SFX Experiences Pt. 6 – How to record Sports SoundEffects!
In early 2014, when we recorded sports SFX for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, we showed you how to create your own SFX from scratch! Today I want to give you a feeling of how the benztownbranding sports recordings for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio went down.
We tried to cover several olympic disciplines. For this it was necessary to split the recordings in several session.
For one of the first sessions we thought, a good, realistic location to record sport sound effects would definitely be a gym! So Saro from SoundBits and Max picked their gear and headed of to a gym they had for themselves through several hours. For recordings like these, you really need at least two people. One guy is recording, while the other performs.
You can’t imagine how much stuff a gym contains, you could record. So you shouldn’t bother try to record all props, perspectives or varieties, as this only will end up in total mess. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the pre-production is as important as the recording itself.
So for the gym recording session they focused mainly on one shots: Basketball bounces, catches, dribbles, basket hits, throws. Badminton drops, shots, swooshes. Handball catches, dribbles, shots, goal shots. Tennis dribbles, net shots, racket drops, shots, and and and. Singles shots are perfect to create a sports feeling on point and gives you the possibility to produce performance combos in post.
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Very essential sounds for layering all kinds of sfx are swooshes. Swooshes are perfect to give your sound a feeling of flowing air and fast movements. Even if most of the movements do not produce them in real life, our ears are used to these kind of sounds for fast stuff through films and video games. Saro and Max found a large amount of dancing rods, poles and sticks. The gym offered enough space to spin even a fully extended boom pole, which created an amazing pass by effect. Wouldn’t be possible to do this in our studio without destroying anything in there 🙂 Not to forget the gymnastic stuff: Trampolines and bodyfalls on a mattress. Perfect to end a sporty day.
Another sound which was pretty exciting to record was boxing: For this session I asked for the boxing room at my local gym: Powerhouse Gym Stuttgart. Alex, Max and I met early in the morning and were equipped with pads, boxing gloves, boxing bags and skipping ropes to get this session through. On the recording side of things, I really recommend using a boom pole for this. It gets yourself in a saver position and the mic closer to the action without getting a crazy punch combo in your face by mistake. 🙂 Another point is to use mono mics while recording sounds with a lot of action and movement. By using stereo mics you will just create phasing problems and dirty stereo movement everytime you swift the mic. Check one of our first sfx post for some gear suggestions. But watch out – even if you have your boom pole in use, you can get hit easily… 🙂
A few months ago we also recorded some soccer sfx. Max headed off to an evening recording session with some nice guys from CSV Stuttgart. It was a group of young people, meeting at the evening for some leisure time training. But the young guys were pretty motivated and Max could capture some really nice training ambiences.
If you are ever in a similar situation, don’t hesitate to ask for some single sounds after the regular training. This will give you the closest recordings with the best quality possible. Don’t try to cut single sounds out of an ambience. They are just too far away and this means too much post work to get them ready… However, it seemed that these guys didn’t run enough while training, so they were happy to shoot some additional footballs.
Here in Stuttgart we also have a First League Baseball Team – the Stuttgart Reds, playing at the German Playoffs right now. Luckily Max met a nice Reds team member: Ruben Kratky. He arranged that Max was allowed to visit a training and bring his recorder. And even Baseball is not played at the Summer Olympics this year, we did not want to miss this recording. He was able to catch a good bunch of training ambiences, shouts, catches and running pass bys. The batters were trained separately, which was perfect for recording close and clean bat hits.
Big up to the whole team! Was a nice session!
A Technical Sidenote: If you ever want to record sport sfx, try to start recording a training. This will get yourself more pure sounds. After you captured some the training stuff, consider visiting a match: the more people are there, the better. Record crowds, and general game ambiences. Now you can layer them with the training sounds and you have a good combination between clean sounds and a game ambience.
It’s not always easy to get all SFX recorded the way you want, as there are so many sounds around us polluting the recordings. But if you do it right, it pays off in custom and real content!
P.S.: If you are looking for some free SFX, check our 2015 Christmas present. Even if it’s summer, it’s still up! 🙂