Roller coaster theme park sound effects Asbjoern Andersen


Finnish recordist Pyry Survo has created a unique sound effects collection, capturing a wealth of hard-to-access recordings from roller coasters and other amusement rides, as well as amusement park ambiences. It was a huge undertaking, and below, he shares the story behind the making of this impressive collection:
 
A preview of the Roller Coaster Sound Builder library

 

Hi Pyry, please introduce yourself and the new libraries:

Pyry Survo (PS): Hi Asbjoern, thanks for having me. I am the founder of Effect Sense, a brand new sound effects library manufacturer from Finland. I record, create, edit, and publish high-quality sound effects libraries for creative professionals in game, film and new media industry. My goal is to create sound collections that in itself could inspire others to create new, valuable content to their products. My head is full of ideas for new sfx libraries, and I’m really excited to be a part of the indie sound effects community.

My history with sound effects began in 2008 when I got my first handheld recorder, Zoom H2. After seeing Ben Burtt’s interview in Pixar’s WALL-E DVD extras, I was totally fascinated by the world of sound design, and decided to become a sound designer. I have been recording all kinds of sounds ever since. Now I have worked in films, games, television, and soundscape research, gaining a wide experience in the field of audio.

‘Roller Coaster Sound Builder’ and ‘Amusement Rides & Ambiences’ libraries are unique releases in the indie sfx community

In addition to sound design, I have also composed music for one feature length film and several short films, and worked as a guest lecturer teaching sound design and field recording.

The new libraries are about amusement park sounds. Divided into two parts, ‘Roller Coaster Sound Builder’ and ‘Amusement Rides & Ambiences’ libraries are unique releases in the indie sfx community. They include multi-microphone recordings of amusement rides and roller coasters, recorded partly in an amusement park that was closed to the public.

A preview of the Amusement Rides & Ambiences sound effects library

This allowed us to place microphones to the optimal places and capture clean recordings without people or background music. Of course, we recorded also classic roller coaster screams and amusement park ambiences when the park was open. A roller coaster sound library wouldn’t be complete without good screams!

Rollercoaster scream recordingRecording roller coaster screams

 

What are some of the highlights of your new libraries?

PS: There is a lot of great source material for sound design included. Even though the collection has a lot of different roller coaster screams, making it perfect for amusement park advertising, I’m the most excited about the creative sound design possibilities with the hard to access recordings of the motors, mechanics and onboard sounds.

The ‘Roller Coaster Sound Effects Builder’ library includes five different roller coasters. In the library I call them:

– Big Steel Coaster (inverted steel coaster with high speed and loops)
– Small Steel Coaster (classic-sounding sit-down coaster)
– Flying Coaster (with a more metallic and rumbly sound)
– Impulse Coaster (unique-sounding coaster with electro-magnetic propulsion)
– Motorbike Coaster (fast flywheel launch).

All of them sound different. Multiple pass-by recordings are included for every roller coaster. In addition, three of them were recorded onboard. My main goal was to create a versatile library which is useful in real life sound editing and sound design. That’s why I captured clean pass-bys without people or background music for every roller coaster. The biggest ones, where people tend to scream, (Big Steel Coaster and Motorbike Coaster) include also a lot of takes with screaming.

Roller Coasters included – gallery:

 
The package also includes ‘Sound Builder’ Pro Tools project files for the Big and Small Steel Coasters. With these project files, you can easily edit your own roller coaster sounds with the perfectly synced multi-microphone tracks.

Pro Tools sessionSmall Steel Coaster Builder Pro Tools session. Tracks for pass-bys from three different positions covering the whole track + onboard recordings.

 

The ‘Amusement Rides & Ambiences’ library includes eight amusement rides and 21 minutes of amusement park ambiences in LCR. The included rides are Disk’O Coaster, Log Flume, Magic Bikes, Piggy Train, Pirate Ship, Supernova, Take Off, and Truck Convoy, so there is a lot of variety. Most of the rides were recorded clean without people or background music, which enables great sound design possibilities.
 

Amusement Rides included – gallery:

 

PDF spec sheets are included for inspiration. They include photos from the recording sessions, extra details about the rides, and microphone position maps for every roller coaster.

