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Wednesday
May252011

SFX Review: Boom Library Creatures

This is the first SFX library review I am doing here at the Azimuth Blog.  Please take a moment to read the Ground Rules if you have not had a chance yet, to get an idea of what I use the libraries for and what my criteria are.

I am going to kick things off with “Creatures” from Boom library.  Creatures came out last fall and has been my go to starting place when I need to build an animal or monster ever since.  There are two components to the version of this library I purchased, the “Creatures Construction Kit” and the “Creatures Designed” you can buy these separately or purchase them together, making the “Creatures Bundle”.  

The “Designed” product is a collection of 300 sounds all ready to go, they have been processed, layered and are meant to drop on your time line and let you move on.  For quick situations these work well and are a much needed injection of new monster sounds to your library but I am going to focus mostly on the “Construction Kit” because that is where you can really make some magic.

The Kit is made up of all the elements (plus more) used to make the “Designed” sounds in their original unprocessed state, so you can build you own scary monster roars and attacks.  The files are organized so that multiple similar sounds are in each audio file with a few seconds of silence between.  Creatures are categorized with metadata by type of vocalization (Roar, Growl, Breathing, ect) as well as a secondary vocal description or sub-category, then creature size (Large, Medium, Small) then length of sound (Short, Average, Long) followed by type of attack envelope (hard or soft) and finally pitch (High, Mid, Low).  So a typical file description would look like this:

GOBBLE - EAT - SMALL - LONG - HARD - MID

This would indicate a small creature eating, over long takes, with hard attacks in the mid frequency range.

So this method of metadata is extremely helpful, you can punch in a general query, ie: large roar - and you will get back 51 files (each with 5-11 individual sounds).  Within the roars the metadata further breaks it down into Snarls, Hisses, Growls, Bellows, ect. and even a Ruckle (I did not know what a Ruckle was so I looked it up: to make a hoarse, rattling sound).

A similar query could be looking for a medium sized monster breathing, so I would search: Medium Breath - comes back with 45 files varying from Pant, Snore, Exhale, Gargle and another new one to me: Nicker (of a horse, Give a soft, low whinny)

So finding sounds is pretty quick with Metadata this detailed and consistent.  A couple of minor complaints would be that I don’t always agree with their labels for the attack envelope of a sound, sometimes I think what they have labeled as hard is pretty soft and vice versa, but this is minor as it is not something I am searching for primarily.  The main function for metadata is to help me find what I am looking for quickly and efficiently and the people at Boom have succeeded at this, so the metadata gets full marks.

The collection is more then just vocalizations, as it contains lots of tiny creature movements, and slimly squishes and wet slithers (search under slobber).  Something it does lack is large creature footsteps, but I did not think I was getting any when I purchased so that was not a surprise. 

I have used this collection quite extensively since acquiring it.  I am currently working on a animated series that has lots of giant monsters running around and almost every episode I have worked on since getting “Creatures” has featured multiple sounds from this collection.  Also I have been able to build sounds for real animals from this set too, another animated series I work on, has a grizzly bear as one of the main characters and I have mined a lot of sounds meant to be more for sci-fi monsters and used them as elements on the bear to great effect.  Same goes for a dangerous wolf in another project, the wolf ended up being terrifying in the final mix and actually had to be thinned out at the request of the director so as not to be too scary.  I have also used the collection to create tiny little insects, the sounds of ants walking is a tough one because obviously you can not hear an ant normally, but I found some great tiny movement sounds that really fit the bill in this library.

The sounds are great for giving a monster a full range of emotions, instead of using the same roar 20 times.  One thing I was hoping for was more straight up loud scary roars, simple 2 second long fast attack roars.  The collection seems to be focused a lot more nuanced and detailed sounds, so you have to edit them to get a nice tight fast roar.  In other situations the same details and nuances are what save you though.  Sometimes the sounds start to become similar but all in all there is a wide variety and where there is processing it is rarely taken too far.

The library is easy to get also as it is a simple download of the Boom website (www.boomlibrary.com).  The Creatures Bunndle is a big download though, with the final package being 1111 files at 96k/24bit taking up over 10gig on your hard drive.  The download process has the files ZIP-ed into 10 sections you can pull down separately in smaller doses, so you are not pulling down one massive file.  The price point for the bundle is 229 (translates to $322.50 American) and that is not chump change, but it is also not out of this world for what you are getting, 7,900 sounds total.  This works out to about .04 cents per sound, the big publishers work out to much more then that per sound, so it is a good deal. (Sound Ideas new “General HD” library works out to .16 cents per sound) Plus Boom tend to offer discounts on pre-orders for upcoming libraries so you can even knock off a few bucks if you plan ahead, not really relevant to this review though as it is a catalog product now.

Another thing to mention quickly, I have had two minor problems with Boom Library products, one was a technical thing that was no fault of theirs and one that was a server issue on their end.  I emailed them letting them know I was having problems pulling down my purchase and only three minutes later I got an email back asking me a few questions to try to help figure out the problem, I quickly replied and they sent me a link to pull down the files another way from their web-support guy and I was on my way.  The amazing thing is that since Boom Library is based in Germany they did all this tech support for me at midnight their time.  I was expecting to hear back the next day but they went the extra mile and got me fixed up right away.  In the case of the other problem, this one not their fault, they sorted out my problem and sent me a preview of a  couple files from their next release as well.  So they seem to really care about their products and customers which is something that puts them right over the top in my book.

In the end my reviews are based on if the product makes my job easier and my work of higher quality and this collection does both.  I highly recommend it for anyone that needs these types of sounds.  

Here are demos from Boom’s sound cloud:

Creatures by BOOM Library

 

Also there is a quasi companion piece called “Wild Cats” that they have released since “Creatures” that extends this collection further.

Wildcats Tigers&Lions by BOOM Library

Editors Note:  Yes this review is pretty glowing.  They won't all be this way.  I just wanted to start out with the reviews with a solid dose of positivity before I come out swinging with the negativity some future reviews will require.