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i'm working on a short feature film where i need to provide some interesting summer ambiences, the sweat, humidity and moistness apparent in the visual scene needs to be depicted in ambient sound.

before going out there with my hifi recording toys to do some field recordings, i'd like to listen to good existing examples of summer ambiences, either synthetic or organic or a mixture of both. can anyone recommend a film/scene which features a particularly remarkable summer ambience?

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4 Answers 4

The sound of warmer temperatures is usually reflected in the environment by insects; crickets, cicadas, grasshoppers, night crickets etc... But it totally depends on the films location as to what insects to use eg there are 42 species of cicada in New Zealand but none of them sound even remotely like Japanese cicadas which almost have a laughing quality (apart from hearing them in real life they also feature in Miyazaki films)

The best film I've seen recently for ambiences is Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, which is filmed and set in north-east Thailand - the insects in the film are intense!

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@ tim prebble Uncle Boonmee is on my "to see" list. Or should it be "to listen list"??? Seeing your comments on the ambiances makes me wanna go even more now! –  Colin Hunter Oct 11 '10 at 19:37

I recorded a lot of New England ambiences during the summer of 2010. In reviewing the recordings I found that, although often lush and detailed, I failed to capture that "feeling". It's hard to put into words; the experience is more than just what is audible, it also involves sight, smell and touch to form the complete picture. I'll probably never capture the feeling of that humidity (or lack of), the scent of the sea breeze or the pines. The best advice I can offer is to hone in one those singular auditory notes that really speak to you and capture those. For me, it was the seagulls wheeling around and dropping mussels on the rocks, or the woodthrush deep in the forest, always deep in the forest, far from the reach of my mics. Or the blue jay whose scream drips nostalgia for me. Find what makes the place special and unique and spend the day trying to capture it.

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+1 on the insects call but really does depend upon location. As Tim said, even the same type of insect can sound entirely different in different parts of the world. But in general the sounds you may want to look into are bees, flies, crickets, cicadas etc.

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Location is crucial as well as climate of course. Here in South Africa, wet, summer ambiances differ depending on where you are based on the ecosystem. Authenticity is key here as there is nothing worse than placing the wrong ambiance over a scene- especially when the location is well known. I recorded in the country side in the High Velt an hour after a big summer thunder storm and got a really nice ambiance with all the wildlife slowly coming out of hiding and the sounds building. It was great.

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