: A notification alert useful for popups and messages.
    Select: A simpler selection sound for general confirmation and selections.
    Text Scroll: A loopable sound to accompany the scrolling of dialogue in a conversation or upon reading text
    Turning Off: A turning off or shutting down of a machine or device.
    Turning On: A turning on or booting up of a machine or device.

 
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