Category Archives: Interview

Interviews with people in the industry

007 – Firearms Recording Roundtable

Episode 7 features a round table discussion on the art of field recording firearms. Regular hosts Rene, Timothy and Dustin are joined by Frank Bry (of www.therecordist.com) and Charles Maynes (one of Hollywood’s go to gun guys), who sit in for the whole podcast. Axel Rohrbach (from Germany’s Boom Library) and renowned weapons recordist Watson Wu also chime in with their points of view on the subject. We talk everything from session prep to locations to gear to mistakes to avoid and much more.

and if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got some extra content from Watson. Unfortunately, he could not take part in the live conversation because… he was out recording machine guns that day. That is basically the best possible reason to miss being a part of a podcast about recording guns – he was too busy recording guns! Watson was kind enough to write down some answers to our questions so that we could share them during the podcast.
As things played out while we were conducting the podcast, we didn’t have the opportunity to include all of Watson’s answers. So we are presenting all of his answers here, as a bit of a bonus to Tonebenders episode 7.

guns-wu-recording-DSC_0014-croppedHere is a brief rundown of Mr. Wu’s work:

He specializes in field recording of authentic weaponry, vehicles, and hard to find exotic and muscle cars. He has been in the industry since 2001 and some selected credits on video games include Assassin’s Creed 3, The Need for Speed franchise, Transformers: War for Cybertron, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, Warhawk, and many other games.

Given the written format we used, Watson didn’t go deeper into some of the details we drew out in the conversation found in the podcast but I think his answers still cover a lot of ground and show why he is one of the top guys in the field.

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Watson-recording-weapons-Nevada-desert
Tonebenders: First off, to give people a little bit of your history, how did you get interested in sound design/field recording?

Watson Wu: I’ve always Loved sound. When I was a young child, my father owned an arcade which I had full access to play all of the games. It was fun to be surrounded by lots of interesting sounds. During late high school & early college, I often performed in bands and did live mixing of classical and rock concerts. These hands on experiences were stressful, as there were always tons of gear with something always breaking. Learning to listen and make quick adjustments were some of the skills I acquired from schooling as well as from those fantastic performances.

TB: What research and prep do you do that might be unique to recording firearms?

WW: With my collection of short and long firearms, I often get to try out various microphones while shooting at a few exclusive private ranges. The invitations I also receive to attend machine gun shoots allows me to experiment more. After some years of this I can most of the time tell which microphones are ideal for various placements around certain firearms.

TB: What criteria do you look for when picking a location for a firearms recording session?

WW: Whenever I come across a potential quiet location to record at, I will have someone do some test shooting for me. Most often I would stand behind the shooter using only my fingers to cover my ears. After each of the shots I would quickly release my fingers to hear how the shot tail travels. This process is repeated until we find the least echoing location and angle. Fortunately one of the best sounding areas is at my favorite shooting range here in Florida. I have rented the entire place for myself. :-)

TB: How many crew members do you like to have for a record?

WW: It depends on how many microphones we need. Ideally I like to have at least two assistants to help me set up, adjust, and do the clean up at the end of the day.

TB: How do you gain access to the weapons?

WW: Just like attending car shows, I also often attend gun shows. I have friends whom I shoot with, who are Class 3 Dealers. These great guys also know of other guys who have incredible toys. Serious gun guys are different people, but knowing who I am and who I associate with, they do become approachable. :-)

TB: Can you go over what types of microphones you use for a multi-mic set-up during a gun record session?

WW: I own a lot of different mic brands. They range from AKG, Audix, DPA, EV, Neumann, Rode, Sennheiser, Shure, etc. For firearms I like to use pencil condenser mics as well as a few shotguns.

TB: Any special equipment you need for a gun record?

WW: I really like Sound Devices mixers as well a certain Zaxcom recorders. The limiters have to be fast enough to handle to fast-traveling super loud sounds. My Remote Audio headphones also allow me to monitor loud sounds.

TB: What safety precautions do you put in place when recording guns?

WW:I like to only bring people with me who are experienced shooters. It’s easier to bring a shooter than a master recordist who might freak out. During recording, all non-shooters must stand or sit at least 20 feet behind the firing line. We always bring along safety glasses as well as enough ear plugs and ear muffs for all. Safety is Always The Priority!

TB: Top three tips for recording guns/weapons?

