Wind

Wind is a pain in the butt to record. While we hear it all the time, finding and isolating a source from background noise is near impossible in today’s hustle & bustle world. Even if you do find such a place, because wind and microphones are ancient adversaries, being in a position to physically record it without getting your mic pounded requires creative planning, perseverance, and luck.

Fortunately, I live in a building where the windows are so poorly made that wind seeps right through! Lying in bed in the morning I can actually see the plants in front of my windows fluttering around as the wind whips in from the ocean and through the gaps where my window will never seal. This gives me the perfect position not only to capture the wind, but to control its sound by adjusting said gap. Just this weekend I had such an opportunity when my neighborhood experienced a heavy storm with sustained gusts at 40mph.

Wind Sample by dsteinwedel

Since I’m attempting to give an idea of how I’ve used the recordings presented here in actual projects and this recording is a scant 3 days old, I’ll change focus a little bit and talk about some methods to eek more out of a recording like this. Now you might be saying to yourself, “But David, that sound is already AWESOME!!” And yes, it’s nice, but we can make it do so much more.

The next track is the same sound twice, raw and then with a small round of polishing. While the recording picked up a lot of nice wails and moans, there’s also a steady hiss throughout. To pull that back I used a high-shelf EQ, with a low Q to drop the high end and remove some of the hiss. Next, it’s too narrow for my tastes. In games, wind is often a BG element attached to the player, not placed in space as a 3d object. So it needs to be widened. A Stereo Enhancement plugin will do the trick. If you don’t have one, a chorus or other delay type effect that lets you set Left and Right delays independently will work. A touch of verb at the end will help round things out. Every effect I used the next recording is a stock Nuendo plug.

Hard Wind Duo by dsteinwedel

The difference isn’t all that dramatic but for 5 minutes worth of work it’s not so bad. To really get this right, automating the EQ will go a long way as each character of whistle needs its own settings.

Taking things a step further, here’s a sample that’s pitched down 2 octaves. The first octave is done without time correction and the second with.

Wind Pitched Two Ocatves by dsteinwedel

Spooky.

Finally, we can take things very far. In the following sample, a single EQ band has been isolated and boosted, noise reduction applied, and the same Stereo Ehancer/Reverb combo as before slapped on the tail.

Noisy Wind Duo by dsteinwedel

You can hear that all the junk (the birds and some exterior banging) is gone and we’re left with a spooky, ringing sound that has a humanistic vocal quality to it.

oooOOOOOoooO0Oooo0OO0ooooOOooooooo


Recording Geek Notes: Neumann RSM 191 (sans wind protection) direct to a Fostex FR-2.
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