Asbjoern Andersen


Italian sound designer and recordist Mattia Cellotto has just released his fourth sound effects library, and it’s an interesting one. It’s called Rocks Momentum and comes packed with more than 1100 sounds of rocks, debris, wood logs impacts and much more.

Some of his gear almost didn’t survive his quest for excellent rock recordings in the mountains – but thankfully, he did, and now he’s ready to share the story behind Rocks Momentum:

 

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

Hi there, my name is Mattia Cellotto, I am a sound designer with a passion for field recording and placing microphones where they are likely to get destroyed.
I currently work for a game company based in the UK, although I’m originally from Italy. I like RPG games, cats and cactuses.
 

What’s your Rocks Momentum all about – and what are some of the sounds included?

Rocks Momentum is about carefully placing your mics in between the sandwiches you prepared in your backpack before an excursion. That’s probably the best way to describe the library as all of the material was recorded during long walks in the Italian Alps.
It’s about having all of your equipment always with you, especially when you have no idea of your destination or its potential. Despite its name, the library features all sorts of recordings I was able to gather during these excursions: from stone debris to cement blocks impacts, roofing tiles shattering on marble, wood logs smashes and water splashes.

Of course, the majority of the material features rocks, from small to large sizes, from sedentary to metamorphic, from rolls to scrapes to finish of course on impacts, even airborne hits.

 

What was your approach and recording setup for the library?

I started unknowingly working on the library about 4 months ago during a walk on a wildlife path near Inverness (Scotland). There I found a number of eradicated trees with large stones trapped in their roots. I started hitting the dense soil holding the stones together, getting the blocks to crumble down bit by bit. At the time I ended up spending only a couple of hours gathering material, which left me wanting way more.

I started unknowingly working on the library about 4 months ago during a walk on a wildlife path near Inverness, Scotland

Last month I finally had a chance to expand the collection during a two weeks long holiday in the Italian Alps. I packed my old Fostex FR2 along with a Sennheiser MKH 8040 plus a MKH 416 and carried the setup with me during every hike. Sadly stands would not fit in my backpack so I often had to make do with whatever the surroundings offered, which resulted in a guerrilla setup more often than not.

Recording rock sound effectsIn one occasion I had to secure both microphones into a couple of wood chairs, the mechanical transmission made up for some unexpected bass. The biggest sounding rocks in the library were smaller than you’d imagine. To sum it up, while the gear itself remained the same throughout the different recording sessions, lots of different mic placement styles and setups were used to be able to gather sounds in each location.

All sounds in the library feature the signal of the MKH 416 and 8040 respectively on left and right channels. I created a stereo image without mixing the content gathered by the two microphones so that the MKH 8040 could be manipulated separately for extreme pitch shifting.
Initially I wasn’t too sure the format would have worked but the final results surprised me: the stereo image holds up pretty well even when both channels are pitched, which was a big concern initially.
 

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Mattia Cellotto, recording the Rocks Momentum SFX library


 

What made the Italian Alps such a well-suited location for the recordings?

Part of it is the relationship I’ve built with the area throughout the years. I’ve been spending almost all of my summers in that area since I met my girlfriend, and that was ten years ago! Having known the area for that long helps you decide what to bring during each walk, from cables length to microphones, although as surroundings often offer unexpected surprises it’s always worth carrying that extra piece of gear.

When trekking at high altitudes, the soundscape tends to radically change every 30 minutes, but in many occasions the surroundings are nearly silent

Another reason why the Alps are good for recording is the noise floor of course. When trekking at high altitudes the soundscape tends to radically change every 30 minutes, but in many occasions the surroundings are nearly silent.

That is one of the rare cases in field recording where your preamps are what ultimately sets a quality limit to your recordings and not the environment itself.

One of the best recording sessions took place at 4:00 AM. I don’t recall hearing that much silence in an outdoor environment before, I almost felt guilty as the sound of smashed cement blocks and roofing tiles echoed in the valley.
Another reason that made me choose the Alps is the presence of old, crumbled stone houses spread across most paths. The fact that most structures are destroyed helps you ask yourself less questions while destroying further.

Lastly, the Alps are beautiful, the walks relaxing and the food amazing.
 

