Road Trip – part 1

Got home last night from my two week road trip/field recording mission/holiday, so all my current detritus is from the real world! The last three days have been spent in a fairly remote part of the North Island of NZ – no cellphone or net access – in the Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana in particular… On the first night there I went for a walk about 10pm and OMG I haven’t been in a place so quiet in years – I could hear a morepork a very long way away, and nothing inbetween…. & the milky way just looked majestic! But more on that later….

First stop on my road trip (other than an overnight stop & a soak in a hot pool in Rotorua) was Auckland & recording 1940s military vehicles for THE EMPEROR which we officially start in a few weeks… Last week was the end of their NZ shoot and accordingly all the vehicles from the shoot were about to be released back to their respective owners, so I raced up in time to record as much material with them as humanly possible….


First we recorded onboard with a couple of jeeps, as we waited for the crew to all leave after their shoot day finished… I used my Sound Devices 744 recorder onboard with a handheld XY pair of MKH8040s interior plus two dynamic mics for engine & exhaust:



For a dynamic mic the photo below might look a little wide, but the placement wasn’t by accident – at first I gaffered it about 3 inches away from the exhaust & did a quick listen test, but I wasn’t happy with it – it was too close, and it sounded too ‘poppy’ – maybe similar scenario to placing a mic too close to a singers mouth and getting too much ‘plosives… Sometimes sound needs some space in which to develop its tonality… so we stopped, I moved it wider and was much happier with the sound:


After the jeeps were a couple of tandem axle army trucks, where I took the same approach with the exhaust mic placement, but also had a listen with the truck running & decided I didn’t actually need my engine bay mic to be inside the engine bay – plenty of sound was coming out of the vents!




If you have particularly good eyesight you might notice my approach to gaffer tape with the beautiful car below, which we also recorded on the first night – ‘gaffer tape on chrome or glass only’ meant I got great placement & safe cabling without incurring the wrath of any vehicle owners! I recorded some even more expensive cars (including a mint Rolls Royce of similar vintage) and I would have been crucified had I taken any paint off when removing gaffer tape!!


I had two evenings of access to the vehicles and on the first night we worked until 11pm – Simon the vehicle wrangler was excellent & very patient with my weirdly obsessive requests (I haven’t seen any cut scenes so my cue list was based on viewing rushes) and although it was exhausting I was glad we persevered and did as much as possible, because the second day it poured down with rain! Make hay while the sun shines etc… We did a bit of recording on the second night on the sound stage, but fumes were a bit of a problem… So I went for a walk around the lot, recording rain including a great down pipe gurgling & another spot where rain was falling 20 foot from a broken gutter onto concrete…


> Unrelated to all of the above but maybe of interest to analogue addicts, before I left Auckland I picked up a secondhand Toft ATB 24 and I am pretty sure I have finally found the perfect accompaniment to all my analogue outboard (perfect being a relative term ie relative to ones budget! An SSL etc would be even more perfect… but… reality is still a friend of mine…) Its been years since I’ve had an analogue desk that could be ‘played’ & this appears to have just the right performance-based form factor/feature set eg six aux sends, very flexible routing & ahhhh that Trident EQ!
There will be dub!






7 Responses to Road Trip – part 1

  1. Tilman says:

    Damn I want that mixer too! 🙂 I demoed it several times and also loved the EQ. Icould even imagine to do some sort of sound design remixing effects on a an analog mixer like this.

  2. We have 2 Tofts at Futureworks here in Manchester! Great desks!!

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  6. Alex says:


    This looks like great work you have done here.

    Did you by any chance make recordings of the tire noise on a regular hard road surface like asphalt or concrete?
    I’d like to hear the difference between the tyre noise at slow speeds and and at a higher speed, for the purpose of informing a sound synthesis project. I’m planning to go out and record myself as soon as I get some dry roads and the right recording gear, but i’d be delighted if you would be willing to share even just a few seconds of your recording of this for now?

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