Asbjoern Andersen

Ben Jaszczak and his team of sound design students are taking a new approach when it comes to sound library creation. With just $1 needed to back the project on Kickstarter, the project will allow easy access to an extensive collection of weapon recordings. I spoke with him about the project:

How did you come up with the idea for The Firearm Sound Library project?

My friends and I have been producing short films since high school and we have always been looking for ways to improve our production value. After starting my degree in Sound Design at Michigan Technological University, a couple of friends and I realized the awesome opportunity we had to make a sound effect library that a lot of artists currently don’t have access to.

Living in Houghton, a place where hunting is very popular, we have access to firearms through a lot of people in the community, and with the skills we have developed in college, we are in a position to make a library that takes into account many of the overlooked nuances of firearms as well as taking great care to provide high quality recordings that do the gun sounds justice.

Say someone backs your project on Kickstarter – what happens next?

Hopefully they share it with their friends!

With only one reward for one dollar we are trying something pretty out of the box. We are looking for a community of people to make this happen because we want this to be absolutely free to everyone once it is made.

On top of that we are working to find more firearms to add to our library, as well as to find opportunities to make more unique and useful sounds, which we will be updating on Kickstarter throughout the project, and people can see what is happening while we continue to reach out and develop our project.

What happens once the Kickstarter campaign finishes?

First, we need to order ammunition, which is very significant cost-wise and time-wise.

We want to have enough to be sure we can record all the sounds we need, and to account for any issues that require us to go back out and record again. We will also order our audio equipment, which we will be announcing on our page this Wednesday.

Next comes the location prep. Up here in the Upper Peninsula we get a lot of snow, which is good, because on a calm day with new snow we will have increased sound dampening for our recordings which will improve the malleability of our sounds.

We are also looking into snow constructions that will allow us to further isolate gun sounds and possibly create certain indoor environments to shoot within.

Once the ammo comes in we are off to setting up and shooting, which we are looking to do the bulk of over Christmas break, since we won’t have school to take up our time.

After that we need to make sure our recordings meet our expectations, and then we will mix, master and publish!

What’s your recording experience, approach and what equipment will you be using?

Two of our team members are majoring in Sound Design at MTU. For part of our curriculum we developed small sound effects libraries pertaining to specific sounds, mine being gun textures.

Our other Sound Designer, Matt, just finished working as one of two principal audio engineers on an independent feature length film. We have also used some of the equipment we currently have to go out and practice recording gunshots and to get a feel for what it will take to make this library awesome.

Planning the recording setup

Planning the recording setup

One thing I can say is that the right microphone is critical for this application, especially when it comes to the microphones near the gun.

We will be recording with 7 microphones. 2 MXL991s at 20 yards, 2 Sennheiser 416s at 10 yards, an SM57 pointed at the muzzle, a Rode NT-3 alongside the gun and a Rode NT-4 behind the shooter.

This will be recorded at 192KHz at 24 bits on the Tascam DR-680. We are still looking into other possibilities to improve our gear setup, so everything I mentioned is subject to change, but for the better.

What weapons do you plan on recording – and how many sounds do you expect to end up with?

Currently we are estimating 1,100 sounds from the 21 firearms we currently list which includes gunshots, suppressed fire, gun textures and bullet impacts.

We are talking with friends and contacts to obtain more firearms to use for our library, and we hope to share some exciting news on that subject soon!


What’s the current status of the project?

We are very close to reaching the halfway point for our funding. We began the project scouting locations, obtaining legal ability to use a suppressor, and figuring out what we would need to set up and record this library.

Currently, we are looking into including more guns, and improving the gear setup to maximize the quality of our recordings.

Aside from that we are putting a lot of effort into spreading our project on social media, answering questions, working with feedback on our project and double checking all our steps to make sure we can hit the ground running when the Kickstarter ends!

Thanks a lot to Ben Jaszczak for taking the time to talk about their project. You can read more about The Firearm Sound Library, and support the team here.

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2 thoughts on “Kickstarting SFX: An interview With Ben Jaszczak On The Firearm Sound Library

  1. Hello gents.
    Just contributed to your project.Great initiative guys!
    I have a few interrogation though, knowing how complicated these sessions are to make happen.
    Your listing is most certainly complete, but on the equipment side, from the info we have up until now:
    You will need 4x DR680 to provide 192KHz tracks from 7 microphones.
    What are the preamps you’re going to use?
    Except for the NT4, there are no stereophonic pickup anywhere else?
    You say you will wait for 10K$ before buying a SD302, which is only 3 channels?!?…etc…
    So, I am looking for those gaps in the logistics/info of your project to be clarified to us ASAP.

    Cheers and good luck!éphane-larivière/26/61b/593/

    • Hey Slaz, good questions. A lot has changed, and for the better. First, since we reached our discounted stretch goal we are recording all 3 full auto weapons. We are making arrangements to borrow several microphones to free up funding to rent Sound Devices field recorders (more on that to be updated on the Kickstarter page). We plan to add 1 additional stereo pair of microphones, which we will also be announcing soon. I hope that answers your questions! More details to come as we hammer out logistics.

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