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This library began as a side quest from a DIY project. I installed an exterior bath in my back yard with vague dreams of my own private onsen, but I soon realised it had potential for sound effects recording since being exterior there was no bathroom verb to contend with. But I was further motivated by adding the primary modulation source for this new water library: compressed air.

Using a compressor provided an endless supply of air bubbles, which could be controlled and performed. From blasts and bursts to sustained eruptions, variations could be performed using a range of nozzles and air tools. After capturing many variations I began exploring constricted air flow, using rubber and plastic as well as my fingers to perform shrieks and groans with almost a vocal quality.

Thanks to some well-timed requests, I next explored gross, sloppy sounds by collecting up seaweed & kelp from the beach and filling the bath with them. Both manually moving them and blowing air bubbles amongst them proved useful, and I also splattered them on concrete as well as using a smaller bucket to contain them.

Following on from these, next was performing with the leather remnants from SOFA SMASH. Using both the bath and a plastic bucket, I performed flicks, flaps & hits… And then changed focus to capture a range of more normal exterior water splashes, splats, pours, dribbles before filling the bath and having a soak, while recording myself performing bath movements – arm & leg lifts, drops and lots of smaller moves.

The strangest sounds in this library were modulated by fireworks released underwater. Back when we record the Fireworks library I discovered some fireworks once ignited will actually work underwater, and we recorded some back then using a wok full of water, but I figured the larger capacity of the bath along with hydrophone recording could create some interesting results and I was right! The main successes was with ground blooms, which spin like crazy but I also managed to fire some sky rockets into the bath!

The final recording for the library occurred late in the process, when I realised the Tank Resonator would provide interesting resonance. So I filled it with water, carefully hung the mics inside it and performed a range of air bubbles, clean as well as constricted capturing some creature vocals that make me think of a very angry taniwha.

Recorded multitrack with a stereo pair MKH8040, a mono MKH8050 as well as a pair of Aquarian H2a hydrophones, this library augments previously recorded useful foley-like water sounds in SD007 WATER FOLEY and more extreme sounds with a water blaster for SD024 LIQUIDS

Playing with this library, it is so useful to have sync exterior and hydrophone recordings. Years ago I worked on a short film (blog here with examples) about a house which slowly became submerged in rising water levels as a fairly obvious allegory to climate change. For the film they literally cut a house in half, so they could lower it in a lake and for sound design it was a fascinating challenge. I often found it more productive to create underwater sounds by processing ‘normal’ water recordings, as it allowed me to retain the full spectrum of real sound and for example vocoding water bubbles against an explosion led to some very useful iconic sounds. So I feel this library provides a unique opportunity to take this approach much further, with the ability to mix hydrophone recordings with sync sounds captured above the water line, processed or not.

There is also huge potential to use the shape & density of performed water sounds when designing totally unrelated sounds. For example if I was working on a scifi film or game that involved blaster weapons, I believe some of the underwater air blasts could be very rewarding to manipulate. Similarly there is the potential to create very interesting ambiences from some of the sustained deep air bubble streams.

Also to note: as the 2021 Xmas Present included water splash sounds, I have included them in this library, so they are available to anyone who did not get them at the time.