Tell us a little bit about yourself and your sample libraries?
Heavyocity is a collaborative of pro composers and sound designers (our sister company, Heavy Melody, has worked with clients such as Electronic Arts, 2k Games, Atari, Obsidian Entertainment, The NFL, Sony, Gillette, NBC, and many others) who develop award winning virtual instruments for today’s modern composer and sound designer. Our instruments are Damage, Evolve, and the Evolve Mutations Series. The philosophy is simple: Provide cutting edge, inspiring sounds that supercharge creativity, formatting them in a ways that enhance productivity.
How do you prepare or should we say, how does one start making sample libraries?
We’ve always approached our creative work with a “music meets sound design” method. A few years back, we found that after spending hours looking through the popular VI’s for the right sounds for our music, we were ending up using the same sounds repeatedly. We were experiencing what we affectionately call the “creative fumble factor“. We decided to begin developing our own sets of custom loops, sounds, and instruments, tailored to our needs. After a while, we realized how extensive our stockpile was and formatted it into a commercially available virtual instrument.
How long does it take to make a sample library? (recording, mixing, programming etc.)
The process really depends on how large an instrument you’re developing, how elaborate an engine you are building (or scripting) to house your sounds, and how extensive the resources are you have at your disposal to produce the final product. Damage, for instance, had a development cycle that lasted approximately 2 years.
Can you give us a little insight on your creative process? (microphone placement, equipment used, vst software)
We love to experiment with timbre and textures. Sometimes turning traditional instruments into something they were never designed to be, and sometimes mixing them with new sounds altogether. Processing, mixing, and mangling them is a labor of love for us, so much of our creative inspiration comes while we’re experimenting with a variety of techniques. Combining organic sounds with the mechanical sounds can produce some very unexpected, amazing results.
As for gear, we use Wunder, Neve and Avalon Mic pre/EQs, as well as Neumann, AKG, Mojave, and Sennheiser microphones (for field capturing, we used a few different shotgun mics as well as handheld recorders). Our three main rooms run Mac Pros with Apogee converters, Dangerous Music summing mixers, Dramastic Audio “Obsidian” compressors, and Genelec speakers. On the software side we do a majority of the editing with MOTU’s Digital Performer 7 and Peak Pro but take advantage of outboard analog gear quite often. For tasks involving sound mangling and mastering, we rely on outboard processing, and many 3rd party developers, including UA, PSP Audioware, Izotope, Sound Toys, Camel Audio, Ohm Force and Waves.
How much sound design is involved in making sample libraries?
A massive amount! Sound design defines the edgy, aggressive sound that Heavyocity is best known for. For us, it means the difference between something that sounds familiar and something that you’ve never heard before.
What inspires you to make such amazing products?
It’s always based on our needs as working composers. It’s important to find new sounds and be able to use them quickly in our projects. Generally, we tend to enjoy the more aggressive side of sound, which lends to the edgier style that you will find in our virtual instruments. We do have a softer side, too, just so you know. :)
Any specific “lessons learned” on a project that you could share?
Don’t drop a school bus on your toe? :) Honestly, probably the biggest lesson we’ve learned is that no matter what you are recording or capturing, there is always a way to turn it into something useful, sonically speaking. Many times we start out with something that doesn’t sound particularly interesting, but with the right mangling and tweaking of the source, it turns into something incredible.
How can a composer approach you to become a demo writer for your sample library? (Do you accept demo reels from composers?)
That’s easy! Drop us an email with links to your material. Just because we’re in New York City doesn’t mean we’re not approachable. ;)
What are your plans for the future?
We’re working on quite a few things at the moment with both our companies (Heavyocity and Heavy Melody). One thing is a given for our future: Continue to develop inspiring virtual instruments for the audio community!
Any tips, hints or motivational speeches for the readers?
Work on finding a sound that you can call your own – find ways to make your music or sound design stand out. Using virtual instruments and samples is mainstay now, so it’s important to personalize those instruments to suit your style through experimentation and tweaking.