WW: Learn to safely shoot and get used to the explosive sounds. Learn to move the microphones closer or further from each of the firearms. Of course one should never place anything valuable in front of a firearm. Log what sounds good at what distance. It’s almost like learning to mix live concerts, so you should never stop learning and experimenting.

TB: What’s your favorite weapon to record?

WW: Machine guns and high power rifles are my favorite weapons to record. To name some, they are the M16 variants, Kriss Super V, AK47, AK74, M60, 50 cal Ma Deuce, and the famous MiniGun, which fires 50-60 rounds per second!

TB: What is the gun you are shooting in this photo?

WatsonWu-3.522-Magnum-Shotgun-P1010019

WW: This “Turkey Gun” is a 3.5″ Shotgun. Normal shotguns shoot 2 3/4″ to 3″ shells. It was painful to shoot this thing!! The armor guys made me shoot it because I was laughing at them. Then, it was their turn to laugh at me reacting to the BIG recoil. Haha!

005 – Michael Maroussas, The Sound Collector’s Club, and Dustin Cawood

In Episode 5, special guest Michael Maroussas joins in from London England, along with regular co-hosts Rene Coronado and Timothy Muirhead. Michael is the creator of The Sound Collector’s Club, a crowd sourcing sound effects library. He discusses the club’s history and where the future will take it. Timothy also interviews sound editor Dustin Cawood about the work he has done recently on the documentary Chasing Ice and Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.

Ice recordings
The Sound Collector’s Club
Soundsnap
SugarSync
The Handel House museum
Snapper
IFTT service for Soundcloud
Tim’s blog post about TSCC
Richard Spooner’s show Chuggington
Field recording trip to Iceland with Chris Watson
Chris Watson’s homepage
Dallas Audio Post Studio Design Project TEC award nomination
Chasing Ice

004 – SFX databasing with Paul Virostek

In Episode 4, we welcome special guest Paul Virostek to join regulars Dustin Camillari, Timothy Muirhead and Rene Coronado to talk about mastering Sound Effects and prepping them to be added to your master SFX library. Paul also tells us all about his new eBook: Field Recording: From Research to Wrap.

Paul Virostek on Twitter
Paul’s Books on Jetstreaming.org Creativefieldrecording.com
AirbornSound.com
Andreas Usenbenz Andreas’ FX library: the Soundcatcher
Soundminer
Izotope RX
Waves ZNoise
Waves C4
Rene’s Uptown Trolley Kickstarter
Tim Prebble’s Doors library

003 – Shaun Farley and Valhalla Shimmer

In Episode 3 – ‘iPads, Reverb & AES’, Tonebenders has its first guest sit in for the show. Shaun Farley joins regular hosts Rene, Dustin and Timothy with his memories of AES 2012 in San Francisco. Shaun is also a contributing editor at Designingsound.org and talks about the recent changes taking place on the site. We also interview composer and sound designer David Burns about how he uses his iPad in his daily audio workflow and Dustin checks in with a review of ValhallaDSP’s ValhallaShimmer reverb plug-in. All this and a spirited discussion on loudness specs.

Diego Stocco – Music from a Tree
Liine’s Lemur for iOS
Rene’s post on the Slate Audio Raven
Auria for iOS
ValhallaShimmer Dolby Atmos review
November Issue of Game Developer Magazine featuring Shaun Farley’s Loudness Article

002 – Getting Out and Recording

In Episode 2, titled Getting Out & Recording, the podcast rolls out its first 2 pre-produced feature stories. Up first is “Building Your Own Field Recording Kit”, where co-host Rene Coronado looks at what makes a good kit and what gear is best to splurge on and where it can be smart to be frugal. The next feature, by Timothy Muirhead, covers techniques used in recording animals in the wild, as well as domesticated pets. Both feature stories are followed with Q&A sessions that go into further depth on these topics.

Finally, we wrap the show up with highlights of recent news stories that affect the worlds of sound design and audio post production. Topics include the shutdown of operations at Sound One in New York, the new release of Sound Forge for Macintosh, and a few others as well.

Links from the show:

Sony Field Recorders
Line Audio Line Audio
CM3 Thread via Gearslutz
Sony Soundforge
Digital Domain Bankruptcy
Audiofile Engineering WaveEditor/Triumph
Sound One Closure