Sony PCM-D100 Angle

I've been meaning to write a review of the Sony's PCM-D100 portable audio recorder for some time now.

The D100 is the successor to Sony's popular PCM-D50 model. The D50 is known for its excellent sound quality, impressive battery life, and sturdy construction. How does the PCM-D100 (US$775) measure up to its older brother? This article will take a "deep dive" into the D100 to learn what's new, what's changed, and how it performs in the field. It also includes dozens of field recordings from the D100 and other recorders that you can download and experiment with yourself. So, settle in and join me to explore this popular portable audio recorder.

Please note, I'm very detailed. This is an in-depth review that will take approximately 24 minutes to read. If you prefer, click the link below to email yourself a copy to read later.


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It’s a fact cherished by sound effect editors: out of 122 minutes of running time, Joel and Ethan Coen's No Country For Old Men comprises only 16 minutes of music.

Why is such an obscure fact interesting? Well, a lot of sonic ingredients blend to complete a feature film: dialogue, music, ADR, Foley, sound effects, and more. Each of these elements must be skillfully balanced by engineers. Invariably, though, creative choices are made that favour some elements and exclude others. On a good day, a sound effect editor's work is in the spotlight. On other days, it understandably takes a back seat to support other elements of the film.

This is why No Country For Old Men is particularly notable. There is almost no music in the film at all. Instead, the sound effect track takes centre stage. Sound legend Skip Lievsay uses the wind, the birds, and the weather to create a minimalist soundtrack that conveys mood and atmosphere. Often a handful of sounds create a subliminal, off-screen story in parallel to the onscreen drama. It's an incredibly rare technique that Lievsay and the Coen brothers use in varying degrees for all of their films, and one that warms the hearts of sound fx editors worldwide.

This is why I became quite curious when I discovered last summer that a good friend was wrapping up editing duties on the second season of FX's widely acclaimed TV series, Fargo. Paul Shikata is a sound effects editor with almost three decades of post production experience. Paul mentioned to me that he was working on Noah Hawley's television series, which is inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 film.

I had known Paul produces excellent soundtracks. And, to my delight, I found he was in charge of crafting evocative background atmospheres for the episodes. I was curious to learn if showrunner Noah Hawley (Bones) and sound supervisor Nick Forshager (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) adopted Lievsay's and the Coen brothers' technique. Did the television series highlight the sound fx track? Did they encourage the use of atmospheres to tell a story? After all, the Coen brothers themselves had produced the series. I asked Paul Shikata if he would like to share his experiences with us. He kindly agreed.

So, Paul and I sat down to chat about the second season of Fargo. In today's article, Paul shares his experiences working on the crew of Fargo. He describes his technique of creating, choosing, and crafting backgrounds and "background specifics" with one mission in mind: to build a composition to create tension.

Please note: this post contains plot spoilers.

Also note: this article explores Paul’s experiences in depth. It should take you about 17 minutes to read. If you like, click the button below to email it to yourself to read later.


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Best Posts of 2016

2017/01/04

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Every year I summarize the most popular posts from the year before. I also include a few favourites I’ve enjoyed writing.

Let’s take a look.

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Recording Jet Airliners in the UK

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Earlier this month I released the free Jet Fly Bys sound effects library over on Airborne Sound. I explained that I had captured those field recordings when I found myself living beneath the flight path of an international airport.

A reader recently wrote me to tell me he tried the same technique after reading the post here. Chris Procopiou lives near Heathrow Airport outside of London, England. He described his experience recording his own jet airliners in a post on his blog. And here's a bonus: he's offering them to the community free of charge. Check them out!

Read the article on Chris' blog and download the sound library.

Los Angeles Smokey

It's a running joke between my brother and I: he's always found himself living in places with too much noise and I'm trying to find places with a lot of it.

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Why do field recordists capture sound effects?

The last post revealed that many sound pros record audio for the chase: they gather sounds for a specific purpose, or to claim a technical achievement. They use their skill to preserve these sounds. And, for others, they gather audio to amplify their experience of the world around them.

That post looked at how sound itself motivates field recordists. Many are inspired by other, more nebulous reasons, too. So, today’s posts will look at the abstract elements that inspire sound pros: the art of field recording.

Please note: this post explores this idea in depth. It will take you about 15 minutes to read this article. If you’d prefer, click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.


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A brief update: I’ve created a page for Creative Field Recording on Facebook. Most of the posts will be mirrored from the site or from on Twitter. However, if you’d prefer to follow me on Facebook, you’re now able to. Follow and Like Creative Field Recording on Facebook.

I have also created a dedicated YouTube channel for Creative Field Recording. Right now it has a few screencasts from past articles. I’d like to post more video content on the site. So, follow Creative Field Recording on YouTube to learn about future videos. Stay tuned for upcoming tutorials, location videos, and more.

You can also follow me on Twitter, SoundCloud, or connect via LinkedIn.

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Over a year ago I began the “A Month of Field Recording” series with the hope that it would help new field recording fans choose gear more easily. Would equipment selections from the featured field recordists share insight on how to slice through the endless kit options and choose kit more simply? Through the generosity of 49 field recordists (series 2015, series 2016), we certainly found out.

By the time the series was well underway, I realized that something surprising was being revealed. Despite limiting most questions to field recording gear, a common theme shone through the cracks between the kilohertz and the preamp clarity. What became increasingly evident was that the thoughtful, varied equipment choices were matched by something as equally diverse: their motivations for capturing audio beyond the studio.

So, today’s post will explore a subject just as important as decisions about ease of interface and external inputs: the reason these pros suit up to step outside the studio into the world of sound.

Please note: this post explores this idea in depth. It will take you about 8 minutes to read this article. If you prefer, click the button below to email the article to yourself to read later.


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frank-bry

Today I am very happy to feature a special surprise final guest to the “A Month of Field Recordist” series.

Frank Bry has been field recording for game audio and sound fx publishers since the 1990s. He has been an inspiration for the field recording community. He has generously described techniques for capturing tricky sound effect subjects on his blog and on Designing Sound. He shares his work in pristine sound fx libraries hosted on his Web shop. He has been a pioneer of the indie sound effect library movement that has reshaped the way sound effects are shared worldwide.

Frank kindly shared his thoughts on field recording here on the blog back in 2013. Today he graciously agreed to describe his kit and the workflow he uses to capture his field recordings.

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A New Giveaway: Discuss Field Recording. Win Prizes

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For the entire month of December the Designing Sound news site is offering prizes for asking and answering questions about field recording or sound design on their new forum, Designing Sound Exchange.

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