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How do I make wildlife recording pay for itself?


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I've been fortunate enough to have a couple gigs that have taken me deep into the wilderness.  And I've been frustrated that I'm inevitably tethered to a film crew, which makes wildlife recording a hit or miss proposition ... I'm tethered to the priorities of camera.  So, I would love to set up a recording trip on my own ... take a guide into the bush for a couple weeks and see what I can get in terms of wildlife recordings.

 

I would love to talk with someone who has recorded wildlife professionally and see what my options are for making this pay for itself.  I'm imagining libraries as a possible source, but I also imagine there aren't many libraries that need "fresh" recordings (though, perhaps surround / Dolby Atmos ambience is an opportunity)?

 

I'd also love to hear from anyone who can talk microphones for this purpose ... is there any value in a longer shotgun (i.e. MKH70 / 816) when recording at a distance (say 200+ metres)?  What about parabolics (I don't trust their frequency response, but is the trade-off even worth considering)?  Would an ambisonic array be worth considering?

Anyone on here who has done this?

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In order to sell sounds you probably need to turn yourself into a "brand", like Bernie Krause etc.  There are already huge numbers of huge libraries in existence, what would make yours interesting and unique?   Krause went very scientific with his work, especially around changes in soundscapes over a span of many years, and identifying the creatures making the noise and the location they were recorded in with obsessive accuracy and completeness.   I see a number of FX recordists who frequently post about their work, especially new sounds, on FB and YT, although most of these guys are building libraries of specific mechanical sounds.  Self-promotion is the key to making this work, including social media, giving workshops, writing articles, getting sponsorships and so on.  It's kind of a crowded field these days....

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Right now I'm at the stage of planning a trip, not a career change, so I was mostly trying to find out if there's an existing market to sell into.  From the overwhelming response, I'm going to say there isn't much of one.  I'm definitely not looking to sell things retail ... that's way more of a commitment than I want.  I've built myself a brand for my doc work, so I know how much time and effort it takes to pay off ... and that's in an established market!

I agree I would need to offer something special (the sound of musk ox mating!), so my hope was to see if I can find out what the market might consider special.  Ambisonic ambience is kind of my gut thought right now, but I really don't know the market, so I can't say.

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