Hours 57 – 58: Contact Mic Metal Impacts

Hello! I’m back again with a really, really cool one this time. I’ve been working on some recordings recently of metal impacts, and today I decided to try testing a theory I’ve had knocking around for a little while. I decided to experiment with using a contact mic to capture metal resonances in large metal objects – and the results are surprisingly. I was expecting it to be interesting, but I didn’t quite realise how great it would sound.

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I used my humble little setup of my contact mic, going into the tascam dr-05 and monitoring with a pair of KRK’s. I have learned from previous experience that it isn’t enough to just tape a contact mic down, it needs a conductor to receive vibrations from a surface – in this instance, I decided to use some blu-tack, and it worked a treat. I have often found that just taping a contact mic to a surface makes for a cool recording, but it doesn’t have the body I’m looking for – I’ve furthermore adopted a technique of holding the mic down with my thumb as it records – this is a surefire way to ensure lots of lovely bass in the recordings, and I can’t say i’ve ever heard about people doing this before.

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I started with a HUGE metal column that we have outside our university. I half-heartedly stuck the mic on, and was absolutely amazed to hear what it captured. It picked up this amazing ‘zapping’ sound, much like the contact mic recordings of metal wires made by Ben Burtt and others to create the classic lazer gun sound. I found that smaller taps actually made for a better zapping sound that heavy hits, and I was also amazed to find that the column amplified a lot of sounds of the surroundings through it’s body. I think this sound is created because soundwaves travel to the top and bottom of the resonant body almost instantaneously – and then return to meet back in the middle. I *think* that’s how it works. I might be wrong. It sounds cool though!

I moved on to a few more interesting metal objects in the area, and decided to experiment with a large metal storage container. It had an extremely resonant body, and after playing around a little, I found that holding the mic down with my thumb made for the best sound.

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I’m really amazed by the sound, it’s huge and has a ton of low end. It’s almost like the resonances created are like a huge metallic reverb. There’s also some nice subtle jangles as the metal settles, which I think adds a lot of cool depth ontop of the roaring, rumbling impact. There may be some slight clipping on the recordings below, please ignore that – it’s raw from the recorder.

I next moved onto a big recycling bin that caught my eye. I opened the lid, and found it was a bin intended to store used fluorescent lights (the big long office style ones. I then dropped the lid and noticed it made an epic rumbling impact that resonated throughout the bin’s metal body. Again, I pressed the mic down with my thumb, and found the sound it captured was rich, huge and very interesting.

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As with the metal storage container, the impacts almost sound like they are in a huge reverberant space. They are pretty beefy, with a nice lot of low end and a lot of body to the sound. The lid dropping makes a specifically nice transient, and it also provides some cool shuddering and shaking after the impact, as the vibrations diffuse. This again is raw, so please excuse any clipping.

And that’s it for now! thanks for having a read. I’ll be back again very soon with more cool recordings.

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

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Hours 57 – 58: Contact Mic Metal Impacts

Hours 54 – 57: Car Recording 3

Hello! This time i’m finally writing up a recording session I did probably a few months back now, and a little look at some more vehicle audio implementation in UE4.

I worked with a friend of mine, recording his 1.4 Ford Fiesta. I ran with my typical setup, and used the Sound Devices 633 with 3 lavalier mics placed around the car. I rode in the passenger seat, to monitor and capture the audio whilst my friend drove. I used my typical wind projection method, wrapping the mics in foam, and then securing the foam with electrical tape. I picked up some new tape for this session, gorilla tape, which proved to be absolutely ideal for the situation and worked a treat.

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As can been seen above, I set two mics in the engine, and one on the exhaust. I put one of the engine mics on the battery, mainly for fear of it getting too hot, as I was assured the battery shouldn’t get too hot during transit. I strapped it in, and it captured a nice view of the right side of the engine. I attached the second to the joint of some kind of liquid canister (I have no idea what exactly) and it got a good take of the belt in action. Lastly, I attached the final mic to the tow point on the back of the car, and it captured *some* of the exhaust. It mostly got wind, as it was in a relatively unprotected space and once we reached speed the wind pretty much drowned out the detail of the exhaust. Mixed into the other two signals though, it does help to provide some depth. Upon listening back to the recorded audio, I noticed too that at one stage there is a kind of pop / backfire esq sound, at about 20 seconds in, which, with a bit of editing, could be usable in my implementation. Below is a rough mixdown of the three mics in action – this is fairly raw, with just some slight panning and clip slicing.

