Cambridge Typewriter

Two weekends ago I had the pleasure of recording a series of antique typewriters. One of my closest pals is moving to the UK and while he is waiting on his visa, he is still stuck in Boston area. When I was planning my last visit before my pal’s departure, I started exploring recording opportunities. It was around that time when I discovered Tom Furrier’s work a Cambridge Typewriter.

Tom has been working in the Typewriter business for over 30 years and was willing to have us drop by the shop and record several machines. I was immediately taken with the 1939 Corona that he pulled out of his personal collection – as soon as it was removed from the leather case I knew we had to record it. Tom’s restoration of this Corona was so phenomenally clean it looked as if it had just walked itself off the showroom floor.

We mounted a Schoeps MS pair right above the typewriter:

A DPA 4060 under the keyboard:

A DPA 4060 under the middle of the typewriter and typebars:

Each perspective offered a unique take on this beautiful machine.

By the time the day was done we had spent over 6 hours in Cambridge Typewriter and we recorded eight typewriters. We managed to record a Royal 10, Woodstock Standard, Olivetti Lettera 22, Corona Sterling, Smith Corona Classic 12, Royal Companion, and an IBM Selectric. It was a ridiculously humid and after that day Tom officially has earned the status of mensch. Tom dutifully typed a variety sequences for us and imparted tons of useful information about each machine.

Tom’s spirit and passion for his craft is absolutely infectious. If you are ever in the Boston area, I highly recommend you visit Tom at Cambridge Typewriter. If you can’t travel to north east you can also keep track of Tom over at his blog.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192 with a Cooper CS–104 as a front end.

Jet Turbines Case Study

The following post comes to Fieldsepulchra from sound editor Kelly Pieklo. Kelly reached out to me when he starting working on a rather fun design project while using some of the jet turbine sounds from the most recent Rabbit Ears Audio sfx library.

Working as a sound editor in film and broadcast, I find I am more often called on by my creative partners to create a soundtrack and/or elements for an already fully-realized visual concept. Once locked picture is received, my process of flipping the creative ideas into physical sounds begins.

These kinds of projects are valuable for, amongst other things, learning time and budget management, data wrangling and scheduling. But from a purely creative standpoint, these kinds of projects are not quite as challenging as I would like.

In response to feeling less-than-inspired creatively, I often create “Sound Only Cinematics”, purely conceptual scenes/settings with action, but no picture. My challenge is to communicate the setting accurately and clearly using only sound. Certainly easier said than done, SOCs have become a vital part of my creative process during down time.

If anyone else is working on similar projects, I am certainly interested in linking up and sharing.


Genre: Sci Fi
Location: Vessel Launch Bay, Vickers Centaur Class Carrier USCS Emulous, in orbit around Epsilon Eridani
Vehicle: Berendy 12T-U1 Scimitar Class Scouting Vessel USSS Pathfinder
Scene: USSS Pathfinder propulsion system pre-flight dual-engine spool and test; flight launch procedure.

The RC Jet recordings in REA’s most current library are phenomenally flexible – in general I found the RC Jets’ lighter turbine whines extremely useful in this SOC. When I think of propulsion technology that doesn’t yet exist, I usually picture the engine room in the USS Enterprise – a coagulation of plasma fields and dilithium crystals, UIs on screens that I cannot read, and technology that, quite honestly, doesn’t really exist. I find that an audience tends to disassociate themselves with those kinds of technologies in storytelling – the audience doesn’t understand the technology, so the audience doesn’t anticipate what could happen as a result of using this technology, good or bad. My goal with using REA’s Jet library was to introduce an obvious vulnerability to this kind of concept art – moving parts. Some of my motivations:

The turbine whines in the following engine spools:

Hopefully they communicate the subconscious message to the listener that (1) this is a technology that you are at least slightly familiar with, and (2) knowing this technology suggests that you understand the basics of the technology, i.e., moving parts. To create the scale of the engines, and to help sell the perspective, huge thruster sounds were necessary. After some combing through the library, I found the following Jet Bike recordings:

They were are well suited. They already sound pretty thick by themselves, but I ended up transposing the files between –4 and –6 semitones and cutting in some misfires, again for vulnerability. I added a bit of Nuendo’s stock Distortion plug, followed by Waves MaxxBass. At this point, the thrusters were feeling a bit more like simple fuel propulsion technology creating air distortion, so dipping back into Nuendo’s plugs I found PitchDriver which I haven’t really messed with often. Adding and tweaking this plug gave the blade chop effect you hear during the thruster launches – again, an opportunity to draw the listener back to familiar technology.

Much like the way technology is portrayed in the film “Children of Men”, I’m always fascinated, and ultimately more drawn to future technology that has elements that are not clean, not running smoothly, not lubricated and not without problem. Future technology that is simply modified past technology as an attempt to modernize. It makes for more interesting storytelling in my opinion.

Kelly has also posted up a downloadable version of his 5.1 mix stems:

Technical Note:

DAW – Nuendo 5.5

Plugs – Nuendo Pitch Driver, Nuendo Distortion, Waves MaxxBass, AudioEase Altiverb 7, AudioEase Speakerphone 2.

More Bells

For some reason I have a thing for bells.

In the last year I have recorded nautical bells, church bells, buddhist prayer bells, gongs, and all sorts of animal bells. Cow, goat, sheep … you name it I’ve probably recorded it.

I didn’t realize that I had a bell problem until recently. I guess there are worse problems one can have, but it is clear I have a problem.

My most recent bell encounter was another set of church bells. I took a drive up to the country in New York state to visit a secluded Ukrainian Catholic church. The church has a bell tower that is its own structure separate from the church. The bells are not struck with a fancy mechanism, instead they required rope and human intervention. Luckily I was not the guy that had to climb the tower. I safely guarded my hearing from a distance.

The largest bell was about 4 feet in diameter and just rings out for days.

I’m not sure what this recent obsession is about, but it sure doesn’t sound bad.

Recording Geek Note: Rig consists of Schoeps CMC5′s setup for MS, with the MK4 as the mid on the exhaust. It was all tracked to a Sound Devices 744T at 24/192.