Recording Gun Powder Flame Bursts Part-2

Here is the second video from recording the sound of black powder. The audio track in this video is from a MKH-8040ST. Other microphones I used during the sessions were a MKH-416 and a Sanken CSS-5.

Recorded over a 2 week period, I was experimenting with a few different types of black powder to see what sounds it would make separately and combined. As you can hear in this demonstration the smokeless kind produces a nice fat flame rumble while the regular kind makes a bright flash and sizzle.

Here are some black powder flame bursts… in slow motion (50% playback speed). Recorded with the MKH-8040ST, they have the beef… and the sizzle! BBQ Anyone?

All images and sounds copyright 2012 Frank Bry – Creative Sound Design

Recording Wind, Yeah Right

I want to share what I experienced recording the wind gusts that blew through the ranch this week as it was not as easy as it I thought it was going to be. From inside the house I heard the wind swell and fade and it rumbled and rattle the walls so I thought it might be a good idea to set up outside at certain areas around the ranch and see what I could get. I had three locations in mind and the first was at the wire mesh fence in the garden. I have recorded lots of wind near this fence during the freezing cold winter and got some great results. During the winter it is much quieter outside as the snow muffles most of the ambient sounds from the neighborhood. Well, the springtime here is very different with lots going on in and around the ranch.

Wind Recording 2012

I started out staying with the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST rig and listening for any strange sounds other than the wind I wanted to get. Keep in mind this type of fence wind recording is very quiet so any other sound in the background will be heard sometimes. I eventually just left the rig there for small chunks of time and went about the other business of the day. Here is some of what I had to deal with either by moving the microphones or physically searching out the offending source and removing it. I’m not complaining as this is what sound recordists deal with all the time. It’s life and I did get some great material after 2 hours of recording.

1. My garage. When the sun comes in and out of the clouds it heats the metal roof and it makes expanding and contracting click sounds. Annoying!

2. Wood pile covered with a tarp. This flapping tarp drove me nuts. I did not want to remove the 12×16 foot plastic piece of crap but I did. Run over and wrestle it into the barn. Done!

3. The bugs. There are these pesky little May flies that buzz around your head when the wind dies down and they get in your ears, eyes and bite your neck. Damn blood suckers! They also get caught in the windjammer and make little “I’m stuck” buzzing noises.

4. My stream. Right below the garden is my seasonal stream. Right now it’s not running that hard but it was still contaminating the wind track. Postion the microphones low and away was the solution.

5. Traffic. I left the mic and went inside for 18 minutes and when I listened back to the track 11 cars passed by. Sometimes you can’t pick the best time to record and the end of the day is not a good one if you want no traffic noises. Even here at the ranch I do get a few cars passing by. No solution, just hope for the best.

6. Chainsaw. There was someone cutting wood far away up on the hill behind the ranch. Still gets in the track since the gain is up on the recorder. Wait it out, maybe they will take a beer break.

7. Dogs. Seems everyone here has a dog but me. They like to bark… it’s what dogs do when they get the scent of the deer running around in the woods. Wait it out… again!

8. The fence itself. Metal on metal. The fence is held in place by metal posts with small pieces of wire. They tend to get loose over time so I had to run around and tighten or add new wire to secure the fence so it would not rattle during the high wind gusts. There were some small dry grass stems that I removed also to clean things up a bit.

9. Tree branches. While recording I noticed a few tree branch knocking noises that always happened during the big wind gusts. They were deep in the woods and high up in the trees so there was nothing I could do about them except cut the tree down. Not going to happen. Hoping that the wind does not move the trees was wishful thinking.

10. Birds. I love the birds here in the spring. They are a sign that every year life and nature renews itself every spring. Did I mention they like to tweet, chirp and mate a lot?

So, the simple idea of recording wind in what I think is a very quiet environment was not so simple. All in all it was worth dealing with all the other things that do not sound like wind. In the end it all worked out and I got some much needed exercise.

I also recorded some wonderful grass and forest wind gusts at two other locations and will blog about that sometime in the future. Enjoy! -Frank

Balloon Pop On Pond May 6, 2012

This last weekend I had a really stupid idea. I thought if I blow up a ballon, tie it to a pole and submerge it underwater at my secret pond I could the pop it and record the sound of the bubbles surfacing. I had the notion that it just might work. I have recorded many large stone splashes at this pond and when the rock sinks to the bottom of the pond the air bubbles that surface immediately after sound really cool. The thing is, they surface just after the splash and they are very short. I wanted to get some longer take of bubbles surfacing and thought the balloon idea was the ticket to bubble bliss.

