Twisted Tools Releases Transform, New Library by Jean-Edouard Miclot
Twisted Tools has released Transform, a new sound design library created by Jean-Edouard Miclot, french sound designer from Vancouver, Canada..
TRANSFORM is an extensive collection of field recordings, sound effects and designed sounds developed by sound designer Jean-Edouard Miclot (a.k.a. JEDSOUND). Bundled with sample mappings for many popular formats, TRANSFORM’s painstakingly recorded and processed sounds will find their home in the arsenals of sound designers, editors and music producers alike.
TRANSFORM features over 1.6 Gigabytes of 24-bit/96khz audio, all meticulously embedded with Soundminer enriched metadata and processed using a plethora of sound design tools, such as Symbolic Sound’s Kyma. Whether you’re a sound designer needing a massive Hollywood impact, an editor looking for a radio stinger or a musician wanting to add some ice crunch to a snare…or bass wobbles made from a processed moose, TRANSFORM has something for you.
TRANSFORM comes with sampler presets for the EXS24MKII, Kontakt, Battery, Maschine and Reaktor as well as the all new MP16c sampler for *Reaktor. To top it off, we’ve included MP16c templates for Maschine, Kore and TouchOSC for the iPad, as well as bonus material by Richard Devine.
Transform is available now at $69.
Below is an interview I had with Jean-Edouard talking about his work on the library. There’s also a SFX Lab dedicated to explore sound transformation and featuring sounds from the package.
What were your main inspirations for doing this library?
Josh Hinden from Twisted Tools contacted me in early 2011 to ask me to make a sound library for musicians and sound editors looking for new sonic textures. At this time, Amon Tobin was just releasing his new album ISAM and Josh advised me to listen to it and maybe draw some inspiration from it. So one evening, I came back from work, turned off the lights and dived into Amon’s universe. I had that feeling of being an acrobat walking on a wire swinging from left to right. I loved that feeling of instability and metamorphosis between organic and melodic sounds.
Twisted Tools gave me enough time to develop the ideas. At first, I went about things a bit too rigorously, but I quickly noticed it was a hindrance to creativity. I knew that I had to experiment and let things go wrong. You do something and then you innocently think ‘What if I do the exact opposite?’ That’s something that I do when I cook too. Well… very often as you imagine, it doesn’t work. Once in a while though, you capture that essence that makes your emotions react in a certain way. In my opinion, that’s how I get the most characterful sounds, or the most interesting flavors. I’m still young and full of misconceptions so I always feel I have to experiment more than others. Science, history, economy, politics, art, nature, gastronomy etc. can inspire you to be better at what you do, whatever you do. The world is an immense source of inspiration and only being focused on one domain like films or games is in my opinion, an error that can only lead you to copy what others have done in the past.
What were your main/favorite tools for recording and designing these sounds?
The tools that we have on the market today can be very expensive so you want to make sure you make the right choice for yourself and that this investment is profitable in the long run. I own the classic Sound Devices 722, a Neumann RSM191 AS and a Sony PCM D50. I also have a few custom guitar pickups, a H2 XLR hydrophone and a couple of cheap contact mics that I’m looking to change. Plug-ins can also be very expensive and I thought a few years ago that if I could analyze how some plug-ins worked and if I had a modular system that allowed me to combine processing chains, I could probably create my own… I bought a Paca hardware unit from Symbolic Sound and I started to customize my own processing chains in Kyma. I mostly learned not to use Kyma to do the same things that other plugins do. Instead, I save all the sounds that return glitches and weird behaviors that stimulate my emotional response. If that makes me giggle, makes me scared or gives me a “wow” feeling etc. then I know I have to record it. Otherwise, I work with the industry standard Pro Tools, Soundminer, Waves, Sound Toys and Altiverb. What I like to play the most with are probably the toys that I collected over the years. I have tons of different springs that I sometimes stretch out on stairs, some neonodyum magnets that keep my colleagues entertained, some DC motors that I control on a breadboard with variable resistors, many whistles that I sometimes stick on arrows or at the end of a weighted string, some bullroarers, a double windwand, a professional whip, some bungee cords, some goopy liquids etc. I also recently ordered a custom Tesla Coil that I’ll be able to remotely control. If you don’t know that website yet, check out instructables.com, there are tons of interesting things to build for almost no cost if you’re willing to get your hands dirty.
