North Idaho Iceman Vol-1

Date: January 13, 2012

Ice Jan 2012This is the first in a series of blog posts documenting my experiences recording ice for the forthcoming ULTIMATE ICE 2 HD SFX Library. Recorded during the week ending on January 13, 2011 with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST microphone set to XY at 120 or 90 degrees depending on my mood. As I was leaving Round Lake today one of the ice fisherman yelled “See you around iceman” hence the name of the blog post and sound file.

This winter has been strange. Not a lot of snowfall lots of rain and then cold. A few weeks ago it rained for what seemed like days and then it got bitter cold. The snow melted, the rivers and lakes rose and then froze solid. This only happens once a season if we are lucky and it presented the perfect opportunity to record ice, some BIG ice.

Location: Springy Point State Park

This park sits on the South shore of The Pend Oreille river and is two miles from my ranch. The river level has been lowered and the shores have ice up. When it rained it filled all the pockets near the shore with lots of water. When they froze, the water evaporated and left a half inch thick sheet of ice. These left a huge air pocket under the sheet, sometimes 12 inches or more. With just the right amount of pressure with my foot I was able to break these sheets and they made a great heavy ice smash.

Ice Jan 2012

I also recorded the ice sheets on the river next to the shoreline. They can stretch out hundreds of feet and are constantly being pushed and shoved towards the shore by the wind. I took a careful walk out on to this thin ice and it splintered and cracked. I did fall through a few times but the water is only a few inches deep so no worries.

Ice Jan 2012

Location: Cocolalla Lake

Cocolalla Lake is an accessible, 800-acre year-round fishery fed by Cocolalla Creek with an average depth of 26 feet. It is popular for ice fishing in winter. Boat access is available on the northeast end adjacent to the campground. Shoreline fishing access is primarily limited to the northeast end and the east shoreline. This is where I started recording. The ice was not very thick, around 3 to 4 inches and after talking with a few fisherman, who were very cautious, I only ventured out a hundred feet or so.

Ice Jan 2012

When the sun rises and heats the lake it starts to flex and crack. I was able to get some decent cracking and pinging sounds but the close proximity of highway 95 made recording difficult. I did notice that you can hear the cracks coming toward you. They make subtle pings that get louder the closer they get. A very cool sound and I was lucky that a few cracks ripped very close to the microphone. During one crack I felt the ice sheet drop down a little and that’s when I decided to head back to shore. On the way I met some fisherman who showed up and they told me about Round Lake after I explained the traffic noise issue. So, I headed to Round Lake State Park which was just a few miles up the road.

Ice Jan 2012

Location: Round Lake State Park

Round Lake State Park is situated in 142 acres of forest surrounding a 58-acre lake at an elevation of 2,122 feet 10 miles South of Sandpoint. The lake is the product of glacial activity dating back to the Pleistocene Epoch.

Ice Jan 2012

When I arrived the sun was peaking in the Southern sky and I could hear some ice ping activity. It was fairly quiet except for the occasional car and train passing by in the distance. I had no idea where to set up so I began walking towards the middle. I was told by the fisherman there that the ice was 8 inches thick and possibly thicker in the middle of the lake. I worked my way out towards the middle recording 5 minutes at a time. The cracks are very unpredictable and sometimes far and few between.

Ice Jan 2012

As I was just about in the center of the lake I recorded a crack that went right under the microphones. There were other cracks already there and this deep sound crack was along the same line as another one. I had the microphones very close to the ice to try and minimize background noise. This worked OK but next time I might go very early in the morning when it’s much more quiet and position it a little further away. This ice cracking was amazing and the microphones don’t capture the full range of the sound for some reason. All in all it was great fun and I plan on going back as many times as I can before it snows or the lake melts away to spring.

The adventures of the North Idaho Iceman have begun. Enjoy -Frank

Saw Mill Recording – November 28, 2011

Back in November 2011 I had to opportunity to record my neighbors saw mill. I was doing something outside and I heard the mill off in the distance, it was really quiet that day for some reason. The mill is on top of the mountain behind my ranch and I always wanted to get some recordings so I called him up and asked if it would be alright to come on up and record. I don’t know how he heard his phone ring but somehow he did because when I arrived the mill was very loud and hearing a phone would be difficult unless he was on break.

I brought my MKH-8040ST mounted on a boom pole and quickly set up with the video camera and started rolling. He was at the end of this particular job and only had a few cedar logs left to rip and plane to size. I could not believe how loud this 15+ years old, 36″ saw blade was. I tried to monitor with my headphones but that was a no go so I popped in the earplugs and stayed out the way as best I could. The levels on The SD-702 were almost set to zero.

After a while the blade heated up and warped so he had to stop for a few minutes to let it cool down. These blades are very expensive and I hoped that the blade was OK. He told me it happens when the stringy bark from the cedar gets between the log planks and the blade and puts to much pressure on the blade. He then moved on to planing the fresh cut planks.

When he was done planing all the rough cut planks he let me record the conveyor belt below the blade which made a very cool deep belt driven motor sound. He also turned on and off the air controlled hydraulics that help hold the log and planks in place as they pass through the blade. It mad all kinds of cool air injection noises and then sets the blade guides in place for a decent metal clank effect.

It was a quick recording session and I hope to get back up to his mill in the future to record more. There are lots of other vintage mechanical gadgets at the mill and I would jump at the chance to go again. Enjoy! -Frank

Please Note: The Soundcloud demo is downloadable at 24Bit 48kHz.


