Weaponiser is a new weapon sound design plug-in by Krotos Audio, the makers of Dehumaniser and Reformer. With the rise in use of CGI, even on lower budget productions, depicting the use of weapons in a production has become much easier - instead of having to have a trained firearms department to safely use blanks and real weapons on set, it is now possible to add muzzle flashes, impacts and cartridge ejects in post-production. In some cases the entire weapon is CGI or the production is sci-fi or period, so a working version of the weapon doesn't even exist. It's this latter category that also covers game sound design.
Because of my start in the industry, I've always leaned more towards post-production mixing than the actual creation and editing of the sounds - the sound design as it's become known. I had dabbled with samplers in the late eighties, but as soon as DAWs and digital mixing technology came along, I went more down the mixing route and creating sounds "in the box" plus using sound effect libraries.
Although there are some incredible sampler plug-ins available, I've always been a bit intimidated by them. You also tend to end up using more than one tool, just to create one sound. I'm often presented with a single gun effect which has in excess of 20 layers. This also creates an issue with track count, plus also modifying the sound effect if the director changes their mind.
Weaponiser is the first Sound Design tool I've seen that just makes sense to me from the outset and brings together all the tools I need in one plug-in.
"Signature" (But Boring)
When you start relying on sound effect libraries some issues arise. Firstly, everyone starts gravitating towards a "signature" sound effect. A classic example of this is the "Dirty Harry Magnum". Sound effects become so over-used that they become the public expectation of what a gun should sound like. And as drama reflects reality, there is increasing use of automatic weapons. When you loop a sound effect in rapid succession, it's very easy to tell that it's just one sound repeated. It's also then difficult to lend each side in a gunfight with its own "character". "Real" gun sound effects generally sound a lot weedier than the public expectation. In order to convey the true power of a weapon, you need to layer up the actual effect with sweeteners and somehow inject a random quality to avoid repetitive loops.
Weaponiser could never be described as "boring" however and gets around this issue by presenting you with four distinct sections -
Weaponiser Fully Loaded extends the power of Weaponiser Basic by adding a comprehensive library of professionally recorded weapon sounds, in total 2288 assets, 1596 edited Weapon recordings, 13 weapons, 692 sweeteners, 39 IRs and 135 presets. There is an almost bewildering choice of different types of weapon, broken down also into types, plus really handy sweeteners, tails, foley and impulse responses available. You really are spoilt for choice. And with Krotos' purpose recorded library, you can be sure that no-one else has exactly the same sound as you. All the weapons have multiple takes and are recorded at a variety of distances.
Here's how Krotos went about acquiring this extensive library -
Weaponiser has four engines, for the Onset, Body, Thump and Tail. The first three engines are a hybrid of multi-bank samplers and a synth section, tailored to the purpose of each engine. The Tail engine has an Impulse Response Reverb instead of the synth section. You can load up to five samples into each bank of each engine, which Weaponiser will play in turn, adding variation to your layered sound effect. You can also add a predetermined amount of variation to the speed and level parameters. You are not constrained to using Krotos' own sound effects either, you can easily import your own samples into the plug-in.
Using the Timeline you can adjust the relative timing of each engine. You can put it into burst mode, which loops the layered effects, plus also dial in some random timing variations using the Drunk control.
At any point you can solo or mute each engine in the mixer section. This section is very similar to the mixer in your daw and offers a variety of effects and dynamics as well as being able to control the reverb send levels for each engine. Using this you can quickly and easily tailor the overall shape of the weapon effect. You can also output each engine discretely, which is a welcome bonus if you're working in surround or immersive audio.
See how I got on with it, in this video -
Weaponiser has re-awoken my passion for sound design. For too long I was falling back on sound effects libraries and the talents of others. Although there are many great presets, the super-intuitive user interface actively encourages you to get stuck in to bring your own original input, to create fresh new sounds that will keep both your audience and most importantly, your client, excited about your work. I haven't been able to even scratch the surface of all the available options in this review - I keep discovering new ways to manipulate the sound.
If I'd tried to cover all the features in this plug-in, this article would be pages long and the video would run to an hour easily. My best recommendation would be to try the plug-in for yourself, then watch one of the excellent tutorials by Krotos, such as this one -
Weaponiser Fully Loaded is available for £379 (ex taxes) from Krotos Audio. Despite the name, this is an incredibly powerful and versatile sound design tool, that you could use on virtually any layered sound effect. Krotos have built an excellent all-round tool but made it even better by responding magnificently to a growing need in the industry.
- Mac Intel computer with a minimum of 2.4 GHz Intel Dual Core Processor
- 4 GB of RAM
- OS X 10.9 or later
- 2.4 GHz Intel Dual Core Processor
- 4 GB of RAM
- Windows 7 64-bit or above
- 5.46 GB Hard Disk space
- This software is a digital download
- Formats (64-bit only): AAX Native/AudioSuite, VST, AU
- Minimum sample rate: 44.1 kHz
- Maximum sample rate: 192 kHz
- An internet connection is required at the time of activation
- Screen resolution of 1280×1024 or higher
- An iLok account (available for free at ilok.com) is required to activate and use both the demo and full version of the software
- Weaponiser can only be activated on one computer at a time
- An iLok 2 or later is required for dongle use
- Supported host applications: Pro Tools (11 or later), Logic Pro X, Nuendo, Live, Cubase, Reaper and Ableton Live