Recording the largest sub bass generator

If you can believe the silly local media, New Zealand was apparently hit by a ‘weather bomb’ this weekend. For some reason newspapers and news media websites picked up the phrase and ran with it, subtitling every photo of a missing roof as being the results of a weather bomb, all of which makes me wonder what they would call it if someone actually got their roof blown off with a real bomb! But every time I see weather warnings for gale force winds, I set my batteries charging & get ready for a recording session. This would be the second this year, the first being when part of the roof came off my studio neighbours warehouse, although that apparently wasn’t a weather bomb, but I posted some sounds from that session anyway…

This time I decided to head up Brooklyn Hill, one of the highest hills around Wellington and one I’ve recorded at before (attaching a contact mic to the stays of an aerial) so I knew the wind fair whipped around up there, in fact there is a huge wind turbine that they regularly have to disable as it goes too fast (imagine everyones lights glowing extra bright & then burning out!) So I spent an hour or two recording some great gale force wind-in-wires up there on Saturday afternoon and while driving back down the hill decided to stop off at another location I’ve recorded at before: the old gun emplacements on Poll Hill:

Gun emplacements

These gun emplacements date back to World War II, and after a quick search I found the one I was at here These octagonal concrete structures housed anti-aircraft guns and back when we were working on 30 Days of Night we did some recording here, and inside the gun emplacement bunkers got some great wind drafts for the scenes where everyone is hiding out in the attic while a blizzard is going on around them.

Gun emplacements

So with a gale force southerly wind I figured I’d see if I could get more of the same. I went over to the first bunker but it was too sheltered from the wind, so I headed over to the bunker that was directly facing the south and from the outside it didn’t seem that promising, but as I ducked down & into the short tunnel that led to a fully enclosed bunker I could not believe what I was hearing!

Gun emplacements

As I had hoped the air vents leading into the room were making some great wind draft sounds, but the wind was so strong that the entire space was acting like a resonating chamber. Imagine a malformed orchestral flute that is about 80 cubic metres in size, and being blown by a giant with wind gusts of over 120kmph and then imagine what it might sound like! The notes that formed were low frequency and swelled in volume and pitch as each gust of wind hit the building…. I set the mics up, hit record and left it rolling for an hour or so – have a listen, first the 8040s which were recording the room resonance:

Gale Force Wind in Bunker MKH8040 by timprebble

And the same 8040s with a LPF:
Gale Force Wind in Bunker MKH8040 LPF by timprebble

And the MKH70s which were pointed into the air vents:
Gale Force Wind in Bunker MKH70 by timprebble

It was quite overwhelming to be in that space! I was glad it was daylight as I’m not sure what unsavoury characters I might run into up there at night, but when I was shooting the video below it made me think of all the horror film cliches, particularly the one where someone enters an old WWII bunker and the further in they go the deeper the sub bass drones become, until….

FWIW that is sync sound (from the mics point of view, not the cameras of course. But at the end of the shot I clicked my fingers & spoke a verbal ID just so I could sync it) From outside the bunker room you could only just hear and feel the low frequencies – the blustery wind in the trees etc was the predominant sound…. but inside that bunker it felt a little like being inside some kind of ambient subwoofer! I knew I’d get some great sounds from the recording those aerials up top of the hill in such strong winds, but discovering totally unexpected sounds like these is what field recording is all about! And it sure beats sitting inside complaining about the weather….

5 Responses to Recording the largest sub bass generator

  1. Another excellent post, and one which rather coincidentally, echoes my last blog post about recording the wind:
    http://www.theatreofnoise.com/2012/02/wind-on-moytura-field-recording-praxis.html

    I am quite envious of your experience in that bunker!

  2. michal says:

    Is it possible to get this recordings in FLAC or ogg file ?

  3. Pingback: Noise Jockey » Blog Archive » Tunnel Rain

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