Sound Effect Recording

Recently, I spent an evening recording sound effects with Dan Moores at The Sound Loft in Leigh. Video taken with a phone camera so the sound quality isn’t optimised. Over the next few weeks I’ll be uploading some audio samples of the work done.

0.07 – Wood on leather and chain. Great for the sound of a warrior being struck by a tree branch or wooden weapon such as a club or staff.

0.12 – Utility knife into a watermelon. Excellent stabbing and cutting sounds for a battle scene.

0.21 – Hammer on wood. To replicate the sound of someone kicking down a door, or the impact of two objects.

0.26 – The watermelon skin produces a different effect than the centre of the melon. A more subtle stabbing noise with a small impact at the beginning.  A slight twist of the wrist produces a more “gory” sound.

0.35 – More hammer on wood.

0.40 – A bigger knife produces more low end in the stabbing sounds, making a “thicker” sound that is better for larger weapons such as swords, spears and glaives.

0.55 – More wood on leather impact noises.

1.02 – Impact and crushing sounds for gory scenes. Punching the melon produces a cracking sound followed by a squelch.

1.07 – Breaking the melon at different speeds can produce a variety of effects for injuries inflicted in battle.

1.19 – The final blow with a hammer to the melon is excellent for a final blow at the end of an epic on screen battle!


Online Audio Collaboration

Working together to create music is the thing that draws most of us – if not all – into music in the first place.  From jamming with your friends in your parent’s garage, to getting your first paying gig at the local pub, to signing the record label. Working with other musicians is a factor in all of this.  With modern technological advances, including fibre optic (and hyper optic) broadband it has become possible, and sometimes commonplace, to collaborate with others across the world.

This post looks at some of the platforms used to do this, and will focus on the free (or really cheap) platforms. For me, the biggest influences on remote collaboration platforms are the price – how much will it cost to work with people; and the accessibility – how easy is it for others to collaborate with me using the same thing. I will look at two platforms that can be accessed for free – Digital Musician and AudioCommon.

Digital Musician

Price: Free, or €2.49/month (£2.24/month) for a “professional” account, allowing for multiple collaborations at once, more room for displayable demo tracks, improved data transfer rate, improved upload and download speeds and the chance to appear on the “Featured Artists & Studios” page.

The first thing I noticed about Digital Musician is how user friendly it appears.  Immediately upon clicking “Register” you are given a choice of talents (up to three) and genres (up to three) to display on your profile (I chose Sound Engineering – Sound Design, Sound Engineering – Mixing and Sound Engineering – Mastering as my talents and Film Music, Heavy Metal and Funk as my genres). These allow you to find other artists with similar interests or fill gaps in collaboration groups.

Both the free and paid versions offer access to the DAW – Digital Musician Container (DMC for short) and the plug-in version (DMP) which can be used inside your current DAW. DMContainer works as both the DAW and the communication platform between artists and the Digital Musician server.

The projects work by downloading the project, working on it locally and then synchronising to the Digital Musician servers so the other collaborators can see your work. There is a live video, audio and text chat provided by both the stand alone DAW and the plug in to aid communication.

Digital Musician Website


Price: Free, but with optional subscriptions. Subscriptions are dependent on the artist subscribed to – with some offering free subscriptions.

AudioCommon, at first, doesn’t seem nearly as friendly as Digital Musician. It works more like an online library of stems that collaborators can add and take from. Set up a project, choose who to share with, and then users can download parts of the project to work in their choice of DAW. Then these are re-uploaded to the AudioCommon server to join the other parts.

Subscriptions are not necessary to get the full experience of AudioCommon, as all the features are available from sign up.

AudioCommon Website


Both offer upside, especially due to the non-existent price tag. The DMContainer is a very basic DAW, but could work for assembling ideas or demo tracks quickly and easily. The plugin is useful for other DAWs but can limit the amount of other plugins you can have available – especially using live video chat on a video project for example. There isn’t much screen left after that!

AudioCommon is a great tool for working with current collaborators – your bassist moved away? All sign up and get him to add his parts remotely and upload for mixing. But it is let down by its poor ability to aid in finding new people to work with.

My opinion? Digital Musician to find new collaborators, AudioCommon to work with old ones.

The “Fear Frequency”

In motion pictures, enhancing emotion through sound is a tried and tested, well-researched process. Minor chords for sad moments, quick stabs of strings or brass for exciting parts, uplifting melodies for the resolved problems, and the rising fifth for, well, pretty much everything, right John Williams?

But creating emotion from nothing, in particular making the viewer feel an emotion before anything happens on screen is a much more interesting challenge.

Vic Tandy, an engineer and lecturer at Coventry University, discovered feeling of unease, dizziness, nausea and depression at his laboratory (where he made medical equipment) in the 1980s. His research, published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research in 1998 entitled “The Ghost in the Machine” explained that standing waves of 18-19Hz, which is below the human hearing range (20Hz-20KHz), were present in his laboratory and many other “haunted” buildings around the country.

In Dave Trumbore’s 2016 article “Spooky Science: The Ghost Frequency”, he writes that 19Hz sounds can resonate with the human eyeball and cause things in the peripheral vision appear larger and scarier than they actually are.

This information will come in handy for horror movies and video games. Imagine playing Dead Space with this effect in the background!

If you have the set up for low frequency and sub bass, try giving it a listen (free on Youtube)
18.98Hz “Ghost Frequency”

Tandy, V. and Lawrence, T.R., 1998. The ghost in the machine. JOURNAL-SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH62, pp.360-364.
Trumbore, D, 2016. “Spooky Science: The Ghost Frequency”

Learning to use the Avid S6…

…..The new control surface designed for Pro Tools.

The S6 works as a hardware interface for Pro Tools, allowing the user to control the program from a desk rather than with just mouse and keyboard. A daunting program for beginners, Pro Tools is made a lot easier with this as everything is laid out rather than hidden behind multiple screens and pop up windows.

The desk is in the dubbing theatre, used for recording voice overs for TV and film. I’ll be in there a lot in the coming months, helping with the editing and mixing after the fun part – making sound effects – is all done. Looking forward to the experience!

My experiences with the S6 are that it is a massive improvement when automating anything. Volume changes, effect addition or subtraction and panning all instantly become more visible and controllable. The modular layout of the desk is also a massive plus as each owner can purchase as little or as much as required. Working on a large film project, such as the one I am currently mixing, requires tracks to be hidden in the DAW to free up space on the surface. While this isn’t much of a big deal, it balances the time saved by having physical faders and pots to use.