A new sound effects family member:

 

Rocks Momentum is Mattia’s fourth SFX library – here’s his full catalog, in all its glory:

  • Animals & Creatures Animal Hyperrealism Vol I Play Track Over 1300 sounds included $170

    Animal Hyperrealism Vol I is a library containing sounds themed animal vocalisations, from real to designed creatures totaling more than 1300 individual sounds in 290 files.

    The sounds were partly recorded with animals trained for media production, partly recorded in zoos and wildlife centers. The asset list includes but is not limited to: african lions, bengal tigers, horses, donkeys, cows, exotic birds, owls, bobcats, pumas, dromedaries, wolves, dogs, geese, lemurs, gibbons and many more.

    All the content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K plus a Sennheiser 8050 for center image and a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 for stereo image. All files are delivered as stereo bounce of these for mics, though in some instances an additional couple of CO100K was added to the sides.

    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Animal Hyperrealism Vol II Play Track Over 2000 sounds included $170

    Animal Hyperrealism Vol II is a library containing sounds themed animal vocalisations, from real to designed creatures totaling more than 2000 individual sounds in 283 files.

    The sounds were partly recorded with animals trained for media production, partly recorded in zoos and wildlife centers. The asset list includes but is not limited to: amur leopards, bottlenose dolphins, californian sealions, pacific walruses, red ruffed lemurs, owls, parrots, dwarf little fruit bats, hamsters, guinea pigs and many more.

    The content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K plus a Sennheiser 8050 for center image and a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 for stereo image.
    A special section of the library features samples recorded at 384KHz. For these sounds an additional microphone was employed, specifically the CMPA by Avisoft-Bioacoustics which records up to 200 KHz. This microphone was actually used to record most of the library but the 384KHz format was preserved only where energy was found beyond 96KHz not to occupy unnecessary disk space.
    All files are delivered as stereo bounce of these for mics, though in some instances an additional couple of CO100K was added to the sides.
    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Ice Glacier Ice Play Track 300+ sounds included $40

    Glacier Ice is a library containing over 300 high quality sounds of ice cracking, breaking, shattering in various sizes of blocks – recorded entirely in the Italian Alps over the course of two winters.

    The library contains sounds of all dimensions, from ice cubes being dropped in a drink to a designed iceberg collapsing.

    The majority of the material was recorded at 192 KHz with a Sanken CO100K and a stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH8040, making this library greatly flexible for pitch shifting and all sorts of heavy processing.

    A small section recorded at 96KHz features sounds recorded exclusively with contact microphones placed directly on the surface of a frozen water stream.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • An audio library for which metal was kicked, hammered, bowed and… induced to vibrate through feedback loops?! The collection features 346 unique sounds recorded through field trips in US, UK and Italy.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Electricity Polarity Play Track 975 sounds included $90

    Polarity delivers more than 950 sounds of electricity, science and technology – captured in several locations around the world, from electricity museums to science labs. About 50% of the library is all about electricity, with various types of Jacob's Ladders, Tesla Coils, Ruhmkorff lamp and all sorts of impactful bursts of energy.

    Then we go through welders, plasma spheres, 3D printers, starting to cover a more broad technology theme – like old phones, telegraphs, dynamo wheels, rotary dials, whirling watchers, alarm, lab centrifuges, something scientists call a roller and a rocker, servo sounds, neon lights, a wimshurst machine and sparklers.

    Many sounds in this section were captured from vintage equipment, from a 1928's tram to old telephone switchboards, high voltage levers and control surfaces.

    All content was recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K, a couple of Sennheiser 8040 and a Neumann 81i, translating into final assets that have plenty of ultrasonic content, ready for the most extreme manipulation.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Destruction & Impact Rocks Momentum Play Track 1100+ sounds included $37

    The Rocks Momentum sound effects library gets you more than 1100 sounds of rocks, bricks, wood logs, stones, impacting on different surfaces, rolling, being scraped one against the other and so on. The library was recorded in the Italian alps, and in Inverness, Scotland. Defective construction materials were used for the recording of bricks, roofing tiles, cement blocks etc.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • Ice Ultrasonic Dry Ice Play Track 635+ sounds included, 71 mins total $65

    Ultrasonic Dry Ice is a library containing over 600 sounds themed metal resonances, scrapes and all sorts of weird.
    All the content has been recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K, a couple of Sennheiser MKH8040 and a MKH416.
    The resulting ultrasonic spectrum is rich and allows for truly extreme manipulation of the content.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
  • The Water Volumes SFX library gets you over 300 sounds of natural hot-springs, bubbles, and liquids of various densities boiling under the effect of dry ice.

