Archives For Technique

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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When I first began considering writing about Ambisonic field recordings, my thoughts immediately turned to John Leonard.

Readers may remember John from his interview in the “A Month of Field Recordists” series. In addition to his carefully recorded sound effects, John Leonard has been a pioneer in Ambisonic field recordings. He has followed the evolution of the format and has produced some of its best field recordings. While many people have begun recently using Ambisonic sound effects for 3D and VR platforms, John has vast experience using them differently: as soundtracks for his award-winning theatre sound productions.

I asked John if he would be interested in sharing his perspective on Ambisonic sound recordings with us. I was delighted when he agreed. What emerged was a fascinating look at John’s career, and a comprehensive description of the history and evolution of the Ambisonic format and its tools.

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You may have heard about it. Field recordists are experimenting with it. Microphones manufacturers are embracing it. Gaming studios are pushing it. Social media companies are discovering it. What is it?

It’s the Ambisonic field recording format. How does it work? What is it? What do sound pros have to say about it?

This month will feature a brief series exploring the basics of the format. It will also feature interviews with some notable field recordists who are working with Ambisonic field recordings now. They’ll describe their experiences, share their tips, and their thoughts of the future of this format. To wrap up, I’ll share a final article with resources they’ve mentioned.

Let’s get started.

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Last week I shared an unusual idea: recording door sound effects is the best way to increase your field recording skill.

How can you learn these skills? What’s the best way to record door sound fx?

Today’s post is a quick-start guide to help you capture excellent door field recordings.

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What is the test of a good sound effects library? What separates superior collections from weak ones? Are some field recording libraries better than others?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. Years ago, I worked at the sound sharing website Sounddogs.com. Part of my job was adding sound fx to the website. I was in charge of vetting each sound library submission. I listened to every clip we considered adding. These days, I still listen to every independent sound library I add to the search engine website Sound Effects Search: over 1,600 so far.

You may think that the first clips I listen to would be a publisher’s superstar sound effects: the gunshots, the wild animals, or the fireworks. In fact, though, when I discover a new sound library, the first sound I search for is doors. I don't bother with the tanks or speedboats. Why?

Door field recordings are revealing. They tell you a lot about a collection. In particular, they showcase a field recordist's skill in unsuspecting ways.

Hyperbole? Today's article will test that claim. This post will share thoughts on the value of door sound fx and how you can amplify your field recording skills by capturing these unsung sound clips.

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NASCAR Race

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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ferrari-957563_1280

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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