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New Theme: Bodyfalls

Finally a new theme!

As most of us are probably in lockdown at the moment, I thought it best not to pick a subject that requires straying too far from home but, on the other hand, as it’s been aaaaaages since the last theme, I thought it’d be a bit of an anticlimax to pick some mundane domestic sound to record.

I keep a note of any theme suggestions that get proposed by members and, checking back, I came across ‘Bodyfalls’, suggested by Rene Coronado a few years back on the Club’s Evernote page, which seems perfect: Can be recorded in the garden, park or even indoors but is also quite a challenge – it’s quite a tricky sound to get right I think. It’s a sound that often gets questioned in a mix – i.e. Is it big enough? Does it sound real? Does the surface sound right? etc. Perhaps this is because we’re often torn between achieving the comedy in a fall, or the action movie ‘beef’ of it (as with punches) but also have to make it believable as a realistic event that’s just happened in a real environment.

There’s also another obstacle in achieving a good bodyfall sound – falling over hurts. Unfortunately, falling over gently doesn’t really make much of a sound, so we have to find a way of creating a big impact on a ground surface which sounds like a human body but doesn’t cause one of us to end up in A&E at probably the least convenient moment in our lifetimes.

So you’ll need to come up with your own solutions, but I basically thought of three avenues to explore. Firstly, I’ve been out playing football with my son, 1 v 1, quite a lot recently and because it’s been so wet one of us inevitably slips over now and again. I absolutely stacked it a couple of days ago but because the park’s so muddy it didn’t really hurt at all, so I’ve already had a go at the direct route of trying to do a hard fall myself on a nice soft muddy patch of grass. However, this solution isn’t exactly practical for getting any cool tarmac or interior hard floor bodyfalls though…..

Second opportunity that struck me was that, whatever games my kids play in the garden, 90% of them seem to involve them throwing themselves around to make saves, catch balls, etc. So I might leave a mic out there next time they’re going berserk and see if I get lucky. I have to be careful with this option though, as if I tell them what the recording’s for they’ll start diving around the garden with even greater gusto, which leads back to the previous caveat regarding this not being the greatest moment in time to end up in A&E. Plus my wife’s banned me from involving the kids in any kind of sound fx recording ever since my youngest bruised his eardrum doing underwater screams for me a few years back….but I digress…in any case, this option won’t provide me with big ‘action movie’ bodyfalls, just the lighter, more realistic ones.

The last option I could think of is the foley prop route – maybe I can find some object that, unlike me, is unbreakable (or at least, it doesn’t matter if it breaks) so that I can throw it with force upon different surfaces, possibly from a decent height. Maybe a big densely packed hessian sandbag? A big bag of compost? Can’t be in a plastic bag though otherwise I reckon it’d sound wrong. I could then perhaps supplement that big object impact with one of my lighter but realistic human bodyfalls and together they’d hopefully sound great? I’ll have to work on this one though as I don’t currently have any human-sized hessian bags of sand lying around….

I’ve also experimented with parallel compression on the real bodyfalls I did – to see if I could keep the realism of the untreated fall but supercharge it a bit with the compressed version. I’ll let you know how I got on in another post soon. Thinking it through like this and starting to have a go at the theme has made me think this should perhaps be the first collection where rather than just submitting one natural recording to the collection, we have the option to present our work as ‘kits’ if necessary. As you can see from my ideas above, I may not get the sounds I’m after from just one sound, but from a couple of different recordings plus maybe a little bit of processing. So it may be better to present our recordings a bit like this when necessary:

I’ve provided my original recording in a separate folder, just in case, but also an ‘edited’ version in another folder, in which the falls are cut tighter, with the compressed version to played alongside it. Both tracks are exactly the same length so it’s easy to sync them. I may still add another layer when I try my other ideas, if it adds something to the sound. By the way, the only reason I did an RX pass on the original was that it was really windy yesterday so the falls would have been unusable otherwise due to blowing on the mic – I didn’t use it to augment the sound in any way.

