Stadium Crowd Recording Session: NCAA Football UF Gators vs. LSU Tigers

On October 9, 2010 the University of Florida Gators met the Louisiana State University Tigers to battle it out in “The Swamp” (the nickname for the Gators home stadium). We were there, armed with our field rigs, to capture the powerful stadium ambiance.  Engine Audio worked for Watson Wu to provide an extra recording rig and assistance during the session. Watson Wu is a composer, sound designer and an expert field recordist who has worked with many different game publishers and developers on capturing sounds for their games including Need for Speed, Operation Flashpoint, and Transformers: War for Cybertron.  He was contracted by EA Sports to record crowd ambiances for the upcoming NCAA title, and luckily he invited us to join him.

So we packed up our gear and headed 2 hours North to Gainesville, FL.  “Tail-Gators” had overtaken the streets of Gainesville, and it was obvious that this crowd was something to be reckoned with. Legend has it that the population of Gainesville more than doubles on game day. We found a few spaces to park and we met up with Watson and his friend Shawn. We quickly unpacked and assembled our arsenal of recording equipment. Although it was to be a mostly peaceful day, it felt a bit like preparing for battle.

Watson Wu’s setup:
Holophone recording L/R-LS/RS
Edirol R44

Chris Latham’s setup:
Crown Sass-P stereo microphone
Sound Devices 722

Tom Todia’s Setup:
Rode NT-4
Zoom H4n

Carrying extra batteries, cables, and wire ties, we beganmoving in the direction of the noise.  We hiked with our gear in hand through the crowd to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Watson retrieved the press passes he had secured for us, and we made our way down to the field.

We positioned ourselves on the sidelines directly behind all the broadcast cameras. When those cameras are on the move, they don’t stop for anyone! With boom poles extended, we raised our microphones. We captured a large variety excited cheers from the roaring crowds. We began recording at kickoff, continued to the final buzzer.

The end of the game was very exciting with the Gator fans expecting a win. However, with only 11 seconds left, LSU scored a touchdown to win the game. The crowd erupted in boos and disbelief, but then became very quiet. The battle was over, and all of the disappointed Gator fans filed out.

Some observations for recording big crowds:

1.Face the mic away from the band.

Watson suggested that we have our Mics faced away for the school bands. Although they are always present in the recordings (their kind of loud), you don’t need them to drown out the crowd noise.

2. 90,000+ can get LOUD!!

Come armed with mic pads for your equipment.  Make sure you are prepared with ear plugs or wear your cans.

3. Watch out for those fans!

As their team starts to win or lose fans (probably under the influence of alcohol) can get rowdy and express their anger verbally. We had some excited fans yell obscenities that should have never made it into the recording. Watson provided large cards with information on what we were doing there at the game, to give to anyone that approached us. It gave us a way to silently explain our gear and mission while recording. A really professional idea Watson!

4.  Change position.

Listening back to the recordings I noticed there were about 5-10 different voices you could make out in the foreground against a wash of thousands of fans farther back.  Searching for the right position on the field will make sure you don’t end up with one very annoying fan all the way through the recording.

Much thanks to Watson Wu! For more information from Watson check out his Facebook Page

Listening back to the recordings, I noticed there were about 5-10 different close voices you could make out against the wash of thousands of fans farther back. Searching for the right position on the field will help you find a way out of hearing that annoying fan all the way through the recording.

  Return to blog...

1 Comment

  1. Tweets that mention Stadium Crowd Recording Session: NCAA Football UF Gators vs. LSU Tigers | Engine Audio --
    October 21st, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tom Todia, Tom Todia. Tom Todia said: […]