New feature: map search

Hi everyone,

We are happy to announce that we have just released a new feature that will allow you to display the results of a search query on a map. Under the “advanced search” settings panel, you’ll now find a new option to “Display results in map” which will, well, display the search results in a map :). The query can then be further refined and filters applied just like when displaying results in the usual way. Before this feature was introduced, it was only possible to filter the sounds of a map with a single tag or username (although the way to do that was not well documented). This is still possible, but now you’ll be able to do much more using all the tools of the search page. For example, have you ever wondered how ambulances sound in different parts of the world? Or how do kids sound when in the playground?

When “Display results in map” is enabled in the search page, you’ll see a map of sounds and also a link to open the same search results in the usual map page (where the map takes the full width). There you’ll find the option to embed the map, which is now compatible with search-based maps. For example, here is an embedded map with the ambulance sounds:


…aaaand this is it for today, we hope you enjoy this new feature!

frederic
on behalf of the Freesound team

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2023 in numbers

Hi everyone,

It happened again! Another year has passed so it is time to show you some statistics about last year’s Freesound activity. As usual, we start by showing some general statistics similar to those shown in previous years’ posts, and at the end we focus on a different aspect of Freesound, which this year has to do with sound ratings. Without further ado, the number of new sounds uploaded during 2023 has been of…

40,940 new sounds!

which corresponds to…

1134 hours of audio!

There have been ~9,000 less uploaded sounds during 2023 when compared to 2022, however, in terms of hours of audio, there have been 70 more hours of audio uploaded. This is most likely due to more field-recordings being uploaded during 2023 (see below), which has increased the average duration of sounds to 100 seconds per sound.

Here is the Creative Commons license distribution of these newly uploaded sounds:

The percentage of CC0 sounds is the same as in 2022, however, the percentage of Attribution NonCommercial sounds has been increased by 5% (in detriment of Attribution sounds). In 2022, we observed that the distribution had shifted a bit in favour of using CC-BY sounds (and in detriment of CC0), but this year we see how the use of CC0 goes back to what it used to be before 2021 and it represents two thirds of the licenses used for new sounds.

With the new additions from 2023, Freesound now currently hosts an amazing total of 616,881 sounds (we surpassed the 600k sounds mark!), for a total audio length of 429 days and 14 hours. Here is the evolution of the total number of sounds since the beginning of Freesound, and the prediction for the future that we made last year:

Following last years trend, the total number of sounds is growing slightly below the prediction. This is not only due to less sounds having been uploaded in 2023, but also because a major contributor of Freesound decided to remove his account and all his sounds (8k sounds 🙁 ) which all in all results in a significant drop with respect to the expectations. It looks like our earlier predictions of reaching 700k sounds in 2024 will not be possible, but hey, we’re still doing pretty good at capturing the sound of the world!

Here is a tag cloud of the tags of the sounds uploaded during 2023:

“Tag cloud” of the most used tags in 2023

As every year, the usual popular tags don’t change much (field-recording, music, loop, synth, …). We expected to see more field-recording related tags that would explain why the average sound duration was increased but if we look at the numbers we see that the percentage of new sounds with tag field-recording, ambience and ambient is very similar to that of the last year. Therefore the increase of the average duration might not be due to any general trend but to the impact of Philip_Goddard’s 237 hours of uploaded content (split in 251 sounds, roughly 1 hour per sound)! Here are some of the best rated long sounds uploaded this year:

And here is the classic chart of the users who have contributed the most sounds in 2023:

  Username # uploaded sounds   Username uploaded time (hours)
#1 Hewn.Marrow 2961 #1 Philip_Goddard 237
#2 josefpres 1420 #2 twiciasty 54
#3 craigsmith 1023 #3 KevinSonger 46
#4 felix.blume 626 #4 felix.blume 39
#5 klankbeeld 534 #5 klankbeeld 34
#6 CVLTIV8R 465 #6 kevp888 29
#7 DigitalUnderglow 454 #7 mVitalie 20
#8 zuluonedrop2 390 #8 josefpres 19
#9 Timbre 359 #9 JakobGille 12
#10 AlesiaDavina 335 #10 Ambient-X 12
#11 HenKonen 331 #11 christislord 11
#12 deadrobotmusic 312 #12 GregorQuendel 11
#13 ilmari_freesound 301 #13 dibko 9
#14 PNMCarrieRailfan 285 #14 craigsmith 9
#15 laffik 275 #15 TRP 9
#16 Qleq 266 #16 Hewn.Marrow 9
#17 Philip_Goddard 251 #17 tim.kahn 8
#18 kevp888 245 #18 Sadiquecat 7
#19 Erokia 243 #19 Qleq 6
#20 SieuAmThanh 242 #20 ilmari_freesound 6

Thanks everyone (not only those appearing in the table) for all the contributions! It is absolutely incredible to see that many new and high-quality sounds being uploaded every year 🙂

And what about downloads? The number of sound downloads (including packs) during 2023 was…

21,646,878 downloads!

This is an incredible amount of downloads, even though, again, we recorded slightly lower number compared to the past year. All in all, users have downloaded more than 236M sounds and packs from Freesound!

The term-cloud below shows the most common query terms that have been used when searching in Freesound during 2023:

“Term cloud” of the most used search in 2023

The top 10 terms are the same as in previous years, with slight variations in the ordering: rain, wind, explosion, music, whoosh, footsteps, woosh, click, scream and piano. If we actually combine the whoosh and woosh, that would bring wooshes to the second position, only 10 daily queries below wind.

Now some extra general statistics: In 2023, 15k messages were sent, 1.5k forum posts, were written, 226k sound ratings were made, 41k sound comments were written. These numbers are following last year’s slightly decreasing trend for the number of messages and sounds comments, but are in fact increasing for the number of forum posts and sound ratings. Regarding the forum posts, the growth could probably be attributed to the intense discussions related to the beta testing and release of the new Freesound user interface which happened earlier this year, in October 2023.

To finalise this post, lets show some numbers about sound ratings. If we consider ALL sound ratings from Freesound and count how many ratings of each value (i.e. 1 star, 2 stars,… 5 stars) there are, we obtain a histogram like this:

As you can see, almost 80% of the ratings are either 4 or 5 stars, meaning that Freesound users generally only rate sounds when they like them. This makes us think that we could eventually replace the rating system by a simple “like” button… maybe something for the future? what do you think? Another thing to look at is, how many ratings do individual sounds receive? Well, approximately 52% of the sounds in Freesound have at least 1 rating, and from those which have ratings, the histogram of number of ratings per sound looks like this:

This is quite expected: ~30% of the sounds with ratings only have 1 rating, ~15% have 2 ratings, and the percentage keeps on going down progressively so only the more “famous” sounds will have many ratings. All in all, in 2023 there have been 226k new sound ratings, which is approximately 15% more than the average number of ratings of the previous 3 years. If we look at the number of ratings per month however, we can see that the overall number of ratings has been increased by ~16% during the last two months, right after the introduction of the new UI. We will see if this tendency gets established or this is just a coincidence, but it looks like the new UI encourages more sound ratings, maybe because it maximizes the number of sounds shown on screen, specially in the front page 🙂

That’s it for this year’s post, thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy a 2024 full of sounds!



frederic, on behalf of the Freesound Team

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Welcome to the new Freesound!

Hi everyone,

We are very happy to announce that finally, after years of work, we are able to release the new Freesound user interface (UI) codenamed Beast Whoosh (or BW, or Freesound 3). It was early 2017 when we first contacted the UI/UX designer Marc Ruaix to work on a new version of Freesound and prepare it for the future. Our initial intention was to only make a small update of the visual look of the website, but we soon realised that bigger changes would be needed not only on the frontend but also on the backend if we wanted to continue adding new features to Freesound and making its development more sustainable. After the design was finished, we started working on its implementation but only intermittently. We’ve only had a few resources (i.e. hours) to spend on the efforts for the new UI, and the changes that have been finally implemented in both the frontend and backend have been enormous (much more than we anticipated). Fortunately, while implementing the new UI we took the opportunity to also modernise and refactor a lot of the code that runs behind Freesound. And now, after all these years, we’re finally ready to release the new Freesound 🙂

This new UI has been in public beta testing for almost 2 years, and many of you have contributed providing feedback and suggestions which have made it much much better. Even though the essential structure of Freesound remains unchanged with the new UI, you’ll see that it introduces a ton of improvements in terms of workflow and features. Also, it provides new ground for adding more new features in the future. What follows is a list of the most important changes and new features implemented by the new Beast Whoosh user interface:

  • Updated overall look and feel to be plain and make navigation easier.
  • Responsive design that adapts to mobile phones and tablets.
  • The new UI includes a light theme and a dark theme that can be configured in your account settings.
  • Different website sections are now available through the upper menus.
  • Some detailed information like sound downloaders, sound comments, similar sounds (and more) is now shown using modals which allow you to access that information without having to leave to a different page.
  • Added more sounds (and packs!) in the front page.
  • The “Random sound of the day” section of the front page has been turned into a sort of game in which the sound name and description is not shown initially so you can guess what the sound is before displaying that information. 
  • The new “Manage sounds” page will allow sound uploaders to better keep track of the upload process of their sounds and manage sounds afterwards.
  • You can now edit the description of multiple sounds at once, just like when you describe multiple uploaded files at once. You’ll find how to do it in the manage sounds page.
  • In the sound description or in sound comments, you can now add timestamped annotations/comments that will render with little play buttons. See an example of this in this sound. You do that by typing some thing like #1:27 your comment to indicate that at minute 1 and 27 seconds, something happens.
  • The interface for describing and editing sounds now also includes a sound player so you can listen to the sound while describing/editing its information.
  • The new “Charts” page shows some statistics about user activity. This sort of replaces the old “People” page. If you have ideas of other statistics to add to this page, please let us now.
  • An option has been added to the account settings to show sound spectrograms by default in sound players (instead of the waveforms). Also, spectrogram and waveforms can be toggled in any player by doing alt+click on them.
  • An option has been added to the account settings do enable/disable sound playback polyphony. The default is to enable polyphony, that is to say, two enable multiple sounds playing at the same time (which is how Freesound has worked over the years). Also, even if you have the polyphony activated, you can now do alt+click on the play button on sound players to stop any other sound that was playing and start playing the selected sound.
  • An option has been added to the “advanced search” panel to show search results in a grid which allows to get more search results in less screen space (also, in grid mode 30 sounds are returned per page instead of 15). This addresses some concerns raised by users testing the new UI about the number of sounds visible on screen. The preference for grid display is remembered per user account.
  • An option has been added to the “advanced search” panel to return only remix sounds in search queries. This will only return sounds that either have been remixed or are a remix of other sounds from Freesound. 
  • An option has been added to the licenses filter in the search page to filter results by Free Cultural Works approved licenses (that is to say, sounds under CC-BY or CC0).
  • Sound bookmarks are no longer named, but they can still be categorized. Also, bookmarks are no longer public to other users. We’re planning many improvements in relation to bookmarks (including a rename to Collections), so stay tunned.
  • You can now bookmark a sound by doing alt+click on the bookmark button, and this will save the bookmark under the last bookmark category that was used without displaying the bookmarking interface. This is a great way of quickly adding bookmarks.
  • The “Map” page now has an option to filter by tag (and also embed the maps generated using that filter).
  • The “Search” page now has an option under the advanced search options to Display results as packs. This options effecitvely allows to search for packs in the search page.
  • The pages to display the full list of sounds or packs by a user now use the search page (with a username filter applied). This allows to further sort, match and filter the list of sounds.
  • The “Tags” page now uses the same backend as the search page, which allows to filter by tags but also to apply other filters from the search page.
  • The similar sounds option now returns 5 pages of similar sounds instead of only 1.

Note that during some days you’ll still have the chance to switch back to the old UI by using the three dots menu at the top menu of Freesound. However, this option will be disabled in the coming days.

That’s all for now,
We hope you enjoy the new Freesound!

frederic, on behalf of the Freesound team

EDIT: just for the record, I’m adding below screenshots of the Freesound landing page for the original website (back in mid 2000s), the Freesound 2 update (which happened in 2011) and the current Freesound 3 update (2023).

Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

A simple taxonomy for Freesound – Participate in the experiment

Hi everyone,

We announce to you the launch of our web experiment Freesound Taxonomies on an sound taxonomy for Freesound.

The Freesound Taxonomies experiment is a listening test in which you are asked to categorize a number of sounds into a set of “categories”. These categories belong to a new taxonomy that we are designing to aid the sound description process in Freesound. The purpose of the experiment is to understand whether or not our taxonomy is clear and understandable for a general audience, and how suitable it is for being integrated with Freesound. Your participation will help us to enhance the sound description process in Freesound, to improve our understanding on audio taxonomies and, more generally, to improve audio analysis in Freesound.

Your input is valuable to us and we appreciate your effort in completing the experiment. It should not take more than 15-20 minutes. To participate in the experiment please follow this link:

>> Participate in the experiment here <<

In addition, you can share your thoughts about the experiment and sound taxonomies in this forum thread.

on behalf of the Freesound team,

Penny and Frederic

Posted in research | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Sustainability Report 2022

Dear Freesounders,

Welcome to our 2022 Sustainability Report! Here we give an update on how 2022 went for Freesound in terms of sustainability, and present our plans for 2023. You’ll see that most of the information is very similar to previous years’ posts, but still, we think that it is important to share a yearly update with the community. The report is split in a number of sections discussing specific aspects that contribute to the sustainability of Freesound, and a final section with a summary, conclusions and future perspectives.

