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Cataloging Tips for Sound Effects

Jun 21, 2008
Once you have recorded a large amount of raw material and then edited this material into a batch of finished sound effects it is time to associate data with these products so that you can submit your library to distributors. This data is generally called metadata and gives potential licensees information on pertinent characteristics of each sound in your library. Main categories of data that have proven to be useful in my own catalog are discussed below.

Finding the right format is the first step in creating your metadata document. The most frequently requested format for metadata is an .xls file with categories in columns and individual sounds in rows. Searching through your sounds according to File Name, or Time Length will be very easy if you use this type of format.

1. The Main Category column should contain broad categories such as Ambiences, Animal, Human, Transportation. Try to be as efficient in their use as possible in order to maintain a logical order to your library from the start.

2. The next column, Sub-Category, should divide each main category into more specific types such as Vehicles:Cars, Vehicles:Trucks, Vehicles:Watercraft.

3. For excellent organization from the beginning, create a SKU number for each sound sample as you make then that begins with three unique letters, such as a personal acronym, and 5 digits like SFX00001_CarHonk. The sample which follows will begin with SFX00002 and so on giving each product a unique name. This SKU method is superior to alphabetical organization, especially if you record multiple versions of bird chirps, for example, over a number of years.

4. Simply friendly titles such as Car Honk 1 are best for the Title category because they will be displayed for interested customers.

5. Since shorter sound effects are generally worth less than longer sound effects it is important to include the Time Length in your metadata so that interested clients know the length of each sample they might license.

6. Information under Track Info can be written, for example, as 48k 16bit Mono .wav which specifies the quality of each sample by providing the sample rate, bit rate, mono/stereo info, and file type.

7. The importance of Keywords cannot be overlooks, as they are the main method by which interested licensees will find your sounds. Associated sounds, plurals of the sound, misspellings, and phrases should be used such as bird, birds, bird chirp, bird chips, fly, flying, nature, berds.

Once you have successfully cataloged your sound effects with organized metadata you are ready to submit your sounds to online sound effect libraries for licensing and profit.
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