CD SOUND EFFECTS LIBRARYSeveral years ago, I saw an ad for a sound effects demo CD by The Hollywood Edge. I sent in my $15 license fee and was soon sweetening "opens" and "teases." I got incredible mileage from that one CD, so when Mix asked me to review the company's latest library, I was already well-acquainted with The Hollywood Edge's product.
The Hollywood Edge Premiere Edition 4 has more than 1,200 effects, taken from major Hollywood feature films, including an assortment of room tones; cloth movements; computer and high-tech sounds; real and Foley rain; all sorts of wood and metal scrapes; and a variety of urban effects.
Of course, before you can really start exploring this 10-CD collection, you need to know where you are - or at least where you want to be. The printed index didn't do much for me. It offered a huge selection, but some more redundancies and cross-indexing would help. For example, I was trying to find "war sounds" for a project and only stumbled on these after drawing blanks from the usual suspects, like "war" and "military."
The library's electronic indexing is available on the company's Web site, and once I got there, downloading the e-index was straightforward. However, with so many effects to sift through, a database or index included with the product on CD-ROM or floppy would make the package more complete for users.
I began exploring the library by building an audio montage, starting with some ambience and got inspired. After getting lost in the index among the variety of wallas (this thing offers room tones up the wazoo!), I ran across "Ship Interior: Moans" (PE4, Disc 8, track 39). Suddenly, I'm aboard an alien starship traveling across the cosmos. It reminded me of the time I used my first E-mu Proteus: It made me want to write. Well, this sound effect made me want to write, too, and I spent the next two hours in Cakewalk, composing around the ambience.
Next up, I tried this same process in reverse, putting some SFX into an existing music project. Spending about ten minutes with the index, I discovered what I needed (here's where the "military" reference in the index would have saved some time) and found some effects that made the piece come alive in a whole new way: The serendipitous rhythm of a machine gun fit this anti-war piece perfectly. I got a helicopter to slow (gliss) down through the pitch I needed and resolved to a nice fade using the time-shift and volume transform plug-ins in Syntrillium's Cool Edit Pro. Here, the library's outstanding signal-to-noise ratio came in handy, yielding artifact-free results. I should mention that this piece never saw air, because I had not yet received a license from Hollywood Edge for this review copy. This collection, when purchased, does include a full broadcast license.
The recorded, natural sounds are clean as a whistle, and whether editing on a PC or old-fashioned razorblading, I found plenty of space between hits within a cut to edit. I could have done without the somewhat-cheesy synth sounds on Disc 3, but short of having an ARP Odyssey at your disposal - and someone who knows how to use it! - there are applications for wacky sounds.
Speaking of wacky sounds, my next test was designing sounds for those ubiquitous "Fox graphics" you sports fans know intimately. I needed a sound to fit the artsy DVE move created by the tape director. Out came PE4 Disc 4, the "Scrapes & Switches" CD, which has great sounds recorded incredibly well, although they were a bit dry and the TV truck had no multi-effects gear. Obviously, this would be less of a problem in a traditional studio/sound design environment.
The bottom-line? The Hollywood Edge Premiere Edition 4 is a very clean, useful, deep and - at $595 - reasonably priced collection. If you could only have one library, this is the one to have and it adds well to any collection. It'll make you and your clients look (and sound) good.