Sound contributions

Sound uploads are an essential part of the sustainability of Freesound. In 2022, 49,153 new sounds were uploaded to Freesound (which corresponds to 961 hours of audio). This follows a growing trend with respect to previous years (although 2021 saw a spike), and confirms the healthiness of the Freesound community in terms of sound uploads. We are very close to reaching the mark of 600k sounds uploaded to Freesound. But not only sound uploads are important, also sound comments (49k), ratings (174k) and all other ways in which Freesound users interact and generate valuable content for the community. If you’re curious about these kinds of stats, you can check the 2022 in numbers blog post which was published a couple of months ago.

User donations

User donations have continued to fall in 2022 compared to 2021, and are now back again to levels similar to 2019. What we are most likely seeing here is the “get back to normality” after the COVID19 lockdowns which resulted in almost a 30% increase in donations. In 2022, we received 46,600€ from 5,300 individual donations. We expect the number of donations in 2023 to stop the lowering tendency and keep similar numbers as in 2022. As usual, donations income has been spent on maintenance and development efforts. In particular, we put a lot of emphasis on upgrading our backend technology stack (for the nerds: we upgraded from Python 2 to Python 3, and from Django 1.1 to Django 3.2 ), and on the new user interface (which is getting closer and closer). Let us take this opportunity to thank again everyone who donated to Freesound!

Contribution from UPF

Freesound is an initiative of the Music Technology Group, a research group of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF, Barcelona, Spain). In 2022, the UPF contributed to Freesound similarly to previous years. We have continued our infrastructure improvements which allowed us, among other things, to make Freesound faster and to significantly increase download speeds. The current infrastructure consists of a Kubernetes cluster with 80GB of memory and 25 CPUs for the Freesound website, with an external server used for serving sound downloads and some static files (which transfers around 2TB of data per day). This infrastructure is contributed by the UPF, together with some IT support. Also, a big part of the human costs for maintaining the Freesound website and related research activities (i.e. our salaries), are a contribution by UPF. In relation to that, during 2022 we have been able to open a new PhD position that deals with research topics related to Freesound and which will surely have a positive impact on the platform (more on that below).

Contribution from research grants and Freesound-related research at UPF

Research is at the very core of the Freesound philosophy and, in fact, it is where it all started. We have carried out lots of research activities around Freesound, but, similarly to 2021, in 2022 we did not receive any new big research grant with a primary role for Freesound, but we did receive a 10k USD donation from Google in appreciation for the research efforts on releasing open audio datasets (Google had previously supported our research in that direction and awarded us several Google Research Awards in the past) . Nevertheless, we’ve been able to continue with our Freesound-related research activities which broadly cover these topics:

  • Further support of Essentia, the audio analysis library that powers Freesound sound analysis.
  • Research on methods for automatically classifying audio events and development of artificial intelligence models. We have started deploying such methods in Freesound and some of their outputs are available through the Freesound API.
  • Research on methods to support the sound description process of Freesound, including the definition of a simple taxonomy which will enter an evaluation phase during 2023 (you’ll hear some news about this soon).
  • Research on methods for interpretable machine learning in audio classification.
  • Research on methods for automatic generation of music instrument samples and music loops.
  • Research on hardware and software interfaces for accessing Freesound content (Freesound sampler plugin).

If you’re interested in learning more about the research that happens around Freesound not only at the MTG but also around the world, be sure to check the papers section of the Freesound Labs website. You’ll see that in 2022 alone, there were 161 research papers referencing Freesound!

Commercial usage of the Freesound API

Freesound has an API endpoint which allows third parties to develop applications that incorporate Freesound content. Usage of this API is free for non-commercial purposes, while commercial use of the API requires a commercial license. In this way we make sure that commercial applications using Freesound also contribute back to the community. Note that this is independent from the license of the sounds themselves, which need to be respected regardless of the API usage agreement. In 2022 we maintained a similar number of license agreements (we added a couple but also a couple were cancelled), maintaining the yearly income around ~6,000€. We spent this money in the same development efforts described in the User donations section above.

Summary and perspectives for 2023

In 2022 we have been able to continue focusing on research and development efforts for Freesound in similar way as we did in 2021. We’ll have to keep an eye on user donations during 2023, and think about possible actions if the donations fall below pre-COVID standards. Also, we expect that in 2023 we’ll get new research projects funded which allow us to open new positions and have a significant impact on Freesound. In terms of development, we expect to make the final release of the new user interface during 2023, and continue with the deployment of new technology (particularly classification models). We are also aiming at upgrading the technology we use for the search engine. The new user interface will provide a fresh look to Freesound and some new functionalities, but also represents a big advancement on the technology that we use that will allow us to continue development in a more sustainable manner. Similarly, the backend technology upgrades that we carried out this year are an important step towards Freesound future sustainability.

