This past weekend I finished working on my most ambitious sound effects library project so far. From planning to delivery it took more than a year of on-and-off work. I will soon write a blog post about the field recording trip, but until then here’s some figures relative to the project itself.Read More
I recently returned from a 3 week expedition to Senegal. To say that it was an enjoyable experience would be an understatement. This was more than 1000 miles through desert, dry savanna, tropical savanna, tropical forest, wetland, mangrove forest, bustling cities, remote villages and anything in between.Read More
Happy Holidays from George Vlad at Mindful Audio!Read More
After many months of recording, listening, editing and species IDing I can finally say the African Wild West library is complete. You can check it out in all its glory on my website or at A Sound Effect. I also wrote a pretty lengthy trip diary for ASFX, so if you're a fan of long reads check it out: https://www.asoundeffect.com/senegal-sound-recording/Read More
2018 update: there’s a new freebie library available. Get it here!
2016 is almost over and it's been a pretty good year for field recording. On the first day of the year I was in Romania recording ice, snow, dead silent forest ambiences, gears and a whole lot of other stuff. Some of these sounds made it into two sound effects libraries which were pretty well received.
Later in the year I attended a couple of field recording workshops with Chris Watson, I recorded a WW2 training airplane with the help of Rob Brown and Joe Cavers, and I got a Double MS rig which I then used for recording ambiences in South Africa. I'm still going through the recordings I made there and I will compile them into at least two libraries in the near future.
I've also done many smaller recording sessions which resulted in a multitude of very varied sound recordings, from water dripping in various places to beaches and from various vehicles to hits and impacts. They come in very handy in my daily work as a sound designer but they're also quite an eclectic mix that can't be organized in libraries. Therefore I thought I'd share some of these as a freebie set to thank everyone who has ever purchased a library from me.
Happy Holidays and may the next year be even better than 2016!
My first commercial sound effects library Woodland Atmosphere has been out for almost a month, and so far the feedback is quite encouraging. Shortly after release I wrote a Q&A for A Sound Effect, but I feel there's a lot more I can share about recording and mastering the library.
First of all it was never my intention to put together and release Woodland Atmosphere. I had several excellent nature libraries (the Quiet Planet series comes to mind), and this took care of my requirements for nature ambiences for a while. The situation changed as soon as I had to recreate a typical UK woodland ambience however. Everything sounded exotic and out of place, so the only way to fix this was to go out and record my own ambiences.
Fortunately I live in Edinburgh, so I have to drive for less than an hour before I can reach quiet areas of dense woodland that are teeming with wildlife. On top of that I'm familiar with the surroundings as we're out hiking quite often so I didn't have to waste time scouting locations.
The first time I went out to record the dawn chorus was in February this year, when the birds had barely started to sing. I was not going into this blind, as I had attended this Wildeye course in which Chris Watson and Jez Riley French covered the basics excellently, and other recordists and ornithologists shared invaluable insight and experiences with me. I had also read several books and countless blog posts on nature recording so I thought I'd be somewhat prepared for what lay ahead.
I was soon going to find out that no amount of discussion can replace first-hand experience. My first mistake was going out at 3 am, as I had noticed the birds in the trees beside my bedroom started to sing as early as 4 am. My plan was to go out even earlier so that I could record the full dawn chorus. Imagine my surprise when I got there on time and I could only hear the wind and a very distant owl hooting. I had to wait until about half past 5 before the first birds started to make themselves heard.
All this seemed peculiar enough, but I was enjoying the experience of being there too much to give it more thought. Only when I got home I remembered a discussion I had with other recordists from whom I learned about the influence of artificial lighting over birdsong. Birds in well lit areas such as cities will start singing much earlier than their rural cousins who see longer and darker nights. At any rate, from then on I would check the exact time of sunrise and time my recording trips so that I'd be on site half an hour earlier.
Once I got to the site, a nice and dense woodland area far away from traffic and settlements, I would park the car and start laying cables. This was an excellent opportunity for me to make mistake #2, i.e. not checking if the XLR connector I had in hand was male or female. This is usually not a problem with short cables, but I was laying down 50 metres of cable in dense and muddy brush. The flies, spiders and other insects made things worse, not to mention I was scaring away the birds. Fortunately it only happened a couple of times before I learned my lesson.
When the microphones were in place and connected to the recorder in the car I went out and placed my Sony PCM D100 about 500m further, with the input levels set at about 50%. This got me a different perspective on what I was recording, and occasionally a close-up of a few crows or Robins. I once made the mistake of setting the levels too hot (about 70%), and a pesky wren came too close and ruined an otherwise perfect recording. Setting them too low didn't work either, but once I'd done it a few times I learned to roughly predict how loud the dawn chorus would get based on location, weather conditions, time of the year or simply by listening.
Speaking of weather, the BBC Weather app was an excellent companion before and on recording trips. On top of providing accurate weather info (at least for the following day), it also displays daily sunrise/sunset time and wind speed and direction. If I didn't want to specifically record wind I wouldn't even bother going out if the wind was over 5 mph. Even if the Rycote fluffies that I use can easily block 10 to 15 mph wind, the sound of it blowing through leaves and the wood creaks would make the recordings unusable.
Another element that made more than 80% of my recordings unusable was also far less easy to control, predict or avoid. I'm talking of course about the ubiquitous sheep, but I'll leave this along with equipment and mastering details for Part 2. Until then enjoy this bit I dug up from the archives, recorded in March with the DPA 4060s into the Sound Devices 633. Follow the Soundcloud link if you want to download and use it royalty-free:
Hi there. I'm George Vlad and I work in game audio. I'm incredibly passionate about what I do, to the extent that work and spare time blend and amalgamate with each other on a regular basis. One example is the enjoyment that I derive from spending time in the great outdoors, hiking, trekking or simply laying on the grass and listening to the subtle sounds around me. This provides excellent opportunities to record sounds that I require in my day-to-day work.
A logical progression from recording countless gigabytes' worth of audio is putting together libraries that can be shared with fellow sound professionals. This year alone I've been on more than 20 recording trips just covering the dawn chorus, which yielded about 70 GB worth of recordings. I have also recorded extensive footsteps and Foley, paper sounds, small cogs and gears and many others that can very well be organized into libraries.
The actual planning took more time than the execution, mainly due to my fixation with having everything done perfectly (not that different from what is discussed in this Designing Sound article). I spent countless hours trying to create a concept and to translate it into words. I also had the pleasure of collaborating with talented artists when working on the company logo and library covers, but I still felt like I wasn't making any progress. However, once the graphics were done and I was recording dawn choruses twice or even three times a week, a sort of momentum started to build up. I'm certain that reading Paul Virostek's books and blog posts helped speed things up, as have countless discussions with friends and fellow sound professionals.
At any rate, here we are. Mindful Audio is live, and the first library is due to be published in a few days. I'll follow up in a week's time with the detailed story of how the Woodland Atmosphere library came to be. Here's to a hundred more libraries.