I can work on your project.

Find me! Call DAP at 214.350.7678 or email rene@dallasaudiopost.com. Also check out echocollectivefx.com for custom sfx, and tonebenders.net for my podcast.

Sunday, June 26

uptown trolley

Yesterday I ventured out to uptown to record a trolley for The Sound Collector's club. The trolley I was after was one of the restored mckinney ave trolleys, and I found pretty much what I was after.

The trolley is free to ride and makes its entire circuit in about 40 minutes. when I got onboard the conductor said "hello" to everyone, and then rolled us down the rails. He had a footpedal that would ring the bell before he took off from a stop, and the trolley had pretty nice sounding airbrakes as well. The door opened in a classical bus/trolley lever move and had a nice old sounding squeak to it.

Because I picked a sunday afternoon to do my recording I ended up on a pretty busy trolley, with lots of people getting on and off at every stop. I never had a stop on the entire circuit that didn't have kids on it.

At the end of the tracks near cityplace we all changed our (ancient creaky wooden seats) over to the opposite direction by moving the back to the other side on a hinge, resulting in us sitting in the same seats but facing the opposite direction.

That trolley is a thoroughly interesting sounding car because of just how creaky and squeaky it all is, and I really need to charter the thing to get a proper recording done. All in all it was good fun though, and is a treasure sitting right there in my own backyard.

Thursday, June 9

west texas gun recording pt 3-post and lessons learned

In part 1 of this series I talked about prepro and prep for our little gun shoot. Part 2 went through the craziness that happened on the day of the shoot. Now lets get into the post process and lessons learned.

Post on these sounds was actually pretty straightforward.

In a 24bit 96k session I opened all of the files, named them according to my voice slates, and then lined them up in time. It should be noted here that I did not align them hyper-exactly, as I wanted the explosions to spread out a bit and take up some space.

With everything lined up I started soloing out tracks and setting up signal chains per.

Things that surprised me:

- 421 gave me very little. I hadn't recorded guns with that mic before, but didn't get as much punch as I was hoping for.

- Schoeps CMC6 was hitting the limiter a little too hard even with the pre all the way down, which was ruining the moments after the attack. I'm confident I can get a way better recording out of this mic than I did that day.

- AT4050s were amazing. I had a good feeling about what I would get from those mics, but I was really blown away by how much low end and transient response made it out to that position. Having them 100 yards up range was still barely far enough away. Putting them in omni was absolutely the right decision.

-some of the ricochets were amazing. The guys shot down a tree during the process, and some of the shrapnel and debris was really pretty sweet.

- I discovered that my H4n wasn't set to the internal mics on the day, so that's another set of mics I didn't have going.

Things that didn't surprise me:

-416 sounded great

-COS11 was amazing

-NT5 gave me something worthwhile

-with me running all of these mics and having to monitor everything on a one hour timeframe I ended up missing some technical details in the field


Signal chains on each channel reflected my initial concept of miking for punch, mech, and verb.

Punch mics went through the H-comp and got thier heads lopped off.

Mech mics went through a little low end rolloff and a less sever H comp

verb mics went through a c4 set to multiband expansion with a superfast attack and a very slow release that coincided with the decay

Mono mics were all panned slightly off center in order to clear up room there.

Everything summed through another H comp set to give me a little analog feel and some punch, and an L2007 limiter.

Settings were tweaked per gun and printed, but plugs were generally not swapped out or anything.

I output 4 layers per gun - Full mix, distant, mech, and foley

Here's a little sample of what I came up with:

West texas guns by Rcoronado

and here's what my final output and metadata ended up looking like:


So here's a quick list of things I'd do differently:

1) have more time
the time crunch before sunset really put a damper on my ability to test and react to technical issues. I didn't feel free to fix my NT5 that wasn't giving me signal, I ran the H4n and didn't record anything on it, and I have to attribute some of my results with the AT4050s to pure dumb luck because I wasn't able to monitor them as we were shooting.

2) have more help
Even though there were four of us on the shoot, I was the only one not firing and loading weapons. This meant I was responsible for setting up, monitoring, and troubleshooting every channel which added to my time pressures and forced mistakes I didn't have to make.

