Categories Menu

Posted by on Dec 20, 2010 | 8 comments

Frank Bry Special: The Making of Ultimate Fire Sound Effects Library

[Written by Frank Bry for Designing Sound]

This is a little different from my previous articles. I had planned to write a massive article on the making of the library. I have been writing so much lately that I thought it was best to give the written language a break from my abuse and half baked prose. I decided the making of this library was best told with visual images and sounds from the library. The video contains footage of my fire recording sessions from early to late 2010. I am also showing for the first time the “Spanky Cam.” It’s my iPhone held in my hand as I try to melt bottles of flammable liquid. I also include new footage not seen in the teaser or trailer. As you watch you can follow along with the on screen captions giving you all the play-by-play action as it happens. If you have ten minutes to burn, watch the video. Please excuse the Infomercial type music, except the credits music at the end, that’s mine. It’s the best I could do in the time alotted.

I managed to keep track of all the hours it took to make this video and when added up I realized I’m not in this for the money. I have to wear all the hats around here, even the one I wear when I plow my driveway of snow. Video production is now one of the hats I’m really starting to enjoy. I did this because I really had fun with the video. Being able to put together this footage of my many recording fiascos brings me tremendous joy knowing others will be watching, learning, and most importantly, laughing.

Some mind numbing technical notes on what it took to make this video:

  • 74 hours of video editing
  • 18 hours of audio prep, sound design, music editing, and final mxing
  • 5 hours encoding and uploading final video
  • 100 Gigabytes of raw HD footage material
  • 7 Gigabytes of final HD footage using the Apple Pro Res 422 HQ codec
  • 4 Macintosh computers (I like to multitask)
  • 0.5 hours rebooting the computers for one reason or another

Software programs used to make this monster:

  • Final Cut Pro
  • Compressor
  • iMovie 09 (for titles)
  • Quicktime
  • Photoshop CS3
  • Pixelmator
  • iPhoto
  • TextWrangler
  • Pro Tools 9 HD
  • Soundtrack Pro
  • Peak Pro
  • Soundminer Pro v4
  • Waves Plug Ins
  • Izotope RX2


  1. Great stuff Frank! Appreciate all the hard work gone into making the library AND the video! I always feel like a retard when I try and put something together in Final Cut Pro from recording session footage so I appreciate a job well done! 

  2. While I have to say the sounds captured seem great, I couldn’t help but wonder how dangerous this situation could have been.

    First, I didn’t see any fire extinguishers in sight. Multiple times you reference to things becoming “out of hand,” and the fact that there was objects in the way to safely accomplish what you’d like to do. It wasn’t until you started recording swooshes that I started getting quite concerned.

    A water bucket won’t always be able to save you when these situations get out of hand. You can get a fire extinguisher for $40. Given all the gear that was used for the project, a little bit for the safety of you, your family and your neighbors would have been considerate.

    What worries me is how many other field recordists will try to copy your situation and not take fire safety into serious consideration. Please add a disclaimer to others to be more prepared when recording fire!

  3. Actually I was in no real danger and my garage was in no danger at all. I do not live in the city and this is something I would never do in the city suburbs. I live in North Idaho on 7 acres. All my burning and recording was done during the burning seasons in Idaho. The ground was very wet as was the forest. No one here burns in the hot dry summer. I never burn during the summer. I always make sure that I recorded the fire during the times in North Idaho that burning without a permit is allowed. This is (or was) logging country and the regulations are very different that in other parts of the country.

    My garage has 18 inches of concrete foundation before the siding begins and the torch landed 2 feet from the side of the building. I was just being extra careful because I could have just kicked it onto the lawn and let it burn out. I take this very seriously. I did not see the need for any extra measures while recording. There was a fire extinguisher in the tractor trailer that was easy to get to and there is one in my garage and one in my kitchen.

    My neighbors were neer in any danger. The closest neighbor is 300 yards or more away. Out of hand to me ment that it went beyond the the expectation of what I was aimg for when recording a paticuar sound effect and the is some dramatic license taken.

    All went well and I am fine. I am very safe and as safe as one can be when I record. things can happen I know, but that’s also true with real life everyday thigs.

    I understand in this day and age that people an get crazy ideas from what they see and hear in the world around them. I’m glad I’m not in the television production industry where they have to constantly think of what might happen if someone copied or got ideas from what they were producing.

    I will draft a disclaimer and have it posted but people will do what they want to do anyway.

    – Frank

  4. It’s like with all the warnings on the Ladders we buy, people still fall off them.

  5. Great to hear some feedback Frank!

    I felt that on a blog dedicated to sound design / field recording techniques, that perhaps mentioning a bit about the safety aspects would be good. While I’m sure the write-up wasn’t a tutorial on recording fire, the behind the scenes video might encourage others to give it a try.

    One thing to perhaps keep in mind is the possibility of igniting yourself on fire. As we’ve been taught growing up, stop drop and roll is the best method to extinguish yourself, you would be surprised how many people I’ve seen forget it at times. Something always to be mindful of especially if you are recording alone.

    Also there was the experimentation with various fuels in plastic bottles that had me a bit worried. Information is available out there on results you could expect. Not only could this allow you to safely carry out what you were accomplishing, but also give you the added benefit of being able to “sequence” what would happen. For example, I noticed when you tossed in the container of gasoline it was pretty lackluster. The fumes of gasoline is what is combustible and not necessarily the liquid.

    Overall, I’m glad to hear that you felt safe during the recording, and that the captions were more of dramatic license, however it might be worth addressing some of the safety concerns in “high-risk” recordings (fire, explosives, machinery) such as this. Also, feel free to check out the website of the fire arts group that I’m involved with.

  6. Loved the credits! ;)

    But a great library Frank. One of my best purchases after Ultimate Mud

  7. Excellent video Frank! I’ve shown this to my post audio students. It’s an great example of whats involved to record excellent sounding effects. ….And perhaps a lesson of safety while doing so! 

    They absolutely loved the fire whooshes!

  8. This is a great video! I love the part right under 8 minutes. I swear you rehearsed that. Sounds like you got some great sounds in there, and it looked like a lot of fun, though I don’t think I’d trust myself doing it :)


  1. Designing Sound TV – The Making of Ultimate Fire Sound Effects Library - [...] here. [...]
  2. Designing Sound’s “Frank Bry Special” - The Sonic Spread - [...] The Making of Ultimate Fire Sound Effects Library [...]
  3. 011 – Big Gun design case study | - [...] Frank Bry – fire Usenbenz Emesser test Rumpus ftp software Signiant media shuttle Wiredrive Interdubs SATA to USB…

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *