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The Sound Collector’s Club: May’s Theme

May 3, 2011

Back to basics this month as I choose the theme for the first time since Rain back in November.  ‘Car passes’ may not be the most exotic theme we’ve ever had but it’ll be a very useful one if it provides us all with a greater variety of this type of recording to reach for.

As the club’s sound collection develops, I’d really like it to become useful to people for specific jobs they work on.  In other words, if any members have a project approaching in the coming months for which they could really do with a fresh bunch of specific sounds (which are not location-specific) then give me a shout and I’ll try my best to make it a theme in time to deliver the goods for you.

With this in mind, I’ve chosen this theme for myself because it may be useful to me over the coming months.  I’ve got a couple of relatively quick turnaround FX jobs coming up soon which are highly likely to contain many scenes which need background traffic passes covered.  When you don’t have much time to pick out these individual passes, it’s really handy to have a good selection of recordings of  a series of vehicles passing by, otherwise you have to compile the passes from an amalgamation of different recordings which is much more time-consuming and sounds less consistent.

Two particularly important attributes that a useful car passes recording must have are:

  1. Enough spacing between passes to give you full depiction of each vehicle’s approach and drive away.  Two cars passing by together while another car passes by on the other side of the carriageway is of no use for this purpose (if at all).
  2. As with most types of recording, low background noise is important to avoid hearing a surge of noise as you fade the car pass in and out.  What’s more, it muddies the definition of the sound of the vehicle itself.

Apart from that, though, there are very few conditions to adhere to.  The vehicles must predominantly be cars but your recording may also contain bus / truck / motorbike, etc. passes too.  The car passes can be as close or as wide as you like – although don’t go so wide that the individual car passes lose their definition and become a more general traffic atmos.

Think about definition:  If you monitor at a low level but can still hear interesting detail from the engines, the road or simply from the acoustics of the street then the track is likely to work nicely when ducked down low in a mix around dialogue.  If not, you’ll end up adding little more than surges of white noise to the mix.

A good selection of orthodox street / main road recordings at different speeds would be great, but I’m also hoping to hear some more unusual contributions too:  eg.  Cobbled streets, flyovers, speed bumps and manhole covers to name but a few variants.

Other than that, and as usual, I don’t want to tell you all too precisely what to record, but please feel free to comment below if you have any questions or if you think I’ve been unclear in any way; if so, I’ll provide more detail where necessary.

  1. Alex permalink

    Hey Michael,

    Just stumbled onto this site and it’s very cool. I like the crowd sourcing sound effects setup that goes on month to month. Was just curious if there’s anyway to submit sounds for previous months, and then get access to the rest of the sounds even after the competition?

  2. sonicskepsi permalink

    Hi Alex – many thanks for your comments; yes – as of last month, all collections will remain active and online permanently so you can continue to add to old themes, not just the current one.

    The ‘current’ theme is not a competition as such anymore; more a stimulus for those, such as myself, who enjoy setting themselves a sound to focus on collecting each month.

    To contribute, you’ll need to join the club by paying the £20 membership fee (an attempt by me to recoup some of the expense of the ‘Pro’ Soundcloud account that I’ve had to buy in order to have the necessary space for all the recordings) and then upload your sounds as directed on the club website:

    As soon as your contribution is received, you’ll receive a secret link to the specific ‘set’ that you contributed to.

    Any issues, give me a shout.

    P.S. By the way, I will soon be putting the first 2 themes that I set up back online (‘Rain’ and ‘Night and Day’) so that people can continue to add to and access those sounds too. Hopefully they’ll be back online in the next couple of weeks.



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