Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011-08-13

It’s been a year since my last recording session at the Sandpoint Idaho air show and fly in. Last year I focused mainly on engine run-ups and take-offs from the south end of the airfield. This year I decided to hang out at the north end of the runway and get pass by’s and ground taxiing as the planes landed. There were lots of different types of prop airplanes flying around including a 1928 Stearman that was not there in 2010.

The Rig

I brought along my Flip HD camera mounted on the boom pole just under the Sanken CSS-5 Stereo Shotgun Microphone and the SD-702 recorder. I chose the CSS-5 because I was happy with the results I got last year and it held up well in the 90+ degree heat. The CSS-5 is fairly good at rejecting off axis sounds even in the narrow stereo mode. It is a little heavy and my back was sore from the long day of recording.

The Flip HD “Boomcam” worked out surprisingly well even though my main focus was on the microphone angle and direction. The Flip HD screen is hard to see wearing sunglasses so most of the time I just hoped the plane was in the shot. Only a few times did I notice a plane it being out of the frame.

One thing that is very strange is during video playback the fast turning propeller on the planes looks warped and suspended in time from the 60 frames per second HD video.

The Sounds

I always forget how loud prop planes can be. Sometimes my levels were a little hot going into the SD-702. I never quite knew how loud a plane was going to be even though I’ve been doing this for a long time. Sometimes they ripped by and completely overwhelmed the limiter on the SD-702 and at times I was worried I was not going in hot enough. After a while I was able to make a best guess at it and it worked out OK. Win some, lose some.

There was a amazing Antonov plane that I wish was flying but the pilot was just showing it that day. It must be expensive and complicated to fly a plane like that. There was also a 1928 Stearman on display. 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. The engine run-up completely took me by surprise with my input levels. This plane is LOUD and I was very close to the engine. I adjusted it as the engine got louder and I hope to fix this level change in Pro-Tools before I send it up to him. There was a band performing behind me and the were close to finishing for they day but the pilot was ready to go and once the engine kicked in the music became inaudible. I would like to record this plane again in a private environment.

I was able to record some awesome high speed passes as the pilots were showing off their planes before a sightseeing trip over the lake. I did get a few landings with the tire squeak and quite a few ground taxi bys. I will say that I was attacked by these tiny red ants when I was out on the grass area at the north end of the airstrip. I must have stumbled on a nest and they were all over my pants inside and out. These guys can really bite you. All in all it was a great day and I will return next year and maybe they will have some jets… wishful thinking.

You can read about the 2010 air show recordings here
The 2010 air show sounds are available here
These air show sounds are available here

The Photos

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Sandpoint Idaho Fly In 2011

Ultimate Rockslide II Recording

Rock-Recording-2011-07-18

Recording is underway for Ultimate Rockslide II Sound Effects Library. I traveled back to the site where a majority of the first library was recorded. This time I was armed with a Sennheiser MKH-8040 and a few new ideas for rock sound effects.

VIDEO: There is no fancy music and I quickly synced the recorded sound effects with the video. It’s all SFX!

The last time I was crawling around on these rocks I used a Sony PCM-D1 and a Audio Technica AT-835ST. Both of these set-ups are light and easy to carry around on the side of a rock infested hill. Balance is key when on steep terrain so these made sense. This year I wanted to try a single MKH-8040 on a very light weight boom pole. The 8040 is very small and light. I found it easy to hold the mic out over the rock action and move it when needed.

I’m still learning about the Sennheiser MKH-8040 and it’s sonic character. The other microphones and hand held recorders I have been using for years are comfortable to me and I can predict what I’m going to get. The conditions on the rock hillside this day were not that out of the ordinary. There was a light, variable wind with some stronger gusts depending on where I was and a bird. Yes, that bird did drive my crazy. I tried to position the MKH-8040 so the bird was off to the side or behind and at the same time aim it at the rock correctly. With the location of the rock I was about to push over and the issue of where I could put my feet on solid ground made for a tough time. I was disappointed to hear a lot of bird chirps. The bird eventually moved further away and in later recordings there was very little or none.

Rock-Recording-2011-07-18

One of the things I did learn about the MKH-8040 is that it picks up quite a bit more distant background sounds and “tones” from things like cars and boats and sometime even wind. In the past I would have used one of my shotguns microphones and they are more forgiving with distant background sounds.

The other thing I learned about the MKH-8040 is that it has some seriously heavy low end thump. Since I was not using any kind of low cut filter while recording I had to be very careful not to bump the mic boom. Holding a boom and attempting not to get handling rumble noise while on the side of a rock cliff is no easy task. My safety is the first concern so any rumble that is recorded because I had adjust my position or move the boom around I can live with. After loading the files into Soundminer back at the studio I played around with different pitches and at 50% playback speed these rocks sound huge!

Rock-Recording-2011-07-18

I wanted to record some new and different kinds of rocks for the Ultimate Rockslide II Sound Effects Library. I found a massive flat rock face that I was able to slide rocks down and toss smaller rock debris onto. There was some gravel and smaller rocks on the flat surface that got dislodged and tumble down with the rocks I was sliding down. I also recorded some big rock drops. I was trying to get them to break apart and thump hard on the ground.

It was a good start for Ultimate Rockslide II and I am currently looking into other sources and locations for more rocks of all sizes. -Frank

DISCLAIMER:
The video presented here is to show how I recorded rocks. It is not intended as a rock climbing instruction video.

Sandpoint Idaho Fireworks 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

I like to stay home…
I really wanted to stay home on the 4th of July and goof around the ranch. So much for that idea. After some serious debating on whether or not I wanted to brave the traffic in town I decided that since the massive new highway bypass was to be completed by the same time next year that it was a good idea to record the fireworks one more time without the traffic noise the highway will bring. This time I was going to record at the highest resolution I could and bring all the gear I could carry on the long walk down to the city beach.

Background check…
Sandpoint Idaho has a small town fireworks show every year and the last time I recorded it was 2004. I used a HHB DAT machine and recorded at 16 Bit 44.1K with a AT-825 Stereo Microphone. I got some great recordings that night and still use the sounds every now and then. Earlier in the day I drove in to City Beach in Sandpoint with my wife and we walked around for a while and took some photos. During our walk we met up with the local Lions Club which is the group that funds and presents the fireworks show every year. They were having a raffle and I bought a few tickets to try and win a Off Road 4 wheeler. I asked if I could get out on the sandbar to record the show and the man remembered me from 2004. He told me that as long as the guys shooting off the fireworks were OK with it, they were OK with it. So, I was in! I drove home totally amped and gathered the gear I wanted to use and waited until 2 hours before the show and then drove in to town.

A dream come true…
Since one of my MKH-8040 microphones was being repaired I used just one and a Sanken CSS-5. I thought I could get some good sound effects with this setup so I rigged up both microphones on a stand. I could only record from one location since the area was so small and tight that multiple perspectives was a no go. There was also the issue of the sparks and other flaming debris that would fall and I wanted to be able to quickly run in and grab my gear if I had to. I thought of using one more microphone at a distance but I was already at capacity for what I could carry down there.

I recorded the fireworks at 24-Bit 192K with the microphones in full windshields and windjammers to 2 Sound Devices DS-702 recorders sync locked together. I placed the microphones about 6 meters away from the finale launch tubes. I pointed the MKH-8040 right at the launch tubes and angled the CSS-5 up in the air about 45 degrees. I figured the MKH-8040 would get me some serious low end launches and the CSS-5 was in stereo mode to get some good stereo echoes and explosions.

When I first arrived around 9 pm the wind was light so I thought I could record without the Windjammers. I was so wrong. As the sun set the wind really kicked up and I did not want to take a chance at wind ruining the recordings. The MKH-8040 is very sensitive and the slightest wind gust will make it thump and I did not want to use the low cut filter on the SD-702. I wanted to get all the low end I could out of the mortar launches.

They fired of two 5 minute warning shots and I was able to get some levels. After the first 5 minute warning shot I noticed I was recording too hot. It still sounded great but I knew once the show was going full blast that the levels would have clipped. The 2nd warning shot showed I was still to hot so I engaged the pad on the SD-702 and hoped for the best. In the end, only a few booms really made the limiter kick in. I like the limiter in the SD-702 and was happy with the results.

If you look close at the end of the video you can see the mics on the left side near the finale tubes. A big burning chunk of fireworks ash landed right under the microphones and only small burns in the MKH-8040 Rycote Windjammer. I guess I was lucky.

It was over way too soon…
I had a great time and the fireworks guys were really cool about me recording the show. I have a lot of respect for what they do. It’s very dangerous and they hand light all the fuses, a tough, smokey job. A special thanks to them and I hope to see them next year and buy them a drink or two. At one point as I was waiting for the show to start the city police on bikes came up and asked me permission to come in and hang out. Oh yeah, I was part of the crew now!

VIDEO OF SET UP AND MOST OF THE SHOW (iPhone Audio)

SOUNDS FROM THE SHOW

The first part of the audio clip has the two warning shots to get the crowd ready and the rest is from the begining of the 17 minute show. The clip is also a composite of both mics. Enjoy the sounds.

Fireworks July 4 2011 by therecordist

MORTAR TUBE LAUNCHES

Fireworks Mortars July 4 2011 by therecordist

PHOTO GALLERY

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Fireworks Recording 2011

Motor Grader Recording June 27, 2011

Caterpillar-143H-Motor-Grader

June 27, 2011 – Sagle, Idaho USA – Every year the county grades the dirt roads here in North Idaho after the spring run-off from the mountains. I heard the grader pass by the house so I went down to the dirt road below my ranch and here is some of what I recorded.

These BIG machines sound really cool. Diesel engines, air hoses, dirt scraping and high speed passes with the transmission whining and whirring. After some digging around on the web I found out that a used grader at 5 years old costs around $400,000. I can only imagine what they cost brand new.

The grader operator had a very “colorful” description of the Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Stereo Pair of microphones inside a Rycote blimp system on the boom pole. I was really happy with the results from the 8040ST rig. There were lots of birds and crickets and the microphones rejected them from the side very well. I did use the low cut filter on the SD 702 at 40hz because or handling rumble so the low end is good but not as heavy as without the low cut.

Equipment used: Sound Devices 702 and a Sennheiser MKH 8040 Matched Stereo Pair of microphones.

Motor Grader Recording 2011-06-27 by therecordist

Here is some video footage from my iPhone. Please excuse the shaky cam as I was mostly focused on getting the take and I was wearing my sunglasses and could not see the screen very well.

Some photos from the session:

Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06
Grader 2011-06

Train Recording 3-13-2011

It’s been about 12 years since I recorded a train. When I lived in Seattle I was able to get some great recordings of all kinds of trains in many environments. When I moved to Idaho in 1997 I soon realized that trains were everywhere. North Idaho is the main Northern route from East to West. 60+ trains a day pass through here so there is always a chance to get recordings year round. I recorded many trains back in the late 90’s but they were with a DAT machine and now I wanted to start recording all theses trains at high resolution. So, it begins!

Sunday, March 13th 2011 was a beautiful day. Spring is just around the corner and the snow is melting off fast. This is a great time of year to record outside. Most of the birds have not yet migrated back from the South and the general activity outside is minimal. I packed up the gear and headed out to one of the many locations where there are secluded rail road tracks and waited. I did not have to wait very long. As soon as I found a spot I heard a train in the distance. I was not ready to record yet so I scrambled to get my CSS-5 and SD 702 up and running. I was lucky because the one thing I did do prior to leaving the house was put the mic on the stand and plug everything into the recorder. All I had to do was unload quickly and stick hte mic stand out there.

The first location I found was about 20 feet from the road and 50 feet or so from the tracks. The tracks where at a lower elevation than me by quite a bit. There were two sets of tracks on a slight banked turn. I stood in the trees and got ready as fast as possible as I could hear the train off in the distance. I thought my level was good but on playback I noticed that the limiter had kicked in even though the peak level was 3 dB below 0. I guess I recorded a bit hot so the train has a slight growl to it as the engines first pass by. The train had 3 engines and was very loud…. I forgot how loud trains can be.

Check it out:

Train Pass By 3-13-2011 Number 1 by therecordist

Right after the 1st train passed there was another train coming from the other direction. I did not see or hear it and was waiting for the last train car to fade out and then suddenly it was roaring by. This second train made a sad wailing sound as it carved the turn and was slowing down. Nice!

Check it out:

Train Pass By 3-13-2011 Number 2 by therecordist

Video of a train

(I had some time to set up and record some foootage)

Photos:

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10

Train Recording 5-30-10