Just what is wrong with sound effects these days?
There’s nothing wrong with sound effects per se – but a few years ago we realized that hearing the same old recordings over and over again was simply getting too much. Everyone uses the same sound effect libraries, and frankly, they’re getting REALLY long in the tooth. So I joined forces with Halfdan Auðrifýur to create the LiveSFX plugin.
What exactly is the LiveSFX plugin?
It’s a plugin that, in our humble opinion, can change the very understanding of what a sound effect is.
When you think about it, most sound effect libraries these days are all recordings of stuff like wind, birds, water sounds etc. They’re all the same. And they’re old. So what if you want something a bit fresher – something truly unique? What if someone could get you those sounds, recorded LIVE as you needed them?
That’s exactly what our LiveSFX plugin is all about.
We’ve spent the last three years building a complex, yet intuitive system that connects DAWs running the plugin directly with our team of field recordists (Auðrifýur and myself), live on Iceland. You tell us what you need – through the plugin -, and we’ll be out there, recording it real-time and sending it back via email.
But why Iceland? Well, A) because we live here, and B) think about those wind sounds etc I mentioned earlier. What would be a great – LIVE – source for all those? That’s right. Iceland.
We’ve got hot springs for bubbly sounds
We’ve got lots of shoreline, we’ve got wind, we’ve got hot springs for bubbly sounds, sea lions for Chewbacca sounds – and even volcanoes, for when you need those crazy explosions.
So what’s your process?
The process is actually quite simple, at least for the end-user: Using the plugin’s UI and a microphone, you simply shout the name of the sound you’re looking for; ‘EAGLE!’, for example. This request is then beamed up to our Reykjavík HQ, where we swiftly engage our entire team of field recordists (Auðrifýur and myself).In response, we promptly throw our recording equipment in the 4WD, drive around the island and do our very best to track down a fitting source. Once we find our target eagle, we start recording while you listen in.
If you need it to cry a bit louder – or just differently -, you simply tell that to the field recordist on the scene, via the plugin. He’ll then try to direct, or “coach”, the eagle accordingly.
The field recordist also comes carrying speakers, so you can talk directly to your target via the plugin, in case that works better.
We haven’t actually gotten this bit to work quite yet – but we envision that, using a combination of praise, scolding and reason, you’ll be able to almost “play” targets like the eagle, as a kind of living virtual instrument.
The recorded sounds are then sent directly to your email in real-time, ready to be used in the project you’re working on. Simple as that.
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How about the pricing?
To us, it’s not the duration or number of sounds that matter. We simply charge by the distance we need to travel to get you a particular sound. Say you need a recording of an Atlantic Puffin, and we need to drive 3 kilometers to get that. That’ll be three dollars, then.
Does your system always work?
Halfdan Auðrifýur does some amazing bird impressions, and his elk sounds are simply breathtaking.
Well, if it’s really lousy weather, we’d rather stay in, to be honest. Halfdan Auðrifýur does some amazing bird impressions, and his elk sounds are simply breathtaking.
Personally, I’m quite the expert at imitating the sound of glass. We use those as fall-back sounds when we’re in a tight spot, or if it rains too hard.
What’s next for your project?We’ll likely go open source with the project around April 1st next year – and through that platform, we want to create a global army of field recordists that can be dispatched within minutes anywhere in the world.
Also, space is a goal for us. There’s a huge market for sci-fi sounds in movies and games, so having having one or several recordists out there doing live recording is obviously a no-brainer.
Long-term, we’d like to get rid of the human element altogether and simply replace the recordists with drones. And, using a device called an A.F.D., or ‘Autonomous Field Drone’, experiments are already well underway.
Thanks to Ingi Hjálmtýr and Halfdan Auðrifýur for sharing their insights. The LiveSFX VST plugin will go into beta next month – and as mentioned, there are plans to make it open source, allowing field recordists everywhere to take full advantage of their local surroundings and wildlife.
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