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[INTERVIEW] Axel on our new library "MAGIC"

In this interview, Axel Rohrbach tells you more about our brand-new SFX library MAGIC (Release Date: First week of March).

Axel, what can we expect from the “Magic” library?

"Magic" is a pretty wide spread topic and that demands a sound world with a huge and diverse set of basic sounds to design with: fireballs, ice lances, lightning arrows and healing spells, evil necromancer wizardry and friendly, peaceful she-elves sorcery. The Magic library offers an extremely wide set of sounds in the "Construction Kit" to be able to cover all those arenas of Magic. We have recorded tons of fire actions, water splashes, explosions, whooshes, drones, electricity, chemical reactions and so forth. The selection of sounds has been made with the thinking "what kind of sources do we need to design all these spells we have in mind". The "Designed" part of this library is much more specific. An ice ball explosion for example is no simple ice-crack sound pimped up - these sounds do have this surreal, unnatural character without disconnecting from the real world.

What was the inspiration for producing the library? What was the mind set behind it?

We very often create libraries we need for our own daily work. So we were in need of a lot of sounds with a quality high enough to be able to heavily mangle and process them to sound interesting and inspiring. At the same time there are some sounds which might not be processed at all, like chimes or fire whooshes. So there are basically those sounds that sound special and give a good basis to play around with, plus a lot of sounds that can be used as they are. As an inspiration we had all kind of different media in mind and tried to cover all of it: typical regional differences like the more synthetic, fast and high frequency focused Asian game audio style as well as the bombastic Hollywood as in the recent "Maleficent" trailer or the Gandalf vs. Sauron battle in the "Hobbit 2" without overlooking the Magic-For-Kids-Disney-Style.

How was the recording process itself? Where did you record and what equipment did you use?

To put it easy: difficult. We had some trouble at the start finding interesting sounds which are usable at the same time – unfortunately, that’s not always identical. We had a lot of trial and error recording sessions, probably more than ever before.
During the “Designed” process, we had to figure out how much usable capacity there still was on the recordings, which was difficult for the chemical experiments we recorded – a special challenge. But with our high-frequency microphones, we were able to also cover these filigree chemical reactions and other multifaceted sounds. Still, some recordings just weren’t usable because it’s not possible to record them without running ventilation or outside of a laboratory with all its safety precautions.
With some other sounds, we had difficulties on how to offer them: unprocessed, some of them might not sound as one would expect it from a magical sound effect. The processed option however would include an implied conception on how to use them. While preparing the “Construction Kit”, we discovered that some choir samples for example could easily be transferred into drones, ambiences or whooshes by a good designer. The problem was: once they would have been processed, it wouldn’t have been possible to go back to the original version, thus devaluating the long-term usage of the recording and equally disqualifying the "Construction Kit" as a whole.
In the end, we kept our general guideline and mostly offer unprocessed sounds in the "Construction Kit", giving the sound designer maximum freedom for its own working process.

What has been your favorite or most fun part in preparing and producing the library?

In the majority of cases when creating one of those “Bundle” libraries, the fun starts once there is a good amount of "Construction Kit" recordings edited and we begin working on the “Designed” sounds. It is like you produced a bunch of bricks and finally start to build the house. If the bricks don’t have the right shape, the house will end up crooked – at best. If the bricks' quality isn’t sufficient, the house will simply collapse. For us, that means creating the first "Designed" sounds is always a lot of fun and we can be even more creative during this period.

Allow the customers an exclusive insight and reveal a secret behind the Magic sounds!

We discovered that there is a narrow gap between science-fiction sound effects and magic sound effects. The major difference is that science-fiction may sound synthetic but those magic sounds need to sound more organic. So playing around with synthesizer or heavily modulating effects does work, but only if either the basis is an organic sound or a synthetic sound is pimped with something the auditorium can connect to real world experiences. Keeping in mind that magical sound effects often take place in a setting referring to the medieval ages, that idea absolutely makes sense: weaving “reality” into the sounds makes us "believing" them.

Let’s break it down: can I do the sound design for summoning a big bad Dragon with this library?

Since magic is fantasy, it’s up to your own creativity to think about what kind of spells might be possible or get invented for movies, games or audio books. This being said: for our part, this library is complete. We created all the "Magic - Designed" sounds out of the "Magic - Construction Kit" as always, which gives you a brief idea of what is possible with this set and what we had in mind. Regarding your example: if a wizard summons a dragon you can create the summon itself, the magical aspect of it, but for the dragon you might want to combine that library with our "Creatures" library and animal series.
So the answer is yes and no: no, there is no "complete" in terms of magic but yes, you can definitely create an extensive set of magical scenes with this library, not to speak of how easy it is to use it for special needs by combining it with other libraries or own recordings. To get a real insight and a good overview check out our "Designed" demo.

The library will be released in the first week of March, so stay tuned :-)

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