It’s important to point out: THIS IS NOT A SOUND DESIGN CHALLENGE! We need to get the best original recordings of real bodyfalls that we can possibly get. If you’re smarter than me (or have tackled this problem before) and can get great bodyfall sounds completely au naturel in one recording then great; don’t over-complicate it with layers of extra sounds or processing. I don’t want us all reaching straight for our arsenals of plugins to get the sounds we’re after rather than trying to achieve them in our actual recording. In fact I might only allow parallel compression to be used, as this means we can keep the sound natural, but beef it up a bit to our own taste by increasing / decreasing the volume of the accompanying compressed track if needed.

What’s more, this is just my own thought process on how to get the best sounding bodyfall – maybe some of you can think of a better way of tackling this challenge that I’ve not mentioned: Go for it, I look forward to hearing the results. Feel free to comment below if you have any questions too, as this theme in particular may need a little working out as we go along – and as we discover what’s possible. Good luck and stay safe!

Field Notes #5: Leaf Blower Passes for the ‘Trains: Design’ Collection

I’m embarrassed to say that I actually wrote this post back in 2011, but it got stuck in my drafts folder until I got round to editing the recordings…which I never did, until now… 😬

Anyway, I thought I might as well put the post online now; better late than never and all that – and I’ll get the corresponding recordings uploaded to the collection this week too.  I haven’t bothered updating the post – 10 points for the first person to spot the anachronism…….

I’m up at 6 most mornings at the moment.  It basically gives me an hour to get myself washed, have breakfast, etc. before I get the kids up.  As a result, over the past few weeks, as the leaves have started to fall from the trees, I’ve become aware of the leaf blower trains passing by the bottom of my garden at exactly the same time every morning – 6:45.

As soon as I realized they obviously adhered to a set timetable (well, as much as any train does in the UK…) I decided to get out and record a few for The Sound Collectors’ Club’s Trains: Design Collection.  I managed to get a couple this morning without much difficulty, apart from the birds being disturbed by the first pass and chirping all over the tail of the train pass.  RX2 should fix that though.  I recorded the passes LCR into a Sound Devices 744T, with a Schoeps CMXY 4V spread wide to virtually 180 degrees and my Sennheiser MKH40 in the middle.

If anyone’s up for sharing any vids, pics or stories of sounds they’ve collected for The Sound Collectors’ Club, let us know and I’ll happily publish them on the website or even just link to them if you’ve got your own blog.  It’s nice to get a bit of background to some of the sounds we’re gathering together I think – doesn’t need to be a long essay or anything; think of it more as sharing your ‘field notes’ if you like – even a scan of any scribbles you’ve made, as above, will do.

Club Membership 2021

Hi all, hope you’re all keeping safe in these strange times.

It’s been a quiet few years for the Club….strangely coinciding with when I decided to go freelance around 2014!  After a manic few years of graft, I finally feel in a position to invest more time and energy into the Club, so that once again there can be more to it than just the existing library slowly ticking along with only a few new contributions being added every once in a while.  My changing situation is not really as a result of the pandemic, as I’ve been very fortunate this past year in terms of keeping busy.  It’s just that work’s finally getting a bit more under control, my kids aren’t time-consuming toddlers anymore, etc…..that sort of thing. 😄

So I’ve taken advantage of the Christmas break to make a few tweaks to the Club website – some of which I hope will make it a better experience for members, and some that will definitely make my life a lot easier in terms of handling the admin side of things – it was this workload that started making it harder and harder for me to keep on top of things and start new themes, meetups, etc in my spare time.  So hopefully, by making use of new digital tools that are now available, I’ll have much more time to create new content, themes…and recordings!

One of the changes I’ve made is that rather than having the pain of sorting out everyone’s membership every year, I’m now using a Stripe payment system, rather than Paypal, which provides an auto-renewing feature.  You can cancel this of course, but it just saves me a helluva lot of admin work getting ready for each new membership year and finding out who’s in and who’s out each time.

I’ve also tweaked the Legal page, added an FAQ page, switched the discussion group from LinkedIn to Slack, and generally tidied up the menu a bit to make it clearer and easier to use.  I’m also nearly finished doing some general maintenance on the collection itself – a job I’ve been meaning to do for ages – as I’ve noticed a few files have gone astray over the years due to a random Google Drive bug that I’ve now fixed.

Going forward, I also intend to look into the UCS initiative in order to improve our labelling system, which has long been a major headache for some members.  As soon as I work out how best to incorporate this, I’ll update the website so everyone can know best practice going forward.

