The Recordist Talks Guns, M60 Machine Gun HD Library Available
The Recordist has released M60 Machine Gun HD, a new sfx library available at $50.
Presenting The M60 Machine Gun HD Professional Sound Effects Library, a multi-channel collection of 129 Broadcast WAV tracks recorded at 24-Bit 192kHz and 24-Bit 96kHz. The M60 is a belt-fed machine gun that fires the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge (.308 winchester) commonly used in larger rifles. The M60 used for this collection is a M60E3: An updated, lightweight version adopted in the 1980s. The M60E3 was introduced circa 1986 in an attempt to remedy problems with earlier versions of the M60 for infantry use. It is a lightweight, “improved” version intended to reduce the load carried by the gunner.
Along the release, Frank has also published some interesting stuff regarding the recording process, including a blog post with microphone comparisons and thoughts on the multi-track setup. Also, below is our usual interview, dedicated to talk about the new release.
Why you decided to create this library?
About six months ago I was prepping ammo to use for a small gun shoot I was doing on my ranch and went down to the local gun shop to purchase the ammo and noticed they had a lot of really cool guns in the shop. After talking with the owner for a while about what I do he said he has something to show me. He took me back to his office and opened a huge gun safe and pulled out the M60. I had no idea what it was and when he told me I knew I just had to record it. He let me hold it and I thought to myself this thing can make some all kinds of great sounds. We decided to wait until the late fall to record so the conditions would be favorable, no birds, insects and less tourists in the area creating all the car noise.
I did some research on the gun and searched through all the sound effects libraries I had and noticed very little variation and consistency with the M60 sounds I found. Some were very good but not enough source material for a serious sound designer in my opinion. Since I have not recorded many guns over the years in any serious fashion I decided that I should practice over the next few months with different guns, microphones and gear. I learned a lot but in reality I had no idea what was I was doing when it came to gun recording.
As the Fall season approached I contacted the gun owner and asked him if I could record the M60. He agreed and we were on. I figured it was now or never so I contacted two of the best in the business Charles Maynes and Chuck Russom and asked them for some advice on different techniques and practices. They were extremely open and helpful and I thank them very much for sharing their wisdom. I also decided to create this library because the gun is located five miles away from my ranch and I really don’t like to get out much so this was easy pickings.
I understand this library was recorded in several sessions. Could you talk us a bit about the process you followed and the setup you used on each one?
I was only going to do one shooting session mainly because this is a $90,000.00 gun and it is very expensive to shoot, maintain and record. I tried to get all the sounds I wanted in one session but since I only have so much recording gear I decided to go back and get another set of sounds. For the first session I really just winged it. I took all the advice I had received and tried to apply it given the location and gear I had with me. We were in a relatively small gravel pit surrounded by high dirt banks and trees. It was isolated except from the rumble of a train passing by or a plane overhead.
I set up a matched stereo pair of MKH-8040s about 75 feet away from the front of the gun slightly to the right. I had a Sanken CSS-5 stereo shotgun set about 50 feet directly behind the gun and a AT-835ST stereo shotgun directly behind and over the shooter pointing down at the muzzle (I was not sure about this one but it came out really nice). I placed a MKH-416 on the right about 8 feet away pointing in towards the middle of the gun and a MKH-8040 on the left with the same angle and distance. I also placed a Sony D-50 down range near the bullet impacts but I set the input to hot and the recordings did not come out that great so I did not included them. I recorded at 192K except for the Sanken CSS-5 which was used with a Sony PCM-D1 and a XLR-1 preamp at 96K. I recorded many different burst durations and even got a couple single shots. (which is very difficult for the shooter BTW) This guns sounds really cool with a single shot pitched down an octave. Overall, I was very happy with the recordings but I still felt something was missing, so I did it all over again…. the extreme close up.
The second shooting session was a week later and this time I went with 100 rounds of ammo instead of 200 rounds used in the first. I wanted to get the close up action of the gun and belt being fed through the gun along with some longer bursts. I also wanted to get the bullet impacts with the Sony D-50 one more time. I set up the matched stereo pair of MKH-8040s on the right about 2 feet away. This gave me a great stereo image of the muzzle on the right channel and the bullet shell ejections on the left channel so you can pick the side you want if need be. I also had the MKH-416 there on the right aimed at the ejection port. On the left side of the gun I placed 2 MKH-8040 microphones, one aimed at the belt feed and the other slightly behind the shooter aimed at the muzzle in the front. And last but not least, I placed my trust old Sanken CSS-5 stereo shotgun about 25 feet directly behind the gun. The CSS-5 surprised me when mixed in at the right level. It adds some warmth (If there is such a thing with this gun) to the overall sound landscape. My two favorites from this close up session are the left side MKH-8040 muzzle perspective and the stereo pair of MKH-8040s on the right, very fat!
And what about the mechanism sounds?
During the second recording session I was able to get some mechanism sounds like handling the ammo belt and loading-unloading the belt into the gun. I wanted more so during the third non-shooting session I recorded the locking, loading and general handling of the gun along with some really cool legs folding. I recorded this foley high up a mountain just behind the ranch. I was recording some other guns at this great sounding location and the gun handler brought along the M60 so I could record the mechanisms.
How you deal with this kind of loud sounds? How you protect your ears for the guns?
What?… During the first recording session I was physically set up further back from the gun. I had a small table with all the recording devices set on top and when the gun was firing I did not think it was that loud. I was wearing a pair of shooting ear muffs. They are not the standard ear muffs you can get at a hardware store, they offer much more reduction in sound level. I was comfortable with the sound level and could feel some impact on my body but really not as much as I thought there was going to be. For the second session I was set up closer and to the left side of the muzzle. I had to cue the shooter when to fire with vocal commands on the first shoot because I did not have eye contact. It was his first time doing a sound recording gig and he wanted to make sure there was enough space between the shots. Speaking of that, any experienced gun shooter fires a gun naturally. An example is with a shotgun they shoot then pump the gun to reload and shoot again. They have to get used to shooting and staying very still because the microphones pick up everything close. During the second session I found out how really loud and fierce the M60 is. The sound that came out the side vents on the muzzle was so loud and deep my sweatshirt was moving and I could barely breathe. We were only shooting a 100 rounds so I figured it would be done quickly and I got through it.
How was the process of layering and processing for the Designed package?
I included this set of sounds because when I was done with the mastering and editing I wanted to see what I could do with the raw material and push it hard. There are some layered sounds of the “clean” mastered versions and some more that I rammed though various plug ins at 192K. This is where the fun begins. I used some of my favorite plug ins for amping up a sound. Some of those are Tans-X, H-Comp, Decapitator, Ren-Bass and L2. Most of the designed sounds were processed in Soundminer Pro through the VST rack. I really love this feature of Soundminer. I’m able to take a bunch 192K sound effects and pitch them the way I want and then pile on a chain of processors and hear both immediately and then send to Pro Tools HD for final balance and layering.
A special note: This collection includes those raw unprocessed 192K files so anyone can pile on what they want and not worry about the source material being pre-processed. They are all time aligned and easily searchable with full metadata on the microphone used.
Anything else you’d like to tell us about The Recordist? What’s coming next?
The only thing I can tell you right now is I’m getting dirty recording lots of dirt and blowing things up. I do have some projects that have been in the works for a long time that I have not mentioned at all. Since I blog quite a bit about what I’m recording, most know what’s coming down the road from The Recordist. This time want to surprise you all.
Thanks for allowing me to tell you my stories. A special thanks to Doug and Richard at Wrenco Arms in Sandpoint Idaho.