Saturday, 27 December 2014


wind protection


Firstly, its worth stating that the sound of wind in environments is not a problem - in fact getting a good recording of the sound of wind is quite something and is very effective in reflecting a sense of place. However the sound, known to all field recordists, often referred to as ‘buffering’ can be a problem. What we’re hearing is in fact the sound of wind hitting something - the microphone element for example. The effect is to push other sound to the back, cause a low frequency rumble and disrupt the listening potential of your recording.

tip # 1: if its very light, occasional and ‘fits’ in with the feel of the piece / recording it is much better to leave it in than to attempt any removal in editing, which is highly likely to alter all the other sound as well. This is why finding ways to protect your microphones from wind impact in the field is a very good idea indeed.

tip # 2: when you’re listening back to your recordings, as ever, listen back at a realistic volume. Often folks think a recording has been ruined by wind noise because they’ve been listening back to it at high volume - turn the volume down and a lot of light wind sound can fade into the background. Of course this doesn’t work if the wind has impacted on the capsule.

so, what are the ‘in the field’ options ? well, it depends somewhat on the microphones you’re using but with conventional microphones basically there are four techniques:

1) the most important: position ! changing the position of the microphones can radically reduce wind impact + it has the additional benefit of more of less forcing you to think creatively and to work with what you have (an essential element of field craft)

2) blimps: these are the elongated, zeppelin shaped devices that are common place with recordists. There are also ‘ball gag’ style blimps, circular in shape and suitable for single microphones or close stereo / surround arrays. Blimps consist of an inner cage (made from various types of plastic) with a handle and suspension mounts for the microphone/s + an acoustic mesh connected to the cage itself. In addition they are most usually seen covered in a removable fluffy cover.

a selection of Rycote Blimps: left to right: baby ball, blimp with hi-wind cover, super softie, standard blimp, short standard blimp, cyclone design blimp

tip # 3: fluffy covers are hardly ever actually needed - except in very strong winds. Even the most expensive and well designed fluffy covers do have a slight effect on the sound, reducing some of the high frequencies. What is a good idea and much better is to get what is called a ‘hi-wind cover’ - a flat fabric cover that is acoustically transparent but acts to slow down the wind velocity. If you have a blimp with a fluffy cover do remember there's no point at all leaving the cover on when recording indoors.

The purpose of a blimp is to create a space between the cage and the microphone and its this space that is important. Blimps don’t stop wind - they slow it down to a velocity which doesn’t register as that buffering noise through the microphone capsule. The bigger the space the better the effect. There are various companies selling these but perhaps the best two to focus on are Rycote (high quality) and Rode (one design and reasonably priced, decent quality). Prices for blimps range from a couple or hundred £'s (Rode and some Rycote designs) to £6-800 + (other Rycote designs, Cinela etc). As well as the wind reduction function of blimps, as mentioned, they also have suspension mounts for microphones which reduce noise from vibration. 

3) individual microphone fluffy’s: these small pieces of the fluffy material are designed to fit over the actual microphones (separate mics or those built in to hand held recorders). 


BubbleBee Industries BBi windjammers in various sizes


tip # 4: professional fluffy’s aren't made from fake fur or polar fleece material as those fabrics will effect the sound of your recordings more than acoustically transparent material. 

For small, omni microphones (such as the DPA4060 or Sanken COS-11) Rycote and BubbleBee Industries (BBi) make some of the best ones and Rode also make a decent fake fur one. The BBi’s have the double advantages of having a small ‘bubble’ built in, therefore creating a small air gap between the mic and the fabric + the have a tight, elasticated draw string design that holds them firmly in place. The Rycotes are a bit cheaper but they do tend to fall off fairly easily and when you’re in the middle of a forest or out at night losing a small fluffy cover is not good !

For handheld recorders there are lots of companies selling fluffy’s online that fit over the on-board mics but those by Rycote and Rode are two widely available manufacturers that use high quality fabrics (Rycote use acoustically transparent, Rode us a high quality fake fur style fabric).  As mentioned earlier, using fake fur ones will muffle the sound of the mics. If you’re fairly new to field recording you might not even notice the effect, but once your ears have grown more accustomed to close, focused listening it will become more and more apparent.

