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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.

The Story Behind Ultimate Rockslide SFX Library

There has not been a video game that I have worked on that didn’t need rock sound effects. Whether it was stuff blowing up, melee impacts, giant footsteps, or castles crumbling, I was always looking for tons of rock source recordings.

I started recording rocks in 1993 with a portable Panasonic SV-255 DAT recorder at 16-Bit 48kHz. By the end of the decade, I had acquired hundreds of rock and dirt material recordings. It was a good thing too, because they came in very handy for my video game sound design. You can hear some of them on major CD libraries.

Needless to say, I love rocks. When I made the transition to high definition audio I wanted to start all over again. So, in early 2007, I embarked on a rock recording journey that ended with the completion of my Ultimate Rockslide Sound Effects Library.

Sometimes recording was very dangerous and on occasion I was foolish enough to go out alone and push boulders off the top of blasted out mountain tops. But all is well, and I only ended up with sore arms and legs and minor scratches.

I hope you enjoy using these rock recordings in your productions as much as I enjoyed recording them. Long live Rocks!

Check out the library and full audio demo here.

-Frank

Ultimate Rockslide

OK, now for the big ones... push!

Large Rockslides 06-29-2010 by therecordist

Ultimate Rockslide

Dangerous sharp rocks in the blasted area

Large Rockslides 04-25-2010 by therecordist

Ultimate Rockslide

Excavator dropping a boulder

Ultimate Rockslide Boulder Drop by therecordist

Ultimate Rockslide

Throwing rocks down a steep dirt road

Ultimate Rockslide Medium Debris by therecordist

Ultimate Rockslide

Softer rocks that break apart when falling

Ultimate Rockslide

Small rockslide debris and shale

Ultimate Rockslide Small Debris by therecordist

Ultimate Rockslide

Dropping and cracking rocks in my foley pit

Ultimate Rockslide

An oldie but a goodie from a North Idaho quarry in 1997 with ridiculously long hair

Ultimate Rockslide Final Session

Ultimate Rockslide SFX Recording Pics, August 8, 2010

On Sunday, August 8th, 2010 I made one last trek up to the rock quarry blasting area to record the final sounds needed for my Ultimate Rockslide SFX Library. I was looking to get breaking, scraping, movements and impacts. After an hour of throwing rocks, climbing around the cliff and pushing boulders around I had 100 new sounds. Needless to say my legs were quite sore the next day. I’m not in the same shape I was 20 years ago but it was well worth the pain the next day. Below are some of the photos.

-Frank

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

OK, one more sweaty recording session

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

Kind of small, but OK

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

Some rocks were soft and split into a million pieces

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

Seems a little heavy after 40 smashes completed

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

Yeah, I did climb up one last time, the sun was setting, man... that CSS-5 was heavy

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

Just a little big for me to move around, found some smaller ones

Ultimate Rockslide 8-8-10

The view of the lake looking east towards Montana from the mountain quarry

Ultimate Rockslide Recording on June 29, 2010

My desire for creating the Ultimate Rockslide sound effects library led me back to my favorite rock quarry high above the city of Sandpoint Idaho. I wandered around for a while and found a location I had not recorded before. It was a very steep slope with huge rocks at the top…. perfect!

Once I set up my gear I realized how damn dangerous this is. Recording alone at the top of a mountain, worrying about the gear falling over the cliff and my own safety….. shit, I’ve got to be crazy. After a mild panic attack I set about recording. The rocks, which were quite large, were placed just right. A little push and they were over the cliff. Lucky day.

Below are some takes from the session. I managed to get around 40 rockslides for my upcoming SoundBox Pro library: Ultimate Rockslides. I included the natural recordings and some layered, Eq’d and pitch manipulated versions. Gear: Rocks, Sanken CSS-5 and Sound Devices 702 at 24/96.

-Frank

Rockslides June 29, 2010 Blog by therecordist

Rockslides 6-29-10
Rockslides 6-20-10
Rockslides 6-20-10
Rockslides 6-20-10
Rockslides 6-20-10