Award-winning sound designer and field recordist George Vlad specialises in capturing natural soundscapes that truly evoke his location. To ensure his recordings are always pristine, he uses an arsenal of high-end microphones in conjunction with wind protection from Bubblebee Industries.
“I do a lot of unattended recording where I set up a microphone rig and leave it for up to a week, and I like to have the smallest footprint possible because that attracts the least attention, which is important when you are recording wildlife,” George says. “The best way to achieve this is with a lavalier microphone and a Bubblebee Windbubble. If I use a blimp or some of the larger wind protectors, my rig becomes too obvious and that can have a detrimental effect.”
Usually, George’s rig consists of a power bank, a cable, a small recorder and one or two pairs of lavalier microphones, each covered with a Bubblebee Windbubble. This not only protects against wind noise but also help prevent damage to my mics when he is working in wet or humid conditions.
George always takes a large bag of Windbubbles on each recording trip and usually packs a variety of colours and sizes. The Windbubble’s success as a wind protector lies in its clever design and use of high quality Bubblebee fur, which creates a bubble of dead air around the microphone capsule and slows down the ambient wind.
“I take more than I need because rodents like them, as do birds that often think Windbubbles are also birds, so they rub against them and peck them,” he says. “Being able to hide mics is useful, especially in places where there’s a lot of foot traffic from local people. In those situations, you can’t leave a large mic in a blimp in case it gets moved or stolen, so I hide small lavaliers with Windbubbles and I’m able to leave them unattended for hours.”
Originally from Romania but now based in Surrey in the UK, George Vlad has perfected his field recording techniques on numerous trips that have taken him to countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Oman, Senegal, Ethiopia, The Congo, Costa Rica, Madagascar, the Amazon rainforest, the Atacama Desert in Chile and the Sahara Desert in Algeria.
Through his company Mindful Audio he shares his recordings with sound editors and designers and releases material through his YouTube channel where there are now more than 120 video. He also works as a computer games sound designer and many of his recordings provide material for that work, too.
“I don’t chase high intensity moments by going to war zones or anything like that,” he explains, “and I make use of local knowledge to ensure I stay safe if I am in an area where there could be danger. Generally, though, wildlife is not out to get us. They only become aggressive when they are afraid, otherwise they run away. If it isn’t safe to get close to an animal, I use a boom pole to reduce the distance between my mic and the sound source. On location, you can’t physically carry a different accessory for every eventuality, so you learn to fashion what you need from what’s available.”
George Vlad’s dual career as a sound designer and a field recordist has won him plaudits from numerous quarters. In the video games world, he is renowned for his work on Horizon Forbidden West, Dune Awakening and Path of Exile, and was among a team from Guerrilla who won the 2022 MASA Best Sound Design in Gaming award. The same team was also nominated for the 2023 BAFTA for Audio Achievement, the 2022 MPSE Golden Reel Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing and the 2022 Game Award for Best Audio Design. His work has also been included in a number of film and television series dealing with conservation issues, and he works closely with many conservation organisations and universities as a guest lecturer.
“There is so much biodiversity in the world, and so many endemic species, but a large number of them are very threatened,” he says. “If their habitat is lost, they die out. I’d like to think my work can help in some small way, even if it is just by bringing attention to what we have so we can try harder to protect it before it is lost.”
For more information about George Vlad, please visit https://mindful-audio.com/
About Bubblebee Industries
Bubblebee Industries has been Making Sound Sound Better since 2011. Based in Denmark, Bubblebee designs high quality microphone wind protection and sound accessories for the production sound, field recording, live, sports and broadcast sound industries.