The Incredible Burning Man
In 1981, alongside fellow effects veteran Mark Mangini, sound designer Richard L. Anderson lit himself on fire while recording effects for Oscar-winning film Raiders of the Lost Ark. Thirty-six years later, Pro Sound Effects tidied up this hot take (recorded while working on the bar scene, if you’re curious) with RX for use in their unrivaled Odyssey Collection—over 100,000 sounds from the personal libraries of Mark Mangini and Richard L. Anderson.
“Mangini was interested in passing on his iconic sounds to be used in an entirely new generation of media, so pairing Pro Sound Effects with Mangini was only natural,” says David Forshee, product manager and head of library development at Pro Sound Effects.
For The Odyssey Collection: Design Elements library included in RX Post Production Suite 4, Forshee and his editors curated and hand-picked some of the best hidden gems and useful effects from the wider Odyssey Collection. The end result is a well-rounded 258 sound effects library of expertly created sounds. “There are elemental building blocks included that can be used in all kinds of projects, whether it’s a movie trailer or a TV show. The use cases are endless.”
We spoke more with Forshee about the provenance of The Odyssey Collection: Design Elements, the stories the effects have told, and those they have yet to tell.
Storytelling with sound
“You’re telling a story through sounds, that’s what sound design really comes down to,” said Forshee. Over careers as sound designers, creators, and editors spanning a combined nine decades, Mark Mangini (Blade Runner 2019, Mad Max: Fury Road) and Richard L. Anderson (The Lion King, Edward Scissorhands) mastered this unique variety of storytelling.
Mastery is no understatement—while working on Tim Burton’s Batman Returns in 1992, Anderson was asked to create an “uncomfortable ambience.” What he created reportedly unsettled Burton so much that he dropped it from the film.
Mangini, too, is a master of his craft. After reaching the upper limits of technical skills in the studio, he enrolled in writing and acting classes. Through his training he formed a fresh perspective on the narrative potential of sound, composing narratives with audio that loop carefully through the energy of a film’s dialogue and the strength of its video.
Forshee and his team had a treasure trove of these masterfully crafted effects to work with and restore with RX.
Repair and restore with RX
When a publisher wants to print a new edition of a classic book, a team of editors give it a once over and send it off to the author or an expert to write the preface. Similarly, when Pro Sound Effects wants to publish Mangini’s classic sound effects, Forshee and his skilled team of editors tidy up these experts’ raw, unfiltered effects with RX, before sending the sounds and Mangini’s original working notes off to their editorial team.
“Regardless of whether the sound is clean or not, it goes into RX,” says Forshee. The first thing editors look at is RX’s detailed spectrogram to identify obvious problem areas. “We want to see every sound in RX, even if it doesn’t need any edits.There are always little things that come through that RX will reveal.”
The spectrogram is particularly useful when fixing common but annoying problems, like birds. “Oh man, birds are a big one. The last thing you want are chirpy little birds in the background. That’s not always appropriate for the scene and doesn’t give the mixer much control over the sounds in the scene. RX makes it easy to clean up birds.”
Not only can you see noise in an effect’s spectrogram, you can often tell what type of noise it is—from clicks and pops, to hum and buzz. That high pitched tone around 16 Hz that creeps up in a lot of recordings? With RX, you can see it’s there and remove it accurately.
And then after, notice a distinct lack of birds, and the cleaner spectrogram.
Cable car after RX
Between Forshee and his team, there isn’t a single RX module left untouched in their quest to bring The Odyssey Collection to the public. “We use all of them in some way or another, we fix so many varied things,” says Forshee. Let’s be clear here, these aren’t your run of the mill easily solved issues. “We were able to clean sounds that Mark had in his library for years and never thought could be released, that’s insane!” says Forshee.
After the effects are processed, it’s time to pass off the files to be categorized and given metadata. Think of the categorization process like an encyclopedia. Each effect a new entry that needs to be categorized and referenced.
Create Your Narrative
At its core, The Odyssey Collection: Design Elements library included in RX Post Production Suite 4 is a rich and reliable cinematic audio toolkit, far beyond the same-old same-old effects libraries. While some libraries are created simply for the sake of making sound effects without any consideration of usability, this collection is different. With this library, usability and narrative purpose are fundamental aspects of the sounds from the moment of creation. “These aren’t sound effects created just for the sake of being sound effects, they were created for specific problems and specific things that they needed to do in their work on all of these incredible films,” says Forshee.
Moments of clashing swords, tearful sorrow, raucous laughter and leaden footsteps. The smallest of things that, when pieced together, create a narrative of sound, a tapestry of noise that rises and falls with a film’s narrative arc.
Compose your own narratives with sound effects using The Odyssey Collection: Design Elements library in RX Post Production Suite 4 today.