Membership has rolled over for free these past few years while things have been on the slow burn but in order to start this new payment system properly I want to start with a clean slate of active members, so if you’d like to be involved in the Club going forward as I ramp things up again, please go to the Payment page where you can renew your membership.  I’m keeping the membership fee at £20, as it’s always been these past ten years.  

I really hope you do decide to get involved in the Club – it’d be great to see what the Club can be in this very different, much busier, landscape of crowdsourcing compared to the way it was when I first started the Club on Soundcloud back in 2010.   

Stay safe everyone 👊🏼

Best,

Michael

Introducing: Daniel Vasquez

DanielV - CLAP - Foto_24Cuadros-14

Next up in our ‘Introducing…’ series is Daniel, who kindly agreed to tell us a bit about himself and the post sound scene in Columbia:

I am Daniel Vasquez, a sound designer and re­-recording mixer from Medellin, Colombia.  My experience and academic background has been based primarily in the United Kingdom and Colombia. I currently work as the Head of Post­ Production in Clap Studios, a sound post ­production facility located in Medellin.

In terms of academic background, I hold a BA Degree in Recording Arts and an MA in Audio Post­ Production from Middlesex University in London; and I’m certified by Avid as a Pro Tools Expert for Post; and I’m also a full member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Beginning as an engineer for music and live applications during my stay in the United Kingdom – doing live shows, recording bands and mixing independent artists – I later moved into sound for picture, starting with sound editing for short films, video games and documentaries, and I started to move also towards mixing and began to work for larger productions, working as a freelancer, lecturer, and co-­founding SoundNode, a sound production and post ­production company based in London.

Keeping a close eye on my home land, I decided in 2011 to move back to start working in the Latin American film industry, seeing it as an opportunity to apply the knowledge and experience acquired abroad.  This is when I co-­founded Clap Studios with film producer Gabriel J. Perez, who was returning from Barcelona, later joined by Daniel Jaramillo, a Colombian sound mixer residing in London.

Let’s talk about Clap Studios; it is a sound post­ production facility located in the Medellin Audiovisual Center.  Since Gabriel and I founded the company, we have created the ideal conditions for the sound development of audiovisual productions, offering creative talent, and the best facilities and equipment to deliver to the highest standards, such as the first Dolby® approved commercial studio for 7.1 film mixing in the country.

Clap Studio Sala Dolby Jul2015_11

Regarding the film industry in Colombia, it is small but growing, and our team have worked not only for Colombian productions but also for foreign films from Los Angeles, Cuba and United Kingdom, with great success. Renowned film directors and producers have trusted the sound post­ production of their projects to us (including our team of sound editors, Foley artists, and mixers) with excellent results. Some of them are: Pavel Giroud, Goya nominee and award winner at the International Festival of New Latin American Cinema and the Cartagena International Film Festival; Simón Mesa, winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival; Carlos Cesar Arbeláez, award winner at San Sebastián Film Festival; Carlos Tribiño, award winner at the Cartagena International Film Festival; Simón Brand, awarded at the Huelva Latin American Film Festival; and Kirk Sullivan, experienced filmmaker from California.

Clap Studios E3A

Clap Studios E Foley

Getting more location-­specific, Medellin offers a great set of conditions for creative and technical work, with nice mild weather, charming people, accessible prices and great talent and professionalism. Bogota currently holds the majority of the audiovisual work in Colombia, but with the growth of the industry, more options are starting to emerge in other cities as well, opening the possibilities of taking advantage of local incentives from each region. For example, Medellin is offering an additional 15% cash rebate in film services, making it attractive not only for foreign productions, but also for projects coming from other Colombian cities, which benefits us as service providers to bring more foreign productions and expand our territory of action. The goal is to keep expanding the range of countries we work with, always committed to quality and a great experience.

