Beta 58A and MkH60
One of the things I love about my wife is, that not only does she tolerate me wandering around recording everything I can get my hands on, she actively encourages it. This weekend we stayed in a fantastic little hotel in the mountains to get away and celebrate our anniversary. We went for lots of nice walks in the forest and had some fantastic food at some of the really excellent restaurants in the area. But I also captured some good sounds because Anna insisted in saying hello to some dogs and making them play and bark, and we also found a few water birds in Emerald Lake. Anna even went to the café to ask for some old bread to feed the birds with in the hope it would make then noisy.
I learnt something, which on reflection should have been really obvious. Assuming you can actually get close enough to the animal in question a vocal microphone such as the Beta 58A is far better for recording animal sounds that the shotgun mic I use. Considering that many animals have similar vocal qualities in their calls to humans it should be very obvious that a microphone designed to record human vocals would be good for animals, but it was only after listening back to my captures that it really dawned on me. In Olinda I managed to record two dogs in someone’s front yard, a female Dalmatian and a male miniature Poodle. Anna would distract one of them from barking by throwing a stick for it so I could record the other and then we would swap. The dogs had a ball and I captured some really excellent clean recordings using the Beta 58A right up close like I was interviewing the dogs.
By comparison on Sunday I was using the MKH60 shotgun and we came across a beagle. Another really friendly dog, but she would bark every time you walked away from her. This allowed me to record plenty of material, but the shotgun was so sensitive that it picked up a lot of wind noise from the trees and other sounds.
I had decided to use the shotgun to capture the bird sounds around the lake as there was no way I was going to get close enough to record them with any other mic, but it really looks like I should keep the 58A in my pocket at all times as its far better for the rare occasions when I do get close. I carry my entire mic set-up in the new backpack I have in the car, but its a bit bulky to carry around everywhere when I am recording and I am also aware of the extra noise it might generate. There’s always a compromise somewhere.
my trusty laptop
Dell Inspiron 9400
With a lot of my time taken up lately I am not getting out into the field as often as I would like to record fresh material. Also a lot of the new material I am wanting to record currently requires more planning as I usually need to organise a special location or event and go through the process of planning and arranging with organisers to get access to events and locations.
To ensure that I am still generating new and interesting material for the library I am going to spend more time on creating new sound elements that everyone can use t create their own effects. There are various processes I can use to create sound effects and sound elements so I want to start to utilise more studio time to create mew sounds.
I am going to be using a process called convolution, which is essentially modifying one sound by the characteristics of another sound. So for instance if I take the base sound of a gun firing which contains a very loud and short impulse with a fade tail, when I use the convolution process it will apply these characteristics to the new sound. So a long looping sound with take on the characteristics of the short sharp loud attack but retain it’s actual sound ,material. This is an excellent way to create unusual sound effects.
As with many of the other sounds in the library these will be ideal building blocks for people to use to create new sounds. I will also use some of these to create some more complex sounds to add to the library at a later date.
H4N Built in mics
I was woken up this morning at about 3am by one of the biggest wind storms I’ve ever experienced in Melbourne. The wind was so strong outside our apartment that it felt like a mini hurricane. I set-up the H4N next to the window as even with the windows closed the sound was very clear. I switched it on and then went back to sleep. The result was 3 hours worth of extreme wind sounds that I’ll be editing to add to the library.
I have not been doing much recording lately as I have been really busy with our first iphone game which should be out in the next couple of weeks, as well as a couple of projects at my full time job which are nearing the end of production. On top of that cutting up and cataloguing all the sounds from the farm has been quite a lot of work because there is so much good material there. I have however finally reached my main goal. As of this weekend the library now has 10,000 sounds catalogued and ready to go! The actual library functionality is still a couple of months away, and is happening more slowly than I had wanted because finding a coder has been terribly difficult, but I am really happy to have such a huge milestone achieved.
I have a few really interesting recording sessions lined up over the next couple of months, so things should start to pick up. It will also help when the weather improves because it has been bloody awful in Melbourne recently, so I will enjoy when we start to get some clearer weather that I can work in.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences