What Should You Look For If You Want to Download Sound Effects?

Downloading sound effects vs making your own
Sound effects are cool additions to lots of different media projects – they may even be essential in many cases. It is said among video pro’s that bad images are OK, as long as the sound is great – but there is no excuse for bad sound. In other words; what we hear is as important as what we see, when we watch a movie, play a game, etc.

So why not make some sounds of your own – for that vacation video or power point presentation you are making? I guess you could, but do you know how? Audio and sound design is a complex field of its own. Do you know how to use music synthesizers? Can you make a clean recording of a car horn, a slamming door, a cash register going “ka-ching”? Unless you feel you need to, you’re usually better off downloading professionally made sounds – rather than attempting the DIY route.

Why do sound effects categories have those weird names?
So – you do a web search, you find a few web shops where you can buy sound effects. But what is the deal with all those strangely named categories? What’s a “Whoosh”? A “Stinger”? “Walla”? It is a bit confusing at first, but yes – some categories do have weird names. The ones I just mentioned have their names from the film sound world; they are simply jargon words. “Walla”, for instance, means a crowd mumbling something that sounds like random conversation, but in which the words are indistinguishable. This type of sound is often used in the background of many movie scenes.

Just browse around if you’re not sure. Use the sounds any way you want – regardless of what film sound pros call them. There is no right or wrong here.

What is the difference between file formats?
File formats and file resolution are two points you need to pay attention to. Whether you need an mp3 for your power point presentation, or a Chinese gong sound for a quiz you’re hosting at a family reunion, you need to know how to find the right file format. In both these instances, an mp3 may sound just fine, but note that there are several different possible quality settings within that format. Personally, I wouldn’t go lower than 128kbps for mp3 – and even at that point, things like cymbals or quiet background sounds can have a strange, warbling sound to it. That is a limitation due to the compression algorithm used to reduce the size of the sound. Go for a slightly higher setting; like 192kbps or more. A bit longer to download, but sounds a lot better.

If you’re doing video editing, and you have a fast computer and a fast internet connection, you might want 16bit/48kHz wav files – or perhaps even 24bit/96kHz. These are professional sound qualities, and they sound very good indeed. But they also take up a lot of space and can be hard work for a computer – especially if you have several channels of audio, along with HD video.

How can I tell if I’m getting quality sounds?
A well recorded and well mastered sound effect will have little-to no noise. You should be able to see from the title and the description what sounds are in the file, meaning that a sound file labeled “Rain”, should not contain audible birdsong, traffic noises, etc – if these are not mentioned somewhere in the sales text. The main sound should have a little “empty” space around it – you don’t want the sound of a slamming door with too much of the reverb tail cut off. That would sound unnatural. And of course – you should be able to tell, just by glancing at the title, if a sound might contain what you are looking for.

I hope this little write-up has armed you a little better in your search for great sound for your projects.

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The Best Way to Adjust Your Steadicam Arm

You’ll need to adjust the arm on your steadicam just after you’ve adjusted the balance from the sled and placed the vest on your body. The purpose of adjusting the arm on the steadicam is to adjust how the arm will carry the load of one’s camera. You should adjust the arm in order that that you are comfy with it even though you are wearing your steadicam.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was within a Steadicam Operators Association Workshop listening to Peter who talked about adjusting the arm. To paraphrase, Peter’s take on adjusting the arm consisted of tweaking the lifting force of every section until the two sections bottomed out simultaneously once you boomed from the top with the boom range to the bottom, and vice versus. This is how I’ve carried out it now for years. The arm has a phenomenal boom range of 32”, and it has a rather clever adjustment for iso-elasticity which enables you to alter the ride on the arm. You will find some cons to this arm. Maybe probably the most considerable will be the friction inherent within the arm. The friction results in the “bobble” within the boom we attempt to stay clear of as operators. So I’ve been re-examining my approach to adjusting the arm.

When it comes down to it, the arm was created to function really similarly for the human arm. This is why systems such as the merlin do not need an arm. You just use your personal arm! In truth, the human arm is far more than most likely a lot greater than any arm on the market. The problem is the fact that we can only lift a modest amount for an extended period. So I started playing with all the G70 arm adjusting it down in order that it nevertheless acted inside the way Peter taught me, but together with the lifting force just beneath what was essential to lift the load. Basically, if I let the arm go it’ll straight away bottom out.

The objective here is usually to consist of the human arm inside the equation… to ensure that we aren’t just holding the arm at a particular boom height, but rather lifting slightly. This way, the friction with the arm doesn’t play as critical of a roll. When I tried this, I was pleased with the outcomes. Certainly it indicates far more perform for the correct arm. On the other hand, I have located that it reminds me to produce particular options with the boom height. I like that!

You’ll be adjusting the headed screws on the arm of your steadicam to set the in and out angle for the arm. The upper Tee screw need to be pretty much all of the way in just before you begin generating adjustments. Nevertheless, in case you have a large belly, you could possibly discover that you ought to back the upper screw out a little. You will need to adjust the bottom screw till you obtain an in and out arm angle that you just are comfortable with.

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Film School: The Production Designer

One of the most important roles in any film school education is that of the production designer. You may think it’s an easy task, but it’s more than just what it says. In some ways it’s more of a supervisory position where you have several people working under you. However, all of them contribute to the overall look of whatever film is being made.

The production designer’s responsibility is that of maintaining the look of a film. By working closely with the director and the director of photography, they are able to keep the visual style of the film in check over the course of the production.

The production designer works with other key members of a production such as the costume designer, to ensure that the fashion sense meshes with the feel of the film. Say you’re making a film set in the 1950s and for some reason someone is wearing clothing for the 1970s; this can clearly be a problem as you want to keep track of these types of issues. The same also goes for props and furniture, especially if it’s a period piece that’s being made; you always want everything to be from the same time frame. You wouldn’t want a film set in the 1940s to have characters using cell phones, would you?

These types of things revolve around the photography, the costumes and many times, in science fiction for example, the special effects. Look at the film Blade Runner for example and its resemblance to the classic film noir style fused with a post-apocalyptic ambiance. Imagine how the overall look of the film would be drastically altered if sunny exteriors were suddenly incorporated into the film? It would sort of throw the whole vibe of the film off kilter, which is why the production designer is such a crucial element to any film production.

In film school, you may not realize how important this position actually is. Production designers work in close contact with the director to make sure that every visual detail is in play. Sometimes it’s not an easy task. In some of the films I’ve worked during and after film school, I’ve seen production designers work themselves to the ground making sure that everything comes together in the end. On one such occasion, I was helping the production designer search for authentic costumes for a comedy set in the 1970s, which meant scouring many thrift stores and friends attics for polyester clothing. Sometimes it was nearly impossible to find anything, but with plenty of research and finding some off the beaten path stores, most of the required clothes were found.

Such painstaking realism is often sought by filmmakers who strive for every iota of authenticity. Most notable is Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, which is set in the 18th century; every single aspect of this particular film is based on the look and style of that era from the costumes, some of which were authentic 18th century clothes, to the use of lighting where specific scenes were filmed entirely in candle light even to the establishing shots which resembles paintings of the era. While much of the look was primarily Kubrick’s vision, much of it fell onto the production designer who supervised a crew to make sure that all of the minor details fell into place in the grand scheme of things.

In any film school education, it’s important to keep an eye on these details, simply by watching films. It’s also important to have a greater understanding on how crucial the production designer is in film, as well as television and theater.

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