OIART Student Blog – Gabriel – Week 10

Dec.01 / 2011
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Here we are trying our hand at group mixing using Studio 3’s Westar console (and Pro Tools).  It can get a bit hectic with four pairs of hands twiddling knobs, but it’s also fun.  Or you could just take turns.  It’s great practice, however, to react to someone else’s EQ move.  It’s like some weird game of Audio Chess.  For example: better cut the guitars a bit somewhere in between 2-5 kHz because Shawn wants to make sure that the vocals are “present” in the mix.  What’s that Brian?  Are you boosting the kick a bit between 80-100 Hz?  Better dip the bass guitar in that range…  A major lesson: EQ is a powerful thing and often should be used sparingly.  Sort of like magic.

Ian here is admiring Studio 2’s collection of gear.  We had a great time playing with all the hardware compressors.  My favourite was the Empirical Labs Distressor.  You can totally hammer it and it still sounds musical – at least to us.  Ian also had the great idea of side-chaining the kick to the whole mix a la Black Eyed Peas.  You know – when the kick plays the whole mix ducks out of the way and pumps and breathes with it.  Awesome.  His nickname now is Will-i-an.  We also practiced other techniques like removing sibilance (i.e. hard “s”, “ch” and “t” sounds) from a vocal with a compressor.  Not happy with your de-esser plug-in?  Give that method a go…

One of our production/engineering tasks this week was to replace an acoustic guitar track in a previously recorded song.  It was great practice because we had to evaluate the prerecorded sound and decide how to get a similar acoustic guitar sound that would fit back into the mix as a whole.  Here is our talent, Zack laying down the chords for our recording.  Would you like some water, Zach?  How about we light up some candles?  A foot rub?  Maybe that’s going too far, but as Dean (our Pro Tools & Production instructor) says, “Whatever makes the talent more comfortable is a good thing.”  So even though we thought it was a bit weird when Zack requested some whale mating calls in the foldback mix, we quickly indulged him so that he could get his groove on.  Taking care of the talent (and studio etiquette in general) is huge!  Just like that whale…

This is the view from the other side (i.e. what the talent sees looking through the glass). Here is Brian setting up the UA 6176 to add a bit of color to Zack’s guitar tone. And there’s Ian being engineer, setting up tracks and making sure that we don’t deafen our talent with high volume in his headphones. Shawn’s probably on the floor sweeping the mics on the acoustic guitar to find that all elusive sweet spot. Ah, studio work. So much fun!