Category Archives: Sound

Some sounds of #Yellowstone

Thermophiles produce some of the bright colors...Last year, I made a short video featuring the Thermal Sounds of Yellowstone.

This fall, I attempted to recreate parts of that video in 3D and stereo sound (rather than the monaural recording of last year).

Here are some samples of what I recorded this year, both uploaded to the blog as MP3 files:

Recording sound is hard work. First, I needed to be out early – or late – to avoid the crowds and people talking and walking on the boardwalks, making noise. Second, even then I often had to wait for quite some time until the area was free of visitors (fortunately, not all visitors are noisy so sometimes I recorded when people were nearby!). Third, to get sound like this I used two 18 inch long shot gun mics, through a Beachtek audio mixer, and then into my little Canon HF M301 consumer camcorders (set up for 3D).

A photo of the set up looks like this – two shot guns on top (home made wind muffs), the Beachtek mixer, attached to a mostly home made 3D camera mount. Click on the image for a larger photo. While bulky, this set up is not very heavy – carrying it mostly means not constantly bumping the mics into tree branches while hiking on the trails!



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Clever way to program a DSLR – by putting the code outside the camera

Inexpensive dongle interfaces between iPhone and certain Olympus and Panasonic DSLR cameras. A software app on the iPhone adds new features including time lapse, motion detection, high dynamic range controls, and other capabilities.

Does it work? E-M5 iPhone controller… | 43 Rumors.

Which camera company will be first to offer their own software development kit for a camera?

3D with stereo audio recording setup

I am setting up gear to record an event this weekend in 3D, and to record audio in stereo

Group of XLR connectors
Group of XLR connectors (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

with two long shot gun directional mics.

I use two Lumix GH-2s for the video recording but there is no way to monitor the recorded audio on the GH-2. Plus, I am using XLR mics. While I have a separate XLR mic mixer, I was not successful in feeding stereo signals into the GH-2 and could not find a solution to that problem.

I decided to just record the soundtrack separately. Since I do not have a digital audio recorder, but I do have an older SD camera with XLR inputs (a Panasonic DG-AVC30), I am planning to record the audio on the AVC30, while recording the video on the two Lumix cameras. My first attempt at a setup looks like this (sorry for the lousy smart phone photo – something better in the future) with the AVC30 bolted upside down on my homemade mounting rail.

The 18-inch long shot guns are mounted on top of the GH-2s, and crossed over. The one on the left records the right audio channel and the one on the right records the left audio channel. These feed into the XLR inputs on the AVC30, which enables me to monitor the audio as a I record it, plus I can adjust the audio levels in real time.

The three cameras need to be synchronized – the only way to do that is by recording an  audio pulse (hand clap, snap of the fingers, other sharp sounds) on all cameras simultaneously. The audio tracks will then be lined up in the editor. I’m sure there are easier ways to do this but I am working with what I have and my zero billion $ budget!

The plastic bag on the tripod handle covers up a remote for another camera (not shown) and was put on there since I was out recently in the rain and wanted to protect it from the rain. I suppose I could get rid of that now!

What’s with all the rubber bands? That’ll be for another day.

Update: Found the problem with the mixer and ended up using the 2 XLR mics into the mixer and into one of the cameras. Didn’t need to use the video camera as an audio recorder. Whew!

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Why Youtube frequently issues copyright violations on licensed use of music

I predicted this was going to happen the moment Youtube announced it was automatically scanning videos for copyrighted music:

The problem is that Content ID improperly flags licensed music as a copyright infringement – leading to embarrassment for producers and editors that have legitimately licensed their music from a reputable company.

via Larrys Blog – Keep Yourself Copyright Legal | Larrys Blog.

How can they tell the difference between a recording you have paid licensing fees for versus a random copy? They cannot. I have gone out of my way to use licensed music on my own online videos but …

I have a video on Youtube of a U.S. Civil War Battle re-enactment. The battled ended with a performance of Taps, which was written jointly by a private and a General in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War. Instead of using the recording I made at the battle field, which was interrupted by a public address system, I used a performance by the United States Army, obtained from a U.S. Army web site that says the recording is in the public domain and available for any use.

First, Youtube flagged my video saying that Sony Music had a copyright objection to my video. I contested their copyright claim and thankfully, Sony Music promptly agreed with me and let me continue to use the video.

But then another company that specializes in rights management issues made a claim, without saying even what it was claiming. I tracked down their company, their web site, and their formal process for contesting their copyright claim. I filled out all the forms, noting the only music is that of the US Army’s performance of Taps, a song written in 1862 for which this publisher did not have a copyright – but this company never even bothered to reply. To this day, that video remains banned in Germany even though it does not have any copyrighted material in it.

