The Policeman from last night was so nice he said he'd let me record the siren on his truck if I visited the station. Never one to pass up an opportunity like that we headed to the local station before we left town and I made sure I got a good recording of the police siren. Its so much better doing this out in the country where its nice and quiet. City background noise gets in the way of everything. Now all I need to do is talk to a fire man and ambulance driver. Apart from the siren it was a pretty uneventful drive home. Back to normal life tomorrow. Looking forward to the next fun trip.
Lots of driving today. We left Lake's Entrance and decided to head over the mountains towards Bright and Myrtleford. I have never driven this way and it was really interesting. Lots of lovely countryside. When we reached the top of Mount Hotham they had one of the chairlifts going, so we decided to catch a ride up and have a look around. We then walked back down as it was only a short chairlift. This was an unexpected but really good opportunity for recording as usually the lifts don't work unless its ski season, and during ski season there are tons of people around making noise, so not only did we go for a ride, but I recorded some good material.
We continued over the mountains and stopped in Harrietville, which is one of my favourite little towns, we had the best scones we have had in ages at the Lavender farm there. It was a beautiful outdoor setting which was perfect on a fine sunny day. We drove through Bright and stopped for the night in Myrtleford. After a great dinner I went out wandering around to try and record some crickets. I had very little luck as there were a lot of other sounds around anywhere the crickets were, but I did record a great sound from a broken street light that was humming quite loudly, it felt very Twin Peaks, standing under a humming street light on a road in a country town in the middle of the night. The local Policeman came past and wondered what I was doing. He was great and when I explained what I was up to he was cool with everything.
The weather was not great today, so we decided to head to Buchan and check out the cave network there. Unfortunately for us so did everyone else within a 50 mile radius. The cue was so long we took one look at it and decided to pass. We wandered around the area for a while and then drove back to Lake's Entrance. By the time we had gotten back the weather was clearing so we thought it would be good to take out one of the hire boats. We had looked at them yesterday and now the weather was finally good enough to enjoy the trip. The boats are very small with inboard engines that put put like something out of an old movie. Anna was enjoying driving the boat which left me free to record the engine and even drop the hydrophone into the water and record the wake of the boat as well. We headed out into the lakes area and that's where things started to go not so well.
As we headed out into the lakes area the engine started to cough and splutter a little. I thought it might be struggling with the waves a little so we tried to steer a course that might make it easier, but after a few minutes it was obvious this boat had some serious problems. We were just thinking about turning around when the engine failed completely. Of course we were located perfectly where we had no mobile phone reception, so we couldn't call for help. I restarted the engine with the little crank handle and it ran again for about a minute. I then repeated this process about 40 times over the next half an hour as we tried to limp back to where we hired the boat. At the time it was very frustrating and I did vent a bit to the open sky, but the result was a whole bunch of samples of a really crappy boat engine that will work very nicely in the library, so I guess there was a silver lining to today's cloud.
We finally got back into mobile phone range and the owner came out and towed us back in. He was very apologetic and gave us a full refund, so I guess it wasn't too bad. I was determined not to let this spoil our holiday. Anna had wanted to visit a place called Mitung which was just down the road and apparently very pretty so we went for a drive before dinner and I am really glad we did. What waited for us is probably the most beautiful sunset I have ever witnessed. It was a wonderful way to finish the day. I also realised something important
Humans write music because there is no sound in nature with the beauty to accompany its most magnificent scenes. Music is humanities greatest gift to the universe
In what is becoming a bit of a tradition Anna and I hired a car for the Easter break and picked a random direction to head in. We did this last year and despite everyone telling us there is no way we would get accommodation anywhere without booking ahead we had a fantastic holiday and wandered aimlessly around Victoria for a few days. We decided we would try our luck for another year, so Thursday night all packed and ready we headed down to Philip Island on Western port Bay.
