Sound effects are like magical ingredients that spice up any media project, be it movies or video games. They serve as an additional layer of storytelling that elevates the sensory experience to the next level, bringing viewers and players into the world being presented. Sound effects are any sounds that aren't human speech or music, and they can be either analog or digital, either recorded and edited or artificially synthesized.
Recording sound effects is an art form that requires specialized knowledge and equipment. To capture the most optimal sounds, sound recordists utilize various types of microphones that can capture spatial qualities and frequency balances. Hydrophones and contact microphones, for instance, allow the capture of sounds present in places outside of human listening range. Each microphone has distinct capabilities in terms of frequency response, maximum Sound Pressure Level, and internal noise, which is critical in selecting the appropriate microphone for capturing the ideal sound effects.
Sound effects come in different file formats, with WAV or AIFF being the most commonly used professional formats, both raw and uncompressed. However, MP3 is the most popular codec used for compressed sounds. Video games often use an OGG file container that compresses files into an uncompressed format to reduce CPU load during runtime. To ensure the best sound quality, professional bit depths are an absolute minimum of 16 bits, and the sample rates should be an absolute minimum of 44.1 kHz.
The significance of sound effects has given rise to sound effect libraries, where anyone can access and use sound effects. These libraries, such as Soundsnap, provide thousands of sound effects contributed by various recordists. They make it easier for sound designers to create sound effects for their projects, reducing the resources and time required to capture and record them.
To summarise, sound effects are an essential component of any media project, adding an extra layer of immersion and engagement to the visual and auditory experiences. The correct capture, editing, equipment, and file formats are essential in creating high-quality sound effects. Investing in high-quality sound effects is an investment in the overall quality of your project, be it a film, podcast, or video game.
If you want to learn how to add sound effects to your projects using editing tools, keep reading!