Many of you already know what the “Ultimate” word means in the sfx world… More fun from The Recordist! This time the turn is for chains, featured in the new Ultimate Chain library, which includes 670 different sounds presented on 160 files recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz in WAV format.
Included in this collection are a wide variety of performances with large heavy chains, medium chains, small chains, load binders, dumpster chains and much more.
The chains were pulled through hooks, dragged on many types of surfaces and objects, hit, dropped, squeaked, and whipped around. Other props were used to enhance the chain actions like 55 gallon oil drums, old wood stoves, 1 inch think steel plates, well cover, wood deck, pipes, concrete block debris and many others. A large portion of this library was recorded with the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST with it’s extended high frequency range. Designing with the sounds from this microphone at lower pitches can create some amazing heavy chain effects for your work.
Ultimate Chain is available now at $75. Sound list and details here.
Also, I talked with Frank about this new release. Here’s what he tell us:
Designing Sound: What inspired you to create this library?
Frank Bry: I love designing sounds with metal of any kind. When I first started to record at 24/96 back in 2006 one of the first sessions was chains in a huge barn. I have recorded many chains in the past but this time around I really noticed how awesomely bright and bitting chains can be, not to mention extremely loud. Chains of all sizes make all kinds of noises, from subtle clinks to huge clanks. I have needed chain source in the past for many of the games I’ve worked on so I figured it was about time to make a collection that at the least covered what I have needed. During the recording process I started to realize that it can be much bigger and better, so I kept on going until I had what I thought was a good set of sounds with enough variety. I wanted to include some ratchets and pulley chains but I could not find a place that would let me in for a session at this time. Ultimate Chain 2 will focus on those.
DS: How has been your experience with these kinds of sounds for design? How you typically use these sounds on your work?
FB: I first realized the need for chains when I was working on the video game Dungeon Siege. There were all sorts of chains used in the game. Whether they were on a snow beast, castle door, magic spell or as part of a weapon, I needed many types and sizes. I used some of my recordings and some from libraries but I always felt I never had enough variety.
An example of how I would use chains in my work is cinematic work I did for Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. There is this huge robot made out of a performance stage with guitar amps and wires hanging off it. When I needed to make the sound of it moving around I use chains to enhance the guitar cords and plugs jangling around. The chains were layered in over some hanging pipes and wire recordings I had made back in the 90s and it worked really well in a dense 5.1 cinematic mix.
The chains in this library do way more than jangle and clink. I pulled them across all kinds of objects and surfaces. I dropped them on different surfaces, pulled them though hooks and hit them with a sledgehammer. Sometimes a chain is only as good as the hooks on the ends. They make a lot of the noise you hear in the chain. If someone has the time to play around with all the different chains in this library they will notice that quite a bit of non-chain sounds can be made.
DS: I see you’re working with a new rig based on Sennheiser 8040ST, which was used for the library. Could you talk us about those gear choices, use of other mics and how the sessions went?
FB: The matched stereo pair of Sennheiser 8040s rig really opened my eyes (and ears) to the endless possibilities when sounds recorded with them are pitched down an octave or more. This is especially true with the chains. A medium chain can be turned into a huge chain with the simple act of pitching it down and a lot of the high frequency range is retained. Not that this is a new concept but I never heard that with my other mics even though they were great mics. When I was recording the medium and small chains I had to be careful not to turn the headphones to high while performing the actions. I found out the hard way that chains are loud when dropped or handled. There is so much high frequency information transmitted by certain chains that at times my ears were ringing after a session. I eventually used earplugs and hoped for the best while recording. The earplugs also allowed me to be more aggressive with some of the chains.
The Sennheiser 8040ST records up to 50k and I never knew so much ultra sonic stuff was in some of the recordings. The crickets were the worst offenders. I would go out and record with the 8040s and it would be really quiet in general. When I played back the takes in the studio and pitched them down a bit I could hear the crickets. Damn them, they almost ruined everything! Working with the 8040ST rig has changed the way I work. I’ve been using stereo shotgun mics for a long time and they can be very forgiving when working in places that have some background noise. Where I live in North Idaho its very quiet… until you use the 8040ST which when in XY mode pics up a lot more background noise. Now I have wait until it’s stupid quiet to record some things, probably in the middle of the night.
DS: Can you tell us about the editing and mastering process?
FB: I found out chains can be very dynamic. When I was editing them I did my best to even out the levels between the takes. It was tough because I wanted to keep the subtle parts intact but at the same time make them all evenly matched in volume. All in all it was a fairly straight forward mastering process. There is no heavy processing or EQ on the chains just the occasional low cut filter and Waves L2 limiting. These are pretty much the raw chain recordings just topped and tailed with fades and leveled.
DS: Did you get unexpected sounds or “happy accidents”? Also, what are your favorite recordings from the library?
FB: My favorite recordings are from an old wood stove with some heavy steel bars across it. I used a medium and large chain and pulled them across the top of the stove and it made this great beefy “Gearbox” type of sound. It was an accident how I got there. One day when I was setting up to record some chains on concrete I hit the stove by mistake as I was carrying the chains over to the area I was going to record. I just loved the hollow box sound that came out of it so I clanked it a few more times and then set it up for recording.
DS: How are your other projects going? What’s next for you and The Recordist?
FB: Right now my main focus is on my sound libraries. I do have some video game projects coming up but most of my time will be spent on developing new and exciting source material for sound designers. I am really having the time of my life right now with this kind of work. There is nothing like getting up in the morning and saying to myself “What am I going to record today?” unless I have to jump on the tractor and mow the 3 acres of grass I have here on the ranch.
I’m working on a new thunder library called “Thunderscapes” which is common knowledge at this point. I’m recording most of it with the Sennheiser 8040ST rig and so far I’ve never heard thunder with this much natural low end and clarity as these mics have.
I’m not sure but I think 80% of what I record is hear on the ranch. It’s been great but I’m thinking of getting out of the house for a while later this summer if my schedule permits. I might go on a 3 month journey around the country and see what I can record. I have a few places in mind I want to go but I’m not telling right now. You can look forward to a few more BIG collections and some smaller sets in the next months of some fresh material.