CosmicCharges_sound-17 Asbjoern Andersen


In the world of sound design, the journey to create a unique sound library is as intriguing as the final product itself. Today, we delve deep into the story behind COSMIC CHARGES, a brand-new sound effects library designed by Matteo Milani and published by U.S.O. (Unidentified Sound Object)
Story by Matteo Milani, photos courtesy of Matteo Milani
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The Genesis of COSMIC CHARGES

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Matteo Milani

Matteo Milani: Every sound library I’ve published in these 12 years has its unique origin story, and ‘COSMIC CHARGES‘ is no exception. I was on a quest to create ‘tonal’ explosions with a unique and recognizable aesthetic. It has been a long journey that began in 2019 with a spark of intuition and was only recently completed, due to prioritizing a series of projects. Among these was the construction of a new studio for sound creations and transitioning from my role as a freelancer over the last decade to a more structured company, which marked a significant evolution in my professional life. It brought new challenges and opportunities, allowing for greater collaborators, innovation, and expansion in the field of sound design.

The library was born out of a desire to not only provide ready-to-use sounds but also to offer the possibility for further manipulations often required during post-production. The solution was to design layers divided into categories, giving the user the ability to decompose and choose timbral parts of individual files to create new sounds. The freedom to simplify or make a sound more complex is thanks to the release of individual stems embedded in Pro Tools and Reaper sessions.

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Pro Tools session

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Reaper session

In the context of this project, the “learning by doing” philosophy has been instrumental. This approach is the same philosophy I impart to my students at IED, as you are constantly iterating and refining your work based on real-world feedback and results. Moreover, the philosophy aligns well with the iterative nature of sound design, where the final product is often the result of numerous cycles of testing and refinement. By embracing “learning by doing,” you’ve been able to adapt quickly to new challenges, experiment with different techniques, and integrate new ideas.



A COSMIC CHARGES demo track – explore the full library here

The path was particularly lengthy due to the creation of all the sound sources, layer by layer, one by one. It’s been a meticulous and deliberate process: the journey was like navigating through a vast ocean of sound, discovering unique textures and harmonies along the way. The result was a rich tapestry of audio that went beyond conventional boundaries, offering a glimpse into the vast potential of sound as a medium for creative expression.
 

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Recording and processing methods in detail: the balance between synthetic and organic sounds

The Magic of Synthesis

Kyma is a hardware and software environment developed by Symbolic Sound for creative sound design, live performance, and scientific exploration. Its real-time processing capabilities allow for immediate feedback and adjustments. The Kyma sound workstation has been instrumental in adding a layer of synthesized magic to “COSMIC CHARGES.” This system, which I’ve been using for over two decades, allows for the transformation of personally recorded or artificially synthesized sounds. The result is a rich, full-bodied sound that is as gratifying as an analog synth.

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GRM+Crystallizer+Supermassive

It was actually through Ben Burtt’s book, Galactic Phrase Book & Travel Guide, that I discovered Kyma. Burtt, Randy Thom, and Gary Rydstrom’s innovative techniques in creating new sounds have inspired me to push the boundaries in my own work.

Many of my other sound libraries released over the years have been born thanks to hours spent in the modular and recombinant environment created by Carla Scaletti and Kurt J. Hebel at Symbolic Sound. I had fun also with the GRM Tools bundles, which have accompanied me on my sound adventures since the beginning of my career.

As a first step, I took the raw, unrefined texture of pink noise and other full-spectrum sources and applied various filters/resonators to sculpt it into a wide array of unique sound assets, isolating and enhancing specific frequency ranges. The versatility of filtered noise lies in its ability to be shaped into an infinite array of textures and tones, making it an invaluable tool in the sound designer’s toolkit.

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GRM+EnergyPanner

The true magic unfolds when we modify the envelope of the sound. Envelope shaping involves adjusting the Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release parameters of the noise, transforming its temporal characteristics. By tweaking the envelope, we can control how the sound behaves over time – whether it swells gradually like a rising tide or snaps quickly like a whip crack. These sounds served as foundational elements to build more complex, impactful sound effects.

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GRM+Tremolator+Supermassive

 

Collaborative Sessions

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Cosmic Charges original design session

I’ve always cherished collaborations between talents; for me, it’s always been not just fun but also surprising. A few years ago I met a fantastic percussionist and drummer, Gabriele Segantini, who brought his entire arsenal to the studio. We began experimenting with various custom instruments and different microphone techniques. Much of the intriguing timbral impacts and transients from “COSMIC CHARGES” are the fruit of that 2019 session. Since then, I’ve meticulously cataloged and heavily processed the source files to generate unique and original derivative material.



