Tweaking Sounds That Go KaBoom

Morph Pic

Here are some of the cannon shots I recorded last week with just a little plug-in love added. Some “White Lightning” explosions at the end also with some Pro-Tools plug-in love. The source I used was from the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST in XY at 90 only. Enjoy! -Frank

Plug in Screen grab

Explosion Recording 2012

Explosion Recording 2012

Explosion Recording 2012

Note: The standard single user license applies to this free sound effect.

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

The Cannon: Recording Session 1

Cannon Banner
This is a cannon… not a huge cannon but a decent sized fairly portable cannon that makes quite a bang. When you pack it with synthetic black powder, ram a chunk of solid steel down the barrel, light the fuse, run for cover, block your ears and wait… it makes a noise, a loud noise. This is the first of many sessions planned with this cannon over the next few weeks and I plan on recording it in many locations. Next location is high up on a cliff overlooking the river where there is not much but solid rock around. I named it the “Cannon on Call” as I can record it pretty much anytime I would like with just a little advance notice and planning.

This session was initially going to be at a mountain location deep in the woods but the entry gate was locked so I had to move it to another location, the driveway of the people that own the cannon. This was not a bad location since the gear was easy to set up and it was still quiet enough for recording.

Cannon Recording 2012

Once we had the cannon functional (the first two shots were no-gos because the fuse got jammed up in some condensation or something and would not ignite the black powder) I recorded 4 shots with pieces of quarter inch solid steel rod cut to two inches in length. I did not have a long throw so I was not able to get the projectile pass by and hitting. We shot it into the forest up a hill. There was some background noise of yard work going on so we had to wait about a half hour for that to stop but then the wind and kicked up. I read the forecast before the shoot and knew the wind would be getting stronger as the day went by, very common here as the sun comes up and heats the air. The wind would come and go so in between the stronger gusts we set the cannon off.

The microphones I used were four MKH-8040s, a MKH-416, AT-835ST, CSS-5 and a Sony PCM D-50. I tracked these to a pair of Sound Devices SD-702 recorders, a Fostex FR-2 and a Sony PCM-D1 with the XLR-1 microphone module. The first set of MKH-8040s were centered right behind the cannon in XY mode. The second set of MKH-8040s were place further behind and spaced far apart aiming in towards the barrel. The CSS-5 was placed out in the forest off to the right of the cannon. The AT-835ST and the MKH-416 were placed to the sides and just a little closer then the wide MKH-8040 microphones. Finally, I had the PCM D-50 about 150 feet away to the right down the driveway. I knew we only had a few steel projectiles so this basically was a test to find the right combination and placement of the microphones.

The cannon rolls back a little bit when fired so I set some moving blankets under it and also noticed the long metal bar in the back hits the ground also so I wrapped that in a towel. The barrel itself rocks up and down also and next time I plan on padding that also to see if I can minimized the hit noise it makes. This noise is part of the cannon but I would like to try it with the pad in place.

Cannon Recording 2012

Overall this session took about three hours and I was satisfied with the results on the first shoot given the circumstances. I plan to try other microphone placements and locations very soon and will update the website with the latest cannon session sounds, video and blabbing as it happens.

Cannon Recording 2012

Cannon Recording 2012

Cannon Recording 2012

Cannon Recording 2012

Cannon Recording 2012

Cannon Recording 2012

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

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