Tag Archives: software

5 Ways To Record Better Sound Effects

sound effectsRecording sound effects or building a catalog of sounds to sell on some royalty free music or stock audio library sites? Follow these five tips for maximizing your library’s size and overal success. You’ll find that, with just a little careful planning and organization, you’ll be able to curate the sound library that your production business needs to succeed.

1) Make a list in advance. Just as film producers create a list of shots they need to complete a scene or a video, and optimize their lists to minimize shooting time (equipment rental is expensive, man), so should the professional sound designer. Whether your goal is to get a single animal sound, or a collection of city ambiences, know what you’re going for before you get on location. Make a list, and be specific! Do you need footsteps? Howling? Traffic? Once you’ve got your list, you can then optimize your locations — for example, you can get footsteps on a sidewalk, and at the same time get some traffic sounds if you record on a busy street. You can save time, and at the same time, get creative with your catalog. A little pre-planning can go a long way.

2) Invest in a high quality microphone and DAW. While technology is getting better and better, and cheaper quality equipment is becoming increasingly available, it’s still important for sound effects producers to invest in great gear. Do your homework, because just like quality gear is becoming cheaper, cheap gear is becoming more and more prevalent. Find microphones that have excellent reponse at all frequencies, a solid hard disk to store your takes to, and don’t skimp on your editing software. A quality digital audio editor such as ProTools or Logic can save you time and make your audio sound great.

3) Edit, Edit, Edit. Getting rid of extraneous noises is key in creating quality sound effects that are ready to use in production. No one wants footstep sounds with dogs barking in the background when they’re searching for footstep sound effects. Cut the extra sounds, and your clients will thank you for it. Reduce the ambient noise as much as you can, as this will allow your sound effects to be used in as many different projects as possible without much editing. Separating your sounds this way will also pay off big in the size of your catalog.

4) Master your recordings and create high-resolution mixes. Invest in some quality mastering plug-ins. This will make your recordings have the loudness they need, along with the equalization required to make them sound their best. But remember, don’t over-master. Chances are that whoever is purchasing your audio is likely to edit the effects to suit their specific needs. You can coun’t on them adjusting volume, changing reverb, or mixing with other sounds. The key is to give them the best base material possible. Along these lines, don’t forget to bounce to uncompressed formats like WAV or AIFF, which have far superior sound quality than a highly compressed MP3.

5) Tag and Describe your Sound Effects accurately. When you’ve completed your mixes, don’t just label your files Car 1, Car 2, Car 3. That doesn’t tell your customer anything about the sound they’re looking at, and wastes their time. If you’ve recorded a Ferrari Testarosa revving up it’s engine, label the file that way. People searching sound effects libraries have tons of material to go through, and need help finding things quickly. Similarly, you can save yourself numerous headaches when you need to dig up a file from your archives a year from now. With a little forethought and organization, you can build a better sound effects library with minimal effort.

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)

Production Music Using Video Game Controllers

Admittedly, one of my favorite music production plug-ins is RealGuitar by MusicLab. I use it daily for creating production music tracks in my project studio. It’s relatively inexpensive (like $200), and sounds great, is easy to use, and I’ve been able to fool a lot of people into believing they’re hearing an actual guitar. MusicLab announced the release of RealGuitar 3, and it looks great. Now, you can take that Guitar Hero axe from your xbox or Playstation video game, and play it into your sequencer like a guitar. The results of such an interface capability rival the expression and realism (well in performance, anyway) found in the old MIDI wind controllers, only this time with better sample quality. I was blown away by what I saw on the video and can’t wait to try this with my own production music in the project studio. Check it out:

5 Cool Music Production Apps for iPhone

As phones and mobile devices get smaller and smarter all at once, the nature of electronic music production and audio production is changing dramatically. Even more groundbreaking is Apple’s iPhone. As many of you know, I’m a big fan of the iPhone (I don’t leave home without mine). And now I’m an even bigger fan, as more and more apps are being developed for the iPhone that are geared towards music production, writing, and recording. Here are 5 seemingly random super-cool apps to get your iPhone rocking.

1) Studio Devil – The makers of the Virtual Guitar Amp tube modeling plug-ins have teamed up with Quixonic to create an authentic tube amp modeling app for the iPhone. (coming soon)

2) Quixpin DJ – Yeah, so Quixonic makes a few — this one’s a true DJ app that allows you to mix and beatmatch music without all the heavy equipment, and then output a stereo mix to use at parties, or even cue and beat match songs while another is playing. ($1.99)

3) Noise.io Pro Synth – by Amidio, has a deep learning curve, but gives you countless waveforms and processing tools to create your own sounds. Custom sequencer and effects processor make this one an awesome mobile instrument and production tool. ($14.99)

4) VoiceBand – so this isn’t really a pro app, but it is pretty cool stuff. Using your voice, this app plays a real sampled instrument that files what you sing. Control 10 virtual instruments at once using only your voice. ($2.99)

5) Xewton Music Studio – this is a complete music production studio in the palm of your hand. Full 128-track sequencer, 21 pro-quality sampled instruments, realtime effects, sustain, reverb, eq and more. Track settings include tempo and time signature, measure level copy/paste, delete, repeat, transpose, MIDI import and export…. This one is pretty wicked. ($14.99)