Some hand held recorders and microphones are also supplied with a foam cover. As lots of you will know these aren't intended as full  wind protection covers - they’re what is known as ‘pop shields’ designed to lessen the effect of certain vocal sounds during spoken word / song recording. That said, if you don’t have anything else to hand they can provide some slight reduction of wind noise. 

the DIY option: it is possible to build ones own wind protection cages / boxes and these are especially good for situation where the microphones will be left static (as they won't have high grade suspension mounts). There are various methods online but the quality is mostly, shall we say, a bit iffy - mostly because they contain the fake fur or lycra style fabric suggestions for what to cover the basic cage in. It's much better to use the speaker grill fabric from a pair of really old junk shop speakers (1970-80's or earlier) or track down the material used for hi-wind covers (which has various names in different countries).

I should qualify all this though by saying that using whatever you have to hand to construct or improvise some protection for your mics is still worth doing - its just good to be aware of the fact that it will have an impact on the sound. For years I couldn't afford high-end blimps so would use various fabrics when needed - I even remember using a walking glove once to capture a sound I stumbled across while out for a walk - the recording still stands as a memory of that discovery, which for me is an important element.

4) low cut filter:  a ‘low pass filter’ (also sometimes referred to as a High Pass Filter) will reduce some of the low frequency range and therefore can help remove wind noise and traffic rumble. Most recorders have an LPF menu where you can select different levels of filtration. If you do need to use your LPF then start with it on the first setting and only increase it if it doesn’t solve the issue. However, do remember that LPF’s are also removing frequencies that you might also want and they don’t just focus in on the ones you don’t. The balance therefore is always in asking what you’re losing by using them. Cheaper, hand held recorders will have fairly unsophisticated LPF's with just one or two, quite full-on settings. Professional recorders tend to have lots of different levels of LPF, allowing a more subtle filtering process. Personally I hardly ever use them anyway and much prefer to use position and other techniques to counter any wind noise. Likewise, when it comes to traffic rumble whilst it can be annoying at times, i’m of the opinion that that sound is part of the reality and by adjusting ones reaction to it, ones listening, its possible to hear it as part of the soundscape.

You can also apply low-pass filters in post production via whichever editing software you use. Again, if all you’re trying to do is remove some unwanted rumble then be very careful with the LPF. 

tip # 5: there’s a vast array of editing software programmes available - from freeware ones such as Audacity to top of the line, expensive suites like Nuendo. Lots of recordists will already have suites they’ve been using for years, perhaps having also used them for music editing applications, however for those who don’t or indeed those looking to try something else, there is one that I strongly suggest you take a look at: Reaper. This is a professionally maintained, fully functioned editing suite capable of everything that any other suite can do and indeed much more than many. Its also free to download and review (fully functioned) and a license for continued use is only $60 (they’re a US based company). Its used by leading recordists, Universities and other organisations. As with any editing suite there’s a bit of learning curve when you begin using it but most folks can be fully set up and using it within a few hours. It comes with a whole bank of plug-in’s (effects such as eq, high and low pass, reverb etc etc) and is compatible with additional plug-in’s for field recording such as the Schoeps m/s decoder.

Both in the field and in editing its often much better to leave in light / moderate wind noise / rumble and choose a good playback level than to remove it and also alter the overall frequency range of a recording. Of course this does depend on what you want to do with your recordings, but if its some representation of a ‘reality’ that you’re after then editing / eq-ing could easily affect that. The technology is there for all to use - it can be free or cheap and its fast to begin using - but, as with any creative process it takes time to understand the subtleties and, just as importantly, to find ways to use technology to express more than mere technical skill.  

There’s an increasing interest in all aspects of listening - how we hear, what we hear and how we either engage with or disconnect from sound - when it comes to presenting field recordings in various contexts (installation, release etc) its still often one aspect that is overlooked in favour of approaches that are actually more to do with music performance; volume, impact, effect, adrenalin, relaxation etc. Of course ones approach is personal but, in my opinion, thinking about these things is elemental.

