Audio Resources for Animators

Discussion in 'Resources' started by KageRyu, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. KageRyu

    KageRyu Rabid Art Monkey Contributing Artist

    As animators, you will no doubt need access to music and sound FX to score your projects. Since not everyone can afford to purchase commercial sound libraries or music services, I will happily share with you some links I have accrued over the decades.

    Important Notes
    Always make sure to check your license types, and needed credit for all music and audio sources. I actually suggest saving a screenshot or copy of any licensing terms or credit needs with a copy of any royalty free or free download audio or music.

    Royalty Free Music
    Bensound - Offers a wide range of styles, lengths, and genres with both a Creative Commons license and pro options. This sites license terms cover all music on the site, which makes it easy to keep track of.
    Incompetech - Offers a selection of music all from one particular author, in various lengths and styles. The site also offer Creative Commons license or Pro option. This sites license terms covers all music on the site, unless a pro license is purchased for specific tracks.
    Free Music Archive - Offers a wide range of music by independent composers covering multiple genres. Each Artist or song may have it's own licensing terms - so caution must be taken to read the terms of each track. While there are many tracks that do have a creative commons license requiring only credit, there are far more that need to have a license purchased or arranged.
    Audionautix - Music written and released under Creative Commons 3.0, free to use with credit even commercially.

    Sound FX
    What is a video without some good sound effects. If you don't have your own purchased sound libraries, and can't go record your own, these online sound banks may help.
    ZapSplat - A wide selection of sounds, royalty free, most only needing to be credited.
    Soudbible - This site purports to have free sounds, though they lack a specific legal page or license terms. All sounds are listed as either Creative Commons or Attribution 3.0 public domain works.
    PacDV - An online bank of royalty free sounds for use in video, film, and audio projects.
    Planit 3D - Hosts sound samples, but in the disclaimer at the bottom of the page states outright they do not own and can not license them, so it is a use at your own risk type issue. For personal projects this might still be a useful resource.
    freeSFX.co.uk - This appears to have a collection of sounds for use in private or commercial productions given certain conditions.
    BBC Sound Effects Library - This has a lot of sound effects from the BBC library, but the terms of use are fairly restrictive and may render some of them unusable. It primarily seems to be only for personal uses, and editing or modifying the content is strictly prohibited by the license. Still, it may be of use for personal projects to some.

    AUDIO TOOLS
    Audacity - A free, open source audio recording, editing, and mixing software. Seems to be fairly feature rich.
    SonicFire - While the free version has limits, and the musical tracks are licensed commercially separately, I have found that the pro version of this is invaluable in my editing, and some of the tracks have been indispensable to me. I first came across it with demo versions included with a video capture card I had on Windows 98 and loved the concept.
    Rubberduck - A virtual Acid and techno software-synthesizer based off the legendary Roland TB-303 for those who want to make their own loops. (Free)
    Jeskola Buzz - A VST Machine/tracker based audio composition tool. Very complex. Some of the demos are amazing though - but I have not had the time to really dig into it and figure it out. (Free)

    Of course the best option for an serious editor and animator is to purchase a few sound libraries meant for editing and production.

    I will add more as I dig through my archives and verify working links and licensing terms. If anyone else has suggestions feel free to add them here.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  2. Janet

    Janet Ambitious Contributing Artist

    Thank you! I usually use what's available on youtube and that's pretty limited.
     
  3. KageRyu

    KageRyu Rabid Art Monkey Contributing Artist

    Edited to add the following resources:
    PacDV - An online bank of royalty free sounds for use in video, film, and audio projects.
    Planit 3D - Hosts sound samples, but in the disclaimer at the bottom of the page states outright they do not own and can not license them, so it is a use at your own risk type issue. For personal projects this might still be a useful resource.
    Audionautix - Music written and released under Creative Commons 3.0, free to use with credit even commercially.

    Sadly, more than half my links for audio are now either deceased, or have switched to a membership program with a per-month fee for access.
     
  4. Nod

    Nod Eager

  5. English Bob

    English Bob Adventurous

    BBC Sound Effects Library: "The Sound Effects are BBC copyright, but they may be used for personal, educational or research purposes, as detailed in the license."
     
  6. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    It will always be worth the effort to be as creative as possible.
    I do like the idea of plenty of resources to add good soundtracks to animation.
    Using MIDI and the associated instruments and synths can make it possible to use public domain and other royalty free bits of scoring in a very creative way. It can be easily edited and also is the most easily synchronized to animation frames.
    It opens up more possibilities and freedom to create.
    Creativity is cool!
    Are you trying to be 'cool'?
     
