Field recordist Jamie Hardt Asbjoern Andersen


Jamie Hardt is a Supervising Sound Editor, Sound Designer, and Re-Recording mixer with over 20 years of experience. He has worked on shows such as 22 Jump Street, Zero Dark Thirty, Penguins of Madagascar, and Men in Black 3. And in this interview by Doug Siebum, Jamie Hardt shares his tips, thoughts and insights on field recording and immersive audio:
Written by Doug Siebum
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DS: Hi Jamie, thanks for joining us today. Before we get started, can you tell us about your background and how you got your start in sound? How did you work your way up to being a sound designer, re-recording mixer, and sound effects editor on shows such as 22 Jump Street and Zero Dark Thirty?

JH: I studied film at USC and my work-study job was in the sound department, as a Pro Tools tech and all-around audio engineer. After graduating, I happened to hear from a TA about a job as a runner at a sound house in Glendale. The TA in this case was Addison Teague, and I took over for him as a runner and gumby at Steve and Judee Flick’s Creative Café. There I started out as an assistant, which I did for several years under a couple supervisors: Flick, Jon Johnson, Ron Eng, Cameron Frankley and some others.

This whole time I was also designing and mixing shorts and independent projects for my friends from school and when Paul Ottosson needed an extra editor on The Hurt Locker I got the call and that was my first credit as an editor! I worked for Ottosson and other crews at Sony for the next six years, on shows like Zero Dark Thirty, 22 Jump Street, 2012, Fury and a bunch of other things.

Eventually I think I just wanted some more responsibility and a change of scene, some friends introduced me to the head of post at Blumhouse, and for the last few years I’ve been supervising and mixing projects for Blumhouse, WWE, Paramount and others.
 

DS: Our current topic is Field Recording. Can you name a couple of shows where you did a good amount of field recording? What sounds did you record for those shows? Can you name a few and talk about them?

JH: I think the project I did the most recording on myself was The Alamo, Jon Johnson supervised. We did a bunch of field recording sessions with authentic weapons, cannon, multiple kinds of targets and perspectives. I did not personally participate, but the location crew on Fury in the UK—Lisa Pinero, Eilam Hoffman and others—did a huge library of recordings on the extant Sherman tanks used in that film, including turret movements, switches and actuators, operating sounds (like shell casing foley), and they also collected useable IRs (impulse responses) of the interiors, which we used extensively.

I admit that on my more recent projects my schedule is incredibly short and I don’t have much time for recording, I am a happy customer of A Sound Effect and other sites!

My field recording very much is focused on fixing immediate problems: on Stephanie I did a bunch of practical recordings of kitchen appliances, trying to get a little drama and horror out of a blender in particular (I eventually used an impact drill for the final effect). On Amateur Night me and the director borrowed a neighbor’s Volvo, and I got a complete series to suit the comedy chase/action scenes in that show. One of my first features was a zombie film, Dance of the Dead, and on that film I was also the production mixer, and this gave me a lot of opportunities to collect sounds on set, with crowds of people playing and performing zombie voices, vehicles, and then coming back to the studio and recording a lot of gore and horror elements with Charles Dayton.
 

DS: What are a few of the most interesting sounds that you’ve recorded? Do you have a favorite sound that you’ve recorded? Anything that stands out?

JH: It sounds pretty boring but a sound I keep using constantly is the sound of a wet rag wrung onto a wood floor. I recorded it for Dance of the Dead as a blood splatter sweetener for gunshots, and I just use it all the time. It’s such a nice addition if you see any blood spray on-screen.

I’ve also taken some pride in building my own kicks and punch elements, which I recorded for a short with Hamilton Sterling. In that case I came over to his studio and helped him troubleshoot some ground loops. As a trade we recorded. We punched each other in the chest and crunched various vegetables with his excellent ribbon mic and mic pre at 192K.
 

DS: At what point do you know that you’re going to need to do some field recording for a show? Is there a certain point when you’re working on something and you just feel like it’s time to go do some field recording?

There are certain sounds I know, even from the script, that I’ll want something to be authentic.

JH: There are certain sounds I know, even from the script, that I’ll want something to be authentic. I have a project coming up this summer, and in the script, the screenwriter says, in so many words: “A Grumman Widgeon seaplane arrives,” so I’m strongly inclined to find that. I’m extremely allergic to using library sounds that I’ve heard before for “hero” sounds – things I know will be prominent on screen and be significant characters.
 

DS: What kind of gear do you use for field recording?

