I am really enjoying collecting aircraft sounds and I think I am going to make that my next library collection to publish on DVD. I am extremely lucky in Melbourne to have access to some fantastic old aircraft and I am going to make full use of it while I am here. Not only are they really good sounds to include in a library they have to be one of my favourite things to record. So I went down to Point Cook as I knew there would be an old aircraft flying today and was lucky enough to find that a second old plane was flying in with some students to view the display. I had turned up early to increase my chances of getting some good material and that just proved to be a very good decision.
The first plane to come in was a fantastic Douglas DC3 built in 1945. This plane is pretty well known in Melbourne and it was great to see it up close. I love the sound from a twin engine propeller plane and this is one of the best examples in the world of a well known passenger aircraft. The DC3 taxied in and stopped right in front of me before shutting down so I got some good material. I was also aware that it would be leaving in a couple of hours so it was well worth waiting to get it taking off as well.
Next to arrive was a 1943 Harvard. I knew very little about this aircraft before I went to the Tyabb air-show, but it is quickly becoming a favourite as they have a great sound when they take off and manoeuvre. Its not a big plane but it has a pretty grunty engine. I had to make sure I set my levels to get a good signal but leave a bit of room so if it moved closer or revved its engines I wouldn't max out my recording levels. I set- up one of my shotgun mics on the tripod and used the other on the boom pole to give me better flexibility. There were some noisy kids watching the display so I couldn't cleanly capture all o the sounds but I still managed to get some good material. I am going to make a habit of coming down here and getting as much material as possible
I have been writing some articles lately about using FMOD more efficiently as well as discussing how to use it with my students at RMIT. The more I discuss how to use FMOD and what you can achieve with it the more I have come to realise it can actually be a very good tool for sound creation for effects and not just for game implementation. I have made some sounds in the past using FMOD, its a very good tool for creating explosion and other dramatic sounds, but I want to expand beyond that and see what else I can get out of it.
I spent some time this week using it as a kind of granular synthesis tool, using my library sounds as the source for the basic sound grain. I achieved some very interesting effects that work very well as ambience sounds. I think next week I am going to work on creating some more specific sound effects like science fiction energy weapons and other spot sound effects.
What do you do on a beautifully sunny day when you really need to record some new source material but you also want to try and get some exercise. Simple, you combine everything you need to do and do it all at once. So, I strapped the two DPA 4061 mics to my bike, one near the front derailer and one above the rear derailer. I ran the cables along the frame and put the Zoom H4N into a carry pouch I have mounted on my handlebars. This was a nice secure set-up and meant i could ride easily without having to worry about the equipment at all.
The regular bike path I ride along has a variety of different surfaces as well as plenty of hills so I knew I would get a good range of sounds. I was surprised to find that I actually got some wind noise through the microphones. I think some of it was from my leg moving past the front mounted mic. It wasn't that my leg was moving that fast or creating much wind, I think it was just that it was moving past the microphone very close. There was a little wind when I went down steeper hills as well. I think this is because a bike has such a simple frame that the wind travels past it differently from a car. I have mounted these mics on a car travelling up to 100 Kph with no wind, so obviously the wind movement past the car differed greatly to that of the bike. Overall it was good to get some exersize in the sun and record some useful sounds as well.
I needed to record some sounds at home today as well as work on an article I am writing, so I planned to get some recording done inside and then go for a short walk and see what was going on locally. There has been a lot of construction work in our area lately and as much as I hate waking up to it, it does provide a good opportunity to capture some new material. Firstly I recorded some water drip sounds inside. This is actually more difficult than it might sound. To capture a good neutral water drip sound, you need a room with no natural reverb, so a bathroom or laundry is not very suitable. A lounge room is probably the deadest space to record in, but then dripping water in the lounge room has its own issues. I eventually set-up a large bucket with several mics around it and worked from there. I did get some suitable material but it took some experimenting.
The walk outside proved to be far more fruitful than I imagined. There is a new apartment building being built right next door so there was plenty of construction machinery making lots of noise. I started with a young guy digging holes with a jack hammer. I was surprised at how many different sounds a jack hammer could produce. He would start by hammering through the bitumen which produced a harsh sharp impact sound, then he proceeded to dig a post hole into the dirt which was a completely different sound. Depending on the angle and speed at which he moved the tool, the sound would vary quite a bit. I was amazed however to see the guy wasn't wearing any hearing protection. Doing this job every day this guy is going to be deaf in less than a year at this rate.
Of course to power a jack hammer, you need a generator, so I recorded that as well. I captured samples from two different positions. The sound of the generator from its exhaust was quite different from lower down near its cooling fan. I have found that its worth moving around most mechanical devices as they produce different sounds depending on where you are positioned. Next I captured a waste removal truck that was parked nearby. It was just being used to pump something smelly out of the gutters, but it also produced a different sound from different positions.
It was actually really windy outside, but because all the sounds I was recording were of fairly loud construction machines the wind was not very noticeable. One exception was through the palm trees they have planted in the area. I have recorded wind sound sa few times, but this is the strongest wind through trees I have heard, so I tried to capture some of the sound with both the shotgun mic and the mics built in to the H4N. Unfortunately the stereo mics on the H4N didn't have enough protection for the strong wind and the samples were unusable. But I did get a fairly good sample from the shotgun mic.
I captured a surprising number of good sounds today without moving more than 500 meters from my front door. Good when you want to record sounds, but this area currently feels like a construction site all the time, which is not so good for living.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over ten years. This journal logs his thoughts and expereinces