Recording Underwater Submersion Sound Effects with a Hydrophone


Hi this is Colin Hart from Big Tree
Media. We’re here today with Pro Sound Effects exploring what to do and what
not to do when you’re recording submersions with a hydrophone. Let’s check it out. One of the most common problems with using a hydrophone is how to keep it in place. Now unless you have one of those really fancy neutrally buoyant hydrophones your mic will either sink or float. So that means I am stuck with figuring out how to either hold it in place or rig some fancy stand rope
weird contraption. Tried mic stands in water. It can kind of work but it’s kind
of a pain. So my favorite solution is the good old standby noodle trick. Here we have a basic economy no frills plain old pool noodle and what I’m going
to do with this is use it to help me float my hydrophone as well as reduce
some handling noise kind of like a shock mount. So I’m going to wrap this
right around here twice and then tuck it under that first wrap and that forms what’s called a clove hitch and now what this allows me to do is adjust the
length simply by rolling and pulling this and it will set how deep the
hydrophone will hang and it minimizes some handling noise by bunching up there on that noodle. And there you have it. Noodle mount. Now let’s talk about how not to get a
good submersion. When I was planning my first few, I posited that I could get a
good recording one of two ways. The first was by placing the hydrophone barely under the surface then submerging an object like my hand or this styrofoam
egg carton that I’m using right next to the mic. This sounded okay, actually pretty cool, but I only got the ending of the submersion – the sound of the object
already underwater. I was missing the transition I was looking for. My second
method was to actually submerge the microphone with the object so you would
get a little of that transition from air to underwater with the mic. This sounded
really weird because the water hitting the mic sounds really weird. So I
played around in the pool with the microphone for a little bit and I found
that the sound I was really after was turbulent water with a lot of bubbles. So
to accomplish this I cupped my hands and filled them with water and I placed the
microphone in the water as sort of a buffer. This way I could record the
action of the mic going into the water without changing the characteristics of
its immediate environment. Then I submerged my hands and the mic and
simultaneously ducked under the water myself trying to bring as much air down
with me as I could. I found that many bubbles are the key to a good submersion. Another option would be to get an object that would hold some air in little
pockets like a plastic egg carton that you could submerge under the mic. The key is to get a lot of air near or under the mic and let it out slowly over the
performance of the action. Now these aren’t the only ways to get great sounds out of your mic. You need to play around, get creative and have some fun. Thanks for watching.

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