The Well

Basic Usage

Once you have set up your sound effects in The Well, you can use it to  1) search for sounds based on description, 2) mark the ones you want, and 3) export them to a folder:

  1. Search is Google-like.  Type multiple words to perform an “AND” search (descriptions containing all the words are displayed: “this” and “that”).  Or you can lead words with a slash “/” to perform an “OR” search (to find both /this OR /that).  Lead a word with a minus “-” to exclude descriptions containing that -word.  Use quotes to find that whole “word” only (no partial matches), or around a phrase to find “that phrase” (instead of the words that make up that phrase).  Or use any combination of the above techniques.
  2. Play back the sounds you find and place a checkmark next the ones you want to export.  The Well is able to play back many file types, and will search for the correct file type if the wrong one was set:  just hit Play.  The Well figures it out.
  3. Export the sound effects to any folder.  Exported audio files will have names that tell you which personal or commercial library the files came from.  In addition, you can add a custom text label to the beginning of the file names of an exported set.  Licensing information tags can also be added to the ends of the file names.  Just tick the boxes in the export section to turn these options on or off.


How does it work?

Here’s what happens when you hit “Play” in The Well:

  1. The app reads the Group, Folder, Track, and Index number of the sound effect you want to hear (for those who think of sound effects as being on CDs:  a “Group” is equivalent to a collection of CDs, “Folders” are like the individual CDs in a collection, “Tracks” are… tracks, and “Indexes” are sub-sections of a track, used in some commercial libraries and on some DAT tape libraries);
  2. Using this data, the app pieces together the expected file name and location on disk of that sound effect file;
  3. It then checks whether that file is online (and if not, marks it offline);
  4. It then tells a helper app called Play Sound where that file is, what it’s called, and to play it;
  5. It also detects the file’s duration and stores that number in the database (you see the duration appear if it wasn’t already present).

Exporting an audio file happens in much the same way, but instead of playing the file, the app copies it to the folder you choose and optionally adds extra information to the filename.

Where are things stored?

1) All sound effects metadata – meaning the searchable Library descriptions, together with each sound effect’s Group/Folder/Track/Index information – are stored inside the application itself (this is how Filemaker’s engine operates). So if you were to copy or duplicate The Well’s application folder for some reason, you just copied your database along with it.

If on the other hand you were to delete the application, you just deleted your information, too!  So be sure to use The Well’s backup or export features before you delete the app, should you decide to move your library’s metadata to another app or system.

In other words, The Well is program + metadata, all in one.  That means you can share your Library by copying The Well’s application folder, which may be faster than doing an export and import.  Or, if you need to start fresh, The Well has a “reset” button to delete all sound effects records (metadata) and reset all settings, which is the same as downloading a fresh copy of the app.

2) Your Library’s audio files are stored in a folder, anywhere separate from the application.  The files must be stored in this single location, but that location can be on a network share or SAN (the app was tested and appears to work well with Avid Unity/ISIS, for example).  In other words, The Well can exist on a completely separate disk, memory card, or computer from the audio files it is accessing.

For the audio files, the structure of subfolders and the naming of files follow a strict hierarchy, as follows:

LibraryFolder > Group > Folder > Folder_t0001_i01.wav

As you can see, the audio files’ names include their parent-Folder’s name, as well as their Track and Index numbers (denoted by the “_t” and “_i” prefixes, with leading zeros mandatory).  The folder hierarchy and naming conventions are requirements of The Well.  This is how the app finds files for playback and export.

The Well can also add audio files to the Library using this same hierarchy, automatically, making The Well a great way to tame the chaos of random files you may have recorded or collected over the years (in this case, it offers to use your audio files’ file names as their descriptions).  See below.

Note that The Well only adds to the Library’s physical folders – it cannot delete audio files or folders.  This is to protect the Library when in use by multiple people on shared storage.

Getting stuff in:

The Well (SFX) allows you to load sound effects in two ways:

  • Import metadata for sound effects to The Well via tab-separated value (.TSV, .TAB, .TXT) text files, also known as “tab-delimited” files.  These text files follow a given format that is easy to create/conform in, say, Google Sheets before being exported as a .TSV file.  In a second step, you rename the actual sound files on disk to link up to the metadata given in the text file.  The Well then makes the link, on the fly, between the metadata and the sound files to allow you to play them back and export them from the Library.  The new file names must follow a strict convention for the link to work, and the subfolder structure is equally strict (see above).  This enforces a uniform organizational hierarchy for your entire Library.
  • Import audio files.  The app sequentially renames any audio files it imports, discarding the original file names and re-purposing the old names as Descriptions by default. The Well checks for and avoids duplicate Group/Folder/Track numbers to prevent collisions in the Library. And it strictly structures any “physical” folders it creates in the Library using the chosen Group and Folder names, maintaining the Library folder’s hierarchy.  This is a great way to take a messy collection of sound effects whose filenames are decent descriptions of the sounds and turn them into structured collections just like commercial libraries.  When importing, the app can search for all audio files contained within multiple levels of subfolders, in any recognized audio format, meaning you don’t have to tidy things up before import.

Getting stuff out:

Once metadata is in the database and files are in their respective folders (properly named), the app allows Google-like search based on description (see above).  You can also search by individual Folder (like a CD) or Group (like a collection of CDs).  Or you can collect individual effects into Favorites Lists, which much like the Library itself are organized by Favorites Group > Favorites Project > Favorites List so you can carry your commonly-used effects from project to project.

The emphasis is on speed:  find and audition quickly, mark what works, and export.  The exported files can then be drag-and-dropped into Avid Media Composer, for example.

Export file naming options include:

  • Add a text prefix to the exported filenames in order to label a group of exported effects, say, “car chase Act 2” or “cat meows.”  This can also help to sort region lists if you happen to be working in ProTools.
  • Add a prefix that specifies the Group (the collection of sound effects Folders) that a sound came from, for example: “HollywoodEdge.”
  • Add licensing information in the form of a letter code at the end of the filename, to help post sound teams figure out what they can re-use from your temp.

Using all options, an exported file name might look like this:


In this case, you chose to add “dog barks” as the Export Prefix for your organizational purposes;  when you first set up your Library, you had added “HollywoodEdge” as a Group Export Prefix for the Group to which the sound effect belongs;  the middle part of the filename, starting with “PE02,” contains its Folder/Track/Index information so your post sound team knows which sound effect you pulled (in this case:  Premiere Edition Disc 02, Track 31, Index 1);  and lastly the “NL” (“Not Licensed”) tag tells your sound team that you do not own a license to use this sound effect, so they will have to either obtain a license or replace the sound.

More to come?

This page is a stub.  If time permits or someone volunteers to write some tutorials, the Help section may expand in the future.  But nothing beats poking around the software yourself.  ;o)