Hi Paul, you’ve just released a new SFX library called Tools – what’s included, and how did you go about creating it?
Machines are one of my favorite field recording subjects. I especially like recording custom or rare machines, such as the high-performance engines found in race cars, or unusual motors heard in construction machinery. Because they’re built for focused purposes, they always have cool, unique voices. And you can twist and warp those afterwards for sound design, if you like.
I have always been drawn to power tools for the same reason. While I’m not a mechanic or carpenter myself, I grew up around these tools. I spent many hours in machine shops, carpenter studios, and auto garages. I was fascinated by the machines. Depending on the tool, they can have aggressive, savage sounds, or fine, precise whines.
So, I initially began recording these tools a few years ago. Part of me wanted to document the massive range of voices of these tools. I also wanted them to be performed correctly. So, I worked with actual professional tradesmen. That allowed me access to the elite tools found in pro shops: pneumatic ratchets and impact wrenches and so on. More importantly, though, these helpful pros performed the tools properly.
That was essential to providing the detail I wanted in the sound library. Each tool has a large amount of voices. A power saw’s voice, for example, can vary depending on the lumber it’s cutting, the type of blade, and its depth and angle.
The library tidily catalogs all these different voices so listeners can choose what’s best for their projects, or to compare them.
I also recorded the library in “quad”. Most tool libraries I heard before were recorded closely, and that’s good. I captured takes near each tool. I also added an additional stereo pair at a distance. That matches each close take, but gives more room that may better match the picture in listener’s projects.
The result was 250 sound clips and almost six gigs of audio. The majority are 4-channel recordings. I covered pneumatic tools, power tools, and also regular hand tools, too. There are over 60 tool types, ranging from demolition hammers, abrasive saws, lathes, and jointers to the humble hammers and drills we all have at home. Because there’s so much, I included photos and a “spec sheet” that helps identify the tools and match them to listeners’s projects.
Here’s a preview of Tools:
You’ve also done two releases called Half & Half Sound Packs – what’s the concept behind these?
The Half & Half Sound FX Packs take a different approach than the Tool Sound Effects library.
A few months ago I was searching through my sound library and reflecting on what people need to get their projects completed, and out the door. That’s an important consideration when you’re hustling an edit under a tight schedule.
Many projects need a balance of clips. The first are the specific, focused tracks that match the action on screen: cameras, crowd reactions, and so. They also need longer atmosphere beds that lay beneath these shorter clips: rivers and birds, etc. So, I decided to release a collection that provides exactly that.
The Half & Half Sound FX Packs offer 50 popular specific sound clips, and 50 longer ambiences. My thought was that would provide people a rounded selection of both types of tools they need. It’s intended to supplement their existing sound effects collection.
Pack 1 and 2 offer different families of sounds. My favorites from Pack 1 include the crowd cheers, protest crowds, and station ambiences. Pack 2 features a variety subtle museum crowds, and a mix of construction ambiences, along with specific electronics and technology and motor clips. There is plenty of additional variation the packs, too, and each totals in excess of 4 gigabytes.
Here’s what Half & Half FX Pack 01 sounds like:
And here’s Half & Half FX Pack 02:
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