A map of the mic positionsMicrophone position map for Big Steel Coaster

 

How did you gain access to recording those sounds – and what was your planning process?

PS: Roller coasters were maybe the most challenging sound sources I have ever recorded. A lot of planning was needed, indeed. There is an amusement park (Särkänniemi amusement park) in my hometown. I had visited the park many times, and recording the rides had been in my mind for a long time.

I was lucky to have friends working in the park staff. I think it would have been really difficult to gain access to the park without personally knowing anyone from the staff. I already knew a thing or two about how the park works before I introduced them my idea to record high-quality roller coaster sounds. When I did, they were excited about it.

Fortunately, the mechanics were really relaxed about it and even let the rides run for some extra rounds just for me

First, I had a scouting day in the park. I rode every amusement ride and roller coaster listening to them carefully (well, I didn’t ride the kiddie rides, some of them have maximum height limit). I took photos and notes. I made a plan about which rides were essential to record and where the microphones could be placed. I recorded some reference material with my Sony PCM-D100.

After scouting I made an equipment plan of what kind of microphone setups were the needed, and what other accessories would be useful to have. The Tonebenders podcast on recording roller coasters by René Coronado included some extremely helpful information for this.

Every morning, before the park is opened to visitors, each ride and coaster is tested for maintenance and safety. This was my main opportunity to capture the sounds without any background music or people. Of course, I couldn’t interrupt the normal maintenance schedule with my recordings. Fortunately, the mechanics were really relaxed about it and even let the rides run for some extra rounds just for me.

Then, when the park opened, I stayed there to record the natural screaming and park ambiences. The sounds of these libraries were recorded during three days in the park.

Three versions available:

There are three different versions available: One dedicated to roller coaster sounds, another one with 8 different amusement rides and ambiences – and a bundle, featuring both libraries. Here they are:

  • Amusement Rides & Ambiences is a unique collection of hard to access amusement park sound effects. Package includes high-quality multichannel recordings captured with a full access to the amusement rides – and a total of 8 rides are included!

    Some recordings were made in an amusement park that was closed from the public. This enabled us to capture the sound effects as clean as possible without background music or people.

    Recordings of 8 amusement rides included:

    Convoy, Disk’O Coaster, Log Flume, Magic Bikes, Piggy Train, Pirate Ship, Supernova, Take Off.

    Ambience recordings are authentic amusement park ambiences with people and amusement rides. They include children and adults, cheering and screaming, chatter in different languages, amusement rides loading and operating, and more. All sounds were recorded in Särkänniemi amusement park, Tampere, Finland. Also available in the special Complete Amusement Park Sound Bundle.

    Add to cart
  • The Complete Amusement Park Sound Effects Bundle includes two sound libraries featuring various amusement rides, roller coaster pass bys with and without screaming, amusement park ambiences, and more.

    Most sounds were recorded with LCR (Left, Center, Right) microphone setup with a tracking handheld mono shotgun microphone. Stereo downmixes are included for extra convenience.

    If you are searching for high-quality amusement park sound effects library with a lot of useful content, this is the bundle for you.

    The Bundle includes:

    ROLLER COASTER SOUND BUILDER

    The world’s first roller coaster sound effects library.

    • 5 roller coasters
    • Multi-microphone
    • Pass by & onboard
    • 10.3 gigabytes
    More details about this library

    AMUSEMENT RIDES & AMBIENCES SOUND EFFECTS

    Multichannel amusement park rides & ambiences sound effects library.

    • 8 amusement rides
    • Amusement park ambiences
    • 5.4 gigabytes
    More details about this library

    Add to cart
  • Introducing the ultimate roller coaster sound library: Roller Coaster Sound Builder includes high-quality recordings from 5 different roller coasters, from classic steel coasters to aggressive impulse coaster. This huge collection includes clean roller coaster passbys, onboard recordings, and classic roller coaster screams.

    Roller coaster pass by sounds were recorded without background noise in an amusement park that was closed to the public. A great amount of natural screams with different intensities is also included, recorded during a regular summer day in the amusement park.

