lördag 15 april 2017

Field recording session: Creating Waterscapes

In this blog post I wanted to share a project i have been working on in my spare time. It started as an idea of getting a collections of waterscape recordings with ambiance from wind birds but still retaining the close presence of the river/creek recorded.  Started doing the recordings last summer. Used my usual recording gear. For ambiance I used the PCM-D100, for near field I used an ORTF-setup with the NT5s into my H6 and for the real close up I used a hydrophone, a H2a-XLR from Aquarian Audio in to the H6.

The first recording session was done on two locations. The first location was at a small creek running thru large drainpipe connecting two woodland lakes. Placed the D100 at some distance on one side of the drainpipe and the ORTF-setup and hydrophone on the other side.

The second location was at the end of a large river where the river empties to a lake. At this location I used the same strategy. D-100 at some distance from the river, ORTF setup in parallel with the running water in order to get a nice stereo image, placed the hydrophone where the water was the most turbulent.
Locations session 1:
S1-1: https://goo.gl/maps/hEA9kspeSK72
S1-2: https://goo.gl/maps/UHjXH2PhJRn

The second recording session was done later the same week. I found this old abandoned railway bridge over a small river with a small wooden bridge in parallel. This location had very interesting acoustic due to the railway bridge and since the bridge was located in the middle of the woods it had a very good natural ambiance. Tried several placements from the D100 for ambiance. One with the capsules in the direction to the railway bridge, second placement at the side of the wooden bridge in parallel with the water and the third placement about 10-20 m further into the woods. The latter placement was the most satisfying as ambiance. The ORTF setup was placed on the wooden bridge with the hydrophone directly underneath.

Location session 2:

It became quite clear when reviewing the recordings that the tracks with ambiance had the most impact on creating the spatial properties I set out to record. The near field tracks and hydrophone were important for the perceived size of the waterscape but not to the same degree as the ambiance. So by blending these tracks from each location or by blending different locations one can really transform the waterscape which brings us into the realm of sound design. The most interesting thing by doing these recordings is the profit one gets. By only using three different setups at three different locations one gets a large pallet of sounds one can use, study and transform too ones own liking.

The next steps for me at this point is to record even more waterscapes not only rivers and creeks but also beaches, waterfalls and essentially any other wasterscapes which could be of interest for the listener.
If you like this post or blog please leave a comment, follow me on twitter and or on soundcloud.

With best regards,

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dan-nyberg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/D_Nyb

lördag 8 april 2017

Field recording session: Recording 15000 Cranes

Spring time has arrived and with it so does the wildlife and more importantly it creates opportunities for field recordings. In the end of March and the beginning of April every year thousands of Cranes arrive at the end of a small lake in the middle of Sweden, lake Hornborga. The Cranes main purpose is to rest, eat and dance, before heading to their breeding grounds up north.

Since I moved to the south parts of Sweden for about 5 years ago I always wanted to travel to this location and record the sounds of this event. However schedule issues have interfered previous years. So I decided that this year was the year!!

The obsession started back at the 12th of March, when the first statistics started showing up. 102 Cranes counted for. Then the count increased, 13th March – 570, 14th March – 615, 15th March – 830. At the 22nd of March the count was up to 9780, then I decided to plan the trip to the next coming week. I extrapolated roughly that the count would be up to around to 11000 Cranes at the middle of that week. The more Cranes more sound was my initial strategic plan.

Tuesday the 28th of March I packed my car and started the 2 hour and 40 minutes drive to Lake Hornborga. Weather forecast: large amount of mist, 3 m/s winds and approx. 9-10° C and last nights Crane statistics 15800 Cranes.

Arrived at the lake at 09:00 and....Holy flying objects Batman!....Cranes everywhere and the sound was... prehistoric...yeah prehistoric is the closest word I can find too describe it. Let me put it this way the wait was worth it.

So for recording at a new location comes with both positives and negatives. So lets talk about the surrounding soundscape. Firstly: the location where the Cranes land and rests is very close to a highly trafficked highway with almost none natural obstacles for absorption of the traffic sounds. Secondly: The event is very popular amongst bird-watchers and bird-enthusiast. Both of which were very cumbersome to avoid. After about 30 – 35 min of walking and trying different spots I managed to find a location with some shielding from the traffic noise and only a few bystanders passing by, 2 or 3 persons every other 5 min. This spot was also, and more importantly, at close range to the Cranes, roughly 20 - 40 m. So I ended up setting up the gear beside a walkway between the parking lot and the main viewing area. Recording location: https://goo.gl/maps/MFMVREeApsK2

The gear used during the recording was essentially my basic field recording setup, consisting of:
  • Matching pair of RØDE NT5s connected to my H6 in ORTF configuration
  • SONY PCM-D100 in AB configuration
  • Sennheiser HD280
Placed the systems about 2 m next to each other.
When reviewing the recordings back home my suspicions got confirmed. A lot of the recordings contained traffic noise and voices from bystanders. So a large amount of post processing and editing had to be done in order to make the recordings usable.

So what did I learn?
Next time recording at this location a shotgun microphone or even a parabolic dish microphone are needed to avoid unwanted sounds. I would most certainly arrive a day before and do the recordings at dawn to avoid noise from traffic. Next I might even rent of the bird-watcher hideouts to get really close. But sitting in a hideout with the dimensions of 2x2,5 m from 0430 until 2100 with 15000 Cranes outside screaming seems a bit extreme... or would it?
So if you have the chance do stop by Lake Hornborga its quite the experience.

Here are some useful links:
Lake Hornborga location:

Information and main viewing area:

Crane Statistics:

söndag 2 april 2017

Field recording session: Dawn Chorus

Last weekend I went to one of the nearby lakes to watch the sunrise and record the dawn chorus. Location: https://goo.gl/maps/QikNCHoQhRM2. This lake is essentially a flooded field and is great for bird-watching. The county (kommunen) has build bird-watching towers around the lake for easy access. This is not without problems since it is very popular place, and the sound pollution from both people and traffic can be large. However to record the dawn chorus on a Saturday is a good way to eliminate some of the sound pollution since not many people are a wake at 05:00 in the morning.

So I went to highest location at the lake, which is a cliff called Rödberget (loosely translated to Red Mountain) located at the south of the lake. At this location one gets a very nice overview of the entire lake. I did the same thing last year, however with less good results.

 Link to last years recording: 

This year I brought my trusty PCM-D100 and my ORTF stereo set-up a matched pair of RODE NT5:s connected to an H6. I placed the ORFT set-up at a fixed point at the edge of the cliff to get a nice stereo-image of the lake and placed the D100 at different locations throughout my visit. Did the recordings in HD, 96 kHz, 24 bit.

When listening back at the recordings I always get amazed about how much communication there is between animals which one misses when not paying attention and not activity listening.

So here are the recordings I made, I hope you enjoy listening to the as mush as I do and enjoyed recording them.

Best regards,

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