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
    Rated 4.50 out of 5
    $120

    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.

    Add to cart
  • Water & Oceans Black Sea Play Track 30 sounds included, 30 mins total
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $49.99

    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.
    Add to cart
  • The vividly descriptive and meticulously chosen SoundMiner metadata that has been embedded into each of the 217 files allows you to save minutes, even hours, of painful searching through libraries, trying to find that elusive sound! Now it is easier than ever, due to metadata that has been crafted with humans, and not search engines, in mind!

    The main library consists of: rummaging through broken glass with a metallic object, smashing broken shards of glass, breaking different size windows and pieces of glass, and hitting thick glass at different intensities without breaking it.

    The bonus library contains 21 different variations of a glass bottle breaking on rocks and two variations of a bottle bouncing off the rocks without breaking. The length of all the files ranges between 1 and 3 seconds long.

    This library was recorded outside on a very quiet day, with no wind, insects, birds or traffic. iZotope RX was then used to eliminate the small amounts of background noise that was present. As a result, all the recordings are dry, clean and have no reverb.

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

    If you have any questions about this library, feel free to quickly send me an e-mail. I tend to reply within minutes.
    Add to cart
  • The Dot Matrix sound effects library is made up of two parts: A full 3-minute recording of an Epson LQ 570 dot matrix printer at work and 511 short files meticulously edited to isolate each movement that the device makes whilst printing. These movements have been categorised into 5 different folders:

    1) Short bursts, with 295 different variations
    2) Double bursts, with 25 different variations
    3) Triple bursts, with 98 different variations
    4) Long bursts, with 45 different variations
    5) Servo sounds, with 48 different variations

    The recordings have not been manipulated in any way other than being edited into smaller files, as to not limit your options when using the sounds creatively.

    In total, you will receive 512 .wav files, each containing SoundMiner metadata, recorded at 96k/24bit in order to allow for a high level of manipulation.

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

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.

    An update for the library is on its way, which will include the sound of a few different types of camera film being unwrapped, handled and installed into cameras. The update will be free for the people that have already purchased the library.

    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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