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I'm looking for someone to help me record some fireworks. I have a few rockets (oversized bottle rockets) and some other stuff to set off.

I don't have any mics or recorders (except my h4) so I'm hoping someone would like to team up and do this sometime.

I live in Los Angeles so a big part of this is finding somewhere to do it. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Send me an email! Dan@dankenyonaudio.com

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If you've got the money, tape a wireless lapel to the rocket and record that into Pro Tools :) –  Utopia Jul 26 '10 at 6:02
    
Man you wouldn't want to mess the levels, you've only got one only chance to get the sound :D –  Justin Huss Jul 27 '10 at 21:28

3 Answers 3

While I don't live in LA, and therefore can't actually help with the recording, I can give you some pointers.

I've recorded lots of rockets, bottle rockets, firecrackers etc... You're going to want to get lots of perspectives, but the problem is that these things have a mind of their own. So, I suggest you bring lots of gaff tape, spring clips, etc... and devise a way to keep the rockets put as they go through their ordeal. Therefore, you can keep the mics the same distance away from the rocket the whole time.

Now obviously you're going to want to have some actually shooting off as well, as they have a cool dopler effect that you can't mimic if you clip the rocket to a stand. My best suggestion for this is to have a few stationary mics, and have at least one, and more if possible, people with shotgun mics attempting to aim at the rocket during it's entire flight.

As far as mics go, you're going to need some dynamics for close (57, RE20, etc...), maybe condenser up close for the fuse (that can handle SPL, maybe a Sanken Cub?), a handful of shotguns, stereo mics, etc...

What are you recording this into? The H4? If so, you'll just have to do lots of different takes with different mics. Use whatever you can get your hands on. If you can get someone to go with you, I'm sure you can pool gear for a bigger arsenal.

As for locations, I'm not extremely familiar with LA, but I know that there are a few abandoned developments in Pasadena that are awesome to record in (all the roads are there, but no houses!) Also, there are lots of hills and such in that area that you can probably go and get some quiet space. MAKE SURE TO BRING TONS OF WIND PROTECTION!!!!

Maybe some of the LA guys can share where you like to record?

I'm actually planning a similar session myself, rockets and all... Let me know how yours goes!

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Hi Dan - welcome to SSD!

Before you actually do this you should be aware of the legal code regarding fireworks in California. This site should give you an idea.

You'll almost certainly need to head out to the desert to do this, especially during the summer months when fire risk is high. Check out Google Earth before planning your trip to be sure you avoid populated areas, flight paths, and freeway noise. One of the message boards I perused recommended traveling to the Nevada Indian reservations where you can buy and set them off legally. Just a thought…

I'll echo Colin on his mic advice - the more perspectives you can capture the better, preferably simultaneously so as to reduce overall setup and record time. And if you're going to the trouble of recording multiple angles out on location, I'd forget about the H4 as your primary recorder and go rent 1 or more multi-track recorders for the day/weekend. Should make your life a lot easier.

Have fun and wear eye protection!

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I spent some time out in the CA desert recording my rock library a couple months back. Contrary to what you might think, you can easily start a fire in the desert, so you need to choose locations carefully. You'll probably want to find a dried lake bed or some place that has very little vegetation. Also in the deserts outside of LA, you have AFB and Fort Irwin, so you'll want to stay away from those (unless you like jet noise). I tried to find a good place years ago to light off fireworks, I gave up looking and just set them off in my mom's backyard. The sound wasn't amazing. –  Chuck Russom Jul 26 '10 at 7:16
    
We went to the Anza Borrego desert to record some fireworks a few months ago. It was a great location but a tad south of you LA guys. –  MikeQuell Jul 26 '10 at 17:41

Funnily enough I did a big fireworks recording session on Sunday night & I'll write a post about it when the library is released, but a few thoughts...

As we were recording in a public place we had to get a Council permit & a Fire permit, plus wait for a windless clear night... The fire permit guy was very helpful, we met on site & he explained what needed to be done, and he will be a very useful contact for future recording as they do 'controlled burns' most weekends... I bought $600 worth of fireworks back in November 2009 but had to wait for winter in NZ until the ground was wet & the fire risk became negligible. Before & after the session I had to notify the police & fire services, and when I called back to tell the police the session was finished they said they had received a few calls about it - last thing I'd want is an armed offenders call out on my behalf! Moral of the story: do it legitimately! And make a schedule for the preferred night, plus weather options. We planned for Thursday night (got rained out) then Sunday (was perfect) plus I'm doing another session with smaller fireworks tonight/tomorrow night, probably just with two recorders & 4 mics...

Perspectives and multi mics/recorders are essential. Some of the fireworks are very unpredictable in their loudness. We maybe went a bit overboard but had 6 recorders (5 x 722 and a 744) fed with:

  • 2 x Sanken CUB mics closeup (thanks to Michael Raphaels advice - great mics!)
  • Sennheiser 8050 + DPA 4006 closeup
  • Sennheiser 8050+MKH30 MS rig medium close
  • Sennhesier MKH70 + 816 medium close, tracking movement
  • Sennheiser 8020 omnis x 2 wider
  • Quad mic rig: MS front (Senn MKH50+30) and 2 x 816 surround

Using props with the fireworks can make for some VERY interesting sounds, I'll explain this more when the library is released, hopefully next week...

Serious fun!

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Tim, I'm can't wait to hear this stuff! –  sepulchra Jul 27 '10 at 21:39

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