The Universal Category System Is Skywalker Sound’s Standard For Organizing Huge Libraries Of Sounds

Skywalker Sound Supervising Sound Editor Tim Nielsen has released Universal Category System 8.2 (UCS), the final release of the system designed for the organization and categorization of sound effects and sound assets.

UCS is a public domain initiative by Tim Nielsen,  Justin Drury, Kai Paquin, among others, and supported by sound librarians, vendors, and users from around the globe. The aim is to provide and encourage the use of a set category list for the classification of sound effects.

The creators hope to provide tools to make naming and categorizing sound effects easier for everyone who maintains their own personal or a professional library.

UCS documents a hierarchical system for organizing sound, and standardizes tagging metadata to make searching large collections of sounds more consistent and reliable.

Universal Category System is available via the UCS site.

14 thoughts on “The Universal Category System Is Skywalker Sound’s Standard For Organizing Huge Libraries Of Sounds

  1. someday there will be a useful patch naming convention too. now it’s just one ‘biffy wobblings’, after another ‘punultimate pad’.

    1. To be truthful, “biffy wobblings” would be a step up from my current convention … “Pad #x – 02-08-23”, “Seq #x – 02/08/23”, etc.

  2. Absolutely – I am tired of people naming their patches “Star Walker” and “Silent Thunder”. Completely useless! What about “Bass – 100 Hz -Increasing Cutoff – Short Attack, Long Decay”. Or, using popular conventions, “Steaming Fart”.

    1. You make a good point. Some people want to put some useful tech information in the name. And I think the recent trend patch browsing with a tagging system works well for this.

      So you could have a few tags that describe the range (bass, mid, lead/high), timber, attack speed, release, filter FX, mod FX, reverb FX, etc. etc.

      Then you could use the poetry to create names you’ll remember.

      1. the Prologues patch retention system ridiculously forgot to put a back pointer to the oscillator used in the patch. instead they merely stored the slot the oscillator was stored in. so if you move osc slots, or replace any, theres no way to tell which patches have been mangled or not. worse, there’s no way to discover the oscillator without putting a human brain is the middle and making the responsible for the mess. same with the effects slots.

        my patch names include text bits for all that. they are almost perfectly descriptive – to me.

  3. Looking forward to reviewing this in depth. I have many hours of cassette, DAT, 1/4″, and CDr recordings going back some years that I am looking forward to archiving for potential future use, and having some guidance about a consistent way to label and organize them is very welcome. Thanks for sharing, Tim Nielsen!

  4. Patch management is the hardest thing about this whole business…. I have literally thousands of different patches spread across about a dozen synths and apart from a tiny, tiny minuscule handful, I have no idea what to expect when I load them… just endless lists of meaningless names.

  5. I set up a text file for each instrument and describe the useful sounds in basic terms. Its pretty easy to discard the vanilla or goofy patches as you go. That leaves a leaner list of things I can really use. The D-50 has some disposable Solina patches, but also a few string sections that sound near-sampled. I don’t need a utility for that, just basic familiarity with what a given synth does best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *