Archives For Field Recording


Auto racing sound fx are some of the most difficult clips to capture. Last week’s post shared my experiences capturing field recordings at the Honda Indy and the Canadian Grand Prix.

Are you interested in recording sounds at a sporting event? Wondering how to work in a challenging environment? Want to inject personality into sound subjects you don’t control?

Today’s post shares tips for recording your own motorsports sound fx.

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Earlier this year, I discovered an excellent field recording opportunity: the Montréal Grand Prix and the Toronto Honda Indy car races landed on two consecutive weekends.

The Formula 1 Grand Prix is one of the most popular sports in the world. With 450 million global viewers, it ranks closely with American football, basketball, and baseball. F1 fans can cheer for drivers, root for their home nations, or pledge fealty to teams such as Ferrari or McLaren. North America’s Road to Indy is a loose equivalent. It is a ladder of increasingly demanding races, each with its own drivers, teams, and car specs or “formulas.” The locations were just as rich in detail: Toronto’s fast-paced, no-nonsense lifestyle contrasted with Montréal’s easy-going feel. While both weekends hosted the same sport, the two events could not be more different.

My thought in June, 2015: why not visit both the F1 and the Honda Indy to compare the car sounds, races, locations, and the experience of field recording these powerful machines? And behind this plan was an idea: could I capture those differences in sound?

I packed my gear and travelled to Montréal.

What did I find at those races? Today’s post shares my experiences capturing sound effects at both of these events using the stealth field recording style. I’ll also share how I mastered and prepped the sounds in preparation for publishing a new sound library.

So, grab a coffee and get ready for a deep dive into an experience field recording auto racing sound effects. Next week, I’ll share quick tips for recording your own race car sound effects.

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Field Recording Type Comparison Hero 2

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about field recording styles lately. I have been writing a new article about a recent field recording mission. It describes how I captured some tricky sound effects. Due to the nature of the shoot, I was forced to work in the stealth field recording style.

I’ll share more about those sound clips next week. However, while writing that article, I reflected upon on how a more conventional field recording style would have affected the shoot and the sound effects I recorded.

I began to write. It became a bit of a meaty post. So, settle in, and join me in exploring the four styles of field recording sound effects.

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Imagine you’re beginning your first firearms field recording session. You want to record the gun shot sound effects from every angle. So, you’ve arranged a handful of microphones nearby. You’ve placed others in the distance. Cables snake across the field from a half dozen microphones to… where?

Are they connected to a single recorder? Or, do you have many units spread across the field instead?

What’s best? How do you capture multiple, simultaneous channels at once? How do you keep every track synchronized? How do you ensure all your gunshots are in alignment when mastering them, later? Why is this important for field recordists?

Today’s post is the first of a two-part series about field recordings and synchronization.

Multi-track recording and field recording sync may seem like a basic issue that is second nature to most recordists. It may seem obvious. What is less obvious is how this affects the later stages of a sound clip’s arc, when mastering sound effects.

In reality, sound fx sync is a deceptively important issue that is easily overlooked in the field, yet has a huge impact on editing sound clips. So, the two articles explore the importance of tandem field recordings on location, and in the edit suite:

  1. How to add sync slates to your field recordings.
  2. How to synchronize field recordings when mastering clips, afterwards.

The first post will begin with the basics. It will introduce the role channel selection plays when field recording, as well as the importance of sync slating. That will prepare you for next week’s article, where I’ll share a quick tip for ensuring sync when mastering in Pro Tools.

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Howitzer Hero

I was walking home one day when I heard a tremendous boom shake the high-rises of downtown Toronto. It repeated relentlessly, and seemed to intensify with every blast. I detoured, and found three howitzers firing shells deep within the caverns of the city.

What I did not expect was that moment would lead to a five year field recording journey.

Today’s post will share how I brought these sound effects from concept, field recording, mastering, curating, to publishing over a half decade. How can this help you? A few ways:

  • Ideas for capturing field recordings you can’t control.
  • Learn the steps for leading sound effects from concept to publication.

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Soccer Stadium and Sky

Earlier this summer, Canada hosted the Pan American Games. That prestigious Olympic-style event invited top athletes from dozens of countries to compete in 48 sports in downtown Toronto.

Living in Toronto myself, I seized the opportunity to record world-class athletes in “rare” sports such as professional field hockey, squash, handball, and others.

