Throughout the past few years, I’ve been networking with people in the sound community. I’ve met and spoken with so many amazing people in the film, television, and video game industry who have been nothing less than helpful and hopeful. One tip that gets brought up the most is sound libraries. Any sound designer knows those sound libraries are very important to have. That includes the ones you’ve recorded and the ones you’ve bought. Of course, not buying all the sound libraries at once but little by little over time.
An important part of your journey as a sound designer is also learning to record sounds, yourself. You don’t even need the fanciest or most expensive equipment in the world to do it. I, myself, own a Zoom H1, Zoom H4n, and Zoom H6 with a Sennheiser MKH 416. Learning to work with what you have is also a valuable skill. Of course, you’re not going to have access to everything you want to record for a film. But, a good practice is recording things around your home. I try to go on a walk every day and carry a Zoom H1 in a fanny pack. You never know what interesting sound you’ll find out in the world of your neighborhood. Plus, the sunshine and air are great for your mental health and overall health. Stepping away from your computer is a nice reset from work, too. If you can record it at a higher sample rate, you have so much more freedom to work with the audio versus what you get in a library. But, be prepared to have enough hard drive space to hold all the sounds you want. This also can be helpful in learning how to clean up the audio. Not everything you record out in the field will be clean and this can be a helpful experience with that.
If you’re into ASMR videos on YouTube like myself, there are interesting sounds in just tapping a glass or candle holder. Watching other people record sounds is also helpful on your sonic journey. I didn’t know cactus needles can sound like rain falling! Watching others record different sounds can help give you ideas and maybe, that’s the sound you’ve been looking for on a project you’ve been working on. We had some storms and wind a month ago here in Sacramento so I opted to record some rain on my metal awning and some wind through my window for wind howls. Always be careful and make sure your equipment is safe as well. You wouldn’t want rain getting into it. For wind, a good windscreen or blimp are great options to capture wind better.
Field recording shouldn’t feel like a chore or job, either. You never know what kind of sounds are near you or right outside your house. Just the other day I recorded my weekly garbage pickup. The truck has some nice squeaky brakes as well. Always be aware of what’s around, always keep listening, and don’t be afraid to experiment. So go out there and explore your world sonically!
Kristina Morss is a sound designer, video editor, bassist, and bassoonist based out of Sacramento, California. Since graduating from Sacramento State with a BA in Communications-Digital Media in 2014, she has worked as a freelance editor and sound designer on commercials, short films, corporate, local news, documentaries, and now audio dramas!
In addition to her audio work, she also helps run For the Love of Cinema, a local film group in the Northern California area focusing on promoting underrepresented filmmakers. When she’s not busy, she’s hosting The Closing Credits Podcast. A podcast dedicated to educating filmmakers and film lovers by interviewing someone from each and every job title in the credits of film, television, and video games. She treats every day as a new learning experience and hopes to share her experiences and adventures with readers and inspire more women to join the audio field. More information at: http://www.kristinamorss.com/