Mostly copied from here.

A well-formulated shooting schedule can be the difference between production heaven and production hell.

Production scheduling might not sound exciting, but it is one of the key differences between a positive film set experience—and a film set that leaves you regretting your life choices.

Some filmmakers get so caught up in the creative elements that they leave scheduling to the last minute. No matter what scale of production you set out to make, scheduling should be taken seriously. Very seriously.

This post will go through some of the key areas of film production scheduling, from the script breakdown to listing all of the elements you should consider when creating your own shooting schedule.

Script Breakdown Basics

The 1st AD creates the shooting schedule on a professional production is, traditionally. However, often the entire production team, including the producer, production manager, and director, will closely look over the schedule and have a say in how the film production dates will be organized.

These days it’s typical to use software such as movie magic scheduling. However, you can still do this yourself with a computer Excel document or simply a notepad and pen.

To begin this process, you will need to closely read your script and create a breakdown of each scene.

Breaking Down Your Script

The first thing you need to do before creating your shooting schedule is to complete a script breakdown.

This means reading through your screenplay carefully and making detailed notes on what is required for each scene.

In the breakdown, you will list any elements that appear within each scene. Elements are everything you can see or need to make a scene possible. This includes cast, props, set design, costumes, makeup, stunts, and special effects.

You can do this on paper or with a computer document. Simply list all of the elements that are present in every scene in your film.

script formatting

Film Stripboard

Traditionally a stripboard or production board is a color-coded chart containing information on each scene.

This chart would be printed out and hung in the production office wall. Scenes would then be rearranged by the 1st Assistant Director to create a shooting schedule. These days it is more common to use computer software, but you can still do this on paper.

Page Count

It is also helpful to know exactly how many pages of screenplay you are dealing with. For example, you might have a 90-page screenplay, but within it are blank pages or scenes that only take up half a page. In reality, you might have only 80 pages of a screenplay to film.

If you wish to create a more professional script breakdown, you will now want to break your script pages into 1/8ths.

This literally means dividing each screenplay page into eight sections. In simple terms, this is because one page of screenplay roughly equates to one minute of screentime, and it is easier to create a film schedule based on seconds of screentime than on minutes.

On a professional call sheet, you will see how many 1/8ths of a page you are filming each day jotted down next to each scene.

The breaking down of pages into eighths was first devised when filmmakers decided that it would be more functional to shoot a film out of chronological order. It was found that dividing a script page into eighths was the most practical way of doing this. If you are shooting anything other than a student film or micro-low-budget indie, make sure to get an experienced 1st AD and Script Supervisor to help keep track of the film’s process.

After you have gone through every scene and made a note of all of the elements (and perhaps divided your scenes into eights), you can now begin to create your shooting schedule.

You might also be interested in reading our detailed article on how to create a film budget breakdown.

shooting script

Creating Your Schedule

By now you should have read through your script several times, so you have a good idea of what is needed in each scene.

Keep in mind that your shooting schedule will change. There is no such thing as a perfect production schedule. Filming is unpredictable—crew might get sick, the equipment could beak, and weather can suddenly take a turn for the worse. Still, it is best to head into production with a well-thought-out shooting schedule at hand.

To create this schedule, you can use computer software or go old school with pen and paper. The shooting schedule template above is an example of how a daily page of shooting schedule would look.

Your schedule will importantly differ depending on the scale of your production. For example, a major studio production might only get through one page of script a day, while an independent production could aim for five pages of script a day. How many pages of a script you have and how many pages you aim to shoot for each day will give you a very basic idea of how long it will take to shoot your film.

Next, consider what type of production schedule you want. For example, a typical film set will run on a six-day workweek, with 11 hours of work each day and a one-hour lunch break. However, your ideal shooting day might look different.

Mainly, avoid seven-day work weeks and consider what is the max number of hours you aim to work for each day. Add extra time to every day’s shooting schedule just in case you need it. In addition to extra time, you might consider having a few days extra at the end of the shooting schedule in case of any pickups or reshoots.

It’s helpful to create a flexible schedule if possible, just in case. Problems arise during production, and there will be no avoiding schedule changes.

At this early stage of creating a schedule, you should have an idea of how many days of filming you will need. Next, we need to make that schedule more realistic.

large film crew

Cast and Crew Availability

In an ideal scenario, you will have several meetings with key crew members before production takes place. If that’s not possible, make sure to call up and chat with each crew and cast member while you are scheduling.

Maybe you can afford to fully pay and book cast and crew for a complete block of time. If you can’t, there is a chance that they will have other commitments. It’s unlikely on a low-budget film that everyone will be free every day you wish to film. Get people’s availability as early as you can and make a note of any other commitments people might have.

Another reason for getting a cast and crew opinion on the shooting schedule is that each department’s needs might affect it. For example, the art department might want some scenes to be carried out towards the end of the shoot as they don’t have enough prep time within a certain location. In another example, costume and makeup might prefer scenes to be done at the end of the shoot for continuity reasons. You never know what problems might occur to mix up the schedule out of sequence, so it’s best to predict issues beforehand.

While creating your schedule, it can be good to have a calendar close by and take notes on the availability for key cast and crew. Keep these notes to refer back to at a later date.