That “field report” explained how I approached the recording session, overcame mistakes I made, and captured field recordings of sports crowds, cheers, chants, ambience, and more. Check out that post, and download the free field recordings there.

How can you record your own sporting events? Today’s article features tips and tricks you can use to help you navigate an event, capture the best crowd reactions, gather ample coverage, and much more.

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Pan Am Games - Handball

I’ve been field recording more this summer than I have in years. Part of the reason is that I’ve been enjoying experimenting with the Sony PCM–100 portable recorder, as well as comparing it with its older brother, the D50.

Another reason is that I’ve been able to access interesting events. I recorded the Formula 1 race in Montréal and the Honda Indy race in June. (I’ll have a post about those field recordings soon.) By a nice stroke of fate, I also had an opportunity to access the Pan American Games.

So, this post will describe my experiences, and share a some field recordings captured at the Pan Am Games you can download for yourself. In the next article I’ll include tips, tricks, and lessons you can use to prepare for field recording your own sporting events.

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MyPlaces - 0 - Hero, Toronto Summer 2014 - 03

You’ve spent the day recording the sound of a lively farmer’s market. You return to the studio and open dozens of sound effects in Pro Tools. As you begin mastering the field recordings, confusion creeps over you. Was that 14th sound clip recorded at the market entrance? No, you remember, it was the one in a side alley, between food stalls. Wait, no, that was the one after it…

Does this sound familiar? Correctly identifying sound effects after the fact is a common field recording concern. Keeping track of recordings is absolutely vital. It helps you master sounds accurately even months after field recordings are complete. These details enhance the clips you capture. But, somehow, labelling sound effects in the field is often one of the first recording steps that is overlooked.

I’m guilty of this myself. So, today’s article will share one tool I’ve discovered that helps to solve this problem. It keeps track of your work, adds flavour and detail to your field recordings, and ensures you richly describe every field recording you capture.

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IDCD 2 - Usenbenz 1

Last week’s article explored International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD). That event, hosted by UK organization The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country, invited wildlife fans worldwide to appreciate the sound of nature as it emerges at daybreak. website owner Sebastian-Thies Hinrichsen spearheaded a recording project to create an album of dawn chorus field recordings made worldwide on International Dawn Chorus Day, May 5th, 2015. Last week he shared with us how the project began, and the history of his field recording news site.

As I downloaded the IDCD album, my eye spotted a familiar name: community field recordist Andreas Usenbenz. I noticed that Usenbenz contributed not only field recordings to the project, but also mastered every submission as well.

I was interested to learn about Usenbenz’s efforts capturing dawn chorus field recordings. Also, field recording and mastering sound effects are two very different skills. I was curious about Usenbenz’s experiences tackling both tricky tasks.

So, earlier this month I reached out to Usenbenz. I wondered if he could share his thoughts about the project with me. He kindly agreed, and described fascinating details about recording and mastering quiet nature sounds in a special Q&A.

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IDCD - 1 - Album Cover

How do we improve our field recording skills? Sometimes it requires us to leave our comfort zone to record unfamiliar subjects, or travel to strange places. Another aspect that helps is the idea of accountability.

The idea behind accountability is that you’ll be inspired to produce more or better work when there’s a responsibility to share it. This can give us the push we need to create our very best work and deliver it to others.

Accountability while field recording can take many forms. It may be an article you post about your field recording experiences. You may share tracks on SoundCloud. Another option is to exchange clips with a group. Two excellent examples are The Sound Collector’s Club, and sound forum Audible Worlds’ Crowdsourced Projects.

Another opportunity appeared earlier this year. German field recording website planned an ambitious project: an album of nature field recordings gathered from across the globe on International Dawn Chorus Day (IDCD), 2015. They encouraged recordists to strike out in the early hours of May 5th to gather nature and bird sounds at dawn. It was an invaluable opportunity for a field recordist to invest themselves to gather sound effects within a specific environment, and have accountability to field recording fans, worldwide.

I asked website owner Sebastian-Thies Hinrichsen about the project. He graciously explained the idea behind the website, and how the project came to be. This post also shares info about the album, and about International Dawn Chorus Day.

The next post will feature a special interview with a community field recordist who took part in the International Dawn Chorus Day album project.

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