19 | Soundscape artists and their work

January 10, 2021 Soundproofist Episode 19
19 | Soundscape artists and their work
19 | Soundscape artists and their work
Jan 10, 2021 Episode 19

How do professional soundscape artists capture their high-resolution field recordings? In this episode, Soundproofist talks with two audio professionals: Charles Previtire and Mélia Roger. We talk about their preferred microphones and recording gear and some memorable mistakes they've learned from along the way. Finally, we talk about how they share their work -- including sound libraries and film projects.

Show Notes Transcript

How do professional soundscape artists capture their high-resolution field recordings? In this episode, Soundproofist talks with two audio professionals: Charles Previtire and Mélia Roger. We talk about their preferred microphones and recording gear and some memorable mistakes they've learned from along the way. Finally, we talk about how they share their work -- including sound libraries and film projects.

Cary - intro (00:05):

This is episode 19 of Soundproofist. And my name is Cary. Today we're going to hear from two soundscape artists who do field recordings. I wanted to know more about how they do their work and what tools they use. So in this episode, we'll talk with Charles Previtire and Mélia Roger about their recording process and what they've learned along the way. If you've ever thought about getting started with field recording, I hope you find this helpful. 

So let's start with Charles.

Charles (00:45):

My name is Charles Previtire. I've been in radio since the late eighties and recording as a hobby since about the mid-nineties. First started recording in the field to acquire sounds for some of the news programming my friend was doing at a local radio station. After the story, I kind of just started recording at random. You know, things like the environment, trains, rainstorms, walking around. These days I've been recording a lot of binaural recordings for fun and a recent favorite is definitely the hummingbirds, which I will share.

Cary (01:16):

So what do you use in the field?

Charles (01:18):

I am currently using a Zoom H6 and I also have an H4N. The H4N is great for like the simple stuff. And I use the XY microphone that comes with it for like simple stereo recordings, things that I want to do a quick and easy where I don't want to take a bunch of equipment. The H6 is really great. You have the ability to have four XLR inputs, and then the option of taking off the XY mic at the top and adding another piece, which has just two more XLR inputs. So six XLR inputs, which is fantastic when you're recording, you know, various things that you want multiple microphones for. As far as microphones are concerned that I use frequently. I have the QTC1 from Earthworks, which is an extremely high-powered, very sensitive omnidirectional microphone, and then a Sennheiser 416 that I use for most of my mono recordings, a shotgun microphone, really incredible quality, and can take a lot of sound pressure, which is nice.

Charles (02:20):

I also just recently picked up a pair of Uši Pros for binaural, the company that makes them is Lom, L-O-M and they're super sensitive, really great quality build. And then with them, I also bought these little wind socks go over and make it look like you know, cotton balls, big black cotton balls on them. But they do a really good job at killing the wind. I use those mostly for binaural. I put them on this foam wig head that I purchased to just create separation for the Ušis. It works pretty well unless you're dealing with really loud sounds because the foam. Is not very dense. So I have a cork head wig head that I also use. It's a little bit more wiley to maneuver. So I usually stick with the foam hat unless I really, really want a more accurate sound. I have a bunch of other microphones as well, but those are kind of the workhorses that I use.

Cary (03:17):

What software do you use afterwards?

Charles (03:20):

I use Pro Tools. Because I've been using it since the nineties., There's a lot of cheaper, simpler options for people like Audition, but I'm just so used to Pro Tools. I have it. So I use it.

Cary (03:31):

So what have you learned along the way from your mistakes?

Charles (03:34):

So, so many mistakes. Yeah, I learned that you should keep everything that you record and always record more than you think you'll need. And it was a hard lesson to learn with so many revisits to places or events that I didn't really want to revisit because I didn't get the exact sound that I wanted. Or, you know, there was something else happening during the sound that kind of ruined it, you know, and ruined what I was going for.

Cary (04:02):

What are some of the challenges that came up for you?

Charles (04:05):

So like I just said, you know, sometimes when you're recording, you're listening really closely to what you're recording, but not necessarily listening close enough to what else is going on sound-wise around you. There are many times where I've kind of driven out in the middle of nowhere to get a sound. And then I record it and feel like I've got some good recordings and then I get it home and I hear airplanes in the background or cars or something else similar to that. Or, you know, the voices, I guess, try to focus on every single sound that you hear while you're setting up, you know, every artifact from cars and planes and voices. It's difficult to get it right the first time when you're too distracted and you don't want to end up recording things that you didn't want to record in the first place.