I also decided to take some of the vehicle audio i’ve been recording recently and have another crack at implementing it into Unreal. This time I used FMOD, having previously used the internal UE4 audio tools. I processed my audio in pro tools, beefing up what I had with distortion, saturation and bass enhancement. I cut out about 6/7 loops, including an idle loop, and arranged them in FMOD to move upwards with an RPM parameter that was controlled by the vehicle speed in UE4. The result is cool, and I put in some wheelspin sounds on the breaking input action taken from my first car recording session. I also set up a parameter in FMOD that would change the audio mix of the engine as the player’s camera perspective changed, and I tried to emulate the sound of an engine from inside the car by rolling off some of the high end, and boosting the rumble of the engine a bit more. I think my implementation has improved since this iteration, but I thought it’d be cool to share my progress with it on the blog. Here’s a rough capture from UE4:

That’s all for now, thanks for reading! I’ll be back again very soon with some more cool stuff.

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

 

Hours 54 – 57: Car Recording 3

Hours 53 – 54: Heavy Rain

We’ve had some pretty heavy rainfall today, and parts of the south of the uk have even been partially flooded due to the large amounts of rain. We’ve had intermittent yet quite heavy rainfall during the afternoon and early evening, and I decided not to miss an opportunity so set a couple of mics up to record what I could of it.

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I used my usual choice, a pair of 414’s set up in the A-B config going into the Sound Devices 633. The rain I managed to capture was good, and I got a solid hour of rainfall with intermittent heavy spells. The only slight downfall to recording particularly heavy rain is that it can essentially become white noise at times – this does happen in places in the recording, but irregardless, I think it’d be a helpful rain element to use in my work.
Typically I will record rain from the ground floor in my house, but this evening I decided to try recording from the first floor of my house. I live in a pretty grand old Victorian terraced house, and our first floor is pretty high up – so I avoided a lot of closer reflections and raindrop impacts that I get when recording on the ground floor. That being said, I had to place the mics under an open window – obviously because I didn’t want to get them wet – and this had a minor effect on the sound, with occasional obviously close raindrops. Lower in a mix with other rain elements, I think this wouldn’t be particularly noticeable.
This is, as ever, raw from the recorder – I chopped out a cool bit where the rain swelled to being pretty heavy.

Thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 53 – 54: Heavy Rain

Hours 52 – 53: Fireworks

Helloo! A few nights ago I decided to let off a few leftover fireworks that have been knocking around my house since November.

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I set them up in my garden (I have a fairly big garden), and let them off one by one. I was taken aback by how incredibly loud they were – I think I didn’t realise quite how loud the screaming ones would be. I recorded them with a pair of 414’s in the A-B config, going into the Sound Devices 633. Despite how loud they were, I luckily didn’t get any negative sonic artifacts from the clipping – and they really did clip like crazy! The resulting recordings could be used for a number of things, possibly sweetening some sci-fi lazers or mixed faintly into a battle soundscape. I’ve included some of the cool ones below – be aware they are raw from the recorder and are pretty loud.

As ever, thanks for reading! Back again soon with more cool stuff.

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 52 – 53: Fireworks

Hours 50 – 52: Rubble Recording Part 2 – Light Debris

Hello! Today I spent a few hours experimenting with recording light debris, after the heavy rubble recording session I did a few days ago. I know that generally, rockfalls, explosions etc in movies and games do have a lot of that heavier, bulky sounds in them, but they also use a lot of lighter elements to provide more detail to the sound. I decided to experiment with some sand and tiny rock fragments and see if I could capture some interesting light debris sounds.