We’d like to finish this post by saying thank you to everyone who contributed to Freesound during 2022. We’ll let you know how things go next year in the 2023’s sustainability report!



frederic, on behalf of the Freesound Team

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

In Memoriam: Freed Hartman (24 April 1963 – 1 February 2023)

[Guest blog post by Riki Refaeli and David Talmor, Freed‘s family and friends]


With great sorrow we part from Friedhelm Hans “Freed” Hartmann upon his tragic death, and provide this tribute to Freed and his many activities including his strong contributions to the Freesound community.

From 1979 to 1986 Freed studied contemporary composition at the Carl Maria von Weber University of Music in Dresden, from 1986 to 1988 at the Akademie der Künste Berlin, and from 1989 to 1993 algorithmic composition at the Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen.  During this time, Freed also joined the German Electroacoustic Society as an active member. From 1993 to 1995, Freed expanded his studies with Itzhak Sadai at the Buchmann Mehta-Musikhochschule of the University of Tel Aviv in the field of music archaeology as a scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service.  In addition to worldwide performances of Freed’s compositions, which were organized by music companies such as the IGNM or ICMA in various European and non-European countries, Freed’s efforts to introduce new musical ideas to listeners who have less experience with avant-garde or experimental music included the contribution of a large fund of experimental sound textures to the Freesound community, which are still used by several thousand members, the collaborative creation of music pieces, consisting of sounds and sound structures of many Freesound members of different musical backgrounds, musical educational projects and lectures for primary school classes.

Freed’s interest in his music paralleled his interest in the life he built with his life-partner, Riki Refaeli, near the Mediterranean coast just south of Tel Aviv.  Freed and Riki built a life together that included much culture, frequent hiking trips in various regions, and delightful get-togethers with their broad range of friends.  The relationship between Freed and Riki reflected the diversity, color, and activeness of how Freed related to music.  Tragically Freed met his death in the Mediterranean Sea, and although his life ended his works very much continue. Freed’s Freesound profile can be found here. His highest rated sounds in Freesound are found here, and his most downloaded sounds are at here.  You can learn more about Freed’s work at his web site, and on his YouTube channel.

Freed very much enjoyed and benefited from the Freesound community, and we hope that the Freesound community will continue his memory and his approach by continuing to use his works and to remember the very special person from which they came.

– Riki and David

Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments

New user interface pre-release

Hi everyone,

I know it has been a while since the last update regarding the new Beast Whoosh user interface that we’ve been working on for the last… 5 years already! Well, now we’re getting reaaaally close to the final release. For that reason, today we’re announcing a pre-release.

When using the old UI, you will see a link in the front page to activate the new pre-release UI for your current Freesound session. You can also activate it following this link. Note that if you open Freesound in a different browser (or in a new private tab), the old UI will appear again. 

Please, provide feedback about the pre-release UI in this forum thread that I just created for the occasion.

The new user interface incorporates many changes and new features. But also, some (mostly minor) things are still remaining to be done. I have added a section in the help page about the new user interface in which you’ll find information about the new features and things not yet implemented (among other things related with the new UI). For conveniency, I also post the list of changes/new features and things remaining here (but be aware that this list here in the forum post will not be updated):

Main new features and changes of the Beast Whoosh UI:

  • Updated overall look and feel to be plain and make navigation easier.
  • Responsive design that adapts to mobile phones and tablets.
  • The new UI includes a light theme and a dark theme that can be configured in your account settings.
  • Different website sections are now available thorugh the upper menus.
  • Added more sounds (and packs!) in the front page.
  • The “Random sound of the day” section of the front page has been turned into a sort of game in which the sound name and description is not shown initially so you can guess what the sound is before displaying that information. 
  • The new “Manage sounds” page will allow sound uploaders to better keep track of the upload process of their sounds and manage sounds afterwards.
  • You can now edit the description of multiple sounds at once, just like when you describe multiple uploaded files at once. You’ll find how to do it in the manage sounds page.
  • The interface for describing and editing sounds now also includes a sound player so you can listen to the sound while describing/editing its information.
  • The new “Charts” page shows some statistics about user activity. This sort of replaces the old “People” page. If you have ideas of other statistics to add to this page, please let us now.
  • An option has been added to the account settings to show sound spectrograms by default in sound players (instead of the waveforms). Also, spectrogram and waveforms can be toggled in any player by doing alt+click on them.
  • An option has been added to the account settings do enable/disable sound playback polyphony. The default is to enable polyphony, that is to say, two enable multiple sounds playing at the same time (which is how Freesound has worked over the years).
  • An option has been added to the account settings to show search results in a grid which allows to get more search results in less screen space (also, in grid mode 30 sounds are retruned per page instead of 15). This addresses some concerts raised by users testing the new UI about the number of sounds visible on screen. But also, the spacing has been optimized a bit since the first UI beta (even without using the grid mode).
  • Sound bookmarks are no longer named, but they can still be categorized. Also, bookmarks are no longer public to other users. We’re planning many improvements in relation to bookmarks (including a rename to Collections), so stay tunned.
  • You can now bookmark a sound by doing alt+click on the bookmark button, and this will save the bookmark under the last bookmark category that was used without displaying the bookmarking interface. This is a great way of quickly adding bookmarks.
  • The “Map” page now has an option to filter by tag (and also embed the maps generated using that filter).
  • The “Search” page now has an option under the advanced search options to Display results as packs. This options effecitvely allows to search for packs in the search page.
  • The pages to display the full list of sounds or packs by a user now use the search page (with a username filter applied). This allows to further sort, match and filter the list of sounds.

