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

Beech 58P Airplane Recording Videos

Beech 58P 2011 Recording

Here are two videos recorded while I was capturing the sound from a 1980 Beechcraft Baron 58P prop plane. The first video is from camera one (Sanken CSS-5 audio) that my wife kindly shot. She also took over 150 photos of the short lived action. The second video is from camera two (Sennheiser MKH-8040ST audio), my somewhat feeble attempt to get video and sound at the same time. I forgot to bring the “Boomcam” gizmo that attaches the Flip HD camera under the microphone so I was holding it in my other hand the best I could.

I will be getting around to a complete blog post detailing the experience. It was very fast paced but totally enjoyable. I got some great sounds for a new library that will be released soon. Enjoy the sights and sounds! -Frank

Airplane Recording Aug 18th 2011 Part-1, Camera 1

Recording the sound of a 1980 fixed wing multi engine Beechcraft Baron 58P propeller plane. This video contains the footage from video camera 1 operated by my wife as I was recording the airplane. The sound is from a Sanken CSS-5 microphone which I had on a boom pole following the airplanes’ movements. I recorded the plane at 24-Bit/96k to a Sound Devices SD-702 that was sync locked to another with a stationary MKH-8040ST microphone rig on a microphone stand.

I only had an hour to record the plane so I had to have a minimal set up that could be moved around the airstrip. This first part in the video series showcases the sights and sounds of engine run-ups, ground taxiing and pass by’s from the CSS-5 perspective.

Airplane Recording Aug 18th 2011 Part-2, Camera 2

Recording the sound of a 1980 fixed wing multi engine Beechcraft Baron 58P propeller plane. This video contains the footage from video camera 2 operated by myself as I was recording the airplane. The sound is from a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST microphone which I had set on a microphone stand. I recorded the plane at 24-Bit/96k to a Sound Devices SD-702 that was sync locked to another with a boom pole mounted Sanken CSS-5 microphone.

This second part in the video series showcases the sights and sounds of engine run-ups, ground taxiing and pass by’s from the MKH-8040ST perspective.

Interior sounds from a PCM-D1

Airplane Prop Interior Beech 58P Start
Airplane Prop Interior Beech 58P Start by therecordist

Airplane Prop Interior Beech 58P Takeoff
Airplane Prop Interior Beech 58P Takeoff by therecordist

Airplane Prop Interior Beech 58P Landing
Airplane Prop Interior Beech 58P Landing by therecordist

PHOTO GALLERY

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Beech 58P 2011 Photo

Recording a 1928 Stearman C3B Bi-Plane 2011

1928 Stearman C3B Engine Start Boomcam Perspective 2011

Here is a J5 Wright powered 1928 Stearman C3B starting its engine. The video was shot with a Flip HD (3rd Gen) mounted on my Sanken CSS-5 microphone boom pole. This is the complete video with the CSS-5 audio recorded at 24/96. This plane was not flying during the show but at the end of the day I was able to meet the owner and his friends (it takes more then one person to get these planes started). They were getting ready to fly home as I walked by after recording at the north end of the airport. I asked the pilot if I could record it and he said only if you give me the sound for my cell ringtone. “Deal” I told him. After they rolled it out and charged the starter she was running. He ran the engine at different RPMs until I gave him the thumbs up that I recorded enough for his ringtone. I then walked along side the plane while it headed for the runway. I was able to move down field and record the plane taking off and passing by.

1928 Stearman C3B Engine Flying Boomcam Perspective 2011

Here is the J5 Wright powered 1928 Stearman C3B starting its engine. The video was shot with a Flip HD (3rd Gen) mounted on my Sanken CSS-5 microphone boom pole. This is the video of the plane taking off and then passing by at the Sandpoint Idaho Airport with the CSS-5 audio recorded at 24/96.

1928 Stearman C3B Engine Start Far Perspective 2011

Here is the J5 Wright powered 1928 Stearman C3B starting its engine. The video was shot with a Fujifilm picture camera by my wife. This is the video of the plane starting and myself with the Sanken CSS-5 recording the sound.

The blog post from the Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011 is here