Making Of

How I Recorded My First Ever Ambience Library by Chris Skyes

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The Black Sea. The first audio library I have ever recorded, and it is still my favourite. Allow me to tell you a story.

*insert Harp_06.wav*

It was September 2015. I hopped off the rusty, old, Eastern European train, and landed on harsh gravel, after a three foot fall. With such a distance between the ground and the door, I'm not quite sure who designed these trains, but I'm fairly certain stick insects and Basil Fawlty were foremost on their mind.

If you're British, you might have gotten a chuckle out of this. If not, don't worry about it, I promise you that it was a funny little gag.

Looking out, I see an old brutalist-style building, which served as the ticket office for the station, and as occasional shelter from the rain for short old women carrying leek-filled cloth bags, all staring at the strange 6ft3 man wearing a neon yellow Adventure Time shirt and carrying what looked like the fur of a dead gray cat.

Upon arrival at my hotel, I check in, and I am given the keys to my room. I head down a cold corridor, insert the key into the lock, and freak out when I realize that that's not my room, but the next one down.

I jump a few feet, open the door to my room, and carefully close it before anyone would know what just happened. I would later find out that I was the only person in the small hotel, except for the old lady behind the desk. As it turns out, the Romanian seaside is not very popular in late September, when temperatures can reach close to freezing.

Who could have known.

Anyway, as I entered my room, I was immediately greeted by what looked like a concrete floor, concrete walls, and the lowest beds I have ever seen. That's not particularly relevant, but just kind of weird.

Upon getting my bearings, I grab my gear bag, containing, among other things, my Rode NT4, and my Tascam DR-60d mkII, and head out to the beach. As I arrive on the freezing cold beach, a realisation struck me.

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I was the only living thing within quite a distance. No other humans, no annoying ice cream stealing birds, no nothing. At the time, I didn't quite know how wrong I was, but we'll get to that later.

Carefully placing my bag on the sand, I zip it open and grab my equipment. I firmly place my feet in the sand, and I press record. As the signal traveled from my recorder, up to my headphones, I was shocked to only hear waves, and nothing else.

No annoying music blaring in the distance, no kids running around, no seagulls, nothing. Just the waves.

As the days progressed, I got more and more courageous. I was climbing up on wet slippery rocks, recording from different angles, even stepping into the sea, to get unusual sonic perspectives.

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In fact, whilst navigating my way across a field of slippery jagged rocks, trying my best to avoid the water, I nearly broke my neck as a flurry of rats scurried over the rocks and went past.

It turns out I wasn't alone after all. Luckily, I'm a big boy, so the rats weren't looking for a fight.

Upon returning to my base of operations in London, I sat down and began listening through the audio.

The original version that I had put out did not sell a great deal of copies. I was still learning, and I definitely should have spent more time editing it. Upon discussing things with Timothy McHugh, and sending my library to Paul Virostek for feedback, they very graciously gave me loads of pointers and great advice!



I imported the whole bloody library into Pro Tools, and started brutally cutting out anything that was sub par. Any kind of wind and handling noise was removed, and even though the library was now half the size, I felt like I had a quality product that I could be proud of!

Thank you to everyone who has purchased it, and helped motivate me to record more and more libraries! If you'd like to have a look at the library page, click the image down below. If you'd like to download some samples before deciding whether you want to purchase it or not, click here.


 
The Black Sea   30 audio files Over 30 minutes of audio 1.04 GB Unpacked Size 24bit/96kHz Sample Rate

The Black Sea

30 audio files
Over 30 minutes of audio
1.04 GB Unpacked Size
24bit/96kHz Sample Rate

 

Psst. I’ve recently written an article on what kind of gear you might need if you want to get into sound effects recording. You can read it here.


How I Made My Most Successful Sound Effects Library to Date by Chris Skyes

The groundskeeper walks up to the wooden doors of the old building, thrusts a large metal key into the lock, and then turns it, before the house opens up with a creak.

'Good luck,' he says, as he hurries away.

I take a look inside to see a vast building, covered in dust and black mould, imagining the kind of life the family that lived there a hundred years ago might have lead. I place my bag down and carefully install my respirator, before I walk inside, the sound of my footsteps echoing throughout the curiously shaped building.

As I walk around the house, inspecting all the doors that I could record, I felt my pace quicken with excitement. Such a large house, with literally nothing better to do, just waiting for me to record it.

Making my way back to the entrance, I take my equipment out, set it up, and I begin recording the doors, in all their might.

With every movement, the shrieking sound of old wood and metal hinges resonated throughout the mansion.

As I moved from room to room, I tried to image what purpose each might have served. Perhaps this room was used as a living room, as it overlooks the town at the bottom of the hill. Or maybe this is where the father established his private office, where he could smoke and look at the adult photos he had locked up in his bottom drawer, right next to his revolver.

I digress.

Making my way through the house, I begin slamming and hitting the doors, the entire house shaking with each impact, black mould and dust flying freely through the air. The strange shape of the building gave each impact interesting resonance, adding to the character of the recordings.

As I looped around the house, ignoring all the sounds and creaks coming from the seemingly empty rooms, I stumbled across two large wooden doors, similar to the kind you would find upon entering an 18th century European Ballroom. Rather relatable, I know.

I swung them open a few times, which made a grandiose sound, and then I scurried out of the building, before I slowly drove myself insane.

After repeating the process a few more times at an abandoned house, warehouse, and another mansion, I found myself back at my lair in London. My eyebrows furrowed with doubt, I scrolled through the endless tracks, clips, and takes that I had to edit through.

Nevertheless, I'm a good boy, so I got started straight away, cleaning up the audio, putting iZotope RX to work, chopping up and editing different takes, writing awesome metadata, etc.

After weeks of work, I was done. The absolute mess of clips that I on my computer was now organised into sweet .WAV files, dripping with metadata, inviting you to press play.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was standing there, all proud, looking at this neatly packaged library, gently shedding a tear. Before uploading it, I didn't quite know how popular it was going to be.

After posting about it on Facebook, and getting some great feedback from George Vlad, I knew people were excited, but I didn't quite realise how popular it would be, trending on asoundeffect.com for a couple of weeks.

If you've purchased Abandoned Doors, I want to say thanks! I hope you got good use out of it, you're awesome, and you make what I do so much fun. If you haven't purchased it yet, you can get it here

 *Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge*

Also, if you’d like to learn more about how you can get started recording sound effects, I’ve written an article about the gear you need here.