Things still missing in the new UI:

  • Moderation pages (this is the biggest part remaining, sorry moderators!)
  • Modals for listing sounds/packs downloaded by a user, and users who downloaded a sound/pack.
  • Remix groups pages (the pages that show sounds that have been remixed)
  • Make new sound embeds using the new design
  • API credentials management page (for developers only)
  • Implement the ruler in the big sound player
  • Improvements in accessibility (compatibility with screen readers). Here we’ll need help from the community to find the parts which have no good support for the screen readers.

That’s it for now! I hope you enjoy using the new UI 🙂 We expect to continue working on it during the coming weeks, and are aiming at a final release during Summer 2023. At that time, the option to use the old UI will be removed.

Thanks for reading, and remember to leave your feedback about the new UI in the forum thread linked above.

frederic
on behalf of the Freesound team

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments

Preserving the Sunset Editorial Sound Effects Library from the USC Archive

[Guest blog post by Craig Smith]

The “SSE” sound effects come from the Sunset Editorial collection which was donated to USC Cinema in 1990. Sunset Editorial had a low-key history in Hollywood. Not a lot is known about them. This is because their credits in films were usually just “Sound Effects — Sunset Editorial”. The company was active from about 1964 to 1987. They mainly did episodic television shows like “Bewitched”, “I Dream of Jeanie”, “The Partridge Family”, and “The Waltons.”  They have 569 credits on IMDB! A lot of the 1960s editing was done by Fred Brown. They were owned in the ’70s/’80s by sound editor Gene Corso.    

Sunset Editorial was a very simple operation. They only edited sound — no mixing. And they worked on a tight budget. Sound editors came and went. There wasn’t much money available for creating new effects, so they depended on effects that sound editors had been using for decades. Freelance editors brought their own collections, and then copied effects to take as they went on to their next job.

Their sound effects collection consisted of dozens of cardboard boxes filled with small rolls of 35mm magnetic film. Each had a slip of paper around it describing the sound.

The rolls were clear 35mm acetate film with two magnetic stripes. One stripe contained the sound, and the other was just to keep the film’s thickness even from edge to edge. Otherwise it would wind unevenly onto a reel.

35mm stripe magnetic film

 At USC Cinema, the sounds were transferred from 35mm mag to 1/4” full track tape. The work was done mostly by Sound Department T.A.s Cormac Funge and Tim Maloney in 1990. I actually tracked them down and was pleased to learn that they’re both still film sound designers!  

35mm dubber playing a Sound effect loop 
The finished 1990 transfers

Cormac & Tim’s memories of this project were not exactly happy ones. There were about 1,200 rolls of film. With all the handling, it took them about six months to transfer a total of 21 hours of sounds. But they did a great job. 

I got the SSE tapes from the USC Archive in 2016. It was immediately clear that these tapes had a big problem. They were recorded onto used Ampex tape from the 1980s. Tape manufacturers changed their formulations in the early ’80s, and it turned out these new tapes were very unstable. They started to display what became known as Sticky Shed Syndrome.” (Google it.) When this happens, the glue that binds the magnetic oxide to the plastic base becomes sticky, and separates. This makes the tapes virtually unplayable.  

Fortunately, there’s a temporary fix. Tapes can be baked for several hours at a low temperature in an oven. So that’s what I did. Each tape was baked at 150ºF for four  hours, then cooled for four hours.

This made the tapes stable enough to transfer using my Nagra 4.2 full track recorder. 