  7. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    You're probably wondering what I'm getting at here.
    Just found the article humorous in the light of things.
    If you noticed, it was written in 2010.
    Sounds like a long time ago. But it was almost prophetic.

    Anyway I have been playing with animation ideas because of being inspired by this new topic.
    The music part I've been doing much longer than the graphics part and so I follow some of these sites, and felt that this site could be 'edumactionable' for people trying to get going with this.

    I've posted previously about these ideas when I misunderstood what the thread was actually about.
    See this thread for a discussion of musical tempos and frame rate.

    So with any of these resources for sound and music, synchronization is a pretty big challenge.
    That is, getting the sounds right on the frames they belong on.

    The default frame rate for many animation tools is 30 frames per second, which is not standard for recorded video.
    And recorded audio from various sources may and may not be compatible with 30 fps.
    Much of it may not have any embedded time code at all.

    For recorded video the industry standard of sync between sound and video is SMPTE drop (29.97 fps) time code and for audio with embeded time code this is the most likely one used.

    This time code business matters the most when trying to synchronize audio to video, which as you could guess, might get pretty messy.

    For this reason it's a real good idea, when using pre-existing audio cuts, to first choose the cuts that will work the best with the concept of the story (storyline).
    And this is a real good reason to use the practice of 'storyboarding' to get the animation planned out to tell the story.
    This can be done in the animation tool by first creating a sequence of scenes that express the key points.

    Then the audio tracks can be loaded into a video editor tool and the timing/tempo can be found by inspecting the waveforms or by just scrubbing the track and noting the critical time points.
    With this information the number of animation frames can be chosen to put the visual action in sync with the music or sounds.

    For instance, if an explosion is blowing something over, the number of frames required for the visual action can be chosen to match the length of the audio event (the explosion sound effect).

    Now many video editing tools import and export MIDI time code. Which is much more compatible with animation.
    And MIDI 'sampling' instruments, which are of course compatible with MIDI time code, can be used to very easily place blocks, or 'samples' of audio anywhere in time.

    With this approach the animator has a great deal more freedom in creating because the sound events can be placed anywhere.
    And many of these sampling instruments can stretch and shrink the sound event.

    Then comes the beauty of MIDI musical pieces.
    When used as a 'track' in the MIDI instrument the tempo, and even the placement and length of individual notes can be edited without adversely effecting the musical sound of the instrument being played.
    Such as Piano, Guitar, Orchestra, etc.
    A great number of musical sounds are available, and many of them are free (search 'free VST instruments').

    The additional investment would be for the MIDI editing tool, but so much can be produced without concern for licensing terms, that it's well worth the cost.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  8. KageRyu

    KageRyu Rabid Art Monkey Contributing Artist

    @StudioMartillo you bring up a number of interesting points about frame rate and format as well as audio timing I want to respond to. I am short on time today, but I think I will post some useful guides regarding both when I get the chance to type them up. I had worked in Video Editing in much of the 90's and there is a lot of information that may be of use.

    With Audio files, the issue is not as much a frame rate issue, as a Samples per second (digital audio) or frequency (Analog) issue when combining differing tracks from differing sources. Knowing your video frame rate is necessary for timing - but if working with multiple audio formats there can be other issues in mixing down the track.
     
    StudioMartillo likes this.
  9. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    Goes to show how important tools can be.
    Could be that some simple video editing tools don't convert sample rate, or resolution (number of bits per sample).
    With an odd assortment of audio files normalization is useful so that mixing is simplified.
    Dynamic mixing helps too in a video editor.
    You work with what you've got so technique is pretty important.
    Most useful kind of guides to have so anything you have to offer will help.
    Planning! That's often the key. And patience, stuff can drive you nuts. Lots of steps sometimes.
    From the Poser perspective you have Frames to work with.
    So if you can have a time format of Hours:Minutes:Seconds:Frames in your editor, and the frame rate can be set to 30, or whatever is being used it helps a bunch.
    With music tracks you're going to need Bars:Beats:nthNote:-- and it could be Ticks or Frames so if your MIDI editor has the option of Frames, again, it's a big help.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  10. KageRyu

    KageRyu Rabid Art Monkey Contributing Artist

    Excellent point. I will attach some links for some free audio remixers and simple audio editors in the very near future. I have many of those (well, had, I will need to see how many still are available).
     
  11. KageRyu

    KageRyu Rabid Art Monkey Contributing Artist

    I edited the first post to include the offerings of @Nod and @English Bob , with thanks, and the following:
    AUDIO TOOLS
    Audacity - A free, open source audio recording, editing, and mixing software. Seems to be fairly feature rich.
    SonicFire - While the free version has limits, and the musical tracks are licensed commercially separately, I have found that the pro version of this is invaluable in my editing, and some of the tracks have been indispensable to me. I first came across it with demo versions included with a video capture card I had on Windows 98 and loved the concept.
     
