Creativity comes and goes when working constantly on sound effects full time and some days you just have a flash of it, while others, it appears to be hiding in the depths of your mind. Today was a day that the ideas came flushing through like a flood of water, so I’ve been busy recording, creating and uploading the latest free sounds to our library. As usual, I’ve written a brief summary of a few of them and how they were created.
Science fiction transmission errors
My kids have a cheap set of walkie talkies which can often be quite annoying, especially when they’re playing a game in the house and the constant beep, warble and crackle of the devices is echoing around the house. However this gave me an idea. I thought about how the sound of these cheap toys could be used to create some sci fi transmission error sounds and set about trying to create them.
I first recorded the sound of various received tones through one of the devices. I used the other to transmit sounds from other sources around the house, including the microwave and also the output of a synthesizer in Logic, played through some headphones directly into the walkie talkie. Recording the output on the receiver, I captured some truly weird and wonderful sounds.
Next I took the recordings and edited them in Adobe Audition, adding some mid-pass filtering and also some phaser effects. Then simply converting the files to mono (making sure they were mono compatible), I was able to chop the sounds up into small bursts that sound (in my opinion) perfect for science fiction radio static blasts. They could also be used for real-world CB radio static noises too.
They are here to download for free.
We’ve just waved goodbye to some relatives visiting us from the UK and in tidying up the yard, I had 6 pushbikes to lock away in the garage. Whilst moving them, I accidentally pressed the brake on one, which gave off a loud screech. Knowing how little work I do on said bikes, such screeches from the brakes suggest they might need some attention, however before I did that, I couldn’t help but record them. By pushing the bikes around in circles and randomly pressing the brake, I was able to record the screeching of the brakes and some short tire skids close up which will be useful if you’re working on a movie, game or other project and need some sounds of an abruptly stopping bicycle.
Ice or frost forming, time lapse
This one was requested by a member of zapsplat, so I set about creating it today. The sound required was of ice forming on the leaf of a plant, but in high-speed, as if being viewed in time lapse. I’ve worked on such sounds before and they require a little imagination. I tried several ways to recreate this sound, including the crinkling of cellophane and modulating the pitch. However, these sounded a little too synthetic for my liking so I reverted to the real thing… ice.
I opened up my freezer to find some mince meat right at the back of the freezer compartment. It was covered in a deep layer of frost and ice, so perfect for this request. Using my finger to lightly press down on the layer of ice, I recorded it close up and increased the intensity of pressure over about 5 seconds.
Then in Adobe Audition, all that was needed was a little noise reduction (some of the hum of the appliance could be heard in the background as I forgot to switch it of) and some EQ to focus mainly on the upper mid and higher frequencies. I think they worked well. If you need them, they can be found here and here.
Plastic on metal screeches
Justin often tells me some of the sounds I record are quite bizarre, which he also finds useful as source material for sound design work. I would imagine these may fall into the same category here. On a metal shelf in my garage is an old bike light which, I accidentally scraped on the metal surface while moving something else. In doing so, the light generated a high pitched screeching sound which I just had to record. I captured several versions of various lengths and intensities. I also found that playing around with the pitch in my DAW created some interesting variations. For example, raising the pitch significantly generated an almost cartoon-like quality, while lowering the pitch generated some great squeaks, perfect for a heavier object such as a train screeching to a halt. Going even lower in pitch created some weird drones and wind-like textures which might be useful for science fiction planet ambiences.
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