Metadata is one of my favourite topics!
For someone beginning working with metadata, there are a couple of broad strokes to keep in mind:
- Metadata exists to find things. So, every field you write is meant to help listeners find the perfect sound and return to work.
- Any metadata at all is helpful. The vast majority of sound libraries don’t have any metadata. So, even adding just one field is a huge improvement. Start with one excellent field, then grow from there.
- Accuracy is important. Don’t add metadata just to add it, or spam keywords. More metadata is better, but only when it is accurate.
- Consistency is key. This goes for spelling, fields filled, and so on. Remember, metadata teaches your listeners the “vocabulary” of your sound effects. If you disrupt the consistency it causes listeners to decelerate their searching process, or use more mental energy to perform the searching task.
- One important goal of metadata is to remove the need to listen to a sound. Understanding a sound fully requires listening to it all the way through. Who has time for that, especially for ambiences? Metadata is important because we can read faster than we can listen. So, the most ideal metadata is so complete that it removes the need to listen to the sound at all (or at least 90%). This makes choices quick and allows sound pros to return to work.
- Metadata is most powerful when it is unique. After all, if two sounds look the same, how does that help the listener? Instead, use metadata and strong, powerful, and creative words to invent a completely different set of metadata for each sound. (I’m referring mostly to the main description field here.)