Sound Effects Car Rigs and Drafting Tips

Matt: I’ve seen lots of videos as well as myself like tried to rig cars just a record exhausts and things like that could you just talk us through drafting and kind of how to protect yourself against the wind is that it’s gonna trouble for most people but..

Rob: Yeah what you’re doing when you’re recording a car is you want to look what’s right first of all you want to turn the car on you, you want to know rev it up and then you want to see where the good sounds are.

What you’re identifying is different pitches or different sounds that are different so if you have like a shrub really that different I would take the one that’s more tonal and less noisy, so you’re looking in the engine you’re looking for let’s say 2 different sounds so the editor has 2 choices, when you’re in the interior of the car you know generally speaking the interior of the car is gonna sound the same most everywhere you’ll get a little more engine sound at the front less engine sound maybe a little more muffler at the back but that’s not really gonna be drastically different in my opinion.

When you get to the muffler you don’t want to be…. sometimes you have a choice but you generally want to be away from the muffler a bit so that the sound can spread and then as it spreads, you’re getting a sense of life in the recording. If you record directly on the muffler, it’s such a dry dead signal that it doesn’t sound natural so you kind of want to balance it between you know you want it to sound real and have feeling and motion to it but you know the closer you get the cleaner it is so it’s kind of like you’re looking for that balance.

The drafting is a factor because, if you get into the wind then your mics get clobbered by the wind and you know your muffler is going to be kind of useless, so I’m always looking for a spot that’s you know I usually use 2 muffler mics one I’ll hedge on the side of being closer so that the sound editor has that choice then I’ll go a little bit further away…. maybe 12 inches further away from the muffler so the sounds and spread. If I can get sound in the back of the car using like a fishing rod or a pole of some time that remains drafted that’s good as well but you can get vibrations of the mic you know rattling during movement and then it makes drafting the further you go back from the car the more when you’re gonna get so you’re drafting area may only be maybe 2 to 3 feet and then pass that you’re starting to get the wind coming back in.

Another spot where drafting is really critical is under the body of the car and when you’re under the body of the car the thing that makes undercarriage sound so good the belly of the car is that you’re getting the reflections of the road so they’re always coming up so as you listen to your onboard belly recordings if you go from say sand to concrete you’re gonna notice the concrete’s a lot brighter and that’s because the reflections of the engine are hitting the concrete and bouncing back up at your mic. If you go to dirt and it suddenly becomes really kind of dry and dull because the sand is absorbing the sound and not reflecting about

When you’re under the car what I recommend is that you get blocks you know that you drive up on the blocks you put cement like some concrete blocks under the tires as a backup is if those blocks break or fall and you’re under there, you’re gonna get crushed make sure you have you know a backup under the wheels so that you’re not gonna get hurt if the blocks slip or break or something like that but what you’re looking for is unique sort of pocket where the wind is gonna come and go past you’re looking for the mic you want to put the mic up in a little full so the wind is going under it but not hitting it and you could do that behind like say you know the frame  the  frame could be like this you put the mic here and then the wind hits here but the wind doesn’t hit here and so you’re looking for spots like that.

what I try to do in the undercarriage is you have to the engine in the middle of the car give your tires on the side  and you kind of you’re looking for a spot that’s kind of like closer to the engine and further away from the tires so that you focus on the engine sound it’s the same when you do the undercarriage for a muffler you kind of want to be in spot where you’re getting more muffler than fire. Now if your client asks for tires then you focus on a mic in the wheel wells or near the wheel wells so that you get mainly tire sounds only so hopefully that helped.

Matt Price

Matt Price

I am a London Based Sound Mixer and Sound Recordist working on Feature Films, Creative Content, Documentaries and Commericials.

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