Saw Mill 11-2011

Saw Mill 11-2011

Saw Mill 11-2011

Saw Mill 11-2011

Saw Mill 11-2011

Saw Mill 11-2011

Saw Mill 11-2011


Train Tension Symphony

For the last 3 weeks I have never left the ranch without my MKH-8040ST recording rig and today I was thankful that I brought them on a simple errand run into town. Just my luck that there was a tain traffic jam in the City of Sandpoint Idaho. Three trains were attempting to pass through on the same set of tracks at the same time and there was some maintenance going on as well. I heard the train horn as I was at the bank this morning and it was the long set of honks i’ve learned over time that they do when on this rail line that runs East to West.

I was only a mile away from my favorite spot to record them stopping and departing and I beat the train and had just a minute to set up before the first train passed and stopped. Soon after this train stopped another train pulled in on the far side and stopped. Train Jam! The first train pulls forward and leaves without much noise. I waited around for ten minutes and decided it would be better to go around to the other side of the tracks and get close up. I had to get back on the road and drive a half mile around to the other side. All the time I’m hoping the train does not leave and it did not. I set up the microphones about a meter away from the rusty old coal cars on the other side of a tall weed patch and waited… again.

After 20 minutes or so another train passed by the far side and when it had completely traveled onto the dual lane tracks the close train started to leave. Ka-bang! Those rusty old cars make some noise! Screeches, squeaks, metal straining, it’s all in there… and good for you too!

Here is a clip of the 3rd train departing played back at 35% of normal speed. Please note there is no processing except some L2 limiting. This is the slowed down sound.

Train Recording 12-20-2011

Here are some select portions of the raw normal playback speed recording:

Train Recording 12-20-2011

Train Railroad Track Tickle

Here is a sound from December 12, 2011. Late in the day I drove out to one of my favorite locations to record trains (and to enjoy the West view). I had attempted to record 2 stopped trains earlier in the day and was only seconds late after chasing them around town for a while. I did not want the day to be a complete waste so I took a chance that a few more trains would rumble in and stop. Well, they did not stop but a few trains were hauling their heavy cargo to the South so I sat and waited… in the freezing cold… then I saw the lights.

I was not expecting this sound from a train pass by along the lake in a very secluded area. The MKH-8040ST rig was set close to the tracks and captured this strange sound. As the train was approaching from around the corner of a cliff, the tracks started to sound electric!

North Country Trains HD Videos

Train Rail Cars Slack Action 2012

On the morning of January 4th, 2012 as I was driving into town across the Long Bridge into Sandpoint I noticed a stopped train on the other side of the lake. The best part was that I also saw a railroad maintenance truck on the tracks headed toward the parked freight train from the opposite direction. I knew what this meant… no other train would be passing the parked train as it departed. Golden!I turned my car around and headed for the nice quiet area to the south that I have recorded before. This time would be much different, I could finally cleanly record the massive metal impact that I always wanted to get. If only I had my MKH-8040ST microphone and gear with me to get it in all its clanky glory. I had to use my Sony PCM D-50 which I keep in the car at all times. No worries, it came out great!

North Country Trains Video Part-1

Sights and sounds from the recording of North Country Trains HD Professional Sound Effects Library from The Recordist. Part 1: Week 6 of recording freight trains all over the panhandle of Idaho. A Sennheiser MKH-8040ST was used for most of the trains with the occasional spontaneous recording with a Sony PCM D-50 recorder. Sometimes you never know when you will come across a train waiting to continue it’s journey after passing through the beautiful countryside of Sandpoint Idaho.

North Country Trains Video Part-2

Sights and sounds from the recording of North Country Trains HD Professional Sound Effects Library from The Recordist. Part 2: Week 1 through 5 and week 7 of recording freight trains all over the panhandle of Idaho. A Sennheiser MKH-8040ST was used for all of the trains in this video. I went to various locations in and around Sandpoint Idaho and traveled South to isolated crossings to record horn blasts and high speed pass bys. I also was able to get railcars pulling in, stopping and departing with the big metal “boom” the cars make when the get yanked by a mile long train.
Train Rail Cars Slack Take Up
I’ve been after this sound for weeks and finally got one! It’s a mile long train departing and when the railcars are empty they make a great slack take up impact when the train starts to pull away. This one was almost perfect, I was on the wrong side of the tracks. The train passing by in front was not quite past since I was at the last 100 yards of the train. Well, anyway it’s one hell of a sound and I hope to get a few clean ones this weekend now that I found the perfect location. Recorded with a MKH-8040ST at 24/96 on December 16, 2011 in Sagle, Idaho USA

North Country Trains Video Part-3

Sights and sounds from the recording of North Country Trains HD Professional Sound Effects Library from The Recordist. Part 3: Weeks 8 and 9 of recording freight trains in and around the panhandle of Idaho. A Sennheiser MKH-8040ST was used for all of the trains in this video. I recorded high speed pass bys in the fog, captured some awesome slack take up coupler impacts and witnessed some cool track vibrations from approaching trains on a curved set of railroad tracks. Some very close up rail car movements with their slow metal stress actions were also recorded. I was able to get the MKH-8040ST within a few feet of the slow moving rail cars and locomotive engines.

Warp Speed Trains Video

Warp speed sights and (tiny toy) sounds from the recording of North Country Trains HD Professional Sound Effects Library played back at 800% warp speed. A mile long train passes by in less then 20 seconds and they can sound like race cars.