The Thursday before Easter is usually easy to get accommodation as many people don't head off till Friday. We managed to get a hotel room directly across from the beach which was nice. On the Friday we had a wander round the island. I was disappointed the weather was so nice as I thought I might be able to record some good wave noises near the blow-hole, but the sea was virtually calm. Easter is a holiday for us, so I don't specifically go looking for sounds, but as always I have the gear in the car and if something offers itself I will take the opportunity to capture interesting sounds. Anna is amazingly patient which makes things easier.
We got to see a lot of things today including a farmer market just off the main island, some very large Pelicans being fed on the mainland and lots of fantastic green grass and trees, which living in he city has made a real novelty. The only thing I got to record today was one of the horses near the farmers market. There was a lot of background noise from visitors and campers so all I got was a single horse snort. Its a very good snort, but it is not much for an entire day's exploring. Oh well, we'll see what happens tomorrow.
I had noticed about a week ago that the sheets of plastic that were being used as temporary roofing at Southern Cross Station made a lot of noise when there was strong wind. Essentially they have replaced all the glass sections of the roof that collapsed under the big storm with giant rolls of plastic. As that part of the city is very windy it spends a lot of the time flapping and blowing in the wind, and in extreme winds it sounds really interesting. I had tried a couple of times to record this, but they were at times when the station was pretty busy so there were a lot of other noises to contend with.
A growing wind storm on a Sunday evening however proved to be a good time to capture some sounds. Our public transport system here in Melbourne is pretty ordinary, and on Sundays the trains are up to an hour apart; terrible if you want to go anywhere, but very convenient if you want to record a quiet station.
What I did find unusual this evening was how quiet people were. I set up at the top of one of the platforms and extended the boom pole as high as possible. I wanted to get as close to the plastic as possible to get a good recording and also to reduce all the other noises around. Normally when I go anywhere with the gear people tend to yell, ask if I am shooting TV or want to say hello to their mum, but tonight just about everyone walked past really quietly, I even had some people stand back and wait for a while as if they didn't want to make any extra noise. This was really great but it was also very unusual as people often either don't notice me, or as I said, purposefully make more noise.
I was very patient as there were still trains and station announcements, so I stood completely still for about 20 minutes while I recorded. Overall I got some good samples. I am not really sure what I am going to do with the sounds. They do have a quality a little like thunder, so maybe I can find some interesting uses for them. Either way they will get added to the library and perhaps someone else can think of something interesting to use them for.
Today is my first day out of full time employment and being able to concentrate on building Sound Library as much as possible. There are still a few regularly available sounds I want to capture around Melbourne and its suburban area. I have already collected a few train and tram sounds, but I have never done a thorough list of everything available, so i am going to work to collect a comprehensive list. I started the day at our major train station which is also a convenient 10 minute walk from home.
After about 30 minutes I had collected a fair amount of general station ambience as well as a few specific train sounds and some shunting noises. I am going to come back soon to capture some more and I will probably spend a day on various trains capturing interior travel sounds as well. Next I moved on to one of our trams as I wanted to record some tram sounds as well, but I also wanted to travel down to the beach to record some various wave sounds. We have about four different models of trams that run on the Melbourne network so today was a good day to capture some of those, but again I'll need some more time to get the whole set.
We have a unique system here called light rail which is using old train lines to run trams along. This isolates the tram from normal roads and allows them to run a little faster and is cheaper than running full trains along those lines. Its also a great place to record some tram sounds away from noisy traffic.
Once I made my way to the end of StKilda pier I set myself up on the rocks and captured some material of the waves on the rocks. It was a very calm day so I have some good material for mild wave movement. I expect some day I am going to have to come down here in a big storm and record some bigger waves, although I'm not really looking forward to that. After the rocks I made my way along the pier and stumbled across some divers scrapping the pier pylons as part of general maintenance. Its not everyday I get to record people welding shovels underwater, so I through the hydrophone into the sea and captured some interesting material. The divers were a little unsure what I was up to and one of them almost cut my mic cable thinking it was a rope snag, but it was all good. Next I headed down to the beach to record some gentle waves on the sand.
