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The following is a guest blog post by sound designer Mark Camperell, Founder & Creative Director at Empty Sea Audio and its sister company, The Library by Empty Sea:
 
Behold, the sound effects library. The only library I know of where you won’t be told to “SHHHHHHH.” What a glorious notion!

For sound designers in search of source material, there are so many options to choose from.

On one side, you have the big boys like The Hollywood Edge, Blastwave FX, Sound Dogs and Sound Ideas. And on the other side there are small, independent producers like Rabbit Ears Audio, A Hiss and A Roar, Unidentified Sound Object and Echo Collective. And there are all the others in between.

If you’ve made the decision to join the ranks of the sound designers out there that are releasing independent sound libraries, you’ve probably got a lot of a questions on your mind.

I aim to address some of these questions and hopefully provide some guidance for folks looking to explore the entrepreneurial world of independent sound effects libraries.

Hopefully, I encourage you to get out there and do it!
 

What to do, what to do?

The first hurdle to clear when releasing a collection of sounds is deciding what to record or create. This can be quite daunting because really, the sky is the limit.

There are two schools of thought in regards to the what: Create something that people need a lot of, or create something that is extremely unique and hard to find/duplicate.

Starting out, try something that you have relatively easy access to. You could have an uncle that’s a marine officer and can get you onto base to record some maneuvers. Or you could have a friend that has a fully restored, hot-rodded ’57 Chevy that sounds killer!

Chances are, you know someone that can get you around something that sounds cool. When you’re starting out, you don’t necessarily want to have to shell out a bunch of dough just to get access to something awesome. If you settle on something that isn’t exactly unique, then make it something that is created in a unique or different way.

Most importantly of all though, make it something that you would want to buy and use yourself!

If you’re going the designed route, make sure you’re starting with source material that you have ownership of.

Notice, I keep saying create. Sound libraries don’t always have to be raw sounds recorded in the field. They can be designed or synthesized also. If you’re going the designed route, make sure you’re starting with source material that you have ownership of.

When it comes to sound libraries that you sell, you should ONLY design with sounds that you record yourself. This protects from any legal woes down the line.

 

Now the how

This is a delicate topic. Ask ten different sound designers which mic to use for a particular application and you’re liable get ten different answers.

I’ve always been of the school of thought that if you capture an interesting sound or performance, the quality of the gear shouldn’t matter as much as some would like you to think. Some folks get all caught up on the specs of the gear that they’re using.

Focus your energy on capturing interesting sounds in a way that makes the most sense.

Don’t worry about your gear. Focus your energy on capturing interesting sounds in a way that makes the most sense.

I’ve got a whole folder of stuff that I recorded with my smartphone’s built-in microphone, the contents of which regularly make it into projects I’m working on. Not the most ideal, but if it’s a cool sound, it’s a cool sound and I’ll find a way to use it. Okay, getting off the soapbox…

Some collections will beg for multiple perspectives.

Car collections for instance might have 6+ channels of material being captured at once. A collection of switches and buttons might only need 1 or 2 channels. 6 channels would be overkill. Be smart and efficient with regards to your gear choices.

 

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I always like to map out my collections up front so I know if I can accomplish my goal with the gear I already possess or if I need to rent additional equipment.

If you’re in the field, choose only the essential gear you need to get the job done. Don’t load up your 50 pound car battery if you know you’re not going to need it. Remember that limitations can be helpful.

I often times will only give myself 2 channels to work with. It forces me to use my ears to find the sweet-spot which in the end can result in a better recording.

Try miking things in unusual ways. Try contact miking. Don’t just record an interesting sounding item, try recording it in a unique setting. Try miking the item underwater or in a giant culvert.
 

Coverage is king

When you’ve decided on what you’re recording, record ALL of it.

Just like with shooting video or film, you want coverage on the item. Especially if it’s an item that was difficult to gain access to. You don’t want to have to go back later because you missed something.

Obviously there are limitations to this, but do your best.

If you’ve settled on releasing a car sound pack, make sure you’re recording EVERY single sound the car makes. Get the hood, doors and trunk opening and closing. Get all of the locks, handles, knobs, buttons and sliders. Get all of its compartments.

 

I can’t emphasize this enough, GET IT ALL!

How about the windshield wipers? Gas tank? Turn signal sound? Radio static? Fan belts, why not?

There is so much more to a car than just the engine, wheel-wells and tailpipe. I can’t emphasize this enough, GET IT ALL!

Yeah, it’ll make for a lot of material to sift through later, but you’ll be thankful you have it. You might not use it all for this particular pack, but you might use it for another release later on!

With some smaller objects and only if you can afford it, you should even consider purposefully misusing the item at the very end to produce malfunction, damage or destruction sounds.

These are always unique and so many games and films feature destruction, so you know they’ll come in handy.
 

