In December, I scored a short black comedy called Time to Kill. The film is directed by Justin Rettke, produced by Cindy Wong, and features a stellar performance by Christopher T. Wood, who also co-wrote it with Mr. Rettke and Scott D. Frank.
Sound on Sound has compiled a very nice list of Pro Audio companies doing great deals from this weekend (and longer, in some cases).
The article is http://www.soundonsound.com/news?NewsID=16771
It has been a few weeks since the support team from Avid got the purchase problem resolved. I’ve been working on a few scoring projects, so I haven’t had a chance to return to this post. I had a few days this week to do a small project entirely in PT 11, so I can now give my impressions.
My real first impressions long before PT 11 hit. Several years ago, I was discussing Avid with a studio owner. Avid’s stock had recently taken a huge hit. The studio owner likened what was happening with them with the cycle a number of companies went through as they were going out of business (the specific focus was New England Digital in the early 1990s). At the time (2009?) it was hard to be optimistic about any aspect of the economy, but I expressed a hope that Avid would undo the obvious mistakes of the past. In my opinion, this centered around the problems of pursuing a larger market place by expanding into the realm of pro-sumer equipment and software. The trend with publicly traded companies is to focus on the year to year increase of gross sales that drives the stock price rather than increasing profitability while maintaining the portion of the market place they already have.
Yet another topic in the basics subject.
When working with students, I often see an all or nothing approach to gating. A lot can be accomplished with a gate set to 10dB of attenuation.
Rather than gating drum tracks by 40 dB, or “tight-editing” the tracks, try using 10 or 12 dB of attenuation with a gate. The crosstalk is still cut back to manageable levels, but the drum tones retain their depth of field, and vibe. This can be made more effective by using some subtle expansion.
This isn’t the right approach for every mix, but it worked for a lot of great recordings in the analog years.
I get asked about mix tricks a lot. There seems to be a belief amongst students that if they just can learn a few more tricks, their mixes will somehow jump to the level of the best mix engineers. Of course, there are a big problem with this. Mixing is a craft, not simply a collection of clever tricks. More importantly, the best mix tricks in the world are still context sensitive.
So, here is the ultimate mix trick: the trick that isn’t a trick. When mixing, focus on what’s actually there on the tracks, identify a problem, then fix the problem. Any mix trick is designed to solve a problem in a mix. If the tracks at hand do not have that problem, then the mix trick is useless, or worse, it may actually cause other problems.
For example, I know a lot of mix tricks to help get a kick drum to “play well” with the bass guitar. I might do some filtering of the two tracks, or duck the bass under the kick hits, or (to me, better yet) use an expander to make the bass hit a dB or two harder during the kick hits. But none of these things are needed if the raw kick and bass tracks I was asked to mix already work well together. Since I mostly work in music, my focus is usually musical. Rather than starting by thinking about the tone of the kick and the bass, I ask if the groove of the tune is solid. If it is, then there is no problem. If the low end of the groove is a little loose, especially if it seems to come and go, then that is the problem. Then, we go to the bag of tricks.
Know when to use your tricks. Identify the problem, then solve the problem.
A huge amount of my time with my students involves discussing equipment purchases and decisions. This series of posts will address some of the most common areas of discussion. This is targeted to young students just getting started. There are no ground-breaking secrets here; just real-world considerations for purchases.
This post will focus on Interfaces.
For most audio students, the interface will likely be an all-in one unit that includes the mic preamp and converters. In the past, interfaces were a bit more of an issue since Pro Tools was proprietary to M-Audio and Digidesign (Avid) hardware until version 9. Now, there are more options.
This is another area that I think a lot of students have irrational issues with the want vs. need thing. Things that you NEED are things that are essential for you success in school, or things that will pay for themselves in a short time by allowing you to make money you would have been able to make otherwise. Anything else is really a WANT, a luxury. I’m an established professional, so my needs are very different than students. I also have a budget for WANT. Most students do not.
When it comes to interfaces, of course you want 24 channels of great pres and conversion, all for $400. Unfortunately, that won’t be happening. For most students, the question is really one of 2 channel, 4 channel, and 8 channel interfaces. That is the NEED. I encourage students to not over-buy interfaces. You have access to facilities while you are in school. Like all computer-based equipment, interfaces become obsolete within a few years, so it isn’t a solid investment for a student. If you can get by with four channels until you graduate, do it. Don’t buy an 8-channel. Save your money for something that will last.