A multi-disciplinary designer’s journey in field recording, sound design, sound effects, and music.

Merry (8-Bit) Christmas!

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, news

Who knew pine trees grew on sandy Caribbean atolls?

This sound was recorded on Christmas Eve in 2008, on a tiny speck of sand and palm trees in the Caribbean called Glover’s Reef, at the edge of an atoll dozens of miles off the coast of Belize. Someone had hauled a pine tree to the island and decorated it. While palm trees swayed in the wind and the surf broke all around (which you can hear in the background), a small Christmas card sound chip strapped to the tree – so small I couldn’t find it in the dark – played ultra-low-quality Christmas carols all night long.

[I have featured other interesting recordings from Belize before.]

Hope your holiday season, no matter what your persuasion, is filled with love and peace…and a decent signal-to-noise ratio. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


[Zoom H2 recorder, 90° capsule spread]

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Heavy Metal Pie

Posted: December 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, sound design

Exterminate! Exterminate!

In North America, the end of the Western calendar year brings Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Christmas…lots of holidays, most of which revolve around eating. In our household, that means one thing above all else: PIE SEASON.

My wife loves making pies and tarts, and one of the baker’s secret weapons for such endeavors are pie weights. They’re simply large, heavy versions of the more common metal-ball-style keychain. Ours is about four feet in length.

While washing dishes after a piemaking bonanza, I noticed the sound it made as I dragged it over the lip of our stainless steel sink. Finally, on a rainy winter day, I decided to do some recording and processing.

I grabbed three things for this session: The pie weights, a really beat-up baking sheet, and a small model of a Dalek made from spare parts (a gift from a dear friend). I simply moved the pie weights across each of these objects in different ways. Hot metal-on-metal action!

The balls on the pie weights made a great ratcheting sound that instantly made me think of a castle portcullis being raised and lowered, or a ship’s winch retracting an anchor. Of course, the size of these weights made pretty bright sounds, but that’s what pitch shifting is for…

So, today’s sound is a mix of these sounds, some raw, and some pitched down significantly. I didn’t do anything besides pitch shifting and EQ, just to show how flexible these high-frequency, detailed sounds can be when recorded at 192kHz. These sounds were recorded with a large-diaphragm condenser mic, because I found that proximity effect from close-miking with a small-diaphragm condenser produced too much bass to provide the balanced, bright sounds that I was going after.


[Røde NT1a microphone into Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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