String and Tins take to the Mugello racetrack to capture the unique sound of the Ducati's new beast
Today, Ducati unveil the long-awaited Panigale V4, the first production Ducati with a four-cylinder engine, with ‘A New Opera’. A delight for the ears for any super bike fan, Ducati take the new model to the home of MotoGP, Mugello, to show off a symphony of all-Italian performance and emotion.
Partnering with PAG and Blackboard to create the film, Ducati brought on London sound design and music production studio, String and Tins, to record the unique ‘orchestra’ of the bike. Sound is a huge part of the appeal when it comes to super bikes and it was important that Ducati’s fans would get to hear the true sound of the Panigale when it was finally unveiled.
“The brief from the very first conversations on this project was to capture the bike completely authentically,” comments Sound Designer Joe Wilkinson, “So the objective was to harvest everything we could record as fully as possible.”
However, recording the roaring harmonies of a superbike isn’t as easy as you might think. Unlike a car, which can be rigged with mics around the engine, and protected by casing, a sleek motorbike design doesn’t leave much excess space for recording equipment. Getting creative to capture the new symphony of the Panigale, Sound Designer Joe Wilkinson took recording to the next level.
Joe Wilkinson comments: “Our biggest challenge, when it came to record the epic sound of the Panigale, was where do you mount a recorder securely on a machine where every piece of faring is designed to be as aerodynamic as possible? Secondly, how do we rig our microphones so that they are protected from the wind, but still offer a recording with rich harmonic content? After numerous tests with different mic’s and placements, we found a couple of sweet spots. Just underneath the riders’ boot seemed to offer us an exciting perspective of the exhaust note - with the boot itself offering some natural wind protection. The second was inside the bodywork, capturing the clatter of the pistons and rasp of the engine. These two together offered a nice blend across the frequency spectrum. Along with this, we had two more perspectives, one on top of the chain guard at the rear, and the last with a contact mic placed near the fuel tank for some low frequency rumble.”
With the bike securely rigged, the String and Tins team also needed an on-track perspective to replicate the natural sounds you would hear if you were to see the bike go past from different angles and directions. In order to capture this, String and Tins collaborated with location sound designer, Simon Koelmeyer, who has worked on a number of heavyweight motorsport broadcasting, including Top Gear and the The Grand Tour.
Joe Wilkinson comments: “The on-track perspective consisted of Simon [Koelmeyer – Location Sound Recordist] and I sitting in the boot of a car, holding our boom poles with mics attached, as we directed a trailing rider through various overtaking manoeuvres. This was a really great moment where we could be extremely close to the moving bike, yielding some of the best results.”
To capture the perfect sound, Ducati provided String and Tins with ample time to rigorously test and fine-tune the recordings taken from the bike.
Joe Wilkinson concludes: “Fortunately, as we had many different perspectives on and off the bike, we had a wealth of material to choose from. It was incredibly rewarding to have a palette of sounds entirely of our making and it was also a pleasure to work with a client who were so enthusiastic about the importance of the sound.”
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