Entries in advice (19)
Our recent primer article on monitoring for home studios has been very popular, all information aimed at those with small home studios on limited budgets.
Pro Tools Expert has a long relationship with studio design guru and respected acoustics expert Andy Munro from Munro Acoustics.
Over 30 years Andy has earned an enviable reputation designing studios for Coldplay, AIR Studios, Metropolis Studios and more recently the new flagship BBC Broadcasting House in London.
Extended Interview With Andy Munro
Russ met with Andy Munro and talks Shure, The Rolling Stones, the early days of home recording, plus of course lots of discussion around studio acoustics.
The biggest challenge for many people working in the creative sector is that they have never had any formal business training. One day they are programming a synth, the next day they are running a studio, or one day they are doing the sound for a friends film and the next day running a post house. Well, not quite the next day, but there are so many people who have found themselves accidental business owners, perhaps you’re one of them? Well if you are, then there’s hope, you might have got here by accident, but you can still take control of your future.
Here are my top 5 tips for making sure you not only make a living, but a great one.
Recording And Mixing Without Limitations Isn't Always The Best Thing And Won't Prepare You For The Professional World
My wife and I have a common hatred… jogging. We live right by a park and we simply can’t see the point of running around a park aimlessly. We always chuckle watching parents jogging with strollers, they look like they’ve stolen a baby. My sister is a triathlete, just the thought of it tires me out, she trains relentlessly to make sure she is in shape for the events she competes in.
Production without any limits can be like jogging - it’s fun and keeps you in shape, you may even be able to run a marathon but the truth is that having goals can help you to focus and give you far better results.
Recording and mixing for fun can be great, but it has it’s pitfalls, mostly down to having no restrictions and certainly no goals. If you are not careful you can disappear down a black hole and spend your life chasing your tail.
If you want to sharpen your recording and mixing skills then here are a few ways you can do that, most of them drawn from the world of being an audio professional.
‘Always on’… that’s what our new connected world is.
How often have you sat up until the early hours of the morning working on a new project, at the same time checking your email, text messages and social media, only to eventually fall into bed and start checking it all again on your smart phone? It’s at a moment like this that you realize your phone isn’t making you any smarter.
We all like to think we are superhuman, but part of being human is taking time to relax, rest, recharge and charge the batteries. Even those selling stocks and shares or emergency workers are not ‘always on’, for the creative ‘always on’ has the potential to kill your creativity.
Why We Need To Rest
I recall reading a study on sleep in Time Magazine around a decade ago, scientists were trying to understand why we sleep. Several theories were cited, but the one that they seemed to think was the most probable reason was that our bodies need time to process the data from the day, order it all and help us to make sense of it. That’s why sleep deprivation is a favoured tactic for interrogation, it messes with the mind and creates confusion, it creates an environment where we are more likely to make mistakes, or say and do the wrong thing.
So if you spend a lot of time right now staring at the screen of your Pro Tools systems, or picking up your instrument and finding nothing, then it’s highly likely that you need to turn it all off. Then turn off all your other technology, honestly no one will die if you don’t post a picture of your lunch on Facebook… really. My wife and I have a deal now that I give her my phone when we go out to eat, now she has my attention. She told me that when I kept checking my phone when we were out it made her feel excluded, that’s not a good way to make anyone feel, especially the person you love. In fact it’s got so bad that I’m often reading messages on Facebook from people saying sorry for taking some time out to relax or attend to their families… this is something we should never apologize for.
But you should also never apologize for taking care of yourself and the mind that powers the gift you have. Some think to be better at what we do we need to keep reading, watching videos, getting more information, the reality is that you also need to process it, that requires rest and reflection.
It’s Time To Turn It All Off
If you are feeling like you have nothing to give then it’s highly likely that’s it’s time to turn off, let your body renew and then see the fruit of your rest.
For some reading this it may just be a weekend that is needed, for others a week, for some who are really burnt out it could take weeks if not months to renew you. You might want to check with your partner to see what they think, my guess is some of them are going to say ‘thank God’ that you’ve decided to do this.
So go on, turn it all off, have some fun, relax and see what happens. You’ll be surprised what happens when you start taking care of yourself.
In this 5 part series Robin Vincent helps those wanting to buy a Windows machine find the best machine for the job. In part 1 he looks at the heart of the Windows PC the processor, in this seconrd part he talks about the important consideration of noise in a recording studio.
It’s remarkable how much noise we’re prepared to put up with from our computers. If you’re not fortunate enough to have a machine room in which to stack up all the noisy gear then computer noise can be seriously detrimental to your creative environment, not to mention your state of mind. You don’t have to put up with it. If you need a system that’s going to give you every ounce of power then some noise may be inevitable but let’s look at ways in which we can minimise it so that ideally it sits somewhere below our studio noise floor.
There are three main sources of noise in a PC: cooling fans, PSU and hard drives.
You’ll find cooling fans on the CPU heatsink, often in the front and back of the case, and usually on the graphics card if you have one. The CPU is the hottest part of the system and so any cooling solution is designed to pull heat away from that area. This is usually some sort of metal heatsink on which is fixed a fast moving fan to pull the heat away or to blow cool air upon it. Case fans act as a way of bringing cold air in and blowing hot air out, ideally in a single direction. High performance graphics card have a GPU which also gets very hot and requires its own cooling. So that’s potentially a lot of fans trying to move air about as quickly as possible. The noise you hear is not that of the fan’s mechanism (if your fan squeaks then it’s time to replace it) but rather of the air being moved.
