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Field Recording

13

Feb
2012

No Comments

In Field Recording
Work

By Varun Nair

GFF: Content – Working with restrictions

On 13, Feb 2012 | No Comments | In Field Recording, Work | By Varun Nair

Five days until we perform at the Glasgow Film Fest and we are on schedule. My Max patch seems to be working well and I couldn’t stop after playing with it for two hours yesterday = a good sign! I can’t wait to release it as a downloadable app and see what people use it for.

Max/MSP aside, this post is about the content – field recordings, voice and music.

Field Recordings

 

As I mentioned in the previous post, Gervais and I spent two days recording in Glasgow. We primarily followed the trail of the poem which covered these locations:

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17

Jan
2012

One Comment

In Field Recording
Sound Design

By Varun Nair

The Wind

On 17, Jan 2012 | One Comment | In Field Recording, Sound Design | By Varun Nair

Recently, on another windy day, I recorded the wind whistling and swishing through the ventilator shaft.

Here’s what it sounded like:

Wind Through Ventilation on SoundCloud

Feel free to download it!

To add some variation to it, I loaded it up in Kontakt (inspired by this, obviously) and modulated the pitch, volume and a low pass filter with a MIDI controller. I tried to retain the actual sound and character of the recording, whilst still affecting it subtley. If Pro Tools had a pitch automation lane, sound design will be a whole lot more fun! Small changes in pitch and volume can add so much:

Wind Through Ventilation – Performed on SoundCloud

Recorded with a Neumann KM130 pair (omni) and a Sound Devices 744 at 96KHz. Why? It’s what I had with me at that point in time.

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21

Dec
2011

2 Comments

In Field Recording

By Varun Nair

Listen 003: Swans, Ducks, Gulls, Humans

On 21, Dec 2011 | 2 Comments | In Field Recording | By Varun Nair

Hollyrood Park is one of my favourite spots to spend time either walking or recording. It not only sounds very different on different days but is made up of a variety of sounds: wind, distant traffic (and sirens), birds, people jogging/walking with their dogs and swans, ducks, sea gulls and other birds.

This first one was at Dunsapie Loch, right behind Arthur’s Seat. It is an excerpt from a 20 minute recording featuring a good blend of mute swans, greylag geese, gulls, city noise and people. I sat at the edge of the pond with gulls flying above and around me and people jogging behind me. At 1:25 a swan gets out of the water and at 1:50 a dog goes after the ducks.

Recorded with a Neumann KM184 pair (ORTF) and Sound Devices 702.


Dunsapie Loch on SoundCloud

This second one was right below Salisbury Crags at about 9am on a Sunday – birds, little traffic, distant bagpipes (Scotland!) and people walking around the park.

Recorded with a Neumann KM120 and KM184 (MS) and Sound Devices 702.

Salisbury Crags on SoundCloud

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30

Aug
2011

4 Comments

In Thoughts

By Varun Nair

Evolve : Challenge : Adapt

On 30, Aug 2011 | 4 Comments | In Thoughts | By Varun Nair

am·bi·tion

noun
an earnest desire for some type of achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment.

If I would have been told six years ago that I would be writing blog posts about sound editing/design in the future, I would have laughed. Post production and sound editing did not interest me. All I wanted to do was record and mix music, and that is how I began to take my first (and small) steps in the professional world of sound.

I began by assisting in the music industry. There was obviously much to learn and reconfigure in my understanding and expectations of the world. After six months, out of necessity (better working environment/need to pay a rent and bills), I began work in a studio that primarily worked on television commercials. It was there that I began to understand and learn the power of voice, music and sound effects in communicating and connecting with an audience. I also learnt about learning from both good and bad technique. I had the opportunity to work with and assist a variety of engineers/directors/artists/musicians and eventually handle projects of my own – not without an equal share of achievements and failures.

From there I moved to another studio as a full time in-house engineer – a larger variety of projects, people, gear and experiences. More to learn and steady steps up the never ending ladder of experience and professionalism. Over this period I’ve been lucky to experience a variety of work across a range of audio visual mediums – sound editing/designing, field recording, music recording/mixing, ADR, dialogue editing for television, film, radio and games over hundreds of projects.

learn

verb (used with object)
to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience.

e·volve

verb (used with object)
to develop gradually.

My philosophy so far has been to make decisions that benefit my learning and challenge and force me to try something I haven’t had much experience with. If I find myself getting complacent or finding my work too predictable or not very inspiring it means it’s time I challenge myself and learn something that adds value. My understanding of sound – under constant evolution – has only grown to look at all aspects of sound cohesively.

chal·lenge

noun
difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.

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17

Aug
2011

No Comments

In Field Recording

By Varun Nair

Listen 002: Time Comparisons

On 17, Aug 2011 | No Comments | In Field Recording | By Varun Nair

I spent a few days last week recording a variety of rural ambience – part of a larger effort to document as many rural sounds as I can in the next two weeks. I spent two days trekking around villages outside the city and recording as much as I could. The sound below is a collection of recordings at the same location at different times of the day. It’s interesting to hear how the soundscape changes with time.

