I have recently borrowed and read "The Sound Effects Bible" by Ric Viers as I wanted to increase my knowledge as a recordist as well as just get some ideas about what might be interesting to record. The book is written in quite an easy-to-understand way and the tone is fairly informal. There isn't much technical information to confuse or bog down the subject matter and even at 300 pages or so it is easy and quick to read.
The first few chapters introduce various "basics", such as how sound works, types of sounds, types of microphones, recorders, headphones, basic (and complex) recording set-ups, accessories, computers and software. There are a couple chapters where Viers lays out some suggested rules to record by which are, again, basic and common sense, but important to remember, such as slating your sound so you know what it is later, ideas for naming and organizing files, as well as little things like putting your keys in the fridge when you unplug it (to make a quiet recording environment) so that you remember to plug it back in.
Throughout the book in fact, I found those "only with experience" tidbits to be the most interesting part. Quite a bit of sound design is experimenting, so Viers is often quite general about creating a sound, for example, he makes suggestions like pitch down a sound and boost the low eq and layer more sounds, but because each situation is different it lacks specific advice much of the time. However there are lots of general ideas that definitely help sparked my mind thinking about recording.
There is a section about building a foley studio in a basement or garage, I found this section interesting despite the fact that I live in a place with neither, but the construction of some 4 by 4 sections he describes might be possible for me, and any one else who lives in a small apartment.
One of the main ideas that Viers reminds the reader of constantly is not to think with your eyes but with your ears. This sounds simple enough, but if you are designing a sound of something no one has ever heard before (monster, alien, etc.) it doesn't matter what the thing making a sound looks like, just that it sounds right. He also encourages experimenting with changing pitch and reverb and eq and layering. He goes through most or all of the situations you might find your self in for recording and gives tips for each of those, i.e. where to place mics to get various car sounds and how to mix them. Throughout these general ideas are the more interesting bits, like swinging a cheese grater around on a rope to make a new "whoosh". I wish there had been more bits like that!
By the end of the book, Viers has covered the topic of recording and creating sound effects quite completely, if somewhat generally, as again, it can be difficult to provide specific advice based on the situation. He also includes lists of things you can record around your house, car, and other locations. My biggest complaint perhaps, aside from wishing there were more "only with experience" parts, was that sometimes I felt Viers was using the book as an advertisement for his sound effects company. Overall I would give this book 3.5 out of 5.
If you wish to check it out, your library might have it, and there is a companion website http://www.soundeffectsbible.com/ (by the way, the "free sounds" section of the website is completely empty).
Thank you Corsica, an excellent and helpful review.
Thanks for review Very useable!
Thank you Corsica_s, excellent and inspiring review.
like swinging a cheese grater around on a rope to make a new "whoosh"
I got the book for my birthday and found it very helpful indeed, particularly the sections dedicated to equipment choices. I had no idea what to buy until I was pointed in the right direction. I wish that there had been a more detailed discussion of gain staging as it is a concept I am finding rather difficult but I found it an excellent and inspiring read. I also visited the website that accompanies the book and emailed the author a question, to which he replied promptly and helpfully. there are also useful sections on how to edit and mix sounds.
All in all, as the OP said, a very good general overview!
very nice review thanks
I just want to say thank you for sharing your book review about that book with us. After I read your review, I concluded that this book was packed of great information. A great book that gives you plenty of info on everything from how sound works, how to build a studio, reviews or advice on which gear to buy at different price points, and mostly how to create different sound effects.