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rcoronado

rollercoaster sfx recording in 1 week

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Hey guys,

I'm being contracted out to record some amusement park rides on Nov 3rd, and its a pretty big opportunity for me.  

We're going to have the run of the park before it opens for business, the park engineers will be there the day before to setup and safety test, and the day of to run the rides and facilitate.  The park big wigs will be there watching it all happen.  Screamers will be employed on the rides for the day as well.  Recordists will include myself and an A2.

Rides covered will include wood and metal rollercoasters, drop rides, and anything else we deem worthy.  There will be a location scout on Thursday the 29th where we eval and lock down the specific rides that will be wired and recorded.

End goal is to develop a complete sfx library for the park to use in promotional materials.  Shots used in the promos include mounted onboards of the rides with two shots of riders screaming/having fun, overheads, bys, etc.

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My plan for the scout is to bring a PCM M10 and ride a couple of the ones we're pretty sure that we are going to cover, and check for mount points and wind drafting positions.  

Initially, I think that my mount points and strategies will be similar to what I did when I recorded a set of Porsches on a track earlier this year.   This broadly means that I'll put an MS rig in the front car in a wind-drafted position to capture the screamers, and then mount a pair of MKH50s on the "rear bumper" area aimed at the track for friction. I'll also add some contact mics for the floor because I can.

On the ground I plan on having two rigs:

one is a pair of schoeps with omni caps mounted in a single blimp as I did here

The second rig would be a pair of MKH60s a few feet apart aimed about 110 degrees out to capture any long straightaways, and maybe a Line audio CM3 in the middle to cover that gap.  This rig was excellent in my porsche recordings, but I had the MS rig in the middle of it in that setup which helped with the coverage.

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I'm also going to attempt to run wireless headphones down from the coaster while its in flight using a lectro rig, but I don't know if it will throw well enough, or what the RF situation on the rides themselves will be, so I won't make any promises to anyone about that.

 

Thoughts?

Edited by rcoronado

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I wish I could add something useful in the way of advice. But as you've probably forgotten more about FX recording than I can ever hope to know, I won't.

But I will say this. If you don't make at least one ToneBenders podcast about this project, I will never speak to you again. :-)

 

 

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Not sure if surround us an option, but a double MS rig or any other surround sound mic could sound brilliant if you can find a good spot for it. 

I did a rollercoaster recording a while ago (dialogue not FX). The front mounted mic (where you have the MS) was a shotgun and it sounded surprisingly good for catching the dialogue. Not sure if an MS rig there will be of much benefit, but you'll find out ;)

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This is really tricky. On roller coasters I like to do as much coverage as possible, even if it's stuff that won't be used in this specific project. After all, how often to we get to do this sort of thing, right? 

I like a mic or two at the front pointed down at the front wheels, then a couple of pair of lavs further down on the cars as close to where the wheels meet the track as possible to get that sound. You'll want the sounds of where the cars connect, and then on the rear. Get at least a stereo pair where there is the thing that winches the cars up the big hill..you know...that thing that makes the click click click sound. I'd have a stereo pair on the ground pointed up at each big turn or loop. 

 

Getting a roller coaster is going to take at least three passes if you have people actually riding the ride. Once, by yourself to get levels for the "on ride" mics. Another for the recording pass with NO passengers for the actual recording. Then another with the people if you want the screamers. You definitely need a pass without the people screaming over the sounds of the ride. 

You'll want people on each stereo rig on the ground as well to monitor those. 

So, that's least 10 tracks of audio on the roller coaster itself (honestly, since I can't stomach riding these things over and over again I put as many mics as possible all over the place on these things. I can easily get up to 20 tracks. That way you don't have to do a pass, move the mics for a different sound, and then go again) and then who knows how many on the ground with a crew of at least 4 people. Getting a few coasters in will most likely take all day to do properly, so hopefully you get more than just a few hours before the park opens. Take your time getting mic placement and cables set up. You don't want to have gear get trashed because something wasn't tied down properly. 

This is a really cool opportunity and I hope you get to keep the sfx after you are done. Not many people have this sort of library and it's hard to find really good stuff commercially. 

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+1 for surround. Definitely a lot going on in a rollercoaster acoustically so this is an opportunity where surround will definitely shine. I did this once a few years ago with an IRT cross but today I'd probably go for a double ORTF setup which is smaller. Even if the production didn't ask for surround this will be totally worth it. Your chosen positions should be fine.

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The surround thing is pretty tricky due to wind drafting limitations for the onboards.  What specific surround perspective seems most useful?  My experience has shown that there's not a big market for surround recordings.  Much preferred tends to be well recorded stereo and mono sources that can be used to build surround soundscapes.  

I'm willing to be persuaded though.

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Zaxcom with dpa 4063s all over the ride. Cover from the ground with a stereo setup.

Creative post mixing with panning.

 

I didn't want to mention specific gear, but recording transmitters are a BIG help in this situation because you can strap them down anywhere, and with neverclip you'll be pretty safe. 

Don't even bother with trying to actually record surround. It's pointless for many reasons. You're better off recording discrete tracks and placing them in the mix where they need to go. I've yet to meet a sound designer that actually likes surround recordings for anything other than nature recordings where the audio perspective is the same as camera. 

Trust me on this. I've been down the "hey, it'll be cool to record surround" road numerous times, and it ends up being more of a pain the arse than anything else. If you record enough discrete tracks properly, you'll have way more control over where you place things in the mix and better over all recordings. 

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I've had the same experience regarding surround.  

Also, in the time since this post has gone up the nature of the project has changed and become more limited - now I'm creating a library to be used exclusively for productions related to this park.  That means it doesn't go in my library and it doesn't go up for sale.  I just need to package up some good sounds and hand them to the video editor. 