Friday, 26 December 2014


two new video pieces uploaded to preview the release of the 'salts / adagios' project cd / download:

'salts / adagios' - seconds from string works re-scored as durational pieces and recorded by placing jrf contact microphones & geophones on surfaces under & around the orchestra / ensemble performance venues

cd / download - to be released January 2015


Friday, 19 December 2014


Alan Blumlein, for those who don't already know, was the chap who invented stereo recording, as well as lots of other things !. Considering the range and importance of lots of the technologies he either developed or improved (tv broadcast, wireless technologies, radar, m/s mic technique etc) he should be a household name, however he was so important to the UK's war efforts that his passing was suppressed for several years.




Thursday, 18 December 2014

myself & Chris (Watson) will be teaching on this 5 day intensive field recording course at Ayr Uni in January 2015:

IMPORTANT: places are only available to people within certain post code areas of the UK - see the info below for more details:




Interest in the sound recording of natural and human environments has grown rapidly in the last few years. Described in various ways: location, field, natural, wild etc., these recordings can be put to a multitude of uses including film, television, radio, art installations, web and CD releases, video game soundtracks, as part of musical compositions and so on. Although we often think of these art forms as primarily visual, in fact the sound track often plays a dominant role in the viewer/user's experience. Learning to create original and effective sound tracks is a crucial and major part of many creative processes. New digital equipment makes recording and editing sound more accessible to many non-specialists, but also requires skill and experience in order to get the most out of it.
Who is this for? This five-day course aims to teach you the skills necessary to produce superb field recordings that can be used in a wide range of different media projects, and will give you hands-on experience with some of the latest equipment. The course is suitable for film-makers, sound recordists, radio producers, audio artists, musicians and video game designers, both professional and amateur.
About the trainers: Taught by Chris Watson, one of the world's outstanding field recordists, whose work ranges from CDs released in his own name to the soundtracks of countless BBC wildlife films, and by audio specialist Jez riley French.
Who can apply? This is a free Honeycomb programme, award recipients must be located within the following territories: Western seaboard of Scotland – Lochaber; Skye & Lochalsh; Arran Cumbrae; Argyll & Bute; East Ayrshire & North Ayrshire Mainland; South Ayrshire; Dumfries & Galloway; NI, excluding greater Belfast; Six border counties of the Republic of Ireland – Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo.
Deadline for Applications: Please email rosie.crerar@uws.ac.uk by Friday 9th January, please title your email – Sound Module application request.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014


The Field Recordist from The Field Recordist on Vimeo.

click through to vimeo to watch - not sure about the title of this film though !

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Friday, 17 October 2014


dordolla, val d'aupa, italy
recordings:
river foot bridge - with JrF c-series contact microphones
teleferica, val d'aupa - with JrF c-series contact microphones
dolomite dissolve - with JrF d-series hydrophones
the audio is an extract from a performance given during my residency in the village
the video was filmed in the moments before the performance, sat watching the mountain above the village

Friday, 10 October 2014


digital re-issue (+ 10 physical copies left) or 2007 release

Sunday, 5 October 2014




GENE POOL#69 SONIC SEASON: JEZ RILEY FRENCH



P6080071This episode is the first of a five episode “Sonic Season” of improvisation and sonic arts shows.
The life of the field recording artist explored in conversation with Jez riley French.
Independence and integrity of artistic practice are strong themes with the globetrotting Yorkshire-man whose DIY JrF contact microphones have become something of an industry standard tool among sound artists.
We discuss community, microphones and recording equipment including geophones, hydrophones and contact microphones as well as vibrating staircases and the “Stairway to Heaven” of the field recording world.
This podcast features some original recordings made during a weekend workshop led by Jez as well as audio from his own archive material.
More Info
The podcast can be delivered directly into your Mac/PC, tablet or mobile via the iTunes ChannelBlackberry PodcastBlubrryMiro
Listen: Gene Pool#69: Jez riley French

Monday, 29 September 2014


OMNI-DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONES: the pick up pattern of omni's is spherical, so the microphone gathers sound from all around the capsule. You can get 2 types of omni microphone - small omni's and conventional size 'barrel' style omni's. Whether you have an entry level hand-held recorder or a professional one, getting a pair of small omni's is the quickest way to extend the range of your set-up. 