Read part two of this guide, where Mark Camperell takes a look at the post processing and the delicate art of pricing your sound effect library.

Jump to part two
 

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About Mark Camperell:

Mark Camperell is the Founder & Creative Director at Empty Sea Audio and its sister company,
The Library by Empty Sea. Mark’s direction, along with his ability to assemble uniquely talented audio teams, is positioning Empty Sea as a leader in creative audio services ranging from sound effects libraries to original music composition to full service post audio packages. In addition to his position at Empty Sea, Mark is also a freelance Supervising Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixer and Music Producer with over 100 titles under his belt. Mark is an active member of the Motion Picture Sound Editors and Motion Picture Editors Guild.

The Library by Empty Sea:

  • Drones & Moods Dronos Play Track 154 sounds included, 154 mins total

    Brand New Sci-Fi Ambiences from The Library by Empty Sea. 6+ GB, 150+ sounds, almost 3 hours of material, all 96k, all looped for easy use.

  • Tired of those same old door knobs and hinge squeaks that you hear in every single game, film and TV show? Well, Gateway aims to remedy that issue while providing you with a brand new palette of sounds.

    Gateway comes packed with doors, doors and more doors! Low end, high end, slow horror creaks and squeaks, huge slams and impacts, tiny compartment doors.

    The Gateway family now includes the just-released Gateway Part 3, with more than 1400 new sounds.

    Doors, gates, overhead rollups, cabinets, closets, drawers, garage doors, fireplaces, sheds, you name it!

    Latches and knobs, wrought iron and chain link! Metal, wood, glass and MORE! All of these doors were acoustically captured in the real world. You won’t find anything synthesized here!

    Did we mention doors? Yeah, Gateway has those too.

    Gateway Part 1 features 675 files, 1200+ sounds

    Gateway Part 2 features 365 files, 600+ sounds

    Gateway Part 3 features 772 files, 1400+ sounds

    The Gateway 1-3 Bundle features 1812 files, 3200+ sounds

    Special offer:
    Do you already have Gateway Part 1 or 2? Send a message here for a special upgrade offer for part 3.

    Choose your preferred version below – or land some great savings by getting all three in one handy package!

    Sale!
  • Mechanical Robobiotics Play Track 3600+ sounds included

    Robobiotics is an exciting new sound effects collection from The Library by Empty Sea. It delivers 3600+ original sound effects for scifi and robots. We’re talking about almost 3 hours of material here.

    We spent over a year recording and designing Lasers, Robot Vox, Impacts, Servos, Ratcheting Metal, Ambiances, Transformations, Foley, Vehicle Bys and much much more!

  • Sea Monsters from The Library by Empty Sea is a collection containing over 4000 sound effects for creature vocals. This collection weighs in at a whopping 9GB!

    A must-have for any sound designer looking to level up on creature sound design.

  • This collection contains over 1400 original sound effects for user interfaces, telemetry, gadgetry and more.

 
 
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THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
  • Foley Coins Play Track 105 sounds included

    ‘Coins’ by Badlands Sound includes 100+ clean and high-quality coin sounds. Everything from one coin, a few, too many coins dropping on various surfaces like wood, water, metal, and other coins. Also, includes Foley sounds of grabbing coins perfect for film and video games.

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  • Human Crowds – American Protest Play Track 154 sounds included, 138 mins total

    After the presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016, many Americans have taken to the streets to express their opposition. This library features many chants from various crowd sizes including: “Black Lives Matter” “We reject the president elect!” “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!” and many more. Also included are isolated crowd cheers, walla, and distant speeches.

    Recordings were made on 11-12-2016 and 1-21-2017 in Los Angeles, CA, USA. Microphone used: Sennheiser MKH40+30.

    100% of the profits from this library will be donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    Non-Profit organizations may utilize this library free of charge. Please contact Audio Shade directly to receive a copy after verification of organization credentials.

  • Weapons Assault Weapons Play Track Up to 1200+ sounds included

    ASSAULT WEAPONS is a strong pack of 25 different weapons captured in 96kHz/24bit audio. A heavy arsenal of sounds for a myriad of purposes: sniper rifles, submachine and machine guns, assault rifles, anti-materiel rifles, grenade launcher recordings and more!

    The ASSAULT WEAPONS pack delivers weapon sounds for every kind of setting and size needed, whether it's for single shots or some massive, heavy gunfire.

    The DESIGNED versions is packed with more than 2GB of pre-designed, ready-to-use HD-Sounds that will instantly work in your project – perfect for tight deadlines.

    The CONSTRUCTION KIT provides you with more than 14GB of plain source recordings, including 18-channel multitrack recordings, impulse responses for easy environment placing and some sweeteners like mechanics, bullet impacts and gun tails.
     

    The BUNDLE features both versions above at a discounted price.

    Pick your preferred version below:

Explore the full, unique collection here
 

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