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"Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: August 6th, 2014, 12:40 pm
by axk
Hey all--

I'm attaching a tab-delimited text file to this post that contains metadata for the Ambient World sound library. For those of you with Soundminer, this will allow you to quickly and easily inject Description, Source, Microphone, Location, and Library information that's a little more consistent than what was initially embedded in the sound files that were submitted...AS LONG AS:

No one has changed the filenames of the sounds after they downloaded them.
All of the Our Ambient World sounds are in ONE folder, with no other sounds or files, arranged by Name in Ascending order (from A-Z).

If those prerequisites are met, you can use Soundminer to embed this metadata correctly by doing the following:
  • Download the metadata file attached to this post
  • Remove all of the Our Ambient World sound effects from your Database (not doing so will cause duplicate Database entries)
  • In Soundminer's Database drop-down menu, select "Import Text Into Database"
  • In the window that appears, navigate to the downloaded metadata file. Select it and hit "Open"
  • In the next window, navigate to the folder where the Our Ambient World sound effects are stored and hit "Open"
  • Soundminer will scan the metadata and apply it to the right files, then bring it all up in the browser table for verification.
If anyone has any questions about any of this stuff, please don't hesitate to ask here or PM me! Always happy to chat, troubleshoot, or get additional thoughts on this stuff.

In addition to all that, there's been some talk in a couple of the threads here about metadata conventions/ideas for future projects, and I'd like to see if we can bring that talk to this thread for easier reference. I'm quoting one of my previous posts in the Crowd Library thread that should be here instead. Read through and let me know what you think!
Since we're using Soundminer as our database software, we tend to spread the data you listed above into other fields than just the Description. I've also tried to weed out any unnecessary information that won't be used in the quick searches we perform when looking for sounds. The metadata I include is typically:
  • Category - The most basic description of a sound effect (your Broad Definition), ex. Impact, Whoosh, Ambience, Sting, Walla, etc.
  • Subject - A layer of detail further than Category. Usually whatever the sound is made by, ex. Rock, Wood, Crowd, etc.
  • Subject Detail - A one-word descriptor of the subject, ex. Large, Small, Slow, Fast. Sometimes this is not necessary.
  • Description - A long-form description of the details of the sound file.
  • Source - I use this field for the recordist or the company supplying the sounds I'm tagging.
  • Location - Self-explanatory. I try to limit this to city, state, and/or country. Further specifics, like street names, would fit into the Description. I don't include GPS coordinates or anything like that because no one searches our database using terms that specific.
  • Library - The package of sounds in which an effect belongs. If it's something I recorded for Universal, I typically just but "Universal - [Category]" in this field so that all of Universal's sounds will sort into the right order if I'm searching by Library.
  • Mic - Again, self-explanatory. I put the manufacturer and model(s) in here. Any mic configuration (M/S, ORTF, etc) would go in the Description field.
  • Date - This is a standard parameter of the Broadcast WAV format, so I don't have to change it or anything, but I verify that it's there for every file just in case I need to refer back to it later. Not used for searching.
That's all just for metadata fields. As far as file names are concerned, what seems to work best here is this convention:

[Category]_[Subject]_[Subject Detail]_[Description]_[Location]_[Mic]_[Number].wav

My colleague Steve Estrada (who's somewhere around the forum, perhaps he might have something to add) and I did some recording out in the desert a little while back, so our file names looked like this:


Parts of the name are abbreviated to save space while still getting the point across (ie Large is changed to Lrg, Joshua Tree is changed to JshTr, etc). The breakdown is as follows:

[Impact]_[Rock]_[Large]_[Light Debris]_[Joshua Tree]_[Sennheiser MKH416]_[1]_.wav

This way, if I were to sort by filename, all of the Impact sounds would sort together. There'd be a Rock section all separated out into Small, Medium, and Large subcategories, and we'd be able to easily pick out which sound sets we recognize. Also, we use multiple mics when we record. Each is recording from a different perspective, so we'd likely have a set of sounds that looked like this:


This way, every angle of each sound effect sorts together. Also, when an editor spots one of these sounds into a session, they don't have to read through irrelevant information to get to what they need to know (in this case, they're working with an Impact sound made with Large Rocks, and it has Light Debris). The rest of the info is just there to make everything sort properly when editors are searching for sound effects.

Does that make sense so far? At least to some extent? If you have any other questions about how or why I do things one way vs. another, please don't hesitate to ask!

Re: "Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: August 18th, 2014, 1:43 am
by GrahamDonnelly
Absolutely fantastic - THANK YOU!

Re: "Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 4:27 am
by samueljustice
This is awesome - but for those who don't use soundminer, is there any chance a metadata embedded version of library could shared? All the other metadata editors don't support as many fields as soundminer (which makes me a sad panda).

Re: "Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 9:08 pm
by axk
samueljustice wrote:...For those who don't use soundminer, is there any chance a metadata embedded version of library could shared? All the other metadata editors don't support as many fields as soundminer (which makes me a sad panda).
I definitely think that could be arranged. :D Mike, any chance we could use the same Google Drive space that the original file set was distributed through and get an email sent out to all the participants with a new download link?

Re: "Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: October 7th, 2014, 1:27 am
by samueljustice
That would be great, if not, if we could dropbox that would also be great. My email is

Re: "Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: November 15th, 2014, 10:13 pm
by RNSDesign
I keep trying to unzip the metadata file but it just fails..... :cry:

Could someone be so kind to please re up a new link or email me a copy of the metadata file.

Thanks in advance :mrgreen:

Re: "Our Ambient World" Metadata

Posted: November 26th, 2014, 6:15 am
by rada
I am having a same issue with unzipping? Seems like the file is corrupted. A

Anyone managed to open it? Please let me know.

Many thanks