indoor weapon sound effects Asbjoern Andersen


There are lots of excellent weapon sound effects libraries out there – but weapons SFX libraries that are recorded indoors are incredibly hard to come by. That changes with The London Warehouse Firearms library, the debut indie SFX release from Steve Whetman, former Head of Audio on Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and many other projects.

He gained access to an abandoned warehouse, and he sure made the most of that, recording lots of weapons in lots of different indoor locations. Here’s the story behind the making of a weapons library that sent the ceiling tiles jumping:

 

Hi Steve, welcome to A Sound Effect – please introduce yourself:

Hi! I’m a freelance Audio Director, Sound Designer and Recordist. I have my own company called Audiobeast, I’m based at Pinewood Studios in Shepperton and I work on games and films for Pinewood and all sorts of other clients. Previously I was at Splash Damage where I was Head of Audio on Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Dirty Bomb and the multiplayer half of Batman: Arkham Origins.
 

What’s The London Warehouse Firearms library all about?

It’s a library of high quality recordings of guns in various interior spaces, created for sound designers and editors in the games, film and tv industry. I know these sort of recordings are hard to get – and I’m sometimes asked to help people get them – so I thought I’d sort out a library.
 

How did you come up with the idea of recording an indoor firearms library? And what was your approach and recording setup for the library?

While working at Splash Damage I got the chance to do quite a lot of weapon recording and sound design, I did almost all the guns for Gears of War: UE and Dirty Bomb for example. I wanted those guns to be unique with lots of character and – especially in the case of Gears of War – they had to be huge-sounding, they needed to be the biggest-sounding/feeling guns of any franchise.

I tried worldizing stuff in various environments and that worked to an extent, but you can’t beat actually firing a weapon in a space

To date I’ve done around a dozen gun recording sessions including over 60 guns, anti tank missiles, grenades and other things that go bang, but they were mostly outdoors. There isn’t much library material out there for indoor weapons and the stuff that exists has been used a lot. I tried worldizing stuff in various environments and that worked to an extent, but you can’t beat actually firing a weapon in a space – the blast just pushes so much air. So I had the idea of making an affordable library of all the sort of interior weapon recordings that I would find useful, massive warehouses, offices, stairwell etc, common environments for shooters. I may follow this up with more spaces in the future.


Examples from The London Warehouse Firearms library

I’ve refined my approach for recording weapons through trial and error, experimentation and discussion with friends at DICE and other studios. I’ve documented some previous sessions on my blog where I have videos showing what mics have worked, where they were positioned, and what didn’t work. This is to help people who want to do a weapons session and don’t really know where to start, but experimentation is key. If you were to summarise my approach, and this is an over-simplification really, but you can roughly work out where your mics should be positioned depending on the SPL ratings and work from there with a variety of shotguns, cardoids, omnis and other mics.

What weapons did you record for the library?

Just a few carefully selected weapons – Steyr .50 cal sniper rifle, Browning M2 .50 cal machine gun, M1911 pistol, H&K 416 assault rifle, Remington 870 pump action shotgun and a Brown Bess black powder musket.
Various_indoor_weapons
I have lots of recordings of weapons fired outdoors where it’s possible to trim the tail in order to get a fairly neutral initial gunshot, and lots of sound designers I talk to have lots of that material too, so what myself and other people seem to need is spaces. Firing a few different type/calibre weapons in various spaces to capture different tails. Switching or blending that content in a game engine or in a scene of a film is much more realistic and characterful than using reverbs. When you listen to Dirty Bomb, Battlefield or Star Citizen’s FPS module, you can hear this sort of technique working in real time. When films do gun sound design well a lot of it comes from using recordings from different distances and perspectives, to sell the space and the threat/exchange of fire.
 

Weapons recording in an office

Weapons recording in an office

What locations did you record in – and how did you find those locations?

I was tipped off about an empty warehouse in an industrial complex in the outskirts of London, and it looked perfect for what I wanted. Lots of different spaces in one complex, we would be able to move the setup several times in one day to capture as many spaces as possible. There were no houses or busy shopping streets nearby, so recording on the weekend meant the area was very quiet.
 
 
 

I can imagine safety being a concern when making a library like this. How did you handle that?

Considering the current global climate and the use of firearms, it means that filming or recording them is about being careful and respectful. I work with very safety conscious armourers who handle the weapons, and I’ve built up a relationship with the Metropolitan Police so that if they get a call about hearing gunshots it can be checked while they’re on the phone and they can be reassured that authorised sound recording is taking place and nothing bad is happening. A lot of people don’t realise you can record firearms in the UK and assume you have to go abroad to do it, but anyone can organise this sort of recording session as long as you carefully follow a few clear steps, I’m happy to give advice to anyone who wants to organise their own session.
 

Interior weapon recordings include:

 
Weapons fired in the large and medium warehouse spaces:
• Browning M2 .50 Machine Gun
• Steyr HS .50 M1 Sniper Rifle
• H&K 416 5.56 Assault Rifle
• Remington 870 12g Pump Action Shotgun
• Brown Bess Black Powder Musket
• Colt M1911 .45 ACP Pistol

Weapons fired in the stairwell, office and small room spaces:
• H&K 416 5.56 Assault Rifle
• Colt M1911 .45 ACP Pistol

 

What was it like when the recordings took place?

You don’t realise how much dust there is in a building until you shoot a .50 cal sniper rifle in there, and then you find out! Ceiling tiles were jumping, lights were shaking and thick clouds of dust came from everywhere limiting visibility and the amount of time we could do a take for.

Ceiling tiles were jumping, lights were shaking and thick clouds of dust came from everywhere

You feel the shockwave in your chest from the Steyr more than a lot of guns, even a few metres away, its hard to overstate just how extremely powerful it is. While the DPA4062 is my favourite mic for strapping to a gun for its unique capacity to handle very high spl, the Steyr .50 cal sniper rifle is just too loud for it, that’s the only gun from the session where I couldn’t attach the 4062, well I did, and the recordings weren’t useable haha. On the other hand I was surprised that the 4062 would handle the black powder musket without getting melted or singed, if you look at the slow motion video of the musket firing you can see the 4062 cable leading right up to the where the hammer is. It’s a pretty hardcore little mic and get’s you right up close to the firing mechanism, a bit like being in the gun.
 

What are some of your favorite sounds in the library?

The stairwell was a bit of a surprise, I’ve worldized gun sounds on stairs before but this was something else, massive pulsating swells of bass and metallic ringing, with many of the mics at the edge of the SPL they’re able to capture.

Recording in a stairwell

Recording in a stairwell

Also, I’ve always found beautiful high end mics like the Neumann RSM191 work really well on guns, very dependable with a rich frequency response that can be positioned close to the shooter and full of character, but there’s something about the Olympus line of handheld recorders that I love. I have the LS5 which cost just over £100, and you can put it almost anywhere and it always gets fantastic results, I love it and recommend them to anyone.

Any other questions about the library, you’re very welcome to leave a comment below.

 

Please share this:


 

A big thanks to Steve Whetman for the story behind his brand-new indoor weapon library!
Get the unique The London Warehouse Firearms library below:

 
 
  • Weapons The London Warehouse Firearms Library – Indoor Guns Play Track 291+ sounds included, 240 mins total
    Rated 5.00 out of 5
    $199

    Audiobeast is proud to present our first sample library; the first library of its kind to focus entirely on weapons being fired in interior spaces!

    The London Warehouse Weapons Library contains over 6 GBs of weapons being fired in a large warehouse, medium warehouse, stairwell, office and small room. 291 WAV files all recorded at 96 khz 24 bit, with heaps of information on microphones used and distance from the firearms.

    Various distances were captured, from the DPA4062 on the guns themselves, to the distant other end of the warehouse 50 metres away. To add, some mics were positioned behind doors and walls to capture the occluded gunfire.

    As well as all the firing we've included all the foley as well, because while convolution reverb is great, nothing beats actual content!

    Minimal cleanup on the recordings was carried out very carefully by Steve Whetman in his room at Pinewood Studios, so as not to introduce any artefacts into the recordings, they are presented as raw as possible.

    Weapons fired in the large and medium warehouse spaces:
    • Browning M2 .50 Machine Gun
    • Steyr HS .50 M1 Sniper Rifle
    • H&K 416 5.56 Assault Rifle
    • Remington 870 12g Pump Action Shotgun
    • Brown Bess Black Powder Musket
    • Colt M1911 .45 ACP Pistol
    Weapons fired in the stairwell, office and small room spaces:
    • H&K 416 5.56 Assault Rifle
    • Colt M1911 .45 ACP Pistol

    Due to safety restrictions it was not possible to fire the bigger weapons in the smaller spaces, the ceiling was shaking while recording the Assault Rifle in the office and stairwell and came close to collapsing. Physically the Browning M2 .50 calibre Machine Gun would not even fit on the stairwell or in the small room.

