Pacific Northwest sound ambiences Asbjoern Andersen


Experienced sound designer and recordist Andy Martin is making big plans: He wants to capture the sounds of the Pacific Northwest in the US in a way it’s never been done before, and he’s planning on spending a year doing it. To make the project a reality, he’s just launched a Kickstarter campaign, and below he explains the idea and approach for this big project – and how you can help make it happen:
 

Hi Andy, please introduce yourself and the Northwest Soundscapes Project:

Hi Asbjoern! My name is Andy Martin. I’ve been a commercial, television, feature film, and video game sound designer for over fifteen years. My credits include video games such as Grim Fandango and the inFAMOUS franchise and animated TV and films such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

I’m also an active field recordist. In my work, I’ve always sought out the most unique recording sources I can. Since moving to Seattle in 2007, I’ve been slowly recording and documenting my way across the Northwest. Most of my recording trips have been for my own purposes and collection as I experimented with differing recording techniques, and were not planned for commercial use. Now I want to return to previous locations and explore new destinations to document them properly.

Andy packed and ready to go

Andy packed and ready to go

The Northwest Soundscapes Project is a year-long series of field recordings from the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The series is divided into two libraries: Natural Location Open Air Impulse Responses and Natural Soundscapes of the Northwest. The Pacific Northwest, or PNW, is an area that covers roughly just North of San Francisco to the Canadian border, from the ocean coast to the Eastern edges of Washington and Oregon. If you’ve ever heard the term “Cascadia”, it’s somewhat synonymous with the PNW. The focus for this project will be primarily in the states of Washington and north-central Oregon.

Rather than just being “another ambience library”, the Natural Soundscapes collection has three goals: 1) environmental variety, 2) length — up to 30 minute long individual recordings, 3) comprehensiveness — multiple times of day at every location, covering at least dawn, mid-day, and dusk.
 

How did the idea for the Northwest Soundscapes Project come about, and what’s your goal for it?

The idea originally came about on a lark and frustration. I spend a lot of time recording. While working on inFAMOUS Second Son I became enamored with bird recording. All of the birds you hear in the game were recorded within the city or over in Bellevue, WA, where our office is based. There was a lot of effort and use of isotope RX to clean up the recordings and make them useful, let me tell you!

As I spent more and more time learning about bird recording, I began making soundscape recordings in a way I’d never done before. For influence, I read Gordon Hempton’s “One Square Inch of Silence” — it’s in the PNW, by the way! — and Bernie Krause’s wonderful “Great Animal Orchestra”. They helped me realize that what I was listening to was not just a cacophony of wildlife calling out to each other, but a carefully orchestrated soundscape of voices working with and around one another and the landscape to survive. An orchestrated soundscape, by the way, that we humans are increasingly tone deaf to and that is under threat by every plane that flies overhead and every car that drives through.

Another deep influence has been Trevor Cox’s “The Sound Book”, a travelogue of sorts about acoustics both natural and manmade and about how our brains understand what they hear. His book helped me understand that it’s not just the voices of the wildlife working together that make up the sonic palette, but it also the landscape itself. There’s a “feel” to every location based on the particular structures, materials, their densities and shapes. The wildlife in Hempton’s and Krause’s books evolved to inhabit these locations and their voices make use of it.

It made me realize that capturing the soundscape of a place is more than just capturing the sounds over an extended period.

One day, while recording in the forests, I brought along a small bag of balloons (a lesson learned from “The Sound Book”) and burst one in the middle of a dense cottonwood forest. I took the recording home and immediately tried using it as an impulse in Audioease’s Altiverb. The result was… enlightening. While it wasn’t the best impulse in the world, it made me realize that capturing the soundscape of a place is more than just capturing the sounds over an extended period. It meant capturing the space itself. I arranged to haul a speaker out on my next trip and conducted some sweep-based reverb impulse captures and was hooked.

At that point the idea was set: I wanted to create a massive library containing a huge variety of open air impulse responses and natural soundscapes. How I was going to make that happen, and how I was going to share it with the world would be questions I had to answer.

How you can help make the project a reality:

Andy Martin has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the project off the ground. Get more details about it, and find out how you can help, here.

 

What’s so special about the Pacific Northwest in terms of sound – and what are some of the locations you’re looking to capture?

The PNW encompasses a vast variety of environments and eco-regions, from old growth forests with some of the tallest and most massive trees on earth to high desert plains of volcanic tuff, thundering ocean shores to quiet moss-laden secluded areas where you can hear your heart beat, tall mountain peaks to water-carved canyons.

To make this all the more magical, much of this is contained in protected National Parks and Forests, encompassing some of the largest tracts of undeveloped wilderness remaining in North America

It’s an area of North America with ecological and climatic extremes within a relatively short distance from each other. In a half-day drive you move from desert to glacier-covered volcano to dense forest to ocean.
To make this all the more magical, much of this is contained in protected National Parks and Forests, encompassing some of the largest tracts of undeveloped wilderness remaining in North America. This means they are also some of the largest tracts of open soundscape in North America with long, unbroken periods without anthropogenic — human-created — sound. Humanity being what it is, those periods are shrinking every day. Even without an ever-present onslaught of human sounds, the soundscape has still be irreparably harmed by human influence, from previous deforestation to loss of species that once filled out the sonic world even more than now.

The Columbia Platea

The Columbia Platea

With the dramatic changes in landscape and ecological regions comes the accompanying variety of wildlife and soundscapes. What we hope to capture with the Northwest Soundscapes Project is the variety of natural soundscapes as they are today to represent them in the future. With that in mind, it’s not so much the specific locations that we hope to record but the rich variety. Sure, we’ll be visiting and re-visiting a few specific locations such as Trout Lake, a natural refuge formed thousands of years ago when a glacial dam on Mount Adams burst, flooding the valley below, and the Columbia Plateau, known as a major destination for migrating birds.

We’ll also be visiting the remnant desolation of Mt Saint Helens, still trying to return to life thirty-five years after it erupted so cataclysmically. I’m particularly excited to make my first trips out to the Northeastern Rockies, the grasslands of the eastern-central Washington, and the Blue Mountains in central Oregon. Living in Seattle, these regions are normally too far away for me to take in on a day trip, and I usually spend my recording time in the Cascade Mountains and volcanos or in the Olympic Peninsula. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
 


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

 

Latest releases:  
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

    Add to cart
  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
    Add to cart
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
    Add to cart

Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

Any sounds or locations you’re particularly looking forward to recording?

Not to sound facetious, but all of it!

What I’m looking forward to most are locations that are far outside my normal range in the Cascade Mountain foothills. There’s a decommissioned nuclear missile base far out in the middle of Washington that I’ll camping at in May. It’s privately owned now and nestled way out in the prairie.

I’ve become enamored with coyotes calling during the night and listening to their voices echo and bounce around

While one doesn’t normally think, “nuclear missile base” and “natural soundscape”, the exciting part lays in its remoteness and that its centrally located to use as a basecamp for traveling up into the Rocky Mountains. Camping out in the middle of the prairie is exciting itself. I’m hoping to record a lot of coyotes and birds-of-prey on this trip. I’ve become enamored with coyotes calling during the night and listening to their voices echo and bounce around.

The Hoh Rainforest during winter

The Hoh Rainforest during winter

Also expect a lot of forest recording. From new forest to old-growth we’ve got a lot of it in in the PNW. Hardwood and softwood, deciduous and coniferous, it all reverberates differently when excited by a sine sweep, and it all sounds different when you sit down and listen.

Being able to really illustrate that for others is exciting to me.
 
 
 
 

What’s your recording setup for the project – and how do you plan on capturing the ambiences and impulses?

All Natural Soundscape recordings will be multi-channel recordings made with Sennheiser MKH and MKH8000 series microphones via a Sound Devices 744t recorder at 192khz sample rate and 24-bit depth. This is similar to current configuration, but with added channels! My regular go-to rig is a Sound Devices 702 with Sennheiser MKH30+MKH8020 microphones for stereo omni-mid-side recording. I really like the openness and spatiality of the omni-mid-side pattern, so will retain that for the front channels, adding an ORTF configuration of MKH 8040s for the rears.

All Natural Location Open Air Impulse Responses will be recorded with the same microphone configuration, but the 744t will act as a backup recorder, passing through via an AES digital connection to an interface on my MacBookPro laptop. I use Impulse Response Utility to playback and record the sweep through an Adam A8X speaker.
 

It’s a one-year endeavour – can you give an estimated timeline for the project?

The biggest hurdle is the Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it is successful, finishing the supplemental gear acquisition will occur during the month of April. After that it’s off we go! My goal is to have the first expedition ready by the end of April, but any delays in funding or acquisition could set it back to May.

Assuming it is successful, finishing the supplemental gear acquisition will occur during the month of April. After that it’s off we go!

Expeditions are generally set for the third week of every month, lasting 4-6 days depending on destination. Editing and mastering will commence immediately.

Deliveries will be rolled out to Kickstarter backers on a rolling basis as assets are completed. The final recording expedition will wrap a year later in April or May 2017 with the library complete in July 2017.
 

How can people help make the project happen?

Simple! By going to northwestsoundscapes.com! For the duration of the campaign, northwestsoundscapes.com will forward directly to the Kickstarter campaign page. After the campaign is complete, northwestsoundscapes.com will revert to a blog and travelogue for the project but will also have a storefront link for anyone who missed the campaign, offering the same early-bird buy-in discounts as the Kickstarter, but without the extra Kickstarter goodies (sorry!).

 

Please share this:


 

A big thanks to Andy Martin for sharing the story behind his ambitious new project. Help make the project a reality on the Kickstarter page here.

 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • City Life Collected Ambiences Play Track 33-380 sounds included From: $30 From: $15

    Each SFX library in the “Collected Ambiences” series features 33 Stereo Ambiences from many different locations.
    The series includes ambiences such as Public Spaces, Roomtones, Drones, Forests, City, Train, Bus ride, Rain and many (many!) more.

    Collected Ambiences highlights:

    Vol 1: Airplane Landing/Take Off, Backyards, City, Car Wash, Residential Area, Construction Site, Birds, Fireworks, Crowd, Train, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 3.85 GB, 111 minutes

    Vol 2: Car Wash, Chop Shop, Backyard, City, Residential Area, Fireworks, Construction Site, Supermarket, Train, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 3.58 GB, 103 minutes

    Vol 3: City, Birds, Crows, Pedestrian Area, Residential Area, Bus, Roomtone, Village Fair, Weekly Market, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 3.45 GB, 100 minutes

    Vol 4: City, Traffic, Birds, Funfair, Pedestrian Area, Residential Area, Bus, Roomtone, Shopping Mall, Train, Roomtone, Drone and more. 33 files, 4,69 GB, 136 minutes

    Vol 5: City, Park, Train Station, Plaza, Birds, Crows, Pedestrian Area, Residential Area, Bus, Roomtone, Village Fair, Weekly Market, Roomtone and more. 33 files, 4.66 GB, 135 minutes

    Vol 6: Public Spaces, Roomtones, Forests, City, Small Towns, Country Side, Rain and more. 33 files, 4.65 GB, 134 minutes

    Vol 7: City, countryside, creek, forest, park, open-air bath, small town, water park and more. 33 files, 4.9 GB, 147 minutes

    Vol 8: Public Spaces, Roomtones, Public Bath, City, Busride, Farm and more. 33 files, 5.14 GB, 148 minutes

    Vol 9: Public Spaces, Industrial, Animal Shelter, Factory, Mall Food Courts, City, Park, Schoolyard and more. 33 files, 4.62 GB, 129 minutes

    Vol 10: Public Spaces, Gym, Train Interiors, Fireworks, Public Bath, , City, Train, Busride, Rain and Wind, Wind and many more. 50 files, 8.94 GB, 248 minutes

    Vol 11: Beach, Public Space, City, Rain, Wind, Weekly Market, Bistro and many more. 33 Files, 4.93 GB, 122 minutes

    All recorded with Sound Devices 744T, Sennheiser MKh8040 ORTF, Beyerdynamic MC930 ORTF, RODE NT4 or Sony PCM-D100. All files were cleaned, edited and most of the files loop seamlessly.

    Please check the Content Lists below for each library to see what the full list of ambiences in each library – and if you get all 10 Collections together, you land some great savings compared to the individual collection prices.

    60 %
    OFF
  • Ever wondered how to get the creatures, beasts and monsters in your project as badass and nasty as possible?

    This collection is filled with high-quality sound effects that let your clients tremble in their seats. The curated package comes with everything you need: Vocals like attacks, breaths, threats, alerts, idle sounds, die screams and foley sounds such as bodyfalls, steps and movement.

    With this set of handpicked sounds you have the world of cinematic creature sound design at your fingertips.

     

    The Library includes:

    Beast, Coloss, Dwarf, Fishman, Gnome, Golem, Hellhound, Imp, Insect, Kraken, Minotaur, Ogre, Orc, Reptile, Witch, Wraith, Yeti, Zombie, Attack, Breath, Death, Idle, Step, Threaten, Voice, Foley

    Add to cart
  • User Interface (UI) Advanced UI Play Track 928 sounds included, 21 mins total $59 $49

    Looking for UI sound effects? The Advanced UI collection gets you a wide range of interface sound effects – from natural, organic and minimal pops, beeps and chirps to 8-Bit, hybrid and highly processed, electronic and digital SFX that will complete almost any project where UI/UX sounds are required. + Includes embedded Soundminer meta data.

