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


Ultimate Mud SFX Library Recording

As I am making the Ultimate Mud SFX Library I’m always trying to come up with new ways to create unique mud sounds. So far I’ve used my feet, shovels, my hands, buckets and logs. I decided one day last week to go bigger and better (hopefully) so it was time to get the JD tractor going and see if I could dump some mud.

It had just rained heavily for 3 days straight and my mud bog had filled back up with quite a bit of water. Perfect! It was a challenge to get the John Deere down into the mud but once I did I filled the tractor bucket by hand full of very wet mud. I raised the bucket up and proceeded to slowly dump out the water and then the mud. So far so good, I got some fairly big mud splats and splashes.

Next up was the shovel. I was able to get the shovel deep into the mud and raise it up to get some good suction and bubble spooge sounds. As the mud dried over the next few days I went back into the bog and dumped some more mud with the tractor. This time it was very different without all the water. I got some great dry mud glops and splats.

Ultimate Mud SFX will be released as soon as I can finish all the session recordings and editing sometime in the next month or so. Here are some videos: QuicktimeFlash

Enjoy the sounds! – Frank

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10 with the CSS-5

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10 with the CSS-5

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10, disgusting and smelly water

Ultimate Mud Recording 2010-09-20 by therecordist

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10 from FlipHD Cam, 1st dump with mostly water

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10 from FlipHD Cam, 2nd dump with the mud

Mud SFX Recording on 9-20-10

Mud SFX Recording on 9-27-10, dry mud and the CSS-5


Glass Window Breaking Then And Now

I’ve always had the strangest luck, fate, universe is looking out for me kind of thing going on my whole life. I’m going to take a trip down memory lane here in this blog post and then jump forward to today.


Back in 2000 I had a good friend who had just purchased a defunct steam power plant in Seattle Washington call me up and say “You better get over here ASAP and record this place before I tear it down to build some apartments.” So, I jumped in the car and drove the 6 hours or so from Idaho to Seattle with my HHB PDR-1000 DAT machine and a AT-825 stereo microphone.

When I arrived I was I heaven. There I was in a completely vacant electric power plant with a recorder and microphone! I recorded as much as I could in the limited time I had and one of the best parts was recording objects being thrown through the massive windows. They call these “Blow Out Windows.” I was told that the reason one side of the building is all glass is in case the place accidentally blows up the windows would blow out and the power plant stays standing. Made sense to me but made for even better sounds!

Below are some of the glass breaking sounds and pictures.

Glass Windows Breaking 2000 by therecordist

Shuffleton Power Plant

Shuffleton Power Plant from the outside with large windows

Shuffleton Power Plant

Shuffleton Power Plant from the inside


Earlier this week I heard some earth moving machines up the street and some heavy cracking and crunching sounds. I ran outside and saw one of my neighbors moving a single wide manufactured home from the front of their yard to the back of their property. I grabbed my gear and ran over and asked what they were doing and they said “We’re going to burn it, not right away but as soon as burning season starts.” Well, that’s a month away so I asked if I could record some sounds from the really old torn up house. They said “Have at it. Do whatever you want.”

Soon after they had moved it away from the street I started recording the windows breaking. They had pulled most of them out and left them inside but there were some still installed and I had a field day with a crow bar! Also, inside there was a whole wall that was a glass mirror which made some great glass shard falling sounds. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I recorded with my Sound Devices 702 and Sanken CSS-5 from the inside and out. I also recorded some close-up glass cracking with my Sony PCM-D1.

Below are some pictures and some great glass breaking sounds. Do I smell a Ultimate Glass Library coming? No, that’s the inside of the smelly house. Enjoy!

Glass Windows Breaking 2010-09 by therecordist

Glass 2010

Glass windows and frames inside the smelly, defunct house

Glass 2010

Glass window shards inside the defunct house, did I mention it was smelly?

Glass 2010

Glass mirror wall inside the defunct house, very 70's


The story behind Ultimate Snow SFX Library

Snow is another of the sound sources I’ve used quite a bit in the video games I’ve worked on such as Dungeon Siege, Neverwinter Nights and Demigod.

