Well for the first time in nearly 6 months my sorted folder is empty. Perhaps this is a good time to explain the process of how I categorise the material in the library.
Firstly anything that I record on any of my equipment will get put through the process of being sorted, edited and categorised for the library. A lot of the raw material will never get into the library itself for various reasons. Firstly, if I record a series of events then there will always be a lot of useless sounds while I am waiting for events to occur, or the sound levels were too low or too high, or if I am lucky enough to be able to record a lot of the same material then I will select only the best material to be included in the library. Also, sometimes some recordings just suck. The material is bad, or there is too much back ground noise, or the levels were way out.
The first step is to upload all the material to my laptop. This is either done through a direct cable link to the device or by removing an SD card and plugging it straight into my laptop. Everything that comes off my devices goes into a folder called “unsorted”. I do not delete the material from the devices until this first copy of the raw recordings has been sorted. I go through each raw Wav file and work out roughly what is on it and then label it appropriately. Mono files are given a straight descriptive name, stereo files from the R09 are prefixed with R09 so I can tell them apart. This is because often I use the R09 as a backup for recordings done with the H4 or other gear, it also lets me know quickly where my stereo recordings are. All of these files are saved into a folder called “sorted” and the raw files are placed with their original names and formatting into a labelled folder such as H4_japan_baseball_oct_08. This is my raw material and its now archived away. Once this step is done and I have both the archived version of the raw material and the sorted and renamed version I will then feel comfortable about deleting the source material off the devices.
Backup is essential for any serious project. As I’ve already indicated I work under a process of backing up right from the first instance of dealing with the files. The end files for the library as well as all the raw source are located on at least two active hard drives at different locations as well as regular DVD backups burnt and stored at a third location. This may seem excessive, but anyone who has ever suffered from data loss on a project will understand my caution. I spend a lot of time organising, recording and cataloguing my sounds, and I will always take the time to make sure the data is safe.
Once files are committed to the sorted folder they wait there until I go through them and sort each file carefully. This requires listening to almost the entirety of each file, selecting appropriate sound material and then copying it out to another file and trimming it as necessary. Very occasionally I might boost the sound or clean up some hiss or low frequency hum. In general I try to record things clean and get them in the library as close to original as possible. Created sounds are the obvious exception to this rule. Because of the amount of time it takes to sort and categorise sounds there tends to be a constant backlog of unfinished material in both the unsorted and sorted folders. I have made a concerted effort recently to get up to date before I make the next big push in recording new material.
At this date the website does not even exist, but I believe I am well on track to have the site up and running in the first half of 2009. (if you’re reading this you will know whether I was right or not :-) ) The library is sitting just under 8000 catalogued sounds, with a target of 10000 set to be reached before the site goes live. I have 3/10 video journals completed and 6/20 tutorials ready to go up. Many of the other features are well under way and it will simply be a case of getting the work done and getting everything completed.
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Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences