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.
 
 


Popular on A Sound Effect right now - article continues below:

 

Latest releases:  
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    With a selection of 141 designed sci-fi loops, you’ll be able to create new worlds effortlessly. Dramatic room tones, custom sci-fi interior and exterior scenes, ambient sounds like; alien cave, energy lab, transport hangar, termite mounds, and Queen’s chambers are all ready to mix, match, stack and layer for the perfect vibe in your production.

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    • 24 ambiences loops like alien cave, energy lab, hangar, sub bay & more
    • 49 minimal versions or alt mixes of full loops
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    Of course, it’s ready to use in any multi-media production. All of the recordings are royalty-free and RTU-OTB. Need more ambience loops? Be sure to check out Swarm sister sound libraries – Sci-fi World Colony and Sci-fi World Guardians Ambience Loop Libraries.

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    Each loop is game ready, seamlessly loopable and around 1 minute in length. Each main ambience includes 1-2 alt mix versions + you get a variety of layers to accent your scene and games ambience. Having both full ambiences, alt mixes and layers allows you to truly orchestrate your game’s background sound how you want it. If the full loop has too much going on, then try using the minimal version without the sound you don’t like or by stacking a layer loop to boost the dynamic of the atmosphere.

    Product Details

    • Sci-fi Ambience Loop Library
    • Save time, energy and get quality game audio assets!
    • Includes a variety of locations, tones, and ambiences
    • 25 ambiences loops like an alien cave, energy lab, hangar, sub bay & more
    • 50 minimal versions or alt mixes of full loops
    • 66 loop-able layer loops like Queens Chamber, Termite Mounds, Insect Engines & more!
    • All royalty free
    • RTU-OTB (ready to use out of the box)

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  • AUDIO LAYERING WIZARD


    SoundWeaver helps you design new sounds from existing audio material in less time.

    CREATE MORESKIP THE BUSYWORK

    USE CASES

    • Produce more assets and increase productivity on tight schedules
    • Set up your sound design session with ready-to-use sound combinations
    • Generate variations with ease instead of manually tweaking everything
    • Find new combinations, discover and create new flavors and variety within your library

    WHAT DOES SOUNDWEAVER DO?

    • SoundWeaver automates and randomizes certain parts of your sound design workflow.
    • SoundWeaver searches your sound library with the help of keywords or folder paths and picks matching sounds for your project.
    • Sounds are automatically sorted, grouped, layered, aligned and split into regions (if files contain multiple variations).
    • Now you can pitch, offset, gain, shuffle and randomize individual sounds, groups or the whole project. The possibilities are endless.
    • Take snapshots of your favorite combinations and settings. Create as many variants as you like and return to them later in the process.
    • Drag’n’drop the project into your DAW for further editing or export the final mix.
    • SoundWeaver can generate countless variations from your project during export via pitch, offset and take randomization.


    HOW SOUNDWEAVER HELPS YOUR WORKFLOW

    MORE VARIETY ON TIGHT SCHEDULES
    We all know the situation: A client has asked for 100 new sound assets, 10 variations each, delivered as soon as possible.
    Creating variations in particular requires a lot of meticulous pitching, shifting and switching out elements within your original design.
    With just a few commands, SoundWeaver will automate all of those time-consuming steps for you and generate as many suggestions as you like – so all that’s left for you to do is have a quick listen and keep the ones you like best.
    Focus on your creative process while SoundWeaver takes care of the rest.

    INSPIRATION THROUGH NEW COMBINATIONS
    Speaking of creative process: Once your library has grown beyond a certain point, there is only so much experimenting you can do manually. SoundWeaver’s powerful Randomize feature often generates combinations we’d never think of trying in the first place.
    This opens up a world of new possibilities and is a great way of starting a project.
    Already have an idea? Tell SoundWeaver to build on it and create different flavors.
    Starting empty-handed? Let SoundWeaver set up your session by putting all layers in place.
    Done, but missing that special something? Try out more unlikely sounds with just a few clicks.


    SOUNDWEAVER At A Glance

    KEY FEATURES

    • SoundWeaver automatically picks, slices, aligns and layers sounds
    • Search by keywords, folders or drag’n’drop
    • Pitch, offset, gain, shuffle and switch out individual sounds, groups or the whole project
    • Each of the previous parameters can be randomized.
    • Export: Drag’n’drop the project into your DAW
    • Export as: Individual layers, groups or mixdown
    • Export features: Generate variations using pitch, offset or random takes
    • Take snapshots and return to your favorite combinations, parameter settings and sounds at will

    TECH SPECS

    Format: Standalone Application for Windows & Mac
    Required Hard Disk Space: 30 MB
    Manual: PDF
    License Agreement: PDF
    Available As: Download

    REQUIREMENTS

    SOFTWARE
    SoundWeaver is a standalone application and works without any host audio software.

    SYSTEM
    Windows 7 (64-bit), 8 GB Ram, Intel® Core i5
    Mac OS X 10.9, 8 GB Ram, Intel® Core i5

    ILOK
    SoundWeaver requires a free iLok account

    Available licensing options:
    Machine License activation and USB Dongle (iLok 2 or higher)

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  • City Life Buenos Aires Ambiences Play Track 71 sounds included, 200 mins total $39.99

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    Included is: City airs, botanical gardens, parks, markets, cemetery, city plazas and squares, nature reserve, busy and quiet streets, traffic, crowds, early morning bird chorus, evening airs, construction, airport, department stores, cafes, restaurants, library, church and cathedral, train station, public transit, museum, roomtones, rain.  And a variety of each, with different perspectives and amounts of walla and voices.

    Thank you and we hope you enjoy our recordings

    Buenos Aires Ambiences includes 3 hours of beautiful ambiences of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a massive variety of locations and times of day, this album will not dissapoint!

    Add to cart
  • The Siemens Valero is a high-speed train that is an engineering marvel and a staple of modern high-grade national and transcontinental rail transport, with various versions zipping across the UK, the EU, Russia, and the far reaches of Asia including China. This is a train capable of 290 kilometres per hour (180 mph), it is the high-speed joiner of distant cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. For our recording project, we captured it across a comprehensive range of its speeds. Sennheiser Ambeo microphones were used throughout.

    Recordings were made inside carriages, inside a compartment, down gangways, across the ever-dramatic space connecting railcar vestibules, and also less glorified but vital locations, e.g., the loo. All relevant background sounds are there, including door movements, passenger chatter, objects in motion, and the sounds of the restaurant car. For the characteristic sounds of a great ‘iron horse’, inside and out, this is it. Flysound… Putting the ‘track’ into soundtrack!

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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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    Sounds for this library were recorded over two days in a beautifully maintained rural British Stately Home; a late-18th-century neo-classical mansion. We set out to record any and all aspects of the building and its surroundings. The collection includes doors, windows, fireplaces, clocks, drips, keys and various unusual, period specific props we came across.

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    All of the sounds are authentic and the spaces we recorded in are reverberant, have their own ambience, and have coloured each of the recordings with the natural acoustic of this magnificent building.

    We often set-up with multiple mics to capture different perspectives of the same recordings and these will hopefully offer the user interesting options as they work with these sounds.

    At times we have left our own movements at the beginning and end of recordings, as they captured something of the building's unique acoustic and have proven useful to both of us in our own film work with this library. This is a diverse and versatile library and the recordings take well to pitch and time shifting, and to other plugin manipulation.

    Equipment Used: Sanken CMS-7S, DPA4060, Sennheiser MKH60, Rode NT4, Sound Devices 702T, Sound Devices USB Pre-2, Roland R26

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  • Environments Sci-fi World Swarm Play Track 141 sounds included, 120 mins total $39 $34

    The latest installment in the Epic Stock Media Sci-fi World Sound Effects Series has landed on planet earth. Sci-fi World – Swarm presents a meticulously designed ambience loop library inspired by an insect-like alien race and their quest for dominance in the galaxy. Sci-fi World – Swarm is a collection of over 2 hours of interior and exterior sci-fi background loops.

    With a selection of 141 designed sci-fi loops, you’ll be able to create new worlds effortlessly. Dramatic room tones, custom sci-fi interior and exterior scenes, ambient sounds like; alien cave, energy lab, transport hangar, termite mounds, and Queen’s chambers are all ready to mix, match, stack and layer for the perfect vibe in your production.

    Loops are approximately one minute in length and the ambience loop files include one or two minimal or alt mix versions. Also, sounds are pre-mixed and mastered to high volume so you can mix your tracks for optimal immersion and sonic dynamics without losing fidelity.

    Product details:

    • Sci-fi Ambience Loop Library
    • Includes a variety of locations, tones, and ambiences
    • 24 ambiences loops like alien cave, energy lab, hangar, sub bay & more
    • 49 minimal versions or alt mixes of full loops
    • 68 loop-able layer loops like Queens Chamber, Termite Mounds, Insect Engines & more!
    • All royalty free SFX

    Of course, it’s ready to use in any multi-media production. All of the recordings are royalty-free and RTU-OTB. Need more ambience loops? Be sure to check out Swarm sister sound libraries – Sci-fi World Colony and Sci-fi World Guardians Ambience Loop Libraries.

    13 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580511599
  • Environments Sci-fi World Guardians Play Track 141 sounds included, 120 mins total $39 $34

    Sci-fi World Guardian is a library geared towards multiplayer games, space, dystopias, utopias, fantasy, magical places, serene game moments, RPG, MMO, and sci-fi games all alike and showcases sounds like automated shipyard, electron flow, data mining, engines, mothership hums, conversions, moons of Venus, deserted area, bioengineering lab, desolate space, holy house, a variety of pulses, tech-based loops, winds, & more.

    Each loop is game ready, seamlessly loopable and around 1 minute in length. Each main ambience includes 1-2 alt mix versions + you get a variety of layers to accent your scene and games ambience. Having both full ambiences, alt mixes and layers allows you to truly orchestrate your game’s background sound how you want it. If the full loop has too much going on, then try using the minimal version without the sound you don’t like or by stacking a layer loop to boost the dynamic of the atmosphere.

    Product Details

    • Sci-fi Ambience Loop Library
    • Save time, energy and get quality game audio assets!
    • Includes a variety of locations, tones, and ambiences
    • 25 ambiences loops like an alien cave, energy lab, hangar, sub bay & more
    • 50 minimal versions or alt mixes of full loops
    • 66 loop-able layer loops like Queens Chamber, Termite Mounds, Insect Engines & more!
    • All royalty free
    • RTU-OTB (ready to use out of the box)

    13 %
    OFF
    Ends 1580511599
  • AUDIO LAYERING WIZARD


    SoundWeaver helps you design new sounds from existing audio material in less time.

    CREATE MORESKIP THE BUSYWORK

    USE CASES

    • Produce more assets and increase productivity on tight schedules
    • Set up your sound design session with ready-to-use sound combinations
    • Generate variations with ease instead of manually tweaking everything
    • Find new combinations, discover and create new flavors and variety within your library

    WHAT DOES SOUNDWEAVER DO?

    • SoundWeaver automates and randomizes certain parts of your sound design workflow.
    • SoundWeaver searches your sound library with the help of keywords or folder paths and picks matching sounds for your project.
    • Sounds are automatically sorted, grouped, layered, aligned and split into regions (if files contain multiple variations).
    • Now you can pitch, offset, gain, shuffle and randomize individual sounds, groups or the whole project. The possibilities are endless.
    • Take snapshots of your favorite combinations and settings. Create as many variants as you like and return to them later in the process.
    • Drag’n’drop the project into your DAW for further editing or export the final mix.
    • SoundWeaver can generate countless variations from your project during export via pitch, offset and take randomization.


    HOW SOUNDWEAVER HELPS YOUR WORKFLOW

    MORE VARIETY ON TIGHT SCHEDULES
    We all know the situation: A client has asked for 100 new sound assets, 10 variations each, delivered as soon as possible.
    Creating variations in particular requires a lot of meticulous pitching, shifting and switching out elements within your original design.
    With just a few commands, SoundWeaver will automate all of those time-consuming steps for you and generate as many suggestions as you like – so all that’s left for you to do is have a quick listen and keep the ones you like best.
    Focus on your creative process while SoundWeaver takes care of the rest.

    INSPIRATION THROUGH NEW COMBINATIONS
    Speaking of creative process: Once your library has grown beyond a certain point, there is only so much experimenting you can do manually. SoundWeaver’s powerful Randomize feature often generates combinations we’d never think of trying in the first place.
    This opens up a world of new possibilities and is a great way of starting a project.
    Already have an idea? Tell SoundWeaver to build on it and create different flavors.
    Starting empty-handed? Let SoundWeaver set up your session by putting all layers in place.
    Done, but missing that special something? Try out more unlikely sounds with just a few clicks.


    SOUNDWEAVER At A Glance

    KEY FEATURES

    • SoundWeaver automatically picks, slices, aligns and layers sounds
    • Search by keywords, folders or drag’n’drop
    • Pitch, offset, gain, shuffle and switch out individual sounds, groups or the whole project
    • Each of the previous parameters can be randomized.
    • Export: Drag’n’drop the project into your DAW
    • Export as: Individual layers, groups or mixdown
    • Export features: Generate variations using pitch, offset or random takes
    • Take snapshots and return to your favorite combinations, parameter settings and sounds at will

    TECH SPECS

    Format: Standalone Application for Windows & Mac
    Required Hard Disk Space: 30 MB
    Manual: PDF
    License Agreement: PDF
    Available As: Download

    REQUIREMENTS

    SOFTWARE
    SoundWeaver is a standalone application and works without any host audio software.

    SYSTEM
    Windows 7 (64-bit), 8 GB Ram, Intel® Core i5
    Mac OS X 10.9, 8 GB Ram, Intel® Core i5

    ILOK
    SoundWeaver requires a free iLok account

    Available licensing options:
    Machine License activation and USB Dongle (iLok 2 or higher)

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1581116399
  • City Life Buenos Aires Ambiences Play Track 71 sounds included, 200 mins total $39.99

    Buenos Aires Ambiences features 71 beautifully and professionally recorded ambient sounds of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, with their rich and unique Spanish dialect, a variety of perspectives, locations, and times of day, everything is categorized with metadata input via Basehead Ultra, and mastered in Protools HD.  We originally recorded over 80gb of data which translated to 42 hours and meticulously cut it down to 6.5gb/3 hours and 20 min of the best and most useful ambiences.

    Included is: City airs, botanical gardens, parks, markets, cemetery, city plazas and squares, nature reserve, busy and quiet streets, traffic, crowds, early morning bird chorus, evening airs, construction, airport, department stores, cafes, restaurants, library, church and cathedral, train station, public transit, museum, roomtones, rain.  And a variety of each, with different perspectives and amounts of walla and voices.

    Thank you and we hope you enjoy our recordings

    Buenos Aires Ambiences includes 3 hours of beautiful ambiences of downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a massive variety of locations and times of day, this album will not dissapoint!

  • The Siemens Valero is a high-speed train that is an engineering marvel and a staple of modern high-grade national and transcontinental rail transport, with various versions zipping across the UK, the EU, Russia, and the far reaches of Asia including China. This is a train capable of 290 kilometres per hour (180 mph), it is the high-speed joiner of distant cities such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. For our recording project, we captured it across a comprehensive range of its speeds. Sennheiser Ambeo microphones were used throughout.

    Recordings were made inside carriages, inside a compartment, down gangways, across the ever-dramatic space connecting railcar vestibules, and also less glorified but vital locations, e.g., the loo. All relevant background sounds are there, including door movements, passenger chatter, objects in motion, and the sounds of the restaurant car. For the characteristic sounds of a great ‘iron horse’, inside and out, this is it. Flysound… Putting the ‘track’ into soundtrack!

 
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