recording sound effects in yellowstone Asbjoern Andersen

Experienced sound supervisor and SFX editor Tim Nielsen has worked on movies like Lord Of The Rings, Maleficent, Avatar and countless other – and now he’s releasing Yellowstone, his first independent sound effect library.

It’s a special collection of geyser eruptions, mud puddles and much more, recorded in Yellowstone National Park. In this exclusive A Sound Effect feature, he gives an inside-look at how the library was created:


Hi Tim, congratulations on the SFX library release! Please introduce yourself:

Hi! My name is Tim Nielsen and I’m a supervising sound editor and sound designer, FX editor, sound effects recordist. I’ve been doing this about 15 years now and have always been recording as much as I can!

What made you take the plunge on releasing an independent SFX library?

I’ve been giving it some thought for years. As I began to see some really talented people out there, Frank Bry, Michael Rafael, Colin Hart, Tim Prebble, Mikkel Nielsen and others, as I saw them producing really quality work, in nicely focused libraries, I thought ‘this is fantastic’.

As I saw them producing really quality work, in nicely focused libraries, I thought ‘this is fantastic’.

So I’ve been thinking about it for years actually. But I’ve also been so busy that I haven’t found the time to deal with all the infrastructure of setting up a site, figuring out payment, digital delivery, etc. So it’s been on the back burner for some time.


How did you come up with the idea for Yellowstone?

I was actually on my way to Vancouver to do a film Journey to the Center of the Earth, and I knew that some geothermal sounds would be needed. I also had visited Yellowstone years before, and I absolutely fell in love. It’s my favorite place on earth. So before I took the plunge and moved to Vancouver, I took a month, traveling around the western US, and spent a full week in Yellowstone, getting up at 3am to get as much time recording without people. But to me these sounds are so unique.

Every feature in Yellowstone has its own character. From the gentlest bubbling like Ear Spring, or Tea Kettle Spring, to the Mud Pots that bubble with such character, to Puff-N-Stuff geyser, to Dragon’s Mouth Spring… And then the big geysers, especially Castle, which is the largest I recorded, such immense power, to stand near it going off is to stand in awe. I also haven’t seen anyone selling anything quite like this.

It was something I thought would make a great first library, as they’re really for me some of my favorite recordings I’ve ever made.

I’ve shared the library personally with a few close friends over the years, and they’ve all been interested in it. It was something I thought would make a great first library, as they’re really for me some of my favorite recordings I’ve ever made.


How did you find the sources you wanted to record in Yellowstone? Did you plan things in advance, or did you just go exploring?

I had remembered a lot of the sounds from a trip years earlier, and I knew aside from some minor geothermal places in Northern California, that Yellowstone would by far the best place. I didn’t plan too much. I gave myself a week there, rising very early and walking and recording all day. While some features erupt and perform with regularity, others are much less predictable.

I’m sure I could go back again and get an entirely different set of recordings, the features are always changing. But I walked all the main geyser basins, gathering as many features as I could. It was October, so it was getting quite cold and already snowing. But the crowds were less, which helped. It’s not such an easy place to record. Lots of people visit, and they all crowd around the same features. The roads are in close proximity to a lot of the main features too. Luckily the park entrances are open 24 hours a day, so I could get in early and avoid the crowds for a few hours each day.

In the hotel room, gearing up for another recording session

In the hotel room, gearing up for another recording session

What were the recording sessions like, and what sort of equipment did you use?

For years my main rig has been a 722 with a Schoeps MS rig (CMC6 XT extended frequency bodies with an MK41 and MK8 capsules). It’s really the rig I use 90% of the time, and if it was the only rig I had, I’ve be quite content.

For this trip I mounted the mics in a DPA Windpac, which is nice and light, so I could put it all on the end of a 15’ boom. This really helped get closer to some of the features I might not otherwise have been able to get close to. One day I took out my Telinga Stereo Parabolic, and was able to get some interesting material with that as well. It’s such a unique mic. I really love that one too.

Did anything catch you by surprise making the library?

The recording of Daisy Geyser, I happen to be walking past it, I had been waiting for over an hour earlier in the day and given up. As I was walking past, it went active.

It was a strange sensation to be getting doused with endless hot water and freezing temperatures.

I knew it was a short eruption, so I went into record, and proceeded to get completely saturated. The air temperature was about 20 degrees, the water temperature quite hot, so it was a strange sensation to be getting doused with endless hot water and freezing temperatures. Lots of funny looks from tourists, one who demanded his picture taken with me when he found out what I was doing. One day I saw one of Yellowstone’s wolf packs running on the other side of a river from me. That was pretty cool.


You’re releasing the library in collaboration with Mikkel Nielsen from Sonicsalute. How did this come into place?

As I mentioned before I had been thinking about setting up my own site for quite some time. I had also thought over the years of just selling some sounds through some other friend’s websites, etc. But for years I didn’t act much on it.

I recently did a mix in Copenhagen for a friend Peter Albrechtsen, who is close friends with Mikkel and uses him to record sounds on most of his films. So I had the pleasure of finally meeting him, and knew immediately he was someone I’d like to team up with. He’s simply one of the most talented, and genuinely kind people I’ve met. He offered that if I ever wanted to sell some sounds through his website, I was welcome. So after a bit more thought, I realized it was a great solution.

He has the whole business set up, can handle delivery and payment and all the things that I’m often too busy to deal with. And he’s one of the best recordists out there working today. I’m honored to partner up with him on this, and hopefully quite a few more, libraries. Obviously we’ll see how this one is received. I hope people enjoy the sounds!


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Thanks to Tim Nielsen for sharing this behind-the-scenes look at the making of Yellowstone!
Get the full collection of around 4 hours (!) of unique sounds from Yellowstone right here:
  • Environments Yellowstone Play Track 120 sounds included, 238 mins total $50

    Yellowstone is a unique sound effect library created by renowned sound supervisor and SFX editor Tim Nielsen, featuring giant geysers, bubbling mud pots, fumaroles, hot springs, water streams and much more.

    Add to cart

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