There are two factors that dictate the amount of noise a fan will make – size and speed. The smaller the fan and the faster the fan the louder the noise will be. Larger fins on a fan will move more air so you can use a 120mm fan running slower to move the same amount of air as an 80mm fan running faster. So, what you need to move the maximum amount of air with the minimum of noise are large, slow moving fans. There are all sorts of factors involved in fan design in terms of efficiency and noise but the key ones are rotation speed measured in RPM and airflow measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM).
If you are thinking of going it alone running your own studio or as a freelance engineer, or already have a new creative business, then I want to share with you the most valuable piece of business advice I was ever given.
It flies in the face of our get it fast culture we live in, but I can testify that this advice is true.
Here it is, write it down and don’t forget it.
“People over estimate what they can achieve in 2 years and under estimate what they achieve in 5 years.”
I’ve been involved in several start-ups, some for profit and some as not-for-profit and this rule has applied every time.
The first 2 years of your idea are going to be hard. You are going to find it hard to find clients, partners, or even get anyone to respond to your emails or phone calls. You are going to work longer hours than you ever thought possible and wonder if it is all worth it.
My advice is to work hard, stay focussed and keep going - then in 5 years look back and see what has happened - every time I’ve done this I look back in amazement and wonder.
Running a business is not the 100m sprint it’s not even a marathon, it’s hundreds of marathons. Results rarely come quickly, but keep going and don’t give up and see what you can do in the long game.
Voiceovers (VOs) are one of the hardest things to record, because there are lots of gaps between syllables and words and problems with the room acoustics as well as noise, both electronic and acoustic, are going to be very obvious so do the best you can.
1 - Script Style
Writing for reading, for either off the page or off the screen is a different style to writing for listening. the real test is what it sounds like not what it reads like.
2 - Preparation
Get the right information from the client, as well as a copy of the script, don’t share a script, you need to be able to mark up your copy of the script ready for the edit session.
3 - Mouth Clicks
Mouth clicks can be a real problem in VO sessions. Have water available but suggest the VO artist only takes sips. The other solution is for the VO artist to eat some apple, a tart apple like a Granny Smith tends to work best so have one ready just in case.
4 - Backups
Have at least one backup. Don’t just depend on Pro Tools. Record onto another machine as well so if Pro Tools does fall over you still have the session. Afterwards, make sure you backup the session onto another drive too as well as the cloud.
5 - Delivery Format
What format does the client want it delivered in? 48/44/1 sample rate, 16 or 24 bit depth etc. How are you going to deliver it?, CD, hard disk, pen drive, or via the cloud using services like Dropbox, Copy or Gobbler.
See part 2 for the remaining 5 ways to improve a VO.
Holger Lagerfeldt is a Danish Grammy nominated and Multi-Platinum certified mastering engineer, but you might want to add to that ‘all round good guy’ as he is offering a PDF on audio levels completely free.
In the document he addresses the most common questions asked about recording audio in the digital domain, he offers solid advice and debunks some myths. Subjects include;
- Metering in the DAW
- How to avoid overloading a plug-in
- How to avoid overloading your mix buss
You might be new to recording on a DAW, you may be a seasoned professional, there’s something for everyone in this FREE PDF on Levels in Digital Audio.
Source: Logic Pro Expert
Our friend Michale Carnes at awesome reverb company Exponential Audio has posted this note on their Facebook wall.
This week, Apple released a new version of OSX. It has many benefits and looks like a winner. Apple is urging users to upgrade quickly. The price of ‘free’ makes that very attractive. Many of you may have already done so. For those who haven’t, allow me to advise caution. Apple has tested this system intensively, and I’ve tested with a Beta version myself for a while. But version 1 of any operating system will always have problems that don’t show up until after release.
I have had a handful of problem reports from early adopters. Whether these are bugs in my plugins, bugs in workstation programs, or growing pains with ‘Mavericks’, I can’t yet say. But if you can, give me a chance to investigate. I’ve just moved my primary development system to Mavericks so that I’ll have a better chance to spot any issues. I’m sure the entire developer community will be busy over the next month or two. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two rapid updates from Apple. That’s usually the way this works.
If you decided to take the plunge already, I hope your system is running smoothly. If you’re hanging back, please watch my website as well as the sites of other developers you may depend upon. Thanks for your attention!
I found this snap (on thr left) recently of me playing my Yamaha SG guitar into my Tascam 244 Portastudio. It’s in the attic bedroom I had at my parents home circa 1983. In those days my recording system was not much more than a couple of guitars, my Tascam cassette-based 4 track, a pair of Realistic speakers, a Sony Hi-Fi amp and some effects.
30 years on I have more than I could ever imagine to record with and my journey has been an amazing one, having worked with some of the most talented people in the world and travelled to some amazing studios too. When I posted this picture on my Facebook page one person asked “Did you know at this age you would be helping 1000s of musicians around the world to get better in their production?” The simple answer is no, but what I did say is “Not at all, I think it’s remembering what it felt like starting out that inspired me to run the blog. Never forget where you came from.”
So if it were possible for me to give the 16 year old Russ advice now, here is what I would say.