    Roller Coasters included:

    – Big Steel Coaster (inverted steel coaster with high speed and loops)
    – Small Steel Coaster (classic-sounding sit-down coaster)
    – Flying Coaster (with a more metallic and rumbly sound)
    – Impulse Coaster (unique-sounding coaster with electro-magnetic propulsion)
    – Motorbike Coaster (fast flywheel launch)

    This collection provides unique, hard-to-access source material in high-quality, with a large amount of takes for creative sound design. We worked hard to capture as much useful material as we could when we had full access to the rides. All sounds were recorded in Särkänniemi amusement park, Tampere, Finland. Also available in the special Complete Amusement Park Sound Bundle.

    Add to cart

What was your recording setup?

PS: To get as much audio material as possible with every roller coaster launch, we used multiple microphone setups. We placed the microphones in different spots of the track to get fast pass-bys, loops, slow pass-bys etc., all with just a single take.

The main setup was LCR (Left, Center, Right) + a tracking mono shotgun, including Sennheiser MKH60s for left and right, Oktava Mk 012-01 cardioid for center and Sennheiser MKH416 for handheld. The audio was recorded to Sound Devices 744t (using MM-1s for extra preamps). In addition to that, we used a quadrophonic (4.0) microphone setup, ORTF stereo pair with Audio Technica AT4053Bs and a handheld Sony PCM-D100. The 4.0 setup was built with a Zoom XYH6 capsule and a Superlux S502 ORTF mic. This setup was placed so that the big steel coaster rumbled right above it. It sounds really good listened in a surround environment, just like LCR recordings do. Also, 4.0 gives you two different stereo pass-bys in one take.

Because you cannot check the meters when the recorder is tied to a roller coaster car moving at 75 km/h on the track, getting good gain levels took a test drive or two

Three of the roller coasters were also recorded onboard. Zoom H6 was selected as the onboard recorder because of its small size, light weight, and multiple XLR inputs. The microphones used onboard were a Sennheiser MKH50, a Shure SM57, two Crown GLM-100 lavaliers, and Ehrlund EAP contact microphones. The recorder and microphones were tied into the car with zip ties and tape. Because you cannot check the meters when the recorder is tied to a roller coaster car moving at 75 km/h on the track, getting good gain levels took a test drive or two. Eventually the onboard recordings came out very good as well.

Of course I couldn’t handle this many microphone sets alone. I had my friend Jousia Lappi, a field recordist and media producer from North Arrow Films assisting me during the multi-setup recording sessions.

Two men pose with their recording equipmentPyry Survo & Jousia Lappi

Recording gear is taped to the front row of a roller coasterOnboard setup for Big Steel Coaster

Pyry sets up recording equipment in a kids' roller coasterOnboard setup for Small Steel Coaster

Two boom mics are set up beneath a twisting roller coaster trackRecording MotoCoaster pass-bys, microphones inside the restricted ride area

A digital recorder faces an empty spinning rideRecording Take Off amusement ride


 

What sort of post production or processing did you do on the recordings?

PS: Because of multiple recorded tracks and many different sound sources, a well-planned post production was a crucial part of the creation of this library. First, I batch-named every track according to the ride/coaster and the microphone used and normalized them to -3 dBFS. Then I went through every track in iZotope RX Audio Editor to remove any clicks or other unwanted noises. I wanted to keep the files as unprocessed as possible, so I didn’t use any compression for example. For some tracks, a little EQ’ing was applied.

Because of multiple recorded tracks and many different sound sources, a well-planned post production was a crucial part of the creation of this library

I also wanted to save people’s time so I did the background de-noising for them. Even though the source material wasn’t too noisy to start with, I still wanted to provide the cleanest roller coaster recordings there is. I admit, I’m a bit obsessed with removing any noise floor from my sound fx recordings, even if it wouldn’t be audible unless you add +30 dB gain. For some tracks, both original and RX versions are included in the download. This way the end user can choose the track that fits their project the best.

Next, I opened the tracks in Pro Tools to edit them. The first task was to sync all the multi-recorder takes. I used track grouping features to edit all the tracks from the same take at once. I deleted the unnecessary parts, added fades, and named the clips with more accurate names.

I think having good filenames is one of the most important aspects of a sound library. I always try to write informative and searchable filenames in a way that the sounds are easy to find and use in any DAW or video editing software, without the need for extra metadata or sound management software. For example, I named every scream according to who is screaming and by the intensity of the scream. This way one can search for “woman scream terrified” to find all the sounds where the focus is in a terrified, screaming woman, or “children scream excited” if a sound of excitedly screaming children is desired.