DSC00180

Introducing: Vijay Rathinam

This year, as always, we’ve had some really interesting new people join the Club:  Sound professionals working in all kinds of different aspects of audio, from film to music to video games to sound art.  I’ve been thinking recently that it’d be good to introduce some of the Club’s members on the website (especially those from places further afield than the U.S and Europe) rather than just see each others’ names tagged on the end of sound files in the collection!
So when Vijay joined recently, I asked him if he’d be up for writing a bit about himself and what he does because, although the Club has members from many corners of the world, we haven’t had that many from Asia so far and I thought it’d be interesting for Western members to read a bit about how things are done in India.  Vijay has very kindly obliged with the detailed description and photos below:
This was Taken at Galaxy Studio when I went there for a film mix
I am a sound designer/sound editor/sound recordist based out of AM Studios, Chennai and I have worked in more than a hundred  projects performing various roles in the film audio industry. My experience ranges from Bollywood to BBC. I have also worked with various other European films as sound FX editor/ foley supervisor.
I studied the Master of Science degree in advanced music production from the University of Glamorgan in South Wales.  I was always passionate about sound in films. I started to take it further at a very young age. I apprenticed at a famous Chennai based studio, Vijaya Vauhini, when I was 18, then I ended up as an FX editor in the same studio after I finished my Bachelor’s degree (B.Sc Physics at Loyola College – Chennai).  In 2005 I wanted to take this further which is when I pursued my higher education at Glamorgan University.  After that, I was employed by an animation company called Inspire GLG in Worcestershire as a sound designer. I worked in the Midlands area for a few companies until 2010.  In 2010 I decided to move back to India (which is where my roots are) and I started my own company, The-AudioVille, and now I work with a very good group of very talented people.  I have a great foley team, and FX editing team who are equally passionate at what they do and they all contribute immensely to the films I work on (one of  The AudioVille’s editing rooms pictured below).
This is  one of my humble editing room
I have done a lot of Indian feature films of varying genres.  Indian films are not just limited to Bollywood.  There are nearly 25 different film industries here.  Each state has it’s own film industry.  For example, the previous film I worked on was released in 2000 screens just in the state of Tamil Nadu which is where I live.  Recently – in the past 2 years – I have started doing a lot of European feature films.  From my imdb page you can see what I have done….I normally get the footage (i.e. get access to turnovers) online and my current preferred way of collaboration is with Gobbler mainly because it is very fast for uploads and downloads.  The collaborators deliver me a Pro-Res or a DNX HD picture and the AAF.  I have a very fast 100Mbps upload and download leased line dedicated to collaborative work, so sending and receiving files is never a problem for me.  I also normally get notes from the supervising sound editors or directors with timecoded notes on what exactly is required (normally as region groups in a Pro Tools session or sometimes as text files).  Then I edit FX following these notes whilst at the same time using my creativity as well, plus recording anything if required.  I also have a crew here to work with.  They help me out with cutting backgrounds or FX depending on the film’s requirement.  I also simultaneously record foley in our foley room (see below). We have a very clean signal chain there so the recording is as transparent as possible; no noise or anything like that.  I also have an extensive library; both commercial (with multi user licences) and my own recordings.  We also have a few recorders like Deva, Roland, Edirol, Zoom H6, Nomad etc….and we use them from time to time when required, and some good microphones as well!!!
Foley room 4
If required I also hire AM Studios (see picture below) which is a step away from my place.  AM Studios is one of the premier Indian post production houses (It’s like the Delane Lea of Chennai!).  It is owned by the academy award winning composer, Mr. A.R. Rahman (the Slum Dog Millionaire-famed music composer).  The people at AM Studios are a fantastic talent and a fun bunch of people to work with.  They have great gear which I can use whenever required.  They have a great sounding film mix room with crazy Auro 3D Meyer sound speaker system, with an Icon and a System 5 Euphonix.  They have just ordered a large scale Neve DFC with immersive sound panner to replace the system 5 console….which I believe will get installed next month!!!  They also have multiple Kyma systems, Great outboard gear like Aphex, Manley, Chandler…etc..etc…..All this can be used as and when required.  I am closely associated with AM Studios.  All my Indian projects get mixed there and also they give me some good films from time to time.
Also Taken at AM Studio they have a very good Auro 3D mix room with Meyer Sound and ikon and a system 5 console which is going to be replaced with a very good AMS Neve DFC with immersive sound panning option
So coming back to the point……when we are done with a reel, I upload a 5.1 bounce or send the actual session for review depending on the requirement.   Normally it’s all panned, volume automated, reverbs done and “Mix Ready” all in the box.  Working in the box makes collaboration much easier;  if I use any outboard stuff I print them onto a separate track.  The client then sends back some notes or corrections if required and we do those and send the master session.  When I deliver, normally the entire film with all FX, Ambience and Foley are in one large session so it becomes very easy for the client.  We are very much prepared to do lots of back and forth kind of collaboration….it seems to be the way to go these days as expectation from the directors are pretty high.
We have 3 sound editing rooms, and 1 foley room here. We also do dialogue editing as well. So the collaboration varies depending on the requirement.  Also I have recently started sending some of my work to other collaborators overseas as well. The average Tamil industry films don’t spend much on sound and the budgets are shrinking but some of the bigger films have decent budgets.   I am always open to collaborating with other sound designers and FX editors around the world.  I strongly believe that collaborative workflow is the future as it opens a whole lot of creative possibilities and the internet has made that possible now.  I see a lot of talented people in Korea, Japan, UK, US…everywhere…through Facebook, Linkedin and other networking sites.  I think India is a market to be explored – especially the big films.  With immersive sound becoming very popular here, the demand for quality talent on an economical budget (doesn’t mean cheap) becomes in demand.  Gone are those days where a client will walk in to a studio based on the look and feel of the studio and the kind of coffee and canteen you have.  These days the film makers are like, “Do you have the talent?  Can you do the job in an economical way?  Will you spend the budget efficiently?  Will you deliver good sounding tracks?  You are on!!”.
At least, these are the types of film makers that I am targeting.  They also end up respecting us for what we do for their films.  I think it is the same even in the UK and everywhere. Sometimes the budgets may not be right for one person but perhaps it might be good for the other.  So it really comes down to passion and commitment.
Vijay’s personal website at www.vijayrathinam.com
This was taken during my trip to sri lanka when I was recording trains - P.S. this was a pose not actually during work

