Editing sound effects, which is called "sound editing" in the movie world or "sound designing" in the pretentious movie world, is something that actually starts at the picture edit level in our movies.
There are three major sources of sound effects which go into a mix:
- Production sound: things actually recorded on the set. Usually these "sound effects" sound terrible but occasionally one can get decent footsteps and clothing noise which can be used in the final mix.
- Foley: we don't usually do a lot of foley. But sometimes we'll go into the booth and make some sounds.
- Cut effects: sound effects from sound effects libraries of various kinds are our biggest source of sound effects.
Note that on big-budget pictures the sound department might go out and make custom recordings of things to use in the sound edit. That's expensive. We don't do it typically. But because we have a sound booth we'll sometimes record some things (especially props which made sounds over dialog, but we'll get to that in a bit).
Sound editing for picture editors
(Information here applies to sound editors too though.)
While we're still in the picture-edit stage it's nice to put in some sound effects. These can include gunfire, maybe some doors opening and closing, that sort of thing. There's no need to get all specific about volume levels and that sort of thing because the sound effects will be re-mixed at the mixing stage.
There are two places from which you can get sound effects:
- Our internal sound effects library (which is usually located on the desktop)
- The most awesome internet site in the world: Freesound.org.
Freesound is an Creative Commons collaborative database of sound effects. Drew's username is "Pushkin". When we make our own sound effects (which, although rare, does happen) we try to put them up on Freesound. And we use many Freesound effects. Frequently the sound effects on Freesound "fit" into a mix better than a library's sound. Have I gone on enough about how great Freesound is?
See a dog, cut a dog
Have you ever noticed that every dang time you see a dog in a movie or TV show you hear "woof"? Every time you see a cat it goes "meow"?
Well that's a standard in the motion picture industry. If you see something, you hear its trademark sound. All car tires screech when the car goes around a corner (a sound which is virtually impossible to get a modern car to make anymore). All zombies go "aargh!" when you see them. Heck, skeletons scream for crying out loud.
So when you see something that would have a sound effect associated with it, put that sound in.
It would be better if the picture editor could make a folder or directory under "mix" called "picture edit sound effects" and make sure allthe sound effects used are in that folder.
But we don't hold out too much hope that will happen.
The sound editor, however, absolutely must make a folder or directory with the sound effects they use.