You’re excited. You’ve returned home after days of recording long, evocative field recordings. But… what’s next? How do you perfect these raw sound effects? How do you record and edit hours of field recordings? What’s the best way to edit the sounds you’ve retrieved from the wilderness? How do you organize your sound clips, and share them with others?
These tasks are typically done during the mastering and curation steps. The problem is, there isn’t much information about how to do this online.
Thankfully, field recordist and sound designer Melissa Pons released an insightful series of articles to help. Pons was a “A Month of Field Recordists” series guest earlier here on the blog. She shared the equipment she uses to record sound effects, and the technique she employs to get the job done. A few months ago she released a pair of articles that explore her technique used to record, edit, and publish field recordings of the Atlantic Forest in South America.
A Field Recording Editing Technique
In two detailed articles, Melissa Pons explains her workflow:
- Recording: a “recon walk” or scouting the area to collected notes, photos, and GPS, etc.
- Cataloging: a system of backing up, organizing, and labelling the raw recordings.
- Editing: assembling the elements into Reaper, selecting sections to publish, and exporting.
- Publishing: a methodology for saving finalized files.
An Insightful Approach
It’s very easy to get caught up in the recording process and forget about what’s required to perfect field recordings in the edit suite later. What is particularly interesting about Pons’ process is that she recorded thinking about the work she would have to complete after the fact. As you can read in her articles, that made editing and mastering the clips far easier.
I also found it interesting that she did most of her content editing in iZotope RX, and used Reaper mostly for organizing. Editing in RX is a lot easier in many ways; the spectral display helps spot and fix errors far more simply than in Reaper or Pro Tools. However, RX lacks the multi-track organizational features and ease of use of an elaborate editing app. Pons uses both RX and Reaper together to overcome each of their shortcomings.
Melissa Pons uses a method of labelling on-location notes using RX’s markers window, which is also displayed in Reaper (I wish this was the case for Pro Tools!). That way, the notes on location are carried through the entire workflow, from recording, editing, selection, to publishing.
Are you considering recording hours of wilderness sounds? Pons’ workflow will help you. It is particularly useful for wrangling long-form field recordings. It helps prepare for long sound effect recordings, analyze and them later, and distinguish the best parts to save and to share.
- Visit Melissa Pons’ blog.
- Listen to her recordings on SoundCloud.
- Check out her releases on BandCamp.