Cary (04:56):

So you've learned a lot through trial and error.

Charles (04:59):

You know, I would say some of mine were frustration with cheaper equipment. You kind of learn fast and recording becomes a bit of an art form. So you always want the best tools to create the best art. There's a limit. It's really easy to kind of get caught up in having the best of the best and trying to get a better piece of equipment for more money when you don't necessarily need it. I would focus instead of on your equipment, focus on getting the best sounds. And then if you come across a sound that you really are happy with, but you weren't happy with the quality, then maybe start cataloging those. And if you do eventually graduate to a more expensive piece of equipment, you can go back and record that sound again .

Cary (05:43):

What's the most amazing sound you recorded in the field?

Charles (05:47):

You know, there's a lot, and they're all kind of different. The sounds that I liked the most are kind of unique sounds. Things that you get that no one will ever get, because it's kind of a moment of time, a moment of history. I did a protest while I was in Costa Rica. That was just incredible. I had a lot of music and different things going on, but you know, I also like recording the frogs during the mating season. And I've been recording hummingbirds lately, which is definitely the thing that I've enjoyed most. I also like recording ambient soundscapes. Sometimes they can really be soothing to just sit back and listen to a soundscape from wherever. I frequently turn on the rain soundscapes that I've created in the past, in various locations. They really kind of put you someplace. Water tends to be something that I really enjoy recording ocean, rivers, even little streams, little trickling of water that they can be really, really interesting. And sometimes when I'm just reading all, throw something like that on instead of music.

Cary (06:53):

How do you share your work with others?

Charles (06:56):

I typically upload to SoundCloud and contribute to a lot of different sound maps. There's so many of them, uh, they've especially exploded during COVID. My SoundCloud is R E V I T I R E, which is my last name. And there, you can hear a lot of ambient soundscapes, also lots of different hummingbird sounds. And, uh, and the frogs I think are on there as well. I actually took one of the hummingbird sounds. I think it was less like 10 seconds of audio and did something interesting with that. I was trying to pitch the sound to see how it would sound different, especially the beating of the wings, which is what I was looking for when I started recording the hummingbirds.

Charles (07:39):

And I took it and I just took the original and then slowed it down by half and put it next to it and then slowed that down by half and put it next to it. And so I essentially, I came down to a 16th of the same 10 seconds of audio, which was close to like five minutes long, just that 10 seconds, audio stretched way out. And I have that on there as well. And some friends have said that's one of their more favorite things to listen to.

Cary (08:05):

So why don't we listen to a sample?

Charles (08:08):

And so the audio I'm sharing is a bit of the hummingbirds, the aforementioned hummingbirds that I've been having so much fun recording.

Sound sample (08:19):

[Recording of hummingbirds]

Charles (08:52):

Thanks. I appreciate you letting me participate.

Cary (09:01):

And now introducing Mélia Roger.

Mélia (09:04):

My name is Mélia. I'm 24. I come from France, but I'm now based in Zurich in Switzerland. And I've just came out of the cinema school where I was in the sound department. So I just finished two years ago and I've been working in different areas trying to find my way, because actually feel regarding, this is just so broad that you can work other for radio, for cinema, for some libraries, for so many different fields, also connected with environmental questions and stuff. So I just tried different topics, different areas to find the right place for me, that match with my values and my kind of way I want to live. So I've been working just for six months for some library called touchstone. I don't know if you know it, Carrie, but they are based in Germany and they are producing a lot of sound effects. And at the time, because I come from music, I studied piano and composition in the conservatoire for quite a long time.

Mélia (10:10):

I really liked performing the sound. So also being outside and looking for new textures and objects and movements in order to maybe use them into films or video games or composition. But I was really excited about performing with objects and looking for those sonic textures. So yeah, with them, I was also recording with like more field recording, what we call field recording to have a wind and background sound and more or homogenous layers that we can use for sound design. You know, when you have the background of the city, you want to have maybe like crowds the wind, the different cars, and like just this homogenous layer. And then you add all the different detail somehow. So I was looking for those sounds with this 5.0 rig. So some quite heavy equipment with me and this really, I was just formatted somehow, you know, to look for sound that will be usable for movies.