The good news is that this is an incredibly diverse and rich collection. The bad news is that a lot of these analog 35mm mag elements were copies of copies of copies. So they had a fair amount of noise and distortion. Because of this, I did much more restoration on these sounds than usual. I used iZotope’s RX 10 software. Most sounds cleaned up nicely, but I did eliminate about 20% of them. 

Here’s a very annoying but typical example of the restoration:  

Before:

After:

The resulting 1,022 sound effects are quite good. There are a lot of amazing sounds here ranging from the 1930s into the early ’80s. Check out the ambiances. Even if a sound seems a little odd to you, try layering it with other sounds to create something unique. They can make great sweeteners! To get you started, here’s an incredibly rare recording of the entire Wilhelm Scream recording session:

I couldn’t have done this my self. I want to thank Dino Everett, Ben Burtt, Andrew Kim, everyone at Soundly, Frederic Font, and Lynn Becker.

– Craig Smith

***

Craig Smith has been recording and manipulating sound since 1964. After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, he worked as a sound editor and production mixer in Hollywood, specializing in noisy action-adventure films that are blamed for the downfall of society. He left that world in 1986 to teach sound in the School of Film/Video at California Institute of the Arts, where he is now Academic Sound Coordinator.

Craig’s own work experiments with implied narrative and accidental sound design, putting together sounds & images that have nothing to do with each other to create unexpected stories.

Craig is a member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and the Audio Engineering Society.

You can check other posts in the Freesound blog by Craig Smith here: https://blog.freesound.org/?author=14

This was a Freesound guest blog post. Do you have any project or something you’d like to share in the Freesound Blog? Let us know using our contact form

Posted in Uncategorized | 49 Comments

2022 in numbers

Hi everyone,

2023 is here and that means it is time for us to grab our year in numbers calculator and show you some statistics about last year’s Freesound activity. As usual, we start by showing some general statistics similar to those shown in previous years’ posts, and at the end we focus on a different aspect of Freesound, which this year has to do with the relation between text queries, sound plays and sound downloads. But let’s start from the beginning. The number of new sounds uploaded during 2022 was…

49,153 new sounds!

which corresponds to…

961 hours of audio!

This number is not as high as in 2021 (which reached a record of 56k new sounds), but it is still 3,000 sounds more than in 2020 and even more than in years before so the number of uploaded sounds is still growing strong (more on that below)! The average duration of sounds has not changed much compared to the previous years, and sits at 70 seconds per sound.

Here is the Creative Commons license distribution of these newly uploaded sounds:

Distribution of licenses

In 2021, we observed that the distribution had shifted a bit in favour of using CC-BY sounds (and in detriment of CC0), but this year we see how the use of CC0 goes back to what it used to be before 2021 and it represents two thirds of the licenses used for new sounds.

With the new additions from 2022, Freesound now currently hosts an amazing total of 581,369 sounds, for a total audio length of 384 days and 9 hours. Here is the evolution of the total number of sounds since the beginning of Freesound, and the prediction for the future that we made last year:

Total number of sounds and prediction for the future

As you can see, we are very slightly below the prediction, but that is to be expected as last year’s prediction would be biased by the record number of newly uploaded sounds. If all goes as expected, we should be closing 2023 with about 650k sounds and reach 700k in 2024.

Here is a tag cloud of the tags of the sounds uploaded during 2022:

Tags used to describe newly uploaded sounds
Tags used to describe newly uploaded sounds

The usual big tags are still big (field-recording, music, loop, synth, …), but this year it looks like noise has made a strong entrance in the top tags, partially because of the contributions by Hewn.Marrow who seems to have been exploring noise quite deeply (e.g. see this pack):

Here is the classic chart of the users who have contributed the most sounds in 2022:

  Username # uploaded sounds   Username uploaded time (hours)
#1 strangehorizon 3648 #1 klankbeeld 77
#2 Hewn.Marrow 3177 #2 felix.blume 38
#3 Duisterwho 1827 #3 kyles 30
#4 josefpres 1583 #4 Philip_Goddard 28
#5 klankbeeld 1197 #5 tim.kahn 27
#6 kyles 1167 #6 TheRandomSoundByte2637 24
#7 The_Sample_Workshop 860 #7 KevinSonger 20
#8 storyofthelie 716 #8 josefpres 19
#9 DiscordantScraps 475 #9 kevp888 19
#10 felix.blume 464 #10 W1ZY 15
#11 nlux 333 #11 juandbermudez 11
#12 Alba_Mac 309 #12 USBMED_Ambiences_Sound_Library 10
#13 SuddenDice 292 #13 Garuda1982 9
#14 Erokia 289 #14 dibko 8
#15 kevp888 286 #15 jose.viana 8
#16 N0IZ 282 #16 TRP 8
#17 e0fd96 265 #17 Hewn.Marrow 8
#18 deadrobotmusic 238 #18 e0fd96 8
#19 dibko 235 #19 Duisterwho 7
#20 frenkfurth 218 #20 strangehorizon 7

Thanks everyone (not only those appearing in the table) for all the contributions! It is absolutely incredible to see that many new and high-quality sounds being uploaded every year 🙂

And what about downloads? The number of sound downloads (including packs) during 2022 was…

23,688,268 downloads!

