Boom Pole Array
I am not someone that believes in a higher being, but if I did I would be seriously tempted to believe that this year has been put in front of me to test my patience, and I am not sure I am passing the test. I have had today on my calendar for about 8 months from the time when I found out there would be a large display of vintage cars and trucks at the race track in the town I grew up in. I never really expected to record a lot of sound at a big event like this, but I thought it would be a good chance to make some contacts and maybe get a few sounds. What we got was the highest rainfall for November in 5 years; this was 2 days after we recorded the hottest day on record for November and only a week before summer starts. Trying to hold my recording gear and an umbrella and take notes while I talked to people became a big challenge and everything ended up being soaked.
I guess I shouldn’t complain too much as I did get some good information and contacts and I did manage to record a few things, but it was so miserable, and wet and cold that it made it really hard to consider anything positive about the day. This was the first time for me using my new Rode NTG3 which I purchased last week. I didn’t even notice how it was going and forget I had installed it in the blimp cover until later in the day because I was so busy just trying to keep myself and the gear dry. I have not gone through the material yet so I have no idea how it coped with the day or how good it was. Keep an eye out for information about the NTG3 in the next few posts.
On the information side of things I have found out about a steam engine club in Melbourne that meet monthly and have their final meeting of the year next Sunday. I might try and get along to that one. Apparently they have a large selection of old steam and traction engines and plenty of things that make interesting noises which is exactly what I am after. I also grabbed the information for a few of the car and truck clubs and I plan to contact them and see if anyone would be interested in me recording their vehicle and doing a feature on it. Because recording a vehicle is such a big task to do properly I plan to do some feature articles on some of the more interesting vehicles. I spoke to some gentlemen from the military vehicles club and found out about a meeting in early December that I am going to try and get access to. Basically it’s a day spent driving tanks around a large property. If I can get permission to record at this event I am going to be very happy indeed. There where two tanks there on Sunday, but the awful weather meant they never got unloaded from their trucks. Hopefully the next meeting will be better.
What I did manage to record were a couple of nice old cars. The first one was a old Chevrolet lorry made in 1912. It was rusty and the wood was unpainted, but it ran alright and the engine sounded pretty healthy. The owner very kindly took me for a drive around the display area, so I got both idling and driving material as well as the old horn honking. It sounded so much more interesting than more modern cars. The cabin rattles and clunked because all the wood was starting to rot and the instruments mostly didn’t work. I was amazed at how well the engine was running considering the state of the rest of it. The owner must have done an excellent job of fixing it up. The second really old vehicle was a Thorneycroft lorry from about the same era. This one however had been beautifully resorted to almost pristine condition. I only captured it idling but it was still a great sound.
Another interesting truck was an old Mazda flat tray, but it only had one wheel at the front. It was designed to navigate narrow streets in Japan, and having lived there for a few years I can totally understand the concept behind it. Its sound was not that unusual for a vehicle of its time, but it was still good to capture some material from it. I guess this one was more interesting to look at than to listen to.
Another guy had restored an old engine and built it into a mini tractor for his kids to ride on. It was sitting on a trailer for the day, but he kindly started it up for me. It was an old “hit and miss” engine that popped and clunked away and had an awesome sound. The tractor itself was very basic but looked like it would be great fun for his kids.
Through all of this I needed to be aware of keeping my gear dry as much as possible, but it was very difficult to get into the best position to record things while juggling the boom pole and an umbrella, so often I would just put up with being wet when it was only raining lightly. The blimp cover actually does a very good job of protecting the mic inside from the rain as its fluffy cover stops most of the rain from getting through. You just need to be really careful to dry it our thoroughly afterwards. The Zoom H4N was another matter as I needed to keep it angled out of the rain and constantly wipe off any water than got onto it so it would leak inside and damage the actual circuits. Initially I was trying to keep myself dry as well, but this soon became pretty much impossible, so I just put up with being cold and wet. Not the best of days, but definitely not the worst.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences