Sound design is like cooking in a lot of ways. When you cook a giant meal, it's a lot of fun. But the clean-up is boring. What they say when you're learning to cook is that you have to clean-up as you go.

Which brings me to my question: What's your workflow for getting sounds you've recorded into your library? Do you immediately crop them into useful samples when they're recorded? Or do you do what I do and let them all pile up in the sink until they're swarming with flies and you can't scrape the damn rice from the bottom of the pot?

Errr.... Uhm... There's a useful metaphor in there somewhere.

3 Answers 3


It depends on the project, but here's how I handle it for field recordings or effects-recording sessions.

  1. I create a folder named for the project our session, with the date, such as "20101021_SSD." I usually assign three-letter codes for all projects.
  2. Within that folder, I keep a folder called "Raw," into which all the unedited field recordings go. They never get altered. This immediately gets backed up to a backup mirrored RAID.
  3. I go through the raw recordings and create a new folder called "Selects," saving snippets or entire files from the Raw directory in there, taking the opportunity to rename the files as the project demands.
  4. I then trim the file.
  5. I then apply EQ.
  6. I then apply filters.
  7. I then apply noise reduction.
  8. I then do Creative Stuff, processing, and other fun jiggyness.
  9. I create a new subfolder called "Finals," into which these edited files go.
  10. The Selects and Finals are then backed up on the mirrored RAID backup.
  11. After every project, any resulting sessions and further edits are also backed up on the mirrored RAID, which itself then is put on a SECOND backup RAID once a quarter, which is stored offsite.

That said, if these are not for a particular project but rather just building my own library, step 9 is instead about saving the file with as descriptive a name as possible and then into my library directories, which is structured not unlike what you'd see from Blastwave FX.

Metadata, then, is applied either per file as I go, or in a discrete separate pass after everything's done, depending on mood and how many files there might be.

  • very similar to my process - except I don't store the raw stuff forever.
    – Rene
    Commented Oct 21, 2010 at 18:47
  • +3 dude, solid! Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 3:28
  • +20 for solid jiggy dudes! Glad to see I'm not alone in this workflow... Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 4:49
  • 1
    = 24. Someone needs to keep count of the additions. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 21:12

It depends on the recordings. When I recorded something spectacular, I will edit the recodings in the next 2 or 3 days. But of course there are some recordings I just did because I had the chance to, like some simple doors or some household stuff. These are the ones, that I will edit after 2 weeks. I think one of the main problems is, that the sounds you don`t neccesarely need in the next few weeks are often "pile up in the sink". This is why I try to always put the sounds into small videos.

Another problem I encountered is the fact, that I have to re-check my library from time to time, due to the fact, that I realize some of my recordings that I liked some weeks ago are actually not very good ( or were not edited very good ). So from time to time I have to put these (in most cases) quick edited sounds into the bin or my "work-material" folder.


I concur on it depending on the recordings. There are some recordings that beckon to be played back on location, while others have been sitting on my hard drive for months. It is important to have a process to make sure that all recorded material is eventually sifted through and 'nuggets' are found, labeled, and backed up.

Editing my field recordings seems faster and easier when I do it while the material is fresh on my mind so I try to edit as soon as I get back to the studio.

To conserve hard drive space I prefer to destructively edit my recordings. I copy my field recordings to a section on my 2TB "Sample Drive" labeled "96K Raw Files". I title each folder with the date, place, and subject matter; something like this, "08_26_10_Circle X Ranch_Grotto_Landslides_Metal Door". These files will remain there until I am finished editing after which they are deleted.

While editing I import these files into a Pro Tools session on my "Session Drive" named the same as the folder on my "Sample Drive". I go through and start deleting and finding the best moments from each file and create a separate region for each. I am not afraid to delete files completely in the process for redundancy and quality control. Files that are too soft are deleted because I want recordings with a decent level. Files with extranneous or otherwise unwanted sounds are also deleted. (I would rather re-record then spend any time trying to clean up a noisy or otherwise tainted field recording. That's just me though, and there definiteley are exceptions.)

Then I add some light eq and compression. I then go through and automate region by region for the appropriate settings for level, eq, and sometimes compression or limiters.

I then bounce each region to disk on my "Sound Library Drive" reserved for 'mastered' recordings. When bouncing each region I give it a very descriptive name similiar to blastwave, sounddogs, soundsnap, or hollywood edge's naming conventions. I also spent some time looking at how they categorize their sounds and have started to drop my sounds into appropriate categories on my "Sound Library Drive".

From here I plan to add metadata for all of the files eventually which will be beneficial down the road when I have more files then I can remember.

All 'designed effects' I like to keep separate from my 'mastered' raw field recordings. Then it is easy to get to those original files for new sound design material and I keep it fresh by not relying on other 'designed' sounds.

I also backup all of my drives but that process is way too boring to describe to you here.

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