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Posted by on Jan 8, 2013 | 9 comments

Design Toolbox #1 – Flangers

[This was originally posted a year ago and has been republished because it fits in with this month's theme - Varun]

Inspired by Miguel’s ‘SFX Lab‘ series, I thought it would be nice to start a series on using conventional plugins to design sounds.

With many of us primarily working off DAWs with a mouse pointer and plugin windows, there isn’t much  room for ‘hands-on’ experimentation. Happy accidents are fun – accidentally turning a knob on a real (I mean hardware) piece of  equipment and finding that awesome sound (which usually also results in losing track of time!).

Today’s post is about using Logic’s test oscillator and flanger plugins. I usually open up a bunch of plugins, route their outputs to a track and record as I ‘perform’. I also make it a point to not think much and just turn knobs and sliders. It’s important to not monitor too loud as you could blow your ears if you hit (click) the wrong switch!

Here are a few sounds selected off a recording pass that lasted about 8 minutes (some of these sounds can be loud, so go easy on your volume control):

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2011 | 0 comments

Inside the Waves Sound Design Suite [Pt 3] – Modulation Effects

Welcome to the third part of this series of articles dedicated to explore the sound design suite of Waves. Today the turn is for five powerful modulation-featured plugins included in the bundle:

  • Enigma
  • H-Delay
  • MetaFlanger
  • MondoMod
  • SuperTap

“These plug-ins make up what I like to call my “Audio Mangler Gang of Toys.” I use all of them because of their ability to modulate an element or sound. For me, they really are the heart of any Sound Design.” – Scott Martin Gershin

Enigma

This plugin really lives up to his name, an “enigmatic” processor loaded with lots of cool features for creating all kind of unique effects.Enigma was created as a special and complex processor. I can’t specify what kind of effects you can get from this big guy, since it combines different types of audio effects such as filters, reverb, flanger/ phaser, plus modulation thru a LFO.

Enigma’s signal flow structure is internally complex but the plugin is not very complicated to use. However it has some delicate parameters to care about. There’s a section for controlling the filters and notches (the heart of Enigma) along with a really nice graphical representation of the process, which also offers control features. There’s also a section with reverb controls, but approached in a very unique way allowing it to making echos and all kind of crazy effects. Don’t think about a reverberation effect. Think about a reverb algorithm used for creating modulated echoes and crazy reflections, not smooth and real spaces.

I personally love Enigma for a lot of taks, specially experimentation. For me there’s always a surprise and magical factor obtained with it. It offers several parameters that you can twist easily and get subtle changes, as well as some crazy controls such as Depth or Decay Time, that can make drastic changes by just changing the value a little. It can be useful for creating crazy sounds but it can also be useful to modulate and mix just a bit inside the audio content, adding a very special flavor to it.

H-Delay

As the same as H-Comp, H-Delay was developed as an hybrid processor featuring several vintage modeled units, but this time several types of delay and time modulation effects. This plugin can do a lot of echo tricks, including some classic effects with an old school feeling on it. Its modulation and filter parameters allow you to do a lot of things more, and it can even reduce the sample rate of the resulting sound, by turning on the LoFi function included.

Apart of being a very solid delay unit, I think its modulation/filtering capabilities are my favorite features. This machine can be used as a conventional/classic delay, but also as a very special signal generator toy for creating some cool tones, sweeps, beeps, and even some cool old school sci-fi sounds. I remember me playing this to simulate those classic theremin modulations. That”s pretty fun to do. Here is the trick for getting cool signals to work with:

  1. Loop a sound and record the looping in real time in your audio application
  2. Add H-Delay and go to Load – Full Reset
  3. Turn off the filters. You shouldn’t hear anything (since all frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz are cut), but ñeep looping
  4. Then set the Feedback to extreme parameters. Above 130 or so should be fine but I like to go to the extreme when making this kind of material.
  5. Now is just about playing with the filters. For example, if you want to create some high sweeps, you could start activating and tweaking the high pass filter. Also then you could modulate the signal for adding some movement, etc. If you want  to obtain some sub-harmonic and low end signals, then is just to start from step 4 and then move the low pass filter and the letting the feedback evolves. Then is up to you.

“My favorite use of H-Delay is to generate sub-harmonics. I use it inline with LoAir to create mega “sustained” sub bass.” - Charles Deenen

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Posted by on Jul 13, 2010 | 7 comments

Bruce Tanis Special: Using Default Audio Suite Plugins in Pro Tools

I gave up a quasi-staff position nearly a decade ago in order to pursue a career as a freelance sound effects editor. Certainly, there are positives and negatives to both of these paths but, at the time, I was being offered a one-film job at a different facility from the company where I’d been working for a few years. I had pretty much reached the highest plateau available to me where I was so I decided to head out and explore the freelance world for awhile. The film was John McTiernan’s “Rollerball” (2002), and I’ll be discussing that in a little more detail in another article dedicated to editing crowds for sports, concerts, and riots. Scott Hecker was supervising the sound crew at Soundelux in Hollywood and I was given a more or less permanently set up edit bay to work in for the duration of the project. One of the things Soundelux does really well is that they set up their edit bays in a highly professional manner. The effects rooms are typically 5.1 monitoring systems with up-to-date Mac computers containing all the appropriate software bells and whistles, and server access that is, literally, worldwide.

To be fair, I’ve worked at several facilities which offer first class edit rooms but that is not always the case and that’s the point I wish to make with this article. As a freelance editor, I never know from job to job what the system I’m assigned to will offer in terms of gear, monitoring, Pro Tools software version, plugins, etc. There’s not much I can do if the room is set up for monitoring left/right only, or even less, set up only for headphone monitoring. I could bring in my own speakers and rewire the room, I guess, but most people don’t take kindly to having their facilities remodeled by a short-term editor! Since there are no particular constants between rooms, I’ve developed a bit of a survival strategy at least as far as plugins are concerned.

There are probably hundreds of different plugins available ( maybe more!), but every system out there has a specific set of them that comes with the Pro Tools software. I won’t be dealing with quite all of them here but I’ll go through a few of them in terms of what they might offer if you need to come up with some design elements in a hurry and don’t have access to all the really Super-Cool Turbo Nuclear Firestorm Plugins that are available in the market today.

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