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Insane Ice Cracks

Seems I just can’t stop. I’m obsessed with getting some wicked cool, ultimate insane over the top ice cracks and today was a good day. The last few nights it’s been 20 degrees or lower and this makes for some ice to grow on the lakes around North Idaho. At 8 AM this morning I dragged my ass out of bed and suited up for a cold recording session out in the middle of Round Lake. The sun was in and out of the clouds and the lake was rockin’ as I stood quietly next to the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST. Not a soul was around which is just the way I like it. After a hour or so of deeper cracks a few big ones let go. One of them was right under my feet as you can hear in the demo. It startled me a little but I had my ice shoes on so I did not fall over.

Ice Recording Insane

The wildlife were very disturbed by my presence this morning and the ravens and crows were going nuts. A few geese flew over and there were some hawk screeches (you can hear one faintly in the demo) The trains were quiet so i was really excited to see what I could get. Some of the cracks circled me in surround (wish I had that kind of setup today) and I could hear them start at one end and end up on the other side where there is open water at the outlet.

Some interesting facts I learned about this lake from the ranger on duty:

1) The lake is almost perfectly round and deep for it’s size.

2) The lake is stream fed from the East and drains on the West. This makes the water swirl around the outer edges when the inlet brings more water in than the outlet can drain. When it warms it pushes the ice and makes it bulge and get thinner at the North shore.

3) People have fallen though the ice but no one has drowned, good thing!

Ice Recording Insane

Ice Recording Insane

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North Idaho Iceman Vol-2

This is the second and final in a series of blog posts documenting some of my experiences recording ice for Ultimate Ice 2 HD Pro Sound Effects Library. Recorded over the last few months of 2011 and into 2012 with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST microphone set to XY at 120 or 90 degrees.

Location: Muskrat Lake

Back in early December 2011 while I was recording trains I came across a large private lake not far from the ranch. It had been very cold for a few days but the sun was shining and the lake was covered with a nice medium think layer of ice. I set the microphone up close to the edge of the lake and attempted to crack the soft shoreline with my feet. I soon found out that the ice was thin there and decided I would come back later in the day with a sledgehammer and give it a good hit.

Ice Recording Muskrat Lake

I hit the lake ice from a location about 10 meters to the side of the microphone. I had to reach out from the edge as I knew the ice was soft at my feet. The hammer broke through a few times and I had a hard time pulling it out of the ice hole. I wish I had the courage to go out on the lake but since I was not sure of the depth of the water and thickness of the ice I played it safe and stayed on the edge. While I was recording I heard the dispersion sound waves travel across the lake but they were not very loud. At one point during a take a dog barked in the distance and that was louder than the pinging (I left the bark in the take, it sounds cool pitched down).

Location: Mountain Pond

I was intrigued by the potential for sounds with the sledgehammer so on my way back from Muskrat Lake I drove up the hill behind the ranch where there is a pond about 1 acre in size. Since it is much colder up there at 3500 feet above sea level the ice was much thicker. I was able to set the microphone out on the ice and get out in the middle and take my swings. The size of the pond did not yield much dispersion pinging but it sure made a good thump.

Ice Recording Pond

Next up were the smaller retaining ponds that are scattered along the side of the steep road leading up to the top of the mountain. The were frozen over fairly well but a few still had standing water under the 2 inch ice layer. I hit these a few times and some cracked and gave way. The cracks would rip right under the microphone and after this I would stomp and drop things on the sheets of ice.

Ice Recording Pond

A few of these little ponds also gave me the opportunity to use my body weight and apply steady pressure until they would break apart and fall into themselves with a small sea of muddy water. The trick is to know when to jump out before they collapse. I never really got the timing right on this and got soaked almost every time.

Location: My Ranch Foley Pit

One of the things I wanted to record for this collection was impacts and debris from solid chunks of ice. As it was starting to get colder earlier in the winter I left some plastic tarp covers outside to retain the melting water that built up during the day. I draped the tarps over some firewood to create indents to hold the water. At night they would freeze over and then melt a little the next day. Any snow or rain would be captured by the tarp and when frozen over it would be easy to sperate the ice chunks from the tarp.

Ice Recording Ranch

After a couple of weeks I had enough ice chunks to record. I had to make sure it was cold enough outside so they would remain solid. I set up a multi microphone rig at the concrete slab I have on the ranch and began dropping and hitting the chucks. They turned out well and now I have to figure out how to even bigger chunks made.

Things I learned while out in the field:
1. 99% of time recording ice you will get wet. Prepare and bring towels, hand warmers, etc.

2. It’s almost always noise outside no matter where you are recording. Ice is very difficult to get clean recordings of. Between birds, dogs, planes, trains, traffic and fisherman it’s always hit and miss. Be patient.

3. Check you microphone rig now and then. Make sure all is dry and not to cold.

4. Be safe. Use your best judgement as to how far you are willing to go. Ice is slippery and falling is not a good idea.

North Idaho Iceman Vol-1

Date: January 13, 2012

Ice Jan 2012This is the first in a series of blog posts documenting my experiences recording ice for the forthcoming ULTIMATE ICE 2 HD SFX Library. Recorded during the week ending on January 13, 2011 with a Sennheiser MKH-8040ST microphone set to XY at 120 or 90 degrees depending on my mood. As I was leaving Round Lake today one of the ice fisherman yelled “See you around iceman” hence the name of the blog post and sound file.