New Theme for Spring 2015

 

class

It’s been a while!  A new theme for the new year was long overdue so here goes….the latest theme is chosen by club member Eric Mooney.  His description of the theme is:

Walla of a crowd that’s trying to be quiet. An example of this would be at a library, or someplace similar where people are speaking very quietly and maybe even whispering occasionally. There could also be some fairly quiet and subtle movements taking place in the background. This seems like it would be a great backdrop of audio that could be used in pretty wide variety of scenes. This is something that I don’t have very much (if any) of.

More generally, Eric has provided some pointers for recording ‘walla’, which are worth bearing in mind when recording sounds for this collection:

Most of you are probably already familiar with walla, but if you’re not it’s basically just a recording of a “background” conversation that doesn’t contain any intelligible speech. By not being able to make out what the crowd (large or small) is saying the audience stays focused on the lead actor’s dialogue.

File Types to Submit:

Stereo recordings of walla will give the audience a more immersive experience than mono recordings would. For this reason all of the submissions should preferably be recorded and submitted in either stereo or surround so that they can easily be used in any professional project.

I wasn’t initially keen on this theme idea when Eric suggested it because Echo Collective have just recently released their Quiet Spaces library, and I do try to avoid themes that already exist in the form of independent libraries…though that’s getting harder and harder to manage these days as the indie library scene continues to grow!  However, having spoken to Rene and checked he’s cool for us to use the same idea, I did think it’d be really interesting to do an international version of the Quiet Spaces library, which I believe is all American locations.  Do check out Echo Collective’s Quiet Spaces library and consider grabbing a copy – hopefully the club’s collection will be a useful compliment to it.  I hasten to add, though, that despite my comparison with Echo Collective, I believe their library contains recordings of quiet spaces where people are NOT talking; it is mainly just the sound of subtle movement.  With our collection, the primary sound is intended to be quiet murmur or even whispers, though that element of shuffle and other ‘presence’ is still a vital ingredient in the quiet crowd sound that we’re after.

Final tip:  As I’ve often flagged before with other club themes, bear in mind the acoustics of the space you record in.  Old or unusual spaces that are very quiet and free of ambient noise such as background traffic or air conditioning may be the best spaces for adding character to low level signals such as quiet crowd sounds.  Oh and very importantly, please state location and country in the name or metadata of any shared files!

Hopefully this explains everything but feel free to drop me a line if anything is unclear.

Field Notes #4: New York Ambiences by Michael Bates

NYAMB cover half size

In the spring of last year I went to New York with my family for a week and decided to try to get the best recordings I could whilst I was there, without annoying my family in the process!