    English Bob likes this.
  12. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    Here is a song for the @Faery_Light FantasyCarousel.
    It will need three Faeries, a Calliope and some animation work to complete the scene.
    Faeries Ride the Carousel.mp3

    Composed, arranged and performed by Senior Martillo.
    No restrictions on use.
     
  13. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

  14. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    For those interested in creativity and original art,
    in this post I will discuss technique as relates to the use of MIDI in producing sound for animation.

    MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface.
    Originally developed as a protocol for conveying musical performance data between electronic instruments,
    it's use has evolved to encompass a wide variety of applications in sound generation computer software.

    As well as playing music, MIDI can be used to animate sound in the most flexible and creative way.
    Here I will talk about a specific tool that has great potential and is a common type of tool that is generally used to compose and play percussion/rhythm tracks for songs.

    This instrument is Steinberg's Groove Agent.
    It's a 'Pad' style instrument.
    A type of instrument which has evolved from hardware MIDI controllers used to perform drum and percussion parts.
    The term 'Pad' also refers to synthesizer presets which can be selected via midi controller information,
    a subject beyond the scope of this discussion.

    The Groove Agent can be a performance instrument, or can be triggered via a MIDI track in a music/sound composition tool.
    This is an important aspect in the technique of animating sound for video animations.

    To begin with I will describe the use of the Pads in Groove Agent.
    There are 8 groups of 16 pads, each of which is playable as a musical note, for a total of 128 notes.
    Each pad can be loaded with a single, or multiple sound samples that are generally fixed length events.
    When a pad is loaded with multiple samples the standard means of differentiating between the samples is by including velocity data with the MIDI note on message.
    This is usually generated by how hard a key is played and allows for a range of spectral characteristics depending on the intensity of the sound.

    As well as compiling a large selection of sound events, such as various sound effects,
    it is possible to apply further effects to the sound which can be modified using control messages.
    These types of messages can be included in the composition of the sound track.

    How this benefits sound track creation is that original sound effect samples can be produced and compiled as a collection for a specific animation project.

    The sound effect samples can be generated using a variety of synthesizers as 'dry' or unprocessed audio.
    Then environmental aspects of sound can be applied to put the sound in the context of the scene.
    This is commonly called 'ambience' in sound production work.

    For example, in an indoor environment there are reflections of sound produced by the containing structure.
    The type of ambient effect used to reproduce this is called 'reverb'.
    Reverb can be used to model that environment to impart realism in the scene.

    In an outdoor environment there are often reflections of sound as well and especially with very loud sounds such reflections are quite apparent.
    By having control over the delay and intensity of these sound reflections a 'dry' sound effect can be used in an almost endless variety environments.

    In addition to these functions are MIDI performance tools which can be used in animation as well as musical contexts.
    How these work is generally to create repetitions of the sound event with a variety of modulations applied.
    Groove Agent can change the pitch of any sample on either musical scale intervals, or micro-tonal intervals.
    This can be done in singly triggered events, or as a factor of the repetitions.
    So a single sound effect sample can be used for more complex events.
    For example when an item is dropped and bounces.
    Such as a spoon being dropped on a ceramic tile floor, or a number of similar items being dropped and bouncing.
    A complete table setting being knocked to the floor and bouncing can be produced from a single sample by multiplying and modulating it with MIDI performance tools.

    Because of this versatility the artist can create scenes and stories with none of the restrictions imposed by a limited set of sound effects which have been conceived for other uses.
    And of course a project can be a lot more fun when the artist has a complete suite of tools to express ideas with.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  15. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    In this post I will discuss sound synthesis.
    There are a wide variety of synthesizers available to create sounds with and many concepts of synthesis.
    The type discussed here is sometimes called 'analog' , which of course is not accurate in a computer software tool, or 'additive'.

    How these types of synths work is by providing a group of sound generators.
    Some are called 'oscillators' and some are called 'noise generators'.
    This group of sound generators can be used in combination to produce audio signals of an almost infinite range of spectral characteristics.
    Sounds such as tonal, or resonant, or discordant, or noise can be produced.

    The pitch of tonal or resonant sounds can be varied throughout the range of human hearing, and beyond.
    Variations in pitch can be caused in cycles, or in dynamic patterns called 'envelopes'.
    The amplitude (volume) of all sounds can be varied in cycles or in dynamic patterns.
    These variations can be applied to the generated sounds individually or to a mix of the sounds.

