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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

Copyright Notice:
All of the audio demo presentations on this Web site are protected by worldwide copyright, and are provided for demonstration purposes only. No authorization is given or implied for anyone to copy or use these audio demo presentations, or any sounds contained therein, for any purpose except to audition the sound libraries and enjoy the blog posts.

January 2012 Snowstorms

Recording Snow Sounds January 2012

Wind Recording 2012 The third week of January 2012 proved to be a goldmine for snow sound effects here on the ranch. The typical North Idaho winter finally arrived bringing with it lots of snow, wind and freezing temperatures.

The week started with a bunch of snow falling along with some very cold temperatures. As the winter storm progressed and the weather systems above were battling it out for supremacy, the wind came. Not a soft blowing winter wind but some strong sustained blizzard like winds with gusts up to 65 MPH.

I shot some video from my front door of the cold dry snow blowing off the trees and around the yard and then decided it was time to veture outside to the garden area and set the MKH-8040ST up near the fence. I can usually get some good whistling through the fence and the power lines above and this time was no exception. Some really strong gusts swept by and really knocked the mic around a bit. I was in such a rush to get set up that I left the Sound Devices 702 low cut filter set to off. I was concerned that the gusts would stop soon so I just set my levels and rolled.

During a break in the heavy gusts I did manage to get the low cut filter on and recorded a little more. By this time the storm had settled down and I was freezing. It was 15 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill at approximately -5 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. I did not want to stay outside much longer as I was concerned about the MKH-8040ST freezing up.

Snow Falling Impacts

Later in the week after the snow had piled up on the roof I patiently waited to get the sound of the snow sliding off the roof and falling onto my deck. When it’s very cold the snow stays and accumulates on my metal roof. As soon as it warms up a little and the sun comes out it can slide at any second. The trick is to guess when. The roof edges start to drip and after a few hours I can hear it creaking and clunking from inside the house. At that point I have a few minutes before it all comes down. I was ready this time. It all came down.

Snow Recording 2012 Roof

I also was able to record the sound of snow pack hitting the ground as I shoveled the snow off my deck. I got some very nice thumps and debris spray close up while at the same time getting some much need exercise.

I also pulled branches on the trees to make the snow fall off. This was tricky because you don’t know from which place on the tree the snow will fall from. All hell can break loose and you can get covered in snow and large trees do not move that easy. I have pulled to hard and landed on my ass way too many times for my comfort.

Snow Falling Off Trees

By now we have seen four storms come in during the week and the last one was after some freezing rain. Overnight the rain had turned to snow and piled up on the trees. There was very little wind and the next morning I headed out to the north east corner of my ranch to a grove of fir trees and heard some very nice falling snow. The snow was falling on it’s own and with a little help from a light breeze. As the morning warmed up the snow was falling continuously.

I recorded from many locations looking for the best angle and I had some luck. The falling snow was unpredictable and I was just winging it most of the time. I tried not to get too close under the trees as I never knew where the snow was going to fall off. I recorded some close falling sounds but the best part was hearing the distant ones from high up the tall trees making their way to the ground.

I was lucky that the morning was quiet and there was a soft wind. A stronger wind would have masked the sound of the crystals tumbling over each other.

Snow Recording 2012 Trees

Snow Recording 2012 Trees

Snow Recording 2012 Trees

A Few Snow Recording Tips

1. Observe and learn the best times to record the different kinds of snow. Wet snow occurs during a warm up or after the sun has come out and spread its heat on everything. You should best get this at the start of the warm up as the dripping that can occur can ruin your recordings depending on where you are located. Dry snow is best recorded when it’s really cold in the morning or at night when there is less activity going on in the world, you get cleaner recordings.

2. Wear non-synthetic clothing. I do not wear any “plastic” winter clothing as it can make noise when you move around or if any snow hits your body. Don’t laugh but I have a pair of pull on leather UGG boots I wear for recording snow. They have no buckles, zippers or laces to make noise that can destroy any chance of a good clean take.

3. If you are recording soft, low level snow sounds it’s best to stand away from the microphones. Sometimes this is not possible so make sure you have a comfortable spot to stand and don’t move. Breathe lightly and make sure your feet are planted securely as the longer you stand the more chance of slipping or adjusting yourself which can get in the recording.

4. I really don’t like to record everything with a Windjammer over the microphone but with snow it is almost a requirement. I’ve had lots and lots of snow fall on the microphone and this lessens any chance of the “hitting the microphone” plastic click sound.

