The Cleansed – Season 3

Several months ago I was asked to do the sound design for the 3rd and final season of The Cleansed and I very gladly accepted the role. I was already a fan of The Cleansed and Fred Greenhalgh’s work, so it’s really cool to be designing the sound for the series finale of this show. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, here’s the description of it from the official website: “Equal parts ‘Mad Max’ and ‘The Stand,’ the post apocalyptic saga The Cleansed is set in a world 15 years after the collapse of the world as we know it.”

A lot of the sounds that I’m using for The Cleansed are from my own field recordings. Since I’ve been an avid field recordist for several years now I have amassed a pretty large and diverse sound library from my own recordings. So far I’ve already used the sound of a steam and volcanic gas spewing fumarole that I wrote about in a previous post HERE, and several of the guns that I recorded and documented the process of HERE. In addition to my own field recordings, and the occasional sound from a 3rd party sound library, I’ve also been using various Reaktor instruments that allow you to load in your own sounds and do some serious damage — in a good way.

Check out all of the latest episodes of Season 3 here by clicking play on the link below. Also, you can download a copy of them from iTunes HERE if you’d like to load them onto a portable device to take around with you. Enjoy!


**Update on Feb 25th, 2016** The Cleansed was voted “Fiction Podcast of the Week” over at The Podcast Host! Click on the link to check out their review, which also covers some of the details of The Cleansed’s plot, etc.


HISS and a ROAR’s Swish Two — Innovative Crowd-Sourced Ideas

Tim Prebble of HISS and a ROAR recently released the 2nd edition of his Swish series, called “Swish Two.” I already own a few of Tim’s sound effects libraries and before the official release of Swish Two I heard that he was offering a free copy of the library to anyone who contributed an idea that was worth him exploring, and recording, for the release of this library.

To get a free copy of Swish Two the ideas you sent him couldn’t be a repeat of anything that he’d already recorded for his 1st Swish library, and they also had to be interesting and original ideas. I knew that I definitely wanted to get a copy of this library — especially a free one — so I emailed him an idea of mine that I’ve wanted to record for a while now, but just haven’t had the time to record myself.

My idea was to take a book (preferably a lightweight one), drill a hole through it, and then thread a rope or cable through the hole and tie it the book. Then, as you swing the book around all of the pages will flap together in random and unpredictable ways. I also suggested that this could sound really cool if the resulting recording was later slowed down and/or pitched down.

He liked my idea enough to explore it, so I earned myself a free copy of Swish Two! It looks like my idea could’ve possibly contributed to either the “MAGAZINE paper passes” and/or the “PAPER Roll art paper moves rumbles” sounds that are included in Swish Two. Either way it was super cool to hear those sounds in action and to help contribute, along with many others, to a kick-ass new sound library that so many people will get to hear and have fun using in their future projects.

Good times…



My New Theme on The Sound Collectors’ Club (and a mention on Pro Tools Expert)

I recently submitted one of my recordings of crowd sounds (or “walla”) to The Sound Collectors’ Club, which I joined earlier this year. Michael, who runs the site, wrote me back to let me know that my recording didn’t quite fit into any of their pre-existing categories. It turns out that this would actually end up working out for the better though.

I emailed Michael back and made a suggestion in passing that it’d be cool to add a new “walla” category for the sound I submitted, not thinking much else about it. I was pleasantly surprised when Michael wrote me back and said that he thought that was a good idea. He asked if I could narrow down my idea to something a little more specific than just ordinary crowd chatter though.

After thinking for a few days about what types of crowd sounds would be good to add to my (and everyone else on The Sound Collectors’ Club site) collection of sound effects, I remembered a project that I worked on several months ago. It had a few scenes that needed a medium to semi-large sized crowd that were talking — but were talking quietly and/or whispering at some points. I didn’t have any personal recordings that fit this description and I also had a lot of trouble finding any recordings online that worked for these scenes.

I emailed Michael back with my idea and he decided to use it as the new “theme” for Spring 2015! Click HERE to read more about it, including a minor complication that we ran into. It turns out that a library called Quiet Spaces has a similar type theme and it just came out a few months ago on the echo | collective: fields website. I listened to echo | collective’s Quiet Spaces library and it sounds great, and is very reasonably priced. I definitely recommend checking it out, along with their other libraries. Signal Return seems like it would be especially fun to use.

It’s always cool to get the chance to contribute something to the community of professional audio folks. Sharing ideas with other sound designers, field recordists, etc. is always fun. I’d already planned on writing something about the new theme on The Sound Collectors’ Club and when I saw last week’s “Sunday Sound Effects Roundup” on the Pro Tools Expert site with my name listed in the article HERE (update on 4/27/15 — this edition of Sunday SFX Roundup is no longer active on the Pro Tools Expert site) I figured that I’d go ahead and write about it today.



Gun Recording (Day Two)

Lately I’ve been busy with a lot of Field Recording and I haven’t really had much time to update my site with anything that I’ve been up to. So, here’s a highlight from one of the recording sessions that I recently finished.

This is me shooting a 9mm.

Me shooting a 9mm. You can see the lav’s cable hanging off of the gun if you look closely. Click on the picture to make it a little easier to see.

Gun Recording Session two:

On 10/27/13 we set out to record guns for the 2nd time. Our 1st effort wasn’t a failure but there were a number of things that I thought we could improve on (I will write a full article covering all of the gun recording sessions when I have a little more time). During our 1st recording we had a total of four mics set up to capture everything. An X-Y configuration was set up behind the person shooting and there was also a mic and on both the left and right-hand sides of the gun. That setup gave us a pretty good sound but I’m always determined to get the best sound possible, so we increased the number of mics being used and changed the placement of them a little bit.