If you're recorder is only equipped with a mini-jack input socket that has 'plug-in power' you're restricted to omni's that have a mini-jack and don't need phantom power (P48). If your recorder has XLR inputs then go for omni's that have XLR's and require P48.

small omni's are particularly good for field recording as they have a warm, decent low frequency response sound and reject handling noise. With the well put together ones you can, more or less, shake them around whilst recording and not hear the handling noise at all (though the effect of the sound might make one wobble !). They also let you get your mics in some interesting places that a barrel-design mic wouldn't fit into.

There are decent quality lower cost pairs of small omni's on the market and also mid-price range and very, very good ones at a higher cost. Amongst the better ones are those produced by:

budget:
MM Audio - BSM9's mini-jack/plug in power (around £60-£80 a pair depending on currency fluctuations)
Naiant - X-X xlr / p48  (nb. I no longer recommend these as Naiant have taken the decision not to supply customers outside if the USA / Canada)
Micbooster / Fel - clippy mics with 3.5mm jack (currently £68 a pair)
Micbooster / Fel - xlr em172 with xlr jacks (currently £104 a pair)
in-ear design:
Soundman OKMII (depends on currency fluctuations and which country one is in - around £200 a pair most places)
Sound Professional binaural pair - with 3.5mm jack (currently around £60-£80 a pair)

nb. there are an increasing number of other folks building and selling small omni's mics, most using the same capsules. The ones above are suggested as they offer good quality, professionally built products, good customer service and have a good reputation. Some of the other brands have issues with their products or attitudes. 


mid-range:
Rode Lavalier - can be used with mini-jack or xlr (£150 each / £300 a pair)
nb. there are also other makes at this kind of price level - the Rode wins as it comes with its own, clip-connect windjammers with a built in 'space' and again most of the others in this price range use very similar capsules but can cost more.

the gold standard:
Sanken cos-11 - p48 required (approx £240-£350 each)
DPA4060 - p48 required / xlr and various other connections for pro-recorders / mixers (currently, nov 2016, around £800 for the stereo kit)



DPA SMK4060 stereo kit


Sanken COS-11



Rode Lavalier


MM Audio BSM9's


Naiant x-x omni


having tested and used just about every small omni on the market the DPA's are, quite simply, some of the best sounding mics you'll hear and whilst they might appear expensive to some, when you consider that they sound as good and indeed better than mics costing several thousand £'s they're actually very reasonably priced. 

nb. all prices quoted are UK prices and include possible import charges for the ones that can only be purchased from overseas.

You'll need some form of wind protection for your omni's: you can mount them inside a standard blimp (wind protection cage for microphones) or you can buy small fluffy windjammers. As with all windjammers try to avoid the really cheap ones on ebay and other sites as they're usually just fake-fur rather than proper acoustically transparent material and they'll muffle your sound to various degrees. Of the 'best' ones there are Rycote (approx. £30-£35 a pair) and Bubblebee Industries (approx. £28 each). Personally I use the BBi's as a) they stay on ! (the Rycote's tend to fall off quite easily) and b) they have small bubble inside providing space around the capsule, which also helps with protecting them from wind-impact noise. 

of all the 'barrel' design larger omni's there are, as usual, lots to choose from. If you're on a budget or have a medium amount to spend Rode tend to offer decent mics for the price, as do Pearl, Oktava & some folks also like sE and other lower cost brands. Personally I find Rode and Pearl offer the best value for money at these price ranges. Moving up in terms of cost it is true that there are certain brands that are 'safe buys' - such as DPA, Sennheiser, Neumann, Sanken & Schoeps - these can range from £1000 up to £4000 per mic. 

Omni capsules are often used in Surround / Ambisonic mics - more about this in a future post.



TECHNIQUE: as with all microphones, the craft of using them is (and should be imo) personal. One can read countless books and web pages on the placement of any microphone but getting out there & experimenting is really the only way to learn what works for you and what doesn't. Two particularly good placement techniques for small omni's are binaural and 'spaced omni's'. 

