A multi-disciplinary journey in music, sound, and field recording.

“Pew! Pew!” Part Deux: Gutter Lasers

Posted: October 31st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects, sound design
Photonic, sonic goodness through rainwater diversion? Maybe!

Photonic, sonic goodness through rainwater diversion? Maybe!

Anyone who’s got an interest in sound has heard the story of Ben Burtt using the sound of struck guy wires to create the Star Wars blaster sound. This changed the sound of science fiction forever; before this, all energy weapons were basically analog synth patches. Part of what makes this sound so unique (and repeated – Burtt himself used struck springs for Wall•E) is how high-frequency sounds travel faster through a metallic medium than low-frequency sounds. This is what gives these sounds their “PEEEWWW!” sound effect. Heck, even I used these principles to synthesize some similar sounds.

Which brings us to my rain gutters on this Halloween.

My house has thin metal rain gutters, from which I ritually hang hard-plastic LED holiday lights, usually right before Halloween, my most important holiday (today!). So when hanging the lights one year, one of the bulbs struck the middle of a 30′ run of solid metal and made this muffled, “block” peewwww sound. Laser-like, but different, loads of low-mid frequency content. I live pretty close to a highway, which was line of sight from my roof, so the only way I could record this sound cleanly was by using a contact microphone. (Recording a length of rain gutter with a small condenser mic in an indoor space would sound less clacky and “square,” but I don’t have a 30′ long recording studio!)

After some EQ, compression, and limiting, the results are below.

LaserGutters by noisejockey
[Contact microphone, Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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Posted: October 22nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: found sound objects, sound design
The Kodak Brownie. Man, what ever happened to lens turrets, anyway?

The Kodak Brownie. Man, what ever happened to lens turrets, anyway? I

I bought this Kodak Brownie 8mm film camera at a yard sale, way back when I was actually gonna shoot with it. I never did, so it wound up on my desk as a tchotchke, next to my baboon skull, remote control zombie, and tofu skeleton.

This turreted Brownie, as best as I can tell, was manufactured from 1955 to 1963 (the Brownie brand, by the way, is 109 years old this year). Its most prominent feature is a wind-up motor on the side of the case. There’s a small catch that clicks on every seventh rotation, but otherwise it’s a neat, small sound that has a fair amount of character. It has a rhythmic, “breathing” quality to its sound. I wound ‘er up tight and opened the side lid for sonic clarity. The low volume required a large diaphragm mic to capture it in loads of detail with a super-low noise floor.

I thought that it was evocative of clockwork servos on a steampunk robot, or as a smaller loop on top of  footage that’s treated to look like a newsreel or home movie. It’s pretty midrangey, so it holds up well to being sped up or slowed down. You’re guaranteed to hear or see this used in actual media to be posted on Noise Jockey in the future!

Brownie by noisejockey
[Røde NT1a mic, Sound Devices 702 recorder]

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Silence = Busy = Good

Posted: October 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: news

Worry not, dear readers…no recent posts means I’m busy, which is good! Longtime readers or friends know that audio is only one part of what I do, and recently I’ve been working on some video projects, including my first HD video shoot (tomorrow!) with the Canon 5D Mk II. Ironically, we’re shooting MOS – no production sound. Now, if only my damn Canon 7D would actually show up…

This topic actually a slight teaser as to what may be coming to Noise Jockey in the next few weeks. I shall say no more for the time being, other than “Stay tuned.” :-)

Also in the works are more Thrift Store Sounds installments, a series I’ve tentatively called “Stupid Lav Tricks,” some sound synthesis and processing fun, and much more. Bookmark, subscribe, or whatever…more Good Stuff on the way.

In the meantime, didja read about the bugling elk? The wobbly Roomba? The ruined truck drum kit? The most annoying sound ever?

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