5. When recording snow blizzard wind turn that low cut filter on. I tend to use 80Hz but sometimes 160Hz works depending on the rumble from the wind.

6. This probably goes without saying but if you plan on being outside in the bitter cold for any longer than 10 minutes, dress appropriately and keep yourself warm… especially your hands. Be safe and pack your flask.

FYI

Here is what can happen when they don’t plow the road and you don’t have four wheel drive:

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

One of the things I’ve always wanted to record was the sound of the snow falling off the towering Fir trees here in North Idaho. For the last 15 years I’ve tried many times but the conditions were always terrible. There was usually too much wind or the trees were wet and dripping or it was just plain impossible to get clean recordings. Over this past Thanksgiving weekend the conditions were perfect. Over a 3 day period 18 inches of snow had fallen, it was really cold and there was no wind to speak off. Now all I had to do was figure a way to get the snow to fall off the trees.

I recorded 3 sessions. The first time I went out I used a hand held AT-835ST on a boom along with a garden hoe to pull on a branch to see if I could shake the tree a little. There I was garden hoe in one hand and the microphone boom in the other while standing in knee deep snow. I got some good recordings but I had to jump out of the way sometimes to avoid getting covered with snow and it got into the take. So after slogging back to the house soaking wet and freezing I listened to the recordings and wanted to get better ones.

Next I tried the CSS-5 without the boom and pulled low hanging branches on the trees. This worked well but I still had to get clear of the snow falling so I needed to try one more thing. I also found out after listening that the Rycote zepplin without a Windjammer was picking up the sound of the snow hitting it. Keep in mind that a tree can hold a lot of snow and when it comes down, there is substantial snow that falls. I love that feeling of snow falling on my head and going down the back of my neck.

I wanted even cleaner recordings so I went out a third time with the CSS-5 on a mic stand with a Windjammer. This worked really well. I was able to set the mic in the snow and from the other side of the tree grab a branch and give it a good pull. During the previous sessions I used the SD-702’s Low Cut filter at 80Hz because I was holding the microphones in my hand and wanted to reduce handling noise rumble. This last session I was able to turn the filter off and get nice full frequency recordings.

Needless to say I got soaking wet during all three sessions and my winter clothes are still drying out in front of the woodstove. Enjoy the sound demo because I had a great time recording some sounds I’ve been looking to get for over 15 years.

-Frank

Recording set-up: Sound Devices 702, Sanken CSS-5 and Audio Technica AT-835ST recording at 24Bit/96kHz.

Snow Recording

This what you look like when you get too close to the trees when they dump their snow off

Snow Falling Off Trees 2010 by therecordist

Snow Recording

Some of the trees I recorded

Snow Recording

The CSS-5 in the snow, got some good takes here

Snow Recording

Yeah, this is an odd looking tree

Snow Recording

The CSS-5 near some really tall Fir trees

Snow Recording

I stepped back for a photo and caught some snow falling, strange luck!

Ice Puddle Recording 2009

December 3, 2009

Drove up the back hill and recorded more ice puddle breaking. The temperature the night before was around 8 degrees so the ice in the puddle had re-frozen harder than yesterday. I brought the 702/CSS5 setup and dropped rocks on the ice puddle. A helicopter was overhead so some takes did not come out very good. I then recorded with the Sony PCM-D1 and got some close, hard breaks and stomped my foot down hard on the ice. I actually got very muddy even with the 18 degree temperature at the time.

Took some pictures of the view after driving around the back near the pond which was frozen completely over. This was at the top of the mountain peak. A very clear day.

Ice Puddle 2009

The rig consists of Sony PCM-D1 at 24/96 and a Sanken CSS-5 stereo shotgun microphone which was used with a Sound Devices 702 at 24/96.
Ice Crack Puddle by therecordist

Ice Puddle 2009
Ice Puddle 2009
Ice Puddle 2009

***

December 2, 2009.

Walked up the back hill and recorded rocks and Ice. The Ice cracks and breaks were from a 20ft long puddle. It was very cold, around 20 degrees and the ice was thick and underneath was water and mud. the mud made for an interesting sound on top of the water and ice cracking. The ice also settled in after I put pressure on it and made a very cool cracking and movement sound.

I also recorded some large rocks dropped and small gravel stones falling down a steep embankment.

I took some pictures of the ice puddle and the view. It was a very clear day and could see east towards Montana with ease.

On the way back I ripped some large rotting tree trunks apart, pulled bark off trees and rolled logs down a very steep hill.

The rig consists of Sony PCM-D1 and a Sound Devices 702. It was all tracked at 24/96.