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Creative Field Recording

Excited about Creative Field Recording

Paul Virostek recording a BMW peeling out

I can hardly imagine a good film without a compelling soundtrack. But where do the wonderful sounds bits come from? Teams of talented foley artists and their sound recording colleagues, location recordists... yes they all contribute hugely. But today many of the sound files assembled into the best soundtracks are also recorded by field recordists. 

Field recordists are an intriguing group of people, sound artists whose work draws them to all corners of the globe and underneath sinks and desks. And they record not just for soundtracks; field recording is a powerful art form unto itself.

Many field recordists tend to be “lone wolves” in the sense that they roam the world, discovering and gathering sounds that shape our natural environment, our social spaces, our intimate moments. In effect they are giving material form to their - and our - experience of the world. 

These days I’m immersed in capturing sound for new work. And in my search to find the right gear for the job I came across Paul Virostek’s site, Creative Field Recording.

Virostek is a lover of sound. Professionally his background is sound effects editing but today he is focused entirely on building Airborne Sound, an extensive sound library of superbly recorded sounds. He is also committed to helping others find their way to an expertise in field recording.

Airborne Sound grew out of a small collective of field recordists who “live, breathe, and dream sound effects.” “We believe sound effects have incredible power to immerse and inspire”, Virostek writes. Indeed their sounds are immersive and compelling.

And you can check them out for yourself. Airborne offers free sound clips as well as their premier sound effects collections. Their work has found its way onto the soundtracks of Hollywood feature films such as Batman Begins, Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby, Glory Road, Michael Mann’s Ali as well as other superb productions.

Throughout the month of October 2015 Virostek is presenting A Month of Field Recordists on his Creative Field Recording site. Each weekday a different field recording pro shares their thoughts and experiences to help answer the always challenging question: “What gear should I use?”

In addition to these and other informative blog posts, Creative Field Recording offers a detailed list of field recording and phonography community resources, links to Virostek’s excellent books, a sound effects search engine, and much more.

And speaking of Virostek’s books, for those intrigued by the art form I highly recommend his Field Recording: From Research to Wrap (available as e-book and paper) and its companion The 30-Day Quick-Start Guide. I bought both. And while I haven’t read his other two books on how to sell your sounds, if they are as good as these two, there will be a lot on offer. Even if you know almost nothing about the skills involved in sound recording, if you’re intrigued by the idea of gathering sound this is a great place to start.

For newbies the guide offers suggestions for gear to meet all budgets and offers thirty well-defined tasks to bring your skills up to speed and find your field recording voice.

While Ric Vier’s excellent Sound Effects Bible (which I reviewed several years ago) outlines the hows and wherefores of recording sound effects specifically for film, video, and gaming, Virostek’s books dig deep into the craft and art of field recording. Well written in a clear, relaxed but highly informative style, this is a superb resource for anyone who wants to record sound; it should also be in every high school, college, and university library.

If you love sound and are intrigued by it, Paul Virostek’s books and websites will certainly become favorites.