swedish sound wilderness Asbjoern Andersen


To a growing number of recordists and sound designers, independent sound effects is more than a source of new sounds - it's a way of life. Now, a group of die-hard recordists are taking things to the extreme in their quest for sonic purity - and in the process, they're inventing a whole new category of sound effects. Please note the publishing date, btw :)
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Gunnar Hagsmäl may be a new name to many in the sound community – and there’s a good reason for that. For the past 12 years, he’s been living completely off the grid in the remote wilderness of northern Sweden. But now he’s back for a brief spell to share the story behind his new project. And when he returns to the wilderness, he’s taking 6 other recordists and sound designers with him. As a huge supporter of sustainable living, I was excited to hear his story – here it is:
 

Hi Gunnar, you’re planning on taking independent sound effects to the next level – how, exactly?

Let’s start with ‘why’. What’s the first thing you think of when I say sound effects? Correct, it’s not the environment or carbon emissions – and that’s too bad. Think about it: We have all these recordists traveling halfway around the globe to capture the sounds of some oddball animal, blowing up stuff to capture yet another explosion sound, or doing seemingly endless laps with a car for a vehicle sound library. How sustainable is that? It’s not, and I’m changing that right now – well, in a couple of weeks anyway.
 

So what’s your plan?

I’m launching a new type of sound effects, and here’s what I call them: Sustainable sound effects. Why? Well, the environmental impact from these sound effects with be exactly 0% – and this goes for everything from recording, editing and even delivering them.

To create them, I’m setting up a commune in northern Sweden. For now, it’s essentially just a small hut, but in time, it’ll be a place where recordists, sound designers and editors can live off the grid, ideally for years and even decades – producing some of the purest, most sustainable sounds the world has ever heard.

the swedish sound commune_

The location of the Swedish sound commune

I’ve spent years finding the perfect spot in the woods, free from flight paths, highways, country roads, pets, pests, people, radio waves, sine waves, pollution and other interruptions. In short, there’s simply no-one else around, except for our group of pioneering creatives.
 

What sort of sounds are you looking to capture?

We’ll of course have unlimited access to some absolutely pristine nature locations, so there’s that covered. We’re also building a zoo, featuring a selection of what I call run-of-the-mill animals. These are animals that, from a sound perspective, cover most of the bases when it comes to animal vocalisations. And, for added coverage, I’ve domesticated most of the local wildlife.

We’re also building a zoo, featuring a selection of what I call run-of-the-mill animals

We’ve got plenty of space, so we’ll also be building the world’s largest Foley pit.

How about vehicles, spacecraft and the like, you may ask. We’ll be using something called the Rambly technique, which will cover those categories too.

So, all in all, we can essentially do everything and anything when it comes to sound – and again, do it greener than anyone else in the world.
 

What about equipment?

We all have our existing recording gear and laptops and we’ll be using those to begin with. It goes without saying that, within a year or two, we expect to have essentially recreated these using whatever natural materials we can find up there.

As proof of concept, I’ve already built a working replica of a Zoom H4n using nothing but logs, bark, leaves from a Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum and a patch of old moss. The noise floor is even better than the real thing, so I’m confident we’ll make this work.

I’ve already built a working replica of a Zoom H4n using nothing but branches, bark, leaves from a Pedicularis sceptrum-carolinum and a patch of old moss

To keep things sustainable, we’re capturing everything on recycled cassette tapes from the 80s. I know some of you may be worried about the sonic fidelity, but really… You can’t make a sustainable omelette without breaking a few eggs. And at the end of the day, it’s not about the bit rates, sample rates and other technical mumbö jumbö, as we say in Sweden – it’s about having the sounds that fit your project. And that’s exactly what we deliver, and then some.
 


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

 

Latest releases:  
  • Recorded by renowned innovators of film sound design Ann Kroeber and Alan Splet, the Stallion library features an incredible variety of charismatic horse sound effects including movements and vocalizations.

    Intensify your projects with rumbling racing gallops, thumping canters, steady trots, and heavy rhythmic breathing. Bring creatures to life with the emotive whinny and neigh sounds of mustang stallions plus strong snorts, charming grunts, light nickers, and guttural exhales.

    Many of these horse sounds were recorded for major feature films including The Black Stallion, The Horse Whisperer, and Hidalgo. Splet’s work on The Black Stallion won him a Special Achievement Academy Award® for Sound Editing. This recognition was largely due to the quality and depth of the source recordings he and Kroeber created.

    Using a unique custom microphone rig (one mic fastened under the belly, another placed in front of the nose), the galloping sound effects in this library achieve an extraordinary dramatic quality with the horse’s powerful footsteps captured in harmony with its breathing.

    Get an array of horse footsteps at your fingertips – moving at every gait and on various surfaces from gravelly dirt to shallow water, grass, sand, cobblestone and more. The Stallion library also includes miscellaneous sounds like chewing, saddle creaks, stretching leather, and scraping carriage wheels.

    Following the libraries Cinematic Winds and Industrial Sounds with Soul, Stallion is the third exclusive release by Pro Sound Effects curated from Sound Mountain: Kroeber and Splet’s venerable private recording collection created over decades of film sound work with celebrated directors like David Lynch, Carroll Ballard, and Peter Weir. Kroeber has since worked on or supplied sounds for film, TV, and games – including 6 movies that won an Academy Award® in sound, and 7 additional nominations.

    Key Features:

    • 89 sound effects (1.1GB)
    • 24-bit/48kHz broadcast .wav files
    • Descriptive embedded metadata
    • 100% Royalty-Free
    20 %
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    Ends 1596232800
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  • Ambisonics Wind Farm Ambiences Play Track 8 sounds included, 48 mins total From: $30

    Mix of ambience recordings, both with and close-ups of wind turbines in a wind farm.

    With every purchase there are some free extra files, linked to some ambience ones,  recorded with shotgun microphones, to get an even closer close-up, ideal also for SFX and sound design.

  • Environments Wind Play Track 68 sounds included, 165 mins total $39 $29

    This comprehensive sound library is where you can find: sounds of wind in urban and nature environment, room tones, wind recorded in car, wind whistling under doors and windows, at the sea-boats mast and hardware, in trees, in buildings corridors, lobby, attic etc. Check the list of sounds for full info. All files are metadata tagged, with detailed description of equipment used object of recording etc.

    Recorded with high end recording equipment: Sennheisers MKHs, mics; Rycote blimps, Sound Devices 744T recorder, Sound Devices MixPre mixer, Mogami cables, etc.

    Maximum peak level on all recordings is -5 dBFS (for great dynamic range, great headroom), originally recorded with great headroom keeping in mind and to maintain great dynamic range of this natural phenomena.

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  • Binaural soundscapes from Grand Central Station – recorded to have plenty of background (and some mid & foreground) voices without anything too recognizable – so you can add your own dialogue in the foreground, OR loop sections you like most without it being obvious. The central concourse soundscapes are fairly static – but others move at walking speed – between different locations from street level entrances, through the concourse to the platform. There’s even a couple of revolving doors and an empty escalator/platform to add your action onto. Recorded on (my) dummy head with high-quality omni mics – listening back in headphones instantly immerses you in the middle of the sound field. Binaural stereo – the next best thing to being there! And all with just two channels. So put your headphones on and take a little trip – with the Audio Ninja.

    Add to cart
  • City Life British Sirens Play Track 48 sounds included, 12 mins total $25

    This library consists of sounds of authentic British sirens recorded during a 3 month period in London including while in Covid-19 lockdown. The sirens source vehicles include ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks. Recoding techniques include recording with a spaced pair of 2 DPA 4060’s in DPA BLM6000 Boundary Layer Mount with wind protection as well as following the source with Sennheiser 8060 shotgun when opportunity allowed. As a result, the library offers 48 sounds recorded in 24bit/96kHz format delivered in 64 files with a total runtime of approximately 12 minutes. The sound was edited in RX7 to remove the occasional sounds of birds.

    Add to cart

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Need specific sound effects? Try a search below:
 

But.. You’ll need some kind of power source to make this work?

Ever heard of the sun? The wind? Rivers? Lakes? Waterfalls? Modified exercise bikes that can be used to recharge our recording gear? Gigantic dams and water turbines that can output 1.000s of watts? Fantastical machines that can harness the aurora borealis? Need I say more?
 

So once you’ve recorded all these sounds, how do you get them out there to those who need them?

We’ve got no internet connection, for obvious reasons, but luckily we’ve got a way to make it work despite that: For the past 5 years, I’ve been training upwards of 100 carrier pigeons. These will be stationed around Sweden and at strategic locations across Europe. They’ve been carefully trained to pass on the completed cassette tapes from pigeon to pigeon, and to their final destination, giving us incredible range, everything considered.
 

Who are the 6 recordists who’ll be coming back with you?

I wish I could tell you their names, but all I can say is that they’re among the most well-known and respected names in the independent sound community.

They haven’t quite told their friends and families that they’ll be leaving everything behind to go live in the Swedish wilderness for years to come, in search of sonic purity and 100% sustainable sound effects just yet. So in that light, I feel it would be somewhat premature for me to disclose their names.

What if someone wants to join your endeavor?

We still have a few spaces left in the makeshift commune we’ve built, so if you want to change the world of sound for the better, please leave a comment below outlining why you think you’d be a great fit for our team. I’ll then make my decision from that.

A big thanks to Gunnar Hagsmäl for sharing the story – apply to join the team in the comments below, or follow an alternative path to supporting sustainability here. We wish Gunnar Hagsmäl the best of luck with transforming sound as we know it!

 

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Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Recorded by renowned innovators of film sound design Ann Kroeber and Alan Splet, the Stallion library features an incredible variety of charismatic horse sound effects including movements and vocalizations.

    Intensify your projects with rumbling racing gallops, thumping canters, steady trots, and heavy rhythmic breathing. Bring creatures to life with the emotive whinny and neigh sounds of mustang stallions plus strong snorts, charming grunts, light nickers, and guttural exhales.

    Many of these horse sounds were recorded for major feature films including The Black Stallion, The Horse Whisperer, and Hidalgo. Splet’s work on The Black Stallion won him a Special Achievement Academy Award® for Sound Editing. This recognition was largely due to the quality and depth of the source recordings he and Kroeber created.

    Using a unique custom microphone rig (one mic fastened under the belly, another placed in front of the nose), the galloping sound effects in this library achieve an extraordinary dramatic quality with the horse’s powerful footsteps captured in harmony with its breathing.

    Get an array of horse footsteps at your fingertips – moving at every gait and on various surfaces from gravelly dirt to shallow water, grass, sand, cobblestone and more. The Stallion library also includes miscellaneous sounds like chewing, saddle creaks, stretching leather, and scraping carriage wheels.

    Following the libraries Cinematic Winds and Industrial Sounds with Soul, Stallion is the third exclusive release by Pro Sound Effects curated from Sound Mountain: Kroeber and Splet’s venerable private recording collection created over decades of film sound work with celebrated directors like David Lynch, Carroll Ballard, and Peter Weir. Kroeber has since worked on or supplied sounds for film, TV, and games – including 6 movies that won an Academy Award® in sound, and 7 additional nominations.

    Key Features:

    • 89 sound effects (1.1GB)
    • 24-bit/48kHz broadcast .wav files
    • Descriptive embedded metadata
    • 100% Royalty-Free
    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1596232800
  • Ambisonics Wind Farm Ambiences Play Track 8 sounds included, 48 mins total From: $30

    Mix of ambience recordings, both with and close-ups of wind turbines in a wind farm.

    With every purchase there are some free extra files, linked to some ambience ones,  recorded with shotgun microphones, to get an even closer close-up, ideal also for SFX and sound design.

  • Environments Wind Play Track 68 sounds included, 165 mins total $39 $29

    This comprehensive sound library is where you can find: sounds of wind in urban and nature environment, room tones, wind recorded in car, wind whistling under doors and windows, at the sea-boats mast and hardware, in trees, in buildings corridors, lobby, attic etc. Check the list of sounds for full info. All files are metadata tagged, with detailed description of equipment used object of recording etc.

    Recorded with high end recording equipment: Sennheisers MKHs, mics; Rycote blimps, Sound Devices 744T recorder, Sound Devices MixPre mixer, Mogami cables, etc.

    Maximum peak level on all recordings is -5 dBFS (for great dynamic range, great headroom), originally recorded with great headroom keeping in mind and to maintain great dynamic range of this natural phenomena.

    26 %
    OFF
    Ends 1595368799
  • Binaural soundscapes from Grand Central Station – recorded to have plenty of background (and some mid & foreground) voices without anything too recognizable – so you can add your own dialogue in the foreground, OR loop sections you like most without it being obvious. The central concourse soundscapes are fairly static – but others move at walking speed – between different locations from street level entrances, through the concourse to the platform. There’s even a couple of revolving doors and an empty escalator/platform to add your action onto. Recorded on (my) dummy head with high-quality omni mics – listening back in headphones instantly immerses you in the middle of the sound field. Binaural stereo – the next best thing to being there! And all with just two channels. So put your headphones on and take a little trip – with the Audio Ninja.

  • City Life British Sirens Play Track 48 sounds included, 12 mins total $25

    This library consists of sounds of authentic British sirens recorded during a 3 month period in London including while in Covid-19 lockdown. The sirens source vehicles include ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks. Recoding techniques include recording with a spaced pair of 2 DPA 4060’s in DPA BLM6000 Boundary Layer Mount with wind protection as well as following the source with Sennheiser 8060 shotgun when opportunity allowed. As a result, the library offers 48 sounds recorded in 24bit/96kHz format delivered in 64 files with a total runtime of approximately 12 minutes. The sound was edited in RX7 to remove the occasional sounds of birds.

 
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2 thoughts on “A sound effects revolution is coming – from the Swedish wilderness:

  1. Hello Gunnar, great to hear about your adventures, and I hereby humbly submit my application:

    I am around 6ft2, I have long hair, grew up in the Carpathian mountains, and I am as strong as the strongest Swedish man, so I should fit right in. I am also willing to legally change my name to Ragnar Rödknapp.

    Given my physical prowess and oddly convenient name, I would be able to easily help build more H4n recorders, usually to the tune of an endless loop of Nic and the Family – Hej Monika.

    I do hope that my application finds you well, and I am willing to leave my life in London behind in order to join you on your most noble of quests.

    Humbly,
    Ragnar Rödknapp.

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