The Recordist Releases “Ultimate Wood” SFX Library, Q&A Included

The Recordist has released another of his great “Ultimate” collections. We’ve seen ice, rocks, splashes, snow, mud and more. Now the turn is for Wood!

Presenting the Ultimate Wood Sound Effects Library. This massive collection of 500 wood based sound effects recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz includes: gigantic trees falling, tree bark cracks, sheets of plywood ripped apart, heavy beams dropped, logs rolling down hills, wood panel cracks and tiny branch snaps just to name a few.

This library was started in the summer of 2007 and involved recording all kinds of wood. The sessions were many and exhausting. I ventured out into the forest and recorded all sorts of wood stumps, trees, branches and twigs. Wood was rolled, cracked, snapped, dropped, thrown, dragged and hit for a wide selection of natural forest sound elements.

Other sounds include: the walls of a house being ripped apart and hit with a crowbar, A cargo box moved and shaken and a bookcase stressed and warped.

I also recorded all kinds of lumber and large cut logs in my backyard foley pit. Multiple microphones were used on many occasions to capture the dynamic quality of the wood source and they are included as separate stereo files. Mix and process these wood sounds to your hearts content. Never before has a collection of wood sound effects been available like this. Enjoy! -Frank

Ultimate Wood SFX Library – $50 | 920.5MB | 500 files | 24-Bit 96kHz | Metadata ready

And here is a Q&A with Frank, who tell us the details behind the recording and editing processes of these great wood sound effects.

DS: How was the planning of this library?

FB: Well, you know me and planning don’t get along too well… seriously though I did do some planning as to when I went out to record. Different seasons and weather conditions came into play. I tried to get as many different forest wood sounds as I could. When it was dry I recorded the brittle cracking and breaking and when it was wet I recorded rotten stumps being pushed over and torn apart. I could not plan for the house wall crack and break session. That was a very quick “grab the mic and go” type of session.

DS: What kind of props and tools you used during the sessions?

FB: I used what was around me at the time. For the plywood cracking I used some very old sheets off decayed plywood that I found in the woods. I set up a wood pallet with 4×4 posts laid across so the plywood would have some weight to it. The plywood was very dry and falling apart so without a semi-hollow wood bas under it it would have sounded very thin, not what I was looking for.

For the log drops I used my tractor and did some heavy lifting on my own to get them over the embankment. My chainsaw came in handy first to cut them to length. They were for my winter firewood so they were cut to a length that was easy to drag them out of the woods after cutting them down.

DS: What were the main challenges recording that wide variety of wood sounds?

FB: I would have to say the biggest challenge was getting the recording levels right. Wood has a very dynamic range and sometimes it’s really loud and at others very soft. I tried to do level tests but when your lifting and moving 500 pound logs around you might as well just go for it because it’s very exhausting. This was true with the plywood cracking also. I only had a few shots at the cracking so I just hoped I got the level good enough and not clipped the signal.

And what about the editing and tagging/naming processes?

FB: Nothing that out of the ordinary with naming and tagging. I did have some frustrations with some of the file names. Sometimes I was stumped (no pun intended) as to what a file should be named. Is it a crack? crunch? tear? break? rip? I eventually gave up and took my best shot. For me, the file name is very important so I struggled for some time with the wood files. At least I put in the (David Farmer invention) four letter first word “WOOD” in the file name so it will sort correctly in the finder and a session. I’m a big fan of the four letter code in the file name. I’ve been using it since the early Soundminer days when the CD ripper they offered had that as a file naming preset.

DS: I wonder what were the microphone choices and how was the setup like. Also what kind of precautions did you take in order to protect the gear? (and yourself!)

FB: I mainly used my Sanken CSS-5 with the PCM-D1 as a back up recorder when doing sessions that I had to set up for. When I was wandering around the woods I would use either the CSS-5 on a mic stand (try that in the middle of a thick forest on a hillside with 6% grade, very fun) or the AT-835ST. The AT-835ST was the easiest to use when I was using the pistol grip and was lost in the woods. It’s very light and and sounded good for wood stump recording. I would stick the mic right at the base of a wet, rotten stump and rip it out of the ground. With the mic that close it had a full bodied sound that can be used for other things besides wood based sound design.

For the logs rolling down hills I used the PCM-D1 because the XY mic pattern seemed to sound the best to me. It pick up the far left and far right sides of the rolling pass bys. I was funny to see that little recorder sitting in the woods with big logs rolling by it. Sometimes I could not see where it was and it got clocked once. It also got hit by a beam once. It’s in the video and it survived.

Sometimes I would set up all my gear and let it roll. I wanted to see how the different microphones handled the wood. In the library you can hear the different qualities and I mastered them as natural as I could.

With wood safety is the top concern. I did not do the massive tree cutting and falling for the large trees in the library. I know my limits and those trees were 3 feet around at the base and very tall with massive branches reaching for the sky. I hired a experienced logger to come and cut them. I made sure that I wore gloves at all times when handling wood. Getting a splinter is not fun and thankfully I did not get one. I also was very aware of my footing while handling heavy pieces of wood or tree stumps. The last thing you want to do is fall on a sharp stick.

DS: Rockslide, Concrete, Ice, Snow, Mud, Splash, Fire and now Wood! It seems like this Ultimate collection is getting bigger and bigger. Do you have any plans for future releases in these Ultimate series?

FB: This is the last Ultimate collection for a while. I’m working on some other massive collections that will have a different name scheme. They will be very much like the Ultimate libraries in scope but will be called something a little different. Look for some surprises. I will be releasing some 192k libraries soon. Most of the time 96k is enough for me but I have been recording most things now at 192k just to have that resolution in my archives. I am also going to focus on some smaller collections for a while. I have a huge amount of material to release that’s very different than what I’ve been doing the last two years.

Thanks so much for allowing me to answer you questions. As always, it’s a pleasure.

Disclaimer: Recording wood can be very dangerous. Loggers take it very seriously. Be very safe. If you do go out and record tree falls, always wear a hard hat. I did even though I look really silly with any hat on.

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