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.