Capturing the Sounds of the Ocean
This past weekend, I set a goal to capture the sounds of the ocean. It is one of my favorite examples of rhythmic nature - the waves crashing on shore have a such a solid cadence when you listen for it.
I knew I wanted to get a bunch of ambisonic recordings while I was there for use on virtual reality / immersive projects, but I also ended up getting a surprising amount of material that will be amazing for musical purposes.
When I got to the beach, there weren’t too many people there which was a good thing (it was late in the afternoon and like 60 degrees outside, so not exactly a beach day by most peoples standards lol)
I happened to walk past a little league baseball game which I of course captured some sounds from inconspicuously so as not to be the “weird guy holding a microphone at a kids sports function”.
I decided the best way to capture the ocean was to grab three main samples of this particular beach. One pretty close to the waves, one a medium distance away, and one as far away as possible while still hearing the waves and ocean sounds.
For the close waves, I found a pier that I could prop the mic up on and let it sit - I monitored the levels and recorded about 10 minutes of this in ambisonic audio. Then I picked up and moved about 100 feet back for the medium shot and held the mic up, capturing about 8 minutes in this position.
The far sounds were a bit more difficult but eventually I found a good spot to stand and capture another 5 minutes or so of ambisonic audio. This one was more challenging because there were other sounds conflicting with the waves (airplanes taking off, etc.) - so I had to be patient and wait for my good chunks to record.
Once I brought the sounds back to my studio to listen to, I was pretty amazed - especially by the medium recording. I started pitching the sample up and down (the stereo version) and got some incredible sounds that are going to be amazing as some beds until my tracks.
As ambisonic recordings, they were also very fun to listen back to. Although I realized how different the ocean can sound at different beaches on different days. That day was quite windy and active, so it was a loud beach. I’m going to wait for a nice calm day to drive out to Malibu or maybe even all the way out to wine country to get a bunch more ocean sounds with some nice calm waves as well.
Overall a successful sampling trip :)