During our 2nd session we were also down to only two people. Our 1st session on 10/13/13 included Alex Lockett, Adam McGinty and myself but Alex wasn’t able to make it out on this 2nd outing. We decided on using an X-Y stereo mic behind the shooter again and the Rode NT4 was a good choice for that. A Rode NTG-2 was placed on the left-hand side of the gun and then an Audio Technica AT835b on the right-hand side. So far this is fairly similar to what we used for our 1st recording. We did aim the mics on either side of the gun a little differently, but otherwise these mics were placed nearly the same as the 1st time.

For the 2nd recording I wanted to try a few different approaches though. The first thing that I wanted to do differently was to include a dynamic mic to our configuration and set it up really close to the gun, since it would be able to handle a much higher SPL than the condensers could without distorting. This was a somewhat last minute idea and I only had a Shure SM58 at my immediate disposal, so I brought that with us. We set this mic up about 1 to 2 feet below the barrel of the gun (this varied from gun to gun of course) and aimed the mic upwards at about a 45 degree angle between directly up and where the barrel of the gun was pointing. I’ve never read about anyone doing this before, although I’m sure that someone has. Before I talk about the last mic that we used you can click on the image below to get an idea of the overall setup that I’ve described so far.

Here is the mic arrangement that we used. Going clockwise from the back you can see the NT4, the NTG-2, the SM58 (slightly off-center to the right) and then the AT835b. The lav you can see in some of the photos that are below.

Here is the mic arrangement that we used. Clockwise from the back you can see the NT4, the NTG-2 (far right), the SM58 (slightly off-center to the right) and then the AT835b (on the left). You can see the lav in some of the photos that are below. Please click this image for a larger and better view.

Another idea I had that was different from our last recording was to use a lav mic and either attach it to the gun directly or clip it to the shirt of the person shooting, depending on whichever worked the best for each gun/scenario. With all the various guns that we used we ended up being able to affix the lav mic directly to each gun, which was pretty exciting since that puts it directly on the gun instead of being a foot or so away. I wanted the lav to be as close as possible to the internal explosion taking place inside the gun being used. I didn’t know what this would sound like but it seemed like a good idea to try out and it actually ended up giving a very mid-rangy and punchy sound that I really liked. It also did a good job collecting all the mechanical sounds, such as when we were clearing the chamber of the shotgun. The mechanical sounds are hard to get a clear recording of outdoors (because of all the other sounds that are taking place around you) but with a mic actually attached to the gun the mechanical noises sounded very clear and articulate, despite the fact that they were recorded outdoors. While I’d still like to record all the mechanical sounds back at a studio, the lav did actually get some pretty usable sounds.

Overall I’m pretty happy with all of the sounds that we recorded during our 2nd gun recording session and I’ll be posting up all of the audio fairly soon. Time has been very tight lately with all the various projects that I’m currently working on but I’ll try and post up some clips as soon as I can. Until then check out some of the pictures below to see some of the guns that we recorded, etc. Enjoy…

Here is a double-barreled 12 gauge shotgun that we were also able to record.

This is a double-barreled 12 gauge shotgun that we were able to record. It left bruises on both Adam’s and my shoulders the next day but it was definitely worth it.

Here is Adam shooting a 38. If you look closely you can see the tape holding the lav onto the gun.

Here is Adam shooting a 38. If you look closely you can see the tape holding the lav onto the gun.

Here you can see the lav mic clipped (and taped) onto the 12 gauge that Adam is shooting.

Here is a good picture of the lav mic that we clipped (and taped) to the 12 gauge that Adam is shooting.


The Recording of Smashing Pumpkins

I recently recorded myself smashing a few pumpkins. I’ve been thinking about doing this since last Halloween when we were throwing out our old — and at that point rotting — pumpkin. I kept thinking about how it would sound to record a pumpkin being struck with a blunt object of some kind. I imagined that it would have a nice impact sound like a punch, or something similar. This past Halloween I bought a couple of extra pumpkins so I could finally find out what it would sound like after thinking about it for an entire year.

The aftermath of the pumpkin smashing.

The aftermath of the pumpkin smashing.

My initial thoughts on how to approach recording this were pretty straightforward. I planned on putting up a few mics and then hitting the pumpkin really hard with a baseball bat, and that’s exactly what I did. First, I hit it with some smaller blunt objects so that the pumpkin would survive more than one single blow. After the first pumpkin collapsed in we took some of the pumpkin guts and rubbed them around to get some nice slimy, gooey horror-ish sounds. Then, we took some of the leftover pieces of the pumpkin’s shell and ripped them apart. First, we tore a few of them apart very slowly and then we broke some of the remaining pieces apart very quickly, and with more force, to produce a nice bone breaking/crunching sound.

Since I’d never recorded a pumpkin before I wasn’t entirely sure what microphones to use. I put up a Neumann TLM 103, an AKG C-414 and a Shure Beta 52A to capture the sound. My thought was that the condensers would pick up a lot of the detail and the Beta 52A would capture the “punchy” sounds down in the lower frequencies. I recorded everything into Pro Tools at 24bit / 192kHz to get the best representation of the recorded sounds possible.

I’d like to thank Angel Alvarez for all his help with these recordings. He stepped in and smashed the pumpkins a few times with several different objects, and then he also ran Pro Tools for a bit while I was busy giving the pumpkins a good smack. Angel and I did multiple takes of stabbing, mushing together and hitting the pumpkin with various objects. We even recorded some VIDEO footage of the smashing of one of the pumpkins. I’m in the process of editing the recordings mentioned above so that I can post everything for you to hear. Enjoy the VIDEO for now…


Angel Alvarez hard at work ripping the guts out of the pumpkin.

Angel Alvarez hard at work ripping the guts out of the pumpkin.