What Scenes To Shoot First

When first scheduling your film, you can place all of the scenes in your film into the schedule chronologically. Some directors wish to shoot in chronological order. On other shoots it is only feasible to shoot out of order. For example, shooting all of the scenes that take place in one location at the same time (regardless of where these scenes appear in the script timeline) can help make the shoot go faster.

Another tip is to plan the most complicated scenes first. Do the more complex or important scene at the start of each shooting day. That way no matter what occurs to slow your daily schedule down, at the very least you will have hopefully ticked off one major scene.

You will also need to consider actor’s energy and emotions. Scheduling two emotionally exhausting scenes right after the other might be too draining for an actor. Also consider physically demanding scenes such as fight sequences. For these reasons, when planning the scene order it can be helpful to work closely with the director.

By now you should have a basic shooting schedule. You can send this to key crew members for initial feedback. However, there are still a lot of factors to keep in mind before you have a fully working first draft.

Night Shooting

Day and Night Scenes

Your script might have a mixture of day and night scenes. If you have an idea of what month you are shooting in, double-check the daylight hours during this time. Depending on where you are in the world daylight hours will vary. Also, consider weather conditions if filming outside. Of course, you can’t predict the weather, but you can have a general idea of what to expect.

Depending on the desired number of hours you wish to shoot for each day, you will have to block shoot day and night scenes separately. For example, you might shoot outside in daylight for the first two weeks and have a night-time block during the second half of filming. How you arrange day and night scenes on your schedule will depend on a lot of factors.

Keep in mind that you can’t go straight from a day shoot to a late-night shoot the following day. You will have to give a few days in between for people’s internal clocks to adjust. Just like if you were organizing a rota for any ordinary job, you need to be conscious of people’s energy and rest time.

Lastly, make sure to let cast and crew know in advance if you are planning on scheduling a lengthy night shoot.

In general, night shoots more expensive to produce (both for hiring out equipment and hiring locations, and crew can have higher nighttime wages ). As such, on a low-budget film, it would be wise to keep night shoots to a minimum.

Location Availability

It’s likely that a lot of your scheduling will come down to location availability. Hopefully, you don’t have too many location changes in your film. Location changes during a shooting day (no matter how close together the locations are) will take up chunks of precious time. If possible avoid having any major location changes during one filming day.

You will need to get in touch with the owners of locations and find out what days and times you are allowed to use them for filming. There may only be a certain day of the week when one location is free, or you might only be allowed to use a location for certain specific hours in a day. Even if you’re not booking locations yet, it is helpful to have a general idea of what the rules are for filming in each one.

If there are important scenes that happen in an outside location, it might be best to schedule these scenes earlier in the shooting schedule. That way if weather problems come up, you can move these important scenes to later on in the schedule.

It’s typical for a shooting schedule to change regularly during production. Scenes will move along and across the schedule calendar as problems occur. But hopefully, by gathering as much knowledge as possible on all of the elements needed in each scene, you will be able to always adapt and have something to film on every shooting day.

film equipment

Equipment & Production Design

Another obstacle that might shake up your schedule is equipment. Hopefully, your main camera and sound equipment are available throughout the whole production. For specialty grip equipment like cranes or a Steadicam, you might only have access to these on particular days.

In general, your equipment availability will depend a lot on your production type and how much money you have to put down on hiring equipment. For example, on low-budget independents, you might be getting by on favors, or relying on the crew to bring their own equipment to set.

Vehicles, major props, and production design might need longer prep to gather or create before filming begins. This is why it’s good to discuss the schedule with all key crew members before filming. During pre-production, it can be a good idea to have a read-through of the script with all heads of departments present. This way everyone can discuss what they need for each scene, and it’s an easy way to avoid any crew arguments that might arise during production.

In short, the more time you put into pre-production and planning, the smoother and more successful your production is likely to be.

Re-Drafting Your Schedule

Your shooting schedule will change many times throughout the production process. When you get a new piece of information (be that lack of availability for a cast member, location, or prop), you can simply adjust your production schedule as you go. It’s not uncommon for there to be changes in a schedule every day on a film set. As such it is good to have all of your information in one place. That can be in a computer document or folder.

Also, why not consider creating your own production office wall stripboard with scenes that can easily move position as the schedule changes? A large wall stripboard might be the easiest way to visualize all of these elements and scenes coming together.

DSLR camera

This is mostly copied from here.

SLR camera next to laptop

When  beginning the filming  process, there comes a lot of preparation before hitting the record button. You need to find a set, adjust lighting, and have the proper camera angles.

One way to organize this preparation is with a shot list.

Want to learn more? Our free TechSmith Academy course,   Basics: Using a Shot List , will walk you through the process. Plus, download your very own shot list template!

What is a shot list

A shot list is a document that maps out exactly what will occur and what will be used in that particular shot, or scene, of the film.

But,  why is a shot list important? 

It serves as a detailed checklist that gives the video a sense of direction and prepares the crew for film expectations.

Shot lists are helpful for bigger productions that need shots at multiple settings or features several actors. It allows directors to organize their thoughts before filming begins and starts to form a shooting schedule.

Shots lists go hand-in-hand as part of the script writing and pre production process.

How to make a shot list

So how do you create a shot list? Typically, a shot list includes:

  • The scene number
  • Shot number
  • Location
  • Shot description
  • Framing
  • Action/dialogue
  • Actors involved
  • Props needed
  • Extra notes

Below is an example of a shot list template:

Sample shot list template

Begin by organizing your shots based on the shot location. Grouping similar shots makes it easier to shoot because you are able to film everything you need at one given time.

