The Pole SFX catalogue contains approximately 300 sound libraries ranging from vehicles, weapons and metal sounds to ambiences and gore sounds. A while back Pole began replacing old SFX libraries with new ones. The new recordings are more user friendly, consist of up to 40 channels covering multiple perspectives and have been recorded with the latest equipment.
So, Max Lachmann, co-founder of Pole, you are taking down the older libraries. Does that mean some sound libraries won’t be available anymore?
At this point, yes. They might be available in another form in the future, but not for now. However, we are in some cases doing new recordings of the same vehicles, since we want them to be a part of our catalogue.
Okay, and why are you doing this?
Well, it’s not that the material is bad, but considering how extensive our new libraries are, and the fidelity we use nowadays, they don’t meet the quality standards we have today. After all, some of these recordings are ten to fifteen years old. We have developed our techniques, equipment and skills a lot in those years. Some of our older libraries have 3–8 channels, all onboards, and sometimes with a single passby. They all come as long files and were initially really aimed for making loop models for games. The libraries we produce today cover onboards and exteriors, up to 40 channels, include AMBEO for VR, and are aimed towards both games and films, and the techniques that exist today.
Is there a difference in how you work in the field today compared to when you first started out?
There’s a huge difference, both in terms of equipment and in terms of how the recordings are carried out in the field. Whereas older recordings often were carried out by a single member of the Pole crew, recordings in recent years include a team of several people. Today we perform maneuvers that are tailored for both movie sound effect editing, and for use in computer games. And furthermore, when we record vehicles, we always visualize camera angles in a film. We want to have the vehicle approaching the camera making a stop or going away from the camera. In addition to that we visualize and mimic different contexts. Is it granny driving the vehicle or a bank robbery sequence? When it comes to other types of recordings, like weapons for instance, the far away stations might have completely different purposes. It can be to get reflections from a hill, or positioned inside a vehicle or metal container, to capture the sound of what it would sound like being shot at from inside these objects. Again, it helps trying to visualize what might be going on in a film.
In terms of equipment a lot must have happened since the beginning of the 00’s?
It’s a totally different kindergarten today. We started out with small devices that recorded two channels and literally shook to pieces when things got rough. Eventually we moved on and used an old Edirol R-44 that had four channels, and from there to use our Zaxcom Fusion that had eight channels. The Zaxcom was our main workhorse for many years, but as we went on to record in 96 kHz as a minimum, it got really inconvenient. Today we are using Sonosax with low noise preamps among a bunch of other recorders and do most non-vehicle recordings in 192 kHz and with high frequency microphones.
For a sound designer, are the new libraries easier to use?
Yes, for sure. To make our libraries as user friendly as possible we spend a lot of time trying to understand our users’ needs and way of working. As the content in the libraries gets more extensive, and the fidelity gets higher, the amount of data grows quickly. To have it all well-structured and easy to use is of great importance to us. We are in constant contact with users and ask for good and bad feedback, so that we can keep improving. Today, our releases include well-structured and organized takes, not down to a very tiny detail level, but nor very long takes like the old ones. They include the onboard tracks and the exterior tracks clearly named, but also pre-mixes for various groups, like engine, exhaust or interior, for those who want to be able to grab something quick. In order to make the usability even better, we also include a Reaper session and a Pro Tools session with everything lined up in sync and with markers, for those who quickly want to do their own mix. We also spend a great deal of time on getting good and useful metadata. We currently offer the metadata in seven languages.
This fall you are launching a new website. Will there be any new features in your SFX shop?
Beside the actual product, the shopping experience is of importance too. Especially since we are shuffling quite a few gigabytes for every library which can very quickly become a hassle if it doesn’t run smoothly. Soon we will be adding new tools to help ensure customers download large libraries quickly, securely, and with zips intact and ready to be used right away.
We are also adding a new Multi-User Licensing feature. Right now, the shop only handles Single User Licenses today, and all Multi User Licenses and bulk discounts have to be quoted and dealt with manually. Personally, I enjoy it, since it actually gives me a reason to connect with our customers, but I can understand that the delay it may cause is not always appreciated. When the new store launches, customers will be able to order Multi User Licenses right in the shop and have all bulk discounts calculated automatically.
Of course, everyone is always welcome to reach out to the team. We’re always happy to answer questions and help customers!
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