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Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

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Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

Postby aristoteles » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:50 am

What are your thoughts on recording ambience such as forrest, supermarket, office, restaurants etc (you get the picture) in stereo to be used in movies, podcasts etc?

What I'm interested in, is your thoughts on polar patterns and stereo-techniques. Have you tried different for the same scenario? Which technique and polar pattern worked best you think?
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Re: Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

Postby Bob Bickerton » Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:57 am

I’ve been focussing on recording stereo natural soundscapes for use in various projects and after much experimenting have pretty much settled on a pair of Sennheiser MKH8090 wide cardioids in a (quasi) ORTF configuration recorded into a Soundevices mix-pre 3.

For me, I like the mix of expansiveness and clarity from this setup. I often use these tracks with sparse instrumentation, so my stereo recordings act as a backdrop to these.

Can’t comment on supermarkets and street sounds.

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Re: Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:23 am

Firstly, be aware that the "supermarket, office, restaurants etc" environments are all private property and you would need permission from the owner/manager to record there... And most are likely to decline because of fears of customer/client privacy, with the recordings picking up private conversations.

As for recording techniques, if this is for ambience and background effects, as you describe -- sounds you specifically want not to distract from foreground sounds -- I'd recommend a binaural, Jecklin-disc, or other near-spaced technique. Binaural and Jecklin disc will pick up sounds from 360 degrees, obviously, whereas a technique like ORTF or, better still, NOS (with its wider mic spacing), will provide some useful front-back discrimination to help reduce unwanted sounds from behind if that is necessary.

Spaced mic techniques capture a lot of inter-aural time differences and, when replayed over speakers, they result in a rather vague and almost 'blurry' stereo image. The result is that the listener perceives a good sense of spaciousness and source movement, but not precise positioning -- and that combination makes for a relatively non-distracting background ambient effect.

Most of the BBC's (modern) in-house stereo sound effects (originally issued on CD) were recorded using binaural techniques for this very reason.

Coincident stereo techniques inherently create pin-sharp imaging which tends to be attention-grabbing and so is unhelpful when capturing material intended for background effects. So XY and MS techniques are not recommended for this kind of recording application.
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Re: Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Nov 30, 2019 7:30 am

Since I have the kit already I would go the ambisonics route. Polar patterns etc can then be chosen during mixdown. If quality is important and discretion less so I'd use my Rode NT-SF1 with my Zoom F8n. Conversely if you were trying to be unobvious and didn't mind reduced quality* I'd use the Zoom H3-VR (but see Hugh's comments re privacy issues).

CC

* Reduced but still quite possibly amply adequate for podcasts etc. The H3-VR is a surprisingly capable little device.
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Re: Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

Postby Arpangel » Sat Nov 30, 2019 10:02 am

ConcertinaChap wrote:Since I have the kit already I would go the ambisonics route. Polar patterns etc can then be chosen during mixdown. If quality is important and discretion less so I'd use my Rode NT-SF1 with my Zoom F8n. Conversely if you were trying to be unobvious and didn't mind reduced quality* I'd use the Zoom H3-VR (but see Hugh's comments re privacy issues).

CC

* Reduced but still quite possibly amply adequate for podcasts etc. The H3-VR is a surprisingly capable little device.

I'm interested in getting an NT-SF1, is the supplied windshield adequate?
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Re: Recording ambience (field-recording) - thoughts

Postby ConcertinaChap » Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:17 pm

It's pretty good, actually. It comes with a dead cat as well.

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