Author Archives: Tim Prebble

Smashing Whiteware

The first video I ever uploaded to Youtube was this one:

Recording car crash sound effects

Recording car crash sound effects

Reversing a car into a pile of fridges – video was uploaded on 18th March 2007 and has had 93k views
Pretty good for a 4 second video, but I suspect the duration had more to do with upload speeds back then than anything else…

It was one of those fun opportunities where a friend had a car which could no longer get a WOF, so it couldn’t be legally driven on the road and apparently to the owner wasn’t worth anything. So they donated it to us, a Ford Telstar, to record sound effects.

The first problem to solve was WHERE to record it, as we wanted to destroy the car in every way possible. Eventually we settled on the local rubbish dump, which by paying a small fee to have someone ‘supervise us’ we could access after hours. And as it is a secure area there would be no one & no traffic nearby to ruin our recordings.

After beating the car with sledge hammers and smashing windows, headlights etc someone noticed there was a mountain of old fridges nearby and perhaps we could record some impacts with it. I volunteered to drive & suggested reversing into the fridges might be the best way, as it would protect the radiator & engine as long as possible. So thats me maniacally reversing into those fridges…

We called the recording session: “REST IN PIECES”

The last sounds we captured were when we tried to get the engine to seize. We put a brick on the accelerator and stood back as it revved like crazy… After a while the exhaust was glowing & we wondered if it was ever going to end, but eventually the engine started doing long slow surges and would slow down, slowly rev back up & then spluttered to a hault.

Anyway, those recordings proved to be incredibly useful throughout all my years of working on films. Whether it was glass breaks or puncturing the tyres or ‘foots on roof’ or ‘reversing into fridges’ any time I needed car violence I knew where to look.

So that has been the motivator for recent VEH002 SUV IMPACTS library and the new release SD066 WHITEWARE DECONSTRUCTED, which didn’t involve a car but it did extract some awesome sounds from an old washing machine & a dryer!





Sound Libraries when starting out as a Sound Editor

Someone got in touch recently, keen to buy their first sound libraries but a little overwhelmed by the choices. So they asked what would I recommend?
Funnily enough I had been thinking about exactly this i.e. building a “Sound FX Editor Starter Pack” so I will work through some ideas and choices, but I am also totally open to suggestions. Is there a combination you would be interested in?

First, I’ll outline my own approach to building my own personal sound library, as a sound effects editor & sound designer.

Fairly early on in my career I realised that once I had ProTools the next thing that would have the most impact on my work was to build up my raw resources: sounds!

First was gaining access to a field recorder and microphones.
We are each unique, with unique backgrounds and unique opportunities for recording. Your parent’s occupation provides direct access to industries that otherwise might never be accessible. And your location also provides access to unique sounds. So the sooner you start recording sounds towards your own personal library the better. Note you do not need to own gear to start this. My first recordings were made by borrowing a Nagra 4.2 and an MKH416 shotgun mic. So all I had to fund was some 1/4″ tape & batteries. Years later I got my first recorder, a Tascam portable DAT machine and a pair of mics (Oktava omni mics). Why I raise this as a starting point is twofold: first every time you record something – ambience, a prop, a machine, a vehicle, an animal, anything… and then transfer it into your DAW and mess with it, you complete an invaluable learning feedback loop. You go through the complete cycle of research & planning a recording, doing the recording in reality – hearing the sounds directly with your own ears as well as through headphones. And then you get to hear how the recordings sound in your studio. The sooner you start this lifelong process the better.

Second, how to organise my library so it’s easy to use.
Thankfully now hard drives are cheap and online storage such as Google Drive is cheap. So say you start filling a 4TB hard drive and you back it up to Google Drive. Some people like to spend their time organising their sounds into folders by categories etc but I have never done this. I feel it is a futile waste of time which does not scale. Here I am decades later with a personal library with over 500k sounds in it. Sorting those into category folders would have cost me vast amounts of time, with no benefit as I do not ever browse my library by looking through folders. I use a sound library app (SoundMiner in my case) to find anything. So my approach has always been to store my sounds chronologically. So I just keep adding new folders on my library drive named with the date first “20240331 PekaPeka Beach recording” etc… or, sometimes named with project they are associated with. This way the original recordings are backed up, I can find them by searching, by the approximate year & date and I can find them by memory.
But the important point here is I began collecting sounds. So if I was starting out now, I would be a voracious downloader of every legitimate free sound I could find. That word “legitimate” is important because years later you may not remember where you got something from, but you may have to sign a contract saying you own a license to the sounds you use on a project.

Third, once I was working on films my library purchases were motivated by the projects needs.
For example when I worked on the film Mr Pip, I noted there was a big scene where a village is destroyed and burnt to the ground. So I did some research & bought all of the indie fire sound libraries I could find. The bonus of this approach is that I can write off the cost as part of the cost of that project but those fire sounds I will have forever more. So each project means you get to fill out some aspect of your sound library. And you remember how & why you got those sounds & which ones worked best for the scenes.

So which HISSandaROAR libraries would I buy if I was starting out?
Which libraries cover good basic categories, that recurr in projects often?

