Capturing huge foot stomps and hand claps

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Sean Sullivan
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Capturing huge foot stomps and hand claps

Post by Sean Sullivan » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:49 am

I'm trying to record some big footstomps and handclaps for a song, and I want sort of a "bunch of people in a barn" vibe. What is the best way to record foot stomps? PZM microphones the floor? Strapping some hardback books to musicians feet?

I have 3-4 people recording at a time, and I'd like to do the footstomps and handclaps at the same time, I'm just unsure where to place the microphones. I'm sure with hand claps a stereo pair capturing the room and not the initial hand contact is the idea, but footstomps seem to be a different story. I'll probably grab a couple 2x4s for good measure
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Post by DrummerMan » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:53 am

I was once part of a foot stomping session that turned out amazingly, IMO. The main sound was people slamming big cardboard boxes against the floor, which might have even been carpeted. there were probably even some people hitting the boxes with their fists. It wasn't super loud in the room, but recorded it sounded huge.
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Post by Sean Sullivan » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:05 am

Were they stomping on the cardboard boxes with their feet, or swinging them down against the floor? I'd have to imagine that microphones were far away because swing the cardboard would produce a bunch of air.
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Post by DrummerMan » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:32 am

mostly swinging them against the floor, if I recall correctly. The mics (actually just one mic I think) was overhead, so I don't think air was so much of an issue. They also weren't being swung that hard or from that high off the ground either. I find with that kind of stuff (including hand claps) a lighter touch goes a long way to sounding much HEAVIER than actually exerting an abundance of force.
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Post by chris harris » Fri Feb 06, 2009 11:40 am

At around 2:50 in this video, you can see a few quick clips of Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band recording some stomping and clapping for the song NYC - Gone, Gone. Not sure how much you can learn from it, other than it looks like fun going down to Mexico to record a great album to 1" 16 track.

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Post by mscottweber » Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:06 pm

I tried recording handclaps for this guy a while back. It was right after recording vocals, so we just had him clap his hands in front of the vocal mic in the small dry vocal booth. It sounded terrible. I think you have the right idea with trying to capture the room sound.

Wow, so cardboard boxes sounded most accurately like foot stomping? I never would have thought of that...

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Post by JGriffin » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:18 pm

A box full of charcoal has been used to good effect in the past as well, for marching feet. (Notably on "Yellow Submarine") You could use that to layer under the cardboard-box-on-floor sound.
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Re: Capturing huge foot stomps and hand claps

Post by wren » Fri Feb 06, 2009 2:29 pm

minorleagues wrote:What is the best way to record foot stomps? PZM microphones the floor?
I wouldn't recommend this. I've never tried to record floor stomps with PZMs, but I've done theatre productions where I tried my hardest to get floor stomps out of PZMs. The sound is not pleasant, IME; it's very sharp, and not cool and thudd-y. I can't recommend a right way, but I would advise against PZMs.
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Post by dave watkins » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:00 pm

room sound for sure if you are going for a "bunch of people in a barn sound" a small dead room and close micing will not do you justice. also if you have hardwood floors that'll probably help. if you're stuck in a basement with cement floors if you have a way to get a wooden platform in it would probably help. and though i've never tried it, the cardboard box idea sounds awesome.

as far as mics go, i feel like anything would really work if you have a decent enough room. you could start with whatever you might use as a room mic for drums and go from there. but of course it'll come down to what sounds best in your space, for this particular song. and if you have the option to track multiple mics there is really no reason not too. I'm working on a song right now that has group clapping, stomping, kazoo, and chorus parts... however it's just me so what i did was set up an LDC in one part of the room and did like 15 takes of myself singing (in various pitches and vocal stylings) and stomping/clapping the chorus from different distances from the mic, making a point to be slightly out of key and slightly off tempo every now and then, layered them up and panned them to different places in the stereo field, mixed it with a little field recording and a couple takes of rocking it out on the kazoo, and it sounds like a bunch of crazy people singing in the woods, even though it's just little old me. it is probably the most fun i have ever had recording something.

yeah a pzm on the floor in a theatre setting usually does sound terrible, but i do wonder if you could make it work for a recording situation? kind of like how a drum room mic will pick up the kick nicely, but you still might use a dynamic up close to add some extra punch to the overall sound, it might help augment things. one would probably work better attached to a wall than a floor. but if you don't own one and can't borrow one, i wouldn't worry about it too much. use what you've got, and shockmounts will probably be your friend too.
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Post by nick_a » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:23 pm

distressor on 10:1

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Post by ott0bot » Fri Feb 06, 2009 3:29 pm

I had good success with claps and stomps by hangning a LDC in a medium sized room with wooden floors. The wood really makes the stomps sound great. If you don't have that at your house or studio, can you go mobile and search a place out in your area? It's worth it IMO.

I've used carboard too...that works pretty good, but I've found wooden fruit crates worked even better. A nice solid thwack. again wooden floors and a hanging LDC.

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Post by RoyMatthews » Fri Feb 06, 2009 5:40 pm

A wood stair case could be cool. I think Joe Meek did this ('Just Like Eddie'?).
What's cool it that you can put the mic level with or even below the stomps. The structure beneath it would probably add to the overall sound as well. It may also help the stompers to walk up and down a step to stomp.
It just seems more like an instrument in a way.
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Post by nopenopenope » Fri Feb 06, 2009 6:07 pm

thank you all for your advice so far. I'm working with minorleagues on this project.

sadly, wooden floors are out the the question. Though, we do have a piano lid that I'd imagine we can mildly abuse. and we'll quietly slap cardboard boxes and hands on it. jeeze, if anyone walks by we're going to look crazy... but hopefully, it'll sound great. thanks again, fellow tape oppers

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Post by Sean Sullivan » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:15 pm

Its Robb, who is Limbeck, gave me some great advice on how they got the handclap sound on "Bird Problems" and I think we can replicate that.

Someone mentioned using a drum riser and miking underneath, but we don't have one of those either.
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Post by dave watkins » Fri Feb 06, 2009 7:25 pm

looking crazy is one of the keys to awesomeness in recording. go all out 150 million% all the time.
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