We talk to the people behind Zero-G’s Kontakt instrument ‘Impact Designer’

Produced by Dan Graham, who was also responsible for Zero-G’s Animato, Spiritoso, Luminoso and Perpetuo collections, the live environmental sounds that were recorded for this collection were processed by Italian Professor of Sound Design Alessandro Camnasio whose trailer credits include THOR, Transformers: Age of Extinction and many more.

We got in touch with both Dan and Alessandro to find out more…

Hi Dan, good to see you back with a new Zero-G library! What’s this one all about?

The title says it all really, but it’s a tool to create your own customised Impacts, also known as epic slams, hits, bangs, booms and whacks.

I’m a busy composer specialising mostly in trailer music and although there are some great sample libraries out there you can quickly feel like you’ve used all the best sounds. This solves the problem by giving you the tools to create a huge number of possible sounds yourself with a lot of control. Equally though, there are a lot of presets to get you going so you don’t have to make your own sounds if you really hate the idea of making your own amazing unique sounds.

I tried to achieve several things at once with this – a fantastic selection of raw sounds so that you don’t waste your time with anything less than world class hits, everything being extremely simple to use, all controlled with a few knobs and buttons, and a huge variety of sonic possibilities.

I think we’ve achieved something very very special here, kind of unique but also very simple and obvious. The main thing is that almost any noise you can get out of it sounds amazing.

Your previous libraries, have been very much geared towards orchestral instruments and FX, what was your inspiration behind this title?

Being involved in trailer music I inhabit a world of orchestral instruments, sound design and percussion, so for me it’s all the same thing – creating tools that I want to have myself but then spreading the fun to everyone else who can make good use of it.

My inspiration was just that I had a glaring gap in my set of gigantic power slams and this is my idea of the perfect square peg in a square hole. Just what I needed – and I’m already using it on everything to great effect.

The sounds were “built from live environmental recordings” – can you tell us more about the sources of these?

Alessandro the Sound Designer should tell you all about this, though I do wonder if he needed a permit for those explosions. Probably less said the better… (Ed: see Alessandro’s interview below).

Run us through some of the most unique and useful feature of Impact Designer.

Each basic sound has 3 round robins and 3 dynamic levels crossfaded. Then when you hit a MIDI key it very rapidly cross fades between 3 or 4 different parts of the impact sound – the attack transient, the body of the hit and the decay part, all from different source sounds.  So that already gives you a huge amount of variation in the sounds.

Then you have all these controls – effects like distortion, compression, filters, delay, reverb. Then pitch shifting and envelopes.  All of this can massively vary the sound.

Two totally unique features are the RANDOM button which gives you a totally randomised set of source sounds, and the PRE-HIT button which gives you a short backwards whoosh in to the hit, which in turn can be controlled with the GAP control (controlling how long there is between the whoosh and the slam).

And… it has a lot of great presets including a folder by Matt Bowdler aka ‘The Unfinished‘ who is a world class synth programmer. The presets cover a very wide range, were all made using the basic GUI and show how versatile this is.

And then there is the flashing light show which needs to be experienced. It’s all very addictive stuff!  Really!

Who would benefit from using this library and why?

Anyone who needs powerful slams and percussive hits would benefit from this. Which is to say, almost anyone doing modern production with epic needs. So that includes trailer writers, film composers but equally dance, pop, EDM and hip hop producers.

I think almost anyone playing with this will get a big light bulb over their heads and think – WOW – imagine what I can do with this new toy!


Italian-born Alessandro Camnasio processed the Impact Designer sounds using his own customised software, here he tells us more…

Hi Alessandro, how did you become involved in this project?

I worked with Dan on other projects related to his trailer music library company. One day he asked me to create the core sounds for a new Kontakt instrument that would have been able to recombine them into a multitude of new ones. Considering my love for sound experiments, I was really excited about the idea of a tool like that, so I joined the project.

What was your approach – did you know the sounds you wanted to create or was it primarily a case of experimentation?

Dan gave me a general brief of the main sound categories as a starting point for my sound design work. So I knew the kinds of sounds we needed for this particular project, but I also had the liberty to experiment with different approaches to see how I could fill each specific category in the best way.

Dan already knew my skills and attitude from our previous project – the Advanced Sound Design album – for which I used many interesting techniques that flow into the creation of the Impact Designer, like: super high frequency recording, high precision microphones, doppler effects, acoustic environment modeling, frequency warping, scaling and shifting, convolution, sub-harmonic generators, modified instruments, etc.

When you are able to work in team like this, it really is a case of continuous and fruitful brainstorming. In fact, even after the sound design part was finished, I was able to follow the development of the Kontakt instrument closely and give some ideas about possible improvements and features.

Can you tell us more about the customised software you used to process the original recordings?

Well, with “customised software” I actually mean a synergy of different things and approaches. During my sound design explorations, I’m sometimes lucky enough to stumble into some interesting ideas of processing the sounds or just realize that I need a particular tool for a specific task. This involves creating my own little plug-ins or standalone tools with a visual programming language (i.e. Max/MSP, Kyma X, Synthedit), modifying an existing Reaktor ensemble, or just assembling complex chains of plug-ins in my favourite sequencer.

Thanks Dan and Alessandro!

Want to know more? Click here for more information about Zero-G Impact Designer

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