Music, Images, SFX, Videos, and More
I’m often asked where the best places are to find multimedia resources such as sound effects, images, music and video and which books I recommend, so I thought it would be helpful to create a central list of resources. I’ll continue to update this page as new resources come to hand.
When searching for resources to use with students, I would advise searching ahead of class time because it’s difficult to guarantee the “appropriateness” of the material on these sites. Turning on “safe mode” on sites like Youtube or compfight.com (an image search tool) doesn’t necessarily mean that the search results will be appropriate for your class.
Copyright and Creative Commons: many of the multimedia resources listed below are Creative Commons-licensed (CC) which means that the creator gives permission up-front for their music, image or video to be used, with only a few minor conditions attached. It’s good practise to use CC material yourself and encourage your students to do the same. If you’re not familiar with Creative Commons, head over to the Creative Commons website for more information.
Sound Effects and Loops
The Sound Library – one of best collections of free Creative Commons-licensed sound effects (SFX) is Australian Stephan Schutze’s Sound Library. There are over 18,000 sounds available and the best thing is that they are easily accessed from the custom-made Sound Librarian search tool app. Once you have downloaded the Sound Librarian, you can search for SFX by keyword (like “door”or “bark”). A list of matching SFX will appear and you can preview each one. Once you find one you like, you download that sound effect to your hard drive. There’s a limit to the number of SFX you can download each day, so plan ahead if you’re in need of a large number!
The Freesound Project is another Creative Commons-licensed collection of SFX and loops. A good place to start is their Sample Packs page, where you can download collections of multiple SFX (like this Weird Male Screams pack by user plagasul) or loops with one click. If you’re looking for something specific, you can type a keyword or two their Search page.
Mac loops – a collection of free loops for GarageBand and Logic.
Lastly, I can highly recommend investing in a few paid collections of loops. It’s very time-consuming searching online for free loops, so it’s well worth just forking out some money for a good collection or two. Sony’s premium collections of loops and SFX and Apple’s Jam Packs are good places to start. You may also like to consider buying the full versions of programs like Logic, Acid Music Studio or Acid Pro because they ship with a large collection of loops and SFX that will save you money and time in the long run.
Incompetech.com Kevin MacLeod’s royalty-free music is a fantastic resource when tackling film-scoring or video game-scoring with students. I’ve also used his music a couple of times for intro/outro music for some tutorial videos I’ve published on Youtube. You can search his music by genre (jazz, classical, African etc) or by feel (suspenseful, mysterious, mystical and so on).
CC Mixter is another good source of original music. Artists share complete tracks, and/or stems (each individual instrumental and vocal part of a recording) which are useful for creating remixes. It takes quite some time to sift through the material available here, because there’s a lot of it. One of my favourites is singer Shannon Hurley.
Video for Film Scoring Projects
When searching for footage to use in film scoring projects, the key is to look for very short videos. One of the videos I use most frequently in workshops is just 16 seconds long! You also need to consider copyright implications and I’ve written about that in this earlier post. Some favourite places to find video are:
The Moving Image Archive (a part of the Internet Archive site) is a fantastic source of Creative Commons video material. Jump straight to the collection of Brick films (stop-motion animation videos featuring Lego people), the Prelinger Archives or the Vintage Cartoons collection.
The Australian Centre for the Moving Image has a Free Media Library area from which you can download a variety of stock footage, vintage films, images and sound files. They also encourage visitors to share their own multimedia resources by contributing them to the website.
The Open Video Project is another useful website for searching Creative Commons videos. Usefully, you can search by duration or choose to view silent films only.
Compfight.com – My favourite place to search for Creative Commons images is www.compfight.com. Type in a keyword or two and press enter, then use the filters on the left side of the screen to select Creative Commons image and set the Safe search option.
iStockphoto – my favourite paid stock photo website. If you need high quality images on a regular basis it’s can be worth investing in some professional stock photos. Images that are going to be used on a website only need to be small in size and they cost less than the larger-size version.