Introduction to
Wildlife Sound Recording

with Chris Watson and Jez riley French

Interest in the sound recording of wildlife and environments has grown rapidly in the last few years. Described in various ways: location, field, natural, wild etc., these recordings can be put to a multitude of uses including film, television, radio, art installations, web and CD releases, video game soundtracks, as part of musical compositions and so on.

In the production of wildlife films, the
importance of the sound track and the role of the sound recordist
is often over-looked. The successful
recording of wildlife sound, and creation of the film’s sound track
is a crucial and major part of the creative process. With new digital
equipment available for recording and editing sound it requires
skill and experience to do the job justice.

two-day course aims to teach you the skills necessary to produce superb field recordings and give you
hands-on experience with some of the latest equipment. The course
is suitable for wildlife film-makers, sound recordists, radio producers, audio artists, musicians and video game designers, both professional and amateur. It is taught
by Chris Watson, one of the world’s top wildlife sound specialists
who regularly works for the BBC, and assisted by audio specialist
Jez riley French.

location is Whitwell
Hall Country Centre
in the centre of Norfolk, UK. Accommodation
is shared rooms (or there are nearby bed and breakfasts/hotels if
you prefer), and there will be excellent home-cooked food.


Friday : Aim to arrive by 6pm, directions will be sent when
you have booked your place.

7.00pm – evening meal served

8.30pm – introductory chat – admin, who we are, who you are, and what we will  be doing over the next two days.

9.30pm – break

10pm – Chris will play some recorded programmes (optional attendance)


8am – breakfast

9am – an introduction to natural sound and learning to listen. Practical approaches to recording in different circumstances or with different aims. Chris’s introduction to his approaches to recording

11am – coffee break

11.30am – introduction to hardware, microphones, recorders, accessories etc

1pm – lunch

2pm – prep for practical, looking at basics of kit

2.30pm – practical at Whitwell

(tea/cake available from 4.30pm)

6pm – briefings on practical work in the night and next morning

6.30pm – free time

7pm – evening meal served

8.00pm – Jez’s introduction to his approach to recording including the use of hydrophones and contact microphones

9.00pm – post-production, introduction to Reaper and other programs

10.00pm – break and night practical work


8am – breakfast followed by kitting up for practical work

9am – further practical work

1pm – lunch followed by time for students to listen to their own recordings and choose clips to share

2.30pm – critical analysis of recordings

4pm – course ends


– Sound RecordingTutor – Chris is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planet productions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound.

Chris’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops. His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica. The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield. See

A selection
of superb natural sound CDs by Chris Watson are now available from
our Wildeye Shop at

Jez riley French – Sound RecordingTutor – Jez is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the ‘a quiet position’ project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening.

Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics ( In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.

Principal of Wildeye – Piers is well
known throughout the wildlife film-making industry as the founder
of Wildlife Film News and former producer of,
which he created in the 1990s. With a strong background in biology,
education and conservation, he has had a lifelong passion for wildlife
films and has a wide knowledge of natural history. He cut his teeth
in the industry as a sound engineer and multi-media producer, running
a studio for many years before creating Wildeye. He is also one of the founders of the international
organisation Filmmakers
for Conservation
and was Vice President for the first three
years. Piers is the author of many magazine features and several
books including Careers
in Wildlife Film-making
and Go
Wild with Your Camcorder – How to Make Wildlife Films
for adventure, Piers leads wildlife tours and training expeditions
around the world. Amongst other things he has walked the African
plains with Maasai Warriors, tracked tigers in India on elephant-back,
explored the Amazon rainforest, swum with sharks, trekked across
Tanzanian deserts on a camel and filmed cheetahs hunting in Kenya.


£365 per person

This includes tuition, accommodation, and meals.


5-7 Dec 2014

2015 dates to be confirmed

To be informed of future courses please add your email address in the column on the right to receive Wildeye Bulletins.

If the home page shows that there are places available for the course of your choice – please complete the online application form and send in your deposit/fee as detailed.

Recording Grey Seal pups in Norfolk

31 January 2007 – The Guardian featured an article on our
tutor Chris Watson and the wildlife sound recording course we ran
in December 2006
click here
to view online

Wildlife Sound Recording staff and students September 2014

For photos from previous weekends click here


Recording the sea at Horsey

to the following companies for loaning equipment for the training:

Olympus – Linear PCM Recorder LS-11

– windshields, windjammers etc

– Fostex recorders and microphones

DPA / Sound Network – DPA microphones

Sanken – microphones

Rode – microphones, wind protection, boom-poles

MM audio / Naiant – lavalier / binaural microphones

Pettersson - ultrasonic detector

Lisn – parabolic system