Saturday, February 5
Truck record-part 2:recording
In part 1 of my Benavides Born truck postmortem I discussed the spotting, scouting and planning of the record. Now on to the actual record date.
As one final bit of planning before heading out I assembled all of the gear the night before, hooked it all up and tested it all out. I then prepped my wind protection and travel setup to be as pre-made and lightweight as possible. I transported the 552 mixer and 744t recorder in the petrol bag (wired), the mics in a hardshell multi-mic case, and the cables, batteries, headphones and hd-p2 recorder in a pair of softie tote bags. The microphones that were going to be strapped to the vehicle were pre-wrapped with wind protection.
On the day of recording this was a three person shoot: myself to record, my friend Dave to drive, and our intern Mike to handle exterior perspectives. We met after breakfast and headed South to Ennis and the trucks by 10 am.
When we arrived on the scene everyone had jobs that could be handled simultaneously. Dave went to work combing through the truck and removing or securing any loose items floating around in the cab. Mike started unpacking and setting up the recorders and cables, and I went about mounting the mics.
I used zip ties to secure a pair of Sennheiser 421s to the axle and rear frame of the truck to catch the tire and exhaust perspectives. You're not looking at the final mount points (that axle mic ended up with more zipties and rotated up to allow the axle to block the wind), but you get the idea.
Those two angles ended up being incredibly useful in post and make up the majority of the onboard sound. Also, i'll note here that the combination of towels and drafting location worked incredibly well with regards to wind protection. Dealing with wind is one of the trickiest parts of vehicle recording, and I wasn't really hearing anything out of place on those mics until we passed 60mph or so.
I placed the sanken lav mic in the back of the engine compartment away from the radiator, and had Dave crank the engine to listen for the best spot to put the SM81. After some trial and error we found a good spot shooting up from underneath at the engine from right in front of the passenger floorboard. Again, you're not looking at the final mounting setup on that SM81. Many more zip ties came into play there.
Cables were carefully run along mount points under the truck and up through the passenger window, where they landed at the 552 and 788t in the bag.
Interior perspectives came via my PCM D50.
The process of mounting, cabling, and testing the mics took about 90 minutes. We had allowed time for experimentation and listening and took our time making sure all of the mount points and cable runs were secure before setting out. With everything in place, we broke for lunch and then set about covering the shot list.
For each of the moving shots I sat in the back seat with the recorders, Dave drove from up front, and Mike followed us with the boom from outside. Our moving coverage included idling (5 minutes) starts, stops, rollbys and peelouts on gravel, some bumpy roads, and street coverage of bys at 20, 35, 45, and 60 mph. Were were careful not to spend time recording things outside of the list because we only had access for the one day and needed to cover everything within our time frame.
Here's a sampling of some of the moving truck sounds:
With movement covered we shifted our attention to foley. My foley list was pretty extensive so we used multiple mics and recorders to cover perspectives simultaneously.
I learned from participating in Tim Prebble's Doors project the value of multiple perspectives and performances on these types of things. As such we caught near, wide and int perspectives on each move, and ran 5x iterations of soft, medium and hard. Coverage for this treatment included doors, tailgate, and hood. The doors were the really important part of this though, as people were constantly getting in and out of the truck in the film and variations on perspective and performance were imperative when cutting doors in.
Once those were finished Mike and I crawled into the cab with just the MKH60 and started covering everything else in mono. Seatbelts, locks, windows, body movements in seats, and most importantly a bunch of iterations of the dry transmission shifter moving.
By now we had lost our light, so we stripped the truck back down, packed and secured our stuff, thanked the owners and headed back.
In part three I'll go over how those sounds worked in post and what I did to add them to our library.