Could you tell us about the elements you recorded/combined for some of the categories of the library?
The sound library is subdivided in 10 categories:
- Bass: This category contains any kind of low pitch or tonal materials. It could be an elastic stretched out, a low hum picked up from a transformer, a sub speaker rattling a file cabinet, a moose moan, a mouth gurgling water, some dry ice pitched down etc. anything that has a main frequency component perceived under 200Hz and that could be used as layers to support other mid-range sounds. Most of those sounds were processed in order to reinforce the tonal quality or add more sub and harmonics.
- Crunch: This refers to props or natural elements that produced loud transients like wood, metal, ice or plastic and glass stress. These natural transients were amplified to give a bigger and sharper edge and not necessarily sound like what they originally come from.
- Eerie: Eerie means here any long sounds recorded in a large acoustic space or processed in order to recreate an abstract tonal atmosphere. It could be props clinked in a garage, a door squeaking in the washroom, a bowed spring, a wine glass rubbed underwater, a large metal sheet mangled like thunder or any spectral processing done with Kyma, Metasynth and the Michael Norris plugin suite that give musical and emotional qualities.
- Fx: This category represents sounds that don’t belong to the reality of our world. Although, they could come from DC motors, drills, a Kazoo amplified with a guitar amp, animal vocalizations, kitchen appliances, engines, small motors, fax machines, printers etc. They were all processed to help to express feelings of threat, anger, happiness, silliness, rage, surprise etc. without necessarily showing what the source of the original sound actually was.
- Impact: As the word says, anything that smashes, slams and hits hard. Most of them come from objects that we see everyday like doors, latches, cabinets, drawers, washing machines, fridges, jackhammers etc. Because the nature of something that hits really hard sounds usually noisy due to the addition of harmonics, those impacts were actually performed pretty softly and have been later aggressively compressed to reinforce their dramatic energy.
- Mecha: These are made of various metal objects that get locked, unlocked, pushed, cranked and hit in order to give a sense of mechanics and build-up.
- Micros: These are very short samples (close to one wave cycles) extracted from natural sonic waveforms and supposed to be played back with the Kyma microsound sampler provided within the library. They’re made of springs, neonodium magnet buzzes, wood stumps, door creaks, mouth noises etc.
- Organic: These sounds are supposed to come from the world we know but not necessarily from places we expect them to come from. Some tire skids could be just a plastic headset rubbed on a wooden table, a bird call is made by blowing on the edge of a sheet of paper, a muddy footstep is made by a plunger pushing 3L of hair gel, a subway squeal is a shovel pressing a block of dry ice, a cobra snake hiss is a garden hose spraying water, a frog croak is a finger rubbing a shot glass, the glass of a water tank cracking is just made by bending a plastic CD case etc.
- Whoosh: These sounds are composite and made of several different tonal layers going through a treatment in Kyma and finally performed with a doppler effect to express velocity and movements.
- Composites: Those are just examples of combined sounds from the other categories.
I wonder if you had a reference for designing the sounds. Visual images, text, etc… or just wild and pure imagination?
