The opening shot of this example had a lorry coming into shot from the background and passing from right to left, followed by a shot of a combine harvester. The sync sound was in mono, probably from the camera mic, and I chose to replace most of it with stereo effects from my library. The only sync sound I kept in this section was a close-up of the combine harvester coming into shot at the end. I needed a ‘new’ lorry and a combine-harvester effect and so went to the library to find suitable candidates.
Post-production work is thus a matter of systematically working through the Session adding and replacing sound effects, massaging the transitions with cross fades and so on, and then mixing the effects in with the sync sound, commentary and music to produce the finished programme.
Post-production facilities have libraries of sound effects. These will be a combination of their own specially recorded sound effects and commercially available libraries from companies like the BBC that you can buy from the BBC, Digiffects, or Sound Ideas.
A growing third source of sound effects is on-line downloadable libraries like StockMusic.com and Sound-Effects-Library.com and there are some 200-plus of my own sound effects available on the latter here! These sites allow you to search for a particular sound effect, audition it, buy it and download it to use it in your project.
In the early days sound effects were stored on vinyl and quarter-inch tape and you searched through books for a particular sound effect, then went and got the tape or disc off the shelf and played the effect from that. Then CDs came along, first with paper directories and then searchable databases, but now the most common storage technique is to keep them on hard drives, either as MP3s or WAV files, and use dedicated software such as Soundminer or Mtools from Gallery Software to search, audition and import them directly into Pro Tools.
Alternatively you can do as I do and use Digibase Pro from within Pro Tools. This enables you to search and audition your sound effects library without ever leaving Pro Tools. I have all my sound effects (over 40,000 and growing!) on one drive and I have used Digibase Pro to catalogue them all, so from the Catalog section of the Workspace window I can select my Sound Effects catalogue and open it in another window.
From this window I can search for a suitable sound effect, for example for the opening shot in the Session described here. Click on the magnifying glass button on the Catalog window and ‘Find’ row will appear towards the top of it. You can do a search in any of the fields. On my system, the sound effect details are in the ‘Database Comment’ field, so I enter a suitable set of keywords in this field (in this case I chose ‘lorry pass’), hit Enter and Pro Tools searches my catalogue of 40,000-plus sound effects and comes up with 19 items. Now I can audition any of these possible candidates in two ways: clicking and holding on the ‘speaker’ icon for that file plays that item from the start, whereas clicking and holding anywhere in the Waveform section plays the file from that point. Once you have identified a suitable file, you can drag it from the Catalog window across into a suitable track on the Edit window. Note that as you drag it around the Session, the video will scroll backwards and forwards, so helping you place or ‘spot’ the sound effect more accurately even though the region is still an ‘outline’.
Once you let go, Pro Tools will then automatically import and convert the file in the background. Whilst it is doing this it shows the region in light blue. Once the conversion process is finished, this will change to a normal region with name and waveform. At this point, I rename the region with an appropriate name for the Session.
Thanks to Digibase Pro I have been able to search for, audition and import a sound effect into my Pro Tools Session all without leaving Pro Tools or my seat! Before Digibase Pro using sample CDs, I would have to had to switch out of Pro Tools into a separate sound-effects database, in my case in was Filemaker Pro, search for an effect, get the list of 19 effects, then get up and pull the appropriate CDs from the shelves, listen to each track to decide which one was right, and finally load that into Pro Tools, which was so much slower.