Glass Window Breaking Then And Now

I’ve always had the strangest luck, fate, universe is looking out for me kind of thing going on my whole life. I’m going to take a trip down memory lane here in this blog post and then jump forward to today.


Back in 2000 I had a good friend who had just purchased a defunct steam power plant in Seattle Washington call me up and say “You better get over here ASAP and record this place before I tear it down to build some apartments.” So, I jumped in the car and drove the 6 hours or so from Idaho to Seattle with my HHB PDR-1000 DAT machine and a AT-825 stereo microphone.

When I arrived I was I heaven. There I was in a completely vacant electric power plant with a recorder and microphone! I recorded as much as I could in the limited time I had and one of the best parts was recording objects being thrown through the massive windows. They call these “Blow Out Windows.” I was told that the reason one side of the building is all glass is in case the place accidentally blows up the windows would blow out and the power plant stays standing. Made sense to me but made for even better sounds!

Below are some of the glass breaking sounds and pictures.

Glass Windows Breaking 2000 by therecordist

Shuffleton Power Plant

Shuffleton Power Plant from the outside with large windows

Shuffleton Power Plant

Shuffleton Power Plant from the inside


Earlier this week I heard some earth moving machines up the street and some heavy cracking and crunching sounds. I ran outside and saw one of my neighbors moving a single wide manufactured home from the front of their yard to the back of their property. I grabbed my gear and ran over and asked what they were doing and they said “We’re going to burn it, not right away but as soon as burning season starts.” Well, that’s a month away so I asked if I could record some sounds from the really old torn up house. They said “Have at it. Do whatever you want.”

Soon after they had moved it away from the street I started recording the windows breaking. They had pulled most of them out and left them inside but there were some still installed and I had a field day with a crow bar! Also, inside there was a whole wall that was a glass mirror which made some great glass shard falling sounds. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I recorded with my Sound Devices 702 and Sanken CSS-5 from the inside and out. I also recorded some close-up glass cracking with my Sony PCM-D1.

Below are some pictures and some great glass breaking sounds. Do I smell a Ultimate Glass Library coming? No, that’s the inside of the smelly house. Enjoy!

Glass Windows Breaking 2010-09 by therecordist

Glass 2010

Glass windows and frames inside the smelly, defunct house

Glass 2010

Glass window shards inside the defunct house, did I mention it was smelly?

Glass 2010

Glass mirror wall inside the defunct house, very 70's

The story behind Ultimate Snow SFX Library

Snow is another of the sound sources I’ve used quite a bit in the video games I’ve worked on such as Dungeon Siege, Neverwinter Nights and Demigod.

North Idaho gets its share of snow. Living here in the winter is fairly tough when we get lots and lots of snow but it also creates an wonderful opportunity to record some great snow sounds. We get all kinds of snow: slushy, icy, brittle, hard, soft, heavy, light, you name it. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve collected quite a bit of snow recordings at 24bit 96K.

So, where do I start on the story of making this library? Well, most if not all these sounds were recorded at a time when I was not documenting my experience or taking pictures of the actual recording session. I was also very busy working on 2 or 3 video games at a time so the recordings were very spontaneous. I’m working from memory here and I hope I can remember all the great things that happened when I was recording this snow library.

The first thing that comes to mind is I would never really plan recording because of the nature of winter up here in North Idaho. Snow can arrive, melt or freeze at any hour during the day or night so I tried to be ready to record anything at any time. Also, the conditions outside had to be as optimal for recording as they could be.

The conditions outside I remember waiting for before recording:

  • The wind to be calm
  • The temperature to get above 25 degrees;
  • The neighbors’ dogs to stop barking
  • The cars to stop driving by
  • The train rumble and horns to go away
  • The nearby snowblowers to stop
  • The snow on the roof to fall off
  • The snow to pile up in the yard to 12 feet or more
  • The energy to move large amounts of snow around
  • The caffine to kick in

As you can see, winter recording can be a challenge so being ready with the right gear and mics is the way to go.

