Hart FX, The New Independent SFX Company of Colin Hart [Exclusive Q&A]
Some months ago, a very good friend of mine started to work on a new sound effects company, putting a lot of effort and passion on the first release, which turned really awesome. The name of this guy is Colin Hart, and is a pleasure for me to introduce you to Hart FX, a new fantastic place for amazing and affordable sound effects for sound designers.
The first library (released today) is called Industrial 001 and contains more than 1000 sounds (over 20GB of material) recorded form different industrial tools such as saws, pneumatic compressors, drills, and more.
Colin recorded lots of different performances and several perspectives, using two Deva V recorders simultaneously, with the following microphones:
- Sennheiser MKH800 MS Stereo Setup
- Sanken CSS-5 Stereo Setup
- Sanken Cub01 Stereo Setup
- Sennheiser MKH60 Shotguns
- Audio Technica AT4060 Tube Mic
There’s a Complete HD version of the library at 192kHz/24-Bit, which includes all the perspectives separately, so you can do your own mix of the recording, or just use one of them. Also, the file is metadata enriched, so you can search by microphone used, or the distance, etc. That’s what I call flexibility! (And wait… it’s just $99).
Colin is also offering 96k and 48k versions of the libraries ($59 and $29 respectively), including the full mixes of each recording and fewer files included. There’s also a free version available for download. Check the product page for more info.
And well, as you may know I love this kid of projects, and I like to give you more information about the amazing persons behind them and also get more information about the libraries. So, here is a Q&A session I had with Colin, talking about Hart FX:
DS: Colin, please introduce yourself to the readers. Could you tell us a bit more about your career and what you do with sound?
CH: Hey Miguel! Well, I’ve been doing sound for about 12 or 13 years now. I’ve been doing it professionally for 7. I started out doing live sound gigs for a number of years, and then I started to develop an interest in film sound, but I got my foot in the door in music. I worked at Electric Lady Studios for a little over a year , and worked with on and around some killer projects, but didn’t really like the industry, so I finally followed my heart into film. Trained doing that for a while and did a few cool gigs here and there. I got fed up with New York City and moved down to Orlando to teach sound at Full Sail University, which is where I am now. I love it here. I teach about 8 – 10 days a month, which is very rewarding, and I get to do some sound editing here and there over at our dubbing stage. One of the great things about Full Sail is that my schedule is such that I can lead a very busy freelance life. That has allowed me to do a ton of freelance gigs as well as start this company
DS: What about creating your own sfx company appealed to you? What are your expectations with it?
CH: Well, I’ve been recording sound effects for a little over two years now, so I’ve started accumulating a lot of them. Back in February, I discovered and outlet, or an audience, for my work, which is my blog. I started putting a bunch of my work up there, which made recording sound effects more rewarding for me. As I started getting into the community, I started getting more traffic, and realized that people really liked my work. Then all of these independent libraries started coming out, and I said, “Hey, I can do that!” And so I did.
My main goal with HartFX is to make great sounds accessible to people who can’t afford expensive sound libraries. Expensive libraries and expensive gear can often be one of the biggest barriers to entry in this industry. If you don’t have access to a library, it can be very difficult to post a project. I know, because I’ve been there.
Another thing I’ve found with a lot of bigger libraries is a lack of quality. That’s one of the same reasons Ric Viers started his company. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found an awesome sound in a library that I couldn’t use because I could hear crickets in the background, or I could hear the operator breathing or something like that. Maybe it was the perfect sound, but I needed a different perspective. Maybe I needed a close up, or maybe it was mic’d too close and needed to sound more natural. With my multi mic library (the Industrial Complete HD), I’ve fixed that. Now you get one sound from 5 different perspectives, plus a mix that I’ve done for each one. That’s 6 files per sound.
So in a nutshell, my goal is to make an incredibly high quality product (as good as, if not better than the big companies) for a very accessible price. That’s why my nearly 24gb Industrial library (which I’ve been told I should sell for between $300 and $500) is only $99.
DS: What do you think about this independent sound effects scene that has been growing rapidly these days?
CH: I think it’s amazing. Like I said before, it’s all about quality and accessibility. All of the guys that have their own libraries out now are amazingly talented at what they do, and their work is very high quality. That, paired with the low prices that everybody is offering is great! The other cool thing is that you get very unique, very specific libraries. If you go to a bigger company for an animal library, you might get one or two dogs, a few cats, some other random animals, and you’ll pay a couple hundred bucks for it. In the independent world, you can go to Chuck’s site and get a library of tons of dog sounds for just $75.
