Mini-recording booth complete.

Hard not to feel proud about this one. A modular design built from 6 panels of 2″ acoustic foam used about as completely as possible… and all storable in the box it came in.

I started with an Instrucables project as a guide:

From that basic idea, I made this… a few tweaks left to do, but generally there.
Fully-covered interior space is 22″ high, 17″ deep, with a 9″ back wall, and front opening of 24″. There is enough structural integrity to it that you can let the front 6 inches hang off the front edge of the table, providing foam baffling to the left & right of you.

When disassembled it looks like this…

… and yet still all so lovely fits back into the box it came in:

  • The foam is 2″ thick acoustic foam that came in 12″x 24″ sheets. Because I am not insane, I tried to use the material as-is with as little cutting as possible.
  • Because I needed a more all-purpose ambient-room-noise-killer, I made it large enough to contain the toy pianos.
  • After playing around with the foam for an evening and poking thru my collection of boxes in the basement, I decided that (a) the foam itself had enough structural integrity to stand with little assistance; and (b) the box the foam came in was exactly the size I was gonna need to support the panels, anyway. Certainly a “laziest man on the boat” moment. But brilliant, too.
  • Bottom panels, left & right, are glued to the interior of the box.
  • Since I am relying on the box-top flaps for structure, I added two 12″ vertical cardboard supports to the panels that would be sitting on top of the glued panels.
  • Back panel (not glued in) was cut to 9″ wide. It was either that or attempt miter-cutting foam. Again with the because I am not insane.
  • The remaining 3″ wide strip, angle-cut at the end to fit the opening, was used to extend the fully-covered space. As you can see, it wants to droop after a while. I have a number of options (including ‘live with it’) that I’m considering.
  • The main top piece I cut to the size of the interior space, and adhered to some sturdy cardboard with a 2-1/2″ overhang on either side. There is a back flap 12″ wide with some additional foam that extends down the back of the box about 2″. Two benefits –it adds additional weight to help keep the top piece aligned properly, and the additional foam compensates for the gaps left by ~not~ miter-cutting the foam.
  • Currently, the box is held closed with velcro, but I think I’m going to switch to buttons. Big coat buttons, anchored on the interior with flat button stays. Better to rely on the strength of the box itself than the inevitable detaching of the sticky-back from the box.
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    7 Responses to Mini-recording booth complete.

    1. garret says:

      Beats using a heavy terrycloth bathrobe (as I’ve done in a pinch more than once). I can’t tell from the shots, but you might consider using big buttons on *both* sides – so you can button back the left-hand door when the booth is open?

      I gotta build me one o’ these. I have to do a voiceover this week, too.

    2. aimante says:

      Excellent suggestion.. or perhaps a hook-and string contraption, so I don’t bend the cardboard back too far? But agreed – it’s a physical and visual nuisance.

      I just cut back 9″ of the cardboard on the bottom left / right flaps, leaving just a mere edge extending past the foam — gives me additional elbow room, and acts as a nice visual indicator for where to align the box on the table.

    3. garret says:

      I think I’ll have to make a wider front for mine. More like 28″, so I won’t be at risk of flipping pages of script and hitting the sides. I notice you tastefully avoided print or logos on the cardboard (grin) – I approve.

      Where’d you pick up the acoustical foam? That’s a new pattern I haven’t seen before – but then, I’ve been out of the A/V biz for a few years now. A lot has changed.

      I can’t spring for a Canon 5D MKII this year, but I might go for a 7D so I can take video and climb back on my video editing/video directing horse. I’ve just gotten done hiring some of the ‘talent’ (I use the word loosely) in the Santa Fe area, and am horrified. When’s the last time you saw anyone submit a video using a cube-turn on a mosaic of images? You should have heard me swear. This is a good opportunity, I think, for my own creative growth. I have skills far beyond the yokels here, I just have to clear the rust off. The web’s been getting boring lately anyway.

    4. aimante says:

      Oh, no! I had completely forgotten about the Cube Turn — laughed loud enough to startle one of the sleeping cats.

      The foam is from Next Acoustics. And yes; once I determined my price-point and reviewed the few products available to me, the look of the foam won that small battle. My biggest issue is trying to eliminate the high whine of the computer – this foam seemed to rate well on high-end frequencies.

      If I had had anything other than X-acto knives available, I would have gone with something wider and less deep, as well. The foam cuts very well with slow, consistent pressure: I would think a scroll saw and a bit of patience would give you nice, clean edges (just as important to me as no logos – thank you for noticing. :) ). I cannot speak to the acoustic property of the interior space I created — again, playing that ball where it lied — I am half-expecting a sound engineer friend of mine to come over and tell me I created a space with all the acoustic properties of a gun silencer.

      I hope to see some video productions from you soon…. and hope you add a big dose of whimsy in with you re-learning. You know what I would love to see you do? Create a few live-action movies out of any story written by anyone under the age of 10. Certainly a challenge to anyone’s directorial skills, but I cannot see you NOT having a blast every step of the way!

    5. garret says:

      Sound techs are never satisfied. It’s part of their job … it took me about six months of working with them directly to understand how endearing it is. They’ll probably whip out a few mathematical formulas and tell you that you should have built something along the lines of 1/2 of an octagon, or a dodecahedron, in order to lower the rebound frequency of ‘zilbo-zeta-repartno waves’. (grin) I owe you a debt for posting all this. Extremely timely, given my upcoming to-do’s. I do doubt mine will be as well-built as yours.

