SFX Winter Sports Gary

We have a new trainee here at benztown, he’s called Max and one of the many great things about him is that he loves recording sounds! He studied at the SAE institute in Stuttgart and worked as a boom operator and location sound mixer for several movie projects (especially for the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg).

Dont be afraid of the recording process,  it’s actually a funny trial and error task and doesn’t take as much time and money as you think. Our first big mission was to record SFX for the Olympic Winter Games – without having real winter temperatures and olympic environment here in Stuttgart. Get into recording your own sound effects – Step by Step!

1. Learn from the pro’s

We learned a lot from the books “The Sound Effects Bible” and “The Location Sound Bible“. They are written by Ric Viers who is a real dound design genius and the man behind Blastwave FX and the Detroit Chop Shop Studios. Check his Youtube Channel and I highly recommend – get the books as well.

2. Get yourself some equipment

In the boom operator business there are also standards and gear that most guys rely on. But you also can find comperable and cheaper solutions. Here’s a short selection:

– Recorders: Examples for high-priced recorders are the  Sound Devices 788T or Nagra VI. A mid price range recorder is e.g. the Fostex FR-2. But you can get nice recordings with lower priced recorders such as the Zoom H4n (Max’s choice) or the Tascam DR-100 (Benztown choice). The main difference between all these recorders is the quality of their preamps, which defines the level of hissing in the recordings at lower levels.

– Mics: In the field or studio you can choose between a wide variety of microphones for your specific needs. Examples for large diaphragm microphones are the Rode NT-2000  and Neumann TLM-103. A low-cost small diaphragm microphone is the Oktava MK-012. In selecting shotguns microphones you got many selection options, too: The Schoeps CMIT 5-U, Sennheiser MKH-416 or Rode NTG-2 are examples for high-, mid- and low range priced shotgun mics.

– Pistol Grip/Boompoles: To avoid handling noise on your recordings and to get your mic closer to the sound source it’s nice to use shock mounts like Rode PG-2 or Rycote Modular Suspension in combination with boompoles such as Ambient Recording Quickpole QP480 or Rode Boompole.

– Wind protection: When you record on exterior locations it’s absolutely necessary to protect your recordings from wind rumble with windscreens. For shotgun mics you can choose a zeppelin worn together with a windjammer as Rycote Modular Windshield Kit which includes a shock mount. Or a cheaper version without zeppelin and shock mount such as the Rode WS 6 Deluxe Windjammer or Auray WSR-2012. You better check your Microphone length before purchasing! If you record with your portable audio recorder there are options like Rycote Mini Windjammer.

As you see, there is high-priced gear, but it’s also possible to start with about 800$ or less…

3. Take what’s already there

As we did our brainstorm where to get winter sports SFX, we thought the easiest thing would be go skiing or snowboarding and record the sound. But gladly we know some great snowboarding proffesionals, who create amazing videos. Michael Gutscher and Fabian Fuchs call themselves Futscher Films and gave us some of their raw material they recorded to go from. The sound from action cameras like the GoPro is not good enough, because of the waterproof cases – but Michael and Fabian also used DSLR with external mics. If your are a snowboarding fan, you must check out their latest movie:

[vimeo 81905333]

4. Go out

So the snow was covered – but we still needed the Ice… We had a call with a friendly Figure Skating Trainer,  who recommended us to ask one of his best athletes. We had the luck to meet Dave Kötting, who did many different starts, stops and pirouettes while Max recorded it. The reverb of an empty ice rink is amazing! To cover different variations of sounds, Max recorded Dave while skating circles and passing by in stereo with the Zoom H4n  and did some mono stuff with the boompole and a shotgun mic close to the ice skates. Big thanks to Dave!!!

A few days later Max and Konrad recorded footage during a hockey training of the Stuttgart Rebels. While Max was close to the ice with his boom and Zoom H4n, Konrad recorded some ambience from the tribune with the Tascam DR-100. The puck hits and the colliding players sounded great, but real “game scenes” were rare – most times they trained in 2 or 4 groups. But big up to the Rebels, their trainers and the “Eiswelt Stuttgart” rink!!!

5. Create SFX at the Studio

We tried to imitate skiing and ice skating FX with this:


Sandpaper vs. blotting paper = skiing. Sandpaper vs. metallic skirting board = ice skates. It’s a nice experiment and with a big reverb (ice skates) and or cold wind (skiing) added, you can get very realistic sounds without being a professional athlete;)



6. Editing

Our experience with editing was: the less, the better. We used a lowcut (50hz to 200hz) to reduce the noise of the ice rink cooling system and the wind noise of the snowboard recordings. If necessary we filtered some resonances and lowered the highs before sending it to a L2. For the different takes we created an editing track and a print track each, so we could adjust the loudness of the different mics (Rode, Zoom internal, Tascam internal) and  mic positions (close, far).

SFX Limiting

And we build some small Ice Hockey scenes with different, panned mono files. With different shots and a whistle we tried to bring the full ice hockey feeling in seconds.

SFX Ice Hockey Combo

So far from the benztown SFX lab and next week we’ll show you how we faced another S.E.S.E.T (Special Event Sound Effects Task)!

  1. Matthieu says:

    I record with a zoom H6 and I’m looking for a shotgun microphone to work with. I know that Zoom sell his own shotgun mic for the H6 but maybe you have some good references too !

    • Hey Matthieu,
      we didn’t check the Zoom SGH-6 Shotgun Mic Capsule but maybe you have more handling noise if the mic is placed directly on the recorder. We would recommend buying a good valued extarnal microphone (like f.e. the Rode NTG-2 or the Audio-Technica AT897) plus a pistol grip. It’s more flexible (f.e. if you want to work with a boompole)…
      Cheers!

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