21
Oct
09

Pew pew! Recording guns

The other week I went out to a shooting range with Jonatan Crafoord and a mutual friend who is a member of a local shooting club (the same person I had previously recorded the handling of two guns with).
We had made a reservation on an outside range during the evening, to avoid other people at the range. Our friend, guide and safety intructor had brought his Glock 19 and Feinwerkbau AW93 and large amounts of ammo.

Here’s the simple setup we used:

  • H4n and its built-in stereo microphones, positioned 3 meters dead ahead on the ground from the gun
  • Two Shure SM57 plugged into the H4n, one very close to the barrel of the gun, one about 5 meters further away

Using this setup, we hoped to get a pretty good stereo image from the built-in microphones in the H4n, some extra ambience and reflections from the SM57 far away, and a more direct sound from the up-close SM57.
We also experimented with setting the H4n’s microphones to higher sensitivity to get a good, loud tail from the reflections.

The recordings turned out great.

Here’s a video shot with a regular digital camera, with a finished audio mix of the different sources.

We put a heavy limiter on the H4n recordings as well as the pair of SM57s and used different EQ techniques on the different tracks to get a good blend. We toyed around with the idea of mixing the in the audio captured with the tiny digital camera, but eventually left it out.

In the future it would be interesting to record bullet impacts in different materials. This poses some interesting challenges, such as using a source (most likely a rifle of some sort) that pushes the bullet much faster than the speed of sound, thereby letting the bullet hit the surface a short while before the sound of the actual blast reaches the recording gear.

All in all, it was an interesting and fun experience that produced great results.

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20
Sep
09

Sound excursions

Since a couple of months ago I’ve tried to go on a sound excursion each week, with a clear recording goal in mind. Here are a couple of them so far:

Photo studio

3624890826_5d76b25ae5An aquaintance of mine works as a photographer with his own studio. We spent a couple of hours recording all sorts of varied gear: camera clicks, shutters, flashes loading, the hum of studio lights, metal lamp screens and more. One of the highlights was an old collectible camera that his colleague had, a Yashica-Mat 124. It made beautiful, old-school style gear sounds when being used.

The Zoo

SKANSEN-AKVARIET_450x300Went to Skansen Zoo in Stockholm to record different animals. I had visited a couple of weeks earlier, and the warthogs had made these wonderful guttural sounds. No such luck this day though.
In fact, the entire day was somewhat of a failure, partly due to the horrible flocks of children and families destined to ruin the day. I recorded a couple of goats, a cow breathing into the microphone, and a perturbed pigeon, but that’s it. The owls were silent, the warthogs had an annoying sprinkler installed in their area and the bears were silent (but cute).

Gun handling

gunporn-sig210-6It turns out that a friend of mine is into shooting competitions, owning three guns himself. We met up in his apartment and recorded a Glock 19, a SIG P210 and a Feinwerkbau AW93. We got some great recordings from all three guns, but the all-metal SIG P210 definitely had the most beautiful sounds.
We have a trip to the shooting range planned in a couple of weeks, hoping to get some good recordings of shots being fired.

Rocks

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Yeah, rocks. More specifically falling rocks, in large quantities and sizes. Me and a friend of mine headed to an open construction site where they had demolished a large building a couple of months earlier. The entire building was still there, broken up into rocky chunks and put into a huge (15m high) pile. We spent a couple of hours recording rock hits, rocks tumbling, rock falls and avalanches and the like. A lot of really good takes, though I still haven’t taken the time to cut up the recordings.

I’ll try to write about future excursions as well.

05
May
09

Those wacky video game makers

untitled1Up has a wonderful piece up called Talking Heads, giving us the strangest quotes throughout the industry. My personal favorite:

“We don’t provide the ‘easy to program for’ console that [developers] want, because ‘easy to program for’ means that anybody will be able to take advantage of pretty much what the hardware can do, so then the question is what do you do for the rest of the nine-and-a-half years?” – Kaz Hirai, Sony

Ha ha, you crack me up, Kazzie! Good one!
The two quotes from Activision guy Bobby Kotick on the last page are also interesting, in a more serious and scary way.

03
Mar
09

So what’s Jeff Kaplan up to?

wow1Hello, and welcome to speculation week.

When Activision Blizzard (Actizzard? Seriously, stop with the annoying double names) announced that World of Warcraft’s lead designer Jeff Kaplan was to leave the WoW world to head up the company’s “next-gen MMO,” speculation ran wild.

World of Starcraft? Diabloquest? Lost Vikings Adventures (yes please)? Blackthorne’s Call?

Regardless of setting, I’d wager that they’re working on whatever will replace WoW. Reasons:

• They don’t want to compete with themselves. If they release a somewhat similar game to WoW and operate the two alongside each other, few people would play both. And Acti-Blizz would never create a game for a small niche market.

• Development time. Acblizzion isn’t exactly known for their short development cycles. If they’ve announced a game, it usually takes at least two years until release day. And MMO’s have a longer than average development time. Can you really see WoW as the undisputed champion in four, five years time? Maybe, but BlizzAct would be wise to be ready when people eventually lose interest, before some other game/developer catches the player’s eye.

So what happens if the WoW user base is still growing when their next game is nearing completion? It’s doubtful that they’d stop producing content for the game simply to focus on their new title. But two internal teams competing for the same market doesn’t sound like the best idea.
Other companies have run more than one MMO at once, but none have even been close to WoW’s size.

Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle things.

26
Feb
09

Gay? No Xbox Live for you!

4f6cef875973d35084109a823efacf4aHello there.

Are you gay or lesbian? Like to play on XBox Live?

If so, then STFU (apparently).
Turns out, mentioning that you’re gay or lesbian is enough to get you banned from XBLA. Saying that you’re not gay is OK, and it seems as though declaring your straightness is acceptable, but if you happen to mention a sexual preference other than that, you’re fucked.

Sexual orientation is a sensitive issue, sure, and I can understand that Microsoft wants to put a lid on it on their networks. But how about doing something about the actual problem – ban the people who act like dickheads when someone mentions a sexual preference other than straight.

I’m tempted to go on XBLA and start reporting people who say that they’re not gay. “OMG that person just totally hinted at their sexuality! I’m personally offended by this! Burn, heretic!”

23
Feb
09

McGee through the looking glass again

american-mcgees-happy-catEA just announced a sequel to American McGee’s Alice, to be developed by McGee’s studio. Some loved the original for the unique and twisterd feel, others hated it for its aparent lack of depth and gameplay.

Me? I really liked it. The best thing about it was it’s score, mentioned previously. I sure hope Chris Vrenna will produce this one as well.

(Now, if he could just tone down those cheesy choir and string samples this time around, that’d be great. But keep those awesome toy samples!)

17
Feb
09

Industry buyouts

teh-buyouts

With the economic crisis in full swing, forcing many developers to shut their doors, strange opportunities and business deals arise.

A bit surprising was that Crytek bought Time Splitters and Haze developer Free Radical, once the English studio had shut its doors last December. It does makes sense though, since Crytek is slowly but surely expanding their studio count and at the same time has their eyes set on consoles.

And now Sqare Enix (Squeenix) is eyeing western developer/publisher Eidos.
While surprising, it actually makes sense. The Japanese studio has had quite a few hits in Western territories, but Japan has always been their strongest market. With the Japanese market in decline and Western games becoming more popular among Japanese gamers, Square Enix would gain a lot by focusing on a more international appeal.
And what better way to get a head start than by grabbing a western developer/studio, full of experience and recognizable IP’s?

(Just so long as the next Deus Ex doesn’t have giant swords and spiky hair…)