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Metal Mashing Madness

In my quest for more source material for Ultimate Destruction SFX Library I took a quick trip to the local metal recycling facility to see if they would allow me to record. They were super nice and loaned me a hard hat and said “stay out of trouble” The only interesting activity they had going on was some scrap aluminum bundling. This giant machine is belt fed with scraps of metal and after they tumble down the chute into the compactor they come out in a fairly large size rectangular hunk of metal.

I was able to position the MKH-8040ST microphone just inside the top of the chute and get the pieces falling in and being mangled. The machine is powered by an large electric motor and hydraulics which produce a very loud whine and hum. Since the mic was just inside the chute, the motor noise was minimal. This machine was extremely loud when the metal was falling in. Since I had to wear a hard hat I could not wear headphones, only earplugs. Good thing I did not monitor the recording with headphones as I’m sure hearing damage would have occurred.

The sounds this machine made were awesome! Most of the time the belt would continuously feed hundreds of pieces of metal into the compactor so it sounded like one long, drawn out metal crash, perfect for sound design. The metal pieces were not that heavy so the resulting sound does not have much low frequency information but when a larger aluminum chunk hit the side of the chute, it was great.

PHOTOS

Metal Recording April 2012

Metal Recording April 2012

Metal Recording April 2012

Making the Mangled Metal SFX Library

Mangled Metal SFX Library

Post originally from Designing Sound, Thursday, July 7, 2011. Written by Miguel Isaza. Enjoy! -Frank

Where Do I Begin?

I spent a lot of time with my Grandfather when I was growing up. He was a scruffy old man that liked to keep EVERYTHING. I guess it rubbed off on me and I tend to save stuff that other people think is crazy. Some of the things I like to keep around are metal objects. Large, small, rusty, you name it I’ve got it stored around somewhere. The stove that I recorded is one of those things. I used it for years and then when it was moved to my ranch it fell off the truck and got beat up. It still worked but it was dented and warped. Perfect for sound effects recording!

The Early Sessions

Sometime in 2007 I found an old wood stove on the ranch and jumped on the John Deere tractor and dropped it from the bucket a few times. I liked what I heard and proceeded to get the electric stove (Scrappy is the name, thank you Michael R.) and drop it. The wood stove drop was a test and turned out great but I wanted the sound of them rolling and crashing so I found a location on the ranch with a hill I could access with the tractor. It was winter and there was little snow, very quiet and I was on a roll so to speak. When I dropped the electric stove I left all the rings, racks and pans inside and that was great because it totally had a “scrappy” crashing roll sound. Perfect! I recorded with three microphones from different perspectives.

In 2008 I decided it was time to replace my roof on my house. Since my brother is a metal fabricator I flew him out and we both tackled the crazy idea of “do it yourself roofing” After we were done I thought of recycling the metal but my genetics kicked in and the ghost of my Grandfather appeared in my head and told me “keep it, you never know when it will come in handy”. So, we stacked it next to my garage and it sat there for a few weeks until I had the time and energy to record. The first session with the roofing metal was awesome. I placed a Sanken CSS-5 on one side of the 22 foot long stack and a Sony PCM-D1 on the other. Since we just ripped the sheet metal off the roof quickly, most of the 30 year old nails stayed in the sheets. When I dragged them across each other the nails would catch and make an awesome screeching sound. One of my favorite sounds in the library. I combined both recording set ups and with the PCM-D1 very bright and the CSS-5 with body, I got a great mix of the two.

What else can I record?

Since those early sessions I have been collecting and keeping all the metal I can. I found pipes, huge steel plates, mailboxes, stop sign posts and 6 foot crowbars. The stove has held up well getting the crap beaten out of it over the years and these new objects were used with it. Very recently I dropped the metal junk on the stoves, dragged them around on concrete, pulled them apart and general mangled them.

One of my favorite sessions was when I used the sign post and long crowbar with the electric stove. I slid the bars into the mouth of the stove and got some great slide-clanks. The other session was right after I picked up the Sennheiser MKH-040ST rig. One of the panels on the stove had come loose and as I was moving out of the way it made a great scraping sound. I recorded this sound for 15 minutes with the MKH-804ST rig very close. I recorded at 192K and when they are pitched down they sound like communication towers or old steel bridges collapsing.

I recorded many other metal objects and learned that metal is the wild card. You never know what you are going to get and you can make it into anything.

So, What Did I learn?

Metal is loud! And, it can be very soft and subtle. I never really knew how loud something was going to be and since I record alone I was constantly adjusting the levels and pads on the recorders. I clipped many takes and had to re-record a lot of stuff. I lost some great sound events and in the future I will try to be more careful. I must say scrape metal is also dangerous. I never drew blood on the sessions but I advise anyone recording sharp metal objects to be careful. Pace yourself and take frequent breaks to save you energy. Being tired while tossing metal around is not a great idea.

I also learned that at some point you have to stop recording. I wanted to record a lot more for this library but it got to a point where it felt right and there was a certain “vibe” to the collection. I tend to live in the moment and I suspect there will be more moments in the future for a second library. I’m going to keep following my gut instinct and my genetics that I got from my Grandfather and keep saving EVERYTHING!

The HD Pro Sound Effects Collection: https://therecordist.com/mangled-metal-hd-pro-sfx

All images and sounds copyright 2011 Frank Bry, Creative Sound Design/The Recordist

For more go to:

Making of “Mangled Metal”, The New SFX Library of The Recordist

Soundman-TheRecordist-Black-720X480

Mangled Metal SFX Library Preview

Here is a preview with audio, photos and a little background on the making of my forthcoming SFX library called MANGLED METAL.

So here I am at the tail end of recording for my next SoundBox HD Pro library and I decided to go all out and dump some metal from the JD tractor. I set up 3 microphones, a MKH-416, Sanken CSS-5 and the stereo MKH-8040ST. I wanted to get some intense crashes with the junk metal I have around the ranch and so I loaded up the tractor bucket for each take and dumped. Loading the junk metal after each take was quite a work out. Because I wanted to hear each take right after I had to jump off the tractor and stop the recording and the video I was capturing at the same time. It was a very hot day for North Idaho and the sun baked me. All in all it was totally worth it and I got some killer stuff at 24Bit-192Khz.

Read more

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition

It happened again, I’m sitting on my porch enjoying a good morning cup of coffee and I hear something of in the distance. Cracking, crunching, hitting and a diesel engine. I must go record this I thought to myself so I ran inside, grabbed my gear and drove up the street a bit to where the house I recorded glass breaking in is being ripped apart by a logging claw. I was there in less than five minutes but the claw had been working since early in the morning so much of it was already torn down. The claw was ripping up the last part of floor and cleaning up.

I was able to get very close with my boom, right in front of the claw about 3 feet away and got some intense wood, metal and glass destruction sounds. The diesel engine bleeds through a bit but I wanted to be near the claw and be a little up wind from the dust pouring out of the site. There was lots of dust!

Near the end, the guy running the claw had to move a large peice of roofing metal and roll it up. In all the frenzy and dust I was able to snap some pictures.

Enjoy the Extreme Makeover! -Frank

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: house bye bye!

Extreme Home Makeover 01 by therecordist

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: got to get closer!

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: taking a break

Extreme Home Makeover 02 by therecordist

Extreme Home Makeover

Extreme Home Makeover Idaho Edition: roofing metal rolled up