Cicadas, meet Pitch Shift

The start of summer in New Zealand is heralded by the sound of cicadas & while the start of summer is reason to celebrate, some people hate the cicada, especially production sound recordists! There is nothing more difficult to deal with than an exterior scene during cicada season. One local recordist I know has a special technique involving giant water pistols, but even that only buys a short moment of quiet. Heavy cicadas tend to mean ADR – there are multiple problems with their sound: they vary their frequency and intensity depending on direct sunlight so their intense sound can change radically between take 1 and take 3, and even more so between different camera angles etc… Even recording sound effects or ambiences I’ve headed out with the best of intentions only to be stopped by the cicadas. The only option then is to do what I did just now: record some cicada tracks! This one was happily chirping away in a tree outside my studio, so I put my MKH70 on a boom and went & stalked it!

cicada close up

photo by Antoine Hubert

CICADA by timprebble

Such a dense sound, but its rhythm becomes clearer once its slowed down. Here is the same track (recorded at 192k) at half speed, quarter speed and finally one eighth speed. If you’d like to know how & why the cicadas make their sound, have a read here

CICADA half speed by timprebble

CICADA quarter speed by timprebble

CICADA eighth speed by timprebble

Just needs a bit of space echo!

One Response to Cicadas, meet Pitch Shift

  1. Hugo says:

    The number of days I have spent in the company of grumpy sound recordists due to Cicadas…. is substantial. Don’t tell them, but I actually rather like the noise. Summer just wouldn’t be summer without them.

    Now a cricket hiding in my bedroom gently chirping but now giving away it’s position…. now that is a noise that drives me mad!

    – Hugo

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