Hands-On Review:Sony Pictures Sound Effects Series 1-5
Sony Pictures Sound Effects Series 1-5
From the silver screen to you
By Dave Schwann
The new Sony Pictures Sound Effects Series 5-CD-ROM set is the result of synergy between Sony Media Software and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony Pictures has opened their vaults to make a staggering collection of archived audio material available to musicians and producers everywhere. This huge sound effects collection has been amassed over the years to the exacting standards of the Hollywood entertainment industry.
The contents of this box set have been selected from the collection above, and give filmmakers, producers, and musicians an enormous palette of sounds to draw from when scoring movies and video spots of all kinds. These samples range from a fraction of a second to several minutes long, depending on the nature of the sound. We’ll take a short tour through some of the highlights of this collection. I’ll just be scratching the surface—there are many more sounds than those covered below, with over 1,200 in all.
The first section, Animals, starts by taking you down to the farm with roosters, cows, pigs, horses, and a range of other sounds from around the ranch. There’s also a wide selection of domesticated animals, from cats’ meows, purrs, and hisses to dog barks, growls, and howls and horse trots and sounds. Go on safari with a huge collection of wild animals from around the planet, including alligator and snake hisses, bear growls, tiger and cougar roars, and frog croaks. There are parrots squawks, owl and parrot cries, crow caws, and wing flaps. Soar with hawk cries and dive to the depths with whale moans. This section is guaranteed to freak out your pets!
For all your various water and liquid sounds, Natural Elements’ includes extremely well recorded environmental samples take you to ocean beaches, mountain lakesides, and rainforests. Waves from small ones lapping quietly to giant swells pounding the shore. The storm samples are incredible, including sky-splitting crashes, as well as a gorgeous, long drawn-out sample of rolling thunder and rain that’s over three minutes long. The thunder pans between the stereo sides for a totally enveloping effect.
This series of long-format files, ranging up to six minutes long, takes you through an assortment of environments inside and out, ideal for setting a scene. These soundscapes range from forest and jungle sounds—replete with bird, insect, and animal calls—to combat, construction, traffic, subway, and office sounds. The variety of interior sounds include school hallways, shopping malls, a laundry room, and a casino. The distant fireworks sound reproduces all the subtle shading of explosions echoing across the landscape.
Home and Office/Impacts/Weapons & Explosions
The third disc in the series is a real behemoth, with over 400 samples divided into three sections as noted above. This meticulous set opens appropriately with both analog and alarm clocks buzzing. There are 29 samples alone of doors opening and closing, ranging from three different antique doors swinging open and shut, with every groan and squeak of the hardware audible. There are French, screen, church, jail, metal, squeaky, and slow-closing doors. There are several camera clicks, pops, flashes, and bulb crackles. Various computer bleeps and blips, cell phone rings, dot matrix and laser printers, and a wealth of standard and electric typewriter sounds are ideal for creating both and new office environments. A kitchen sequence throws in everything including the kitchen sink, with flatware clanking in a drawer, glass and cup clinks, a kettle boiling, kitchen-sink washing, ice cubes clinking in a glass, coffee preparation, and drawers closing.
Various sounds will make your work resonate with the noises of the suburbs. There are numerous lawnmower, engine, sprinklers, home accessories, a vacuum cleaner, TV static and on/off, and plumbing sounds. The Impacts section is perfect for action sequences, with bottles breaking, footsteps across different surfaces, all kinds of explosions, arrows, rifles, ricochets, and enough sword-fighting sounds to handle a kung-fu movie.
Comedy/Sports& Recreation/Vocals & Wallas
Volume 4 is also divided into three sections. The Vintage Cartoon/Comedy Vocals section is stuffed full of over-the-top cartoon effects and sounds for accompanying physical comedy. There are 12 varieties of Bronx cheers, lots of slurps, swallows, sucks, gurgles, and sneezes. Various synthetic animal sounds, including lion roars, dog squawks, and bird caws will animate all your cartoon critters. There’s a generous selection of mouth hits, spits, poinks, and raspberries to add juice to comic episodes. Also included are a huge collection of barrel, drum, can, wood, and cowbell hits, perfect for accents and spot effects. There are a great number of "Foley" sounds (named after master sound effects man Jack Foley), including comedic motors, glass breaking, cuckoos, plunks, teeth clacks, and water sounds.
Volume 5: Vehicles
These sounds will get your motor running, and range from bicycles to jet airplanes. Volume 5 is divided into seven sections, including Aircraft, Bikes & Motorcycles, Cars & Trucks, Crashes, Doors & Keys, Trains, and Watercraft. The Aircraft section features fighter jet fly-bys, MIG fighter swooshes, many different versions of military helicopters, idling engines, prop plane variations, and sea helicopters. Bikes & Motorcycles starts with a flurry of bicycle sounds, steady pedals, fast ride-bys, shifts, and brakes screeching to a halt. Cars & Trucks includes a virtual traffic selection of 18-wheelers, buses, racecars, muscle cars, even an electric car drive-by. Of course, a variety of starts, idles, chokes, horns, revs, skids, and peel-aways are provided to fill out the collection. The car-wheels-on-gravel-road sample was so real I looked outside to see who was coming up the driveway. An extensive Train section includes clacking rails, crossing bells, steam blasts, and brakes.
The world is sound
For producers, ad agencies, sound designers, and film composers, the value of this package is obvious. There’s nothing like the right sound track to place you in a particular environment. Ambient, techno, and hip-hop musicians will find a lot of inspiration here as well, with lots of material to add atmosphere and accents to musical compositions. This 5-CD set is the second in what is promised to be a series of CD-ROM effects collections. Musicians, producers, and sound designers can only hope Sony continues to keep the great sounds coming.
Features & Specs:
Home & Office/Impacts/Weapons & Explosions
Vintage Comedy/Sports & Recreation/Vocals & Wallas