    With this flexibility of sound generation it is possible to produce sound effect samples the variety of which is limited only by the imagination.

    It is also possible to 'modulate' the characteristics of each one of the sound generators by the signal produced by any of the other sound generators.
    To modulate means to change under control of something else and this applies to the frequency/pitch and amplitude of the generated sound.

    An example of how something like this might happen is the closing of a door with a window in it.
    The wooden part of the door has it's own spectral, dynamic and resonant characteristics.
    The glass part of the door has it's own as well.
    The impact of the door closing initiates the generation of sound produced by the acoustic characteristics of the wood,
    and the sound (vibration) of the wood initiates and modulates the sound produced by the acoustic characteristics of the glass.
    So two tonal generators and a noise generator can model this sound event with the 'wood' generator modulating the 'glass' generator, and a dynamic model modulating them both to produce the percussive nature of the sound.

    Along with these parameters there is also a process called filtering which can selectively reduce or enhance the spectral nature of the generated sound.
    A familiar example of this is an 'equalizer' which can be found on common audio gear.
    The parameters of filtering can also be modulated in cycles or dynamic patterns so that the spectral nature of a sound can imitate natural or imagined audio events.

    By learning how to use the synthesizer tool and applying some imagination, sound FX samples of any nature can be produced for use as 'Pads' in the percussion instrument.

    As I have described in a previous post, an Audio/MIDI composition tool can be used to create an entire sound track for anything from a short, simple animation, to an entire feature length video.

    Because of the limitations of computing power the rendering of animations frames is quite limited and even a simple animation needs to be assembled in parts.
    But with the tools described above and careful planning the sound track can be added whole to the assembled video.
     
  16. Bonnie2001

    Bonnie2001 Extraordinary

    This is a useful thread Kage, thanks.
     
  17. StudioMartillo

    StudioMartillo Engaged

    In this post I will discuss the key component, the tool that brings it all together, the Audio/MIDI editor.
    I'll use Cubase 9.5 for example because it's the tool I'm using and a convenient source for terminology.
    Other quality contemporary editing tools will have similar capabilities and features.

    The main feature is the 'Project'.
    When setting up the project for video soundtrack production a sample rate of 48k/s and bit depth of 16 is a good choice because it is compatible with AC-3 audio.
    Any audio tracks imported into the project, such as dialog audio, background music and sounds etc. are automatically converted to the project format.

    The next major consideration is choice of video container. (Make Movie format)
    My personal choice of container format would be AVI since it offers several frame size choices and is compatible with my video editor, sound editor and NTSC.
    The actual frame rate for AVI will be 29.97 fps.
    When an AVI video file is imported the Cubase project will adopt the frame rate and adjust the time position to put all events in their original real time position.
    The frame count remains 30 fps so that the planning of the sound track is not affected.
    Then when the soundtrack is exported it will be in accurate synchronization with the video.

    Cubase is the native host for the MIDI instruments I have discussed in previous posts and supports all of the features described.
    Tracks are used to add the instruments and additional MIDI events.
    Tracks are also used to add audio, or to render instruments to and to add the compiled video file to.
    The video track is just used for reference and video cannot be rendered in Cubase.

    In addition there is a 'Marker' track available which is a nice touch because, like other tracks it can be moved around in the work space.
    This makes it easy to place next to the video reference track for setting up the sync points between audio events and video frames.
    It also helps to clarify when you're working with the Markers because like all tracks it can be selected for editing.
    Markers have a description field which makes a useful place to put a key scene point name.

    With the key scene points established on the marker track it is then very easy to move MIDI and audio events into position.
    Using the time cursor positioning arrows the cursor can be jumped sequentially to Marker positions.
    Then select the desired event and in the Edit > Move to submenu select 'Cursor'.

    Saving the project at regular intervals keeps your work safe and the soundtrack can evolve as part of the animation project.
    When all of the events are in position you then export the audio to a file which can be imported by the video editor to finalize the video.
     
  18. KageRyu

    KageRyu Rabid Art Monkey Contributing Artist

    I think a big thank you is due @StudioMartillo for everything he has added to this thread in terms of information and guidance. I am sorry I have not checked in to say it sooner, things are very chaotic for me right now.

    I am also adding the following to the first post under Audio Tools:

    Rubberduck - A virtual Acid and techno software-synthesizer based off the legendary Roland TB-303 for those who want to make their own loops.
    Jeskola Buzz - A VST Machine/tracker based audio composition tool. Very complex. Some of the demos are amazing though - but I have not had the time to really dig into it and figure it out.
     

Share This Page