Well its been a long time since I have updated the journal because I have been really busy uploading data and sound files to the server and testing out the Sound Librarian search tool. As well as all that I have been trying to get the web page all finished ready fro launch. Well, Phase one is complete and the sound library is up and running. 13,000 sounds at launch which I am really happy about.
We have had a minor issue with proxy server comparability which should be fixed in the next few days, then we will get to work on the Mac version of Sound Librarian which we hope to launch later this month. Also later this month we will be launching the DVD set for users who want the convenience of having the entire library at their fingertips. There is still lots of ongoing work, but soon I should be able to get back to what all this is for, which is recording new sounds to continually add to the library. Keep an eye out for new information and you may even see us in the media as I try to get as much coverage for Sound Library as I can. Its going to be a busy year, but I am really looking forward to it.
I am very close to finishing the work on the library and we should be uploading all the sounds in the next week. I don't really like spending all weekend indoors at the computer but this weekend it turned out to be a good thing anyway.
Melbourne had one of its typical summer storms, lots of thunder, lightning and rain, except this time it was lots and lots of hail. I haven't seen a storm like this in years, and I suspect the damage bill afterwards is going to be pretty big. From the apartment the sky turned white, and I could barely see the apartment building that was 200 meters away. The sound was great and I very quickly had all my microphones lined up pointing out the balcony door. Hail has a much heavier sound to it that rain for obvious reasons, so it was great to record so much material.
Even after the hail and turned to rain and mostly stopped I left my gear recording as there was some good water dripping sounds and still water flowing from the drainpipes which I thought was good to capture. I'm really glad I did to because there were some massive thunder claps after most of the storm had finished. Good thunder is hard to capture and I have been really lucky over the last year to get some very good samples.
There are some things I think you would only ever see in Australia, and some only ever in Melbourne. We were out at the Docklands showing Anna's Aunt and Uncle around as they were visitng on holiday so we thought we could have lunch nice and close to home and show them the new areas. As always I was carry a recorder (today it was the H4N) In the public events area there were a bunch of people doing some celebration dances for Chinese new year. This meant we got to stop for a while and watch the dance I managed to record the drums and cymbals they play with the dragons. I have recorded Chinese new yeararade music before, but there are lots of different rhythm patterns and variants so it was good to capture a new one. The dancers were good and it was nice and colorful which is one of the things I love about Chinese new year.
Chinese dragons are not that unusual in Melbourne, we have a big Chinese community and around new years time there are lots of shows on and I think they are a popular and important part of the city, however when you combine them with Morris dancers only about 100 meters away then you have something that doesnt occur in many places.
We arrived at the bar resteraunt we were heading to, only to find a group of morris dancers outside the pub drinking and practising their dances. They had bells strapped to their legs and canes and a couple of people with old accordians. They jumped and pranced about to music that sounded very appropriate for your local pirate party. I set my recorded on a nearby wooden keg (now I am really feeling like I am in pirate land) and recorded a couple of their dance tracks. Its certainly not the type of music I would choose to listen to every day, but it be great to use in the right kind of game project.
and an umbrella
After being miserable in Melbourne last year because of all the rain, I was really happy to see it pouring down today.
I got some really good feedback from my brother recently regarding the sounds in the library. He had looked through all the ambiant and environmental sounds and thought that many of them weren't long enough. I think my time in the game industry is responsible for this, as for games we tend to use shorter sound files and edit them to fit them into memory, however for something like film or TV a sound designer may want 3,4 or 5 minutes of a continuous atmophere to use in a scene. As a result I plan to go out and rerecord alot of my more common elemental material such as waves ,wind and rain. Today it was rain's turn.
It was raining heavily after a few days of hot weather, so I stood outside the studio on a busy Melbourne street and recorded the people and traffic and the rain. Then I opened my umbrella and stood int he rain for 5 minutes or so to recordthe sound or rain on the umbrella. Finally I went up onto the roof of our building and was lucky to capture a couple of nice thunder claps.
For thr moment at least I plan on making use of the weather any time it rains. I am sure I will get sick of the rain quickly enough once winter turns up.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over ten years. This journal logs his thoughts and expereinces