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Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 | 2 comments

“Film Sound Effects”, New Library with Sounds from 1966

Sound editor/mixer Andrew Walker has launched Film Sound Effects, a huge vintage sound library distributed in a modern way, independent, digital. The library started in 1966 by re-recording mixer Gerry Humphreys (Ghandi, The Italian Job, Blade Runner) and sound recordist Peter Handford (Out Of Africa, Frenzy, Hope and Glory). It was recorded originally on tape, then transfered to DAT in the 90’s and finally digitized as 48khz/24-Bit, which is the version available online.

Catalogued in two leather bound folders and with over five thousand entries, it’s been used by sound editors on over three hundred movies.Sound effects were charged by how many feet of stock were used before eventually getting mixed into the final soundtrack.

With the introduction of non linear digital editing and the ease at which cd sound effect libraries could be accessed, the library soon gathered dust in Gerry’s office.

Now after a long time spent ingesting the library into a digital file format it represents a fantastic wealth of sounds that’s unique for the period it came from.

If you’re searching for authentic sound effects for feature films, television drama,documentaries or games you’ll find this library a rich source of new material and a valuable addition to your existing sound effects libraries.

The library is available in several categories, at different prices for each pack. More info at FSE. Now below is a quick q&a I had with Andrew talking about the new project.

How this idea of the digital version of FSE started out?

I had an audio post facility based at Twickenham Film Studios together with Dean Humphreys called Crossfade. Deanʼs father Gerry was the head of the sound department at Twickenham and when he passed away in 2006 we inherited a box full of DAT tapes that had been cleared out of his office. We didnʼt initially set out to make it a commercial library rather just transfer it and add it to our existing library but after it all got digitised we realised it would make a perfect vintage library.

Could you talk us about the process of data transfer from the DATs to digital files? How you dealt with metadata on that stage?

We were lucky to have the original catalogue that referenced to the DAT tapes, it was in essence the soundminer for that era, each effect had a unique FSE number with a detailed description and category cross referenced to the DAT roll it resided on.

Transferring was a three stage process,first digitizing in each tape in its entirety. Each effect had an ident which made the second task of editing the recording and naming each file straight forward. The final part was the most time consuming, using soundminer and having the original catalogue for cross reference, each FSE file had itʼs description and category typed word for word into the metadata fields and was done whenever we had a quiet moment between jobs.

Do you know any details about the gear used back in those days for recording the sounds of the packages?

A large proportion was recorded by Peter Handford on analogue Nagra but I was at a reunion for Twickenham Film Studios recently and met John Bateman who was the ADR mixer there at the time FSE was set up. John is the voice behind the idents and he was able to recall that a lot of the effects in the weapons category were recorded by Peter on optical film back when he was serving in the Army Film Unit in the D Day landings.There is much material in this library that predates 1966, for instance theres a track of German POWʼs in the crowd category that would have been recorded by Peter himself on optical. A great many of these optical recordings form part of the Imperial War Museums sound archive.

Is there any favorite sounds you remember from the vast list of files included in the library?

Peter was renowned for his railway recordings and a large part of the National Railway Museums archiveʼs from his recordings. That category really does stand out as a testament to his passion for the railway and contains some wonderful recordings. I also love the bird category as it captures some beautiful ambiances thatʼs just as relevant today.

I wonder if there’s any sound that tells something about the recording skills of the persons who started the library or maybe any interesting accident/anecdote about those early sessions?

Peterʼs career highlights his skill as a sound recordist ,he was a pioneer in his profession being the first to use synchronous sound recording on David Leanʼs ʻSummer Madnessʼ in 1955. John Bateman also recalled to me that to his dismay, when the library was being compiled some of the recordings were edited by Peter, so for example the artillery shell
whines would have originally been part of a much longer recording.Today with hindsight it would be just as interesting to have the surrounding ambiance to those shell whines.

Is there any plan of maintaining the library and maybe uploading new material? or are you going to keep just the classic sounds?

We still have a few more categories to add and will get them up soon,after that the FSE library will be complete for all but a remaining few effects that will have to be categorised as Miscellaneous! Weʼre also collaborating with fellow sound editors at the moment and plan to start building a modern FSE library in the spirit of the original.


