Digital technology has been a help for many types of creative work, including field recording — but it also brings new challenges, as the computer technology involved intrudes more and more into your workflow. An audio recorder is a computer, with its own operating system and user interface; and though we might try to ignore that fact, sooner or later we will be faced with menus asking about compression modes, bit depths, and so on.

This series of videos is going to try to de-mystify the technical aspects of field recording, so that non-technical people can get past the nuts and bolts to concentrate on what matters — the art and craft of field recording.

The videos are listed below. If you wish, you can also find them on the Vimeo channelTechnical Field Recording
The Vimeo channel where the Technical Field Recording videos live. (Vimeo)
https://vimeo.com/channels/1540173
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The Course

Quick Start

To kick the series off, this episode is going to be a very basic, quick-start beginners guide to field recording; just going over all the basic concepts very lightly. Future episodes will go into specific topics in more detail.

Introduction

In this series of videos, I’m going to try to give you a nuts-and-bolts introduction to field recording. I’m going to start here with an introduction to the concepts of field recording, and the motivation for this course.

Technology

Modern audio recording is all about computer-based technologies; which might a problem for people coming from a creative background. So in this section I’m going to give you a quick overview of these kinds of technologies, specifically the kinds of computer tech that are intruding more and more into field recording.

The WAV file dumping utility referred to in the video can be seen on the Wavdump page. BWF MetaEdit can be downloaded from the MediaArea siteBWF MetaEdit
The home page of BWF MetaEdit, a tool for displaying and editing BWF meta-data in WAV files. (MediaArea)
https://mediaarea.net/BWFMetaEdit
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Microphones

Of course the microphone is the business end of your system, so it’s worth understanding how they work. But with audio recording covering an amazing array of different activities, mics have evolved to be pretty diverse. Let’s try and break it down.

Coming Up...

Future episodes which are largely done:

Ideas I'm toying with but haven't done yet; feedback will determine which get done:

Odd Bits

A tip for recording with hydrophones

When recording with hydrophones, you don't want them floating away, but you also don't want them dragging on the bottom. Here's how I rig my hydrophones to float free, and also make it possible to recover them safely.

About This Course

In case anyone's curious about how this happened...

If it seems a bit over the top on production, that's because this has been as much of a video production project as a field recording project.

This all started about the middle of 2018, when I started compiling notes on field recording techniques and technology for my own use. Sometime around September 2018 this grew to the point that it seemed like it could be useful to other people, and it started morphing into a series of textual articles that I would publish somewhere.

Sometime after that I remembered that I'm interested in film and video, and realised that this should be a series of videos. So I started writing scripts, and a shot plan -- well over 300 shots -- and went out and started shooting.

There was a lot of dithering involved -- because I knew how much work this would be -- so by the time I was shooting, it was late 2019, and I was one-man-band-ing the whole thing in the north of Scotland in winter. So progress was slow. Plus I was learning how to do this as I went, which was also a big part of the point; a lot of shots have been re-shot multiple times. A big pain when the light might be gone by 2 pm!

If I'm vague about the dates, it's because I didn't keep any kind of records of the early development stages, because of course I had no idea what it was going to develop into. Of course I totally regret that now. Anyhow, the first videos went live on 23 March 2020.