I always take a portable recorder with me on holiday but having just got a pair of DPA 4060 omni mics and having used them to capture ambiences around London (one of which can be heard in the City Skylines theme) I knew that they handled city ambiences really well, so I was excited about trying them out in New York.

My rig is put together like this:

IMG_0001_Stealth rig laid out_half size

It comprises a pair of DPA 4060s into a Sound Devices 302 mixer which feeds an Edirol R-09 recorder. The 302 is powered by a Hawk-Woods NP65 battery, which never seems to run out, the R-09 by rechargeable AAs, which never seem to charge up. I monitor with a pair of Sennheiser HD25s.

All of this fits quite neatly into my shoulder bag and with the mics clipped to the far sides of the bag I get a good 40cm spacing. Also, it’s very stealthy as all anyone sees once the flap is closed are the Rycote windjammers peeking out either side of the bag.

IMG_0005_Rig in bag_half size

IMG_0007_Bag closed top view_half size

Most of the recordings were made with the rig in the bag over my shoulders whilst I stood still and looked nonchalant. However, the longer Canal Street recordings were made with the mics set up outside my bedroom window in the flat we were staying in.

I was really happy with the recordings other than a few issues that I encountered, which I’ve detailed below. The 4060s have incredible low end response and lovely mid detail which really helped to capture the characteristic acoustic that New York has. Combined with the clean quality of the 302 preamps, along with its detailed metering and quality limiters, it’s a setup which does a great job of recording really dynamic things like the Canal Street traffic.

I did vacillate a little about whether to roll off some of the low end in the recordings, but in the end decided not to and to leave it up to the end user to decide how much of it they wanted to use themselves.

Here are a couple of issues that I had that made some recordings unusable and that I’ll have to solve next time I record like this:

My major issue with the setup is that in motion whilst over the shoulder, the metal clips attaching the strap to the bag click with every step and I lost some good material because of this. I could probably have gone through those recordings and taken out each click with RX, but they were so frequent and loud that I think it would have badly affected the sound quality.

There are a couple of recordings in the library that I made whilst walking slowly where this issue didn’t arise (the Staten Island Ferry terminal recordings) but I think in future I need to find a way to damp this sound or alternatively carry the bag handheld.

I lost what could have been a really good skyline recording that I made at the top of Morningside Park because I lost one of my windjammers coming out of a crowded subway and so didn’t have adequate wind protection when I got to the park some hours later. I now carry an extra pair of windjammers as backup wind protection, as those Rycote ones are none too secure and the foam covers don’t stand up to serious gusts.

The one recording that I was seriously annoyed about not getting was a beautiful skyline that I tried to record from the 7th floor balcony of the New Museum on Bowery. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, it’s very popular with visitors taking pictures, so instead I have a beautiful recording of people’s camera shutters clicking. If I’d been there on my own I would have stayed for as long as it took to get a clean take, but I sacrificed the recording to keep familial peace intact!

All in all I think it was a worthwhile set of recordings to make that taught me a lot about the strengths and limitations of this setup and of this style of stealth recording in particular. In the end I recorded over six and half hours of material, which I edited down to just over three hours for the library.

As a taster for club members, there’s an alternative take in the Echo Space theme of the Frick Collection Garden Court, a lovely, echoey marble hall with a fountain in the centre. There’s also a recording in the Car Passes theme of some passes on a cobbled street that I recorded whilst there.

For those club members that are interested in the library there is a discount code for 20% off on the LinkedIn group and for non club members you can get 10% off by signing up to the mailing list on tonemanufacture.com

You can see a full file list and more information at tonemanufacture.com/libraries/new-york-ambiences

I hope it turns out to be a useful library and my thanks to all the club members who share their great recordings!

New Theme for Summer 2014:

madewithOver

The club’s latest theme is chosen by club member, Rick Blything:

 

“I’m sure that everyone who has visited different countries and cities and pays attention to the city’s soundscape can re-call the feel and emotion from the city’s backdrop. 

I believe that vehicle horns help define a city’s soundtrack and that is what this month’s theme is all about:

Vehicle Horns: BGs

Sounds differ enormously from the near constant cacophony of horns heard in Delhi, to the slightly more constrained hoots from a tailback in an English town.

