You finally scored a spot at a field recording nature workshop. All weekend you recorded tracks of wind, water, and wildlife in the mountains hours from home. Every morning you woke at 4 a.m. and captured hours of dawn chorus field recordings. You let the recorder run all night gathering the sounds of insects and night birds. Your audio recorder is brimming with tracks.

And now? What seemed like a good idea at the time now feels like punishment: you’re faced with mastering multiple sessions of eight-hour sound files. The amount of audio is overwhelming. It will take weeks to complete. Of course, you couldn’t have worked all day and also stayed up all night starting new takes. It’s understandable to just let a digital recorder run for hours. So, it made sense at the time.

But the problem remains: how do you even begin editing tracks that sprawl for hours? What’s the best way to master hour-long soundscapes into digestible tracks for your listeners?

Today’s post is designed to help. I’ll share solutions for solving this problem using a screenshots from editing an prolonged field recording example.

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A year and a half ago I sold everything I owned, jumped on a plane, and arrived in Southeast Asia. Why?

To capture field recordings, of course. I’ve travelled through Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Indonesia recording the sounds of the cultures in those places. I’ve wandered into obscure corners of Bangkok, Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur, Denpasar, and other cities to find cool sound effects.

Now, almost 18 months after I began that trip, I am faced with a challenge: my hard drive is crammed full of raw field recordings that need polishing. There are thousands of files. They were captured from three microphones. It’s an overwhelming amount of data that could total hundreds of hours of audio.

I have a special plan for those field recordings that I’ll share with you later. In the meantime, there’s a more obvious problem: how does one transform thousands of field recordings into finished, listenable sound effects? What’s the best way to master bulk field recordings?

Today’s article shares techniques that help you tackle the mastering process efficiently to move those raw files from your hard drive into the ears of your listeners.

Please note: I explore this idea in depth. This post should take you about 12 minutes to read. If you’d prefer, you can email yourself a copy of the post to read later.


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Note: this post shares an update to the website itself. Field recording news will return next week.

About a year ago traffic here to the website increased substantially. With that came many offers and requests from sound companies. Some of them wanted me to write reviews for their products. Others wanted me to promote them. A few wanted to write keyword-laden guest posts with links back to their websites. Many of them offered me cash.

I refused all of them. Why?

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Ecologist and field recordist Gordon Hempton is no stranger to this blog. We first heard from Gordon during the “Month of Field Recordists” series last year. We also learned about Gordon’s vocation and his craft in his latest book: Earth is a Solar Powered Jukebox.

Gordon Hempton has of course inspired many field recordists. His message of preserving and appreciating nature has spread beyond that focused discipline as well. Directors and producers Palmer Morse and Matt Mikkelsen are two of those people. They have recently revealed the short film Being Hear. It is a documentary shot with Gordon Hempton in the Olympic National Park, the inspiration of Hempton’s One Square Inch project to preserve and protect the sound of nature.

Today’s post features an interview with the filmmakers. Palmer and Matt share their inspiration for creating the film, the importance of audio in filmmaking, and how they accomplished blending evocative sound with lush visuals in Being Hear.

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What are Ambisonic recordings? What microphones are used to capture these sound effects? What software is needed to use them? Where can you find Ambisonic field recordings?

This month’s series was designed to answer those questions. We’ve learned a lot about Ambisonics during the past month. We began by reviewing the basics. Then, a handful of field recordists generously shared their knowledge with us.

Today’s post summarizes all the info we’ve discovered so far. It includes a list of microphones, software, hardware, and applications for Ambisonics. There are also a few links to existing Ambisonic sounds you can download and try yourself.

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Today’s guest has been capturing Ambisonic field recordings for more than a decade. Stéphane Larivière has been experimenting with this fascinating format through his work on video games (the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Far Cry 3), films, and sound library recordings.

Throughout this time he has been in the unique position to watch an evolution of Ambisonic tools, and adapt to them. So, today Stéphane shares with us in-depth reflections on the changes in Ambisonic hardware and software, and the merits and limitations of the Ambisonic format. And, paired with his reflections on the past, he also shares his thoughts on the future of Ambisonic tools for AR, VR, and 360 video.

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Ambisonic field recording equipment is hard to come by. Why?

Well, most of it is expensive. It’s rare. Few studios stock those kits. Before now, even fewer studios booked regular Ambisonic projects. As a result, being able to find and use Ambisonic gear was a rare pleasure.

That’s one reason why today’s featured guest has a special treat for us. Tom Todia has worked in game audio and Virtual Reality for over ten years. During that time, he has been involved with many projects field recording sound effects using Ambisonic kits. In today’s post, Tom details his extensive experience recording Ambisonic sound effects with a variety of specialized microphones and software. He relates how he integrates these recordings into his game audio projects, shares Ambisonic field recording tips with the community, and reveals two special experiences recording Ambisonic tracks beyond the studio.

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I first met today’s guest last year when he launched a new type of sound fx Web shop. Paul Col described the community-powered store he runs at CrowdSourceSFX. Later, Paul also described the kit he uses to collect field recordings for that website during the “A Month of Field Recordists” series last year.

As the current series began shaping up, I reached out to Paul again. I had been fascinated by the kit he detailed last year. I asked what he thought of it now, after he had been using it for a while. I wondered what he thought about using an Ambisonic microphone to capture field recordings. Paul kindly shared his thoughts, and they are intriguing.

So, today Paul reflects on Ambisonic field recordings as well as insight on the pros and cons of an Ambisonic kit and capturing B-format sound effects.

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Today’s guest, Anna Bertmark, is a Swedish sound designer now based in the UK. I had originally met Anna through Twitter. I had known she was a talented sound supervisor and designer, and I was quite delighted when her Ambisonic field recording sessions showed up when researching this series. I wrote to her and asked if she would like to share her experiences with us. She kindly agreed.

In today’s post Anna describes how she travels worldwide capturing Ambisonic field recordings for her films. She also shares her Ambisonic workflow, and her thoughts about the future of the format.

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Richard Devine recording at Honeymoon Island State Park

I have been a fan of today’s guest field recordist for some time. It’s clear I’m not alone, of course: sound designer and musician Richard Devine has tens of thousands of fans worldwide. Sound pros may be most familiar with his contributions to SoundMorph’s acclaimed sound effects libraries such as Mechanism and Modular UI. Devine has shared his field recordings and stylized sounds with many other projects, too. During a recent correspondence, Richard revealed a fascinating fact: he has been deeply involved with producing Ambisonic recordings for virtual reality projects for clients such as YouTube and Google.

I asked Richard if he would care to share with us these unique experiences capturing these field recordings for his clients. He very kindly agreed. So, today we have is a special treat. Devine shares his experiences as a pioneer producing Ambisonic sound effects for VR.

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