SPACED OMNIS: here the two omni mics are clipped to either the mounting rings of a blimp or some other bar / mount (including oneself, a bag / rucksack or indeed the classic Watson-style coat hanger - particularly useful as it comes with its own handy handle / ground spike). The sound you'll get using this technique has a great sense of space and sound localisation - very 'open' and immersive for the listener.

Omni-directional microphones have a good low end response and therefore can have (depending on which ones are used) a general sound profile that is nearer to the sound we hear with our own ears - hence it has the ability to immediately tap in to your audiences subconscious listening process.

Unlike ‘binaural’ recordings, spaced omni recordings can be played back through loudspeakers, from stereo to ambisonic and multi channel.

You can place a baffle between the two mic capsules and there are various techniques for doing this, for example the classic ‘Jeckin Disk’. Some of these techniques aim at an accurate ‘binaural’ recording and others play with the effects of sound on locations.

BINAURAL: for more information on this technique see: 

Put simply, a pair of decent omni microphones is a very good addition to any recording kit and is rather useful for those starting out who want to extend the reach of their hand held recorder.


in addition:
just to clarify a few things: DPA's (and indeed most decent omni's) don't need to be in a suspension really - they're omni's so they reject handling noise (another good reason to get some !).
Mounting them next to ones ears is one technique yes but the most common use for them across all sectors of field recording / location recording is as personal mics in sound crew work & next to that its as spaced omni's for wider field recording applications.
I’ve heard a couple of people mentioning that using them next to your ears will give you 'sort of' binaural but actually it is full, proper binaural- there's a slight difference of opinion amongst recordists as to whether in ear or out of ear works best for binaural but both are fully binaural techniques. As I said there is a difference of opinion but personally (& i'm not alone in thinking this) out of the ear always sounds more natural - with the in-ear design you are blocking some angles of pick up for the mic and with our ears sound from every angle enters our pinar & psychologically we 'fill in' the missing parts between our ears - therefore with in-ear binaural recordings we tend to hear it as hyper-reality & we perceive it as 'effect', which means we don't connect to it in the same way.
If you want to mount them as a spaced pair with a jecklin disc between, the SMK4060 kit comes with 2 pressure zone rubber circles & one of those works quite well as a light, practical and free jecklin disc (free because the cost of the stereo kit is cheaper than buying two separate 4060's). As mentioned in the article at the above link, a very good technique for mounting them is by clipping or taping them to either end of a coathanger - this allows you to then bend the 'arms' of the coathanger in if you want to alter the spacing, use the hook to hang them from a tree or other point, straighten the hook out & use it as a ground spike etc etc. Its a method lots of recordists use inc. Chris Watson, who started using this technique some years back. 

There’s a myth about the 4060’s that is often stated by some nature recordists, who claim that the self noise rating of them means they are unsuitable for nature recording - this is incorrect. Yes, they have a higher self noise rating than some other mics but they’re also more sensitive, meaning the gain doesn’t need to be turned up on ones recorder. Also, the simple fact is that the 4060’s sound more transparent than lots of other mics & so they sound much better. As i’ve often said one should never choose any bit of equipment on the spec sheet - its how it sounds that really matters. Anyway, when one considers that, for example, Chris uses 4060’s (along with other mic arrays depending on the situation) on quite a lot of his film / tv work inc. the Attenborough programmes it does indicate that they are rather good for recording nature !
The cost of the stereo 4060 kit is currently around £610 (dec.2014) which might sound a lot to some folks - but when one considers that they compete (& win) with mics costing several £1000 each they’re actually very good value indeed. However there are alternatives at different budget levels - they might not be as good in terms of how they sound & self noise, but they're still an excellent way to extend your recording kit.

Monday, 22 September 2014


nice to be asked to write something for issue 3 of 'Reflections on Process in Sound' & some of my daughters (www.pheoberileylaw.yolasite.com/)  photo's are also included.



