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Protest crowd recordings

Updated: Oct 3, 2021

Whilst working on a recent project, a particular scene called for the sound of a crowd of protestors, heard somewhere in the middle distance. Listening through the commercial libraries of crowd recordings that I had available to me, there didn't seem to be a huge variety of different perspectives of recording position from the source.

Aside from having recordings of both interior and exterior spaces, there were lots that were of a similar-sized crowd and captured from a similar distance from the source.

In recent months, there has been a lot of protesting on the streets of central London, from pro-Brexit campaigners, to climate change activists and anti-government demonstrations. I have been trying to get out and capture as much of these as possible to add to my library for use in future projects.

To get the maximum amount of useable material out of each recording opportunity, I knew that I wanted to try to capture several different perspectives whenever I went out. This allows for greater flexibility in post-production as different perspectives can be layered to change the perceived size, or panned to different channels to create a more immersive effect. Fading between different perspectives of the same source could be used to create movement and distance. This could be useful for example, in a shot that follows a character as they move further away or closer to a crowd.

Below is an example of a few of the different recording perspectives I recorded at the People's March earlier today:

And here is a short example of how these different recordings could be used to create movement.

For these kind of recordings, I have been using two microphones in a mid side configuration. I like to record like this, as as it gives control of the stereo width of the sound, and is easy to convert to a mono recording in post-production. I am planning to experiment recording crowds using a double mid side setup, to enable encoding to stereo, quad or 5.0.


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