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An insight into how we created Scratches library

An insight into how Scratches sound effects library was created

Hope everyone is having a great start to their year.  We are kick-starting 2019 with an insight into how we created one of our largest sound libraries to date from 2013, complete with 10 free sounds for you to download, taken from Scratches library, + a nice 30% off discount coupon, at the end of the post. So, grab a cup of espresso and come behind the scenes to see how the story unfolds 🙂

Almost two years ago we sat down to discuss some initial thoughts for another material based sound effects library. A year or so passed since the release of Paper And Cardboard library, and we wanted to make something on equal terms and to a similar extent . Every time we have a conversation about a new library, it sparks a flurry of ideas that excite us, and we continuously aim to create something that hasn’t been done before. ‘Paper And Cardboard’, the first part our Materials And Textures series, was very well accepted both for its experimental and practical touch, so we felt it was a nice time to create a more extensive library, still functional, but also showing the experiential side of things.

THE CONCEPT

The idea was to offer a great variety of creepy sounds made by scratching everyday tools and objects of different size, weight, and texture on various surfaces like wood, metal, concrete, glass, and gravel. We even came to record things on musical instruments like snare drums, cymbals, oriental percussions, and classical guitars in order to capture eerie sounds and unique musical qualities, which are hard to come by in sound libraries or be captured in a studio setting.

Scratches sound effects library 6

To push past our limits we came to the decision to “creatively damage” musical instruments (…with much pain of heart, we must confess :)) by use of hammers, knives, and bolt cutters. A cruel but necessary tactic to capture the uniquely unusual sounds we were after!


This is what our Gabriel snare drum looked like post-session

Listen to the Audio Preview of Scratches Library

THE PROCESS

All sounds were recorded indoors, in an acoustically treated environment. So, from a technical standpoint, the sessions were relatively easy to handle. We had the luxury to chose the time and the duration of the recording session as we pleased, without any external factors to set us back, allowing us to test different intricate mic set-ups, and a variety of performances.

John Varelidis, scraping a plastic corrugated tube on a wooden surface
Homemade stand to record the interaction of various tools on mud and gravel.
Recording knives and scissors on a set of cymbals. A nice surface to create texture-based sounds with motion and musicality

However, spending long hours in headphones, mixing some really “unpleasant” sounds in loud volumes such as scraping pieces of wood using nails, or scraping iron over glass surfaces is not an easy thing to do. Can you imagine what our ears have been through?!
We had to frequently interrupt the sessions and sit back in silence in order to recover from the high-pitch frequencies we were working on while reminiscing about the Animal Farm library days and their peaceful rural ambiences of sheep, cows and birdsong 🙂

Also, a practical problem we were faced with, was moving some quite large objects into the studio e.g. a big metallic window, iron bars and scaffolding equipment, rocks, pebble, mud, large pieces of cement and piles of grit. The studio was filled with such kind of props and materials over long periods of time which made it look more like a construction site that a studio!

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A glass window inside our control room for the recording purposes of Scratches library

I HEAR VOICES – FINAL THOUGHTS

Besides the obvious use of such kind of sounds in horror projects, the library also includes some vocal-oriented ones, that you can use to create monster screeches, screams or yells.

As with many sound design techniques, the number of ways to create imaginary creature vocalizations is immeasurable. And undoubtedly, the most exciting ideas result from great source material. Such sources of inspiration could be animal voices or other sound effects, such as scrapes, squeaks, drags and cuts, creating visual images or conveying emotions of pain, anger or fear.

An audio example of such creature vocalizations, made without use of actual vocal layers, is the one found below. We have used sounds included in the Scratches library, processed using vocoders, exciters, reverbs, delays, time stretched tools and EQs.

You can download those source sounds we used above, here and use them as a starting point both in your personal or commercial projects.<

Click here to download the sounds via our Dropbox

In the same spirit, in order to get some good source material for further sound exploitation to make your own animal roars (an angry tiger or lion for example), you can use just a corrugated cardboard box and a pen/pencil.

Take a corrugated cardboard box, place two condenser mics (one outside the box, recording overall and the second facing the surface from the inside, to catch the resonance of the space), take a pen and start drawing the surface of the box. You’ll notice that depending on how you pressure the pen, the roar becomes more severe, more intense. Of course, you can experiment and change any of the variables mentioned it above, as for example the size of the box, mic types and placement, writing tool (pen, pencil, marker ) e.t.c.

Listen to the audio example, below

The sound featured on Tim Prebble‘s Field Recording Competition 1, back in 2014

Whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned designer, we hope you gain some useful info for your sound designs and productions. We’re sure there are many other creative things to try that we will explore in the future. Thanks for reading!

Get Scratches library with a nice 30%OFF

Simply enter this code Scratches30OFF at checkout and the 30% discount will automatically be applied to your total.

Buy Scratches Now »

If you want to try out the Scratches library there is also the free Lite version, which you can download by simply entering your email address here. Right after that, we’ll email you the download link. You can use those sounds in both your free and commercial projects.

Watch the video preview of Scratches library below

Articles we like on the topic Creature Vocalization

Old bones and Tibetan chants: Game of Thrones sound designer Paula Fairfield’s amazing toolkit

Field Recording: Animals. Pigs

Emotional Beings: A Creature Sound Design Discussion

Creature sound design tutorial

Why Rocks Rock for Creature Sound Design

Sound Design Tutorial #7 – Creating Creature Sounds Without Vocal Layers

Paula Fairfield Talks ‘Game of Thrones’ Creature Sound Design and More at FMX 2018

DESIGNING MONSTER SOUNDS FOR ‘CROWFALL’ – WITH BOBBY MOEN

Creating Monster Beasts Roars (Forum Thread)

The story behind the sound of ‘How to Train Your Dragon 3’

You’ll Never Guess How the Dinosaur Sounds in Jurassic Park Were Made

How the Sound Designers of ‘It‘ Created Fear with Sound

How Dragon Sound Effects Are Made