Sometimes setting up was just grabbing the Sony PCM-D1 off the shelf and opening the door to record a large snow-pack sliding off the metal roof…. in less than 20 seconds. The snow would start moving down the roof making a soft creaking sound and that was my cue to jump and go. Other times I would bang on the edge of the roof with my fist and see if I could tease it to come down after a long night of snow.

Ultimate Snow

This is the best place to get snow falling of the roof

Some of the best snow slides I recorded were of the massive snowbanks that I would pile up on the edge of the driveway with the tractor. I tried to get them as high as I could so I could throw chunks of snow down the sides.

Ultimate Snow

2009 was the year I recorded some great snow slides

As the end of winter came near, the snow would start to melt a little and the snowbanks would harden up a bit. I would try and grab the largest chunks of snow I could with the John Deere bucket and drop them.

Ultimate Snow

Is this snow chunk big enough?

My garage has a huge metal roof and the snow really piles up over the winter months especially if it stays cold for a extended period of time. I had a few recording sessions with this roof and got some great slides and impacts.

Ultimate Snow

The chimney eventually was torn off the roof by the snow later that year

Ultimate Snow

The mic is down below somewhere

I do remember one day I was recording some snowball impacts and rubs and I noticed the volume level of my feet and body movements while I was recording. It was really cold outside but the sun was shining so it didn’t seem that cold. The snow must have been just the right temperature because I had never heard my movements so loud. I tried to muffle the sound of my feet, jacket and snow pants but I could still hear some of it in my takes. So I decided to seize the moment and record a bunch of mountain climbing foley sounds. I walked, ran, stomped, struggled, slid, slipped and fell all over the high snow banks and ended up with some really great foley sounds.

Ultimate Snow

This is what the yard looks like around mid February

I did have some goof ups along the way. One time it was so cold (around 5 Degrees) that I rushed outside with my SD 702 and CSS-5 and wanted to record the soft and dry type of snow. In my haste I forgot to check the 702 record status light. I thought I hit the record button but no, major shmuckiness! The other time was when I was using my FR-2 with AA batteries and I forgot that the cold doesn’t make them last very long. I kept performing with the snow and did not realize the recorder had shut off. Maybe the batteries were duds, who knows. I do most of my recording alone without wearing headphones so I wish I had a clone to man the recorder sometimes.

So there you have it, my somewhat scattered memory of recording snow over the last few years. I learned a few about recording in the cold. Number one –  try not to, you can get extremely cold… Seriously:

  • Dress warm
  • Remember to press the record button
  • Check the batteries
  • Make sure the microphone stands are on firm ground
  • Be ready at a moments notice
  • Don’t physically over do it, the air is cold and dry
  • Drink lot’s of water if you are active
  • Wipe the snow off the gear when your done
  • Check the microphones for any freeze damage


Previous Sneak Peek Post with audio clip

Ultimate Snow SFX Library Sneak Peek

North Idaho gets its share of snow. Living here in the winter is fairly tough when we get lots and lots of snow but it also creates an wonderful opportunity to record some great snow sounds. We get all kinds of snow: slushy, icy, brittle, hard, soft, heavy, light, you name it. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve collected quite a bit of snow recordings at 24bit 96K. I’ve been recording snow since the DAT days and am totally amazed by the quality HD audio provides when recording snow.

Sometime over the next few weeks I will be releasing the massive Ultimate Snow SFX Library.

Here is a preview of what’s coming.

Ultimate Snow

2008-2009 was the winter of massive amounts of snowfall in my driveway

Ultimate Snow Sneak Peek 1 by therecordist

Ultimate Snow

Yep, going to drop this one!

