Field Recording: Red Deer Season with Chris Watson





CAMP is a residential arts facility in the French Pyrenees. It's a place where great art is made, new movements are formed, new ideas are explored and groundbreaking people are nurtured. CAMP is located in Aulus les Bains, the last village before the France/Spain Pyrenean frontier chain. The location is spectacular - we are nestled at 750m above sea level, surrounded by snowcapped peaks over 3000m high, ancient forests and cascading waterfalls. There are eagles, lammergeiers, vultures, ibex and bears. Walk out of the residency, and within ten minutes you are completely alone in one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in Europe. Aulus les Bains is also a spa village - there are hot water springs, and a thermal spa in the village to take advantage of the healing and relaxing properties of the water.
Workshop dates: 29/09/2021 - 03/10/2021
Our 2019 red deer session with Chris Watson was one of the highlights of the year - rolling silently down forest tracks in the dead of night, headlights off, side door open ready to drop our team of sonic explorers at key recording sites, discovering and understanding the habitats and behaviour of the red deer, camping out under the stars in wait for them to begin their display, the thrill of quickly, silently setting up gear with one stag on each side of your position, braying back and forth.

From mid-September to mid-October the high mountains and forests of the Ariege region plays host to one of the most impressive events of the wildlife calendar - the red deer rutting season. As the sun sets, we'll install ourselves on the mountain and wait for the unmistakeable "brame du cerf" - the sonorous call of the red stag. Evening explorations and all-night camping and recording sessions will provide an unforgettable experience of sonic exploration.

While we're not hunting the sound of deer, we'll focus on all factors of working with environmental sound - recording, production, decoding and critical analysis. There will also be recording sessions focusing on owls - it's the perfect time for owl activity, as mother owls try to push their recently independent young out of their territory - bats, insects and hydrophone recordings in the lakes and rivers of this beautiful region.

Taking place in the forests, mountains and high-altitude plains of the Haute Couserans, with field trips to some of the regions most spectacular locations, the course will cover:

Fieldcraft and microphone techniquesSpatial audio recording techniques such as spaced stereo microphones, surround sound arrays, Ambisonic techniques using a Soundfield microphone ST450, Schoeps double mid side arrays and Sennheiser middle and side systemsExperimentation with contact microphones, hydrophones and parabolic reflectorsSurround sound playback and multi-channel systemsDecoding techniquesListening sessions and discussion of critical analysisTechnical operation and specifics of location recording equipment

The sessions will be accompanied by optional outdoors activities led by CAMP crew, including guided mountaineering, visits to local beauty points, and downtime to hang out, relax, enjoy the local food and wine, and learn informally from Chris, the CAMP crew, and your fellow students. Following the course, we will invite students to submit work for release on our in-house labels, and for installation at Fuse Art Space.

Chris is one of the world's leading sound recordists specialising in wildlife and natural phenomena. In 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television, and since then Chris has gone on to forge a reputation as a pioneer of natural sound recording and production, working closely with David Attenborough on Frozen Planet, The Life of Mammals, The Life of Birds, Life in the Undergrowth, Galapagos and others, winning a BAFTA for his work on The Life Of Birds. His TV credits include Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Big Cat Diary, and in 2012 the Broadcasting Press Guild named Chris "Radio Broadcaster of the Year". In 2013 Chris won the Paul Hamlyn Composers Award, and he recently collaborated with Bjork on the soundtrack to her 2015 MoMA retrospective in New York and by contributing Icelandic recordings to her 'Utopia' album. His sounds and music are regularly featured on BBC television, Radio 4 and World Service productions including 'The Wire' which won him the Broadcasting Press Guild's Broadcaster of The Year Award (2012). As a freelance composer and sound recordist Watson specialises in creating spatial sound installations which feature a strong sense and spirit of place.

Chris has released four solo albums of field recordings, including "Stepping into the Dark" which won an Award of Distinction at the 2000 Prix Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, and has collaborated with Mika Vainio, Philip Jeck, Hazard, Fennesz, AER (Jon Wozencroft, aka "Alpha Echo Romeo"), and Biosphere, BJNilsen, and Marcus Davidson. Recent commissions include work for The National Gallery (London) The Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), GRM & Radio France, The Louvre and the Aichi Triennial in Japan.

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5 days, 6 nights
Wednesday, September 29, 2021 to Sunday, October 3, 2021
The workshop costs €1299, inclusive of accommodation, excellent food and drinks (all diets catered for), transport from Toulouse and all activities. Grants, bursaries and discounts available, see

Host & Provider:


CAMP, Rue Principale, Aulus les Bains, 09140 France


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