    Add to cart
 

 
 
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:
 
 
  • Roomtones & Ext. Ambiences House Tones Play Track 57+ sounds included, 114 mins total $40

    House Tones by Badlands Sound features 57 two minute seamless loopable roomtones totaling of almost two hours of different room tones found in a home including Bathrooms, Basements, Bedrooms, Closets, Garages, Home Offices, Laundry Rooms, Kitchens, Living Rooms, Showers, and Utility Room.

    This sound library was recorded with professional gear including the Sound Devices 702t, Rycote ORTF, and a pair of Sennheiser MKH 8040’s creating high quality roomtones of 96k / 24 bit.

    If you are looking for house or apartment room tones then this library is for you. All files in this product have great file names and metadata with descriptive words with no number lists.

    Add to cart
  • Whooshes Airy Whooshes Play Track 409 sounds included $29

    Over 400 focused sound design accents of airy swooshes, subtle swipes, thin whooshes, and breathy fly-ins.

    This collection features:

    • Each clip is trimmed into its own file.
    • Available in multiple pitches and speeds.
    • Meticulously named and organized in both metadata and folder classification.
    • Includes 18+ fields of professional Soundminer, BWAV, and MacOS Finder metadata.
    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Urban Explosions Play Track 2417+ sounds included From: $119

    Welcome to the world's biggest explosion sound effects library:

    When you carry the word „BOOM“ in your company name, your first dedicated explosion sound effects library should be a decent one. For the recordings, we teamed up with the sound department of EA DICE (Battlefield, Star Wars Battlefront) and we created the biggest explosion sound FX library ever. DICE uses the recordings heavily to impressively blow up the world in their AAA title Battlefield V and now you can get the recordings and our ready-to-use designed sounds in stereo and 5.1 surround for your very own projects. It’s a highly explosive pack with 13.4GB of explosion sound effects.

    Urban Explosions Construction Kit:

    Recorded in real urban environments
    Why Urban Explosions? Most explosions in movies, games or trailers don’t happen out on a plain field, they happen in urban environments with buildings around them that shape the character of the explosion sound in a very specific way. The special thing about our urban explosions sound FX library is that it has been recorded in a real urban environment, so you get super-realistic reverbs and tails instead of artificially processed post-production reverbs or tails that don’t sound urban at all. For the sake of completeness, we also recorded a non-urban explosion on a plain field, so you’re covered here as well.

    Multi-Channel Recordings with up to 42 Channels
    We had a lot of microphones with us and we placed them in all possible positions around the explosion spot. We have very close mics, close mics, medium distance mics, distant mics, mics in front of buildings, mics behind buildings, mics inside of buildings. Each explosion in the URBAN EXPLOSIONS CONSTRUCTION KIT comes with a minimum of 24 channels, including a 4 channel ambisonic file, so you can simply drag all channels to your DAW and easily mix the sound exactly as you want.

    Sweeteners
    You’re looking for a more supernatural sound or your mix misses a bit of impact, smack, punch, tail, cackling, rumbling or character? No problem, the CONSTRUCTION KIT has a lot of great high-quality sweeteners that will easily enrich your mix in the desired way.

    Urban Explosions Designed:

    Incredibly versatile
    Our DESIGNED edition comes with a myriad of ready-to-use explosion sound FX in the categories INDOOR, NEUTRAL & URBAN, each of them in SMALL, MEDIUM & LARGE explosion sizes. Beyond that, you have the choice between MEDIUM and FAR distances, FAST or SLOW explosions and a MODERN, SOFT, CRISP or DISTORTED character. With this range of sounds, you’re certainly sure to find the right one for your scene.

    Stereo & 5.1 Surround
    In addition to the stereo version our sound designers created 5.1 surround versions for each sound so you are fully prepared to implement your creative surround vision with ease.

    Designed by 4 Award-Winning Sound Designers
    We consider sound design as a craftsmanship and we’re very happy and proud to rely on the talent of four awesome sound designers that really know their trade.

    Urban Explosions Bundle:

    THE BUNDLE – The best of both worlds at a discounted price
    The Bundle gives you the full sound design power as it contains both – the DESIGNED and the CONSTRUCTION KIT edition at a discounted price.

 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Drones & Moods The Case Play Track 185 sounds included, 41 mins total $30 $10

    Need to create suspense, tension, action and mystery in your production? “The Case” is great for you.

