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Visual Convergence Magazine
May/June 2000
Mix Magazine
July 2000
Radio World
(pdf format)
Visual Convergence Magazine Volume 3, Number 3 - May/June 2000

What the Bird Told Me
The Nightingale Voice Box

by Mark Arlett

Visual Convergence recently received in the mail a preview copy of The Nightingale Voice Box —- a two CD set of 1500 vocal production elements and sound effects. More than a simple selection of sound effects, this collection provides a valuable resource of vocal performances for production. In the package are 192 tracks,/140 minutes of sounds of the human voice in action.

You'll find a great selection of laughing, crying, eating, burping, pain, pleasure, eating & breathing etc. —- plus a performance section including yodeling, auctioneers, nursery rhymes, arguments & sex. There are also lots of groups of people reacting and talking as well as live-on-location stereo group ambience. You'll find PA announcements, Broadcast news weather, sports in 5 languages and finally over 50 tracks of useful and fun words, lines and phrases including the simple things like "hello", "goodbye", "thank you", "Happy Birthday" and "Merry Christmas" in over 10 languages. Finally there's a section of typical lines from Doctors ("Where does it hurt?"), Police ("Get Your hands up!") and others.

I spoke with the creator of The Nightingale Voice Box, Caron Nightingale and asked her what inspired her to produce these CDs? Caron: The truth is, I simply woke up one day with an idea in my head to put together a package of voice only fx and elements. The more I thought about the surer I was that people in the industry would like it. And now that it's published, it's rewarding to get the verification that they like it! They really, really like it.

Since my company distributes and licenses a lot of music and sound effects, I am pretty familiar with what people are looking for. But, we also produce spots ourselves for film & television projects where we're the ones responsible for finding a newscast or background filler for a scene in a movie or commercial -- and in the middle of the night sometimes it's hard to find someone to come in and do a quick generic read -- or to find an auctioneer, or the sound of someone eating. So we've really just put together the most commonly used and needed sounds and then added a few for fun. There's no shortage of stuff that will even help inspire an editor or even director to come up with idea's to fit these sounds.

Q: How long did it take?

Caron: Well…it took 9 months, 1000 hrs & involved 50 people. It was a wonderful experience and a lot of fun, but 9 months! Sometimes I think it might have been easier to have a baby!

These are all brand new recordings that were done live on location and in various studios over a three-month period. Then there was 6 months of editing, designing original artwork, layout, catalogue and then creating a comprehensive database. It was pretty intense at times but there were more than a few good laughs along the way!

Q: Whom did you use for talent?

Caron: You mean besides my mother & father, nephews & nieces and all the rest of my family, friends, neighbours and the local Chinese food restaurant? I actually do have a wonderful talent pool of great voices that I brought in and yes, I really did also draw on my family and local establishments for some great resources too. In fact I recorded some great bar ambience at a friends record release party. The great sound of people playing outside and in the lake was done at a huge family picnic we had last summer. As to the sex sounds track 77 -- well those 2 people had never met each other before, but that didn't stop them from giving an academy award performance!

We did use real newscasters, singers, auctioneers & telephone operators and as well as a real pilot for both the script and the voice -- so you'll find some very authentic, as well as fun, material here.

Q: How extensively have the sounds been processed?

Caron: We were very careful to keep the sounds natural without processing with the exception of a few tracks like the alien & whisper track where we put some reverb and reverse effects with great results. We also offered a choice of some light processing for some of the PA & announcements tracks to make them sound more like they were coming out of airport PA sound systems or police dispatch radios etc.

Q: As an experienced producer,do you feel this a package that will be used, or will it suffer the fate of other sound effects packages that sit on the shelf awaiting that project that requires the sound of an F-14 fighter taking off?

Caron: These 2 CD's offer the most compact and comprehensive coverage available of the human voice. OK. I'm a little biased, but I do feel confident that this is a very special product for many reasons. A great deal of time and thought went into making the sounds & elements very modular. You can easily build and layer. The combinations and permutations are endless!.

For example, in the broadcast section we offer many complete (but editable) news broadcasts, as well as separate weather (all types of generic weather reports) traffic, commercials, sports etc. We have male & female newscasters as well as transition lines (‘and now for the weather’) so you can create any length news casts in many languages ... such as French, Russian, Spanish, Italian & Mandarin.

We also have lots of tracks of individual laughs & giggles or even words like Happy Birthday that can then be layered over top of our groups of people laughing, or saying ‘Happy Birthday’ etc. And then with the letters & numbers tracks, you really can create just about any size or scenario with the choices found here.

Q: How manageable is the collection?

Caron: We talked about making this into a 5 CD set but we would have had to charge too much and I just simply couldn't fit all I wanted onto one CD. So we decided to offer too much rather than not enough. The only potential problem with offering too much, was that many CD players can't read the indexes.

For example, when there are 10 sounds on one track, it could be tedious to listen to all of them without a reference point. So, in order to make the CDs very easy to work with we spent the extra time to determine and include the relative start time of every sound within the track.

There is a 48 page booklet and searchable database that makes this set very easy to navigate.

Q: How much is the set?

Caron: The retail price is $250.00 in Canada (Outside of Canada the price is in U.S. funds.)

For more information, or to order, contact:
Tel: 416-221-2393
Fax: 416- 221-2676