It’s important to note that this may not necessarily be in order of shot number.

For example, if you’re going to shoot a scene at a lake for the beginning and end of the video, you want the shot list to show all those shots.

Even though you will not be filming in order of the storyboard, this makes filming much more convenient.

Type of shots

Next, decide what kind of shot you’ll be filming, such as a wide shot (WS) or a close-up (CU). In addition to the type of shot, the camera angles and camera moves should be specified.

Angles may include a high or low level, where a move may be on a handheld camera or on a crane. Once you’ve decided your camera work, it’s important to address how you will be picking up the audio, may that be through a boom mic or a voice-over.

Refer to the chart below for more shot types,  camera angles ,  camera moves , and audio.

Chart of shot types, camera angles, camera moves, and audio options

Capturing your subjects

Next, identify the subject of your shot, which is considered the focus of the shot.

A subject can be an actor, a group of actors, a prop, or a setting that is focal to the shot. Adding the shot description gives directors a clear guideline of what is happening in the shot.

This can include the actor involved, the action they are taking, the props involved, and what exactly the camera will be capturing.

Now that you’ve mapped out the direction of your video, you’re ready to start shooting!

This is mostly copied from here


In this guide, we will be discussing everything you need to know about storyboards.



When you make a video for your business, fiction story, journalism piece, documentary, planning is extremely important. One of the most important stages of planning out your video is creating a storyboard.

    What is a Storyboard?

A storyboard is a graphic representation of how your video will unfold, shot by shot.

It’s made up of a number of squares with illustrations or pictures representing each shot, with notes about what’s going on in the scene and what’s being said in the script during that shot. Think of it as sort of a comic book version of your script.

what is a storyboard

A storyboard is your roadmap when you make a video.

Like a script, your storyboard visually guides you throughout the production process. By planning your video, you know which shots you need to create and how to create them when filming begins. You can get others’ feedback early on and make simple adjustments to your storyboard, rather than making major changes while filming.

To make a good storyboard, you don’t need to be a visual artist (though you can be). A storyboard can be anything from comic book-like rough sketches to stick figures to computer-generated drawings. To help you plan your own video, we’ll walk through the basics of creating storyboards, including:

  • The basic elements of every storyboard
  • A breakdown of two popular storyboarding methods

Understanding different ways to storyboard, you’ll be set to visually plan your own video. Regardless of your budget or design experience, you’ll be able to create a clear map that seamlessly guides you through production.


    Why You Need a Storyboard?

Creating a storyboard might just sound like an extra step in the process of making a video for your business, but trust us — it’s a step you won’t want to ignore. Here are three reasons why you need a storyboard:

Best way to share your vision

A visual aid makes it much easier for you to share and explain your vision for your video with others.

We’ve all had experiences where we were trying to explain something and the other person just can’t see your vision. The core of this issue is that most stakeholders don’t have the experience of visualizing something off of a text deliverable, such as a script.

When you have a storyboard, you can show people exactly how your video is going to be mapped out and what it will look like. This makes it infinitely easier for other people to understand your idea.

Makes production much easier

When you storyboard a video you’re setting up a plan for production, including all the shots you’ll need, the order that they’ll be laid out, and how the visuals will interact with the script.

The video storyboard is a starting point or suggested thoroughline around which you can plan your coverage (all the angles you will shoot of a scene). This really comes in handy when you’re making your video, as it ensures you won’t forget any scenes and helps you piece together the video according to your vision.

Saves you time

While it may take you a little while to put your storyboard together, in the long run it will save you time in revisions later. Not only will it help you explain your vision to your team, but it will also make the creation process go more smoothly.


    How Storyboarding Can Help Your Business

Storyboarding can also help you:

  • Get buy-in from stakeholders: While a script can help others conceptualize your video, the visual nature of a storyboard is often a more effective way to bring it to life pre-production. Sharing your storyboard early on in the process will ensure collaborators and decision-makers understand your vision — and make them much less likely to put up a fight down the line.
  • Streamline production: Creating a storyboard forces you to work out a lot of the details of your video ahead of time — what shots you want, what order they’ll go in, what props or tools you need, etc. Storyboarding might also help you realize that you’re missing a key piece of logic or dialogue in your script, or that your visuals don’t tie together as cohesively as you thought. Identifying and working through these problems before you start creating your video will prevent wasted effort later on.  
  • Save time: It’s much easier and less time-consuming to make revisions to a storyboard than a video.

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    How to Create a Storyboard

Ultimately, a storyboard is a series of images representing each frame of your video. How you put the storyboard together, and how much detail you add, is up you — you can do it on paper, in a word processing program, or using specialized software.

Here’s how to go about creating a storyboard for your video:

1) Create blank slides

The first step in creating a storyboard is to draw a series of squares on a piece of paper

    Here’s an example of a blank storyboard:

what is a storyboard

Download this: US Letter | A4

You can also find tons of printable storyboard templates on Google). And here are more template options to help organize your frames. Don’t worry about your drawing skills — stick figures will suffice. Just make sure to leave room to jot down the accompanying text (whether it appears on the screen or is spoken by your characters or narrator) for each visual.