    Like my library UNSOLVED this pack is Inspired by crime/investigation movies and series, and contains 185 sounds (Wav, 24 Bit / 48 kHz) aimed to enhance the tension and drama of movies, games, series, trailers and musical compositions.

    You will find deep Bass Loops, powerful Percussive Loops (kick, hi-hat, hits, metal), Cinematic Melodies and notes (synth, clean electric guitar, percussive piano) and Fx (soundscapes, atmospheric elements, drops, hits and impacts).

    You will get:

    • 37 bass loops
    • 37 cinematic melodies
    • 67 percussive elements
    • 44 Fx

    This library has a nice mixture of sound design and music. It can be used to create moments of suspense and tension from a sound designe perspective or from a musical perspective thanks to the bass/percussion loops and melodies.

    67 %
    OFF
    Ends 1559253600
  • Drones & Moods Sonikscape Play Track 338 sounds included, 191 mins total $74

    SONIKSCAPE has been produced to create intense underscore, dark atmospheres and abstract textures.

    This collection comes packed with cinematic soundscapes, vocal atmospheres, textures out of processed flutes, ghost breaths and vocal effects, dark low oscillations and subsonic frequencies, bowed cymbals, psychological screech and more.

    Dedicated to the movie trailer, suspenseful film and television soundtrack, dark ambient music, audio-visual installation and sound artist.

    Sonikscape is a collaboration between SampleTraxx and German sound designer Sebastian Emling who already collaborated on Cinematic Zither and Old Broken Piano.

  • Destruction & Impact Rituals Play Track 550+ sounds included, 100 mins total $110 $85

    Rituals is a new toolbox of unique sounds and production elements, organic instruments and hybrid processing, highly stylized cinematic sound design to compose epic and sinister tracks with dark and ominous mood that brings visuals to another level.

    Rituals has been produced for the modern horror trailer style and suspence score with eerie violin fragments and phrases, sinister soundscapes, dramatic benders, destructive glitch, distorted synths, heavy hitting sound design elements, clocks and much more.

    Featuring 550 cutting edge sounds and 16 categories, this is a collaboration between composer, sound designer and electronic musician Si Begg and SampleTraxx.

     

    Categories:

    01 Tortured Strings
    02 Bender
    03 Feedback Larsen
    04 Horror Hits
    05 Pulsing Sub
    06 Tonal Objects
    07 Dark Event
    08 Dark Textures
    09 Flute Swells
    10 Horror Loops
    11 Low Hits
    12 Raw Synth – Bass
    13 Swell
    14 Riser
    15 Reverse
    16 Spare Noise
    23 %
    OFF
    Ends 1559167200
  • Water & Oceans Ancient Sea Ruins Play Track 10 sounds included, 53 mins total $19.99 $14.99

    ANCIENT SEA RUINS is a collection of 10, high quality, detail-rich sea ambiences.
    Waves splashing on Roman ruins, gurgling, lapping, swells, water movement between rocks and more.

    Collection consist of 10 (53 min total time) high quality recordings (192kHz 24bit) of sea water traveling through old Roman ruins. Interesting and unique sounding wave patterns, gurgles, swells and wave collapsing onto one another. Many states of the sea from peaceful lapping and subtle gurgling to large swells.

    All the recording are free from city noises.

    All SFX have baked-in Soundminer’s meta data.

    LOCATION: Costa Blanca, ES
    RECORDED WITH: Sound Devices MixPre 6 + 2x Sennheiser MKH 8040 (ORTF)
    EDITED AND MASTERED WITH: Pro Tools, FabFilter.

    25 %
    OFF
    Ends 1559167200
  • Water & Oceans SHORES island Play Track 45 sounds included $54 $42.70

    SHORES island edition features both varieties of beaches and cliffs from Oshima island, Japan, and extra harbors & boats are also included.
    While calm beaches have relaxing atmospheres, cliffs sound aggressive that like onboard ships. And others like rocky beaches create colorful sounds.

    Recorded with ortf, spaced omni, wide A-B and carefully edited.

    Video Thumbnail
    21 %
    OFF
    Ends 1559253600
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

2 thoughts on “How Steve Whetman created a unique (and powerful!) indoor weapon SFX library:

  1. Great article! I’m working on a project now that will really shine using these recordings. Thanks for sharing so much information about your recording technique. Hopefully I get the priveledge of applying that knowledge to one of my own weapon recording sessions one day!

  2. Hey Mike, glad you enjoyed the write up! If you have any specific questions about the library or this sort of recording session in general don’t hesitate to give me a shout! Cheers, Steve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.