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This Remote Stuff Is No Joke...
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Curve Dominant
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#1
13th August 2003
Old 13th August 2003
  #1
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This Remote Stuff Is No Joke...

I had my first remote session today, and I gotta tell yas: I've got new respect and appreciation for the craft, and for you folks and how you manage to do it.

Aye aye aye...what a day.

I'll NEVER forget that "moment," the one when I walked into the "venue," then walked back outside and looked at all those cases and gig bags, and with a palm on my forehead thought to myself, "How the **** am I gonna do this??!!!"

After a few minutes of vintage Three Stooges-style panic, it started to set in that having followed Steve's Five Components of Location Recording had automatically eliminated 90% of the potential headaches.

Once we improvised our way around the other remaining 10%, things got rolling.

BIG PROPS to Steve's on-line mentoring!
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#2
13th August 2003
Old 13th August 2003
  #2
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eric,

aint that the truth. after checking my email, gearslutz is my next stop for the important dope on the biz especially the remote forum. youdon't have to be on a remote to get something from it.

jules,

besides the great gearslut vibe each and every moderator is a true professional. thanks for giving us a chance to see and hear what the pros do without the bullsheet.

i've met many remote recording engineers but remoteness is the only one i know that doesnt mind giving up his secrets. he has helped me online and off with no compensation. imo the others dont have the ballz.

steve,

you da man!
long live the one and only REMOTE FORUM!!!
#3
15th August 2003
Old 15th August 2003
  #3
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Congratulations Eric, and thanks for the kind words.

Your first remote session and you won. Sounds like you did just fine and that's awesome news.

Fuzzy,

Thank you, but let me clear your mind on a few things.

I also, know a fair amount of remote recording engineers -- Many of them don't mind telling some war stories or giving out their secrets, it just depends on who they're speaking to.

Furthermore, all great remote engineers have ballz! Just because they don't give out their secrets in a (this) public forum, doesn't mean they don't have the ballz.

Remember what I just said, next time you grab an idea or two from the forum.
#4
15th August 2003
Old 15th August 2003
  #4
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Re: This Remote Stuff Is No Joke...

Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant
After a few minutes of vintage Three Stooges-style panic, it started to set in that having followed Steve's Five Components of Location Recording had automatically eliminated 90% of the potential headaches.
That's the truth! And step 1 is about 90% of that 90%. The rest is easy; it's gear, we know what the hell to do with it, we know how to solve or get around problems. It's the people skills that are the hard part, and getting to know them while planning things with them is a really big deal.

Quote:
BIG PROPS to Steve's on-line mentoring!
Hear hear!!

-GRW
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Curve Dominant
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#5
16th August 2003
Old 16th August 2003
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Quote:
posted by gregrw:
It's the people skills that are the hard part, and getting to know them while planning things with them is a really big deal.
SET THAT IN STONE!

How RIGHT ON you are...

My contact for the venue (not the musician I was recording) was somewhat cautious, from the initial planning stages, right up to my arrival at the gig.

"Why are you bringing all that equipment? There isn't enough power supply to the room... The acoustics are unmanageable..." etc, etc.

I decided early to just bite my tongue, prepare out the wazoo, and constantly reassure everybody that all will be just fine.

Admittedly, the physical conditions were in the realm of dreadful on the surface. But once the contact finally saw my little rig set up and getting signal, he was pleasantly amazed. I was too, to be honest.

I had travelled out to the Pennsylvania boondocks to record a child-prodigy drummer, 12 years old, AMAZING musician. His drums were set up in this little rickety wooden shack, dirt floor, about 4X the size of a telephone booth, WAY at the back of his family's 2 acre backyard. It was basically an old outhouse/woodshed/whatever.

I had 3 mics, 2X 2 channel tube preamps, 5 channels of outboard compression (RNC 1773, dbx 160X, and I'm embarrassed to name the other unit), a Roland VS880EX to mix/record to, and a shitload of cabling.

