Let the Libraries Laugh!
Curating and organizing libraries is a part of this discipline that I love. Previewing, testing, merging into databases, updating master caches, and of course, designing. Libraries are just…fun.
For this month’s theme I wanted to embrace that wilier side of this more clerical end of our work. I always like to stumble across sounds that take me by surprise with either weird transients, unexpected contours, very strange sources, or a combination of all three. There are entire libraries full of these sorts of sounds that I’ve found, and they all have surprising utility beyond their weirdness. I took to my master database and found the five most fun-oriented collections of sounds that I’ve had the most success working into different projects (from the normal to the not-so-normal). Below, I’ll give you a brief overview of the library contents and why they scream FUN to me, give you some more practical instances in which I’ve used the libraries for jobs regardless of their silliness, and then let you know my favorite part of each.
1) Roller Coaster Sound Effects Builder, from Effect Sense
We’ll do the least off-the-wall collection first! This one is great, clear samples of roller coaster tracks clacking up, whizzing down, and shooting past. The screams of riders are included as well in separate files, which is great for option’s sake. I’ve used this library in television promo material in a very literal sense for a roller coaster being on screen, but I’ve also used the sounds of metallic whooshing and heavy clattering rails as texture layers in more abstract designs for game audio and VR assets. It’s worth trying out for a bright metal swell that doesn’t sound too sword-like.
My favorite handful of sounds in this library comes from the samples of start sequences from the Impulse Coaster, which has an electronic element to it that fits extremely well into sci-fi weaponry and other “ka-THOOMP”y sort of envelopes.
2) Laughs, from Sound Ex Machina
People laughing makes me laugh (and there’s science to prove that doesn’t make me crazy)! I always like finding effects in the database when I’m working on designs that make me giggle, and this library works like a charm for that. It’s got great quality recordings, with a ton of options. I’ve set these files into background ambiences for film as they are, but the most fun thing to use them for is processing the heck out of them. Pitching way down, really laying into the EQ, exorbitant delay, reverse reverb, you name it. Laughs can turn into horrifying, fascinating things if you stretch them enough.
The most versatile files in this library for me have been the “Male cackling and giggling” files. Easy to mold like clay, and exceedingly fun to see what comes out of the kiln!
3) Strange Moods, from Sounds Like George
This one is a fun array of really useful sounds, which makes its enjoyability skyrocket for its versatility. It lends that extra mile of shape, stretch, or sibilance to any design that needs it, and searching through it for that right sample is always an adventure. Strange Moods is a collection of ambiences and other background-y sounds that I’ve found create really great personal challenges to see where I can fit them in not-strange ways. I’ve used this library in several game projects for essential texture layers and hit sweeteners, and the sounds always come out with more “oo!” factor on the other end of this library.
My favorite samples from Strange Moods have got to be the granular synthesized dog barks and growls, because with the right tweaks they can be anything from a funky record scratch to a futuristic door screech.
4) Fifty Shades of Brown, from WW Audio
You didn’t think I could get through the month themed Fun without a fart joke, did you? This library is everything the title says and more, but not one to be perused in depth after lunch or in front of clients before sending off for approval. Every length, tone, texture, and timbre of fart is in here, and they’re all useful! This is another library I’ve used mostly for layer sweeteners, which I know is a strange term to apply to farts but it’s true. There are some rumbly files in here that are great for a bit more squish (sorry) for button press SFX and other UI interaction sounds. Just don’t think too hard about where it’s coming from as you’re designing.
Of course, my favorite fart file is the one in 96k. That’s dedication. Only the best quality for the most high-brow humor.
5) Dark Seals, from Daan Hendriks
Even more so than the Laughs library, seal sounds never fail to make me replay a file audition just to laugh at my console. Dark Seals has all my favorites, and it has proved to be extremely useful across many designs besides just making me cackle. I’ve used the recordings of groups of seals for overheads of beaches and other ambience layers to great ends, but I’ve found this library most useful with creature noises. Finding a file with a good cadence, hopping in the booth, and then tracking some vocalizations over it for a kind of super-chorused effect has made for some phenomenal monster snarls and gross cries. Viva la seals!
My favorite piece of this library is the whole thing. Seriously. Every file is gold.
And that’s the Fun Five! I hope you all have some piqued interest or, at the very least, some interesting ideas on how to integrate the weirder side of your sound databases into more everyday projects. You can find more information about each of these libraries at the links provided above, and each designer has much more where each of these came from. Check them out, support our colleagues, and have FUN.