How to get free sound effects for amateur movie making: Spotify
Looking for a great selection of sound effects for your amateur, just-for-fun movies at home? Spotify has many hours (and thousands of dollars) worth of pretty much anything you could be looking for, and it’s all free.
I’ve been making movies for fun since the first time my parents got a “portable” VHS camcorder many years ago. My brother and our friends made some hilarious (at least for us, at the time) videos using various amateur techniques, including dubbing over the videos later with our own foley sound effects and voiceovers. Our sound effects were what we were able to do with our hands and what tools we had around. These days, amateur movie making is sinfully easy, and even adding simple special effects is literally child’s play. However, if you want to extend beyond what iMovie or some other app can give you in terms of sound effects, your choices are limited. Well, not anymore.
Movie making has come back into my life, now that my son has made it one of his passions. We’ve been going out with my iPhone, recording scenes for our epic fantasy adventure film, then importing them into iMovie for post-processing. The few sound effects iMovie and Garage Band have to offer are nice, but after 50-or-so films using those same effects and clips over and over again, they get old. So what are our other options? We could do the self-foley effects ourselves, of course. Then there are the sound effects CDs you can purchase … for hundreds of dollars or more. But do we really need to spend hundreds of dollars on something we’re just doing for fun, never to publish publicly?
I’m not quite sure how I found it, but Spotify has more than just music to listen to: it has sound effects libraries. I mean at least over 30 hours of them. And these aren’t just crappy, cartoony sound effects either. We’re talking professional-grade foley sounds of all kinds and for multiple applications. As you can see from the screenshot above, I have just one library bookmarked with 23 hours of effects, and I’ve got another with more. My son and I were giddy at the thought of what we could do with these effects in our films, and they are all free! They have light saber effects!
Now, you may be wondering how we are able to get these sounds into our films, when we’re using the free version of Spotify. It’s very simple: we either play the sounds off a computer and record with our iPhone — which gives a tinny, not-so-great quality to the sounds — or we use Soundflower for OS X, which allows you to record anything that plays off your Mac. We import what we want into iMovie, and we’re out-of-our-minds thrilled with the possibilities. An approaching army! A jungle! A busy store!
Honestly, if we had the ability to purchase these sound effects for a price that made sense for pure hobby-only applications, I’d gladly purchase them. But, in most cases, the size of these libraries are usually hundreds or even thousands of dollars of expense, since they’re meant to be royalty-free libraries for commercial applications. When you’re just up for having fun with your own videos, that’s just not an option. Thanks to Spotify, the possibilities are endless.
So a search for “sound effects” in Spotify and have a ball!