Field recording is basically recording sounds outside a recording studio.
We use this term for recording both natural sounds and human-produced sounds. Recording natural sounds is also known as phonography (just like photography). We use these sounds as a documentary adjunct to a research work in the field, foley work for a film. Also, it was used in ethnomusicology projects by Charless Seeger, John Lomax and Béla Bartók. Over the years people started using field recordings for sound design and composition purposes too. With the introduction of high-quality portable devices, it became an artwork itself.
How did I start?
I love nature and all living things on Earth. In my opinion, first and foremost, we are a part of nature that surrounds us. We should live in harmony with it, appreciate it and respect it. But when I look at today’s world, with the development of technology, increase in population, industrialization and many more factors, I see that we have lost our nature. We became estranged from nature. We ignore the damage and destruction we have done to Earth in our futile daily lives. So to raise awareness of environmental protection, I have started recording natural sounds in 2016. My aim is to reintroduce the sounds of nature that we, as mankind don’t realize or simply ignore. This way I want to emphasize the importance of nature that we live in.
What do you need for field recording?
You will need to have certain recording equipment before going to your first field trip. There is a wide range of brands and models of recording equipment. This alone discourages some people. But don’t worry, you don’t need thousands of dollars worth of equipment to effectively record in the field. Because what to record, how to record, where to record and when to record is just as important as the equipment you use.
This can be from an inexpensive portable recorder to a several thousand dollars worth of professional multitrack device. Its basic function is recording the audio.
There are several types of microphones you may use depending upon the sound source you want to record. Its basic function is capturing the audio for recording. So you may want to invest in different types after you learn how to effectively record sounds.
We also use headphones to ensure that our recordings are just the way we like. Closed-back studio headphones are great for field recording. Because they isolate the unwanted noise while recording in the field.
Whether you have built-in microphones or more professional ones, wind is a challenging factor that may ruin your recording session. Having a quality windscreen for your microphones will result a dramatic reduction of wind noise in your recordings.
If you have a portable recorder, mounting it on a tripod will dramatically reduce the noise that may be caused by holding it or somehow shaking it. If you have a camera tripod, you can use it. You can even place your recorder somewhere dry, safe and sound to keep your recorder fixed. But most of the time having a tripod will save you a lot of effort.
Backpacks are irrelevant to your field recording but they are great to keep your equipment safe. They allow you to carry anything else you need. They are also good for protecting your equipment against weather conditions that may cause damage to them.
After you have all you need, you are ready to plan your first field trip.