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GREAT, Sounds Easy!

Ever wanted to sound like Hollywood?? By Douglas Spotted Eagle

Ever wanted to create an ambience or sound effects like those heard in mega blockbuster films from the holy grail known as Hollywood??

Now you can.

Sony's long awaited Sony Pictures Sound Effects Series is now shipping, and contains sounds not found in any heretofore known sound library.

Drawing from the massive Sony Pictures sound archives, these sounds have been remastered for use in the professional video or audio industry. This definitely is not the "everyman's" library, as it's positioned as a premium offering. At a list price of $499.00, these sounds are clearly aimed at the serious sound designer. Like great stock footage, the higher the price means the media is more exclusive and not likely to be seen nor heard in low-budget, late night television commercials. I guess I'd equate this sound library to Artbeats royalty-free footage. You don't see Artbeats footage being used in your local late-night used car lot advertisement due to it's cost and superior quality of the content, and these sounds are similar in that their superior sound and rarity of effects positions them well beyond that of the that of most libraries on the market.

The series contains five CD volumes:

  1. Animals/Natural Elements
  2. Background Sounds
  3. Home & Office/Impacts/Weapons & Explosions
  4. Vintage Cartoons, Sports & Recreation/Vocals & Walla
  5. Vehicles

While Sony won't say what films these sounds are drawn from, it doesn't take too much imagination to hear sounds used as design elements in films such as famous war films or fight scenes from our favorite action movies In a phone call to Sony, I was informed that Sony makes no specific comment regarding sound libraries and what they may be drawn from, and sounds in the sound libraries at Sony may have been used (or perhaps not used) in various films.

1200 effect files make up this five-disc series. Phenomenal, jaw-dropping, smokin', slammin', rare, sweet, and WOW! are all adjectives I'd use to describe this library's contents. For instance, Disc One contains some amazing Komodo Dragon hisses, scary gorilla grunts, surreal rattlesnake rattles and strikes, clean and in-your-face cougar growls, and some very intimate but eerie beetle leg movement. Intense flames, fat stereo rain, and lava runs are included in the natural elements, but these sounds are anything but just a microphone stuck out in front of a lava flow and record turned on. This is cleaned up, stereo movement that when heard through headphones, is truly inspiring. In fact, while previewing the library on a flight from NYC to Cincinnati, the Snake Strike was so intense in the way it came up, I jumped in my seat, alarming a fellow passenger. I thought she was gonna turn me in for not sitting still. Shades of nasty big-snake action films come to mind with the snake sounds.

<>In playing with the library, I took the Lava Flow and pitched it down significantly, stretched it a little, and added some delay. It became a sweet granular synth-like sound that I could hear being used in any number of projects.

The Thunder, Rain, and Wind samples contained in this volume are anything but the cheesy sounds or weak sounds heard on most sound libraries. Recording Wind for instance, is not an easy task by any means, not if you want it to sound great. Sony's field recordists and engineers definitely know how to record and clean up Wind and other natural elements. Some of the Wind sounds are clearly a blend of real and synthesized wind, but they are quite powerful and realistic.

Background sounds comprise the second disc in the library. While they are fairly standard sounds found in any effects/audio library, there is something different about these. Wider sounds, fatter frequencies, more "you are there" sort of feel in these sounds, this is clearly the weakest volume in the group, but don't think that I'm saying this library is weak. It simply isn't as unique or fantasmic as the other volumes. The Laundry Interior is strange, as when previewed in headphones, I found myself looking around in response to a sound in the file. It 'felt' as if I were in the laundry. The EQ and stereo presence in this recording is clear and present. Same with the Forest Insects and Casino sounds, the audio was very real and processed in such a way that it simply feels "there." Jungle Birds, insects, Race Track Pit Crew, Car-by's, and School Hallways are all part of this volume as well.


Volume Three is action-packed and powerful. It also contains a huge variety of sounds including karate slams, shotgun blasts at various distances The body impacts are punchy, powerful, and that "sound" that is difficult to get on your own unless you've got great mics, great pre's, and great talent, plus a bit of time in the post room. Several computer and camera FX sounds provide wonderful sound design for your next Sci-Fi thriller or techno movie, but these could also be used in a sort of film where you need those key tapping sounds and incoming mail sounds like those heard in a famous movie involving lots of internet chat. Again, these are very clean and present. Foley-type footsteps on a variety of surfaces, shattering glass, arrow strikes complete with the buzz, synthesized arrows (great for creating sounds of torpedoes or missiles) flamethrowers (GREAT for launching missiles, motorcycle taking off, or simulating a slow moving bullet) are part of this volume. Lots of swords, whips, and ricochets make up the remainder of this library.

Some of the sports sounds found in Volume 4 aren't exactly stellar when compared to the monstrousness of the rest of the volumes, and in that they're standard fare and nothing exceptionally unique, and they are few. However, there are some sounds such as the shuffling cards and hockey sounds that are big, lengthy, and unusual. Here is my one complaint about this library. I wish there were a deeper selection of sports sounds. Often times, grunts and knockabouts heard in sport-related scenes are derived from punches, grunts, body slams, etc and Volume Three certainly has no shortage of those. Sony's own liner notes included with the library also hints that this is just a "teaser" or introductory library. "When it finally came time to step back and take stock of all the effects we had collected, we realized we hadn't even made a dent in the archive," says Richard Thomas, Senior Media Developer at Sony Media Software. This would suggest that future libraries are planned, and based on the quality heard in this set this suggests more great things making their way into users studios.