    A large amount of content was recorded during two weeks spent in the city of Furnas, Azores, where volcanic hot-springs of all kinds are active. Other recordings were gathered with the use of dry ice.
    Most recordings will contain energy up to 96 KHz as they were recorded with a Sanken CO-100K at a 192KHz sample rate. Others were gathered with the use of an Acquarian H2A, Sennheiser MKH8040, 416, a Sony D100 and a Tascam DR-05.

    The collection was recorded over a trip to Sao Miguel, Azores, and several other recording sessions in the UK.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
 

What was the most exciting part about making the library – and do you have any favorite sounds in there?

The most exciting part in making the library was to create its “designed assets” section.
This is something I started doing recently to put myself in the position where I can test how flexible my recordings are, if they hold up well when stretched, tweaked and manipulated in all sorts of ways. It helps me understand the quality of the product I am delivering, putting myself in the client’s shoes for that task.

You can probably gather I had fun doing that by watching the presentation video, the designed section is right at the end.
 

The library has a hand-drawn cover image, which is somewhat unusual for independent SFX libraries. What’s the story behind that image?

The cover of the library is the work of an Italian artist, Vittorio Sezzella. It represents two huge rocks diverging at the pace of tectonic plates. Given the name of the library and where it was recorded I found his work to be perfectly fitting the theme. Apart from all the heavy rock impacts and the loud stone scrapes, this library’s best feature is probably the deep silence after each event, which in some way I see in Vittorio’s work.
 

This is your fourth SFX library – any lessons learned from making the previous ones that you could use here? And any words of advice for other current and upcoming SFX library creators out there?

One lesson I’ve learned recently is that if you place a DR-05 inside a car sized metal lift and then you start jumping on it for a good hour, chances are your recorder will look more or less like this when extracted from the lift:
A broken sound effects recorder

I believe this image can go under the definition of “uberproximity effect”, I’m glad I found that out before easing down a 8040 inside a live volcano.
It’s really hard not to lose your sense of preservation for things when you are recording, sometimes even self-preservation goes missing for a while. When it comes back you might find yourself walking on the surface of a frozen lake, not quite sure if the ice layer under your feet will hold for much longer.

As far as refining techniques and improving as a recordist goes, the first step I took was to reference what I consider to be top notch material, aiming to reach that quality through each library I’ve released. Once the bar is set, I try to find something unique to add to my library, in the case of “Metal Groans and Slams” I experimented with feedback loops in between contact microphones and vibration speakers, which helped me record some whacky sounds.

I took about 2000 sounds to the mastering stage, but in the last selection pass I discarded about 900 sounds which I felt didn’t bring much to the table

For “Rocks Momentum”, I wanted to create a library with loads of variations, sizes and textures. Every asset needed to be as characterful as possible. I carried about 2000 sounds to the mastering stage, but in the last selection pass I discarded about 900 sounds which I felt didn’t bring much to the table.

One last thing that I changed over time is my approach to grouping sounds and naming files. I used to create 1 file per sound, but then found that most professionals prefer to have more takes per clip for less drag and drops, so I have recently started grouping an average of 7 sounds per file. With “Metal Groans and Slams” I’ve also started adding metadata to my libraries, keeping part of the information redundant in the file name for those that do not own the common browsing tools.

For all starters in this field my main suggestion is to make things happen. I used to believe environments could limit one’s chance to record good material, when with the right microphone any place can be the perfect place to gather awesomeness.

So to all of you that feel the need to capture sounds 24 7, start now, record wherever, record whenever, put your microphone anywhwere, just not under a car sized metal lift.

A big thanks to Mattia Cellotto for sharing the story behind Rocks Momentum! You can grab the full library with more than 1100 rock, wood and brick sounds below:

 

 
  • Destruction & Impact Rocks Momentum Play Track 1100+ sounds included $37

    The Rocks Momentum sound effects library gets you more than 1100 sounds of rocks, bricks, wood logs, stones, impacting on different surfaces, rolling, being scraped one against the other and so on. The library was recorded in the Italian alps, and in Inverness, Scotland. Defective construction materials were used for the recording of bricks, roofing tiles, cement blocks etc.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    Add to cart
 

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