Well, I found out that it takes a whole lot of weight to hold a ballon under water. Sometime, try to hold a medium sized balloon under water in a tub… you can barely hold it down and most of the time it pops from the pressure. All was not lost though. I figured while I was there recording I must get something so I pushed down on the balloon in the water with a pole as deep as I could and poked it with another pole that had a sharp nail attached. It popped and the resulting sound was OK but what I found out after listening at lower piches that it did not sound half bad. Maybe a little low end enhancement and some compression and it would make for a decent water explosion sweetener, or a sea serpent with really bad gas.

Heres is the audio demonstration:

Recorded with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST (yes, it was over the water). Enjoy! -Frank

The video with slow motion playback speeds:

Frame grabs from Flip HD video camera:

Water Recording 2012

Water Recording 2012

Water Recording 2012

Water Recording 2012

All images and sounds copyright 2012 Frank Bry – Creative Sound Design

3AM Rain Recording May 4, 2012

Here is the sound from a heavy rain storm that pounded North Idaho last night. Recorded on my 40 foot long deck at 3AM with a MKH-8040ST set to XY 90 degrees at 24-Bit 96K on May 4, 2012. The location faces West towards the forest and at 3AM it is very quiet here. No cars, trains, birds or anything else going on to disturb the beautiful rain drops that fall from my roof edge.

Rain Recording 2012

This storm woke me up from a deep sleep as I have a metal roof on the house and when we get a heavy downpour of rain it can be quite loud. This storm was fairly calm earlier in the evening so when it ramped up it was dumping huge amounts of rain and knocked me out of bed. I quickly grabbed the recording gear and set it just outside my door on the deck under the roof edge. The sound demo does not sound like a massive downpour but as you can hear it makes a wonderful splatting noise when it hits the deck. Most of the loud downpour sound is way above the microphone at the sheet metal roof line. I pointed the microphone directly towards where the rain drips where hitting the deck and since the water falls though between the deck planks it does not puddle or pool but there is just enough water on the surface that the drips splat against a thin sheet of water.

I have recorded here dozens of times and each time it sounds slightly different depending on the amount of rain falling. This kind of downpour is my favorite because it has a steady action and very little wind. Also, this time of year the leaves are still coming in on the trees so the “noise” from rain hitting thousands of leaves is barely noticeable. Enjoy! -Frank

Rain Recording 2012

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Recording Gun Powder Flame Bursts

Recently I have been experimenting with recording different type of gun powder to see which is the most effective at certain things. Some of those things are flare up speed, loudness, sizzle and volatility. So far I have tried three different types and those include synthetic, natural, and smokeless. These three types make a different sound and visual effect. The synthetic burns really fast and bright, the natural has a nice sizzle and of course makes a lot of smoke and finally the smokeless burns slow with sparks and makes a nice deep whoosh sound.

Fire Recording 2012

I set up a Sennheiser MKH-416 and a Sennheiser MKH-8040 on my outdoor concrete foley studio (which is very safe for recording fire this time of year). All the types of gun powder were not very loud so I experimented with various distances. At the beginning of the session there was a moderate wind so I had the Windjammers on and kept a close eye on any possible melting (they will melt very quickly, not recommend for use with fire recording). I started out with small flare ups so I thought the Windjammers would be OK and they were fine. After a few takes the wind died down so I took them off and it’s a good thing because I started to use more and more gun power so the bursts was getting hotter.

The video below does not have any footage of the synthetic kind. I used most of it while recording for Ultimate Destruction and I plan on recording more of it in the near future.

I combined the smokeless and the natural kind and got some wonderful fast bursts. I tried a curved pattern which was interesting because the whole thing went up at once NOT in a curve. I also tried long smokeless burns which turned out great for whoosh and flamethrower type sweeteners. I set the gun powder off with a short fuse with one end inside the powder. I found out that if I put too much of the fuse into the powder that it will still be sizzling after the powder has burned off and getting a good deep whoosh without a sizzle at the end was difficult.

As always, I must claim that I practiced as much fire safety as possible. I had goggles, gloves with a extinguisher at the ready. It is very wet here this time of year and the vegetation is saturated or just starting to grow. Yard waste burning is allowed without a permit in the my county at this time. Enjoy! -Frank

Fire Recording 2012

Fire Recording 2012

Fire Recording 2012

Fire Recording 2012

Fire Recording 2012

Fire Recording 2012

Fire Recording 2012