Tim Prebble’s new project: HISS and a ROAR

HISS and a ROAR on the beach
HISS and a ROAR on the beach

Tim Prebble is one of the most active sound professionals in the 2.0 era of Internet. Film sound designer and supervising sound editor living at Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand (the other part of the world for us, you know…), Tim created a lot of interesting web projects dedicated to the world of Sound, like the amazing blog Music of Sound.

Now it’s time for another great project: HISS and a ROAR, a new sound effects library for sound professionals. It’s the same old story in the world of social media: Tim and us are very lovely tweet-connected, so we soon discovered what was going in the air. We watched a very funny video anticipation called Vegetable Violence on the Vimeo universe and then…here we go: the exclusive interview with Tim about HISS and a ROAR, just few hours after its official launch.

Hi Tim, we’re very happy about the launch of your new project. Could you explain what is HISS and a ROAR and why did you create it?

The primary purpose of HISS and a ROAR is to release unique sound effects libraries & make them affordable to all levels of post production. So if you are working on a no budget youtube video or student film then the sounds are free, and if you are working on a film or game where you need huge variety & a high bit rate & sample rate, then there is a cost attached.

I created the project because I felt the way sound effects are sold online doesn’t actually encourage sound editors to do their best work. As a sound designer I have no use for over-designed sound libraries; I want the raw elements, not someone else’s idea of the end result. And I don’t want to pay $5 for one sound effect, because one sound effect is never enough – I need a variety of sounds and performances so I can create my own composite sounds that suit the project I am working on.

While there are also many free sound effects available online, the issue is that they are hugely variable in quality & the copyright can be vague or inappropriate for professional work.

HISS and a ROAR on the beach
HISS and a ROAR on the beach

What are the main features of the web platform?

The site has launched with just one library, and new material will be added to the site one library at a time, because these aren’t just random collections of sound effects. They are collections of raw materials targeted at specific uses. So the first sound library is called Vegetable Violence and this is the fifth time I have recorded this library, every other time was when I was working on a horror film: The Locals (2003), Boogeyman (2005), Black Sheep (2006) and 30 Days of Night (2007). But even normal films have violence in them, for example in Stickmen (2000) I had to break someone’s finger or in The Warriors Way (2009) there were a multitude of samurai sword deaths… Over the course of my 20 years of working in the film industry I have completed 30 feature films, and I have kept a log of what sounds have been used. So the sound effects libraries I will be releasing are informed by what has actually been useful to me.

In terms of the functionality of the site, I don’t believe in low resolution MP3 preview files. We all work with high quality sound and need to hear full resolution sounds to make decisions, so while I provide a soundcloud embed preview of example sounds, in the end it is much more satisfying for people to just download the FREE version of the library (16bit 44.1kHz) and listen to the sounds in context in their own studio. That way they can decide whether they need more variety and at what bit rate & sample rate they prefer to work.

Visually, it seems many older sound effects library websites look like they were designed by Microsoft in 1987, so I have tried to make my new site feel fun, inspiring & contemporary, because the work we do IS inspiring. It requires imagination and lateral thinking, but the site is also focused on what matters: the sounds & their use.

A lot of amazing web projects about the world of Sound became very popular during this year (your blog, SocialSoundDesign, Everyday Listening, Designing Sound, etc.). Do you think times are mature to talk about a new community of sound & audio professionals that is growing all over the world? Can we say a new professional role was born?

My blog actually launched back in September 2006, and was initially motivated by attending an incredibly inspiring workshop at the Berlinale Talent Campus with internet film distribution guru Peter Broderick. That was back when web 2.0 was a relatively new concept and social media was still in its infancy. In a way the Talent Campus was like a real world model of social media: 500 film makers from all over the world spending a week together, doing workshops and discussing all aspects of film. It was hugely influential on my direction ever since.

It was also a great reminder that the global community exists; and whenever I travel I always seek out & meet film sound people in whichever country I visit and it is inspiring to feel the instant comraderie of kindred spirits. For example last time I was in Tokyo I visited Toho Studios, where films like Seven Samurai and Godzilla were mixed and in a way it was like meeting old friends. Similarly in the last month I have had visits from two film sound designers, one from Germany & the other from Sweden. The internet has certainly enabled open communication but at times it can become devoid of context and that is where the sites you mention play an important role of actively encouraging discussion & participation. There is a traditional rule of online behaviour: 1/9/90 (propertions of creators/contributers/lurkers) and I think these sites are helping people move away from being entirely passive and it is a hugely positive process which benefits everyone.

Tim Prebble sounds adventures
Tim Prebble sounds adventures

What are your future plans about Hiss and Roar?

At present I have another eight sound libraries in development, so that is the immediate focus for HISS and a ROAR. My aim is to release a new library each month, but that is also dependent on my feature film commitments. But the site is actually the second in a trilogy of online projects I am working on, with the third site launching later in the year (dub45.com was the first).

I dearly love contributing to large scale projects such as films, but it also feels great to be creating my own work and seeing it find traction and learning from it. As an example, for each sound library I release on HISS and a ROAR, I am creating a special bonus reward pack which I will only give people when they let me know what projects the library have been used on.

What are your inspiration and influence in the field of Sound?

I grew up on a farm in the South Island of New Zealand and my earliest sound memory is playing in an empty grain silo, creating thunder by jumping around. But I also believe growing up in a quiet natural environment has been hugely influential on my aesthetics and sensitivity to sound.

One of the most inspiring artists to me is Len Lye, a pioneering New Zealand artist who worked in many forms: kinetic sound art, experimental film, painting. As with my blog, my creative life is not restricted to just one medium and Len Lye is a role model and a constant reminder that ideas come from people, not from technology.

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Gianpaolo D'Amico

Editor-in-chief at sounDesign
Gianpaolo D'Amico is an independent creative technologist for digital media. He is the founder of sounDesign and a music obsessed since he was 0 years old.


  1. Fantastic read! Glad to see how this sound community grows up each day. Also I think the way Tim is focusing his project is amazing. Really great sounds and a really good value for the price!

  2. i completely agree with Miguel (and Tim, and Gianpaolo). I think that the growing interest in sound (and sound design, why not) is due also to the work of spreading the sound culture via the web that the community is doing. Tim project is a great example of answer for a growing need: quality and professional work related to sound in a number of communication context. Not so taken for granted, in the recent past. Keep up the good work everybody!

  3. Thanks so much for all the kind words & support – I really appreciate it & it IS hugely encouraging… I’ve got some seriously fun sounds planned for the next libraries!

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