  1. I am in my office in Los-Angeles just worked on docu from England on CEO for huge kids gaming Company called ‘Moshi Monsters’ – and I did sound for them. I looked up on the Internet for additional article on my buddy Peter handford production Sound Mixer for ‘out of Africa & Gorillas In The Mist.’ – just being curious.
    You article on Peter amazed me how he as a camera man in WWII and kept his compassion for sound he had early on.
    I was fortunate to work with him as a Local crew member in Kenya on Location at out skirt of Nairobi – at Aberdar’s National Park – about 200-miles in 1987. Peter, Me and our driver took off from ‘Pan-Afric’ hotel up at the hilly side of City of Nairobi, and only three of us in the Van. We headed with a producrion van towards the filming location going north of Nairobi, and Peter acted as he already knew the exact location as we got closer to the last exit from the main road, he warned the driver to slaw down that we were close to the exit, and he was right. The driver missed the exit by few hundreds of feet and he has to turn around to take that paved road that took us to the camp in the middle of the forest, The filming location was, one of the major hide out for mau mau freedom fighters After WWII.
    Ofcourse, have been here in Kenya during the filming of ‘out Of Africa,’ and he feels at home very much. He very specific and right on wherever we were going. I was surprised he knew Kenya more than I and the tour driver – without the present day GPS technology at hand.
    I was 25 years old, and eventhough I was assigned to be the sound assistant, I was not aware of who they were – and actually, they were one of the best film makers in the entire face of the earth.
    To make the story short, at Aberdar’s national park, I worked with Peter for almost a Month, and he taught me everything I wanted to know about film sound. Taking it further, he set for me my seprate gear next to his actual set up on set and I was listening to exactly to what he was recording during the entire filming of ‘Gorillas In The Mist.’ I remember the sound engineer Don whispered in my ear that, ‘do you know that you are sitting and mixing sound with one of the best film sound expert in the world?’ and he adds – ‘every one wants to be at where you sitting right now.’ and it’s an eye opener for me and I used every oportunity to learn from the best, and me and peter went deeper in to the forest farther away from any human contact, and at the same time, he totally immersed himself was in unison with total suroundings listens carefully to every thing. And I was the one who was carrying the reel to reel anlalogue Nagra machine, and he grabs it from me and stands still for quite sometimes and gathers the general ambiance – the harmony of birds sounds the wind, the silensceI etc. Peter liked hiking, in his early sixties he was very consistent very sharp on his subject. You may find in his collection what we recorded at Aberdare’s in ‘Gorillas in the Mist.’ I carried the Nagra – reel to reel recorder and walked with him climbing up skiding down the slope and dacking the tree branches in our ways at times. Peter was in his early sixties, was able to fucntion with love and compassion – and liked my presence playing with me during the lunch cue. I was so naive I did know much back then; and when I look back, I think he made every attempt to make me benefit from working with him – and I did. We were done with filming and went back to Nairobi. Peter was busy getting me recommendation typed from the office to give me with his signature on it. I did not know what even the WBROs(Warner Brothers) bold as the head of the letter. I never watched the TV growing up – and I kept the letter he signed for me – with care until today. The Production company did not give me theatrical credit, I did know what happene and also I did not care to look for it – or may be I was not that important, however, peter made me very important and I think that’s itself was huger than anything I could have imagined.
    Years passed, and I got married to a special costumer on the same film and moved to LosAngeles in 1990. I carried his emblem – the knowledge he aquired me as a platform with me whereever I went. And Currently, I am the only African in 400 members of Local 695(IA) of sound union of LosAngeles – and I am very good at what I do because of the work ethics he introduced me to earlier on in my life, and that became the reason for me to help the others whenever I could…

    Umbe A Adan

  2. Sorry for typos – and it’s from my iPhone!


  1. Film Sound Effects, 1966 Sound Library | OH DRAT - [...] first saw this collection over at, where Miguel Isaga wrote about it, and interviewed Andrew Walker – the…

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