This week I sat down with sound effect editor, Brad, to get some helpful insight on a key aspect of being a sound editor… RESEARCH! This side of being an editor is often neglected. Editors often think that they can just figure it out with the library they have, but that is not always the case. Check out some examples and helpful tips below!


  1. Cotton candy machine- Brad had no idea what this sounded like and most people probably wouldn’t. This isn’t something that he could just look up in the library so he had to go to Youtube to find out what it actually sounded like.

  2. Baseball game- Brad isn’t the biggest fan of baseball. He’s been to a few games but was too busy drinking his beers to pay attention to what the game sounded like!!!!! Because of this, he had to do some Google research to find out. He originally thought that whistles were used in baseball but then soon found out that wasn’t the case.

  3. Cars- He cuts a lot of cars on his shows. Let’s say that he needs to find files for a sports car but only knows of a few off the top of his head such as Lamborghini, Porsche, and Ferrari. Let’s say there aren’t enough files in our library for him to use with only these cars. He would have to do some research on sport cars to be able to come up with more searchable terms to find more usable files.

  4. Native Korean bird- For a show he used to work on, he needed to use a native Korean bird specifically. Most people wouldn’t know the names of Korean birds off the top of their head and Brad wasn’t going to just guess or use a file he thought would be fine. After a bit of research, Brad got a hold of a national ornithologist (someone who studies birds specifically) in Korea and they ended up having a whole collection of bird recordings that they did and let us use them. Research can end up with some great benefits like this one!


Now that you have some examples. Let’s give you some tips for researching.

  • Sometimes you have to branch out. Not everything that you need is going to be in the library and not every sound that you need to cut to you’re going to know exactly what to put there. Research is your FRIEND.

  • Be honest with yourself about what you do and don’t know. It is OKAY to not know what something sounds like or not have the file that you need, but help yourself!

  • Have open dialogue with the clients to see if they have a specific thing they are looking for.

  • Research isn’t always just Googling.

  • Reference this blog post to see why knowing movie references (also TV references) is important with your clients. A lot of times clients will reference a film and say they want it to sound like something in that. Knowing these references will help you out to know exactly what they are looking for!

  • Try to find the real thing. There’s a tv version and a real version. For example, in real life an electric car has no sound really, but in tv, it sounds a lot different!

  • It is nice to know certain geographical sounds. For instance, in Chicago, the trains have a certain sound because they are above ground. If you are doing a scene that is based in Chicago, you would want to hear these trains not normal trains from your library. An LA native might not know the difference, but someone from Chicago who is watching will definitely notice something is off.

Let us know some researching tips that you have!