    Designed for use in animations, video games, mobile apps, motion graphics, film, software development and industrial design projects, Advanced UI is a perfect fit for getting user interface sounds just right.

    17 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Vehicles Skate on Board Play Track 112 sounds included, 22 mins total $49.99

    Skate on Board is an SFX library with the purpose of bringing alive the hidden sounds of skateboarding. This library has 65 stereo recordings with the best sound quality of actions such as jumps, pass by, and grinds over different surfaces like concrete banquets, and rail tubes. Furthermore, this library contains 47 mono audios of P.O.V perspectives which were reordered with different microphones attached to the skateboard to capture the full maneuvers and details of skateboarding.

  • The west is still wild.  A collection of clean and loopable natural ambient atmosphere elements – each 3 minutes long. This collection represents my best content and works great in multitrack layers.

    The core of this collection are natural sounds captured in the wilds of Oregon, USA – Western North America. The wildlife in the forests, streams, lakes, coast, and deserts of Oregon are a good substitute for most US and Canadian states west of the Rocky Mountains, including Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, British Colombia, Alberta, Alaska, and Wyoming.

    These recordings are from a pristine environment that avoid any human caused sounds.

    22 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Animals & Creatures Broken Robot Play Track 87 sounds included $12.99 $6.99

    This library is a small “utility” collection of sounds great for use as Robot/Machines but also great for UI and Weapon design elements.  Servos, various metal objects and analog synths were recorded as source material to create this library.  The library includes raw servo recordings and meticulously performed or designed robotic/machine-like sounds.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

    46 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Electricity Electric Arcs and Energy Play Track 266 sounds included $39.99 $19.99

    Electric Arcs and Energy is essentially two separate collections of sounds.  The first, Electrical Arcs are more raw.  These arc sounds can be manipulated and mangled to be used as design elements in your project.  They are highly flexible and can easily be pitch-shifted -48 semitones or more.  They remain remarkably useful and clean giving each sound multiple “dimensions”.

    The Electrical Energy collection is a series of more specified design elements that I created – Impacts and Powerups.  Meant to be used in Weapon or UI design they should be flexible enough to be used as stand-alone effects or layers in more complex sounds.

    Recording and Editing

    This library was designed from scratch by recording highly unconventional metal sources with a cello bow and processing them (see one example in video). Great care was taken during the recording and editing process to ensure maximum flexibility of these sounds.  The recording was done at 24/192kHz using the Sennheiser MKH 2050 mic which captures frequencies up to 50kHz.  All processing and design was then performed at 192kHz.

    Bonus – Forge Sound Design Tool Sample Map

    If you own the Forge Sound Design Toolkit this library also comes with a specially curated sample map.  The sample map can be loaded into the sampler for randomization and the creation of more complex sounds.

     

    50 %
    OFF
    Ends 1566943200
  • Whooshes liftFX Play Track 275+ sounds included $89 $71.20

    AWE YOUR AUDIENCE WITH RISERS, BUILD-UPS, DROPS AND MORE.
    Risers, build-ups, drops, breaks, downlifters, swells, sweeps, falls – it has never been so easy to hype your audience. Forget samples, just turn the knob or let liftFX even do that for you, automatically, in beat sync at the length you need it to be.

    KEY FEATURES:

    • Playable in real-time with instant auditive and visual feedback
    • Any length, tempo, pitch range and root note possible
    • Tempo sync or time (s) duration
    • Control key parameters independently or automatically (+ reversed)
    • Automation and modwheel (cc1) support for each parameter
    • 275 nifty presets included
    • Optional time lock and control lock to try different presets with current setting
    • High cut and low cut filters, reverb and delay
    • Lightweight plug-in, as it relies on synthesis
    USE CASES:

    • Build captivating uplifters, downlifters, drops, rhythmic, percussive builds and more effects out of the box
    • Any electronic genre such as EDM, Trap, Dubstep, Pop, Hip Hop, Drum’n’Bass, House, Techno, and more
    • Cinematic and experimental sound design
    • Beef up your synthesizers with tonal layers or harmonic overtones to achieve a fat, rich sound
    • liftFX requires a free iLok account (click to learn more)
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1567116000
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.