This winter has been strange. Not a lot of snowfall lots of rain and then cold. A few weeks ago it rained for what seemed like days and then it got bitter cold. The snow melted, the rivers and lakes rose and then froze solid. This only happens once a season if we are lucky and it presented the perfect opportunity to record ice, some BIG ice.

Location: Springy Point State Park

This park sits on the South shore of The Pend Oreille river and is two miles from my ranch. The river level has been lowered and the shores have ice up. When it rained it filled all the pockets near the shore with lots of water. When they froze, the water evaporated and left a half inch thick sheet of ice. These left a huge air pocket under the sheet, sometimes 12 inches or more. With just the right amount of pressure with my foot I was able to break these sheets and they made a great heavy ice smash.

Ice Jan 2012

I also recorded the ice sheets on the river next to the shoreline. They can stretch out hundreds of feet and are constantly being pushed and shoved towards the shore by the wind. I took a careful walk out on to this thin ice and it splintered and cracked. I did fall through a few times but the water is only a few inches deep so no worries.

Ice Jan 2012

Location: Cocolalla Lake

Cocolalla Lake is an accessible, 800-acre year-round fishery fed by Cocolalla Creek with an average depth of 26 feet. It is popular for ice fishing in winter. Boat access is available on the northeast end adjacent to the campground. Shoreline fishing access is primarily limited to the northeast end and the east shoreline. This is where I started recording. The ice was not very thick, around 3 to 4 inches and after talking with a few fisherman, who were very cautious, I only ventured out a hundred feet or so.

Ice Jan 2012

When the sun rises and heats the lake it starts to flex and crack. I was able to get some decent cracking and pinging sounds but the close proximity of highway 95 made recording difficult. I did notice that you can hear the cracks coming toward you. They make subtle pings that get louder the closer they get. A very cool sound and I was lucky that a few cracks ripped very close to the microphone. During one crack I felt the ice sheet drop down a little and that’s when I decided to head back to shore. On the way I met some fisherman who showed up and they told me about Round Lake after I explained the traffic noise issue. So, I headed to Round Lake State Park which was just a few miles up the road.

Ice Jan 2012

Location: Round Lake State Park

Round Lake State Park is situated in 142 acres of forest surrounding a 58-acre lake at an elevation of 2,122 feet 10 miles South of Sandpoint. The lake is the product of glacial activity dating back to the Pleistocene Epoch.

Ice Jan 2012

When I arrived the sun was peaking in the Southern sky and I could hear some ice ping activity. It was fairly quiet except for the occasional car and train passing by in the distance. I had no idea where to set up so I began walking towards the middle. I was told by the fisherman there that the ice was 8 inches thick and possibly thicker in the middle of the lake. I worked my way out towards the middle recording 5 minutes at a time. The cracks are very unpredictable and sometimes far and few between.

Ice Jan 2012

As I was just about in the center of the lake I recorded a crack that went right under the microphones. There were other cracks already there and this deep sound crack was along the same line as another one. I had the microphones very close to the ice to try and minimize background noise. This worked OK but next time I might go very early in the morning when it’s much more quiet and position it a little further away. This ice cracking was amazing and the microphones don’t capture the full range of the sound for some reason. All in all it was great fun and I plan on going back as many times as I can before it snows or the lake melts away to spring.

The adventures of the North Idaho Iceman have begun. Enjoy -Frank

Crazy Stupid Sound of the Week Dec 1 2011

Ice Covered Pond November 10, 2011

This month I plan on blogging about more of the crazy stupid sounds I’ve gathered during my recording sessions in North Idaho and other places around the universe. This week I want to share a few ice and water sounds that are a little bit different.

Here are some sound effects from a session back in mid November at a small pond in the North Idaho mountains. I used a Sennheiser MKH-8040 and a SD-702 at 24-Bit 96K to record tossing small and medium sized stones onto a very thin layer of ice. Some broke through and splashed and some skipped and bounced across the recently frozen ice layer. We had just had our first deep frost of the season and I was curious if the pond up behind the ranch had started to freeze over. During the winter this pond is not easily accessable by car because of the steep road that leads of the mountain so I figured I better get up there while I still could. Feel free to download the 24-Bit 48K sound file at SoundCloud. Enjoy! -Frank

Ice Covered Pond by therecordist

Ice Covered Pond November 10, 2011

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Large Ice Chunk Recording

In February 2010 I drove up the hill behind my house once again and recorded more ice breaking. Keep in mind this “back hill” peak is actually 4000 feet above Sandpoint, Idaho. This time I found a very large water containment pond that had frozen solid when it was extremely cold back in January. The standing water under the ice had drained away and the top 10 inches or so of ice had collapsed in on itself. It was hollow under the ice and around the edges the ice was still hanging on to the rock like a ledge. This made for some rare ice recording and I was ready! I was able to break away chunks of ice at least 8 inches thick and throw them around. I got some really good sounds of heavy pieces of ice sliding, scraping, dropping and hitting.

Ice Recording 2010
I used a Sound Devices 702 recorder with a Sanken CSS-5 microphone and a Sony PCM-D1 both at 24bit 96kHz.

Ice Chunk Break Feb 2010 by therecordist

Ice Recording 2010

Ice Recording 2010

Ice Recording 2010