Royalty Free Sound Effects & Sound Libraries

How To Write Metadata For Sound Effects

In this blog post I explain what metadata is, why it’s important as a sound librarian to have proper metadata, programs that can read and write keywords, and what the Universal Category System is.

how to write metadata for audio files

What is metadata?

Metadata describes data about digital files. In our case, we’re talking about metadata for sound effects, ambience and field recordings.

If you find yourself with thousands of files, a categorized and organized file naming system helps you to locate your sounds in just a couple of seconds.

What programs can read metadata?

Using keywords as filename can be searchable on both Mac and Windows. For me, I store many of my recordings on Dropbox and use internal search function to locate the filename keywords.

Professional programs that can read and write metadata

If you want to have in-depth metadata you can use professional online and offline applications that read and revise metadata.  Soundly, Soundminer, Basehead or Soundgrinder, Audiofinder, Reaper Media Explorer or Pro Sound Effects Search provide many custom fields to write metadata. This comes in handy if you are serious about selling sound effects online. New programs come out every year so always do your own research. 

These application search not only the filename tags or keywords, but some of these programs can also provide more in-depth written metadata like geotags, locations, and of course, can read the description and let you cut the files too.

Why keywords in the file name?

Have you ever searched for sound effects or photos online? Without proper searchable terms (ie keywords) can make it an impossible task to find your desired media!

For example you need a relaxing sound at beach when the sun is setting. The keywords or tags could look like calm, ocean, waves, beach, sunset.

You might think why would I use sunset as a keyword in a sound effect, that doesn’t create a sound? It is an important keyword to describe a moment, time, and emotions. Ocean sounds are different in the evening than in the morning.

The universal category system (UCS)

Recently a new way of writing metadata for sound effects came to life. It is called the Universal Category System. 

The Universal Category System (UCS) is an initiative brought to life by many sound engineers, vendors, and other individuals from all over the world. Their purpose is to give guidance and direction about how metadata can be categorized and unified. 

In the video above, I talk about how to prepare myself and write metadata and show you how I utilize the Universal Category System in my own workflow. 

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About Us

Who would have thought a handy sound recorder in Cambodia would lead us here?

Hi there we’re Marcel and Libby and every sound on this site has been recorded by us. For nearly 7 years, we’ve been traveling around the world recording unique sounds for others to use! 

If you’re curious and want to learn more about our journey traveling full-time as sound recordists you can read on here or on CNN Travel.

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