As everyone will not use LCR tracks, I did stereo downmixes from them as well for more convenient use in stereo sound editing. Both LCR and downmixed tracks are included in the package, of course.

Finally, I completed the metadata with additional info in Excel, imported it to Soundminer and embedded it to the files.

 

Any surprises along the way?

PS: Yes, there were some. I was surprised by how huge the kiddie ride Truck Convoy sounded when recorded in close perspective. You might think a kiddie ride wouldn’t sound very big. However, this one did.

I was surprised by how huge the kiddie ride Truck Convoy sounded when recorded in close perspective

Don’t judge the sound of amusement rides by their appearance or name. The Piggy Train surprised me as well, sounding like a weird little train. We even recorded it onboard!

Pyry records another kids' ride with pig-like carsRecording Piggy Train

Recording pass-by screams for Disk’O Coaster was a great moment. During a single ride cycle, the vehicle goes back and forth the track multiple times.

When people saw my microphones they started giving their best screams, louder every time they passed by the microphones

When people saw my microphones they started giving their best screams, louder every time they passed by the microphones. This was unexpected, and resulted in some great recordings! These screams are included in the ‘Amusement Rides & Ambiences’ collection.

A boom mic faces a fast spinning ride full of peopleRecording Disk’O Coaster pass-by screams

In some occasions, I was amazed how RX de-noising/de-humming gave the recording totally new sound design possibilites. For example, the Pirate Ship had a constant buzzing hum going on during the ride cycle. However, sprinkling a little RX magic made the hum completely disappear. Now only a clean recording of the unique screeching sound of the acceleration/braking tires was present. Both versions are included in the amusement rides collection.

 

Do you have any favorite sounds in the library?

PS: Yes, even though the whole collection is full of hard-to-access recordings, some are really special. When we recorded the Impulse Coaster (Half Pipe), we were able to place the microphones below the station platform, pointing directly to the launch motors. This was a restricted area, accessible only by the staff. The sound of the motors was really aggressive and powerful. I can imagine how sound designers can use it for the engine sounds of futuristic vehicles or space ships, for example. Some good pneumatic air release hisses were recorded there, too.

The Big Steel Coaster pass-bys are massive when listening the LCR tracks in a surround environment. I love it how it sounds like the coaster is really passing by the front speakers

Also, the Big Steel Coaster pass-bys are massive when listening the LCR tracks in a surround environment. I love it how it sounds like the coaster is really passing by the front speakers. Many great screams are also included.

One of my favourites is “MotoCoaster 03 Terrified woman scream at launch”, where a woman’s scream suddenly jumps up an octave during the launch acceleration.

 

Any clues on what’s coming next from you?

PS: I have multiple libraries recorded already, waiting for editing and publishing. Next, there will be something related to guns, and something recorded in freezing cold Finnish winter. Can’t wait to share them with you!

 

A big thanks to Pyry Survo for sharing his stories about recording the ‘Roller Coaster Sound Builder’ and ‘Amusement Rides & Ambiences’ libraries! You can get both in a special bundle below:

 

 
  • The Complete Amusement Park Sound Effects Bundle includes two sound libraries featuring various amusement rides, roller coaster pass bys with and without screaming, amusement park ambiences, and more.

    Most sounds were recorded with LCR (Left, Center, Right) microphone setup with a tracking handheld mono shotgun microphone. Stereo downmixes are included for extra convenience.

    If you are searching for high-quality amusement park sound effects library with a lot of useful content, this is the bundle for you.

    The Bundle includes:

    ROLLER COASTER SOUND BUILDER

    The world’s first roller coaster sound effects library.

    • 5 roller coasters
    • Multi-microphone
    • Pass by & onboard
    • 10.3 gigabytes
    More details about this library

    AMUSEMENT RIDES & AMBIENCES SOUND EFFECTS

    Multichannel amusement park rides & ambiences sound effects library.

    • 8 amusement rides
    • Amusement park ambiences
    • 5.4 gigabytes
    More details about this library

    Add to cart
 
 

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