Also found in Volume Four are the Cartoon sounds. These are the classics, sounds heard in every Saturday morning or after-school cartoon. Zaps, zoings, slide whistles, Bronx cheers, that famous bongo sound of feet trying to run away but not quite getting traction, the "scram" sound, chattering teeth, squawks, squanks, poinks, whistles, wet face hits, comic kisses, and more round this out. I mapped a set of the cartoon percussion sounds to my V-Sampler library, and it sounds great. Mixed with the Spectrasonics Groove Control and Stylus, I was able to create some mondo drum sets that were also quite unusual. Of course, these percussion sounds stand on their own. This library contains the largest number of individual samples/sounds, including the vocal sounds and walla. Authentic police radios from both big cities and small southern towns, baby goos, Karate vocals, and even a big, fat, (and very unusual) fart sound round out this volume.

  Did you know that the term "walla" comes from the old days of radio, when a crowd scene needed to be created, but the talking sounds couldn't interfere with the main voices, the extras would mutter the word "wallawalla" repeatedly. This utterance created the sound of a crowd without overpowering the main dialog as it contains no plosives nor hard consonants.

Sony didn't leave out unusual and rare vehicle sounds either. If you're doing a project like Monster Garage or American choppers, you need these sounds. Awesome as sound design tools or transitionals, these suckers roar, scream, screech, pound, and ping their way through the vasst sounds of mechanized iron. Even sonar pings are included with this library, but they're not your average. They are from the Sony and Columbia Pictures archives, and I believe I've heard these pings in a particular film, but couldn't get anyone at Sony to confirm what films these were used in. Aside from the muscle cars and motorcycles, the 18-Wheeler sounds are very impressive, as are the rowboat and prop plane sounds. I've tried to record some of these myself, and while I feel I can get to the level of quality that is found in this library, it's a LOT of work to get there. There are some sounds that are blends of several sounds making up just one sound as well, and these are very creative and original.

Of course, the true value in this library isn't just the wide assortment of sounds. The true value lies in their consistent mastering, with none of the mismatched level junk that seems to be in almost every sound library out there. Further, these sounds are put together in context, allowing users to build their own sound design, ambiences, and Foley work with amazing depth and clarity without having to spend hours mixing, because the individual elements are already put together quite nicely for you. All you have to do is decide which sounds work best with other sounds within your project.

Keep in mind that these sounds aren't limited to just the video editor, they work great for musical purposes as well. Resample them, grind em' up, beatmap them in Sony's ACID 5 application, and create dance tracks from some of the various noises and sounds in the library. Radio stations will find these quite useful, and clear labels help catalog them. One small comment on cataloging, I do wish the sounds had all the necessary metadata for location in the ACID Media Manager found in the new ACID 5, but since these sounds aren't ACIDized, and aren't loop-oriented, I suppose that's a small thing to find fault with. Sony does state that any future libraries would have the necessary metadata included.

If you are a professional post house, a serious desktop editor, a film/video maker without the budget for expensive Foley artists, a broadcaster, or a musician with an appetite for grindage to fill the sampler and synth, this library is for you. If you're a soccer dad making home movies of the kids looking for some spice when the shoe meets the soccer ball, these sounds might be a little too large or a little too expensive. On the other hand, I did say that these sounds are sometimes surreal and huge. What could impress someone more than hearing a processed, bass-laden full-body punch when the foot meets the ball?

The upshot of this library set is that like the larger-than-life films that these sounds were created for, these sounds are larger than life's ears. Sounds are surreal, magical, scary, and magnanimus. One can only hope that we'll have more of these coming our way soon. In the words of Richard Thomas, "The vaults have been opened, this is the beginning."

Happy Editing,

  • Sony Pictures Sound Effects Series
  • Volumes 1 through 5 is sold as a set. Individual titles are not available. Titles are boxed in a single box with individual jewel cases per volume. Liner notes with file names and lengths/times included for each volume and the overall set.
  • List price is $499.95
  • Shipping now.


Outstanding: Great sounds, well-selected, wide variety, unusual sounds that stand out in a crowded industry, strong documentation

Could be better: I'd like to hear more sports-event sounds like those heard in some of the big Sony films. No ACID metadata for easier sound searching. (Sony's Media Software team says future libraries will contain relevant metadata)

**Click here to hear samples from each library

Page: 1

DOUGLAS SPOTTED EAGLE, Managing Producer Douglas Spotted Eagle is an audio and video pro. He is a Grammy recipient with DuPont, Peabody, and Telly awards lining his studio; he is also a participant/producer in multiple Emmy Award winning productions.

Douglas is the Managing Producer for Sundance Media Group, Inc. and VASST, authoring several books and DVDs and serving as a trainer and consultant for videographers, software manufacturers and broadcasters. He is the author or co-author of several digital media titles including Digital Video Basics (VASST), The FullHD (VASST), and Vegas Editing Workshop (Focal Press) among many others.

Douglas is an accomplished aerial photographer who thrives in the adrenaline-filled world of fast-action videography. He remains active as a multimedia producer, trainer, and presenter, utilizing the latest technology as part of his workflow.

Related Keywords:Sony, Spotted Eagle, sony Pictures, Vegas, sound library, VASST,

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