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.
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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

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.
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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!
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North Idaho Trains Banner

Back in March of 2011 I started a two year project to record as many trains as possible from North Idaho. I’ve lived here for many years and never really took the time to go out and record the beasts as they roared through the Panhandle of Idaho. I recorded some back in 1995 before I moved here and those are good but they are only CD quality. Now that I am recording everything in HD I thought it was time to record some brand new material for an upcoming library release. This blog post tells the tall tail of actually recording them in all their glory. Wait, way to much drama, I’ll cut to the chase… During the month of November (which is a great time to record here when it’s not freezing outside) I found some locations that will soon not be that great for recording. This is where I will start and who knows where it will lead… Only the Alien on the train knows.
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Here are some very close train passes recorded with a matched stereo pair of MKH-8040 microphones set in XY at 110 degrees. The microphones were placed less than 2 meters from the fast moving freight train. Five 24-Bit 96K train takes were shortened and edited together… each train takes 3 minutes to completely pass by. The location was in front of the Sandpoint Idaho train station. There is a new freeway opening soon right behind the station and this will most likely be the last time some clean recordings can be obtained there. Listening with headphones is a mind bending experience.

Extreme Close Up Train Recording – Nov 13 2011

PHOTOS

Train Recording 11-13-2011

Train Recording 11-13-2011

Train Recording 11-13-2011

Train Recording 11-13-2011

Train Recording 11-13-2011

Date: Nov. 7, 2011

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.

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

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!
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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.
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