Issue 3 of "Reflections on Process in Sound" is online now: Viv Corringham gives an account of how her ongoing series Shadow-walks came about, as an amalgam of singing and walking; Riley Frenchconsiders three specific trips he took this year to record telefericas, geological dissolves and other fascinations in Italy and Iceland; Felicity Ford explores how wool and sound come together for her in her project KNITSONIK, with some excursions into feminist concerns; Michelle Lewis-King explains how and why her Pulse Project blends accupuncture with sound; Jo Joseph Hyde considers his take on visual music; Rob MacKay discusses the parameters of the world’s first concert for artificial and human voices.

http://www.reflections-on-process-in-sound.net/issue-3/

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

following the announcement of the 2015 Iceland field recording trip / course (which was fully booked within 2 days) i've also been working hard on planning a new course for Wildeye - this time we venture further afield here in the UK:


Sound Recording in Northumberland
with Chris Watson and Jez riley French

This long weekend field meeting is an opportunity to practice and develop sound recording skills in the company of Chris Watson in his home patch of Northumberland. Audio specialist and artist Jez riley French will also be present throughout to share his experience, particularly with the use of extended field recording techniques including the use of non-conventional equipment such as hydrophones and contact microphones.
The base location is Mounthooley bunkhouse in College valley, Northumberland, UK. Accommodation is shared bunk rooms. The College valley is in one of the remotest and quietest parts of England. It’s north of Hadrian’s Wall in the wild lands once controlled by the Border Reivers.

In the Cheviot Hills and close to the Scottish border this a wonderful location for wildlife sound recording, around here there are many upland birds, roe deer, red squirrels and the possibility of feral goats. This is a great location for recording individual featured species and spatial soundscapes.

The long weekend will include a day trip, arranged around the tides, across to the island of Lindisfarne and the coast where Chris recorded this the CD In St Cuthbert's Time.
This trip is particularly aimed at those who have already taken our Wildlife Sound Recording Course and who want furrther guided experience in the field (but this is not a prerequisite). It is expected that you will bring your own recording equipment, although there will be additional kit you can borrow from the tutors during the trip. Some hill walking so stout shoes required and wet weather gear.
Itinerary
Friday: Arrive at Mounthooley from 3pm but please aim to arrive by 6pm.
7pm - evening meal served.
8pm - introductory chat - who we are, who you are, and what we will be doing over the next two days.
Saturday and Sunday: Practical sound recording activities at various locations and listening/reviewing sessions back at base. Breakfasts and evening meals will be provided at Mounthooley.
Areas of local interest:Weetwood Moor cup and ring marks Great place to begin an exploration of the many remains left by our ancient ancestors to keep us guessing about their daily activities and unknown rituals. This can be followed by a walk up one of the many hill forts in North Northumberland such as close by Yeavering Bell, home of the famous feral goats. 
Henhole A short walk from the bunkhouse this is a great glacial hanging valley of waterfalls cutting through the Cheviot granite. 
Holy Island 
Weather permitting we’ll take one day to explore as far as Lindisfarne / Holy Island - Home of many seaside walks, ducks, seabirds, religious figures, mead and scriptures. 
Monday: After breakfast depart the venue.....you can of course then head straight home or spend the day exploring Northumberland further.
Tutors
Chris Watson - Sound RecordingTutor - Chris is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planet productions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound.
Chris’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops. His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica. The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield. 
See www.chriswatson.net


Jez riley French - Sound Recording Tutor - Jez is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the 'a quiet position' project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening.
Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics (http://hydrophones.blogspot.com). In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.http://jezrileyfrench.co.uk

Booking Information


Costs: £375 per person
This includes tuition, 3 nights accommodation, breakfasts and 
evening meals. Lunches are available from Mounthooley for £4.50 or self-catering. .
Note that transport during this trip will be in cars of the tutors and attendees, so it is hoped that enough of you will be coming in cars and be happy to offer lifts to others durting the trip to facilitate this. The longest trip however is expected to be to Lindisfarne which is only 40 mins drive. When you book please mention if you will coming by car and if you are happy to offer lifts to those who are not.
College valley is remote and it has restricted access to cars (but ok for us staying there).
Dates:
8-11 May 2015


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sound Recording in Iceland
with Chris Watson and Jez riley French





Following our previous highly popular sound recording trips to Iceland in 2013 and 2014, for 2015 we’re returning to this fascinating country, this time to the Selfoss region in the South for an opportunity to spend several days recording the sounds of spring in 24 hour daylight with Chris Watson, a leading figure in the world of wildlife sound recording, and field recordist and artist Jez riley French.