Creating a PowerPoint deck or simple word processing document on the computer is another easy option. Specialized software is also available if you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution (check out a few options below).

Think of these squares as the video frame. In each square a different shot or scene will take place. You can sketch the scenes by hand, create them on a computer or even take photographs. Make sure to leave space to write notes and lines from the script beneath or next to each frame.

2) Add your script

Beneath each picture, write the lines from the script that will be spoken in that scene and jot down some notes about what is happening.

Your storyboard should read like a comic book, so readers (coworkers, clients, etc.) can get a sense of exactly what will happen in your video.

add script to storyboard


Read more about scripting for short videos.  

3) Sketch your story

Next, you should sketch how each scene will look visually. Note that your storyboard doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed — you don’t have to draw in all of the props or even use color. (Hint: You don’t have to be great at drawing either. Bad drawings are far better than no drawings at all.)


Just provide enough visual detail to give an impression of what is happening, which characters are in the scene and what the general framing will look like. The script and notes will help fill in the rest of the details.

You can also make notes about camera angles and movement, transitions between shots and other details that will come in handy during production and post-production.

    Go-to Storyboard Checklist

Whether they’re drawn by a storyboard artist or diagrammed on a computer, all storyboards share the same information. They need to touch on the main actions, speech, and effects in every shot to clearly communicate how a video will appear.

Here are the key elements that every storyboard should include:

  • Shot images: Individual panels featuring 2D drawings to show what’s happening—actions, characters—throughout a video
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY: you are developing the visual composition for each shot to communicate emotionally.
  • Shot number: The number indicating when a shot appears according to a video’s shot list
  • Action: The primary activity happening in a shot
  • Dialogue (or narration: Any speech that is heard throughout a video
  • FX: Technical details that explain how the shot is created in production and post-production (e.g. aspect ratio, camera angles, camera movement, shot type, sound effects, special effects)

A full storyboard has all of the information necessary to imagine how your finished video will appear. Reviewing your images and notes for each shot, you and your team can brainstorm how your video should be adjusted and what resources you will need in production.

        Helpful Storyboarding Tips

Here are some tips that can help you as you storyboard your video:

  • Show, don’t tell. Use the storyboard as a litmus test to determine if your story is truly being visualized.
  • Be cinematic. Does your video do things that movies do? Do people, places and things move or stand still? Does the camera move? Keep these factors in mind and bring them all together to create a cinematic video.
  • Make sure it’s logical and coherent. You’re creating a story, so the video should look visually consistent from beginning to end
  • Pick a theme. If you want to create a video infographic, add relevant charts and graphs. Want to highlight a customer pain point, show a character on screen and take them through a journey.

Here’s a great example of a story-based video that was planned to perfection:

  • Include all relevant details. Break up your script into smaller chunks and make note of important information:
    • What is the setting or background for the scene?
    • Is there a character on screen? If so, what action is the character performing?
    • What props are in the scene? This should fit in with the context of the background/setting you’re using
    • Will any text appear on screen? What is the size, color, and position of the text?
    • What message are you trying to deliver?


In this tutorial you will use SYD to create a patch which will simulate the sound of a large BELL. Using Additive Synthesis techniques. As a background to understand the procedure outlined below, you should read Bell Characteristics.

To synthesize a bell using the application SYD, you will need to add 11 operators: the fundamental frequency (1 operator), 8 separate s (8 operators), an amplitude envelope (1 operator) and a mixer operator (1 operator).

If you have not already done so, please read, Additive Synthesis.

Using a Fundamental Frequency of 200 Hz, here is a formula for creating a simple bell sound using 9 frequencies called PARTIALS. Combine sine waves with these frequency ratios:


9th wave

200 x
814 Hz
8th wave
200 x
752 Hz
7th wave
200 x
600 Hz
6th wave
200 x
548 Hz
5th wave
200 x
400 Hz
4th wave
200 x
342 Hz
3rd wave
200 x
238 Hz
2nd wave
200 x
184 Hz
1st wave
200 x
112 Hz

Figure 1: Frequency Ratios of a Simple Bell

Technically, a


is a frequency in the spectrum of a sound which is NOT in the Natural Harmonic Series. Sometimes it is also called a “detuned harmonic” or an “enharmonic.” In the chart above, the frequencies that ARE part of the Natural Harmonic Series are represented by whole numbers (2, 3). All the other frequencies are PARTIALS. Often in a bell sound, the true FUNDAMENTAL is MISSING altogether or a


is hear (perceived) by the listener instead. The lowest frequency here (the 1st wave) is a


; the 2nd frequency is close enough to the Fundamental of the Natural Harmonic Series to be considered a detuned partial.

Apply this envelope:

Figure 2: Amplitude Envelope of a Simple Bell

To begin, create a new SYD patch and add 9 Oscillator Operators, 1 Envelope Generator and 1 Mixer Operator in the configuration shown below:

Figure 3: SYD Patch for Simple Additive Synthesis Bell

The duration of the Sound Output should be 6 seconds. The duration of the Amplitude Envelope should mach the duration of the sound output (6 seconds):

Figure 4: Amplitude Envelope Settings

The Fundamental Frequency of the Bell should be 200 Hz. Please assign the Oscillator Operator at the BOTTOM of the SYD window to the Fundamental Frequency. All the other Oscillator Operators will be assigned as partials.

