Reformer Pro allows you to perform your sound design creatively and with limitless flexibility. Matthew Collings, our Head of Product, demonstrates 5 super useful tips in Reformer Pro that are guaranteed to fuel your creativity!
1. FOLEY, FOLEY, FOLEY
Okay, so maybe you DID know about this one! If you’ve not had the chance to try Reformer Pro for Foley in your workflow, we highly recommend trying it out.
Not all of us are lucky enough to work with skilled Foley Walkers or artists, and unfortunately sometimes we work on projects where budgets cannot stretch this far. Reformer Pro can help bridge this gap and get close to human performance. Even if you need to plug a gap in a project with a full Foley pass, Reformer Pro can save you hours or manual editing and tweaking by allowing you to perform foley using your microphone, recording multiple ‘takes’ and editing them down the line.
Check out our new videos demonstrating how this can be done using our own Clothes & Materials Foley Sound Effects Library Vol. 2.
2. Reformer Pro without audio input, using ‘Dynamic Input’
Did you know about Reformer Pro’s ‘Dynamic Input’? This is a unique feature that allows you to interact with the plugin without needing any audio as input. The simple selection of sliders allow you to perform, automate and explore your libraries directly from the plugin UI.
Don’t have a mic to hand? Need to work on that project whilst in a busy café between meetings? Not comfortable making strange vocalisations in front of colleagues, clients and friends? The Dynamic Input approach is your perfect companion!
In my own work at Krotos I use the Dynamic Input frequently when creating or analysing libraries, as it is a very fast way of auditioning content, and exploring it to see if it works for the current scene I’m working on. It can also be a very fast way to work with the classic Reformer Pro process if you don’t have a microphone to hand. Or, plug in a midi controller and perform your sound libraries quickly and easily.
So how do you get started? Click the ‘plug’ icon on the top right of the Reformer Pro UI to engage Dynamic Input.
The main control to focus on is the ‘Amplitude’ slider. As soon as you start to move this slider, audio will be generated. When you stop moving the slider, it will stop. This is ideal for syncing with movements on screen, without having to interact with too many layers of automation. Think of ‘Frequency’ and ‘Bandwidth’ as a ‘virtual bandpass filter’, where you can set a center frequency and a Q, and use this to ‘scan’ through the source material.
Frequency sets the center point for the algorithm to start selecting audio from the library, higher for higher frequency, lower for lower frequencies. You will see that the range of the frequency slider (since it is a ‘virtual filter’ of sorts) is not labelled, because the frequency range of each library may be different. It automatically sets itself to the appropriate range for each library loaded. Set bandwidth to taste: if you want to really ‘zero in’ on a particular area, keep this at a low value (remember the ‘Q’ analogy, only inverted), with higher values to widen out the selected range of the library to pick sounds from. ‘Variation’ ensures that Reformer Pro doesn’t repeat the sounds in the selected range too often, producing a more organic sound. I recommend setting this to 0.25 or somewhere similar.
Once you have this all setup, get performing! Remember that when Dynamic Input is activated, feeding audio into Reformer Pro will have no effect. You can easily record your movements by arming and recording the automation from the ‘Amplitude’, ‘Frequency’ and ‘Bandwidth’ sliders.
3. Drones and Ambiences
Another ideal use for the Dynamic Input is for drones, ambiences, or evolving textures. This is perfect for games, and constantly evolving backgrounds for post production.
We can make use of the variation and ‘continuous’ mode in Dynamic Input to achieve this. This allows us to produce a constant, varying ‘virtual signal’ into the libraries loaded into the plugin without needing any audio to hand. Our SoundBits Dark Ambiences Sound Effects Library is perfect for this use case, straight out of the box.
Remember that if a particular sample is playing too often, you can use the Library View to mute it. This can help your atmospheric ambiences feel more natural by avoiding repetitive sounds. You’ll have your latest spaceship background laid down in no time!
Repitching a few of the 4 layers can also work wonders in building these types of sound designs, either separating or gelling layers together depending on the content or the pitch value.
Reformer Pro’s output is currently only mono, but feeding the plugin into a high quality stereo or surround reverb can gel this ambience into a space and give it width and stereo aspects for the mix. You can also use the XY mixer to move between layers as a shot changes or the scene develops.
4. Controlling sample selection
Have you ever browsed through a library and felt that ‘this sound just doesn’t fit’ or found a single sample or section of audio jumping out to your ears when using Reformer Pro (just like our example above)?
The Library View is the perfect solution for this problem. Once you have a library loaded, click on the ‘>’ button to dive deeper ‘under the hood’. This can be done with Reformer Pro’s factory libraries, or with your own libraries created with the Analysis Tool. You can now scroll through all the audio files that make up the library, and mute any that are not appropriate. Clicking on the name of any file will preview it. You can also draw a sample selection to avoid certain areas within longer audio files as well. If you want to build up a library from scratch, or start from zero to find a particularly troublesome file, hit ‘Mute All’, then ‘unmute’ each file one at a time. This might seem counterintuitive, but it is a very useful tool for getting ‘the right sound’ and having more influence over the audio samples that Reformer Pro chooses.
5. Adding detail to your designs with the Transient Engine
The Transient Engine is a fantastic way to add extra dynamics to your performances using Reformer Pro. These can be subtle or dramatic, depending on the library used, or the settings in the engine.
What does the Transient Engine do, I hear you ask? As part of Reformer Pro’s patented process, we automatically identify transient sections of any audio material, so they can be seamlessly introduced into the results produced by the plugin. If you have found yourself tapping on your microphone and not getting any good results from the plugin, then this can help you out. When activated, the Transient Engine automatically plays back transients that match the input signal, with additional ‘Threshold’ controls to control when triggering occurs with mix controls (the ‘Main/Trans’ blend slider) and envelope controls (‘Attack’ and ‘Decay’) to blend this into the main Reformer signal. ‘Variation’ can also help avoid any unnatural retriggering or ‘machine gunning’ (unless you’re looking for this effect!).
Remember that this feature makes use of the transients in the library, so if your material doesn’t contain a large dynamic range, the Transient Engine may fail to find any matching material.
Try our Boom Destruction Sound Effects Library or SoundBits Demolition Sound Effects Library for instant, massive, and smashing SFX, or our Clothes & Materials Foley Sound Effects Library Vol. 2 to make use of the transient engine for subtle Foley detail. These libraries come pre-analysed and ready to load directly into the plugin for maximum effect!
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