Mélia (11:21):

So it means that like, if you want to record like a Street's atmosphere, you don't want to have people working too close, or you don't want to have too much detailed sound, for example, because after, if you put them into a picture and you hear a car so close to you, but you don't see it, then it feels like a ghost. So it's always puts you in a place where you are looking for sound that can be used for different layers. And this was great. It's like as a first professional, but it was also putting me away sometimes for recording more spontaneously. Like I was forbidding myself to record some sounds because I was like, "yeah, but it won't be usable for a movie. So I mean, why bother?" And I guess now also being more connected to field is like, I'm more in a network where I meet other people having this practice and having other perspective. It's way more easier and flexible to record sound that's also just maybe for me, or as memories or that will be used without picture as radio, experimentation or sound installation. Or even be more flexible on the type of mic I will use, because the sounds are not captured to be sold.

Mélia (12:46):

So it's also a different, maybe it's okay to have less quality if you are more flexible. You know what I mean?

Cary (12:54):

That makes sense. Yeah. Well, if you're being spontaneous, you don't have the time to set everything up and get it exactly perfect, I guess. Maybe set up all that equipment to get something that you didn't know was coming. I suppose you could have a happy accident, or that leads me to a question of what type of audio gear do you use in the field? And it sounds like it varies depending on whether you’re working on something intentionally or whether you were capturing a soundscape. So, what kind?

Mélia (13:23):

So I just brought myself a new recorder from Sound Device, like the second version of the MixPre-10. So I have 10 inputs because when I was with Tomsturm and when we were recording at least five channels for a soundscape, you know, like with this rig, I'm always thinking, "Hey, we could have also maybe more" or thinking of a 7.0.2, when you think of Atmos like Dolby, Atmos, atmosphere. So I wanted to have something very practical to just bring with me, but also have a lot of inputs. So I can also plug maybe contact mics and a geophone and whatever different mic into it. But I have to say that right now, for example, I'm on holiday and yeah, I didn't bring with me the MixPre-10 because it's also pretty heavy, somehow. I mean, not compared to the old Sound Devices from like 10 years ago. It's much lighter and the prices are also more accessible.

Mélia (14:32):

But now with me, I have a small Tascam like the DR-05, and I also have a small Zoom. But I mean, like the preamps for me, I mean, compared to the Sound Device -- they are a bit disappointing, which is normal. But they are so practical. Like I can just put the recorder with some small microphone into a tree and I can just leave it there. Or I can bring it with me in my backpack. And when I hear something, I can just take it out and it's way more spontaneous. So it's another use than having expensive gear with a lot of microphones and rig all those microphone arrays and whatever. So it really depends on the setup. And as you said, also, which intention do you want to give to your recording? If you are looking for a sound that you already know, it will happen in this city or in this place and you are looking for it -- like waiting that it happens. Then you already know if you want to have a large stereo image or something. If it's a voice that you do an interview, it will be something more mono. So you only have one microphone. If you want to record something that, you know, it will happen in very high frequency, you will record at a different sample rates, than if you're recording something that's already in the human auditory range. So you also need the recorder that can go higher in the sample rates.

Cary (16:09):

Makes sense. And you plan that in advance or if you're suddenly hearing a sound and you think, Oh, I need to change the rate right now. Like if some unexpected sound happens when you're there and you weren't planning on that, can you easily change the sample rate spontaneously?

Mélia (16:26):

Well, actually, no. You're obliged to catch your recording to change it, but I guess if you already plan to use the texture to slow down the recording, then I guess it's yeah. You have to stop and change and restart and you hope to hear the sound again.

Cary (16:42):

So, yeah, it seems like anyone who's into sound usually has more than one device. In fact it becomes sort of an addiction to get something for this occasion or something for that occasion or see if there's something that's a little better than what you had before.

Mélia (16:57):

Yeah. And also trying out, I mean, I try to build my own hydrophones as well with a friend, like just trying out to get new ways to get unhearable sound like inside the water. Or if you can get also electromagnetic microphone to get the sound of your computer, like inside electronics or the sound of the wi-fi, like it can open a totally different world to you. If you use those specific microphone, it's the same when you use contact mics, like you can get so unexpected texture that you wouldn't get with your normal ears.

Cary (17:36):

Interesting. And you said you were making these yourself?

Mélia (17:40):

I mean, there are different techniques. But I just tried with a contact mic that I put into like a chair, like a small plastic button, somehow, like to capture it. And then I fill it up with hot glue. So it's a protected from the water and it's working pretty well somehow, but it's, of course it's less sensitive than like a scientific, hydrophone like the one of Aquarian and stuff that you can use for scientific measurements. It's more to get the water movement and stuff. But I'm not doing this by myself. I mean, it's always nice to do this with friends that are also passionate. So I tried, I mean, we try to record also some underwater insect and it, it works pretty well.

Cary (18:32):

Well, that's sounds amazing and really fun to build it yourself. And then you also maybe feel like, well, you know, if something goes wrong, now I know how to make another one.

Mélia (18:43):

Yeah. And you can also do multichannel underwater recording. So you can have like a four-channel sound installation based on four different hydrophones for example, that you place in different location and that are synchronized.

Cary (18:57):

And also the microphones, I'm sure you have a bunch of different microphones that you bring with you, or just use the built-in microphone if you're using like a Zoom or something like that.

Mélia (19:06):

So I just bought this pair of -- you know, this label called, Lom? L O M?

Cary (19:13):

Oh yeah. I've heard of them.

Mélia (19:15):

I think you can also get some nice microphone on Micbooster. You know, this website where you can have those, Primo capsules? That's just like some omni microphone. I mean, there are different directives cities, but you can build yourself some very tiny capsule that have a very low noise background somehow.

Cary (19:36):

What is this website?

Mélia (19:37):

Mic booster.  So... M I C B O O S T E R.

Cary (19:43):

Oh, cool.

Mélia (19:45):

Yeah. I mean, there is so many tutorials for a to eat yourself, special microphones or even, yeah, or even stereo pair microphone. It's very practical and accessible for like cheap prices.

Cary (19:59):

That is very, very cool. Thanks for that. So after you get a recording, then what software are you using?

Mélia (20:09):

So, I mean, I come from cinema, so I'm kind of used to Pro Tools because this is the standard that we use in movies. So I have to say that I continue working with that because I'm so... I mean, I'm fast and I know the software. So, yeah, for me, it's just easier. But I've also sometimes use Reaper when I have to use it. I mean, I use it most of the time for playing sound like when I do some installations and I know it will stay for like a month in a place, then I will use Reaper because it's very reliable. So I use that. And just to clean the sound, et cetera, I use Izotope. And in order to sort my sound and to have the right metadata and names and rights, keywords, so I can find them...I use Soundminer, which is a very practical software. To add metadata and whatever information you want to give to a sound file.

Mélia (21:06):

So it's very practical. It's kind of the not free version of Wave Agent. I don't know if you know this software from a Sound Devices. It's a software where you can just rename everything and give a description. So when you are looking for like, for example, when you work for a movie and you need like a "tiny river," for example, and if you just type "tiny river," maybe you will have tons of them. And if you don't want to listen to all of them, you can just have more keywords. So you can add like a different adjective. So your research becomes finer and have the right sound for your sound editing.

Mélia (22:00):

But I guess this is more from the cinema perspective. And when I was also, for example, when I was working for Tonsturm, it was always, I mean, I worked two months on this switch library. So I, we recorded a lot of different buttons, for example, like light buttons, different, uh, different size, different shapes, different movement, like turning, just pressing, different location. And we had to do all the metadata of those different buttons. And I mean, they are all buttons, but you have to name them. And each sound has its own adjective. If it's something small, or plastic or press, or whatever, you have to name these so precisely that anyone can find the right sound by tapping those words. And I don't know if you are aware of this now, but there is this new category system. It's called the "universal category system.”

Mélia (23:06):

And it's kind of a universal way to name the sound. So you have different categories that you have to just respect in the sense that, if you have an urban sound, you will have to name them. You will have to name all your sounds depending on this category. And you can find all of these online. And it's very easy to understand and to set up the names of your sound like this. So everyone, if you are sharing sounds with other people, they can easily find your sounds into their library.

Cary (23:38):

It's something I hadn't really thought about before. And it's really interesting because I tend to, I should be probably doing something like this too. Many of us should be. I tend to just use the Mac operating system because I use a Mac and search with the Mac operating system, but I don't change the metadata. I always like create the names of the files and that's pretty much it.

Mélia (24:04):

Yeah. I mean, if it's just for yourself, there is no need to bother because it's also a lot of work to clean yourself and to make them kind of readable by anyone. I mean, I try to do it when you work for a library that's selling sound, you have to do it because that's the way people are working. Otherwise you don't find the sounds that you are creating. Your sounds are not find into the libraries. So I would say it's something very important, but if it's just for yourself, then it's just for yourself. And for example, I mean, I have many friends in France that are working in French, but if you are sharing sounds like with the international network, then everything has to be in English. And then... Like now in Switzerland, I'm working in German. And so when you are looking for different sounds you're also trying the different languages. So you're sure that maybe in one of the libraries, you will find the perfect sound.

Cary (25:03):

Between French and German, you're not going to probably... there's not very many words that are going to be similar at all.

Mélia (25:09):

No. No, but the standard is English.

Cary (25:13):

Kind of almost like a style guide.

Mélia (25:15):

You can find it on the website. It was set up this last year by a Timothy Nielsen from the Skywalker sound studio, and they are just explaining how to name all your sound libraries by those categories. And they really intend to have a universal category, allow everyone to have the same keywords for naming the sounds. And then you can add every, any personal detail in the metadata. For example, if like the location or also you're adding which mic you were using at which distance. If you have different, more emotional patterns that you want to add, like something like as a slamming door, you know, when you were angry, you can put a "harsh slamming wooden door angry." For example, you can add also some personal stuff, but the naming would be then, oh, that's -- for me -- it's also very new to fill the names of my sound files into this category system. But you will have like this "object, door, wood, hard, slam," for example. And then you add all the description metadata with more detail. I don't know if there was a small metal rattle on the door. Maybe you also add it in the metadata. It doesn't define exactly the object. It's more the detail that you add in the metadata.

Cary (26:48):

Wow. What a great system though. I mean, I'm so glad somebody came up with that and it probably came from a lot of frustration of people just not being able to share things.

Mélia (26:56):

Yeah, exactly. I mean, now when I'm looking and my brother, I have access to like a Google doc with the category and the subcategory lists. So now if I'm reading to you, like there is the category, air, aircraft, alarms, ambience, animal, beeps, bells, birds, boats, bullets, cartoon...and then you have all the subcategories. So for example, if I take the category "ceramique"... ceramics, there is so like a mix there is break crushed, debris, friction, impact movement,, tunnel, and then you have the category ID that you have to use to name your sound. So it's just, like an acronym. Can we say that?

Cary (27:37):

Acronym. Yes, exactly.

Mélia (27:40):

So, so the sound is being attached to this category.

Cary (27:46):

I think maybe people are becoming more aware now of some of the psychological impacts of sound. And especially after the pandemic and how where it got so quiet for awhile and how it changed people's perspective -- because suddenly they noticed the birds, you know. And they never heard the birds before, or you really notice the sound of cars because for awhile there were no cars. And then when the cars came back, you really noticed them again, and that sort of thing. And you know, I don't think people typically think about sound if they're not in the field because you don't notice it. It's just around you all the time.

Mélia (28:25):

Yeah. It's very unconscious.

Cary (28:27):

Yeah, it is. It is. And yet it impacts you because it might stress you, it might relax you and you're not really thinking about what is it that's making you feel this way. And some of it might be the sound, you know? I know it's certainly true for me.

Mélia (28:43):

Yeah. I mean, it really touches your emotions. I mean, of course, and for the ones that are trained, it's something that you can bring to consciousness. I mean, you are conscious that it's the sound which is triggering this emotion. But I mean, for most of the people, it's something unconscious. And I mean, that's why for me, it's so interesting to work on movies because it really impacts the spectator perception of the film or the character in the story when you're changing the sound of the footsteps. Or how hard someone will smash something, or just entering like the sound of the door in the film tells so much about a character. And no one will notice that: "Oh yeah, this was a great sound of door," but you will notice that this person is angry he or she's entering a space, which is kind of, I don't know, either something, a place, very safe or a place where the person might not be safe -- because the sound of the door, you can hear it's a sh*tty wooden door, which is not strong enough to maintain security.

Mélia (29:53):

Like it really works on this unconscious level of understanding of the situation or the way we perceive acoustics as well. I mean, I was explaining the other day to my grandma, what is the reverb? And I was telling her, but your brains know that right now, if you close your eyes, we are in the kitchen because there is your voice reflecting on the walls and you can hear it's ceramic, but if we are in the living room, maybe it's wood walls, so you will hear it. And it's so... On an unconscious level, it's ah, yeah.

Cary (30:30):

No, you're right. If the sound is wrong, you would think, "this isn't seeming authentic to me" or ...yeah. Or that emotion that you might feel of danger. Or as you mentioned earlier, if you capture a sound, but the sound of the car is too close, it's confusing because your brain knows what that should sound like. Interesting. Yeah. That's a great background to have, that level of detail because it's so important to support the story. It's part of the story.

Mélia (31:01):

Yeah, totally. And I mean, also when you're analyzing, we didn't speak about soundscape yet, but I think when you also work in movies and you always have to create -- I mean, depending on the film of course -- but you always have to create kind of the soundscape that you imagined on the scene. Because you have to bring the wind, you have to bring the cars, you have to bring every background sound that were not here on set. Because yeah, because it's on set and you're not here to take the background, but like the voices and the dialogue. So you have to recreate everything. And so you're obliged to make this work outside in the fields of listening to every place you go to notice the detail and by layers. You know, what is the closest sound I hear? What is the furthest sound I'm listening to? To be able to rebuild those layers after, in post-production. And it's very interesting to do this work. I mean, back in the studio to see how it changed your perspective on the scene. If you put like the rain louder, if you put the cars louder, I mean, it really changes your unconscious perspective, of.. yeah. Of a location. It's super powerful.

Cary (32:21):

Yeah. It really is. One of the things I was wondering about also is what have you learned along the way from mistakes or from when you got started?

Mélia (32:32):

I remember one mistake. I was so ashamed of. I was recording impulse response in the forest, and I was afraid of saturation. Because we were recording the impulse response with this gun that is shooting with a blank bullet. And so I put the gain very low and I was working with a Sound Device. It was a 788. And this button, when you put it at very low gain, it kind of made the track off. And I didn't record anything. And I mean, you know, it costs so much to have those. I mean, we recorded five directions, so it was like five bullets recording. And then I was just like, "Oh my God, no". And the file was empty. Oh my God. I was so ashamed because... And so I had to go back on the location and we had to do it again. And it was the first time for me that I was recording gunshots. So I didn't know.

Cary (33:34):

Well, maybe you thought that it would be overwhelmingly loud?

Mélia (33:39):

Exactly, I was afraid of that. That's why I put the gain so low. I mean, the other mistake that you do at the beginning, I mean, it's also not having the right wind protection, not having the right battery, not having the right SD card with enough power, the wrong boom pole that you hear every manipulation sound. Or you start recording and then you realize it's not the right place, but you don't have enough time to change the microphone. So you're still doing it, but actually it's okay to just have the beginning maybe not good, but the rest of your recording better, if you change it in the middle of the recording, the place of the microphone. Because, you know, otherwise it won't be usable.

Cary (34:27):

Yup. Exactly. I just, as you were saying that I was adjusting the gain a little bit. Yeah. Those are all learning experiences. I mean, you really don't learn sometimes unless you make a mistake. And then you learn a lesson that sticks with you.

Mélia (34:41):

Yeah. I mean, especially in the fields. Like, you can really learn by just being out there and doing some recordings and going back in the studio and listening and make comparisons. I mean, you know, in cinema school, like we had so much theory and I had the impression that I didn't learn anything. I mean, of course you'll learn how to use the machines and how it's made inside. So when you are outside, you know how to react when there is a problem and you know, kind of how to do it yourself, you know. But I mean, it's really while being outside that you just try out. And you also might be surprised at the sound that you are recording. And that's the beauty of it. I mean really like the "not expected" sounds.

Cary (35:31):

But you say that even though the theory seemed not practical at the time, it turned that the theory in practice really did help you once you got out in the field.

Mélia (35:42):

Yeah. I mean, for example, to record impulse response. So, you know, when you get the acoustic of a specific location, I mean, to have notions of acoustic, of course it helps just to understand how the sound is reflecting. But it can be way, much more simplified. I mean, in the school I went in France, it's called Louis-Lumière. You know, the Lumière brothers. I mean, it's a very, very old school. And, by the way, we were only two girls in this class, out of 16 students, which is somehow not so bad because sometimes there is only one. I mean, yeah, it helps, but I was always wanting to go outside or to do my own stuff. And now I went, for example, when I need someone really, really knowing the technical stuff, I'm just asking my colleagues. And I have friends who are, you know, creating plugins, inventing new microphones and stuff, and this is really not what I'm passionate about. I just like to be outside and listening. So it's really different. It's two different worlds.

Cary (36:57):

Well, yeah, there's the hardware and the technology. And then there's, it sounds like you're into the art. What do you think is the most amazing sound you've ever recorded?

Mélia (37:08):

But in the last lockdown, I was super surprised. I was doing some gardening and I suddenly just heard this rumbling, low crunchy sound. And it was actually, you know, in horse dung, there was some little insects just eating the shit of the horse. And this was just amazing sound. I mean, I never, I was able to hear it. It was so loud. And so I just use like my small Tascam. And yeah, I could just record it like this. So this was for me, like the most amazing sound of the lockdown, because it was really loud. And, you know, this proof of living in the soil, which was very surprising.

Cary (38:03):

That's right. I think you have that on, on your SoundCloud account also that recording don't you. Yeah. And we can include a few seconds of it here so people can hear that amazing sound.

Sound sample (38:28):

[insects eating horse dung].

Mélia (38:31):

I mean, I was kind of already aware of this because in Zurich I'm starting to assist a researcher who is specialized into soil sounds. So more on this, you know, acoustic ecology framework, so linking environmental issues and field recordings. So I was already super aware of this inside process. But I mean, the way he's recording sound with very contact mics,, you know, that goes underground and putting.. Like amplifying the sounds like a hundred times. I mean, this was totally different. I was listening to those little bugs just with my ears. And this was new because it was very surprising because they were so loud.

Cary (39:19):

So one more question I had was how you share your work with others. And it sounds like we covered some of that, but not really. Because we were talking about the sound libraries. But in general, how do you share your work?

Mélia (39:33):

Now, I'm part of this Slack of the field recording crowdsource, I mean, with the all universal category system, but this is very new for me. But there are a lot of people on this Slack, you know, the platform. And so I'm connecting with more through the platform and also participating to some common sound libraries. So where people can, you know, like they are creating calls. So for example, the next call is water and ice. So everyone has to send a five files of water and ice sounds. So I was recording, like some with snow and river and different little water sounds, whatever. And then you share those files and you get in exchange the library of everyone sharing this. And for example, the last one was over 500 gigabytes of different parts of the world with the background sound of your home. So it can be a nice way to get in contact or just hear the community work. And otherwise I just share my sound on SoundCloud. And I have a website, and I also use Instagram to post some of my recording setup.

Cary (41:00):

Instagram. Yeah?

Mélia (41:01):

And it's actually nice. Like I've been in touch with different sound artists when I was traveling, just contacting them on Instagram. And I mean, people are answering. It's really nice. I would say actually that, when I was meeting for the first time people doing the stuff that I was doing, it was really liberating somehow just to realize that you're not a freak, you know. That there is really a community and it's kind of a small family. It's important to have this because it's also, you share so much knowledge and experience, and yeah. And different stories and recording tips. And also just recording outside with others was also some something great -- because otherwise you're so lonely.

Cary (41:58):

I'd like to thank Charles and Mélia for joining me today on Soundproofist. If you're interested in learning more about their work, or if you want to visit the sites we talked about, I'll put some links on the Soundproofist site. Thanks for listening and stay tuned. There's more episodes coming this year.