Figure 5: Fundamental Frequency and 8 Partials

Set the Fundamental Oscillator and the 1st partial Oscillator as indicated below:

Figure 6: Fundamental Settings
Figure 7: First Partial Settings

Continue setting the frequency ratios of the remaining operators according to the table listed in Figure 1 above. When you have finished, click the SYNTHESIZE button in the bottom left corner of the patch window. Then click PLAY to listen to the sound.

Further Experimentation

In this Simple Bell patch, all the partials have the same amplitude provided by the LEVEL setting in the Amplitude Envelope. A better scenario would be to have separate amplitudes for each partial such that the FUNDAMENTAL has the loudest amplitude (.5), the 1st partial is 50% of the amplitude of the FUNDAMENTAL (.25), the 2nd partial is 50% of the amplitude of the 1st partial (.125)…… and so on until you finish all 8 partials. This follows the SPECTRUM of the NATURAL HARMONIC SERIES where the amplitude of each harmonic is inversely proportional to its position in the series.

Experiment with different ways to efficiently set these amplitudes.

In natural sounds, the higher partials tend to have shorter amplitude envelopes (they don’t ring as long as the lower partials):

Experiment with different ways to efficiently set separate times for the amplitude envelopes of the various partials. For example, try experimenting with the FUNCTION operator and the EXPRESSION operator. Using these operators, you can pass an EXPRESSION to ALL the amplitude fields simultaneously.

In a REAL bell, one side of the bell may not be cast to the same thickness as the other side. Consequently, there will be mall variations in frequencies which produce BEATING at various frequencies. Experiment with using pairs of slightly detuned operators (“enharmonic” partials) to simulate this BEATING effect.

Further information on SYNTHESIZING BELLS can be found on the Sound On Sound: Synth Secrets site: Synthesizing Bells.

If you have not already done so, please read Bell Characteristics.

Deconstructing a natural sound involves analyzing the spectrum of the sound in order to recreate it using the various techniques of sound synthesis (additive, FM, subtractive, wave shaping, etc.). The sound you will create in this tutorial is the sound of a flute-like instrument called a RECORDER. Click below to hear a note played on a recorder:


After analyzing the spectrum of this sound and using that information to reconstruct it using additive synthesis techniques, you will create this sound:


You will use two applications in order to deconstruct and then synthesize the recorder sound: Amadeus II and SYD.

[Although SYD is available in versions for both Macintosh and IBM computers, Amadeus II is only available for Macintosh. There may be other spectrum analysis tools available for IBM computers but this writer is only familiar with MAC OS applications. GOOD LUCK!!]

If you need help with SYD, see the SYD Tutorials.

This tutorial will be divided into the following sections:


Begin by downloading the recorder sound file:

  • Hold down the OPTION key on your Macintosh computer keyboard while you click on RecorderSound.aiff
  • Save the sound file to your Local Workspace.

Launch the application, Amadeus II.

From Amadeus II, open the sound file you just saved, RecorderSound.aiff

You should see the following:

Figure 1: Recorder Sound File as viewed from Amadeus II


Select a region of the sound file for which you will examine the frequency spectrum:

Figure 2: Recorder Sound File with region selected as viewed from Amadeus II

From the ‘Analyze’ pull-down menu in Amadeus II, select ‘Spectrum’:

Figure 3: Select ‘Spectrum’ in the Analyze pull-down menu in Amadeus II

Click ‘OK’ when you get the Spectrum Options window:   

You should see this graphic which is a representation of the individual frequencies (harmonics) of the note, A4 played on a recorder.

Figure 4: Sound spectrum of the note A4 played on a recorder as viewed from Amadeus II

Place the corsair (corsairs) exactly over the leftmost frequency in the spectrum:

Figure 5: Frequency and Decibel (dB) levels of the note A4 played on a recorder as viewed from Amadeus II

In a convenient location, write down the values of the frequency and decibel (dB) levels. Repeat this for each of the other two frequencies in the recorder spectrum. You should end up with these approximate values:

Decibel (dB) level
Table 1: Frequency and Decibel (dB) values
for the note A4 played on a recorder
as viewed from Amadeus II


The next step is to convert the decibel (dB) levels to real amplitude values on a 100% scale. You will be synthesizing the recorder sound using SYD. SYD uses amplitude values on a 100% scale and does not use decibel levels. The relative loudness of sound is usually referred to as the ‘sound intensity level’ and is based on the threshold of hearing at 1000 Hz. [For detailed information, check out SOUND INTENSITY LEVEL.]

Here is the formula:

y = the amplitude value we’re looking for

x = the decibel level from the above chart.

If x = 32.5, then

y = (10^3.25)/1000

y = 1.77827941

y = 1.78

After converting each decibel level, you should get the following amplitude values:

Decibel (dB) level
Amplitude Value on a 100% Scale
Table 2: Frequency, Decibel (dB) and Amplitude conversion values
for the note A4 played on a recorder
as viewed from Amadeus II


To synthesize the recorder sound using the frequency and amplitude values from the above table, launch SYD. See the SYD Tutorials if you need to review this application.