Recordings of these such sounds are great for building up scenes and can be used to good effect as both ‘off-screen’ and ‘establishing’ sounds. They can help to shape a location and sonically guide the audience to that space.

Recording techniques could range from mono directional recordings to wide stereo ambiences. Whilst recording locations could range from roof-tops, interiors, exteriors, mics out the window stlyie or straight up street level tracks. 

So next time you visit a city/town take your mics, find any one of a number of locations and pitch up, press the record button and try and capture some evocative tracks.”

 

Thanks for that, Rick – I can only add that, as with the dog barks theme, please bear in mind that this is a theme that is meant to provide sounds for BACKGROUNDS, not close up spot FX.  The horns need to have at least some ‘space’, i.e. echo or reverberation / ambience, around them, otherwise I’ll unfortunately have to reject them.  However, if you get a distant AND close sound then feel free to add the close sound too as sometimes these are useful to keep together.

I would suggest it’s worth getting 2-5 minutes of horns; it’s not that useful just getting one or two ‘toots’  unless they are particularly unusual or distinctive.  

As always, think about how submerged your distant horn sounds are within the roar of traffic – too much traffic noise and the horns won’t be usable because there’ll be a surge of engine roar every time your car horn is used in a tracklay.  

Lastly, as Rick touched upon in his brief, think about the space in which the horns occur – the acoustics of the space that surrounds them is what tends to make vehicle horns evocative rather than the actual horn sound itself.

As ever, I’m looking forward to hearing the results!

Field Notes #2: Texas Freight Train by Rene Coronado

train by 2

I was recently on my way back home to Dallas from visiting my alma matter in West Texas.  I always put a rig together when I travel – mostly to gather ambiences, but also to capture anything else interesting I may happen upon.  In this case I had a pair of schoeps CMC6 mics with the MK2 omni capsule, as well as a pair of Crown PZM 6d mics.

The ride back to Dallas along I-20 runs parallel to a long stretch of rail tracks, and its common to see big freight rigs crossing the state along with us.  About halfway home my wife and I spotted a train running the same direction as us, so we passed it and let it fall just out of sight of my rearview mirror before finding a place to pull over and set up.  I didn’t realize how fast that train was moving though, and by the time I got the trunk open the gates were closing and the train was already on top of me.

I closed the trunk, and we headed out again.  We caught up to the train relatively quickly, but this time I gave us a really good buffer of time to make sure I could get set and rolling without rushing.  I passed the train and kept increasing my distance for about 15 miles after passing it this second time.  When I pulled over again, I found a spot where I could cross the tracks and set up in a way that the train would pass between my rig and the highway on which I was traveling, obscuring the sounds of other passing cars.

My wife jumped out with her camera to take some rustic photos of the farm we were parked by, and my baby boy kept sleeping in the carseat while I pulled out my rig and got set up.

I placed the two omnis about 2 feet apart, and put the PZMs on the same general plane, but about 6 feet apart.  I had concerns about the omnis being phase-coherent without a jecklyn disk at that close distance because I had run some tests earlier in the trip that didn’t go as well as I had hoped – hence the PZMs, which I knew would be good for phase.  Once I was set up, rolling and slated I heard the train’s horn in the distance.  Trains are required to blow their horns at each intersection they cross that doesn’t have a gate with the clanging bells, and this train was one intersection away from me.

train setup

 

The train blew its horn one more time and then it was upon us – whooshing by with its crazy array of box cars, empty beds, tank cars, double decker cars, and open freight cars.  Each car had its own sound, and it created a real variety of unique dopplers as it cruised by.  Somehow the baby boy slept through all of this even though the back car door was open.

train by 1

Back in the studio I put the tracks up and was pleasantly surprised by how well the omnis did with regards to phase – even without a disk in-between.  They captured the low end perfectly and just had a remarkably clean sound all the way up.  The crowns (which I love) sounded very bite-y and midrangey in comparison, and also quite a bit “cheaper” than the schoeps omnis.  No surprise given the actual price difference, but pretty eye opening regardless.

I output three final files – an omni recording, a pzm recording, and a mixed recording that captured the best of both worlds.  Outside of gain matching, no processing was done to these files in any way.

enjoy!

train pano