June’s Theme

Very excited about this one.  I have two young boys so inevitably I watch quite a lot of kids’ TV at the moment.  There’s a lot of great kids’ shows around these days but one of my boys’ favourites is called Chuggington which I’ve always thought had particularly good sound FX in it.  So, I’m very pleased to announce that this month’s theme has been requested by the show’s sound designer, Richard Spooner:

“So this is another slightly selfish audio topic as I am starting sound design on a new series of “Chuggington” next week, which is a pre-school show about .. eergh .. trains.

I think the sounds that interest me are the more percussive engine sounds, hisses, doppler passes, rail clack etc. We should try and capture the power and speed of a train in the recordings. It could be some fast passes or just the static throbbing tick-over of a diesel or steam engine. It could be air/steam release on braking or the distinctive clickety-clack of a speeding train. We should stay away from station ambiences and commuter interior rides.”

I think an important thing to emphasize is that we need clean, high sample rate recordings of different separate elements of train sounds which would be suitable for use in animation sound design.  There may be exceptions but, on the whole, I’d imagine the recordings need to be relatively close so as to contain as little background atmos as possible.  In this way, I can imagine a separate future theme of, say, distant train FX or simply a more general collection of train sounds which are typically more suitable for standard reality-based film or television drama.

One last point is that it might also be useful for people who plan on contributing to this theme to check out some old episodes of the show if you haven’t seen it before, just so you get a feel for the sort of sounds that Rich might find useful.

Oh, and also bear in mind that Rich starts the show this month so, although the theme will stay open permanently, it’d be great if we could do our best to get a great collection together for him sooner rather than later.  Let’s make this a good one!

6 responses

  1. This intrigues me. Lately I’ve been recording the local tram here in Stockholm. Taking off from the station, arriving, opening doors etc. But there’s only so much a man can do if you don’t hang a microphone out the window and record the movement.

    Two questions

    1. How would one be able to record train movement without some kind of special access
    2. Would trams do? Here’s a picture of the one we have in parts of Stockholm:

    Actually, that’s exactly where I live and where I recorded most of it 🙂

    June 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    • Hi Henrik,

      I’ll answer the second question first as that’s an easy one: yes, trams will definitely do: I think we should collect sounds from all kinds of rail transport; big and small, old and new, and steam and electric. I would say the greater the diversity the better.

      As for the first question; this is one of the big ongoing challenges we all face as sound editors / field recordists for post: how to extract a specific sonic element as purely as possible from the complex bombardment of sound / noise that we live within today. So I don’t have a straightforward answer I’m afraid.

      I can only offer you a couple of my initial thoughts on how I’ll be collecting sounds for the theme this month:

      First, location: experiment with recording at places where you can get as close to the railtrack as possible, eg a pedestrian crossing, or even on the edge of the end of a quiet platform.

      Secondly, shotgun Mics may be the order of the day for this task in order to keep recordings as clean as possible. Contact Mics could create some interesting results? And if I get the chance to record any trains other than public transport I’ll be asking the driver / station master if he minds me taping up a mic such as a small DPA in a safe but useful point on the exterior of the train.

      Just a few thoughts there; hope that helps a bit?

      June 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm

  2. Hey Michael!

    Thanks for taking your time to write such a long reply. I hope to have time to participate this month.



    June 15, 2011 at 11:53 am

  3. Pingback: September’s Theme «

  4. Pingback: The Sound Collectors’ Club: September’s Theme « Sonicskepsi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s