Create the following patch with a output duration of 4.0 seconds:

Figure 6: Basic Recorder Patch using SY

You could put an envelope on each of the three oscillators. But, because one of the amplitudes from the decibel (dB) to amplitude conversion table [Table 2. above] is > 1.0, it is best to patch the outputs from the oscillators through the mixer. This attenuates the amplitudes proportionally such that the overall amplitude coming out of the mixer is <= 1.0. Consequently, it is more convenient to put the envelope on the amplifier.

The recorder is a ‘woodwind‘ instrument (wind instrument) which requires wind pressure from the breath to produce the sound. The basic woodwind envelope [which would also include such instruments as flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, or any reed instrument which requires the human breath to produce the sound] looks like this:

Figure 7: Simple Woodwind Envelope

Here are the specific parameter settings for the woodwind envelope for the above patch:

Figure 8: Parameter settings for Woodwind Envelope using SYD

When you synthesize the patch, it should sound like this:



Adding breath noise to the basic recorder patch involves using the Butterworth filter set to BANDPASS mode. You will add three bands of noise roughly matching the three frequencies derived from the spectrum analysis above.

Here is the next stage of the Recorder Patch:

Figure 9: Basic Recorder Patch with Noise added using Butterworth Filters using SYD

Look for the three Butterwoth filters which have their output to a mixer and then to an amplifier, just like the Basic Recorder patch described above. In addition, the same envelope controls the amplifier for these additions.

In order to more easily control the noise level, an FTAB function has been incorporated. Here are the parameter settings for the FTAB:

Figure 10: Parameter settings for the FTAB function using SYD

The ‘Function’ field will contain the basic BANDWIDTH for each filter. Here is the format for using the FTAB function in the BUTTERWORTH filter:

Figure11: Parameter settings for the Butterwoth Filter using SYD

Note the format of the the FTAB function. The values in the parentheses (0,1) refer to the FTAB number and the value in the FTAB ‘Function’ field respectively. See the SYD User Manual for more detailed information on the use of FTAB. Each BUTTERWORTH Filter will have similar settings where the value in the ‘Freq’ field corresponds to the value of the corresponding frequency from the spectrum analysis above. The value which is multiplied with the FTAB function, is the amplitude for the corresponding frequency. Here is a table which shows these values:

Oscillator Frequency
Oscillator Decibel (dB) level
Oscillator Amplitude Value on a 100% Scale
Butterworth Filter Frequency
Butterworth Filter Band using FTAB
Table 3: Frequency, Decibel (dB) and Amplitude levels for the Oscillators and Filters
for the note A4 played on a recorder.

When you synthesize the patch, it should sound like this:


Compare with the Basic Recorder Patch:


To increase or decrease the amount of noise you would like in your Recorder sound, change the value in the ‘Function’ field of the FTAB operator. A higher value (eg., 300) will give you a lot more noise; a lower value (eg., 100) will give you less noise.


[Sorry, not done yet.]

Try analyzing and then synthesizing the following musical instruments:




[To download the sounds, hold the OPTION key down and then click on the link.]

A Helicopter sound can be created by using noise patched through a filter. The RECIPROCATING sound of the helicopter blades can be simulated by one of two methods:

1. Use an LFO to open and close the bandwidth of the filter at a constant rate, OR

2. Patch the output of the filter to an amplifier and then use an LFO to turn the amplifier on and off at a constant rate.

The method presented here will be #1 (use an LFO to open and close the bandwidth of the filter at a constant rate).

Close any open SYD files.

Choose NEW under the FILE menu to open an empty Syd document.

Click and drag a RANDOM NOISE OPERATOR from the operator palate (that’s the one with the question mark on it — ?) down to the main part of the window.

Next, click and drag a BUTTERWORTH FILTER OPERATOR from the operator palate.

Connect the output of the RANDOM NOISE OPERATOR to the input of the BUTTERWORTH FILTER OPERATOR.

Connect the output of the BUTTERWORTH FILTER OPERATOR to the MAIN OUTPUT.

Your window should look something like this:

The RANDOM NOISE GENERATOR creates NOISE such that all frequencies and all amplitudes are randomly giving a steady output of what would sound like ‘radio static.’

The BUTTERWORTH FILTER is a variable band filter which allows four types of filtering:

    – High Pass
    – Low Pass
    – Band Pass
    – Band Reject

Double-click on the BUTTERWORTH FILTER to open its edit window.  It should look like this:

Set the values in the various fields so they show these values.  Specifically, random noise will be passed to the filter.  However, only a specific frequency of noise will be allowed to pass through (400 Hz).  The BAND ‘width’ will be controlled by the variable, Ctl1.  Think of the  BAND WIDTH as the filter’s amplitude — the wider the band, the more noise passes through centered around the specific frequency contained in the FREQ field.  In other words, the wider the band, the louder the noise.  The value in the FREQ field controls the apparent pitch of the noise.  A high value would allow ‘high-pitched’ noise to pass through.  A low value would allow ‘low pitched’ noise to pass through.

Set the values in the BUTTERWORTH FILTER as pictured above and then click OK.

Specifically, you are setting the:

  • TYPE = Band Pass
  • Freq = 400
  • Band = 200+ctl1 (the value ‘200+ctl1’ will be explained below)

Now, drag an OSCILLATOR OPERATOR down into the window.  Connect the output of the OSCILLATOR OPERATOR to the BUTTERWORTH FILTER.

