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Recording Wind, Yeah Right

I want to share what I experienced recording the wind gusts that blew through the ranch this week as it was not as easy as it I thought it was going to be. From inside the house I heard the wind swell and fade and it rumbled and rattle the walls so I thought it might be a good idea to set up outside at certain areas around the ranch and see what I could get. I had three locations in mind and the first was at the wire mesh fence in the garden. I have recorded lots of wind near this fence during the freezing cold winter and got some great results. During the winter it is much quieter outside as the snow muffles most of the ambient sounds from the neighborhood. Well, the springtime here is very different with lots going on in and around the ranch.

Wind Recording 2012

I started out staying with the Sennheiser MKH-8040ST rig and listening for any strange sounds other than the wind I wanted to get. Keep in mind this type of fence wind recording is very quiet so any other sound in the background will be heard sometimes. I eventually just left the rig there for small chunks of time and went about the other business of the day. Here is some of what I had to deal with either by moving the microphones or physically searching out the offending source and removing it. I’m not complaining as this is what sound recordists deal with all the time. It’s life and I did get some great material after 2 hours of recording.

1. My garage. When the sun comes in and out of the clouds it heats the metal roof and it makes expanding and contracting click sounds. Annoying!

2. Wood pile covered with a tarp. This flapping tarp drove me nuts. I did not want to remove the 12×16 foot plastic piece of crap but I did. Run over and wrestle it into the barn. Done!

3. The bugs. There are these pesky little May flies that buzz around your head when the wind dies down and they get in your ears, eyes and bite your neck. Damn blood suckers! They also get caught in the windjammer and make little “I’m stuck” buzzing noises.

4. My stream. Right below the garden is my seasonal stream. Right now it’s not running that hard but it was still contaminating the wind track. Postion the microphones low and away was the solution.

5. Traffic. I left the mic and went inside for 18 minutes and when I listened back to the track 11 cars passed by. Sometimes you can’t pick the best time to record and the end of the day is not a good one if you want no traffic noises. Even here at the ranch I do get a few cars passing by. No solution, just hope for the best.

6. Chainsaw. There was someone cutting wood far away up on the hill behind the ranch. Still gets in the track since the gain is up on the recorder. Wait it out, maybe they will take a beer break.

7. Dogs. Seems everyone here has a dog but me. They like to bark… it’s what dogs do when they get the scent of the deer running around in the woods. Wait it out… again!

8. The fence itself. Metal on metal. The fence is held in place by metal posts with small pieces of wire. They tend to get loose over time so I had to run around and tighten or add new wire to secure the fence so it would not rattle during the high wind gusts. There were some small dry grass stems that I removed also to clean things up a bit.

9. Tree branches. While recording I noticed a few tree branch knocking noises that always happened during the big wind gusts. They were deep in the woods and high up in the trees so there was nothing I could do about them except cut the tree down. Not going to happen. Hoping that the wind does not move the trees was wishful thinking.

10. Birds. I love the birds here in the spring. They are a sign that every year life and nature renews itself every spring. Did I mention they like to tweet, chirp and mate a lot?

So, the simple idea of recording wind in what I think is a very quiet environment was not so simple. All in all it was worth dealing with all the other things that do not sound like wind. In the end it all worked out and I got some much needed exercise.

I also recorded some wonderful grass and forest wind gusts at two other locations and will blog about that sometime in the future. Enjoy! -Frank

Recording a Blizzard 11-22-2010

For the past few days it has been incredibly cold for this time of year in North Idaho. Along with this cold came some very strong winds and blowing snow from Canada. With temperatures at 1 degree above zero and a wind chill of -25 degrees below zero, recording was going to be a challenge. I had a chance to record some of this wind and snow over a two day period.

The first part of the audio demonstration was recorded early evening on the 23rd right outside my front door which faces North. The wind had the strongest gusts at this time and the snow was so thick visibility was around 20 feet. I set my CSS-5 on a small stand without the furry windcsreen and stereo width set to wide. You can hear the wind softly hitting the microphone and the snow debris flying around. There were some dry leaves and sticks in the woods that flew by also.

The next part was recorded later that night around 2 AM. I was soundly sleeping when a huge wind gust slammed the house and woke me up. It sounded like a frieght train was ripping through the house. I found my patio furniture and other items I left on my deck all over the yard. I quickly grabbed the CSS-5 and stuck it out the door on my deck which faces West. You can hear the wind slowly approaching through the trees and gently passing by with snow crystals swirling about. You will also notice how quiet it is here, thats the way I like it!

Because it was so cold I only recorded for 6 to 10 minutes. I was worried the CSS-5 would freeze and be destroyed. I did notice that the cable was stiff as a board after bringing the gear in.

PS: I did sit inside during the recording with the cable run under the door corner to the oustide. I might be crazy but I’m not stupid, I would never stand outside and record with a -25 degree wind chill. I like my big nose, I would not want it to freeze off.

Enjoy the audio clip. This one is different for me because I’m usually recording smashing, impacts, scraping, dumping, squishing, dragging, dropping and the like.

-Frank

Blizzard Wind In Idaho 11-22-2010 by therecordist