Archives For field recording

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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Los Angeles Smokey

It's a running joke between my brother and I: he's always found himself living in places with too much noise and I'm trying to find places with a lot of it.

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Steam Train

Imagine you walk into work one day and discover you’ve been assigned to edit a television series based in the 1970s. The picture hasn’t arrived yet, so you spend the morning browsing your sound effect libraries. Will you have the proper police sirens, telephone sounds, or vehicle clips suitable for the period?

I had been thinking about this while watching the second season of Fargo. That’s based in the 1970s as well, and I wondered how the editors dealt with cutting authentic sound for that time. We’ll see an answer to that in the coming weeks. For now, though, the concept came with an interesting coincidence. Last week blog reader Martin wrote to me about British sound recordist Peter Handford.

Handford (1919 – 2007) was a pioneer of film sound, having worked with Sidney Lumet, Alfred Hitchcock, and Sydney Pollack. It was his collaboration with the latter director that earned him both a BAFTA and an Academy Award for his work on Out of Africa.

In addition to his mastery of production sound duties, Handford also dedicated his life to a fascinating mission: a urgent race to record the sound of steam trains before they vanished from British railways.

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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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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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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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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 fieldrecording.de 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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Field Recording Gear in Sunlight 2

Today’s post is the second post in a short series about pro audio career advice. The last article explored general pro sound tips and tricks.

Today’s post answers two of the more common questions I see in my email inbox:

How do I become a field recordist and share sound libraries on the Web?

How do I get and established selling sound, and what’s the most effective way to break into that world?

Do you want to record sound effects beyond the studio? Are you eager to share your field recordings with other sound pros? Today’s post includes suggestions to help you build a field recording career sharing sound on the Web.

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DVD Hero

The Compact Disc introduced the first widely accepted digital audio format. It became popular partially because of improved audio quality. There were other reasons, too. Listening and accessing the audio was also far more convenient than the previous vinyl and cassette formats.

The Compact Disc has reigned as the dominant physical audio format since it was introduced to the public in 1982. Even in 2007, over 200 billion CDs were sold.

Of course, digital sound file delivery is overtaking physical optical disc shipments. However, the CD format set a fidelity standard that has lasted for over 30 years. In one way or another, this has affected every sound pro.

As sound professionals, we know how greatly higher fidelity sound affects our work. Higher sampling rates allow more flexibility in sound design. Higher bit rates increase dynamic, and, generally speaking, make sound clips appear more full, lush, and rich. But does high fidelity audio really matter to listeners?

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Michael Raphael and Helicopter

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Stuart Fowkes. Fowkes’ Cities and Memories website allows field recordists to post worldwide atmospheres on a soundmap, and even remix the originals. I wrote that a good way to supercharge your creativity is to record and share these “foreign” ambiences. Can you explore creativity closer to home, though?

You certainly can. Rabbit Ears Audio’s Michael Raphael is well known for his evocative sonic portraits of his home of New York City. In addition, he also shares sound effects collections of compelling subjects such as jet bikes, steam whistles, and military vehicles.

I wrote to Michael to ask about his thought on this. He graciously shared his ideas about capturing character and place through field recordings.

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