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-   -   Swans Back Soon (http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/under-water-over-land/67051-swans-back-soon.html)

Brian McKay May 10th, 2006 10:02 AM

Swans Back Soon

I have an audio question and hope someone can help. Here's the deal the wild swans will be arriving back soon and over the years I've been able to get great video, that's not the issue. The problem has been to capture that subtle creek, creek of there wings as they fly overhead. I've tried just about ever darn thing I can think of the capture the sound and now I'm out of ideas.

Can anyone recommend a parabolic type microphone setup that will work. Oh I should mention I'm using the XL2

Any help would be greatly appriciated.


Meryem Ersoz May 10th, 2006 10:18 AM

hi brian: back before there was a dvinfo wildlife forum, there was this bulky, unwieldy thread, which led to the public uprising that you now know as the wildlife forum. somewhere towards the middle/end is a discussion of parabolic mic setups. if my memory serves, try a member search on jeff sayre. i think he da man with the parabolic moves....


Brian McKay May 10th, 2006 01:09 PM


Took you advice and did some reading....but came to the conclusion that maybe the parabolic isn't the way to go. It will be a single person shoot and from the research you suggested most are saying that the parabolic is better suited to a multi person outing.

I'm back to square one, any others have ideas.


Glenn Davidson May 10th, 2006 01:42 PM

Wireless Lavs?

Brian McKay May 10th, 2006 03:06 PM

The lavs I have are black and skin tone....do they come in white. Second I can only think of one place to put the transmitter and I'm not sure if the swans would be very receptive to that idea.


Meryem Ersoz May 10th, 2006 03:54 PM

wireless lavs...that's pretty funny.

have you considered capturing sound and image separately, then synching them in the editor? it might be easier to focus on just one thing which is challenging to capture, rather than two challenging things simultaneously. it should not be too difficult to synch wing sounds with bird images. that way you can focus on getting your sound source as close as possible without the imposing camera, which seems to intimidate some birds. you could probably do this with a decent shotgun and a decent recorder (i tend towards minidisc, myself) and not be obtrusive...

Brian McKay May 10th, 2006 07:57 PM

That's worth a try.

Thanks Brian

Phil French May 11th, 2006 02:06 PM

Hi Brian, I might have some audio for you to superimpose over your footage. I will look tonight when I get home - if you are interested.

Brian McKay May 11th, 2006 03:21 PM

Hello Phil:

I may take you up on the offer, but you know the deal "A love of the challenge" LOL. The plan is to load up the sled and Skidoo this evening and head up the coast to see what's moving about. Probably another week or two before the swans arrive but I want to scope out my blinds and see if hey survived the winter. It's been a long winter as always so I'm itching to get back outdoors and do some serious shooting rather than going blind from editing last years captures.

Again thanks for the offer and yes I may take you up on it....if all else fails.


Phil French May 11th, 2006 04:21 PM

Sounds like a great adventure. The tundra swans have already passed through our country (the last of them left about a week ago). So they will be there soon enough. Have a great trip!

Brian McKay May 11th, 2006 04:46 PM

Hello Phil:

Excellent information, if they left your area a week ago then I may be lucky enough this weekend to see a few. We saw a few cranes last weekend so usually a week of two later and the swans and geese will start to arrive. We still have a few carabou hanging around but there fairly ragged after the winter and no horns yet.....not much to look at LOL. The hope this weekend is to get some footage of the swans and maybe some seals sunning on the ice if we're lucky enough to get sun that is.

Have a good weekend....I hope to have something to report on Monday.


J. Stephen McDonald May 11th, 2006 09:03 PM

Tundra Swan Audio
Brian, I've been making videos of Tundra Swans since before they got their current name. We have several thousand here near Eugene from November to March each year and at night, as many as 1,300 sail in low over a dam to roost on a large reservoir. I've been able to capture their subtle little vocalizations as well as the creaking of their wing feathers, using a pair of shotgun mikes on a stereo rack on my camcorders. I started with a pair of Sony Z-200 mikes and a dozen years ago got a pair of Audix UEM-81C mikes, which are 19-inch, hypercardioid XLRs. However, by being in the right place, just under their flight path, I've gotten good audio using nothing more than the built-in mikes on cameras such as a Canon A-1 Digital and a Sony VX2100. Having a quiet environment, with no outside wind or urban noises, is just as important as having good mikes. One time, I crawled on my belly for a mile across mudflats, to get right into their midst, as they socialized and caroused late into the night. I used my two Z-200 mikes on a small analog tape recorder and got an hour of their private conversations, revealing a language more complex than you'd ever imagine from ordinary approach distances.