3) pad that Schoeps CMC6
Much of my disappointment in the sounds I got from the Schoeps were due not to the mic but to the limiter in the 788t. I hadn't set it to go superfast, and the action on the limiter hurt what I had going. In the end I should just pad that mic anyway.

4) shoot the 416 from the right instead of over the shoulder
As a mech mic I put that one in entirely the wrong spot. I liked what I got from it, but I think I left the shell ejects a little uncovered, and I think moving the position of the 416 would remedy that.

5) more verb mics!
NT5s in ORTF should probably be even further away and probably aimed 180 degrees away. more omni mics and further away. roll a D50 out somewhere. verb verb verb!

6) impact and debris mics

I would have loved to have a couple of mics on the tree that the guys were targeting for impact and debris sounds. That will happen next time for sure.


Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. Lots of lessons learned, still got some pretty good recordings, and now I'm amped up for the next one.

Tuesday, June 7

west texas gun recording pt 2-recording day

In part 1 of this little series I went over the background and prep, and in this part I'll go over how the day of the record went.

The day before the shoot I had tested and packed everything up, and I drove to Lubbock on a Saturday morning. It's about a 5 hour drive from DFW, and after leaving at 8:30 am, I arrived at my destination around 1:30, with sunset due at 8:15 pm. When I met up with my gun-toting friends I was informed that the site that we had so carefully scouted was in the process of being bulldozed.


Time for plan B, and we had to scramble. We had access to a hunting lease about an hour outside of town, but it was relatively unscouted. It was a couple hundred acres of dry plains wilderness. With no alternatives we loaded up and headed out. Upon arrival we found another group of people out on the lease, camping and chilling out. We informed them of our intent and started scouting.

Scouting mostly consisted of me walking around and clapping. Most of the lease was pretty flat sounding, but I eventually landed in the spot you see in the photos and video. This was the most heavily wooded area, and really the only place with any notable echo at all, which was the primary thing I was looking for.

With our location set, I went about setting up the mics while the boys prepped the weapons. It was closing in on 6pm at this point.

My setup was:

-COS11 lav on the shooter
-Senn421 and Schoeps CMC6Mk4 for punch
-Rode Nt5 pair and AT4050 pair for verb
-I fried my Sony D50 the week before, so I brought a Zoom H4n for more verb


NT5s in ORTF

Schoeps CMC6 MK41

AT 4050s distant

Senn 421

Senn 416

Setup ran until about 6:30 pm, which meant I was going to lose daylight fast. I had the lav on a lanyard, which we used to quickly change out between the guys shooting and I told them all that priority was variety. I had each shooter try to vary his angle and target, and after one clip or so I was moving on to the next gun.

After the first test shoot I realized that one of my Nt5s was not passing signal. I did a quick look to make sure that my cable was connected and my channel was set properly, but after nothing obvioius reared its head I had to make the call to just roll with the one mic and get what I could get given the time that I had available. If we had gotten there an hour earlier I would have stopped it all down to troubleshoot, but I didn't feel I had the luxury of time. After the fact I discovered that the mic/line switch on the mixer had settled into a halfway point that killed the channel, so while it would have been an easy fix with a little more time I felt like I had to make a call and roll with it. I'm still not sure if that was the right call or not given what the issue ended up being.

On top of setting and monitoring everything I was also having to shoot the vid with the iphone, since the other guys were spending all of their time prepping and loading guns.

Here's the mic comparison of the different perspectives on a couple of different guns:

west texas gun shoot-mic comparisons from rene coronado on Vimeo.

After we had exhausted our weaponry, the other people at the lease pulled up in their 4-wheelers and offered to let my guys shoot the guns that they had on them as well. This netted us a .357 magnum and a 9mm high point rifle that we wouldn't have gotten otherwise, so that ended up being a really nice thing from what could have been a crappy situation.

As we were packing up, I went to the H4n and facepalmed as I looked and saw that it was set on line input mode and had recorded nothing. I really needed an intern out on this thing.

All in all, we shot 12 guns in about an hour and were packed up and heading out as dusk set in at 8:15.

Here's a comp of all of the guns we shot:

West Texas Gun Shoot 2011 from rene coronado on Vimeo.

In part 3 I'll discuss some of the things that I'd do differently and reiterate some of the things that really worked well.

