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, October 23

The Texas State Fair

Last weekend my wife and I took a trip to the Texas State Fair.

I did a little research beforehand, and after finding out that you can bring everything coolers of food to concealed handguns into the fair, I figured that a low pro recording rig wouldn't cause much of a fuss.  Sure enough, I got in without much of a fuss despite looking like I was carrying a weird plastic tube weapon.

The thing about the sound of the state fair is that there is music pumping and blaring everywhere and in almost every building, which doesn't leave much room for commercially usable recordings.  After about half a day I came back with a few things, but not really a whole lot of unique and distinct sounding things.

The midway was probably the most interesting sounding space, since there were rows of miked up carnival barkers calling races and hawking games to passersby.

Overall we had a great time despite not getting a whole ton recorded.  I also got that stylin hat. 

Sunday, October 16

A recording of Occupy Dallas

I'll preface this by saying that this is not a political blog, its an audio one.  This post is about the unique audio I was able to record yesterday.

Occupy dallas march

I'm fascinated with how crowds of people sound, and while I'm always recording sports crowds I find protest and riot crowds to be the most unique and intriguing.  There's an energy there that you can't fake, and I was certainly trolling around for some recordings after the Madison protests and the Vancouver riots happened - but to no avail.

Yesterday I was sitting around deciding whether to go record the Texas State Fair or to head downtown and record Occupy Dallas - a protest group that's formed locally in solidarity with Occupy Wallstreet.

After checking their blog, I found that Occupy Dallas was planning a march on Goldman Sachs and I decided that I'd opt for that because I didn't know how many big opportunities I would have to record a good protest locally and in a fairly safe manner.

After a little thought I decided against going full stealth for this one.  I figured that there would be tons of media out there, both from within the protest and externally so I'd probably be fine with a proper mic pair up in the air.  I loaded up my low profile rig that consists of a pair of Line Audio CM3s in ORTF inside of a Rode blimp recorded into a Sony PCM D50 - all packed into a messenger bag.  I went with a gray shirt and blue jeans so as to not draw too much extra attention to myself though.  No hat, no sunglasses.

The blog said that the march was scheduled for 1pm, and by the time I was packed and tested it was already 1:45ish, so instead of heading to the OD headquarters at city hall I went straight to the Goldman offices in uptown.  Sure enough, there they were with a pretty large presence and the police holding a perimeter around them.  I parked about a block up and became painfully aware of how much like a bomb my audio rig still looks.  I must change that in the future.

After a few speeches and chants the event seemed wrapped up and the crowd started its march back downtown to city hall.

I made the decision that I hadn't recorded enough material yet and there was too much gold just walking away from me, so I loaded up and started walking with the group, having no idea what the route was or how far they would be headed.  We ended up heading about 3 miles south and the march took about 30 minutes, with chants and cheers going on the whole way.  It was a very parade like vibe, both serious and light hearted.  

It was also a pure clinic on populist chants and callbacks.  One of the leaders had them all loaded up and ready to go, and the group was right on with the responses.

There were times during the march when the group was spread out enough that it had overlapping chants going on at the front vs the back of the line.  At other times the group was more bunched up and had the effect of sounding larger and more cohesive.  Occasionally passing motorists would honk their horns and get cheers from the group.

By far the coolest audio event of the day was when the crowd marched under an interstate overpass.  All of the sudden there was this incredible city reverb washing over the entire group.  Everyone perceived it affected the tempo and intensity of the chants.  I have a byte of that at the end of the soundcloud link above, and I have a little iphone video as well.  You can hear how much it dries up once the group comes out from under the bridge.

Once everyone reached the base camp at city hall downtown everyone kind of settled in and took a break.  I bought some ice cream from a palatero down there and after resting for a moment I walked back to my car along the same route as the march and listened to the recordings the whole way back.

In all I got about 45 minutes of great stuff.  very little editing needed, and a heck of a good recording day.  I'll save the state fair for Monday.  :)

Wednesday, October 12

A semi stealth recording with my new CM3s

A month or so ago I stumbled upon a thread in the gearslutz forum where people were hyping a new mic called the CM3 that comes out of Sweden from a company named Line Audio.

After much discussion some guys started putting up sample recordings of the mics in shootouts against the Schoeps CMC6 mk4 mics, and I was so impressed I jumped and bought a couple.

The company I purchased from is called No Hype Audio, and they're really just that.  Jean Pol was incredibly helpful and responsive, and he got me the mics with shockmounts within a week.

I ran my own shootouts vs the schoeps CMC6/MK4, NT5, and SM81s and came away incredibly impressed. I'll have a more detailed blog post with the shootout later on.

After a few weeks of owning these little things I can certainly say that I don't feel like owning two is enough of them - I want more.   I'm lobbying Roger J├Ânsson, the manufacturer, to put out a hypercardioid and a figure 8 model.  :)

 Right out of the box, the striking thing about these mics is just how small and light they are.  They're literally shorter in length than a standard business card, and they weigh absolutely nothing.

They're the exact diameter of an NT5, and have a fairly wide cardioid pattern.  Given the size I figured I could mount them in a kind of ORTF setup inside of my Rode blimp and take them on a couple of test runs.

Holding them in your hand, its almost hard to take them seriously, but oh man they deliver on the sonic front.

