The world of a soundie is like no other: Week three in Northumberland
Guest blogger: Production Coordinator Ellie Williams is with the team in Northumbria capturing the sounds of autumn with ace sound recordist Chris Watson.
Whilst munching my way through some moussaka yesterday evening, it slowly dawned on me that I was sat between no ordinary dinner guests. Chris Watson and Gary Moore - sound recordist gurus - were speaking a language all of their own.
The conversation flowed between the merits of a Parabolic Reflector in comparison to an 806 and how if the cameraman zooms to focus on something away on the horizon, how the heck the soundie mirrors that with a microphone... that kind of thing.
I didn't expect you to understand that either, but as a student of this dark art I'll attempt to translate. The world of a soundie is like no other. Look at a tree swaying in the breeze and you admire the beautiful colours. Listen to the tree though a mic and some headphones (or 'cans' as they're called in the trade) and suddenly the wind that's rustling through the branches gushes through your ears and you can hear the clear bright song of a blackbird as if it's resting on your shoulder. And you can't stop smiling.
The journey down the River Coquet this week has been one in surround sound, with Chris and Gary pulling out all kinds of audio gadgetry to tell its story. At the source yesterday it felt as if we were listening through a stethoscope to the pumping heart of the river. Chris dangled his hydrophone (underwater microphone) into a babbling brook. The trickle we could hear from the surface was transformed into an oceanic rumble of stones with ripples tumbling like waves.
Recording slices of sound is not always that easy though. I had a taster yesterday when a dipper (spotted by the crew the day before) decided not only to avoid my carefully hidden microphone but to rudely not even make an appearance (still, I enjoyed the early morning warming cup of tea on the riverbank).
After a wet and blustery coastal morning at the mouth of the Coquet, I'm enjoying drying off next to a woodburner in the cottage we've made our Northumberland base (although I'm having to resist the urge to record the lovely warm crackles of the firewood!). It's been such a magical week. When I think back to Northumberland, I'll now not only see the rolling hills, but also hear the Coquet as it swells from moorland brook to pounding sea river (and, of course, remember those two sound wizards wandering the hills with their wand-like booms).Watch this week's Autumnwatch (Thursday 8.30pm, BBC Two) to see Chris Watson's reports into the sounds of his favourite river. You can also ask him a question about wildife sound and he'll answer the best of them on Unsprung. Read Ellie's diary from week one in the Shetlands here.