Sound Effects

If you watch the credits at the end of a movie, you will see several mysterious job titles: Gaffer, Best Boy, Key Grip, Foley Artist… The names give no indication of the function, but you’d never bother watching more than 30 seconds of a film that didn’t employ these people. They are the lighting and sound technicians who bring film to life.

Most Hollywood films – whether they blast you with loud, sci-fi style special effects or stick to quiet dialog during long, peaceful walks on the beach – have almost all sound except dialog added after shooting. When someone opens the front door, walks up the stairs, flips a light switch, and flops onto the bed – the Foley Artist supplies the sound.

Your You Tube or DVD productions may lack a Hollywood budget, but they can still benefit from the addition of post-production sound effects. Perhaps a crucial interview suffers from a low level hiss in the background. You can use the Noise Filter in Audacity to roll off some sounds – but it is not always 100% successful. The addition of another background sound can mask the noise. A carefully chosen, quiet musical track, or even, if the interview was recorded outside, the sound of birds chirping can be effective without being annoying.

But the cost! Finding good quality, royalty-free audio tracks is expensive and time consuming. Digital Juice has three great Sound Effects collections that sell for $150.00 each, but it can be very had to justify that sort of expense for a one minute You Tube video. And many on line videographers and product developers simply do not need such large collections. Alternately, the internet offers dozens – hundreds – of sites with free, low quality WAV and MIDI sounds. Some are pirated, some have no license agreements (which could bite you later). Is bad better than nothing?

Where do you turn?

Sound Snap

Sound Snap was begun by professional sound technicians as a way to share high quality, royalty free sound effects. They are scrupulous about both the quality and the legality of the sounds on the site. Some of Sound Snap’s contributors have worked on films ranging from Batman Begins to Happy Feet. These are people who know how to record quality sound – and they want to share.

Sound Snap arranges sounds by category, for easy browsing. You can find everything from Animals to Exterior to Nature to Sci Fi to Music – and more. There are currently 16 different categories, each divided into sub-categories. You can also search by keyword. The downloads are available as either MP3 and WAV.

All you have to do is register, and this amazing library is available for immediate use.

Don’t let your video productions suffer from bad sound – become your own Foley artist and bring them to life. (And once you become obsessed with sounds, share your own recordings at Sound Snap.)