      I can’t remember – did I link that artist who took children’s drawings and made them into full-color, realized (realistic) works? If not, I’ll see if I can find it and send it over to you. I tend to keep my really edgy arts stuff to myself (conceptual, fine art, performance art, nsfw, etc.). I’m concocting a plot to put all that crazy stuff over on my neglected Tumblr. I love what’s going on over on that service. A joyous anarchy of images, text and video.

      As for your recommendation – you know me too well! That would suit me down to the ground. Even in photography, I don’t want to just ‘evoke feelings’. When I really work a subject, I want to generate an *emotion*. Trying to link images to childhood experience would indeed be a challenge. Tough part is, avoiding all the stereotypes of how it’s been attempted before. Ever see “Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams”? With this little challenge you’ve expressed, you absolutely must see it (perhaps again). If you’ve *never* seen it – Merry Christmas. Watch it when in a pensive, thoughtful mood. [And if you can’t find it, let me know.]

      I did want to expand here on your comment to my dawn photo, that would seem insult to some of my readers: Sunsets are a symphony, an orchestra of light, clouds, landscape, weather, sun … inseparably complex, for the most part. In spite of that complexity, they’re relatively easy to shoot. Just wait for the obvious crescendo and diminuendo. Go close, go wide – it’s all good. And they’re guaranteed crowd-pleasers. Sunrises out here are more delicate, a pas de deux between land and sky. Perhaps it’s because one has just risen from sleep, but sunrises are intimate in a way sunsets never can be. Composing them is joining the dance – one can’t just slam a tripod down and machine-gun photos. There’s often a lace-like fragility in the clouds, so fragile it’s as if a mere breath could destroy all creation. I actually like – and work with – the fact that I’m still halfway between sleep and wake. I even tiptoe, I suspect, for fear of a stray noise disturbing this special moment in time. It’s so quiet out here at dawn, a silence so pressing that you’d swear you had your head under a pillow. It’s almost *insistent*, as if that’s possible for silence. There’s a sacredness that is further magnified by the nature of the landscape (the Anasazi lived all over this area, and their rituals were linked to celestial events). The early-morning breezes can both jostle and grumble as if you’re surrounded by the ancients, lining up for a view. There is a strong connection between past-now-future-dawn-earth-sky-individual-cosmos. Very akin to finally breaking through in meditation, only without the long practice. That’s why it is sometimes hard to come back with a shot – I’m entranced by the connection to all existence. The only place I’ve felt it stronger is at Chaco Culture NHP (but that’s a story for another time). It’s hard to express all this in words, but you recognize and appreciate these nuances, I know. It’s like life and nature … they can both be savage, but they can also be achingly gentle and beautiful. Photographing – or just experiencing – sunrises gives me an opportunity to enjoy the latter, almost without fail.

      Now I ask myself why I haven’t been doing it more often. And that’s another video challenge I see – trying to visually/audibly share that feeling I just expressed!

      • aimante says:

        Another string of, “I concur”s, Garrett.

        I like your description of approaching sunrises — it’s very similar to how one must approach Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 — but it seems you have intuitively figured that out.

        Of course I am a big Kurosawa fan — but it’s been a while for ‘Dreams’, so I’ll put it back on the list. :) If you have not yet, please think to check out “After Life” (“Wandâfuru raifu” is the Japanese title). If you say the name of movie aloud, note the similarity to “Wonderful Life” — as in, “It’s a…”. This is not coincidental.

        “The early-morning breezes can both jostle and grumble as if you’re surrounded by the ancients, lining up for a view.”

        You know, I have only been to the southwest once. And for long stretches of time, I would just *stand*, surrounded by hills and pinon and juniper – and listen to the wind start way far to my right and then shwoosh past me, and up way far to my left. Hours. Because I could hear the voices. And almost understand the words.

        So: if you decode to make a sound-contraption, please think about taking pics along the way. I found the challenges or it just as exciting as the final construction, and I’d love to see how you end up solving similar problems.

        Please, too, send along your Tumblr link. I have a presence over there, as well — a few of my compatriots use it much like you seem to — to document their processes, or works-in-progress. I’d love to think that soon I’ll have a collection of little windows into dozens of studios and creative minds.

    6. garret says:

      Mine’s a pastiche for now:
      Getting into a rhythm. I need to choose or make a better theme.

      Sorry about the sunrise stuff … talking of photography in New Mexico tends to get me more ‘cosmic’ than normal. For all my pragmatism, there are some mythologies I believe in because I experience them. It’s like when you build a rock wall … you’re not the one making the choices. The rocks are.

      I have not seen “After Life.” Sounds immersive. I once had a theory that as souls depart, they brush past the new souls coming down to be born, leaving imprints – pieces and parts of the deceased – upon their new existence. Perhaps this is why we see snips and bits of our loved ones in strangers. A childish conceit, perhaps, but I found it comforting once upon a time.

      When I build the sound contraption, I’ll try to document it. I already have some modifications in mind for how I’d use it.

      Kieslowski, Three Colors Trilogy. I’ve got a section of my ’12 years of blogging’ post I’m working on (lord knows if it will see the light of day), discussing the Sugar Puff ‘optimism’ in the metacosm right now. Melancholy – Goreski, Kieslowski, more … authenticity. Life’s just not a jar of honey. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, but not appreciating reality … is.

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