Another cool thing is that most of these libraries are geared towards sound designers. I’m not expecting anybody to buy my library because they need a great sound of a saw cutting through wood for a documentary they are doing about woodworkers. While that might happen, it’s probably going to be a rare case. What I’m expecting is for sound designers to download it and say, “hey that saw would make a fantastic vocal element to this creature, or that weapon.” Hence my company tagline: “Sound Effects for Sound Designers.”
DS: Do you think this community has influenced you (and others) to start these types of projects?
CH: Most definitely. One of the cool things about being a part of the online sound community is that not only do I have an awesome group of people to ask questions to and talk to, but I have constant inspiration from other people doing other work. I might hear the coolest sound, like Nathan’s pork lard sounds, and be very inspired to go do something I hadn’t thought of doing before. And what’s even cooler is that when I’m done, I get to bring it back and show the community, which then can inspire someone else. It’s a cyclical thing that just kind of snowballs. That’s one of the main reasons I even started doing the libraries. I knew I had people that would want the sounds. Very cool.
Let’s talk about the industrial library. How much time did you spent on it? Could you tell us more about the recording sessions, and the different sources you recorded?
CH: Well, I spent about 12 hours recording it, 40 hours editing it, and about 12 – 15 hours doing metadata entry, paperwork, sample rate conversion, packaging and compression, etc..
The recording sessions were kind of cool. I didn’t know a lot about the tools, but my assistant, Andy Raut, did. He’s a fellow sound guy, and happens to be very handy with power tools, so I enlisted his help. We devised a list of everything we wanted to record (which is much longer than what we had time to record), then set up a time to record it all. I arrived and set up the recorders and mics (I had two Zaxcom Deva Vs, and about 10 mics), and he showed me a little about the tools, how they worked, etc… and I figured out the best way to mic them. So we mic’d up the first tool (the Mitar Saw was the first one we recorded) and went to town. I had set up a digital sound report in Pages on my laptop, and I kept track of everything there. I wrote down what tool was used, what action it was doing, and all of the mic positions for every single take (we had nearly 100 takes in all – about 37gb of source material).
We would finish one tool, make sure we had everything, then move on to the next one. It took us 2 6-hour sessions to finish it all. We recorded around 20 different sources total. So many of them sounded so amazingly cool! And a lot of the sounds didn’t make it into the library this time around. I’m planning on making expansions some time in the future.
DS: Any of those “cool” accidents? Or an special anecdote from the sessions?
At one point we had the big compression tank all miked up doing the hose release sounds (we were pulling the hose out of the tank, so all of the air released out of the 50′ hose). Apparently we dipped below the trip level on the tank right in the middle of it and we got a great sound of the tank compressor kicking on and filling the tank. Not really something you can do on command. Luckily, we got the sound without any contamination and it made it into the library.
Also, I found out that a Deva V doesn’t like to do more than 5, sometimes 6 tracks of 192k 24b, which is why we ended up with 2 Devas. We even used the overclocked service mode to put the processor on high speed (ask me, I might tell you how to do this :-) ! ) and when we had 6 or 7 tracks open, it would start the take, get 15 seconds into it, then just stop recording. No warning, no error message, just stopped. So that took a little while to figure out, but it eventually worked out.
I’m sure there are more in there, but my brain isn’t quite working too well at the moment. Too busy worrying about the product launch in a few hours!
DS: And what about the Drag Race library? When will it be released? We know it’s an smaller package, but could you share some details with us?
CH: The drag race library is a cool little library. I started just going out to the track to get some cool sounds. The first time I went I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I had never been there before – I had never been to any drag track ever before – I didn’t know if they would even let me record at all. I got there and just kind of wandered around for a bit, scoping the place out, then chose a spot to record from, and just started recording.
Long story short, almost everything was terrible. All contaminated. So, I decided to go back a second day to try again. This time, I made sure to check the schedule of the race track next to the drag strip to make sure no races were going on, making it impossible to record. There weren’t. I was in luck! So on that second day, I got there at 8am on a Saturday and recorded until 3:30pm. It was a testing and qualifying day, so there was NOBODY in the stands! I was allowed out on the track behind the cars, so I got some crazy good stuff! You can check out some videos of it and sample sounds on the HartFX site.
More on that library later!
DS: What’s coming on HartFX? Any hints for the next releases?
CH: I have a few up my sleeve. I’d love to be able to get a third title out before AES, but if I manage it, it will be a smaller one. No promises, but I’ll try. In the distant future, I plan to have a pretty amazing airplane one in there :-)