soundscape #1
Birds, Bugs and Brooks of the Wolgan Valley, NSW

Loaded 4 September 2014.

Just Natural

As we picnicked in a quiet corner of the Emirates "One & Only" Wolgan Valley Resort , I was struck that there was no man-made sound at all.

Well, not quite none. Every so often a jet would cruise ten kilometers overhead, but apart from that, silence from man. The birds on the other hand were particularly loud, so I decided to make a natural sounds recording. I only had my video cam, so as a lark I decided to train it up close on bits of bush and just let it run. I took four takes, because the sound of running water was different in different locations. And then on the walk back there was an interesting eroded tree stump in a paddock I decided to photograph and when I got there I found myself in a swarm of insects, possibly Tetragonula  and so I recorded them also.

Serendipity always!

It was a serendipitous chain of events that brought us to Wolgan, although I knew and loved the valley from before. Mate Martin Mulcare had roped me in at the last moment to a charity fund raiser he was associated with and I had pushed along the auction bidding on a night at the Emirates Resort. To my surprise I won the auction.

R. was not there and I feared her wrath at my profligacy, but as it turned out, she was stoked. And then we pinned Wolgan at the back of a fun trip to the Grafton jacaranda festival and a swing past Orange to see family.

Even more serendipitous was what I found on the camcorder when I finally looked at it nearly 2 years later. The sounds were all grand, giving a fully stitched together clip for my aural use that is over 5 minutes. AND the up close images were interesting; they revealed a host of bugs zipping and zizzing and crawling around, making the images more interesting, hence the decision to make this a YouTube event, which it was never planned to be.

Fly in and fly out

I really like the fly in and fly out I'd done for Ramayana 1,45 so I decided to make that better, which I think I've achieved.

This time, I've abandoned the blue marble low res image at 1000km elevation and used three-part composites made from Google Earth  screen caps for the close approaches. The closest Google Earth image (for the start of the fly out) is as if hovering just 750m above the landscape. The focus (ie target location) in the centre of each composite is at 4x the resolution of the main image and it is surrounded by a 2x segment. The central 4x image becomes the outer 1x of the next composite.

For the fly in, I manually overrode the last 10 frames with hand built images of the pin arriving, making a much smoother landing. In space, the flag's descent to Earth is much smoother, it throws a shadow on the Earth and the star background is moving, for added interest.

Because I will use it again and again, I set up the earth better for future use. It is now on an even keel and the fly in camera has moved to be over the target's latitude.

The Edit

Each of the 5 takes has been trimmed to approximately 20 seconds. The section chosen is a combination of visual and aural interest because I have not tampered with the soundtrack or its synchronization with the video, other than for fades and for the space sound-overs.

Technical Snippets

One problem was a phantom. The beautifully dark space sky was coming up a washed out grey. I thought it was the .mp4   codec  I was using, but after much time wasting it turned out it was the player I had as default for .mp4 but not for other formats.

The other was the composite editor. The one I had got for the HD video  files was cheap but clunky and the video fades were very difficult and substandard, but I'd finished the project except ... when I started on the credits I found this was just a dog. So a quick scan of the market, downloads, evaluations and finally commit. Hopefully this program will prove longer lived. Interesting that the offering of a major house, whose name you will all know if I said it, appeared to be little more than a toy.


So I hope you enjoy the "Birds, bugs and brooks, of the Wolgan Valley". How many different bird calls can you hear? How many different bugs did you see? Did anyone see the little spider working on his web?

The Wolgan Valley abuts the UNESCO Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Site.

The Earthmaps used for the fly-in / fly-out sequences can be found at Visible earth  specifically Blue Marble  along with a whole lot of other goodies.