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Matt Brodnick

VR: "High Altitude Ambience"

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I'm recording an ambisonic VR series, and the director wants ambience tracks of a high-altitude establishing shot, facing directly downward at several downtown regions.

Of course, it's an aerial cam shot, so mounting on a drone won't work.

My first thought would be a weather balloon of some kind (silent), but would this be actually worth doing in the first place? Could this be better created in design rather than a multitrack recording? I'd imagine it would just be a blanket of traffic and broad noise. 

Another issue is that the mic positioning needs to stay fixed, looking in the same direction "forward". If the mic spins around, the processing won't match later either.

 balloonmic.jpg

 

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You'd have to float the recorder too.  You may be able to get a good result booming out from the rooftop of a tall downtown building.  Getting permission to be on their roof is another story...

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I like your balloon idea if you can get enough wind protection.  Maybe with something like the Brahma one-piece 4-capsule+zoom recorder deal?  It would need to be a big balloon though, and I'd think you'd want to suspend the mic at least several feet below it to avoid any noise from the balloon...  But this could be the birth of a new SFX library!

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The balloon idea sounds fun, though like you suggest I'm not sure you'll get the audio you're looking for. But I think of two things:

 

(1) The balloon & kit mapping community at Public Lab has lots of good information and low-cost kits. Aimed at hauling up cameras (sometimes hacked to gather infrared info) to track development, chemical & spills, and other such things. But probably some useful information for you:

https://publiclab.org/wiki/balloon-mapping

 

(2) Heinrich Boll's short story, Murke's Collected Silences     :-)

 

Would love to read and hear what you come up with!

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There's a great story about Breaking Bad where in one of the seasons they needed an aerial shot, like something crashing from the sky (trying not to spoil anything), and they chose to try the balloon for the shot so they could reverse it. Anyway. They rented this very expensive digital camera, when they were still pretty new and rare, and the balloon just took off with it and it disappeared. Until like some time after when a lady had discovered the camera in her back yard. The material was unusable though.

Short story: I'd be wary of balloons unless you can get it secured somehow.

What about getting up on a construction crane?

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Surely anything other than a mono mic attached to a balloon could not work - it would spin, flap around in the wind and probably keep changing altitude even if carefully secured (and fly off upward and onward if not).

Can you get access to an enormous crane?

Then again, it's just ambisonics ...

Jez

Ha sorry, just noticed Olle's final line.

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40 minutes ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

Surely anything other than a mono mic attached to a balloon could not work - it would spin, flap around in the wind and probably keep changing altitude even if carefully secured (and fly off upward and onward if not).

The balloon mapping community has had to deal with lots of these issues. One simple way to deal with spinning, etc: Run 2-3 lines from the hoisted device, and on the ground spread out anchors (or people holding the line) like a tripod. Won't eliminate movement, but can reduce it.

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OK Jim, this is interesting. My dad is a mining engineer, my hobby in my twilight early middle age (ahem please Dan chirp in) is measuring things.

But as an ambisonic recordist (MS is a potential b*******d in any scenario) the idea of having even a slightly spinning array ... doesn't quite do the trick.

For a suspended (mono, probably most suitably omni, pressure/random field) mic, I would be the first to try this out. For cameras, it will be adjusted where the 'stutter' occurs and presumably the software already exists to 'correct' this for other reasons and applied to the image, but I don't believe the correction will ever exist for an MSSS recording up there. Damnit, I'm sure the original poster was half taking the piss, but I do think an omni would be a great recording, and hell, a swinging stereo just might work ... Damn! ... I DO want this to be tried out !!! UP !!

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On 19 September 2016 at 5:46 PM, Matt Brodnick said:

Could this be better created in design rather than a multitrack recording? 

I would say 'no' - there is nothing better than a recording. But as I've already suggested there is no way that a worthwhile ambisonic recording could be done with anything other than an absolutely fixed (crane / cathedral) position.

Design - get an omni up there and augment it with other stuff.

Personally, I find medium floors often suit the ambient mix of air vs traffic for a good bed. That might be 4th to 8th floor rather than the roof. So you might end up with some spectacular air balloon recordings which get rejected because they're just too weird.

By all means, do it. It will interest and help us all. But what is being asked of you is ridiculous and unobtainable (a WXYZ recording) - what is actually required is - as you say - an editorial decision.

Jez

55 minutes ago, The Immoral Mr Teas said:

For a suspended (mono, probably most suitably omni, pressure/random field) mic

Sorry I didn't think this through - I would go for a free field up there, since we're pointing downwards from such a height, for some definition ...

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On September 19, 2016 at 9:46 AM, Matt Brodnick said:

My first thought would be a weather balloon of some kind (silent), but would this be actually worth doing in the first place? Could this be better created in design rather than a multitrack recording? I'd imagine it would just be a blanket of traffic and broad noise. 

Well there's been a plethora of ideas here. But I'm starting to think your statement here might be right. I wonder what sort of audio you'd get. Note that I don't wonder so much that I want to put in the effort to try this all myself. However, I'd be more than happy to hear your results. :-)

Could be a fun project. Or you could create, "a floating orb that explores and manipulates transitional public spaces with particular acoustic properties. By recording and replaying these ambient sounds, the hovering sphere produces a delayed echo of human activity. Electronics were programmed and inserted into the sphere in order to record and replay the surrounding sounds."

 

Some detail:

http://ied.rca.ac.uk/de-computation/space-replay

 

Good luck Matt. 

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Well I'll try anything once!

I recorded a commercial in the southern alps of the NZ south island.

The final sequence was the male presenter taking off by means of a parachute with a GoPro

on a stick and delivering hi-altitude dialogue.

I rigged him with radio mike and also a mini-disc recorder

Captured the take-off fx using a boom, then he did his piece to camera then just enjoyed the ride.

This ended up giving me a wind free hi altitude atmos track!

mike

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