Ultimate Snow

The chimney eventually was torn off the roof by the snow

Ultimate Snow

I need a frakkin' break sometimes

2007 Chevy Tahoe Recording 9-12-10

Here is another one of my blog posts on a Sunday afternoon even though I have more pressing things to do. This one is about my experience recording cars. I am by no means an expert in recording any type of vehicle. There are people way more skilled and experienced than I am but I’m fascinated by the sound of engines, pass by’s and the general motion of anything. I have never recorded from the perspective of “on the car” before and figured that it was time to give it a try.

I have a 2007 Chevy Tahoe V-8. I love the sound of this car…. from the outside. The inside is very quiet. So, yesterday morning I got up the nerve to strap a microphone to the back of the Tahoe near the tail pipe and see what I could get. I use my AT-835ST stereo shotgun microphone because it’s light weight and has barely any handling noise. I found the location where when you want to tow a trailer you can mount a ball hitch. The square hole was just large enough to shove in the Rycote pistol grip wrapped in a small towel to reduce vibration. I aimed the microphone down towards the tail pipe and fed the cable through the rear window hatch to the front. I was able to drive the car around with the SD-702 recorder inside and monitor the recording as I drove. I also put the Sony D-50 inside the Tahoe in the back section to record the interior.

A one minute drive from my ranch there is a vacant housing development (welcome to the new economy) that has a freshly paved road and winds up a mountain with some serious switch backs. After some testing in the driveway I was ready to go. I also brought along my Sanken CSS-5 and a Sony PCM-D1 for some exterior recording once I got to the top of the mountain.

It takes some serious pedal to the metal to get up the mountain and the V-8 sounded great as I sped up and then slowed down for the switch backs. I did notice this cool whining sound from the siped tires as soon as I was on the brand new pavement. I had to remember that this road has no guard rails and it’s a long way down if I drove off the side. Once I got to the top turn around area I set up the CSS-5 and the PCM-D1 and recorded some starts, stops, drive away’s and high speed passes. The road has lots of turns and hills so I got some pretty cool stuff. Check out the sound clips below and if anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

Auto 2007 Chevy Tahoe Blog by therecordist

2007 Tahoe Recording

AT-835ST on the back of the Tahoe

2007 Tahoe Recording

AT-835ST on the back of the Tahoe

2007 Tahoe Recording

Setting up for exterior drive by's and manuevers

2007 Tahoe Recording

CSS-5 and my 2007 Tahoe in the mountains

2007 Tahoe Recording

CSS-5 and my 2007 Tahoe in the mountains cooling off

When I was working on Supreme Commander in 2006 I needed lots of combustion engine sounds for a faction called the UEF. They were a futuristic race but still used gas or diesel powered engines in the tanks and other ground vehicles. I was always looking for high performance engine sounds to warp and pitch around as an element in the final composite sound effects. I wish I had the time to go and record source for these but I had none. I ended up using some of my car and truck recordings from my personal archive and library material. All in all I was happy with the results but I now try and record any vehicle I can get my hands on.

When I travel I am always looking for stuff to record and auto or truck engines are one of them.

Below are some recordings I made back in July when I was visiting my sister and her boyfriend outside Seattle. I recorded an 1992 Acura Legend V6 with one of the funky cans on the muffler and a brand new 2011 Ford F-350 Turbo Diesel Super Duty beast truck. We just parked them in the driveway and let them rip. Enjoy.


Acura Muffler

1992 Acura Legend V6

Acura And F350 Blog by therecordist

Ford F-350 Truck

2011 Ford F-350 Turbo Diesel Super Duty beast truck

Note: I am digging through my archives for some of the engine recordings I used in Supreme Commander. Stay tuned for a blog post soon.

Heavy Log Drop Recording 9-5-2010

Since I had way more important things to do this Sunday morning I decided to set up the rig and record some large logs being dropped. These logs were on the lower part of the property and I have to eventually move them up closer to the barn so I can cut them to length, split and stack them in the shed. But, before that could happen they needed to be recorded, I only want to move them once.
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