Download a selection of sounds from this project here
Put a System in Place
The creative process can be very chaotic by nature. Sometimes it can feel more like a discovery process than anything else. Without some guidelines or limitations to direct what the approach should be time is at risk. Without an organizational system, the ability to track progress or assign goals becomes flimsy. In the case of building a personal sound library, it’s possible to lose really great material in the chaos of working on projects or demo reels.
It’s easy to get frustrated trying to conform a creative workflow to a rigid system. Sometimes the steps or order initially put in place will fail or become obsolete. Accepting that this is ok and in itself part of the process is important. Systems and approaches can be changed over time and should be. Have the system in place for getting sound into your personal library, use it and improve it. Do not expect it to be perfect at first.
Things to think about in building your system for sound library creation:
– After finishing recording, and importing the files on a computer where do they go?
– How will they be found again in the future?
– After editing the sounds what happens to the originals? Where do the edited sounds go?
– How will sounds that change or become manipulated heavily over time be traced back?
Active Versus Passive Library Curation
When I am adding to my personal library of sounds I have two different mental modes of operation. When time permits I engage in active library building. This is an in depth exploration and creation based on ideas, props or design aesthetics that I’ve had on my mind. These are usually self contained projects of their own. The goal in mind is to add a lot of new material to my personal library and potentially offer it to others.
Most of the time, I’m in a more passive mode. My personal goal is to try and record something every day. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Ideally I don’t spend more than 15-30 minutes doing this. Over time this naturally expands my library and can easily lend itself to new ideas that I can actively expand on later when time permits. Patterns also start to emerge, eventually it will make sense that a group of material recorded passively works well together and might be something worth releasing as a commercial library.
Build a Foundation for Success
Making an effort to cultivate your own library of sounds can feel daunting. Especially after a day of dealing with a regular workload, setting aside time for library building can quickly get written off. In addition to setting up a system and making everything about how you’re going to do this look great on paper, you have to then actually do itn There are a few very simple adjustments that can be made to help.
First of all, be ready to record. Personally, I hate setting stuff up. I suspect this is common. At the minimum I always have a mobile recording rig ready to go, only needing to turn it on. Even if it’s just a handheld recorder.
With handheld recorders I do recommend also having some wind protection and a mini tripod. Wind and handling noise can be pretty inexpensive to prevent and these items will save time in your editing process.
Maybe you don’t mind setting stuff up but perhaps there is some other barrier. Identify the friction in your workflow and try to eliminate it.
Look for ways to create positive feedback loops in your workflow. Need to update your demo-reel? Great – make sure every sound you design or record makes it back into your personal library. In this case make it a learning opportunity too and try crazy ideas. Maybe you don’t care for exactly how this design work turned out. Well, all that sound could be just great down the road in a different context. So save it!
• Want to create an independent sound effects library? Do this crucial step first
• DIY SFX libraries – Your guide to your first sound effects library
• Sound Effects Survey – what people are looking for (new 2020 version coming soon)
Recording and techniques
• The Essential Primer to Recording Car Sound Effects
• Recording Adventures: Preparing for a successful field recording trip
• How To Record Extremely Loud Things – Randy Coppinger interviews Chuck Russom and Michael Raphael
• 5 Useful Tips for Creative Urban Field Recording
• The Essential Guide To Recording Weapon Sound Effects – With Watson Wu
• How to record exceptional animal sound effects: Behind the making of Animal Hyperrealism II
• Legendary Nature Recordist Gordon Hempton on His Quest to Capture a Quiet Planet
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