North Idaho gets its share of snow. Living here in the winter is fairly tough when we get lots and lots of snow but it also creates an wonderful opportunity to record some great snow sounds. We get all kinds of snow: slushy, icy, brittle, hard, soft, heavy, light, you name it. Over the last 5 years or so I’ve collected quite a bit of snow recordings at 24bit 96K.

So, where do I start on the story of making this library? Well, most if not all these sounds were recorded at a time when I was not documenting my experience or taking pictures of the actual recording session. I was also very busy working on 2 or 3 video games at a time so the recordings were very spontaneous. I’m working from memory here and I hope I can remember all the great things that happened when I was recording this snow library.

The first thing that comes to mind is I would never really plan recording because of the nature of winter up here in North Idaho. Snow can arrive, melt or freeze at any hour during the day or night so I tried to be ready to record anything at any time. Also, the conditions outside had to be as optimal for recording as they could be.

The conditions outside I remember waiting for before recording:

  • The wind to be calm
  • The temperature to get above 25 degrees;
  • The neighbors’ dogs to stop barking
  • The cars to stop driving by
  • The train rumble and horns to go away
  • The nearby snowblowers to stop
  • The snow on the roof to fall off
  • The snow to pile up in the yard to 12 feet or more
  • The energy to move large amounts of snow around
  • The caffine to kick in

As you can see, winter recording can be a challenge so being ready with the right gear and mics is the way to go.

Sometimes setting up was just grabbing the Sony PCM-D1 off the shelf and opening the door to record a large snow-pack sliding off the metal roof…. in less than 20 seconds. The snow would start moving down the roof making a soft creaking sound and that was my cue to jump and go. Other times I would bang on the edge of the roof with my fist and see if I could tease it to come down after a long night of snow.

Ultimate Snow

This is the best place to get snow falling of the roof

Some of the best snow slides I recorded were of the massive snowbanks that I would pile up on the edge of the driveway with the tractor. I tried to get them as high as I could so I could throw chunks of snow down the sides.

Ultimate Snow

2009 was the year I recorded some great snow slides

As the end of winter came near, the snow would start to melt a little and the snowbanks would harden up a bit. I would try and grab the largest chunks of snow I could with the John Deere bucket and drop them.

Ultimate Snow

Is this snow chunk big enough?

My garage has a huge metal roof and the snow really piles up over the winter months especially if it stays cold for a extended period of time. I had a few recording sessions with this roof and got some great slides and impacts.

Ultimate Snow

The chimney eventually was torn off the roof by the snow later that year

Ultimate Snow

The mic is down below somewhere

I do remember one day I was recording some snowball impacts and rubs and I noticed the volume level of my feet and body movements while I was recording. It was really cold outside but the sun was shining so it didn’t seem that cold. The snow must have been just the right temperature because I had never heard my movements so loud. I tried to muffle the sound of my feet, jacket and snow pants but I could still hear some of it in my takes. So I decided to seize the moment and record a bunch of mountain climbing foley sounds. I walked, ran, stomped, struggled, slid, slipped and fell all over the high snow banks and ended up with some really great foley sounds.

Ultimate Snow

This is what the yard looks like around mid February

I did have some goof ups along the way. One time it was so cold (around 5 Degrees) that I rushed outside with my SD 702 and CSS-5 and wanted to record the soft and dry type of snow. In my haste I forgot to check the 702 record status light. I thought I hit the record button but no, major shmuckiness! The other time was when I was using my FR-2 with AA batteries and I forgot that the cold doesn’t make them last very long. I kept performing with the snow and did not realize the recorder had shut off. Maybe the batteries were duds, who knows. I do most of my recording alone without wearing headphones so I wish I had a clone to man the recorder sometimes.

So there you have it, my somewhat scattered memory of recording snow over the last few years. I learned a few about recording in the cold. Number one –  try not to, you can get extremely cold… Seriously:

  • Dress warm
  • Remember to press the record button
  • Check the batteries
  • Make sure the microphone stands are on firm ground
  • Be ready at a moments notice
  • Don’t physically over do it, the air is cold and dry
  • Drink lot’s of water if you are active
  • Wipe the snow off the gear when your done
  • Check the microphones for any freeze damage


Previous Sneak Peek Post with audio clip