Behind ‘COSMIC CHARGES’ — with Matteo Milani: Backstage


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A special thanks goes to Walter Marocchi, with whom I’m composing soundtracks for documentaries and TV projects. Walter’s electric guitar power chords significantly elevated the overall flavor and alchemy of the sound effects.

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THU

An essential aspect of the crafting process was the harmonic distortion to add new tones to the audio signal using software and external outboard gear. This technique was employed to add richness and depth to the sounds, making them more vibrant and lifelike. I used my Elysia xfilter 500 and TK Audio BC501 bus compressor, plus Looptrotter Sa2rate, Cranborne Camden 500 and various analog emulation by my friend at Overloud, the Italian makers of TH-U and the great GEM series (which I helped beta testing and making presets).

 

Dynamics and loudness

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Cosmic Charges mastering session

Another crucial aspect of my work has been the control and emphasis of transients, achieved through the use of some essential plugins like Oxford Envolution by Sonnox, SPL Transient Designer by Plugin Alliance and TransientControl by Metric Halo. These tools offer a range of options to sculpt the sound, from subtle enhancements to significant alterations, enabling me to add punch and effectively ‘cut through’ the audio spectrum. By carefully shaping the transients, I’ve been able to bring a sense of immediacy and impact to the sounds. This is not just about making them louder; it’s about giving them a presence that can be both felt and heard. I believe I have successfully achieved a good level of loudness while maintaining the right dynamics to really make the speaker cones move.
 

Soundminer: before the DAW

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Radium

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Rack Presets

“COSMIC CHARGES” delivers unmatched versatility and creative liberty by offering sound effects in both a comprehensive stereo mix and individual stems. This innovative method empowers sound designers and editors to customize each effect according to their precise requirements, facilitating either the simplification or the enrichment of the sound.

But there’s more: the library’s distinctiveness is further enhanced by releasing the original Radium patch, the integrated sampler in Soundminer v6 Pro, with which I generated all the derivative sound effects that you will find in the Deluxe version.
 



Behind ‘COSMIC CHARGES’ — with Matteo Milani: Radium design


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Justin Drury‘s colossal work in developing Radium deserves special recognition: Radium’s integration with one’s own database of sound effects and musical elements has revolutionized the way sound designers interact with their libraries, offering users an extraordinary level of flexibility and creativity. Justin has ingeniously adapted the philosophy of the Synclavier, originally manufactured by New England Digital, and made it accessible in a software format with unmatched simplicity. I first met Justin and Steve from Soundminer in 2009 at the AES Convention in New York, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I began to fully integrate it into my workflow.

A personal confession: Gary Rydstrom, in his suite at Skywalker Sound, has a fully functioning Synclavier. I had the pleasure of playing the original Jurassic Park patch on it, the very one used to create the iconic dinosaur sounds—a moment that truly felt like touching a piece of cinema history.

Get 15 free sounds from Cosmic Charges:

 

Matteo Milani is generously giving away 15 free sounds from Cosmic Charges – Download them here (follow the link and click the “Download freebie SFX pack here” button to get the files – opens in a new window).

The use of Soundminer significantly improved my library management. Accumulating a large number of audio files is common, but organizing them effectively can be challenging: Soundminer’s robust metadata system allows me to categorize and access my personal sounds with ease, which in turn enhanced my daily creative process and efficiency (and with the integration of Universal Category System even better).

 

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Final thoughts

Each sound library is a narrative in itself, reflecting my exploration and discoveries. Collaborating with other artists and professionals brings new perspectives and dimensions to this work, enriching the final product with diverse influences and techniques.

So far, my work has proven beneficial for everyone who has used and continues to use my sounds, which were initially born out of my personal research and growth. There is no greater gratification than knowing that your sounds have been used around the world, without boundaries, in productions like the X-Files series, to name one, and more recently, as revealed by Peter Albrechtsen, in the intense horror film Evil Dead Rise (Peter you’re the best).

Special thanks to Asbjoern and the entire A Sound Effect team for hosting me here. Keep it going!

 

A big thanks to Matteo Milani for giving us a behind-the-scenes look at the designing the COSMIC CHARGES library!

 

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