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hello all,

excuse my noob'iness, but i really don't know how to record wind...i know one technique with contact mics, but other than that how do you go about recording wind?

p.s.: sorry for my bad english :)

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8 Answers 8

up vote 7 down vote accepted

It's not the wind itself that makes sound, but what it goes through/against. You don't need to have your mic in the wind, just aiming it at interesting sounding objects that create friction (wires, trees, windows, etc.) is probably what you're after.

A common practice to re-create wind is to have fabric pulled against a carpeted floor. Ben Burtt did that to create the sound of wind in Wall-E.

Check out these videos where he talks about it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A6z8QkVHk4

[youtube]8A6z8QkVHk4[/youtube]

and:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl7lFPZeIOE&feature=related

[youtube]Jl7lFPZeIOE[/youtube]

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Blow Tools library is good to reference for ideas of what types of wind interactions you can record too. –  Stavrosound Aug 24 '11 at 8:20
    
ok i never thought about it this way, thanks for your answer ;) –  Linas Aug 24 '11 at 8:46
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I'll touch on two different subjects than have been mentioned so far.

Having clean wind sounds is important, but I think it's equally so to have "dirty" wind recordings. Sometimes you need that "exposed to the elements capsule" sound. If you have separate clean and dirty recordings, you have a lot more control over designing the intensity of the wind sound for a scene.

Another note, omni-directional microphones are far less susceptible to blowing out a signal in wind. A spaced pair can do wonders for recording ambiences with wind.

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@Shaun, cool tip re. omnis, will have to try that. –  Jay Jennings Aug 25 '11 at 7:10
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Look at objects as woodwind instruments (or stringed instruments in the case of tensioned wires). Sometimes really small holes and gaps that are vertical can sound cool when the wind comes right through them (like the hatchback of my car), but just like a flute, sometimes rounder or larger gaps sound best when the wind is coming at more of a perpendicular 90-degree angle (like knot holes in the side of a rickety old barn).

Another trick is to hold a sheet of foam over an air conditioning unit. You can "play" howling wind sounds by opening and closing gaps in the foam sheet. With a tool like iZotope RX you can even remove most of the machinery noise easily (what you can't remove can be easily masked by the whistling or other sound layers). Totally works!

If you want to get the sound of wind in a natural environment without overloading your mic capsules, use your eyes. Wind flows around objects and creates eddies, like water. You can often spot small areas where the wind is lessened or even still, even on the most blustery of days, if you have the patience. This is easiest to spot in areas with good plant coverage like lawns or long grass.

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@NoiseJockey, genius. –  Jay Jennings Aug 26 '11 at 7:56
    
Well, hang on, credit where credit's due: While the first paragraph is my own observations, I forget where I read the second paragraph as advice (but I've done it and it totally works), and the third is advice given to me by Gordon Hempton (which I've also done and it totally works, although patience is required). –  NoiseJockey Aug 26 '11 at 19:49
    
@Noisejockey: Regarding option 3: How much background noise do you get if you use this method? I am looking for a way to regard the "pressure on your eyes in windy situations" and this sounds like a good idea, but i'm wondering what type of environment you tend to record these 'eddies'? –  Arnoud Traa Aug 29 '11 at 11:08
    
@Arnoud: It's so variable that it's hard to say. One doesn't ever want to record wind itself: All one can do is record wind IN or THROUGH something else. Finding these "wind eddies" is just an aid for positioning your mics to get that sound without being buffeted directly by the wind itself. Unless it's a wide open desert, wind eddies/buffers are everywhere. What matters is if they're close enough to what you want to record, which doesn't always happen! –  NoiseJockey Aug 29 '11 at 20:58
    
@Noisejockey: I just noticed i made a type instead of 'regard' i mean't 'record' (don't know what i was thinking typing that!). Thanks for your answer though! –  Arnoud Traa Aug 30 '11 at 15:37
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You'll always have far more control if you create your own. Get yourself a synth with a noise generator, you can model the wind by controlling various parameters. It's especially easy if you have a midi keyboard with assignable controls, you'll be able to make any wind noise you want. If you want an example of what's possible, check out The Flying Duchess here:

http://www.animation2011.com/

It's a short animation I did the sound for, which features that synthesised wind. Also, apparently in the Terminator, a wind noise that they used was just some dude blowing over the top of a microphone.

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try big condencer stereo/mic/s with a large diaphragm + anti-wind foam cap (kind of Softie Windshield) + HQ low-noise preamp. The better way - is to sit at home close to fireplace and to emulate any wind on the planet by white noise generator in every synth or use some ready samples )

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ahh i'm always forgetting some obvious stuff, thanks for reminding noise generators ;) –  Linas Aug 24 '11 at 8:57
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If you're lucky enough to have an old house with leaky windows (wait... did I say lucky?), when there is a wind storm, they generally whine and whistle just like you'd expect.

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Speaking of which, listen to the window of my house when I used to live in Edinburgh: soundplusdesign.com/?p=370 Madness! –  Andrew Spitz Aug 24 '11 at 19:13
    
That's stellar. Is the low rumble a contact mic, or did the window really buzz, too? As for my window, it woke me up a few weeks ago, and instead of grabbing my recorder, I figured the snoring dogs would drown it out (even though it woke me up, not them), and went back to sleep. Excuses, excuses. –  Dave Matney Aug 24 '11 at 19:21
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I had been having a lot of trouble recording wind and outdoor ambiences on windy days with my Zoom H4n and the foam windsock it came with, but once I got a new windscreen it made a huge difference. I got the Redhead windscreen designed for my H4n and it was totally worth the $40 or so it cost. Getting a good stereo image for something like wind isn't always needed but it's good to have and a portable recorder with a stero pair of mics that you can always have with you is the best way to capture wind when it happens.

As far as using it for sound design goes I use the sample feature in Absynth and play the wind with a midi controller. Also automating an EQ with a narrow Q boosted or cut can also add some customized movement and expression to an uneventful wind recording.

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For particularly blustery wind, there's always the vehicular "create your own" option. To capture howling, whistly wind with a raw and violent low end component, grab your rig plus a metal colander and bug a friend with a convertible to drive you around some relatively car-free roads at decent speed. Miking the inside of the colander can yield great results. A colleague and I did this a few years back for Medal of Honor: Airborne and used it in some of the freefall/airdrop wind, open door in the plane, and so on.

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