Megasonics 5: A New Frontier of Sound FX

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MS005Megasonics 5 (MS005) is 
an extensive collection of sound FX including nature sounds, cars, crowds, vocals, machines and ambiences. Recorded by Megatrax sound engineer Preston Shepard, this release marks the launch of a new series of Megasonics albums rich with sound FX & Foley artistry. Based on client requests, Megasonics 5 is very different from previous Megasonics volumes since it features ambient & foley sounds as opposed to creative sound design and processed sounds. We spoke with Preston about the effects and Foley sounds he captured and about his favorite moments during the creation of Megasonics 5.

Megatrax: What does the new volume of Megasonics add to the catalog that it was missing before, or is this more of an update than an expansion?

Preston Shepard: The first four releases are predominately sound-design elements, which means that the sounds were either created electronically, or are recorded sounds that have been heavily manipulated to create new sounds. The two releases in this update are sound effects and Foley sounds. This means that these are naturally occurring sounds that have been recorded and only altered for clarity and presentation. These are not created sounds, but rather captured sounds. This represents an entirely new category of sounds that were not represented in the initial four releases.

MX: Megasonics tracks tend to be extremely short and very specific, like all the versions of an electronic beep in the “Bleep This” series on Megasonics 4. Is there really an application for each individual variation?

PS: This new release (also) includes several variations on each given sound. The purpose of having several variations is that it is helpful to have different nuances and qualities for multiple uses within a certain category of sounds. For example, when recording the “crowd sounds,” there are 12 variations of cheering and/or applause. They differ in length, enthusiasm and how quickly it dies out. This way our clients will be able to find a variation that suits each need and do not need to re-use the same effect over and over and over, which would be both repetitive and not right for (every) given situation.

Another example would be footsteps. We have many different shoe types on many different surfaces and include all manner of gaits– walking, shuffling, jogging, running and jumping. This adds up to hundreds of tracks, but each one is different and unique, and gives our clients a wide range of options, so that they can find just the right sound.

MX: Where did you go to capture the sounds for this release?

PS: I have travelled all over the west coast… The nature sounds were recorded in the following locations:

Angeles National Forest, North of Los Angeles

Sierra Nevada Mountains near Bishop, California

Yosemite backcountry and valley floor

Klamath Mountains in Northern California

Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

San Juan Islands, Washington State

I also recorded Foley sounds at one of the busiest Foley stages in Los Angeles, with a top Foley artist who has performed on hundreds of network television episodes and dozens of feature films.

MX: What were some of your favorite moments/sounds?

PS: I captured some of the heavy wind sounds on Orcas Island (part of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound). The wind was blowing about 50-70 miles per hour, and the temperature was in the low 30’s. Unfortunately, I only had brought a sweatshirt, not realizing how much different the weather would be from Seattle the previous day, where it had been in the mid-70’s. I can’t remember having been so cold in my life (as I was) after recording that wind.

Many of the calm lake and water sounds were recorded at Lake Sabrina, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, near Bishop, California. I learned that sound can carry incredible distances over water. Even recording these sounds in the off-season (late fall), mid-week, in a fairly remote area, it still took hours to capture the ambiences without any sounds of people fishing on the lake, even though there were only a handful of people there, some of whom were miles away. Patience, sunscreen and extra batteries were the order that day.

Recording the Foley sounds was a fun experience for not only me (as the producer), but for the artist and engineer as well. 99 out of 100 projects that are recorded on a Foley stage are recorded “to picture,” meaning that we match the sound to what we see in a film, TV show or commercial. This project allowed us to get more creative and stretch our wings, because there was no picture to match to. We had a lot of laughs and really enjoyed our time being creative for the Foley sessions.

MX: Did anyone hit celery with a bat?

PS: Sadly, this release doesn’t include fighting Foley sounds, so we didn’t get to record any crunching celery or broken carrots for those cringe-inducing bone break sounds… Maybe on the next release!

MS005, Megasonics 5, is 
available at Megatrax.com now. If you love this release, be sure to check out the rest of the Megasonics catalog. Love it but don’t hear the sound you need? Contact us to request sound fx & Foley at info@megatrax.com.

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