I needed some swimming pool ambience for a short film, so I decided to go out to the local pool and record original material instead of using stock ones. The reason was I didn’t find really natural (unaltered) in our libraries.
The operation was stealth as I wanted to capture the original atmosphere without changing it. This is very important with these recordings. If we disturb, direct or alter the scene in any way, we loose the authentic nature of it, hence we won’t have a real good recording.
This is a small local swimming pool lots of kids playing and learning to swim. I had been recording there for a little more than an hour at afternoon. I chose the time because we needed to have kids “walla”, and doing this in post was not possible in this case.
I had time to experiment with different mic positions, so I recorded with 3 different setup. An XY, a wide (120º) cardioid setup and a AB pair with two omnis.
I’ve tried to record from different spots, payed attention to the fact that no one shall know what I’m doing there. Luckily no one really cared, so it wasn’t that hard to hide my real aim.
To use original material turned out to be a good choice. I used a combination from different recordings to craft together a nice swimming pool ambience. I kept the originals, so you can compare them.
I don’t want to be the final judge here, I only offer my opinion in brief. Although it is an open air swimming pool, the basic XY setup still has some nasty off-axis coloration that I really don’t like. The wide setup was the same, still, somehow it is better than the XY, but still not good enough. My favourite (now it’s obvious) is the AB pair as to me this is the most natural, with good stereo spread. And although I cannot post footage from the short film, it is far the most authentic and usable recording when it’s married with the picture.