I began by ‘creating’ some pebbles by bashing up a rock from my garden – I wanted a size larger than sand, and smaller than pebbles. I set up the Sennheiser MKH416 going into the Sound Devices to capture my experiment. I started off with dropping my debris onto just a concrete surface – and found the results were quite boring. I then looked around for some different containers, that I might be able to drop the debris into, and settled on a rectangular cardboard box. I found the cardboard made a cool resonance, and re-created the Hollywood fine debris sound. I manipulated the fine debris in the box, titling it so the elements inside ran down the box’s floor and hit the side.

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The result was really what I was after, and I think it’ll work well as a sweetener in some rockfall / destruction type sound design. I then decided to explore a few more variations of the size of the elements in the cardboard, to see if I could create some more interesting sonic textures. I picked up a small selection of smaller pebbles from my garden, and did the same as above with them. The results weren’t quite as convincing – as the sound of the cardboard came through a lot more – but I’m sure they’d still prove useful as a sound design element.

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Below is an example of the recordings, with just a touch of RX to clean off some traffic noise. The first half of the clip is the finer, lighter debris, while the second half is the slightly heavier pebble debris.

That’s it for now, thanks for reading. I’ll be back again very soon!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 50 – 52: Rubble Recording Part 2 – Light Debris

Hours 47 – 50: Metal Resonance Experiment

Hello! Today I spent a lot of time playing with an idea that I was inspired to experiment with after seeing some others do similar stuff online. This was to use a subwoofer to produce very low bass frequencies in order to resonate objects, in this case, a large metal filing cabinet. I placed the cabinet on top of the woofer, in order for it to be directly manipulated by the vibrations of the bass.

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I used a pair of 414’s, in a kind of wide A-B setup for the most part, to capture the sound of the resonating cabinet. These were going into the Sound Devices 633. I then manipulated different frequencies within pro tools, generating sine waves between 20hz to around 80hz. These super low frequencies made the whole room shake, particularly the cabinet on top of it. I used the frequency cut built into the 414 to take out the very lowest frequencies, leaving me with just the effects of the bass on the metal (mostly).

The sound is really cool, almost reminiscent of dry ice on metal. The way it ebbs and flows with resonance is really organic I think, and could be used in a lot of different applications. I then decided to experiment with having a mic inside the cabinet whilst recording, and keeping one outside to capture more of the sound in the space.

Again, the sound is very cool. Lots of body to it, lots of nice metallic resonances captured by the inner mic. The sound is a lot more heavy and focused, but maintains that sense of space captured by the exterior mic.

I then turned my attention away from the metal resonances, and thought about other elements that I could manipulate with the bass vibrations. I decided to experiment with some rubble style sounds, inspired by my recording session recently. I put some small rocks, and other interesting objects into a cardboard box, and experimented with frequencies that’d produce a rumbling, shaking sound.

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The results are almost reminiscent of a film earthquake sound, like a tremor is vibrating household objects. I think the rate of resonance in this example could have been a little slower, but the subwoofer wasn’t powerful enough to re-produce frequencies low enough for that to happen!

That’s it for now! As ever, thanks for reading. I’m excited that this is the half way post! just another 50 more hours to go. I’ll be back again soon with more cool stuff.

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 47 – 50: Metal Resonance Experiment

Hours 46 – 47: Rubble Recording Part 1

Hello! Back again with a fun little recording session that I did in my back garden today. Just a quick post this time around, as there’s not a ton to talk about it really.

I decided to gather up some large stones from around my garden, and hurl them at some concrete for some cool heavy rubble sounds. I used the Sennheiser MKH416 to capture the sounds, going into the Sound Devices 633. The rocks are quite resonant-y and have a nice rumble to them, and I think with some layering and processing they’d be helpful as, for example, elements for an earthquake sound, or perhaps a building collapsing. I threw big rocks at just the ground, at other rocks and then made little piles of rocks to then hurl multiple rocks at. The resulting sound is very organic, and has a lot of nice body to it.

Sadly I forgot to take any pictures of the session! I’m hoping to do another soon with some smaller, more detailed debris / rubble sounds, to potentially mix in with these heavier ones. As I ever, this sample is fairly raw – I did hit it lightly with RX this time around as there was a fair amount of annoying traffic in the background.

Thanks for reading!

-Barney

http://www.barneyoramgameaudio.co.uk

Hours 46 – 47: Rubble Recording Part 1