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Posted by on Oct 29, 2013 | 13 comments

Considerations for Creative Field Recording

Richard Gould 02On developing your ear…

I purchased my first field recorder in 2010. Ever since it’s become a vital tool in my sound design process. As a result, I now hear the world in a completely different context. I hear a palette of colors, textures, and techniques with which I can capture many weird and wonderful things. Sometimes I record for the sheer joy of it, out of appreciation for the sound itself. On other occasions I might have a purpose, whether for a project or to add something new to my library.

The act of field recording has taught me to appreciate the difference between ‘hearing’ (a subconscious process) and ‘listening’ (a conscious process). Julian Treasure (The Sound Agency, London) has given several great TED talks, webinars, and presentations on the subject of conscious listening. I’ve found his commentary to be inspired and completely relevant to my process as a sound designer and field recordist.

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Posted by on Feb 9, 2012 | 1 comment

Sylvain Lasseur Interview

Symbolic Sound has published on their blog called “the eight nerve”, an interview with sound designer Sylvain Lasseur talking about his use of Kyma system and several aspects about his work.

Sound designer Sylvain Lasseur is not just bi-coastal; he’s bi-contintental, working part time in Paris and part time in Los Angeles!  We recently had a chance to ask him a few questions about how he uses Kyma for 5.1 sound design and to explore some of the differences between post production work in Paris and Los Angeles.  By the end of the interview, the discussion turns to food, wine, and the Marx Brothers.  Read on!

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Posted by on Aug 12, 2011 | 86 comments

Tim Nielsen Special: MS Recording

[Written by Tim Nielsen]

I’ve been recording with MS since I started in this industry, about 12 years ago now. There are of course many other recording techniques available, and I own microphones suited to most of them. I tried to elaborate a tiny bit on some of the other stereo techniques in my previous article, and that’s when I realized that MS really needed it’s own article.

Of all the stereo formats I record in, MS is my favorite. I find it to be the most compact, and by far the most versatile, of all the stereo recording techniques I know. It’s also a bit tricky to wrap your head around the first time you try to understand it. I remember at USC the day I asked Tom Holman, creator of THX, to explain something about MS that had been puzzling me (probably the entire idea behind it and how it worked at all). For the next hour or so, he proceeded to draw math equations on the dry-erase board. I sat, staring and dazed, occasionally nodding to feign understanding. The fact is, MS is a strange recording method.

I’ve had quite a few people, even ones I work with, tell me they don’t like MS, but many times it seems to me that they can’t tell me why. Maybe it’s simply that it’s a bit too much like voodoo. But properly done, MS recording is basically another form of XY recording. David Farmer and I, while both in New Zealand, did some tests between his Schoeps XY microphone, and my MS rig. Neither of us could hear much difference, and my memory is that both of us slightly preferred the MS rig when we felt we could hear any differences. There is really nothing to be afraid of with MS.

For those who don’t know, an MS rig consists of two microphones (or more, as there is a Schoeps Double-MS setup and I’ve personally set up and tried a Triple-MS rig of my own Frankensteinian devising). In the stereo version, there is a Mid microphone, and a Side microphone, hence the name MS Recording, or Mid-Side Recording. The mid microphone faces forward, and can be of any pickup pattern, although almost always a cardiod or hyper-cardiod microphone is used. The side mic is always a Figure-8, or bi-directional microphone, whose polar pattern is perpendicular to the front facing microphone. The two microphones are ideally very well matched, and most of us use mid microphones that have in their family a Figure-8 version as well, for instance the Schoeps MK series of capsules, the Sennheiser MKH series, or the Neumann KM100 series with AK capsules. All of these have cardiod, hyper-cardiod and Figure-8 mics available and are ideal to use in an MS setup. There are also self contained MS microphones, made by companies like Pearl and Sanken, or the Neumann RSM-191, which I know several people here use. The only reason I tend not to like microphones like the RSM-191 is that they use external powering and matrixing boxes, which I find cumbersome. But the RSM-191, the Sanken CMS-7 are very nice sounding MS microphones as well.

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Posted by on Aug 9, 2011 | 42 comments

Tim Nielsen Special: On Microphone Addiction

[Written by Tim Nielsen]

My name is Tim Nielsen, and I’m a micaholic. It has been four months since my last microphone purchase, an adorable little Neumann XY set in a Mono Rycote. I bought them from a friend, because when I saw them I just had to have them. Trust me. They’re really cute. You’d want them too.

I probably won’t be writing a lot of technical articles here on Designing Sound. There seem to be plenty of those already. I don’t have much interest in sharing endless plugin settings, or even mastering chains. I don’t much care about fade file type preferences, or your scheme for color coding tracks. I have those too, but explaining mine in depth won’t really do you much good.

But maybe with regards to recording sound effects, I might have some advice that some might find useful. So today I want to write about microphones.

I bought my first microphones from one of my professors while still at USC film school. It was a Schoeps MS Rig, two CMC4 T-Powered bodies, with an MK41 mid capsule, and an MK6 side capsule. By the time I bought them, they were already 15 years old or more. Over the years I swapped out the T-Powered bodies for phantom powered ones. About three months ago I finally parted with them, selling them to a friend at Skywalker for her first rig. That’s the first thing about recording equipment, and in particular microphones. Buy good ones, as they will last you a long time. Plugins, software, computers, will all become obsolete very fast. But a good recording rig should last you a long time. I have no doubt those Schoeps mics have another 20 years in them.

So this in article, I thought I would give a run-down of the mics in my personal arsenal. It’s a bit of a running joke around the ranch, my mic collection. I’m sure Charles Maynes has beat by a long shot! :) But the truth is, every one of these mics has a purpose, even if they’re not used all that much. So here it is, a list of the mics that are currently in my possession:

  • Schoeps MS Rig: CMC6XT Bodies with MK41 Mid and MK8 Side
  • Sennheiser MS Rig: MKH50 Mid with MKH30 Side.
  • Sennheiser MKH416 Shotgun
  • Schoeps CMIT-5U Shotgun
  • Sennheiser MKH816 Super-Shotgun (x2)
  • Neuman XY Rig: KM00 Bodies with AK40 Capsules
  • Schoeps CMC6XT with MK2 Omni (x2)
  • Sennheiser MKH8020 Omni (x2)
  • Telinga Stereo DAT Parabolic
  • DPA 8011 Hydrophone
  • Sennheiser MKH800
  • Rode NT1A (x2)
  • C-Ducer Ribbon Contact Mic (x2)
  • AKG C411pp Contact Mic (x2)
  • Sennheiser MK421 Mark II (x2)
  • Countryman E3 Lavalier (x2)
  • Crown SASS Mk. II
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