Click and hold on the above connection and then select the connection type as: ALT CONTROL SIG#1 [Ctl1].  See below for detail:

Set the parameters of the OSCILLATOR OPERATOR to these values:  Freq: 10; Amplitude: 200 (this oscillator will control the bandwidth of the filter by adding and subtracting 200 to the band width, thereby opening and closing the bandwidth).

Save your file.

Make sure the MAIN OUTPUT OPERATOR is set to MEMORY and not to FILE.

Synthesize your patch and then play it.  It should sound like this (click below):


Explanation for including an offset in the Butterworth Filter Band field:

In the above patch, you are using a sine wave Oscillator to control the opening and closing of the bandwidth of the Butterworth Filter. This is what creates the characteristic oscillation of the ‘Helicopter’ sound. If you send just the control signal (ctl1) to the Band parameter field, then the Oscillator would send all values of the Sine Wave (positive and negative) to the Bandwidth parameter field.

To cancel out the negative values of the Sine Wave (0 thru -200), use an ‘offset’ in the Filter Bandwidth parameter field which is equivalent to the AMPLITUDE of the modulating Sine Wave:

If the overall output (volume) of the patch is not loud enough for you, then add an AMPLIFIER operator by patching the output of the filter through the amplifier. The finished patch might look like this:

Variations on the Basic Helicopter Patch:

Variation 1: Change the waveform of the LFO to a square wave (instead of a sine wave).

Variation 2: Change the frequency of the LFO to higher or lower values. A high value (60) might suggest some kind of buzzing machine such as a small airplane propeller or a motor boat.

[If you are having trouble understanding any part of the Helicopter Patch tutorial above, you may want to repeat earlier sections of the SYD TUTORIALS.]

Further Variations on the Basic Helicopter Patch

Instead of controlling the BANDWIDTH of the filter with an LFO, connect the output of the filter to an amplifier and then use an LFO to control the amount of amplification. Remove the LFO oscillator operator from the filter and set the filter values to (frequency = 400), (bandwidth= 200).

IMPORTANT: be sure to:

– use a SINE WAVE and not a SQUARE WAVE when controlling the amplifier.

– set the amplitude of the LFO to some value less than 6. (A value of 200 will set the amplitude of the Amplifier too high.)

Here is what the patch will look like:

Setting the frequency of the LFO on the above patch to values less than 8 will suggest sounds like:

– sand paper (1)
– the ocean (.1) [set the duration of the patch to 15 seconds]

LFO is an abbreviation for “low frequency oscillator.”  Modulation refers to the way one signal is changed systematically by another signal.  Consequently, LFO modulation refers to the process by which an oscillator using a low frequency (usually below the threshold of human hearing, 1 – 20 Hz) can systematically change the state of another oscillator, for example, its frequency.

Using the patch you created in the 1st tutorial (Creating a Simple SYD Patch), the following tutorial will show you how to use an LFO (low frequency oscillator) to modulate the frequency of the original sine wave operator.  Systematic modulation of the frequency by a rate less than about 20 Hz (the optimum rate is 7 Hz) is also referred to as VIBRATO. Vibrato is the effect which is created when a string play “wiggles” the left hand on the finger board. It is also the effect that is characteristic of opera singers in the European tradition.

Do this:

Open the LFO Modulation of the Amplitude patch you created in the last tutorial.  It should look like this (except it won’t have the comment and arrows):

Move the cursor over the link you have made between the two oscillators until the cursor changes to a PEN (instead of a finger pointing).

Hold down the CONTROL KEY and click on the connection until you get a pop-up menu.

Select the “Frequency Modulation (fm)” option:

Note how the BLUE connection line changes to a GREEN connection line.  This color coding is designed to alert you to the different types of connections, AM (amplitude modulation=blue) and FM (frequency modulation=green).

Select the original sine wave operator (the one on the right) and change the frequency field so that it contains the value, 440+fm (see below):

Also, change the value in the Amplitude field to .5 (be sure it’s 5 TENTHS and not 5).

Now select the LFO modulation oscillator operator (the one on the left) and change the various parameter fields so they contain these values:

Note the value of 10 (!) in the amplitude field.  Don’t worry, this is the correct value.  This value of 10 is not the output amplitude but is the amount of modulation which will be added to the frequency in the original Oscillator operator.  Later, you can experiment with changing this value to various amounts in order to discover how that will affect the sound.

Click OK and close this window.

Click the “Synthesize” button located in the bottom top corner of the patch window. You will not hear the sound of the patch until you “synthesize” it.

Make sure your headphones are connected to the audio output of the computer.

When you are ready to proceed, click the “Play” button located in the top left corner of the patch window.  You should hear the sine wave play in your headphones and hear a definite modulation of the frequency corresponding to the 2 Hz frequency of the modulation oscillator.  The depth (amount) of the modulation will be represented by the wide variation of the frequency.  Or, click the link below to hear sound:


LFO is an abbreviation for “low frequency oscillator.”  Modulation refers to the way one signal is changed systematically by another signal.  Consequently, LFO modulation refers to the process by which an oscillator using a low frequency (usually below the threshold of human hearing, 1 – 20 Hz) can systematically change the state of another oscillator, for example, its amplitude.

