Asbjoern Andersen

Sound designer and recordist Tobias Vukadinovic spent 3.5 months traveling India, looking for unique sounds to record. He found a lot – and now, he’s just released his brand-new SFX India Ambience library, featuring more than three hours of great-sounding recordings. In this exclusive A Sound Effect Q&A, he shares how he did it:

Hi Tobias, please introduce yourself:

Hi, thanks for interviewing me. My name is Tobias Vukadinovic and I live and work primarily in Cologne / Germany. Actually, I have my roots in the electronic music. But after finishing my audio engineering study in 2002 I got more and more into film audio post production, and finished an additional media design education in 2013. At that time I worked in the biggest studio in Cologne for audio post production. After a while I wanted some change, and I also wanted to go out with the mics.

I then decided to found Tovusound in October 2013. Tovusound is a group of 5 audio engineers who work as freelancers and gather according to project and size. Tovusound’s first own film sound project “Pianisten” was featured in Cannes this year. And by cooperating with Colightning Media Productions, we also work on sound design for apps and web videos.

You’ve just released India Ambience – what’s included in the library?

The main focus of India Ambience lies unambiguously in the atmospheres of India. I love atmos and the more authentic they are, the better the whole result becomes. Many wonderful natural environments are included, daytime and nighttime recordings, lively surroundings like markets, railway stations and trains, and of course the cities with the vehicles. Many people in public places – and even praying in temples is covered.

How did the idea for an Indian SFX library come about?

A friend of mine got married in India, and this German / Indian wedding should be accompanied by a film team. The production company asked me to handle the audio part. Because my project planning allowed it and I could extend my India stay, I was able to bring a few more mics to record this library. In total I ended up traveling India for 3.5 months, constantly looking for the very best sounds of India.

How did you decide what sounds to record for it? And what was your recording setup?

For me it was important to come home with sounds I couldn’t easily find elsewhere – or make – in post production. The subject was clearly defined: I wanted the atmospheres, the people and not the standard stuff which could have been recorded anywhere.

I knew that I couldn’t bring a lot of equipment with me and decided to take a small setup. As a stereo pair I had two Neumann KM184 microphones with me which I prefer to the Shoeps. I find that they sound more real, and they make for less work in post. For some special situations I used a Sennheiser Shotgun. I used the small Sounddevices MixPre as preamp, and the Tascam DA60 which I had with me for the shooting as recorder. Also, some Rycote Softies were used.

To be able to take up more intimate sounds, I have built a small rack system. Inside I installed a firm ORTF mic setup, the preamp and the Tascam. Together with a tailor we have developed an outside cover from a very thin fiber.
This special rack could be positioned where I wanted without attracting too much attention – and it was really worth it! This intimacy can be heard in many sounds.

This special rack could be positioned where I wanted without attracting too much attention – and it was really worth it!


What was the hardest sound to capture?

That’s easy, the Shivaratri festival in Gokarna. I knew about this popular event in India and of course wanted to be present in the middle of it. The festival itself took place to honour the god Shiva, and they towed an excessively big and ramshackle wooden construction through the streets. Not only the divinity takes a seat in the carriage, but also about 70 priests who struggle for this honour.

When I stood in the narrow lane before this carriage, I thought: Oh my god, how can I record this inside such absolute chaos?

I was already in the area days before, and as the locals around me started getting nervous, I thought it’d better to have a look at the location where the spectacle should take place. About 100.000 visitors were expected, and when I stood in the narrow lane before this carriage, I thought: Oh my god, how can I record this inside such absolute chaos?

For me recording with a Zoom holding up in the air was out of question and I had to quickly decide where to put the mics. Luckily I met Mani, a pigment colour shop owner direct beside the street. After also he had tried to sell something to me, I brought up the festival and explained him my plan to catch the sound of this event.

He liked this idea and wanted to help me out. Mani had a sort of bar and a roof in front of his shop where I could place the mics on the the day of the event.

He even gave me an escape route through his house, which was a big relief!

Excitedly I was there early and could position the mics. The energy in the place was unique. People were drumming, shouting and made noise with everything they could find. The moment the carriages started moving I couldn’t breathe. 100.000 people started yelling at once. My eyes didn’t move from the peak level and I was hoping not to cross the sound pressure limit of the mics. When the rattling carriage passed by, a stone fell from of my heart; no clipping, no distortion, everything well recorded – the energy was captured!

If I listen to these sounds in the library now, I immediately get goosebumps again!

Want free Rickshaw recordings? You got it
Tobias has put together a special, free SFX library of rickshaw recordings. 28 recordings are included in the free Rickshaw SFX pack – and you can get it right here.

Any favorite sounds in there?

Yes, beside the Shivaratri sounds, there are others. I was on top of a hill in a Hanuman temple close to Hampi. It took more than 30 minutes to climb up the mountain. I was there to record the monks with their prayer songs, and was impressed with the silence on this hill.

Thus I decided to take some atmos behind the temple. Now I sat there, with the recording equipment set up and enjoyed the silence. I pressed record – and out of nothing, a huge group of monkeys came running from behind! Approx. 40, to the right and left of me, they shrieked and most jumped on the only tree at the end of the platform. Some stayed down beside me and kept an eye on my activity. Honestly I was a bit scared and if I had not already been sitting, I would probably have fallen over completely.

Now I know why they call it the monkey mountain. And yes, everything was recorded!

Any word on what your next library will be?

OK, why not. The last weeks we’ve worked hard on the algorithm of foley footsteps and did a lot of tests and recordings.

I know foleys are indispensable, but also expensive. And sometimes there’s no budget for them on smaller projects. Stay tuned for more info on this project. We’ll also expand our CityBeeps series, and do a wicked sound patch for cartoons. So there’s lots of exciting stuff on the way!


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A big thanks to Tobias Vukadinovic for this behind-the-scenes look at his Indian recording adventures!

Hear a preview of the library below, and get the full library – with more than 3 hours of authentic Indian atmospheres – below. Update: For a limited time – and as a very nice gesture to A Sound Effect readers -, you get a special 10% discount on the library!

  • Environments India AMBIENCE Play Track 178 sounds included, 184 mins total $79

    Tovusound's India Ambience sample library brings you the sound of India to your audio productions.

    This fascinating library contains sounds and ambiences of big cities, beautiful nature, people and vehicles, features interior as well as outdoor recordings from India.

    Add to cart
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One thought on “Recording Adventures: Capturing the Authentic Sounds of India

  1. Would be nice if we could hear that group of monkeys in a temple.
    Is it possible to hear it somewhere. Soundcloud?

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