Bummer for me, but still an interesting challenge.

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Please excuse whatever lack is evident in this question (i've done very little SFX recording so i'm asking out of curiosity), if a system like the Sennheiser Esfera creates a stereo recording that can be processed into a surround if needed what would be the disadvantage of using this instead of a convention xy/ab/ms stereo?

regards,

dan.

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scout session completed.  Lots of challenges, and my equipment list is definitely refined as a result.

Onboard are going to have to be easy to mount and super low pro because of the limited availability of mount points and the intense G forces in play.  Plan is  now to go with a pair of crown PZMs for screamers, some Sunken CUBs for track friction, and maybe one MKH50 for meat and definition.  Also, these things are LOUD so I'm going to have to really be careful with levels and shock mounting.

Its going to be a huge challenge, but it should be fun!

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You might be able to get away with dynamic mics for close mic'ing loud things. I've done this on car exhaust. Plus, it's cheaper to replace a 421 or 57 if things go south on you and you lose a mic. 

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Surround very much depends on the end-user experience required. If the end result is an immersive visitor experience, then surround from a rider's perspective can be effective, with sweetening added from other sources. I'm considering having a 'torso-rig' made for exactly this kind of thing, so that I can strap the rig into planes, cars and roller-coasters, etc. The 'neck' will consist of a standard mic mount, onto which I can put a Soundfield or a DPA 5100, a Neuman KU-100 or a Sennheiser Esfera System, all of which I have access to. The torso will have a cavity into which my SD788 can be strapped securely and monitoring will be via Wi-Fi.

I know it sounds nuts, but it's something that's been at the back of my mind for a long time: if I do manage to get it done, I'll post pictures.

Regards,

 

John

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As others have described, Zaxcom recording wireless with Neverclip has to be the preferred method. The transmitter recording will save the day so you will know you have no drop outs. Dropouts should be expected due to the range requirements and the large metal objects that can get in the way. Zaxcom  digital wireless without any compander like process that all FM wireless have will capture the sounds without the algorithm that is optimized to a vocal performance as other wireless systems are designed to do. RF remote control will allow you to tweak each mic after it is mounted in places  you can not access so your tracks will not be full of limiter distortion.

Not knowing what you will have until you begin means that live remote control will give you the best results. The job sounds like a lot of fun.

 

Glenn 

 

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Avoid riding the rides whilst recording - you may think that you are 'good at' riding these things, but remember, if, for any reason (like concentrating on the recorder meters or whatever) you make yourself feel ill, then you are sunk. You will not feel better in a hurry, and if you wait a while and ride again you are likely to feel iller, and sooner, the second time around.

Enjoy- - it sounds like great fun.....

sb

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for securing so nothing goes flying i would bring 3m dual lock; it's like velcro but a heck of a lot stronger.

it is so strong that if you use it on something that bends, pulling the strips apart can wreck the object it is applied to, so in cases like that use a flathead screwdriver and work it between the strips, then lever the two pieces apart.

http://solutions.3m.com/wps/portal/3M/en_US/Adhesives/Tapes/Brands/Dual-Lock-Reclosable-Fasteners/

Edited by Gerard-NYNY

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As others have described, Zaxcom recording wireless with Neverclip has to be the preferred method. The transmitter recording will save the day so you will know you have no drop outs. Dropouts should be expected due to the range requirements and the large metal objects that can get in the way. Zaxcom  digital wireless without any compander like process that all FM wireless have will capture the sounds without the algorithm that is optimized to a vocal performance as other wireless systems are designed to do. RF remote control will allow you to tweak each mic after it is mounted in places  you can not access so your tracks will not be full of limiter distortion.

Not knowing what you will have until you begin means that live remote control will give you the best results. The job sounds like a lot of fun.

 

Glenn 

 

... and we're back after the commercial break

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... and we're back after the commercial break

Constantin.... if anyone other than Glenn had posted the suggestion that Zaxcom recording radios might be a good idea.... would you have still felt that it was a blatant commercial? In this particular case I agree that Zaxcom recording radios might be a really good idea. For everyone's information, I have used Audio Ltd radio mics for the last 30+ years, and do not use Zaxcom radio mics.

 

Kindest,

 

sb

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Constantin.... if anyone other than Glenn had posted the suggestion that Zaxcom recording radios might be a good idea.... would you have still felt that it was a blatant commercial?

No, but that's the whole point: it did come from Glenn. Others had already mentioned Zaxcom's recording transmitters as a good option, so there was no need at all for this ad. Other manufacturers here have criticized for putting similar statements in the manufacturers section

And I do have, use, and like Zaxcom wireless systems, especially the 742 and its recording option. 

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levels and shock mounting.

Just saw this post and my first thought was the above are your biggest concerns.  FX recording often requires good dynamics for just these reasons.  I would look at some Senn 441 or 421's or SM57's or Heil Mics ... something like those (whatever you have) and bring lots of foam and tape and zip-ties.... and find places inside and outside the car.  And a couple sets of ORTF stereo (since this won't be surround) in key pass by spots.

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so the shoot was yesterday and it was super challenging, but also great fun.  

The hero mics of the day ended up being my crown PZMs - simple to mount, and the hemispherical pattern really allowed them to capture my screamer's voices super cleanly.  

On the ground the Schoeps dual omni rig and the 416 handheld shone through as well.  

park safety was there with me checking everything over before any of the rides went out.  Zip ties and gaffer tape for the win.  I'll do a podcast about it in the near future.  Thanks all for the advice and encouragement!

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