Our own Mike Thornton & James Ivey were very happy to support Jigsaw24's first 'Mix With The Pros' event at their London premises yesterday. There were two sessions one at 3pm and a second at 7pm and it was standing room only, especially at the 3pm event.
Avid UK's Simon Sherbourne introduced the sessions and kicked off with an overview of what Avid have announced recently including talking about a range of new plug-ins for Pro Tools First that apparently work with Pro Tools and Pro Tools HD and the HD versions are even AAX DSP. He told us that they are available in the Avid Marketplace from within Pro Tools 12. He also stressed that the Avid development team are hard at work resolving bug fixes and that there would be a new version of Pro Tools 11 along soon with these fixes included as well as new versions of Pro Tools 12.
Simon then took us through a whistle top tour of the Avid S6 including outlining some of the new features in the v2 software for the S6. It is gratifying to see the rate of development and improvements being introduced to the S6 software which shows that Avid can be agile and respond to customer feedback and introduce new features relatively quickly.
We went on to cover the Avid S3 as well as the Avid Control iPad app that will provide a lot of the track navigation features, especially when teamed up with the S3, that are also available on the touch screen of the Avid S6 He also showed us a new feature added in Pro Tools 12 where when you back and select tracks on the control surface Pro Tools can follow this and vice versa.
Donal Hodgson, Sting's Recording Engineer
Donal showed us a project he worked on with Sting as recording and mixing engineer which was a special concert at the legendary Red Rocks amphitheatre near Denver in the US. It was for an edition of 'Private Sessions' for A&E Television Network. Sting and his band was joined by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Donal took us though the equipment he used to record this event which included 48 channels of Millenia mic preamps and Apogee convertors but he didn't have enough rack space in his allocation for the tour to have the 80 channels he needed so added 32 channels of DAV mic preamps which had 8 preamps in a IU box. Donal used DPA 4099 instrument clips mics for the strings but what he didn't tell us last night is that he won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for his work on this Private Sessions with Sting.
It was a real insight into how Donal sets up his workflow and all the planning that goes into working on a project like this and templates and colour coding play a key part in his workflow. When it came to mixing a major part was muting or deleting audio when musicians weren't playing which not unsurprising cleaned up the sound. Then it was a matter of balancing everything.
Several other investing facts Donal shared with us, is that he uses a Neve mixer to sum his mixes through. He configures his Pro Tools session templates to send out 8 stereo stems into his Neve and then brings the stereo out from the Neve back into Pro Tools and records that as well as the stems he sends to his Neve. Donal is also an avid mouse and keyboard user and is always looking for new shortcuts so he can work faster and more creatively.
Composer - Walter Mair & Mix Engineer - Andy Bradfield
Next up were renowned music composer for movies, TV and games - Walter Mair and award-winning music and film mix engineer Andy Bradfield. Walter and Andy took us through 2 projects they had recently collaborated on; writing, recording and mixing the music for a film yet to be released - Ronaldo, and TV production for Channel 4 here in the UK - Glue.
Walter outlined the composition process, which he does in Logic. As he told us afterwards, he finds the MIDI functionality on Pro Tools a little limiting and so he prefers to work in Logic. The compositions that Walter and Andy took us through were hybrids of electronic instrumentation and real strings recorded at Abbey Road. This combination led to sessions with very high track counts and in fact when Andy went to HDX he choose to have an HDX 2 system to give him the flexibility and capacity he needs.
At the point Walter hands over to Andy he prints audios files of all his tracks and to make sure there aren't any problems Walter includes the timecode start time in the file name for every clip.
Like Donal, Andy is very keen on using templates and colour coding although, as we found when we asked the community about colour coding recently, everyone is different, and Donal and Andy's choices for colours were very different too. But the key thing they both stress is how important consistent, layout, naming, and most importantly colour choices, are in helping to manage and navigate around large sessions.
With film and TV music, most of it is underscore, so Walter composes and Andy mixes it very much with that in mind, making sure that what they do 'keeps out of the way' of the dialog.
Most of what Walter and Andy produce is in surround and Andy shared that he often needs to turn to upmixing plug-ins and that he now uses the Penteo 7 Pro upmixing plug-in because of its transparency and that it's upmix, down mixes well.
Demos And Chat
After Simon, Donal, Walter and Andy had finished their presentations there was amble time to circulate around the Jigsaw base in Golden Square to experience demos from the other partner brands that Jigsaw24 had invited including AKA Design, DAD, G-Technology, JBL Professional and Sonnox, As well as meeting old friends and making new friends over a beer or too.
Thanks to Andy Brooks, Ian Duncan and the rest of the Jigsaw24 team as well as the guys from Avid UK, Simon Caton, Simon Sherbourne and Ben Nemes for just an interesting and educational event. We trust this will be the first of many.