Our base will be Hotel Borealis, close to the largest lake in Iceland, Pingvallavatn, and surrounded by stunning locations including the Pingvallir national park and volcanic rift, the Gulfoss waterfall and the famous Geysir geothermal area. Further afield is the moon-like landscape around the geothermal vents of Krysuvik. 

We’re also within a couple of hours of the South coast, with its numerous black sand beaches and the fishing villages of Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri, with its surrounding swamp-like waterways. 
June in Iceland is a time of 24 hour daylight - so we’ll have lots of time for recording, exploring, discussing and, occasionally, sleeping ...
We’re booking all rooms in the main hotel and two separate bungalow style buildings and as well as the friendly hotel staff there will be a French chef (who has lived in Iceland for over 30 years and is an expert in both French and Icelandic cuisine) and two minibuses to allow us the greatest flexibility for recording trips. The range of spectacular habitats will enable us to experiment with surround sound techniques, ambisonic microphones & software, hydrophones, contact mics, geophones, ultrasonic detectors, parabolic systems and a range of stereo and mono recordings. We will also have genelec speakers at our base for reviewing recordings and group discussions. It is expected that you will have some recording experience and your own equipment to bring (although we will have some extra gear with us that everyone is welcome to try).
Some of the many wildlife species we may encounter include: red throated diver, whooper swan, atlantic puffin, himbrimi, arctic fox, arctic terns, whimbrel, golden plovers... whilst we’ll also be hunting for fence wires, bubbling mud pools, abandoned structures, melting ice and spaces with unique natural acoustics.

Accommodation is in private rooms with wi-fi. Most of the rooms are in the main hotel (which we are booking in full) and each room has its own bathroom. Three rooms will be in 2 separate bungalows (each with one bathroom). Breakfasts and two course evening meals are included.
In an interview with Chris Watson in Music Tech magazine (Dec 2012 issue) when asked his favourite place to record Chris said: 'Iceland ! it's a beautiful place, with great people and great culture. What's more, it's relatively noise-poluution free. It's where fire and ice meet, of course, so there's great sound potential there.'


Itinerary
Day 1: Travel from Reykjavik to Selfoss - an approximate 2-3 hour drive in our two minibuses. We’ll break the journey for a rest and also to call at a supermarket for basic extra supplies. We aim to arrive no later than 6pm, in time for an evening meal and to settle in.
Day 2-7: Recording activities - places we are likely to visit include:
Day 8: Depart. We will set off early, after breakfast, for our return drive to Reykjavik, perhaps taking in one last stop along the way. We will aim to arrive in Reykjavik in the early evening.

Personnel

Chris Watson is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planetproductions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound.
Watson’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops.

His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica. The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield. 
See www.chriswatson.net
Jez riley French is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the 'a quiet position' project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening.
Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics (http://hydrophones.blogspot.com). In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.http://jezrileyfrench.co.uk


Travel Information
Visas: Please check if you need a visa to enter Iceland (holders of normal British 'European Community' passports do not need one).
Insurance: It is essential you take out comprehensive travel insurance. Whichever insurance you choose please ensure it provides adequate cover for both you personally and also for any equipment you may be bringing with you.











Dates:
9-16 June 2015

Costs:
UK£1,595.00 plus international flight to Reykjavik (which you book yourself - recommendations will be sent on booking). You may have to/wish to arrive a day or so early due to flight times, so you should also budget for accommodation to cover this.
Includes activities, local travel, accommodation and breakfast/evening meal each day.

Booking: If the home page shows that there are places available please complete the online application formand send in your deposit/fee as detailed. Booking requires a deposit of £200, the balance to be paid two months before the start of the trip.
Places are strictly limited so early booking is recommended (as is the booking of flights).