I am constantly adding to my library and organizing it.

I still have about 50 gigs worth of recordings I still need to go through and catalogue from various vacations and recording opportunities and friend's donations.

What percentage of your time do you spend organizing your library and keeping it neat and orderly?

Do you tend to organize just after a project you work on while all the sounds and elements you created are fresh in your mind?

I'd say my time is easily split 50/50 with organizing/production. That includes organizing and setting up folders and notes for the next project I am going to do, so it's really more like 25% of the time that I'm just concentrating on my library itself.

What does your pie chart look like?

7 Answers 7


I spend between 4 and 10 hours per week on the databasing side, depending on what's been going on. this is in addition to what it usually a 45-55 hour workweek. If my weeks get longer due to projects or deadlines then my databasing time gets pushed back. If my weekes get shorter then it gets pushed up.

  • Understood. Do you think being organized helps production move faster?
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:31
  • absoultely. It also helps me be more creative because I consistently spend a fair amount of time just wrapping my head around the newest raw sounds I've created or captured. I actually find it relaxing, but I'm very strange that way.
    – Rene
    Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 4:38
  • Cool. I'm curious, do you name your files with what you think it would be a good use for? A simple example would be "Slinky". Would you name a slinky hit that sounded like a blaster with "Slinky Blaster"? Or do you keep your recordings named what they were and leave the creativity of what it would be used for for later?
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 4:02
  • I put as much metadata into my files as I can, so that goes beyond naming. For a slinky blaster I'd probably name it something like "slinky-blaster 1" or whatever, but in my database it would be "metal slinky laser zap blaster contact mics sci fi" or something to that effect.
    – Rene
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 6:31

0.05% organizing the library.

The rest of the time I'm editing, mixing, planning this Production and the next, recording ADR, on the phone with the composer, the director, the production company, staring at the wall looking for inspiration. Perhaps 1-2% of the time i spend designing new sounds or recording sound.

  • I'm curious: How does that work with starting new projects? Do you never re-use what you created before or keep mental notes on sounds you've found before to use on new projects? And without recording new things, do you just have a huge library you draw from?
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:30
  • I have worked as supervising sound editor / sound designer on 10 feature films and a lot of documentaries and shorter films. I have quite a big library from the sounds i have recorded while working on these films, but I have also bought a few commercial libraries. I have Soundminer in my studio, so the organizing is pretty fast: I just give the sound file a nice well describing name like "car.window.rain.int.wav" or "atm.fireworks.newyear.copenhagen.3.wav" and copy it to my sound library disk, then import it to sound miner, and voila, the organizing is done... Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 12:01
  • I may make a folder for the film I'm working on on the library disk, but that is as far as I go with organizing. I know it is not neat and orderly, but as long as it is fast and searchable, I'm happy. Commented Feb 20, 2011 at 12:04

If I had a steady job then I would spend more time in my off hours cataloging/organizing than looking for the next gig hahaha.

One option I have recently started using:

Ideally, when my hard drives are networked together, when I have a project that I have gone back and renamed all my baked sfx and such, my project backup hard drive is available to be searched. So If I have done something with a ton of servos and I liked some of the ones I had used or made, boom - easy searching.

Its the poor sound designers way of not buying soundminer. However, I do remember whining earlier about how my hard drives take too long to search through... hahah oh well.

  • I was meaning to ask you at some point, the Starcraft demo you have on your site is really good. How did you get all those great servo sounds? Did you record them yourself? Or is there a boutique library I should get? It's really good. Thanks for the answer. The drive networking is a good idea.
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 21:26
  • @Utopia Thats what ive been told - I recorded a ton of power tools in a blanketed closet ranging from drills to chainsaws (This can be dangerous) all at 96k. Variable speed is best, and some that you can grab ahold of the bit and manually slow it down. I also had a library with dentist drills and forklifts. The layering I baked depended upon the proximity of the servo to the camera and how big the servo emitter was compared to Tychus. Good lord I have so much power tool recordings - but it was a total pay-off.
    – C3Sound
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 3:56
  • @C3Sound Cool. Was that a real gig or a demo-reel type project?
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 4:03
  • @Utopia Nah - Demo Reel. I think it turned out nicely though.
    – C3Sound
    Commented Feb 21, 2011 at 7:42
  • Sure did. Sounds very professionally done. Is that your voice in the end?
    – Utopia
    Commented Feb 23, 2011 at 1:15

After fighting a time battle in a 48 hour film comp, I now realize the importance of organizing my library. It still is not organized but it will be helpful next time to have a more organized library.

How do people organize their libraries? Do you have folders that say like, sparkly or big hit, etc…?

Also..after going through my library, renaming everything, and organizing everything has taken days and I'm not done yet. But, it is great because I get to hear every single sound as I go through and rename them.


Yeah, I try to stay organized but...things happen, I fall behind on it. In addition to FX recordings I've got loads of samples for music production. Different drum hits, stabs, synthy woo-woos...

As far as FX go, I tend to organize them in folders and then sub-categorize. I have a folder for "Abstracts" and within there I've got things like "Whooshes" "Hits" "Atmos" and the like. "BG" for ambiance type recordings. I keep most Foley I do, and that gets broken up into "Footsteps" "Cloth" "Props", etc. "Violence" has categories like "Explos" "Guns" "Blades".


I have made a major effort to just do it in a "GTD" way, where I organize as I work. I'd rather lose 2 minutes now, than 2 days after letting it pile up for a month. Translated into real numbers, it's probably about 1% - maybe 5% tops.


I spend too much time hah, but I'm a sucker for proper formatting, metadata and ensuring that each asset in Soundminer matches each file on my drive so there's no missing or double-catalogued files (e.g. if theres 120,150 files in the Soundminer database, the FX drive itself had better match exactly 120,150 files).

My thought is that each file that is not accounted for or not easily accessible, I am only hurting myself when there is a show to work on.

The amount of time fluctuates though. When there's a show, 0% is spent on management, but when no show is in, it's more like 75% - that can change though depending on how much time I spend recording too.

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