JH: I have a Sound Devices 702T, an Audio-Technica stereo shotgun and some SM57s. I also have a Sennheiser 416 from my production recording days that I keep around for dialogue recording and I always bring it when I’m dubbing, for use as a stage mic. If I’m ever recording backgrounds or quiet sounds I try to borrow a friend’s Sanken CSS.
 

DS: Besides your main recording rig, do you also have a smaller pocket sized recorder for quick and dirty stuff? Which recorder do you recommend?

JH: Yes, I always have my Røde iXY clipped to my bag. I pick up a ton of casual sounds with it, a lot of the short sounds in my library are from that. It’s just so easy get it out, get the sound and then pop it up to my Dropbox from my iPhone.
 

DS: Do you get advice from people on what to buy or do you research it yourself?

JH: I try to stay up to date with the sales literature, and I’m always reading Gearslutz and a few blogs for user reviews.
 

DS: Do you go alone to record or do you need help?

JH: I’ve mostly gone out by myself lately, but you can always use one or two people to hold microphones. It’s impossible to record vehicles without multiple people.
 

DS: Do you typically record in stereo, mono, 5.1, or other format?

JH: I just record in stereo. I think if I were in a market for a sound rig at this time, I’d invest in an A-format ambisonic capsule of some kind, like the Sennheiser AMBEO.
 

DS: What sample rate and bit depth do you like for recording?

JH: I always record at 24 bit. Any kind of short sound, any kind of engine or technology I try to record at 192 KHz. Backgrounds I’ll only record at 96K or 48K depending on if I’m using the 702T or iXY on my iPhone.
 

DS: How long do you stay out to record?

JH: I think you have to commit a day for a particular project, like a vehicle, or a weapon, or a location.
 
 


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DS: Do you have a list of things that you want to record when you go out recording and then work off of that list?

JH: It depends, if I’m on a project I’ll have a list of sounds for that project. If I know I’ll have a particular piece of equipment, I’ll make a list of sounds to fully cover the subject. I do think recording is something you have to do with an eye to building a general library, and not just fill the need of that project, that day.

I think I have a similar relationship with my synthesizers: I turn it on in the morning and just have to resolve to record anything that sounds interesting, full in the knowledge that I may make a lot of cool stuff, but nothing I make that day may be useful for the project I’m currently working on.

You have to give yourself liberty to discover things and let the day’s work take you where it takes you

It’s hard enough to create sounds on-demand when you know exactly what kind of thing you’re trying to record: like a Grumman seaplane, or a Volvo station wagon. It’s a measure again more difficult to create horror stings, or whooshes, or drone beds on Tuesday for a show you’re mixing on Thursday. You have to give yourself liberty to discover things and let the day’s work take you where it takes you.

Recording is the same way, you get the car, and you discover it makes a certain kind of sound with the clutch down, you record that sound, and you experiment, even if the car in the movie happens to be an automatic.
 

DS: What is your process for cleaning up and mastering your recordings?

JH: I’ll do some de-noising if necessary in iZotope but I really try to be conservative about that, maybe some notching and then some EQ and a limiter like Pro Limiter or Flux Elixir. Once it sounds right I’ll convert the WAV files to Apple Lossless, write out the metadata with Sound Grinder Pro or ffmpeg, and that’s what goes into the library.
 

DS: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

I’m looking forward to when I can source ambisonic IRs, and reproduce environments and materials in 3D surround!

JH: There are two new trends in libraries which I hope develop over the next few years: Ambisonic recording and the recording of IRs.

Among all the surround recording formats, I think Ambisonic has the most potential: you get a soundfield in three dimensions which is (or will soon be) adaptable to all the existing theatrical/broadcast 3D processes, and also to the next generation of immersive, interactive and video game content. There are some drawbacks, but for background recording in particular I think it’s the state-of-the-art choice, particularly for library, as it’s more future-proof than any discrete-channel format.

I mentioned before we used IRs recorded on-set for Fury and it added a lot to the interiors. We processed foley, gun ricos and dialogue with them. Having that authenticity was so useful and there’s no way we could have gotten as close to it as we did with a synthetic or post-hoc process. Any linear-time invariant system can be modeled as an IR, so this category need not simply just be spaces: it can be the effect of passing sound through water, or materials like metal or wires, pipes, old gear, musical instruments, any thing or process that transmits waves. I think there’s a lot of original sound design waiting to be discovered in this area.

Even better, I’m looking forward to when I can source ambisonic IRs, and reproduce environments and materials in 3D surround!
 

