Effectarama – The new home for Australian sound effects

Decades in the making, the gargantuan collection that is Effectarama is the 21st century update of a major body of work created by dozens of leading Australian film and television audio professionals between the 1970s and 2014.

Compiled from the six major libraries of Australian sound effects that serviced the Sydney film and television market during that time period, and remastered to the quality levels required for current and future production platforms, Effectarama not only captures and preserves an irreplaceable and invaluable collection of recordings, but does so in a way that ensures that the contents of those sound libraries will remain viable and productive for many more decades. Unfortunately the original libraries are now mostly non-existent for one reason or another, but Effectarama remains to fill the gap caused by their passing.

Sound effects bring any production to life. The most successful sound effects serve the dual purpose of heightening a viewers literal perception of story, place and time within a production, whilst simultaneously coding the audience to consider and contemplate what lies under the surface of a story. They allow the user to control and manipulate reality within productions, and can be just as effective as music in evoking emotions and memories within audiences.

Sound effects recordings are also a time capsule. The relentless march of technology and design in all aspects of human endeavour continuously consigns the audio signatures of previous human endeavour to the echo chamber of history. Sound effects recordists ensure that real-world sounds with a limited life expectancy remain audible and accessible for years. Without them, most period productions would be far less believable. Even productions set as recently as ten years ago are subject to the march of technological obsolescence – many cars, buses, trains, telephones and computers for example sound very different now to what they sounded like ten years ago – go back further and they become more and more alien to the sonic signature of the world we live in today.

Thus the benefits of sound effects library are both historical and creative. A sound effects collection with the scope of Effectarama will not only go a long way to addressing the users need for material that literally reflects and directly supports the content of most productions, but will also provide a vast palette of raw ingredients to stimulate the users imagination into considering alternate ways to drive and enhance the story being told. A good sound effects collection is not just invaluable to audio professionals – directors, editors, writers, producers, game programmers, installation designers and composers are just some of the crafts which can also benefit from using sound effects in their production processes to both broaden the scope and accessibility of their work, and to provide them with greater control in the way they communicate ideas and emotions in their work.

Australia enjoys the dual benefit of having a unique and beautiful natural sonic signature defined largely by its unique bird, insect and animal life, as well as a hugely varied and diverse man-made sonic signature resulting from the countries status as a technologically advanced first world country, coupled with influences derived from the diversity that has resulted from her embrace of multi-culturalism. Effectarama has been designed to brings the beauty of natural Australian sonic signatures to the users fingertips, whilst at the same time giving them access to a vast palette of more generic and less localised production ready sounds. Already in use in numerous countries around the world, Effectarama offers the advantage of providing useful content for Australian and international productions of any size, scale, subject or medium in a highly cost-effective and time-efficient way.

Over time I will add more detail about the experiences behind the recording and editing of some of the sounds in Effectarama, but meantime I welcome your queries or comments or dissertations on Australian sound effects and sound effects generally.

John Patterson
December 2014