Australian Sound Artist

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's a wrap.......

: Day Seven of Live Arts Incubator :

Photos are of the workshop space we setup for our residency. Not only did we have 8 speakers at 1meter height for surround but also four in the ceiling for us to play with. Our final configuration is yet to be decided upon.......

The final day of my residency was spent capturing a Sunday Mass in surround sound. I had setup my equipment the night before, at closing time in the cathedral. (Mass started at 8:30am and I had no idea just how reliable my senses would be in the morning..) Microphones were placed in the middle of the pews with stands alternating between the benches. Care was taken to keep the walk-in pathway clear and to ensure that I was not in the way of the service attendants. Traffic was lighter on Sunday morning (why didn't I think of that before!) and I even managed to capture some sounds of morning birds filtering into the cathedral.

On listening to the recordings I'd say that the sounds I enjoy the most are the 'throwaways' or the ones which occur inbetween the main moments of action. Events such as the dragging of pews or the mixture of random conversations throughout the cathedral. People lining up and moving to the altar for communion - those transitional moments work very well and I look forward to working with them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Pages Of A Book......

: Day Six of the Live Arts Incubator :

Have you ever noticed that psalm books and Bible's have a unique type of paper that is used for their pages? I hadn't consciously noticed it until now - at the moment when I decided I wanted to record the sounds of someone turning the pages during Sunday mass. I then realized that not any book would do - it had to be a book with pages such as those found in the above. A quick trip to the local secondhand book store and I have my mentioned manuscript - a hard cover no less - because we all know the sound a dropped book makes within the reverberant hall or church and it most certainly is not a soft cover or leather bound that we are hearing in our imagination.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sacred Heart Cathedral Surround Recording


: Day three/four of the Live Arts Incubator :
Finally have some images to show of the Cathedral and of the setup I used to gather the recordings. As a last minute decision I moved the DPA omni's further out at either end, so as to adequately capture the natural effects within the chamber. Rode's were then positioned behind the DPA's.

The main downfall of the recordings is the traffic noise........

Sacred Heart Cathedral is positioned alongside of the main road Bendigo (it is one block back by definition but you'd never guess from the traffic level). Despite the fact that Monsignor Frank Marriott was generous enough as to allow me after hours access to the space, I was still unable to avoid the relentless hum that plagues cities, towns, and even countryside worldwide. All I could do was work with it as best as possible and hope that I am able to execute some kind of damage control in post editing.

Gathered sounds included creaking pews and doors, footsteps and a wood carved recorder. Despite the underlying constant of car engines I am very happy with the spatialised outcome. The use of the recorder was a last minute carefree decision made in the spirit of the artists 'let's hear what happens' - one that resulted in the discovery of a key sound for the planned composition. The tones and decay of the instrument in the space were audibly astounding and became the primary sound in the formation of the cathedrals identity.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How Do I Record Thee - Let Me Count Thy Ways.........


: Day two of Live Arts Incubator :
: Enjoying Bendigo and the welcome of Jacques and Fran Soddell :

The last couple of days have sparked what I think will be a sharp learning curve in my surround recording technique. As part of my artist residency at the Old Fire Station in Castlemaine, I will be recording the sounds of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in surround configuration.

I would like to mention for the record, that the body and infrastructure of the cathedral is mind achingly different to that of a six level stairwell.............

After spending a number of hours/days/weeks/months etc researching surround recording setups that are both within my budget and suitable to my own ideals I have managed to decide upon my own recording technique. This setup is a hybrid consisting of the designs of other recordists, interwoven with my own.

The first recording design relevant to my own requirements that I stumbled across was that of Peter Caeldries. (I highly recommend having a look at his website as it is not only informative but also incredibly coherent and easy to understand.) It was via this website that I came across the idea of recording in MS configuration but replacing the cardioid microphone that is traditionally used for the Mid with an omni directional. Selected mic's would now be the Sennheiser MKH 30 and the MKH 8020.

While I had considered this combination of figure 8 polar with omni in the past I has never had confidence in it as an idea. I liked the theory of using the MS technique and allowing it to develop into the surround domain via the use of the omni and on reading Caeldries entries have decided to go ahead with the setup. The second source of information and inspiration came from John Willett, who just happens to have designed his own Rycote shock mount and blimp system suitable for my selected microphones. (Many thanks to Willett for being so helpful with all the details re: equipment list.)

The combination of both these two ideas will form the center of my recording configuration. In addition to this, the front facing side will have an omni directional DPA  4060, headed by a stereo Rode NT4. The rear will also have the same configuration (Omni DPA, with Rode NT4 pointing out).

Spacing between the microphones will be kept tight - I hope to fit the configuration into roughly 60cm length. The body of the cathedral is quite long hence, why I have decided upon a placement of microphones in linear form from front to rear. After listening to sample recordings I gathered within the space using only a spaced pair of DPA 4060 I was surprised to find that the natural reverb and delay at the rear of the building was slightly lost - again, this gave me further reason to place microphones in linear form.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Field Recording @ Puffing Billy

I spent today gathering field recordings for New Media (projection) artist James Wright's next short film.

Place of recording was the Puffing Billy train station in Belgrave, Victoria.
-and of course, the sounds of interest were of the trains as they chugged 'full steam ahead'.

Selected microphones included a SoundField ST350 Portable Microphone System (thanks Phil), the C-ducer contact microphones and my tried and true Rode NT4 (stereo).

I have not yet decoded the ambisonic recordings from the SoundField set-up and am curious as to what my own opinion will be regarding it's spatial capabilities. The C-ducer were appropriate for filtering out the chatter of other passengers and capturing the brutality of the carriage movement. Thuds and creaks gained the feel of added weight and body mass behind each sound. Sub frequencies rumbled with a delicate intensity that these microphones are renown for capturing. The last recording was made with the Rode. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's sound was as appealing to me as always - managing to stand strong alongside of the ST350 (through headphones at least).

Many thanks to the Train driver at Belgrave for fitting me into his drivers compartment.....