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Years ago, after posting on this site for a year and a half, an email from future HzandBits sound library owner and A Sound Effect podcast co-host Christian Hagelskjær From inspired me to do something I hadn’t previously considered: to write a book about field recording.

That summer, I locked myself in a room and wrote. The result was a book called Creative Field Recording. It shared ideas on how to ensnare creativity and embed it in field recordings. It described tips and tricks to recapture creativity, inspire motivation, and apply it to capturing sound clips beyond the studio.

Later, I explained the premise to my younger brother, an experimental filmmaker. He gazed out the window, thought a moment, then said, “Shouldn’t you explain what field recording itself is, first?”

He was right. I shelved that draft, and began to write what would be my first book, Field Recording: From Research to Wrap.

I didn’t realize it until years later, but that experience reflected what I would come to understand is a significant – and perhaps hazardous – disposition among field recordists: severing the intertwined field recording skills of technical aptitude and creative expression.

Technical expertise is rigidly defined. Tech specs and gear govern whether a performance arrives successfully on our recorders or not. It’s not the same with creativity. That’s much more difficult to apply.

A lot has been written about how to spark creativity in the arts. Field recording is no different. Yet, a silver bullet that provides creative expression on demand within the technical demands of the craft remains elusive. That’s one reason why Creative Field Recording remains on the shelf. I wasn’t satisfied with the result.

I’ve thought a lot about that idea since I retired the draft. I’ve worked to include creativity in the sound effects I myself capture in the field. I won’t pretend I have the complete answer. However, I have made some headway I’d like to share with you today.

Today’s post describes ideas that have been rattling around in my head since that day: why creativity is essential to field recording, the challenge of bringing it to sessions in the field, and concrete tips you can use to sharing inspiring sound effects yourself.

This is part one of a three-part series. Today we’ll look at the idea behind emotional sound effects and how to capture them through field recordings. Over the next two weeks we’ll see how you can do the same while mastering and curating sound effects.

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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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