 


Sound Comparisons on SoundCloud:

Gear: Audio Technica BP4025 > Sound Devices USBPre2 > TOSLINK > Sony D50

 

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25

Jul
2011

2 Comments

In Field Recording

By Varun Nair

Listen001: Prayer. Hawkers. People.

On 25, Jul 2011 | 2 Comments | In Field Recording | By Varun Nair

In my spare time I have been editing and cataloging all the sounds I’ve recorded off the Zoom H4n with the hope of catching up with the months of backlog. A lot of the sounds were recorded impulsively and then forgotten. Out of what I’ve ploughed through so far, I found two that felt interesting enough to share.

Early one morning I decided to walk down to the nearby Mosque and record the morning prayer. While the recording did not come out as clean as I would have liked, the combination of the prayer and the sounds around creates an interesting vibe. Something about this recording makes me feel humbled – every time I listen to it.

Mosque Morning Prayer on SoundCloud

A few months ago I spent a Sunday walking around Mumbai discreetly recording sounds. This one was at Nariman Point, which is one of the southern tips of Mumbai by the sea. It’s usually crowded with people on weekends – families, loners , children, hawkers and beggars. The sea is usually calm (there’s no beach) and the little sound it makes is masked by traffic and the people around. Being a country with a hugely diverse culture there about 29 recognized major languages and hundreds of dialects. You can hear a variety of languages being spoken in this recording – although it’s dominated by Gujarati and Hindi. Also keep a ear out for the hawkers and the little drum used for monkey dances (although it’s banned, it still exists). This was recorded while I walked down the stretch – with the microphones pointed at the people for stereo spread. It was late evening.

Nariman Point – Hawkers & People on SoundCloud

 

Credit

Credit

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02

Jul
2011

2 Comments

In Field Recording

By Varun Nair

Recording a car!

On 02, Jul 2011 | 2 Comments | In Field Recording | By Varun Nair

There’s nothing more daunting and challenging than working with limitations – especially when recording something as complex as a car. On Sunday, Amit Barde and I decided to record Raghu Kannan’s modified Swift. This is what we were up against:

  1. Limited equipment - my Sennheiser MKH 416, Audio Technica BP4025, Cold Gold buffered contact mic, Zoom H4n, USBPre2 and Amit’s Zoom H4n and very useful Fat Gecko Suction Mount
  2. A city with only live sound rental companies – limited choice of equipment
  3. A limited budget
  4. Lack of quiet locations (everybody in this country feels it is their fundamental right to sound the horn every few seconds)
  5. NO GAFFER TAPE! (extremely tough to source gaffer/duct tape here)
  6. NO GAFFER TAPE!?!!!! (High speed -> MKH 416 -> DANGLE -> DRAG -> SCRAPE -> OUUUCH!!!)

What we did have on our side was:

  1. Some equipment (refer point 1, previous paragraph)
  2. Some choice of rental microphones (2x Shure SM57, 2x Shure PG81, 1x Shure PG52)
  3. Recording early on a Sunday outside the city
  4. Rolls of cellophane tape, cloth tape, paper tape, insulating tape, string, wire
  5. Lots of orange coloured foam
  6. 1x silver Maruti Swift (Modified: K&N Free Flow Filter, shortened first and second gears, stiffened suspension + frame & other automobile mumbo-jumbo)
  7. 1x Very good driver

1. Preparation

We had a total of  8 microphones and 6 inputs – 2 on each of the H4n’s and 2 on my USBPre2 if I recorded to my laptop. With previous experience I knew that using DAWs outdoors only complicated things (takes longer to name the track > record enable > locate record point on the time line > hit record > stop > drop marker with information/name the file). I decided to use BoomRecorder which functions like a location recorder – scene/take metadata, time code stamp, comments and a detailed field report at the end of the session.
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06

May
2011

10 Comments

In Field Recording

By Varun Nair

Elephanta – Recording at 2000 year old caves

On 06, May 2011 | 10 Comments | In Field Recording | By Varun Nair

About seven months ago I was privileged enough to be asked by the Midival Punditz to record on location at the Elephanta Caves for a Bharathanatyam dance project they were working on. The goal was to overdub two percussionists and a vocalist separately over a few songs while capturing the sound of the caves.

The Elephanta Caves are a network of sculpted caves on the Elephanta Island, about ten kilometers off the Mumbai coastline. They are dated to the 6th-7th centuries AD and most of the rock sculptures represent Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction.

 

Elephanta Island

My primary concerns for the recording were track count, monitoring and obviously noise at the location. The caves are  a tourist hot-spot and can get quite noisy. We decided to catch the first ferry (9AM, the last one is at 5PM) to beat the crowd since we weren’t given exclusive permission to the space. This meant we had to survey and setup quickly. Read more…

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