A big thanks to Jamie Hardt for taking the time to share some of your knowledge with all of us! Learn more about Jamie Hardt on IMDb

 

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    Our sound-sets are made up of two main folders labeled as Audio-Scenes and Audio-Stems. The Command Center I Audio-Scenes consist of five long playing scenes representing this star-cruiser command center in various modes of operation; -From busy to calm to high alert and more. Think of these audio-scenes like we dropped microphones into a futuristic space cruiser command center and have captured all of its sounds in real-time!

    Our Audio-Stems folder contains the curated sound elements used in creating the audio-scenes. This is where you will find isolated sound elements like tactical scans, lost communications, sweeping sensors, enemy alerts, interface sounds, probe telemetries, stellar mapping, systems under incredible stress and interface sounds and much much more!

    Also included with our audio-stems are less glamorous necessities like room tones and back-wall system sounds to give your futuristic environments the nuance they deserve. This sound-set is delivered industry ready at 24 bit/48kHz WAV and each sound file contains simple meta-data to make our sound files easy to organize & find. All of our sounds are 100% original, created in our sound-labs and designed to boldly explore the universe of sci-fi sound!

    Thank you for reading! Watch for more from Orbital Emitter coming soon!

    20 %
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    Starts 1579820400
  • Say Hello to Particles the new sonic weapon for creative sound designers, video makers, filmmakers and motion designers.

    A must-have sound effect library to give a sense of organic and hyper-realistic to your projects in a fast and creative way.

    • 287 high quality pristine sound effects with an organic and granular taste divided into 6 categories.
    • Stereo 24bit and 96khz for extreme pitch shifting and sound manipulation.
    • BaseHead embedded metadata

    CATEGORIES:

    Hyper- Realistic Textures (104 sounds)

    These are hyper close-up recordings of various kinds of props (food, fabrics, materials).

    Since they are really rough, they’ll inspire you to create something cool using them as sound sources.

    Their proximity allows you to use them for macro-shots, CGI and motion pieces, hyper-detailed images.


    Granular Whooshes (76 sounds)

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    Minimal One Shots (62 sounds)

    This is the category of short and tiny sounds: small collapsing, fractures, all with a premium high-end sonic detail.

    You can make your organic foley drumkit using them as a sample into your electronic music project.


    Organic Impacts (17 sounds)

    Powerful, organic, natural-sounding with a big low end, these impacts are ready for your earth’s destruction shots.


    Granular Atmospheres (16 sounds)

    Abstract but generated from organic recordings, these atmospheres will help you to get the right “other world” dimension to your project


    Low End Rumbles (12 sounds)

    Last but not least, do you need more power in the low end? You can layer these sounds to enforce subsonic frequencies giving a new taste to other existing sounds.

    29 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580252399
  • Obscure cinematic ping elements perfect to add as top layers while crafting memorable hit sounds and hybrid trailer impacts with mystical undertones and terrifying stingers.

    This file is from the personal library of trailer music composer Federico Soler Fernandez (“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” – “The Food That Built America (History Channel)” – “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” – “Halloween 2018” – “The Predator 2018”)

  • The Creepy Contrabass SFXs Instrument: A Big collection of Creepy SFXs live Contrabass, recorded from 3 mic positions with a Neumann U87. This is the best Contrabass collection for your horror trailer tracks, recorded by Vesislava Todorova.

    Features 427MB uncompressed content, 180 sounds in 24 bit / 96 kHz. Includes 2 instruments for the FULL Kontakt version 5.8.1 and the AIFF Version.

    Vesislava Todorova is a performing and recording artist from Bulgaria, with more than 10 Years of experience playing cello for various projects such as movies, video games, commercials and now the brand new Creepy Contrabass SFX Library from TH Studio Production.

    Along with her live performances, she also has a strong online presence with over 7 million views her covers and original music.

    CREEPY CONTRABASS

    2 Instruments for FULL KONTAKT 5.8.1

    AIFF Version

  • The Creepy Violin SFXs Instrument: A Big collection of Creepy SFXs live Violin, recorded from 3 mic positions with a Neumann U87. This is the best Violin collection for your horror trailer tracks, recorded by Vesislava Todorova.

    Features 681 MB uncompressed content, 306 sounds in 24 bit / 96 Khz. Includes 3 instruments for the FULL Kontakt version 5.8.1 and the AIFF Version.

    Vesislava Todorova is a performing and recording artist from Bulgaria, with more than 10 Years of experience playing cello for various projects such as movies, video games, commercials and now the brand new Creepy Violin SFX Library from TH Studio Production.

    CREEPY VIOLIN

    • 3 Instrument for FULL Kontakt 5.8.1
    • 681 MB uncompressed
    • 24 Bit / 96 kHz

 
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