OK, I'm set with the tools necessary to record sfx/foley/dialogue but what tools should I have to create sfx? I imagine that would be some kind of Synth - but what kind? Is there something else? I have Pro Tools 8 LE, Abeltone Live 8 LE and Cubase 4 LE so my options are open. I'm not necessarily after plug in recommendations - just the type of plugin I would need.
Well, depends how you see sfx. For example, take a look at how some of the Star Wars sfx are created. Mostly just edited recordings.
Yes, they mash them and do all sorts of things to them - but what type of plugin is it that allows them to do that?
Oh that could be very simple, from time-stretching tools to just equalizers. I have never used very odd plugins, most I've done was editing and mixing of different sounds. With that you can do a lot. That and generating tools. Sine waves, white noise, DTMF tones. I've created swishes and swooshes by just equalizing and enveloping white noise, nothing fancy.
OK - so it's just down to experimenting with what one has.
Yes, of course. Experimenting can be very educational and is lots of fun.
Record your stuff then save in a way that it is easy to retrieve later. Sometimes a (foley ) sound you record is not immediately useful, but you can find that later on you want to go back to this sound (sometimes more than once) to use it as is or after further processing. So being able to find your stuff later will save you trying to re-do it later.
Speaking of which, keeping notes of what was done, how and why never hurt anyone. Although I hold my hand up as not being very good at doing this either.
This will be a valuable resource when you try to replicate something later (for example to get a better quality recording of something) or when you want to re-apply a technique to a different recording.
There are literaly thousands of plugins. It is difficult to recommend something without knowig what kind of effects you have in mind.
Is it horror, Sci-Fi, animal sounds, day-to-day noises (cars, people, trains, etc) ?...
Some basic useful techniques that you can always apply:
1) keep an unprocessed version of your recordings. - You may decide to reprocess it again later with a different plugin or technique for a better result. Yuo may even decide to use that raw sound for a totally different purpose than the one it was initially maent for, so a totally new processing technique could be required.
2) Synths are useful for sci-fi, techy and horror sounds. Most often for day-to-day and animal sounds you will get better results from recorded stuff. There are a few exceptions in the form of VST plugins specifically designed to simulate real-life noises. Of course, how good the simulated sounds turn out to be depends on how good the plugin is, aditional effects and processing, and obviously your skill at using all of the above (which will improve the more you do it. Did I mention: take notes?)
For example, check here
3) As an exception to the above, FM synths can produce convincing percussive sounds, especially for metalic percussion (cans, metal doors, pipes,...). But these sounds can also be recorded...
4) Of course, Freesound is an excellent database of recorded sounds. Before you set about to record something, especially if it envolves considerable effort or investment, check out what is already here...
5) Further processing. Applies to any sound obtaine dfrmo the above techniques or others. Consider the spae where the sound is supposed to take place apply EQ and reverb accordingly (a shot fired indoors will sound different to the same shot fired in an alley, an open field or a church)
6) Special processing. Usually, only applies to sounds intended for specific purposes (haunting ambiences, Sci-Fi, Horror). This is were some more unusual plugins come into play. Pitch shift voices for demon-like or squirrel-like voices. Granular processing is very good at turning almost any sound into a drone or ambience. Distortion, FM, ring mod and flanger plugnis for distorted, robot and alien voices.
Hopefully this helps.
If you are trying to create some specific effects ask about those in particular for more specific guidance.
Good luck and have fun
Many thanks for the detailed reply. All the effects that seek will be natural sounds but there will be some 'suspense' and 'drama' sounds. Ideally they would be part of the score (or should they be separate?). If I need to purchase plugins then I need to plan ahead - but I guess I might be trying to plan too far without knowing exactly what I want!
It's weird - but I just love recording and processing sounds. Maybe I should have taken it up as a career but at my age I guess I'll be happy with it being a fascinating pastime
well, try with what you have. there are several plugins on my shopping list that i can`t efford roght now, but the advantage is the fact, that I learn, how to do workarounds. I think this is one of the best lesson you can get.
but if you really want to buy something: a doppler effect is always nice to have ( on the other hand you can do it with a mic and a speaker to get a "real" doppler effect).
Based on what you have already listed, you likely have more than enough to get started. I found it rather overwhelming with all the choices available in software, and downloaded a bajillion free synths and effects that I never use much. As far as ones I like the free Michael Norris ones are awesome (Mac only I believe). I am also very fond of most of the weird plug-ins from Audio Damage.
As an aside, from all the sound design books I've been reading, they all commonly suggest taking for example one sound and layer that with the same sound pitched up, pitched down, slowed down, sped up, etc. Lots of layers. You don't need any effects to do that just some multi-track stuff.
You say to love to record a and process sounds - I cannot think of a more appropriate place to be than Freesound, then!
If you do not know exactl what you want and just want to "mock around" with sound. That is also great.
Corsica_S pointed out that he downloaded too many free VST effects and synths that he rarely uses. On that charge I will also have to plea guilty as charged.
My suggestion with plugins is to go easy. I do not have more than 20 plugins on my setup. I have added them one at a time and really took the time to get to know them.
It is best to have 5 plugins that you know well than 500 that you "just have"...
Below a suggestion of what I think makes an essential VST plugin kit.
Get one or two reverbs. Maybe your DAW already comes with one. Ableton Live has excellent built in effects and synths. I mostly use Ableton Live's reverb.
A reverb is an essential tool. So get to know yours. Read the manual.
A delay / echo plugin is also useful. If possible get one that has a built in filter as this will give you more options.
Ableton Live also comes with one of these. Again... read the manual.
Another essential tool is EQ. Ableton's is also very good, but you can easily get a free one as well.
Filters come in all shapes and sizes. Don't go over the top. One or two filter plugins should cover all your needs. Get one where you can select the type of filter: High Pass, Low Pass, Band Pass, Notch and maybe High Shelf and Low Shelf.
Many EQ plugins can actually also be used as filters, since many EQ plugins now allow you to select the type of filter for each band.
Chorus, Flanger and Phaser plugins often can be found as "bundles". Ableton Live already has these, I suspect you do not need any others.
All of the above cover the basic effects kit.
I would recommend that in addition to the above you get an amp simulator and a granular effect.
I think Ableton Live has a couple of granular processing effects. But I did not find these very good compared to other free VSTs so I do not use them.
There is no amp sim on Ableton Live. When you get an amp sim, make sure you also get a cab (or speaker) emulator. Some amp sims have built in cabs, some don't. An amp without a cab will usually sound too harsh and unnatural (although that sound can also have its uses).
If you are into Lo-Fi stuff or need "computer-like blips and blops" a bitcrusher and bitrate reducer could also be useful. Ableton Live has one which covers the basics.
You seem to be more into sound manipulation than synthesis... So your use of synths will probably be mostly for overlaying synth sounds to something else.
Synthesis is quite a subject of its own, and some synths can be difficult to control if you don't know the principles of the theory.
If you do not have much experience/knowledge in this area, possibly start with analogue synth emulations. Make sure the synth you pick has at least a noise oscilator. As filtered noise will be very useful to be overlayed to other sounds for sound effect design purposes.
Again... read the manuals...
And come back with questions. People here will be happy to help, and there will always be someone around that has the answer to your question.
If unsure, upload your sounds and post a thread with a link to the sound asking for feedback. I have done that a couple of times.
The Nord modular demo software is one of the best free toys around, use it in conjunction with SoundFlower so you can route it into your recording program. Also the UVI Workstation sampler is a free download, it works a lot like a Korg Triton and supports Impulse Response reverbs/FXs. With that you've got a synth and a sampler for free.