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.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences