PLC_in Big Sur

Readers first met today’s field recordist in an earlier article on this site. That post introduced Paul Col and his new crowdfunding-inspired website: CrowdsourceSFX.

Since that time Paul and I have kept in touch. He’s told me of the success of his website’s first sound libraries. He has also described to me field recording missions using a rare kit: ambisonic microphones.

We first heard about these flexible, multi-channel microphones from an earlier field recordist, John Leonard. Since that time, ambisonic field recording has become a bit of a buzzword in the community.

I asked Paul if he would like to share his field recording experiences with us. He kindly agreed. So, today Paul relates revealing experiences with this kit as well as his efforts pursuing a focused vocabulary of sound fx.

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Max Lachmann - Recording Switches on Me109

I first discovered field recordist Max Lachmann’s work when searching for vehicle sound libraries. His sound effects are hard to miss: he hosts almost 90 car, motorcycle, aircraft, and boat sound collections on the respected Pole Position Production website, which he runs with Bernard Löhr and Mats Lundgren. The Web shop also provides collections of weapons, military vehicles, and more.

Lachmann is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on vehicle field recording. His sound fx include such elite vehicles as Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and other luxury and sport cars. Capturing such tricky vehicles is exceptionally challenging, and requires contending with wind, overwhelmingly loud sound, and the complex mechanics of attaching equipment onto the vehicles themselves.

I was curious how Max captured such difficult subjects, and the kit locker he uses to get the job done. I emailed him and asked if he would like to share with us how he began field recording, how his craft evolved, and the role equipment plays in his work. Max graciously explained.

So, today Max Lachmann shares an insider perspective of a rare and specialized field recording discipline, a special tip to help capture valuable sound clips when they appear, and the story behind a rare exclusive field recording Max has shared just with us.

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A while back I was browsing field recordings on the fascinating American National Park Services website. There are dozens of field recordings from US parks, including some from Yellowstone National Park. One name kept appearing: Peter Comley.

It was a coincidence that not long after I heard from Peter through the blog. I learned that in addition to his work in game audio, Peter Comley has recorded nature sounds from Pacific Northwest to Indonesia to Belize. I was curious to know how equipment selection affected balancing nature field recording with his work in game audio.

So, in today’s post, Peter shares his thoughts about field recording gear, and how it helped him during a remarkable field recording mission in Yellowstone Park.

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Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The majority of field recording mentioned on this site is for a practical purpose: you need a sound, you fetch it, and then you use it. But does that mean all field recording is only captured, cut, and lined up in commercial projects?

Of course not. Many field recordists capture audio beyond the studio for enjoyment alone. Others explore boundaries of the sonic world itself and express them not in games or episodic television, but present them in pure creativity as art itself.

Miguel Isaza is one of those people. He has founded industry-leading sound websites Designing Sound and Sonic Field. He is editor for sound for media, sound art and sound technology at the Spanish Hispasonic Web portal. He is well known for his artistic field recordings, which he releases on via Bandcamp and on his own label, Éter.

I approached Miguel and asked if he would like to share his philosophical approach to capturing field recordings. I was curious what role – if any – equipment plays in his deeply creative approach to capturing audio.

I was quite thrilled that he agreed. So, today Miguel Isaza shares how his field recording explorations of the sonic realm delve into an interconnected “sonic web” to create a unique listening experience that reveals a deeper understanding about the experience of field recording itself.

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Gordon and Veggies

I’ve mentioned my admiration of Kickstarter in the past. That can be a great way for audio pros to fund field recording projects. I’ve kept my eye on the website. I’ve noticed over time that one category continually tops the most-popular crowd-funded campaigns: indie games.

In fact, the stunning success of 2012’s Double Fine Adventure/Broken Age’s successful $3.3 million campaign is largely believed to have been the project that establish crowdfunding as a viable platform. Others such as Star Citizen and Wasteland 2 have been just as successful.

I had always wondered how field recording fit within the scope of the indie scene. I had to look no farther than to indie game audio pro Gordon McGladdery to help. Gordon was part of a successfully-funded indie game title himself: Parkitect. McGladdery also shares his wisdom and experience on the Beards, Cats and Indie Game Audio podcast with his co-host Matthew Marteinsson.

In today’s post, Gordon includes his thoughts about the difference between field recording for AAA and indie game titles. He describes his approach to capturing sound for his projects to ensure the sound fx are the right fit all while using a flexible collection of multi-pattern microphones and a stealth field recording kit.

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Christine Hass

Nature field recordist Christine Hass captures wildlife field recordings with a compelling aim: to connect to nature through sound. Her vocation has led her to capture clips of coyotes, marshes, bird choruses, and other rich ambiences.

I’ve been following her blog on her Wild Mountain Echoes website and her SoundCloud profile for some time. What is interesting is how her field recordings work with one another. Her profile showcases over 100 wildlife clips that combine to create an evocative portrait of the American Southwest. The thoughtful field recordings blend to create an immersive snapshot of a sonically rich part of the planet. She showcases this unique sonic identity in a number of CD releases focusing on specific slivers of the US landscape: the Great Basin, the Sonoran Desert, and others.

I’m a huge fan of her field recordings. I was curious how Christine worked to record wildlife sounds in such unforgiving, diverse, and often subtle environments. I reached out to Christine and asked if she would like to share with us how she works, and the kit she prefers. She kindly agreed.

So, today we learn how science and research informs Christine’s work, and influences her gear choices. She also shares a special experience with us: how removing a field recordist from an environment helps capture authentic sounds, including a surprising wildlife sound clip of her own.

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Axel Rohrbach

I remember the first time I discovered the Boom Library sound effects Web shop. I was writing a post about creating sound library previews.

I’ve always believed that a sound library preview is one of the most important parts of a sound fx collection release. It’s not easy, though. It must showcase your sounds, creativity, and intent in an incredibly short period of time. The best audio montages also convey a narrative or the distinct personality of its creator.

While researching that post, I happened to stumble across Boom Library’s preview video for their Cinematic Hits collection. I was immediately impressed with not only the sounds themselves, but the craft behind the preview itself.

That was years ago. Since then, Boom Library has followed with a string of impressive sound fx releases of challenging field recording subjects ranging from wildcats to historical firearms to vehicles and more. The crew behind the Boom Library are well respected across the indie sound fx library landscape for the quality of their sound fx and their diligence capturing them.

I was eager to hear their thoughts on field recording. I was especially curious to know the gear they use to capture such a range of subjects so thoroughly. I reached out to Boom Library team of Pierre Langer, Axel Rohrbach, and Tilman Sillescu to learn more.

So, today Axel generously shares his thoughts about beginning a sound collection in an effort to capture superior sound fx. He shares a peek inside the Boom Library workflow as well as some interesting gear selections the team use to create their elite sound fx libraries.

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Melissa Pons

I first discovered Melissa Pons’s work in an excellent article about her on The Audio Spotlight back in 2014. Melissa is a sound pro that explores a wide range of audio disciplines on The Sound Design Process blog, including field recording, sound design, creativity, production sound, and more. Her field recordings are just as diverse, showcasing a range of clips from her native Portugal and her newly adopted home of Sweden.

What I found particularly interesting was her carefully considered approach to field recording, and pro sound in general. Self-described as “very patient,” Melissa has reflected upon the role of awareness and detail to field recording (article one, two, and three).

I was curious to know how her creative, observational approach affects her field recordings. I introduced myself to her, and asked her if she would be interested in elaborating for us. She kindly agreed.

So, today Melissa Pons shares with us the kit she uses to capture her thoughtful sound clips, and explains the value of a key field recording skill: awareness.

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Rick Hannon

This series began discussing gear choices of audio pros. Over time, we have been treated to an unexpected bonus: each field recordist’s fascinating origin stories.

As we all know, the community has yet to see a formal field recording training method. Sure, there are workshops and partial-credit courses. However, a focused, intensive method of learning field recording has yet to emerge. That’s why learning each sound pro’s history is revealing. No two are the same. That’s a testament to the determination of each pro and the support our community provides.

The are common themes, though. Field recording often evolves from music work or a love of films. Of course, there are others. A passion for theatre or game audio are other common approaches. We’ve also heard from the sizable group of wildlife recordists who combine their love of nature and preservation with pro audio.

Now, it’s an sensible leap from crafts such as feature film sound editor to field recording afficianado. What is the impact on field recording if the creator arrives from other, more distant arts? Will the field recordist capture audio with the same ear as the rest of us, or perhaps introduce new insights? How does that influence equipment selection?

To answer that question I turned to a gentleman named Rick Hannon. I met Rick through this website. He is an award-winning photojournalist. His work has appeared in a number of publications from Wyoming’s Casper Star-Tribune, Columbia, South Carolina’s The State, and Baton Rouge’s The Advocate. His photos have appeared in The New York Times, Life, Newsweek, People, and the National Geographic hurricane Katrina special edition.

What’s especially interesting is that Hannon is self-taught in his field. Of course, that’s the same journey we have all traveled with field recording. I reached out to him to learn about both his field recording and photographic experiences. I was curious how the craft of field recording blends with other arts, or is amplified by them.

So, today Rick Hannon shares his experiences with two very different crafts as well as a special treat: his insight how – just like his accomplished photographs – field recordings can tell stories, too.

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Michal Fojcik - Night

It’s the nature of post-production audio that sound work often begins after most of a film has already completed. So, it was with great interest that I read about field recordist and sound designer Michal Fojcik’s experiences capturing sound effects a full two years before the release of the Polish thriller, The Red Spider.

I had been following Fojcik’s blog for some time. He posts in-depth articles exploring recording. I was curious to learn how his craft and equipment choices match the detail and diligence he describes in his writing.

I introduced myself to Michal earlier this year and asked him if he would like to share his field recording experiences with us. He kindly agreed.

What he described was a creative, thoughtful approach to capturing audio beyond the studio. He shares with us today a provocative approach: using field recordings as the foundation to create a unique “sound language” for the projects he joins.

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