Wednesday, June 1

west texas gun recording pt 1-prep

So a little while back I packed up the mics and headed out west to record some gunfire with my friends. Not because I had a project that required it or anything, but just because they have lots of guns and I have lots of mics. Also, weapon recording is one of those techniques that requires experience and iteration, so any opportunity to do this type of recording is to be seized upon.

What I'd like to outline here is my prep process, experiences, and things that I would do differently.


I have done gun records before, but have not really come back with the results I thought I could. My previous experience came from carbon copying Charles Mayne's setup as described on Gamasutra. From that article:

Channels 1/2
Start with a stereo pair of dynamic mics basically arranged in an equilateral triangle from the weapon, with the two mics in front, and pointing to the weapons muzzle. Try to have about a 8- to 12-foot distance here, but it may vary further depending on the gun itself.

Channels 3/4
A second stereo pair condenser mics in an x/y pattern. Try putting about 10 to 12 feet behind the weapon. These are elevated also to about 7 feet. Do some test firing, sometimes you will shift the whole setup and sometimes change the directions the mics are pointing for a better sound.

Channels 5/6
Again a stereo pair, this time a Crown SASS stereo PZM mic. Place the mic setup about 30 feet behind the weapon. This mic captures a very nice low end from most weapons

Channels 7/8
Start with a shotgun mic set up on the right side of the weapon, just over the shoulder of the shooter. For the second channel, a Lavaliere can be attached to the weapon or the person shooting the weapon

While my results from that setup were very usable and interesting, they weren't amazing, and that's mainly due to a series of mistakes I made due to inexperience at the time. We do this in order to learn.

I learned how much I didn't use the SM57s that I had in XY, and how much I really did use the COS-11 lav mic. I learned that Sennheiser MKH series mics don't respond to really loud sounds very well.

But mostly I learned just how important location is.


Guns make lots of noise. The initial attack of a weapon firing is often only fractions of a second long. The vast majority of what you're listening to in any given gun recording in a film or game context is how that initial contained explosion sounds as it echoes out through the space it's in. This means that location is one of the most critical things you're dealing with on a gun shoot. Ideally you want a location that has lots of interesting reflections and is also free of traffic and insect noise. This is much easier to say than to find. Remote private canyon-like areas are really the best bets, at least in this part of the country.

The location for my first and uninteresting gun shoot was very flat and non-reflective. It looked like it would sound good, so we went with it, but in the end it really didn't. Out in the middle of the plains and facing one sand berm, it was difficult to really get any good reflections going. I had failed to understand the degree to which location would influence my sounds, and I paid for it.

For this gun shoot I was determined to not fall victim to that again. I had one of my friends scout a private gun range north of town that was a custom built range with 12 foot sand dunes that were making great reflections and verbs.


My philosophy here was to break the sound of a gunshot into three parts and then retro fit my gear choices around what I figured to be the best way to record those parts.

- Punch -

My punch mics were going to generally be a medium distance from the weapon and aimed at it from in front. I went with a Senn 421 and a Schoeps CMC6 MK41. Mono makes the most sense for punch IMO, so I didn't bother with a dynamic XY setup.

- Mech -

For mech I needed to isolate the mechanical movements of the weapons fired while excluding the explosions and verb to the best of my abilities. Mech also makes sense in mono, so there are no stereo elements here either. I learned on the first shoot how amazing the (wired) COS11 lav sounds for mech, so I went with that and with the Senn 416, which I would aim from behind and over the shoulder. In retrospect I think I should have used the 416 to come at the weapon from the shell eject side at about a 90 degree angle.

- Verb -

The key element, and I wanted to spend as many channels as needed to on this. I decided to bring a stereo pair of AT4050s in omni that I would place a hundred yards or so downrange. The 4050s are great workhorse large diaphragm mics that are quiet and clean sounding, so I figured they'd be prime candidates for verb recordings. I also would bring my rode NT5s set up in ORTF and place them behind the shooter. Additionally I'd bring my Sony PCM D50 and run the internal mics on that.

For recorders I ran with a sound devices 788t for all of the close up mics, a Tascam HDP2 for the distant 4050s, and the sony as a standalone unit.

I also shot video of everything on my iphone.

In part 2 I'll discuss what happend on the day of the shoot.