Using the simple patch you created in the 1st tutorial (Creating a Simple SYD Patch), the following tutorial will show you how to add another operator which will modulate the amplitude of the original sine wave operator.  Systematic modulation of the amplitude by a rate less than about 20 Hz (the optimum rate is 7 Hz) is also referred to as TREMOLO. Tremolo is the effect which is created on a vibraphone and with the voice which such singers as Kenny Rogers. Tremolo is also the effect which is produced when two tones sound togeter with a slight difference in frequency (see beats).

Do this:

Open the patch you created in the 1st tutorial.

Add a second oscillator operator and connect it to the first operator so that it looks like this:

Select the ORIGINAL SINE WAVE OPERATOR (that’s the one on the right) and change the value in the Amplitude field so that it contains the variable, “am” :

Note the “am” in the Amplitude field. This is a VARIABLE through which the LFO will pass its values.

Now select the new LFO MODULATION OPERATOR (that’s the one on the left) and change the various parameter fields so they contain these values:

Click the “Synthesize” button located in the top left corner of the patch window. You will not hear the sound of the patch until you “synthesize” it.

Make sure your headphones are connected to the audio output of the computer.  Also, it is assumed that you have already checked the system audio settings and your computer will produce audio output.  Be cautious and place your headphones in front of your ears until you become familiar with this level of the sound.

When you are ready to proceed, click the “Play” button located in the bottom left corner of the patch window.  You should hear the sine wave play in your headphones and hear a definite modulation of the amplitude corresponding to the 2 Hz frequency of the modulation oscillator.  Or, click the link below to hear sound.


An ENVELOPE is usually defined as the shape of a sound’s amplitude over time (although an envelope can also be applied to other aspects of a synthesized sound such as the frequency, filter bandwidth, etc.). 

Here is a graph of a simple ENVELOPE applied to the amplitude of the original Simple JSYD Patch (which was created in the 1st tutorial):


Click the link below to hear the sound:


An ENVELOPE with THIS shape is usually called a “woodwind” envelope and has a total of 3 points (nodes): ATTACK, SUSTAIN, DECAY. An envelope with this shape is typical of sounds made by BLOWING into a musical WIND instrument such as a clarinet, flute, oboe, etc.

A sound’s (amplitude) ENVELOPE is just as important to the overall recognition of the sound as the waveform itself.  In the above sound with the envelope applied, there was a relatively short “attack“, a longer “sustain” and then a relatively long “decay.”  These three terms are usually used to describe the basic points (nodes) of an envelope.  If some kind of “controller” instrument is used (for example a keyboard) to play the sound when a key is pressed, then another point or NODE can be described for what happens when the key is RELEASED. Sophisticated synthesizers and software will have more than just 4 nodes.

An ENVELOPE is usually applied to the entire duration of the wave.  For example, if the wave is 2 seconds long, then the envelope will also be 2 seconds long.  The specific points or nodes of the envelope (ADSR) are then placed in varous proportions along the length of the wave.  In the above wave (which is 2 seconds long), the attack is .1 (10%), the sustain is .8 (80%), and the decay is .1 (10%).  These proportional values add up to 1.0 (100%) which represents the entire duration of the wave (2 seconds), in other words, 100% of 2 seconds.  If the wave and envelope were each 6 seconds, then the nodes would still have the same proportions.

The following tutorial will show you how to add the above envelope to the 1st Simple SYD Patch which you created the first tutorial.

Do this:

  • Close any open SYD files.
    • Drag the Envelope Generator icon down to the patch window and make a connection to the Oscillator icon.  It will look like this:


  • Select the Oscillator icon.
  • Change the value in the Amplitude field to the variable, “am” :

    Note the variable “am” in the AMPLITUDE field. “am” = “amplitude modulation

  • Select the Envelope Generator operator.
  • Carefully change the values in the various fields so they match the following values:

The values in the left fields represent the proportional TIME points or NODES of the envelope as described above (ADSR).  The values in the right fields represent the actual amplitude LEVEL values which this operator will pass via the variable “am” in the amplitude field of the Oscillator operator.

Time vs. Duration

When you are ready to synthesize the sound, click the Synthesize button at the top left of the patch window.  You will not be able to hear the sound until you synthesize it. Click your mouse somewhere in the window to deselect any operators and to view the Graph field so you will be able to see the ENVELOPE SHAPE you created.

Under normal conditions, the proportional values in the TIME parameter fields (Attack Time, Decay Time, Sustain Time, Release Time) should sum to 1.0 (100%). These individual values are proportional to the overall DURATION of the envelope. Also, under normal conditions, the DURATION of the envelope (in this case, 2 seconds) should match the DURATION of the overall sounds as set in the OUTPUT operator (2 seconds).

When you are ready to play the sound, click the Play button at the top left of the patch window.  Or, you can click the like below to hear the sound:


The graphic shape of this envelope is that characteristic of Woodwind INSTRUMENTS, that is — musical instruments in which you blow your breath in order to produce a sound, such as a flute, oboe, clarinet, etc. Woodwind envelops have 3 points or nodes.

Try creating these other envelope shapes:

Percussion Envelope (2 points or nodes: Attack, Sustain) — sounds produced by hitting an instrument with a stick or mallet, such as a drum, bell, piano, etc

Percussion Envelope.aiff

Brass Envelope (4 points or nodes: Attack, Sustain, Decay, Release) — sounds produced by instruments in which the lips are “buzzed” into a mouthpiece to produce a sound, such as a trumpet, trombone, horn, etc.

Brass Envelope.aiff