Sound Effects Search has just added a new sound clip Web shop to our search engine: Undertone Sound Library. The new field recording and sound design outfit is offering three collections:
- 1967 Chevy Camaro SS (51 sounds, 2.25 gigabytes, $200.00)
- Classic Cars (40 sounds, 1.66 gigabytes, $35.00)
- Prairies and Small Forests (30 sounds, 2.44 gigabytes, $50.00)
I asked the team at Undertone Sound Library a bit about the collections. Tom Hambleton, the owner of Undertone Sound Library, kindly shared some fascinating details about the collections and the field recording process.
1967 Chevy Camaro SS
I was intrigued about the specific model of Camaro, and I asked Hambleton why he chose to record it:
Because it’s a very cool car! We had an opportunity to record this rare car and I have always wanted to do a complete car work up especially on something interesting. Also, we had a specific need for a TV show we were working on, which is almost always the impetus for recording anything. We did not set out to release a commercial library.
I had recorded one other vehicle before this, but I had been thinking about applying what I learned to another one. There are a lot of car sounds available but most of them that are commercially are pretty vanilla and limited in how many mics covered the sounds and what behaviors and mechanisms were documented. Certainly there are some great recordings out there, but I also wanted the experience of doing our own. The key ingredient to a great mix is a great sound edited onto the timeline. This was the perfect opportunity to get an American muscle car sound for the price of our own labor.
Getting access to classic cars is difficult. I noticed that the Undertone team mentioned on their website that they had access to the cars during a film they had worked on. I asked Hambleton to share more about how they seized this rare opportunity.
At first we thought of contacting the people who rented the vehicles out to the film, but that proved difficult as they lived great distances apart and the vehicles were not available at the same time. So we approached a classic car dealership whose owner was a friend of our employee’s father.
The first day we scheduled the record it rained terribly. The second day we scheduled was terribly windy. The third day was the charm, but once we got there, one of the vehicles needed work to get started so we lost almost half a day with that vehicle. These are just some of the tribulations you encounter when recording outside the studio.
On another occasion, recording a different car, we found a remote quiet spot to record all the car mechanisms and the minute we started rolling, a front-loader drove down the street and into the parking lot where we were and proceeded to bang into the metal fencing for 30 minutes. Turned out they were replacing the fencing and this was their idea of how to remove it. So we went somewhere else… and it turned out the city decided it was time to mow the large fields next to where we wanted to record.
Prairies and Small Forests
Recording prairies and forests these days is difficult because even rural recordings are not far from traffic, even such as the nature preserve where the recordings originate. I asked Hambleton how his team overcame this problem to provide the pure recordings in the library.
Years ago I wanted to record prairies. As you can well imagine, there are a lot of them in Minnesota. Yet, as you say, most of them are near highways or farms. I spent a couple of days researching the Department of Natural Resources (DNR in Minnesota) for SNA’s, or Scientific and Natural Areas. Found a lot of them, but many were only a mile or two from a highway. Then I found one that was within a day’s roundtrip driving distance. There are several that are 7–8 hours away, but I didn’t have a couple of days at the time. Turns out that this little patch is relatively remote and off a very quiet county road. That didn’t mean I didn’t have interruptions — gun shots (from farmers presumably as the place is an SNA, which means no hunting); an earth mover plowing and backing up on a country road 4 miles away, the DNR vehicles roaming through to collect some samples, etc.
I also was curious about the scope of the library. The forest recordings were completed in two seasons. I asked Hambleton to share any differences in the recording process, and the the sounds captured in the two shoots.
The idea was to record in the same exact spot with the same exact setup in different seasons. I was interested in how they would sound different. Also, when you find a spot, it’s a goldmine of sounds because it will change for you. Though, one particularly late thaw and torrential rain meant that one spring I went there and the nearby stream and farm runoff was so engorged that it emitted a deafening white noise over the whole landscape. Most of those recordings are useless. We plan to go back there this early summer and record again.
Many thanks to Tom Hambleton, Travis Thorp, and the Undertone Sound Library Team for sharing their experiences recording the sound libraries.
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