Here are three practical bundles I have put together, with sounds you will that will be useful forever more:

BUNDLE 1 – Practical Effects:

BUNDLE 2 – Breaking Things:
SD048 GLASS Practical FX
SD057 100K METAL

BUNDLE 3 – Ambiences 1:

While some libraries HISSandaROAR release are more specialist, these are all libraries that you will find practical use for, forever more. So I have created bundles with maximum discount:

BUNDLE 1 – Practical Effects
BUNDLE 2 – Breaking Things
BUNDLE 3 – Ambiences 1



EDU11 FILM SOUND STUDY – BOY by Taika Waititi

Back in 2009 I had the great pleasure of being the Sound Designer and putting together the sound post team for Taikas film BOY, and as it is one of the favourite films I have worked on I thought I would use it as a case study. If you would like to take part in this film sound study, you will need to get a copy of the film yourself. First so that you can watch it with no prior knowledge, but also so you can refer back to scenes as we discuss them.

Boy New Official Trailer

BOY by Taika Waititi at IMDB

I did a quick search to see where it is available for streaming or purchase.
My results will be skewed to my location but I found all of these options.

BOY at Amazon Prime

BOY at Apple TV

BOY at Netflix

BOY at Youtube

BOY BluRay or DVD at Amazon

If you want to take part I’ll need you to do two things:
First access a copy of the film and watch it with a good sound system.
Second reply with a comment to this post.

I will take the number of comments as encouragement to start the film sound study.

Phone off. Lights off. Enjoy the movie!



Jim Jarmusch’s 5 Golden Rules of Filmmaking

Rule #1:
There are no rules. There are as many ways to make a film as there are potential filmmakers. It’s an open form. Anyway, I would personally never presume to tell anyone else what to do or how to do anything. To me that’s like telling someone else what their religious beliefs should be. F*ck that. That’s against my personal philosophy—more of a code than a set of “rules.” Therefore, disregard the “rules” you are presently reading, and instead consider them to be merely notes to myself. One should make one’s own “notes” because there is no one way to do anything. If anyone tells you there is only one way, their way, get as far away from them as possible, both physically and philosophically.

Rule #2:
Don’t let the fu*kers get ya. They can either help you, or not help you, but they can’t stop you. People who finance films, distribute films, promote films and exhibit films are not filmmakers. They are not interested in letting filmmakers define and dictate the way they do their business, so filmmakers should have no interest in allowing them to dictate the way a film is made. Carry a gun if necessary.

Also, avoid sycophants at all costs. There are always people around who only want to be involved in filmmaking to get rich, get famous, or get laid. Generally, they know as much about filmmaking as George W. Bush knows about hand-to-hand combat.

Rule #3:
The production is there to serve the film. The film is not there to serve the production. Unfortunately, in the world of filmmaking this is almost universally backwards. The film is not being made to serve the budget, the schedule, or the resumes of those involved. Filmmakers who don’t understand this should be hung from their ankles and asked why the sky appears to be upside down.

Rule #4:
Filmmaking is a collaborative process. You get the chance to work with others whose minds and ideas may be stronger than your own. Make sure they remain focused on their own function and not someone else’s job, or you’ll have a big mess. But treat all collaborators as equals and with respect. A production assistant who is holding back traffic so the crew can get a shot is no less important than the actors in the scene, the director of photography, the production designer or the director. Hierarchy is for those whose egos are inflated or out of control, or for people in the military. Those with whom you choose to collaborate, if you make good choices, can elevate the quality and content of your film to a much higher plane than any one mind could imagine on its own. If you don’t want to work with other people, go paint a painting or write a book. (And if you want to be a fucking dictator, I guess these days you just have to go into politics…).

Rule #5:
Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean- Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”

Jim Jarmusch – IMDB

Essential viewing:

Stranger Than Paradise

Stranger Than Paradise - Trailer - Jim Jarmusch

Stranger Than Paradise – Trailer – Jim Jarmusch

Down by Law

DOWN BY LAW (1986) | Official UK Trailer - in cinemas 12th September

DOWN BY LAW (1986) | Official UK Trailer – in cinemas 12th September

Dead Man

Dead Man (1995) Official Trailer - Johnny Depp Movie HD

Dead Man (1995) Official Trailer – Johnny Depp Movie HD

Ghost Dog

Official Trailer: Ghost Dog - The Way of the Samurai (1999)

Official Trailer: Ghost Dog – The Way of the Samurai (1999)



Avid Link

So I’m busy working & have my usual bunch of apps open – ProTools, RX, Scrivener, Email… And suddenly my Mac UI starts going slow like its about to crash…. WTF I have 64GB of RAM, it can’t be the apps… So I boot up Activity Monitor and WTF?

AvidLink, which I have zero use for, is using 96.6% of my Macs CPU!
I Force Quit it and my Mac becomes responsive again…
My next thought: can I delete AvidLink? What use is it?

“Avid Link is a free app for anyone looking to find, connect, and collaborate with other creatives,
promote your work, stream video, purchase and manage products—all in one interface”

No thanks.
But rather than delete it, for now I’ll follow this advice of how to stop it auto-launching
Stop Avid Link from starting at boot

This default of forcing us to have a cloud connection is so tedious, inefficient & tone deaf.
Maybe, just maybe we don’t fckng want banal notifications popping up while we concentrate on actual work!

Similarly the Adobe Creative Cloud app on my Mac keeps displaying a red warning.
Why? Because I deliberately have “Libraries Syncing” to their cloud disabled.
Because I have no use for it.

Stop Adobe Creative Cloud from starting at boot