I didn’t directly use specific materials as a main source of inspiration for this project. It represented challenges as it was open to any kind of experiments and you might go too far sometimes. I tried to restrain myself to the tonal and emotional quality of what musicians and sound editors could be looking for. Some other things might have subconsciously influenced me though. I like going to the theater, exhibitions, music concerts, classical performances, improv theatre, good restaurants… I went a few years ago to a black and white photography exhibition in Paris of an individual who traveled all around the different landscapes and cultures of Africa (I wish I could remember his name). I remember all the feelings and emotions I had looking at those pictures… They were so expressive I could hear sounds coming out of them. It took me a while to realize that what I saw changed my vision of listening to the world. Now I usually only record sounds that express a feeling or an emotion to me. If a sound doesn’t result in an emotional response, then it is just noise because it has no meaning and so in my opinion, it doesn’t need to be recorded. Some people say that you have to record as much as possible and that is true, but it doesn’t mean you have to record everything. Building your own libraries can take a big part of your life and you have to make sure you make good use of it. This also works when you’re experimenting with chain processing for conceptual sounds.
What are your favorite sounds from the library?
Tough one… Hmmm, I would say the UnderwaterGlass in the Eerie category. I scrubbed the top of a wine glass to make it ring and recorded it underwater in a bathtub with the hydrophone. The glass was horizontal so that I could control the amount of water going in it. As the glass was going up and down in the water, it was changing the pitch of the tone resulting in some kind of whale calls. I processed it through the Altiverb and that’s how I arrived at the final product. I like that sound because it’s organic enough to make you believe it’s real but you don’t know necessary what it is. It’s also very expressive because it was performed like a musical instrument and has a wide range of frequencies that makes him a good candidate for an ambient music track.
You’re currently working at Ubisoft, right? Could you tell us a bit about your work there and what you’re currently doing? Also, are you interested in releasing another library any time soon?
That’s right! I got hired by Dorian Pareis at Ubisoft to work on a XBox Kinect/PS3 Move based title called MotionSport Adrenaline that just got released a few weeks ago. I came at the end of the project to help to create and implement new assets (FrontEnd, HUD, Spfx and NIS sequences) and I had to quickly learn their proprietary tools. The user interface for example is very colourful and I was basically asked to make it happy without being cheesy. I took the wine glass, layered some rings pitched in major chords and it made those transitions very smooth and melodic that fit very well with the visuals. In Wingsuit, you have a strong wind that pushes you violently as you’re diving down in the Himalayas. It had to be scary enough to tell the player that it’s a dangerous obstacle, so I used some “clichéed” animal vocalizations dopplered with some kind of Kyma shimmers panning very quickly and when you hear it, you know you’re in trouble! In Rock Climbing, multiple waterfalls come out of the wall like giant vomit and it will make you fall if you’re there when it happens. I morphed some walrus vocalizations with some flushing toilet sounds that gives that sense of danger. Another example in Kayak, you have some whirlpools that suck you in the water if you don’t avoid them. One night, I came late home from work (I mean later than usual :-) and my landlord was gardening. She dropped the hose on the ground and it made a hissing that sounded like a threatening sea snake. I came later back with the mic when it was quiet and that basically became the sound of the whirlpools. We really tried to give some sense to the audio, it informs you about the environment, what happens around you and if you pay attention to it, it will help you to beat your competitors.
We have a small audio team consisting of Dorian as the audio lead, Peter Strachan as our audio programmer, myself as audio designer and we hire contractors depending on the needs of the project. Dorian spent a lot of time with sound designer Bill Westwell recording in the field for the game. They recorded mountain bikes placing different mics on the chassis and their bodies and they had a professional rider performing what they needed, at different speeds and on the different surfaces, take offs, landings etc. They went on the North Shore to capture rivers, brooks and waterfalls and brought tons of pristine materials that Dorian used in Kayak. They also did a lot of wild recordings in a swimming pool and bought a canoe that ended up almost destroyed. All the field and studio recordings became extremely useful and really helped to enhance the gameplay and the player’s feedback.
I don’t think I’ll have time to release another library soon but I’d love to do it again. The guys from Twisted Tools really have talent to create avant-garde Reaktor ensembles and they really put some time and effort in searching what professional music producers, performers and sound designers really need. You will always be amazed with what they can come up with! Go check them out now: http://twistedtools.com/