Canada Geese Migrating Nov 5 2011

Canada Geese Recording 2011

I was having my first cup of morning coffee on a cold, quiet Saturday morning and the light of day was beginning and I noticed a strange V shaped pattern in the distant sky over the lake. At first, I flashed back to the day when I recorded a B-2 Stealth bomber in Seattle because thats what it looked like. I knew what was approaching and I stepped outside and had a listen. They were geese flying in formation over the lake and heading directly toward the house. I stepped back inside to grab my recording gear and it was all in pieces after a recording session from the previous day. I knew I did not have enough time to get it up and running so I grabbed my iPhone and shot some video. They were not very high in altitude, I would guess a few hundred feet above the ground and squawking like crazy. I had missed a cahnce to record this sound and headed back inside before my fingers froze off.

Just in case there were more I did set up the MKH-8040ST and the SD-702 and set it next to the front door. Soon after, I heard another flock squawking in the distance over the river that connects to the lake. I set the gear up in the yard hoping some would head my direction and sure enough the took a left turn to head south. As they flew over I stood still next to the microphones and noticed along with the squawking was the very cool wing flap whooshes. I thought I was going to get a great clean take when the local squirrel decided to join in the music of nature. Below is the sound clip and the movie from the first fly over.

Enjoy! -Frank

Canada Geese Migration by therecordist

M60 Machine Gun Microphone Comparisons

M60 Machine Gun Microphone Comparisons

M60 Machine Gun Microphone Comparison 1

This video cycles through the microphones used during the first recording session for this gun. This first session was for capturing the medium close and distant perspectives and the second session was primarily for the close up sound. Recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz/192kHz to 2 Sound Devices SD-702 recorders, Fostex FR-2, Sony PCM-D1 with XLR-1 Microphone Preamp and a Sony PCM-D50. The microphones used were 3 Sennheiser MKH-8040, MKH-416, AT-835ST, Sanken CSS-5 and D-50 internal.

M60 Machine Gun Microphone Comparison 2

This video cycles through the microphones used during the second recording session for this gun. The first session with this weapon was for getting the medium close and distant perspectives and this session was primarily for the close up sound along with some closer distant perspectives. Recorded at 24-Bit 96kHz/192kHz to 2 Sound Devices SD-702 recorders, Fostex FR-2, Sony PCM-D1 with XLR-1 Microphone Preamp and a Sony PCM-D50. The microphones used were 4 Sennheiser MKH-8040, MKH-416, AT-835ST and D-50 internal.

Soundman-Black-Square-400px

The Wall Comes Crashing Down

As a sound recordist, one of the best things about living in a small town in the middle of nowhere besides fresh air, clean water and quiet is sometimes you get to record things that would be very difficult or impossible to record anywhere else. Some of those things are recording a M-60 machine gun in someones back yard or getting the powerful sounds of a building being ripped apart by an excavator. Well, that has been my life experience for the last two days and now I have a slight headache.

While I was driving through town on the way to record the M-60 for a second time yesterday I noticed that a wrecking crew had started tearing down the old Chevy dealership to make way for a new development. They had a few very large excavators with the claw and were having at it with the building. I stopped and strolled around outside the fence they had erected to keep people away and safe. I happened to meet one of the operators and asked him when they were going to be tearing down the other half of the building. He told me that it takes some time because they had to separate out the materials for disposal and they were using the last half of the two story wall as a dust shield facing the main street. He could not give me a time that the final blows were going to occur so I said goodbye and headed for my gun session.

A few weeks ago I noticed all the fencing around the old dealership site and knew at some point it was going to be ripped apart and there were plenty of places I could hang out with my gear and record something, anything. So at the spur of the moment I decided to take a chance this morning and head over there with the MKH-8040ST rig on a long boompole and see if I could record at the site. When I got there I walked around the outside fence and tried to record the general background sounds of the guys working. Since the main highway runs on one side of the site I really did not expect to get anything isolated and useful, maybe just some construction site ambience.

Well, as luck would have it, the guy I talked to yesterday saw me with the gear and stopped his excavator. The next thing I know he yells out to me “Want some glass breaking?” I quickly gave him a thumbs up and he proceeded to ram the claw through a huge window. OK, now I was on to something so I gave him the thumbs up again and walked around to the other side where there was another excavator smashing wood debris and moving metal girders around. There are all these signs on the fence that say “Hard Hat Area”, “Danger, Keep Out” and “Stay Away”. I stood outside the fence for a short time and decided it was time to walk through the opening of fence into the site. I figured the worst thing that could happen is they would tell me to leave.

Once inside the site I could get clean backgrounds with no traffic noises and position myself right in the middle for a good stereo image. Well, luck stuck again and the excavator drove right by me with a massive steel beam and dropped it over in the corner. The operator stopped the machine and came over and sked me if I was collecting air quality samples. I told him I was recording sound effects and he said “OK”. I briefly explained to him what I do and he told me it was OK to hang out here. I asked him if he was going to tear down some of the tall walls and said maybe later because he had to separate things on the ground first. He gets in his machine and drives by me again on his way back to where he was working. I recorded some incredible tread squeaking ans squealing.

The next thing I know he is moving the claw high in the air over the wall and I ran into position and recorded him ripping the wall apart. Now it was happening, the goldmine! The excavator was on the other sie of the wall so the engine noise is minimal and when the wall gets torn apart some of it falls to the ground. I got some great recordings today, maybe once in a lifetime, I don’t know, all I know is I sure had a great time and I have a slight headache from all the loud sounds I’ve been recording lately.

Enjoy!

Frank

Note: The video is from my iPhone 4 and i’m concentrating on holding the mic steady so the video is jerky, Oh well….

PHOTOS

Wall Destroy Photo

Wall Destroy Photo

Wall Destroy Photo

Wall Destroy Photo

Wall Destroy Photo

Explosion Recording October 2011

I’ve always wanted to record explosions and while I was recording a few guns recently I had my chance. Explosions are not something you can record everyday. I takes some planning, a good location that allows this kind of loud stuff and a very good shot. Since I have the gear all I needed was the above. It all came together after months of planning with the local gun shop. After recording a bunch of guns it was time to set off the Tannerite. If you don’t know about Tannerite, it is two (legal) substances that when mixed together and hit with just the right projectile at just the right velocity, it goes Boom!

We brought along 25 half pound canisters and planned how many we were going to tape together and set off. We started out with a few singles and doubles and then moved on to the big ones up to five together. They were set on wood tree stumps so they would not kick up too much dirt and debris. I recorded with all the microphones I had on the gun shoot placed at various locations in the gravel pit. I used a Sanken CSS-5, AT 835ST, MKH-416, PCM-D50 (96k), MKH-8040 and my MKH-8040ST microphone set at 24-bit 192kHz and 96kHz. I aimed the microphones in many directions and set them at different distances. I would guess the mics were anywhere from 30 meters to 50 meters away from the blasts.

Explosion 10-2011 Photo

I did not know what to expect. I knew they were going to be loud but since we had just shot off some REALLY loud rifles my perpective was totally messed up. Needless to say they were LOUD. Your body feels the concussion but if your wearing hearing protection (like I was) they sound muffled. After we set off the first few smaller blasts it started to rain. I quickly grabbed all the gear scattered around the gravel pit and set it under the hatch of my car. It seemed like the rain was not going to stop so we called it a day and I torn down the gear. Then as quick as it came in it stopped. Since we were running out of time I quickly got the MKH-8040ST and Sanken CSS-5 set up and we recorded the remaining explosions.

I thought I was going to regret not setting up all the gear after the rain delay but after I returned to the studio and listened to all the takes I found the best recordings were the MKH-8040ST. These microphones at 192k sound amazing. They record the full spectrum of the blast and when pitched down live up to the hype.

The sounds you hear in the video are edited and processed with a small amount of H-COMP compression and REN-Bass along with some fairly agressive L2 limiting. All in all I was happy with the sounds recorded that day. The location has a smooth decay and the gravel banks help the initial concussion. Over the next few months I will be recording lots more explosions in many different locations. Keep your eye out for ULTIMATE EXPLOSION SFX Library in the near future.

-Frank

Gun Recording October 21 2011

Here is a quick blog post about my experience recording some big guns. There is a lot more to tell but I wanted to share some of my initial thoughts, video and pictures from the session.

The shoot was arranged very quickly because the weather here in North Idaho was about to turn nasty and I wanted to get some gun sounds before the end of the year. Rain was forecast for the days after the shoot but the day of the shoot there was only a 30% chance which in North Idaho means it’s hit and miss.

I asked the guys at Wrenco Arms here in Sandpoint Idaho if they were up for having their prized M-60 machine gun recorded. They were totally in and asked if I wanted to do some other guns as well. Since I am not a gun expert I asked them to bring some big guns. We ended up recording a Barret 98B Lapua Magnum and a Remington 700 with Weatherby 300 rounds. We also had some M-16 guns scheduled but the rain came in and cut the session short. Before the rain started I also recorded Tannerite explosions. These were fun and I will post a blog about that part of the session in the future.

I consulted with two of the best in the business: Charles Maynes and Chuck Russom and they gave me some great tips and advice for this shoot and it was great that they both were willing to share their expertise with me in this field. Thanks guys!

One thing I have learned during the small amount of gun shoots I have recorded is it’s not an easy task. I am not set up to record guns all the time. I wish I had more variety in microphones and since I cannot rent gear up here on short notice I used what I had and hoped for the best. I used a pair of Sennheiser MKH-8040s, a single MKH-8040, MKH-416, Sanken CSS-5, AT 835ST and a Sony D-50. I had two SD-702s, an FR-2 and a Sony PCM-D1 with the Sony pre-amp module. If the recorder could record at 192K I set it for that sample rate.

The video above is from a set of bursts from the M-60. I quickly combined the MKH-416 and Sanken CSS-5 for the audio track. There is no other processing except for some EQ and Limiting.

We had some interruptions during the shoot (no surprise) and at times had to wait a while for them to pass. Birds, squirrels, cars and airplane all made their presence known at times and it really screwed up the flow of the sessions because I knew the rain was coming and I only had a few hours to get all these guns recorded.

All in all it was a great session and I am happy with the results. There are a few things I would like to have done differently and will have the chance to try them out in the future. I do want to do this again and will take what I learned and hope for the best again.

-Frank

PHOTOS

Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Guns 10-2011 Photo
Explosion 10-2011 Photo
Explosion 10-2011 Photo
Explosion 10-2011 Photo
Explosion 10-2011 Photo
Explosion 10-2011 Photo
Explosion 10-2011 Photo