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, November 27

an unconventional train recording

A while back I scouted out a remote train recording location along a track that I knew to be under pretty regular use by the freight lines that run through downtown.  Its amazing sonically, but not in the nicest part of town so I have to choose my times of day carefully since I don't want to be out there after dark.

The unique thing about this location is the fact that its right over the trinity river basin and has perfect access to the underside of the train bridge.  This presented a golden opportunity to both record a train by from a unique perspective (underneath) and to plant some contact mics on the rails and see what those things would hear.  I also wanted to do a very wide perspective since so many train bys that I hear and record lately are of the very closeup variety.

As I was still getting set up a train ran up over me and surprised me.  I panicked a bit, rolled on the audio, fretted about my contact mics not being set up, grabbed my handheld recorder, and looked for the video button on my phone.  The rest is in the vid below.

you'll notice that about halfway through I had to flip the video because I was holding my phone upside down, which made the train go in the wrong direction on the vid. good times.

 Here's a more detailed look at the setup:
Contact Mics

Mics under rails

Mics ORTF aimed up in the blimp

and here are the sounds from up close: The contact mics yielded surprisingly little sound and none of it really ended up being very interesting. On my next run I may try them on the wood rail ties. In all it was a pretty good shoot despite that, but I certainly feel as though I can get more and better sounds if I keep coming out.

As a side note, I will be posting the high res files of both the close and wide perspectives on two train passes to The Sound Collector's Club for download.  All you need to do is sign up and post a train recording of your own to get them.

Join in the fun!

Thursday, November 17

stealth rig prototype

A few days ago I posted a few pix of the stealth rig I'm developing to the twitter and got some interested responses, so I'll spell out what I'm thinking in a little more detail here.

I'm actually surprised there's not a commercially available hyper portable rig with suspension and wind protection available out on the market.  Here are the needs I'm trying to address:
  • inconspicuousness - I'd like to be able to take this out into a crowd and not get strange looks.  I'd also like it to not look like a bomb.
  • wind protection - very important to be able to take this out into low to moderate wind conditions and get usable recordings
  • low handling noise - I'd like the rig to be well suspended enough that I can carry it while walking without audible bumps
  • all in one - I want the entire rig to be together - recorder, cables, shockmount and mics in one package.
Why not just roll that D50 out there in those situations?  In many cases I do.  The D50 meets all of the above criteria and does them beautifully.  (yes, I can totally walk around with it and not get handling noise)

But with all of that said when I can I'd like to run better mics.  The D50s mics are just fine for most things but I really do like my CM3s quite a bit more, and if I can create the option to use them in stealth situations then I would very much like to, so I've built this:

So here are the basic components:

-The cage:  In this case I'm using a wire wine holder I got at Hobby Lobby.  I stripped off some of the extraneous decorative wood and other bits, and was left with a sturdy steel cage and a chickenwire surround.

- The mounts: The shockmounts were part of the CM3 package that I bought from No Hype Audio.  They're very nice, compact, and they mount into the wooden bottom that I've attached to the bottom of the cage.

- The cables:  I was looking to make the most low-pro cables I could, so I jumped on Markertek and found this mogami w2697 lav mic cable (cheap), and a pair of Neutrick NM3FXI female XLRs that are basically half-length.  I got some heat shrink to work as protection and strain relief.  The upside to this type of cabling is that its super low pro and flexible.  The downside is that it's not nearly as rf-shielded as a thicker and less flexible cable.  I may try to build a pair of short right angle cables in the future.

- The recorders: That's a Deneke PS-2 on the right providing XLR in and phantom power (just tie wrapped on for now) and the PCM D50 on the left.

-the wind protection - still in testing.  I'm in the process of testing out various covers and layouts that would work here.  One idea I had was to take a piece of cloth and attach it to the bottom, then kind of flap it over and cover the entire device from front to back.  This leaves access along the sides (through the folds of the cloth) to the recording devices.  Another idea would be a basic pillow-case type cover that just plops over the top and is measured to the right length.  recorder access would be the issue to get addressed when fabricating that way.  I'm also testing which fabrics give me the best wind protection/transparency ratio.  I was pretty surprised to find out how much high end the rode deadcat was knocking down, so I still have much to learn there.

so that's it.  The rig works fine, it's kind of lunchboxy when I use the flannel cover, and it sounds great.

comment with any other questions you may have.

Quickie fieldrecording tip - tapslating

Over my last several larger scale audio shoots I've made and then subsequently ignored my input lists in lieu of a different method - tap slating.

Tap slating is what it sounds like.  You set all of the mics up about where you want them to go, then run cables and plug them into the recorder.  Hit record, and walk around to each mic.  Tap the mic and slate.

*tap tap* "that's the schoeps CMC6 MK4 on a shockmount aimed at the exhaust"
*tap tap* "this is a 421 passenger side axle aimed at the tire"
*tap tap* "that's an NT5 in the engine compartment aimed at the heads"
*tap tap* "and this is a CM3 next to the exhaust aiming out behind it"


With everything slated, set levels and you're off.

The beauty of this is that you don't have to stress about which mic is plugged into which channel at the time you're setting up.  Just run the all the cables at once, plug them all in and you're good.  It also helps on the flexibility/spontaneity side because you don't feel as tied to your preconceived ideas about where you're putting which mic.  Spend the moment setting up and listening as opposed to writing stuff down, then tap slate and start rolling.

In post you'll see the tap slates a mile away, and you'll appreciate the better descriptions that you'll dictate to yourself.