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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.

Tuesday, December 27

Christmas Day recordings

Every year for about 6 hours there's a magical time when downtown Dallas sits empty and motionless, and the opportunity for unique recordings presents itself.

In anticipation of this event I asked a question over at social sound design about what to record, and got some good answers.  Top of my list were the church bells at the Cathedral Guadalupe downtown, and some impulse responses of the various spaces downtown.

I've also been itching to test out my quad ambiance rig that I'm going to be using for future ambience sfx library recording.

The rig is two Schoeps CMC6.MK4 mics in the front and two Line Audio CM3s for the rear, each in ORTF.  The mounts are just 3 stereo bars interlocked to one another.  All of that ran into an SD 552, then into a 744t at 24 bit, 96k.

On Christmas morning I headed out at about 7am and set up camp near the church. There was no wind, no traffic, no people.

I knew from the church's website that Spanish mass started at 7:30, so I rolled in this position from 7:20 until about 7:45.  I got some really great birds here, and while there was almost zero traffic anywhere near me, the movement from the highway traveled throughout the city and still made up the majority of the sound of that place.   The bells didn't ring though, so I popped a balloon for an impulse response and considered my next move.

I decided to pack up and try another locale, but first I went into the church and asked about the cathedral bells.  The people inside told me that the bells would ring around 9am, right before the English mass.

Armed with that info, I changed positions to right in front of the cathedral bells and rolled again, this time from 8:45 until about 9:20.

 Plenty of interesting ambience of people walking into the church, but no joy with the bells.  My mics were aimed at the cathedral, so the traffic bys that I caught were interesting in that the perspective shifted the cars from back left to front left as they rode by.  There were still very few civilian vehicles in the city, but the busses were starting to pick up.  It was difficult to find an opportunity to pop a balloon for an IR because I didn't want any of the extra movement that was going on to taint it, but with some patience I found my spot and got my IR.  When I was convinced the bells weren't going to go I packed it up and moved on to another part of downtown.

This locale was great because it was really isloated from both the bus routes and the highway traffic.  It also had some flag jingling potential nearby, but the lack of wind made that pretty irrelevant.  I decided to position the mics for traffic bys nonetheless though, and aimed the rig so that traffic would move by left to right in front of the array.  It was now 9:30 or so and traffic in the city was beginning to pick up.  The balloon IR here was nice and washy, with fewer reflections than I expected in this locale.

After about 20 I picked up and headed across the highway to deep ellum.

Again, I got my IR out of the way early by finding a dead spot in traffic and popping a balloon.  No cars passed in front of my mics in this location, but a few passed on the perpendicular streets to the left and right.  Again, the busses were the primary sources of traffic, and when they were done I was able to go 5 minutes at a time between vehicle sightings.

So in the end I got a few really interesting IRs in quad, I got to test the quad rig out, and I got some uniquely quiet city sounds - all before noon on christmas day.

For the payoff, here are some of the sounds that I got.  First, the IRs in the order presented here in the blog:

Those are the front channel only, but they're pretty illustrative of what I was able to get.  Not perfect, but not ruined either.

Next are the front and rear wide ambiances from the first photo.  If you want to hear them in quad, then download them, line them up your DAW, and route appropriately.  I boosted gain here by 10db from the level actually recorded for internet purposes, but no other processing has been done.

Finally some traffic that I caught at the main street location. This is a much longer clip with some really interesting things going on.

Despite all of the action going on in these clips, I was easily able to get a solid 5 minutes of non-movement sounds from each of the locales I recorded.  It really just sounds like the traffic wash in the background of the clips, but I have tons of it now.


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