This is troubling since various law and treaty proposals (not yet passed) would give ultimate take down authority to rights holders to accuse anyone of copyright violation and with out any due process, your work could be taken down, and there is no recourse nor penalties for false accusations.  And this is pretty much what exists on Youtube today.


Videos to watch

Devin Graham is an amazing young videographer in Utah; I’ve been watching his videos for quite some time. Watch this and see if you agree!

I recommend subscribing to his Youtube channel. Seriously!

I also recommend his good friend Lindsey Stirling’s Youtube channel. Watch this video – created by Devin – and you may be hooked too.

Lindsey is featured in this video:

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Demonstration of 2 shot gun mics used for stereo recording

The following video was recorded using an XH-A1 and two on camera mounted long shot gun AT-835b microphones. This was not an ideal way to mount the microphones but it definitely performed “good enough”. When the camera and mics are a long ways from the field, there is not as much stereo channel separation as you might expect.

But the stereo mics add a depth to the sound that was missing when using a single shot gun mic. Why use a shot gun mic? The shot gun mic definitely records higher quality audio than the on camera mic and helps to reduce crowd noise.

The following is the performance of the Mt. Spokane High School Wildcats Marching Band at the 2011 Puget Sound Festival of Bands in Everett, Wa. MSHS band performed an original composition and this is posted on Youtube at the request of and with the permission of the band director.

Here is a photo of my set up for the recording. The two shot gun mics are above the camera. Output from the HDV camera is sent over a long Firewire cable to a Mac notebook computer, where the video stream is recorded direct to disk using QuickTime Pro. By recording direct to disk, the videos are immediately ready for conversion to MPEG4 without any time spent on import.

Stereo shot gun mic test clip

Test of my stereo shot gun mic set up – handholding the shotgun mic array in my left hand and holding my Canon HV30 and Beachtek audio mixer in my right hand. Not ideal, but an amusing little test clip. These birds were about 30 feet away from me, with a several hundred foot cliff just beyond. Pointing the long shotguns in that direction picks up some background noise – just noise – that is the city, miles away, bouncing off the cliffs. There is also a good sized stream behind me – they call it a river – which creates some background noise too.

I’ll try to eventually get a photo of the shotgun array set up. It’s two AT835b, 18 inch long shotguns, mounted in the crossed XY configuration. The mount is made from some PVC plumbing hardware, a piece of wood, and a paint roller handle – super high tech, the latest bit of Hollywood gadgetry, for sure. Or may be not. But its cheap and it works!


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Sound recording – and the need to avoid screaming kids!

An Audio-Technica AT815a shotgun microphone
Image via Wikipedia

As I have decided to pay much more attention to the sounds in my environment, today I took a pleasant hike along a meandering river – more of a big wide stream, really.

From a sound perspective it had great potential – burbling water, crickets, frogs, squirrels and chipmunks chirping, ducks and birds. Now that I pay attention to sound, I begin to hear interesting things everywhere.

But as my luck would have it, being a Sunday afternoon, I managed to time my hike in between several groups of screaming children. They had only one volume – FULL. A full quarter mile away and I could hear them fine with my own ears.

Twice I stopped to set up for sound recording – with a shotgun mic, a Canon HV30 camcorder, a Beachtek audio mixer, and an 18 inch shotgun mic. And twice I had to give up. If my ears could hear the screaming, imagine what that sounded like in a sensitive mic.

I learned something today – if trying to record natural environment sounds, I need to so so on weekday mornings, free of screaming kids. I had not planned today’s hike out very well, from an audio standpoint.

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Home made wind suppressing blimp for microphones

Photo taken in the Yellowstone area.
Image via Wikipedia

After dealing with wind one too many times, and especially in Yellowstone, I decided to build my own blimp. I assembled what you see in this photo:

After I built this, I discovered plans on the Internet for this same idea, even using the same components!

The tube is made from two inexpensive bird feeders, purchased at Home Depot. The sections are glued together using epoxy putty. Home Depot said they didn’t have any, but Lowe’s across the street, had Loctite, which is the same thing. I used two packages of Locktite on this.

The handle is a $1.68 paint roller handle, picked up at Lowe’s.

The end caps were made from two wire mesh sink drain covers, trimmed around and glued onto remnants of the bird feeder caps using more epoxy putty. The original bird feeder caps were drilled and then cut out with a jigsaw, leaving the rims.

I originally planned to weld the metal pieces together, but the bird feeder seems to be an aluminum alloy or something and was not weldable with my wire feed welder.

I still have to head to a fabric store to buy some fake fur to sew up a cover. That should happen within the next few days. I’ll try to post a followup picture of the final version.

Pros: Cheap, should work quite well. Can be mounted on any standard paint pole, as well as my 16 foot aluminum window washing pole.

Cons: the handle is not adjustable.

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