Mounting is shown here, and the mics fit in this configuration effortlessly.

With everything loaded up I packed the rig into a messenger bag and left the blimp just kind of hanging over the top.  It still kind of looks like a pipe bomb up there, but I decided to risk it and jump onto the local commuter DART train for a few rides and other things.  I used my ipod earbuds for monitoring and jumped on.

I was able to actually get on the train while rolling and ride from stop to stop with no issues whatsoever.  I had a guy ask me for some change, but no one looked twice at the giant rocket launcher I carried around with me, which was very encouraging.

After a few trips up and down I hopped out and got some ins, outs, and bys as well.

The results speak for themselves - excellent detail, great imaging and a way better than "useable" recording of the entire commuter train experience.

Train Bys

Train in/stop/out with annc (standing with the bag slung over my shoulder)

All in all I'm very impressed with the new mics and I'm working hard on a more stealth-like rig in the near future.

Sunday, October 9

Kickstarter compilation thread

I feel like it makes sense to compile all of my Kickstarter posts into one master thread, so here they are:

part 1 - overview
part 2 - research and setup
part 3 - hard decisions
part 4 - project launch
part 5 - the interim
part 6 - recording, editing, metadata
part 7 - final numbers and thoughts

feel free to leave any thoughts or stories about kickstarter or the trolley sounds here.


Sunday, October 2

Kickstarter Pt 7 - Final Numbers and Thoughts

Well I'm finally at the end of this kickstarter road.  I've put a fair amount of energy into recapping the whole process, so hopefully someone out there has learned enough to inform a decision one way or the other on the process.

I initially set a $325 goal and I ended up raising $1725 before expenses from the backers of the project, which was a massive success.  I attribute that to three factors:
  1. Newness - not a lot of sound effects library kickstarters out there, and I think the community was really working out its viability as a platform and wanted to participate.  This effect could wear off in the future.
  2. Subject matter - not everyone has access to antique streetcars, and limited access to subjects tends to increase their value in the marketplace.  If I had decided to record car bys I probably wouldn't have met my funding goal.
  3. Exclusivity - the only way to get the library was to back the kickstarter, so some people who may have otherwise waited for a specific project instead had a strong incentive to go ahead and back now for fear of missing out and needing the sounds later.
Overall, expenses were as follows:

Kickstarter $83 (this ended up being slightly less than 5%)
Amazon $76.64 (ditto) 
Trolley car rentals $350 (increased because I chartered 2 cars instead of 1)
Equipment rentals $300 (increased because I wanted more coverage)
motorman tip $40
misc supplies $50

total expenses - $899.64

net profit $1725 - 899.64 = $825.36

Hours:  I'll bet that I can easily find 80 hours of work involved in the whole process when you include project setup and research, prepro and scoutiting, recording and editing, and back end administration.  

Good thing I love this stuff.


As you can see by the profit/hours ratio it would be pretty difficult to make a middle class living doing nothing but kickstarters even if they were all wildly successful - which is no guarantee.  The main reasons for this are the high percentages that KS and Amazon take coupled with the user liability for all expenses. 

There's also the very strange social effect of that huge number up there on the home page of the project showing the world exactly how much has been pledged.  I found that everyone remotely interested had an opinion on how much was raised, and once I significantly passed my goal everyone around me was looking for ways to spend the money.  I also imagine that my project's backers felt a bit of extra ownership of that number once it reached so far above its goal, which is partly why I chartered the extra streetcar and did the extra recording and editing.

Most businesses are not this open with their books, which illustrates something very important - Kickstarter is not a business model, it's a vehicle for getting projects done.  I couldn't have gotten both of those streetcars chartered without the help of the Kickstarter platform and my backers, and in the end that was my primary goal.  The extra money was secondary to the primary goal of getting those cars recorded.  

In that respect the kickstarter platform came through in spades.  

Kickstarter gave me a clean look, handled all media hosting, handled all payment transactions, and made communication with current and prospective backers incredibly easy and professional looking.  

The customer support and interface were both very good and at the end of the day all of the money showed up in my account, which is not to be taken for granted.  


So when should you and when should you not do a kickstarter?

In my opinion, you should seriously consider a kickstarter if your project meets the following criteria:
  • It genuinely requires funds to get off the ground
    • As outlined above, doing kickstarters purely for the money is kind of paddling upstream.  Use KS as a tool when money isn't the goal, but getting a project done is.
  • It's something that others would genuinely want to back and receive rewards from.
    • Doing KS projects for items that are either ubiquitous or useless is not setting yourself up for success.  Have something specific and make sure its interesting and useful to the community at large.
  • It's been vetted, cleared and is ready to go.
    • Don't launch a KS project for something that you're not positive that you can deliver on.  It would be the worst thing in the world to launch a KS, meet your goal, and then have to explain to your backers that you didn't have access to that cool sounding thing after all.
  • It's something that you're willing to invest extra hours in to administer
    • Doing a kickstarter requires a heavier investment in time than just the recording and editing that come with traditional sound effects projects.  Setting up the initial pitch, maintaining the project site, doing updates and corresponding with backers all take time.
If you already own an SFX site and have access to cheaper money than the 10% KS and Amazon charge then you may have a hard time justifying a KS financially.  If you don't, but have a one-off project that others may have interest in though, I'd highly recommend it.

thanks for reading.