I once rescued a Tundra Swan cob that had his humerus wingbone cracked by a BB shot. I was able to surgically bind the crack together and immobilized his wing for a long period. The next August, after his molting period, he was able to fly again and hopefully rejoined his mate the next Fall. Their intelligence allows them to quickly assess such circumstances and he became tame and trusting on his small recovery pond. He was eating grain from the hand of his caretaker within two weeks and I learned much of his language of small combinations of sounds. A similar experience is described in the book "Sandy", by Dayton O. Hyde, about an injured Tundra Swan (Whistling Swan), that he rescued and treated on his ranch in Oregon. If I hadn't had this personal experience of the rapid recognition they make of a friend and the trust they show, I wouldn't have believed what he wrote in the book.

We have been blessed by an increasing Winter population of Trumpeter Swans in Oregon and are seeing them farther south each year in our state. These are from the Alaska-British Columbia population, many of which have been wintering in the Skagit Valley of Washington State for the past three decades. It's not uncommon to find one or two mixed in the Tundra Swan flocks and we expect that flocks of twenty or thirty Trumpeters will be coming down to our area in a few years.

I envy you, being in their nesting grounds and seeing the other half of their lives. If you have problems with wind noise there, you might look into some large, fuzzy windsocks to minimize the problem. Visit the audio forum on this group for more details on this. Good luck.

Brian McKay May 15th, 2006 12:57 PM

Hello Guys:

Well the trip up the coast on the sea ice was uneventful, some wet areas and a bit of slush here and there but nothing to severe yet. The trip took about 2 hours so by the time we got settled in it was time to grab some shut eye. Woke up Friday morning to the sound of geese flying over still much to high to grab any footage. Only saw one swan which was off in the distance but it's a sign that they will soon be in and nesting.

I did get some footage on seals sunning on the ice, the young ones are out and about so all footage was taken from a distance....mom is keeping an eye out for anything that moves.

Received word via radio that there was a large male polar bear in my vacinity so I spend most of the day Saturday tracking him....by the looks of his tracks he was moving fast and covering a lot of ice so needless to say I had no luck in finding him, maybe next weekend.

Other than that not much to report, we'll head back up next weekend by skidoo. I feel confident we'll get the swan footage then for sure.

The following week the plan is to go up for ten days, that trip will be by helicopter for sure, the cracks in the sea ice will be much too wide to cross by then.

Stephen thanks for the ideas and great insight into the life of the swans I'll get the footage and audio I'm sure....or get eaten by a bear trying LOL.


Phil French May 15th, 2006 07:51 PM

You saw polar bear tracks in the snow, so you decided to go in the same direction?!!!

Brian McKay May 16th, 2006 07:57 AM

Hello Phil:

When you put it that way it does sound a bit crazy LOL. Believe me I have no death wish LOL. I have absolute respect for them that's for sure but the opportunity to film one in the wild is a rare thing.

One has to look at it this way. When I was shooting the seals on the ice there was a better chance of getting attacked then if following his tracks. When your filming the seals your consentration is on the seals and the camera not completely on your surroundings. Secondly the bears are also looking for the seals not for taking pictures but for lunch. When I was following the tracks I more or less know where the bear was....he's in front of me and going in the opposite direction as well your sences are completely set on your surroundings and your looking in every direction searching.

On top of that I have a very simple rule....never ever, ever leave the camp without a rifle on your back be it spring, summer winter or fall. My camp is located on a small river that flows into Hudson Bay, the camp proper is about one quarter of a mile from the high tide line so no matter what time of year there is the posability of bears being in the vacinity.


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