Tag Archives: film

Using Royalty Free Sound Effects to Create High Quality Location Sound

If you’ve ever filmed a scene on a windy day or outside on a busy street, you know how valuable sound effects are for recreating or even creating ambience and the audio landscape from scratch. If you’re a seasoned sound editing pro, or a beginner looking to get in on the basics, follow these three tips to create a vibrant soundtrack for your film or video using royalty free sound effects.

royalty free sound effects1) Start with variety, avoid looping. It can be tempting to put sound effects on loop. But if you need to create a soundscape of a busy intersection with lots of cars passing by, select several different cars and different “car passing by” sound effects. Why? Think about it: when you’re on the street, does the same care pass you by 30 times in 2 minutes? No, they’re all different. So find as many different drive-by sound effects as you can, and do your best not to loop the same one over and over again. You can vary timing of entrances, stagger multiple, even mess with the eq or tone of individual effects if you only have a couple to work with. This will enhance realism, and give you the most realistic sound.

2) Pick dry sound effects over affected effects. In other words, add your own reverb (echo). No two sound effects are going to have been recorded in the same space, so to make your audience believe their ears, you’ll have to tweak the reverb a bit. In a cave? Add some echo. On a windy mountain top, go as dry as you can. In a tiled room, put just enough reverb on the effect to make it sound like the noises are bouncing off the tiles. When you do this, be sure to take note of your reverb settings, and try to get a consistent sound when you’re creating sounds in the same “room”.

3) Use your ears in real life. Go out to the ocean and listen. Really listen. What do you hear on that shoreline? Is it realistic to put a barge passing by in your soundbed in a beach scene? Not likely. Listening closely to the way rooms and locations sound in real life will help you create better, more realistic sounding atmospheres. It will also get your creative juices flowing. Can you hear construction outside an office window? How about the sound of kids playing in a park — the rub of a slide, or the thud of falling to the ground? Getting a grasp on the individual elements that make up chaos is an important step in the soundtrack creation process.

3 Reasons to Use Royalty Free Stock Music In Your Film Production

The words royalty free and stock music might have a negative connotation in some filmmaking circles. But the reality is that using stock audio strategically and appropriately within your productions can have a positive impact on both your creative output and your bottom line. Here are three great reasons to use some royalty free music in your next film.stock music

1) Stock music is cheap. There we said it. Stock music is cheaper than most sources of music, whether you’re looking at custom composed tracks (which can run you several hundred to several hundred thousand dollars), library music (which carry license fees per use, per second, and based on the size of your production), or even licensing a popular song through a publisher (can we say, pricey?). Stock music requires a one time fee, usually $50 to $100 for commercial usage, and that’s it.

2) Stock music actually sounds good. It’s true. More and more professional musicians and artists are realizing the value in contributing work to the royalty free music scene — it gives them more exposure, allows them to make more money from their music, and gives them some control over their careers. That means that gone are the days when stock music sounded hoakey or cheap, so you can put asside any pre-conceived notions that stock music will make your project sound bad. You can get some really great sounding tracks that work with your visuals seamlessly and have great production value and in any style you could dream of. Combine it with some sound effects, and people will think you had custom top-of-the-line audio work in your production.

3) Royalty free music saves you time. With the help of powerful online search functions, keyword tagging, and lightboxes, you can put together a soundtrack in mere minutes without spending a dime on music supervision services or waiting for cues from a composer. And time is money. You can go from concept to final product in hours instead of weeks. Throw in some HD stock footage for good measure, and take care of some of your shot needs, as well!

Professional Use of Sound Effects in Filmmaking

At one time, films were silent. They did not have a score, audible actors or the audio effects that we have come to expect in modern pictures. Back then, the first movies with sound were called “talkies.” This is similar to how motion picture was first shortened to “movie.” Nowadays, it is standard for a film to feature licensed or original music, a score that heightens the drama and intensity of the onscreen action and a plethora of carefully-selected sound effects.

Choosing the right effect can do an amazing job of intensifying onscreen action. Without the screech of the tires and the reverberating sound of the metal, a high-speed car crash would not have the same impact, even if it was depicted using state of the art effects techniques. Properly chosen and filtered ambient noise can make the audience feel like they are physically in the setting of the film. The recorded and processed sounds of crowds, rainstorms and city noise can set the mood and add a great deal of depth to any scene.

With how crucial audio effects are to the overall cohesion of a film, choosing the wrong effects can prove catastrophic. As an example, consider the American film “The Ring.” This picture was based on a Japanese film entitled “Ringu.” In one scene, a mother tosses her daughter into a well. In the American version, this was accomplished using silence from a tape and ambient noise for the scene in which the tape was being played. “Ringu” opted for a cartoon “Thwap” effect. This is a prime case of where it is crucial to avoid cliche effects and unrealistic content in order to keep the audience engaged.

Video Encoding and Conversion Software for Stock Footage Clips

When you download a stock footage clip from Productiontrax (or any other content provider, for that matter), sometimes you have to do a little work with the video file to get it to fit into your project just right, or to even be imported properly into your video editing software. Whether you’re a seasoned pro looking for some more options to add to your arsenal, or you new to video editing and are looking for a good tool for encoding and converting your stock footage clips, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most poular video conversion software out there with a few notes.

Productiontrax accepts and delivers all stock footage in Quicktime (.mov) format, which tends to be universally importable these days in video editing software. There may be times, however, when you want the clip in .mp4 or .avi for different software and computer systems, so that’s when conversion comes in really handy. You may also need to adjust compression rates, frame rates, bit rates, or some-other-technical-specificatiton-rates to fit your project, maybe for broadcast, or web streaming purposes. Whatever the application, this list should cover your needs.

video software MPEGMPEG Video Wizard DVD (Windows)
Also known as MVW-DVD, this is video editing software that allows users to create DVDs with menus. You can export video files to MPEG-4, as well as shrink DVD files to fit on other media (useful if your client only has a CD player?), and transcode between certain formats, and saving of DVD disk images. Very handy PC tool when you’re in need of something that just does the job and is reasonably reliable.

Compressor (Mac OSX)
A personal favorite of mine, and I use it whenever I’ve finished editing a clip or video and need a polished delivery file. Compressor allows exporting of source video to a wide array of preset and custom formats, including several nice presets for high-quality video compression for Web and streaming on mobile devices, like the iPhone. Easy to drag and drop stock footage clips here, and works seamlessly in the Final Cut Pro workflow.

ProCoder 3 (Windows)
ProCoder 3 is a transcoding and encoding software that allows conversion between NTSC and PAL, exporting in a variety of useful video formats, and supports multipass vbr encoding, conversion of video to all popular formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, Windows Media, QuickTime, and more. Also includes some handy presets for delivering media and authoring for Blue-Ray, which should make all you super-HD audio-video-philes very happy.

Quicktime Pro (Mac OSX and Windows)
The defacto standard for video playback, encoding, and conversion, for a fairly affordable price tag. The universal quicktime player is well known, but Apple’s quicktime Pro adds advanced editing and conversion features, supporting a wide variety of popular formats. PC users will find adding the free Quicktime for Windows uber usefull in using and viewing video online, as well as for downloading and using stock footage clips.

Other great software tools for encoding and transcoding:

Roxio Creator (Windows)
Sorenson Squeeze
Telestream Episode (Mac OSX and Windows)
Cinema Craft Encoder (Windows)
ffMPEG (Linux, Mac, Widnows)