If you have ever tried to find a sound effect in someone else's system and struggled because they call things by different names or organise things differently. Tim Nielsen who is a supervising sound editor, sound designer and re-recording mixer at Skywalker Sound and for a while, he has been developing a universal Category / SubCategory list for organising sound effects. The aim was to make it freely available to anyone needing such a system. I will let Tim explain....
Wherever I have taught classes and seminars, one thing became very clear. Students just starting out often find the challenge of how to organise one’s library daunting. While organising a library is really up to the user, I felt there was a place, perhaps even need, for a starting-off place for people looking for a way to organise their library. I took as many category lists as I could find, and have built out what I think is a fairly comprehensive list of categories and subcategories that could be used in the organisation of a library.
There is an optional ‘LongID’ system that could also be used in the naming of filenames. For each category and subcategory, there is an abbreviated LongID. If used at the beginning of your filename, it will group all sounds together in a ProTools region list, and offer consistency in filenames. The LongID system I came up with is admittedly a bit longer than others but should allow easy identification of category and subcategory by a quick glance of the filename.
Justin Drury of Soundminer has just implemented this list directly into the program, available as a workflow action that works as a sort of selection tree and it is available on V4.5Pro in builds later than v263.
With it, you could assign a record or series of records, to any category/subcategory listing here with pretty much a single click. It will then set the CATEGORY, SUBCATEGORY and LONGID fields in Soundminer to your selection. By making it a pop-up tree structure, you won’t have to remember or consult excel sheets to constantly find your category and subcategory.
Of course, I expect many people will have differing opinions on this, and find many frustrating faults in the system I’ve come up with. While I’ve tried to make it as comprehensive as I could, I’m sure people will find categories they’d like that are missing. Likewise, I know some categories here will feel pointless or redundant to other people. You are of course free to modify this list and system any way you’d like. We make it freely available to the world. Even in Soundminer, it’s possible to adjust the list with a little work behind the scenes.
So please take this for what it is, an attempt to offer some structure and organisational help to anyone struggling with it. We offer it up in the hopes that it will be useful to someone!
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More About Tim Nielsen
Tim was born and raised in Minnesota and moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to study in the graduate program at USC. In a way, his career at Skywalker Sound started in 1996 while still a student. That year he was selected as Skywalker Sound’s first official intern, spending the summer under the guidance of Gary Rydstrom. After graduating, he moved to the San Francisco area to begin work at Skywalker Sound. In 2001 he moved to New Zealand to work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His other films include Pirates of the Caribbean, Galaxy Quest, Hellboy, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Prince of Persia, John Carter, Maleficent and many others. He’s just finished work supervising, designing, and mixing the animated film The Little Prince. In addition to his film work, he’s an avid sound effects recordist and enjoys writing about and teaching others about sound effects recording and design.
Tim Also Has His Own Sound Effects Collections
Mike takes a closer look at three sound effects libraries from the Independent Sound Effects Libraries of Tim Nielsen who is a sound designer and supervising sound editor working in Northern California.