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Protecting the sound of Greenland’s glaciers

How sound recordist Thomas Rex Beverly captured the sound of Greenland's glaciers 'calving' with the help of Bubblebee's wind protection products

Sound recordist Thomas Rex Beverly made made use of Bubblebee Industries’ wind protection products while recording the sound of Greenland’s glaciers for a new project.

Beverly was in Greenland to record the sound of ‘calving’ – a process where huge chunks of ice break off from the front of the glacier to form icebergs. This is usually accompanied by loud cracking or booming sounds with the volume depending on how close you are to the glacier and the type of calving event taking place.

His work is often used on high-profile film, TV and video game projects.

Recording continuously for two weeks on three different glaciers, Beverly captured 700 calving events as well as underwater sounds around the icebergs, ice deep inside the glacial crevices and water resonating deep down inside the glacier.

“I have been captivated by glaciers for a long time and Greenland was a big location on my bucket list because it has so many diverse examples,” said Beverly. “I assumed they would make some sounds, but they were surprising in a whole lot of ways. They sing, and I find it amazing. They are like slow-motion thunderstorms, and you can’t help but be awed if you get to witness their beauty and natural power first hand.”

To record the sounds, Beverly used eight different microphone rigs, each containing a recorder, a battery and at least one pair of mics. These included LOM Uši omnidirectional microphones, several Sennheiser rigs with 8000 Series mics, a portable Sony PCM-D100 and hydrophones for recording underwater.

“I never take a mic out without wind protection because even in the lightest winds you get buffeting sounds,” he adds. “I use Bubblebee Industries products because they are portable, hardwearing and highly effective in the most difficult conditions. I have a number of different Bubblebee solutions and on this trip, I used all of them. In fact, many of my Greenland recordings wouldn’t have been possible without their wind protection products.”

Beverly used the Bubblebee Windbubbles to cover his small LOM microphones. He also took a Bubblebee WindKiller SE for his Sony PCM-D100 portable recorder and Bubblebee’s Piece-A-Fur, which he used in situations where the weather conditions were especially challenging. 

“The Piece-A-Fur has porous back material that allows sound frequencies through, while its dense, soft fur deadens friction and reduces wind noise,” Beverly explained. “When the wind was really wild, I’d put the microphones into Windbubbles, then into a Cinela blimp and then wrap the Piece-A-Fur round the whole lot for three layers of protection. The wind protection also helped shield the mics from moisture and glacial grit, which is even finer than sand and gets into everything.”

While he was in Greenland, Beverly also recorded the sound of wildlife such as Ptarmigan and small arctic foxes. He also discovered that the sled dogs, which the locals keep for hunting in winter, were a great source of material. 

“In Kulusuk there are more dogs than humans – approximately 250 of them,” he said. “When they all howl at night the sound daisy chains down the valley and they sound like a mega pack of wolves. It is really something to hear.”

Beverly spent nearly three weeks in Greenland camping near glaciers for days on end and moving around the location in small boats and on foot. He is now back in the USA and planning his next trip which will probably involve a return to Greenland to record whale song and more glaciers. 

“Each glacier has its own personality,” he said. “They all move at different speeds, have different shapes, different sized crevices and therefore create lots of different sounds. I want to visit more of them. Everyone should try and see a glacier before they die – and icebergs. They are so beautiful. They are awe-inspiring.”