This is even more than in 2020, when we observed a significant increase of downloads which we attributed to the increase of visitors due to COVID-19 lockdowns. All in all, users have downloaded more than 215M sounds and packs from Freesound!

The term-cloud below shows the most common query terms that have been used when searching in Freesound during 2022:

Most common terms used to search sounds

The top 10 terms are the same as in previous years, with slight variations in the ordering: rain, wind, explosion, music, footsteps, piano, fire, thunder, whoosh, and woosh. Approximately a thousand users search for the sounds of rain and wind every day! Also interesting is the use of both whoosh and woosh. According to the dictionary, the first spelling is used as a verb and the second one as a noun. Both are therefore correct, but Freesound does not use intelligence to somehow “link” the two terms. Maybe this is something to improve in the future!

Now some extra general statistics: In 2022, you sent 17k messages, wrote 1.2k forum posts, added 174k sound ratings, and made 49k sound comments. These numbers are decreasing with respect to the previous years in which we saw a big increase that we attributed to COVID-19 lockdowns. This behaviour was somehow predicted last year and now we see that these “community activity” indicator are close to what we observed in 2019.

And now, to conclude this blog post, we will provide some statistics about sound plays (i.e. every time you listen to a sound while browsing Freesound), sound downloads and their relation to user queries and data transferred. If we take the total number of sound downloads in 2022 shown above we can easily see that this means a rate of 2,700 sounds downloaded every hour. But have you ever wondered how many sounds are being played every hour in Freesound? Well, this varies a lot depending on the time of the year and it is actually difficult to estimate even for us, but after some number crunching we have estimated that 8,600 sounds are being played every hour. This could be interpreted so that for every sound downloaded, approximately 3 sounds have been previewed before. What might be more surprising however is that if we look at the number of user queries per hour, we see that about 6,500 text queries are made every hour, which means that only 1.3 sounds are played per user query, and also means that at least a 60% of the queries result in no sounds being downloaded. All in all, considering all sound downloads and sound plays, our severs stream about 2TB of information per day. If you look at the blog post from last year (2021 in numbers), it was actually briefly mentioned that the amount of data transferred was 1TB per day, but our estimate for this year has doubled. This could be due to having wrong estimates in the previous year, but will also be most likely related to our changes in the downloads infrastructure which allowed for much better download speeds and might have therefore resulted in overall higher amount of data transferred every day.

That’s it for this year’s post, thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy a 2023 full of sounds 🙂



frederic, on behalf of the Freesound Team

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Wikimedia Sound Logo Contest

[Guest Blog post by Mehrdad Pourzaki, Lead Movement Communications Specialist at Wikimedia Foundation]

Dear Freesounders,

The Wikimedia Foundation, the global nonprofit that hosts Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, including our audiovisual repository the Wikimedia Commons, is hosting a global contest for The Sound of All Human Knowledge. Submissions are open now through 10 October. The Wikimedia sound logo will be used to identify Wikimedia content across a wide range of uses and smart devices, including personal voice assistants. You can learn more about the contest on wiki, including campaign materials and how-to videos. There is also a humble prize for the winning sound. The Freesound community is primed to participate since you already have a knowledge of and appreciation for audio and free licensing. As the organizers, we warmly invite the Freesound community to take part in this global contest. We’d love to hear from you and please help us reverberate the call.

Wikimedia sites receive 750 million page views a day and that knowledge is further reused by search engines, other platforms, and applications that don’t consistently inform their users that what they are learning comes from Wikimedia and the thousands of volunteers around the world who contribute. Voice assistants are on the rise everywhere in the world and while there is a lot of expertise in our movement when it comes to visual logos and photo competitions, we are excited to be exploring new parameters when it comes to sound and audio production. Play your part in our global search. On September 29 we had a drop-in clinic with our expert partners MassiveMusic, you can find some information in the link above.


Mehrdad Pourzaki,
on behalf of the Wikimedia sound logo project

___

Do you want to write a guest blog post for the Freesound blog? We like that! Please send a proposal using our contact form

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments