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December 2014
Issue: August 1, 2014

Review: Video CoPilot's MotionPulse BlackBox

By: Trevor Carlee
MANUFACTURER: Video CoPilot

PRODUCT: MotionPulse BlackBox

PRICE: Individual packages: $49.99. Bundles: five libraries for $149.95; five libraries, plus Shockwave stock footage collection, for $199.95.

WEBSITE: www.videocopilot.net

- Three versions: 16-bit WAV 48kHz; 320kbs MP3; and 24-bit WAV 96kHz. 
-  Drag & drop in virtually any NLE or VFX program

I’ve been using Video CoPilot products since… well, since they started selling products. Evolution, Riot Gear, Action Movie Essentials and yes, even Real Clouds. When they first announced Designer Sound Effects, I got super excited about implementing some great new sound design into my edits (mostly promos at the time).



From the moment I downloaded it, my promo cuts were taken to the next level. Not only did I have a great library, I was able to make endless sound effects by mixing and matching. However, that “endlessness” has kind of come to a screeching halt for me. I ended up using the same few tricks and sound effects over and over again after a while.

While I don’t see myself ever giving up Reverse 08 in the Cymbals folder of Designer Sound Effects, I definitely needed a larger, “thicker” arsenal of sound design elements.

Just as I started to grow tired of Designer Sound Effects (which, to be honest, had a strong run — and I’ll still use some effects from that library for years to come), a bigger and better product comes out that blows it out of the water: Motion Pulse.

HOW IT’S SOLD

You can buy Motion Pulse as individual packages (Machine, Velocity, Organic, Impact or Signal) for $49.99. They also sell two bundles; one includes all five libraries for $149.95 and one includes all five libraries, plus the new Shockwave stock footage collection, for $199.95.

I don’t have Shockwave (yet) so I won’t speak on its merits, but the bundle without it is definitely worth the price of admission. It’s essentially “Buy Three, Get Two Free!” Can’t beat that!

With more than 2,000 sound effects available to you, the Motion Pulse Black Box Bundle is the best buy. The bundle also includes something called a Tool-kit, which has elements of some of the sound effects in the libraries, broken down. For instance, if you like how a machine effect sounds, you can probably find the individual elements that make up that sound effect (pistons, gears, etc.) and create your own.



THE LIBRARIES

My favorite library out of the five is Impact, since I edit a lot of promo material like super teases, trailers, etc. Impact has all of the hard-hitting sounds you might need for your action-packed promo. It’s subcategories are Bass Drops, Crashes, Debris, Distortion Wave, Dramatic Hits, Metal Slivers, Quick Impacts, Slams, Sonic Pulse, Sub Sonic Impacts and Trailer Hits.

So far I’ve really been tapping into the Trailer Hits — go figure — as they give some really great build ups with thick hits for those moments of impact in your promo. They’re also, obviously, great for slamming titles.

The Bass Drops are a great way to get in and out of music. You could slam out with a trailer hit at the end of a cue and throw a bass drop in there, timed with the pace of the music and then kick another cue in after it. It’s a perfect way to really make a moment stand out in your edit.

There are also some great sound design tools, like Debris. On its own, it might not seem very powerful, but when combined with the right sound effect, it adds a great amount of depth and texture to an otherwise slim sound effect.

The next library is Machine. This one is super fun. I’ve yet to find a library this detailed when it comes to machine sounds. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent searching my personal libraries and libraries online for the perfect sounds of pistons and gears and robots — oh my!

In this library you get Attachments, Gear Up, Gears & Cranks, Locked Down, Metal Blades, Micro Madness, Mini-Bots, Pistons and Robotic. Personally, I was really excited about Locked Down because it has a lot of sounds that work as prison doors and you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had to use that type of sound effect while having limited resources to do so.

This is definitely a go-to library for title sound design as well as putting realism into your 3D machines — if that’s what floats your Transformers boat. A lot of these elements work hand in hand with each other to really beef up your sound design, and some of them work well on their own, depending on your needs.

Organic is the next library on the list, which includes Abstract, Air Pressure, Disintegration, Lifeforms, Liquids, Meat Slices, Medical, Splashes, Stress and Wind. This is such a great library for getting super creative and really providing life to creatures. It could also be used for organic style titles, but I could definitely see people using this library to create unique sounds for creatures and monsters.



There are also some great elements for just a normal edit. For instance, under Wind, you get a good number of different types of wind, which I always need in regular outdoor scenes. You have Wind Ambience, Wind Calm, Wind Howl and Wind Rumble, to name a few.

Additionally, the Medical sounds are extremely useful for both promo design and in-scene work. I worked on a medical video a while back and having these clear, professionally-recorded sounds would have really amped the production quality. It has heart beat sound effects (way better than those included in Designer Sound Effects), medical scans, surgery sound effects (gory and gross), defibrillators and much more.

The only downside, and really my only complaint overall regarding these libraries, is the sound quality of the water sound effects, Liquids and Splashes. I imagine it’s pretty difficult to get a clean recording when working with liquid, especially if you have to put the microphone under water, but in a library where the sound quality is incredible on everything else, these definitely stand out as the weakest. They’re still good enough for what you may need, but they didn’t blow me out of the water, so to speak.

The fourth library is Signal, with subcategories of Analog FX, Beeps, Distorted Signals, Electrical, Glitches, Noise, Pulses, Record and Transmission.

As someone who likes to really make glitches seem new and interesting in promos, I welcome this library with open arms. I can really make every digital-style disruption seem new and unique for years to come. The Glitches folder provides some great groundwork and everything else is great for embellishing those sounds.

Also, who doesn’t like a good record scratch!? Under Record, you’ll find six new record scratches for all your comedy needs, as well as some record warps, which really help kill your music for comedy if you don’t have something like Vari-Fi available to you while editing.

And last but definitely not least we have Velocity. In this library, you get Atmospheric, Doppler FX, Drones, Epic Swishes, Gleams, Power Downs, Power Wooshes, Reverse FX, Risers, Space, Spin FX and Waves. There are some really great swishes and wooshes in here for those of you who have worn out the welcome of those provided by Designer Sound Effects in the past. Risers has some really great, long-lasting buildup sound effects to help amplify the build to an end of a cue or to simply run on its own.

The majority of these sounds seem to have longer staying power than the other sound design libraries, which means there’s more room to cut them up and make them your own. You can especially go nuts with Spin FX where everything is very stutter-y and thus lends itself to all kinds of edits.



OVERALL

First and foremost, this library is for the motion design artists out there. If you’re looking for a sound effects library to build realistic sound design for scene work, look elsewhere. While this does have a few of those types of elements, it is mainly geared toward motion graphics. Geared! Get it!?

This is already irreplaceable in my “Bag O’ Tricks” and I can’t wait to see the new and creative ways I can bend this thing. The only difficult part about this library is choosing an actual sound effect. I want to use them all, and I often have to force myself to just pick one because they all sound so great.

You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you design motion graphics and decide not to purchase these. And definitely purchase the bundle — you never know when you might need to create an organic robot monster that speaks in tones while swimming underwater.

Trevor Carlee can be reached online at: tmcarlee@gmail.com or www.trevorcarlee.com.