Once we got the power situation worked out, I set up all the gear on a tiny wooden bench we jammed against a corner wall facing the kit. I had Fletcher's 3-mic drum recording techniques printed out on hand, and used that as a guide for micing the kit: an SM57 on the kick, another one pointed at the shell of the snare, and a Joe Meek LDC as the overhead.

Monitoring was practically non-existent, with the room so small, the kid hitting those drums SO F*CKING LOUD (12 years old!), and with all the thunderstorms we've been having, monitoring from outside the shed was a no-go, and un-do-able anyway given the layout. So I recorded him playing a little bit, listened back, made adjustments, rinse, repeat, etc, and finally got a pretty good balance.

At that point, the pizzas the kid's dad had ordered had arrived, so we ate with his family, shot the shit (the kid's dad is "in the biz"), had some coffee, and finally headed back to the little woodshed, where I hit record and let the kid play his little motherf*ckin' ass off for about 2 hours... jazz grooves, funk, rock; I told him, "Play anything you love to play," and the kid kicked that sh*t out like a pro.

Just as the kid was starting to fade (and I was too, to be honest), dad bangs on the door of the shed and yells, "We got a storm coming in!" I stepped outside, and sure enough the sky is looking a lot blacker than it should at 5pm in August. We made a mad scramble to pack up all my gear (mad props to the kid and his dad for helping out with that), and in just a few minutes we got the gear packed away, shut the trunk of the car, and the rain started coming down in buckets.

After getting back to the city, dumping the three channels of signal into Pro Tools and listening back, it struck me how not only Steve Remote deserves mad props for helping me pull the session off, but Fletcher does too. The raw material was not perfect, but close enough that with a little EQ voodoo and some 1176, the final results made for some truly righteous drum tracks.

Sorry for being a sentimental newbie and boring you all with this essay, but hey! It was my first gig.
#6
16th August 2003
Old 16th August 2003
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From the sound of it -- you performed like a true remotester!

#7
17th August 2003
Old 17th August 2003
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Hey Eric, sounds like it was a great gig. That's very similar to the type of "go anywhere, record anything" location work that I've been doing recently.

But I've got a question for anyone who does this sort of "everything in one room" type of recording. I've been listening to a playback of a recording I made last week in a small, but not tiny room (300sf) and I'm thrilled with the sounds of the instruments. But I also picked up more "junk" sounds than I would have believed possible!

The combination chirp/hum of the recorder's fan came through unbelievably loud and it was at least 12ft from any mic. I was sitting behind the recorder on a small wood chair and I swear that I can plainly hear the sound of my jeans rubbing against the wood when I shifted position in the chair! And then there are a couple of sounds that I caused by not staying focused: I put down my pen or clicked the ballpoint in/out mechanism.

I know that these seem like absurdly low level sounds, but when recording acoustic (nylon string) guitar and flute, these sounds are all painfully obvious. 95% of my previous "all in one room" work had taken place in clubs where a band was performing in front of a crowd. In those situations, there was enough constant room noise to drown out any sounds coming from me or the gear. But when recording acoustic instruments in a quiet room, nothing gets masked, every sound made in that room goes to tape and is frustratingly obvious on playback.

Any tips on stopping noise from the equipment (or my movements!) when recording in one room? I now know that I will have to baffle the recorder somehow to keep the fan noise down. I don't thnk that placing the recorder in the null point of the mic pickup pattern will work on its own. Any other suggestions?

thanks

steve
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17th August 2003
Old 17th August 2003
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Well done Eric.. it's all about making it happen when others think you can't!
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Curve Dominant
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17th August 2003
Old 17th August 2003
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Quote:
From the sound of it -- you performed like a true remotester!
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Steve Remote
Yo, Steve:

Mad props back at ya for the online guidance. I would've been LOST if it weren't for lurking here before the gig.

And if I can get philosophical...can I? Yeah? OK...

From this experience, I now see remote recording like photography: You cannot always get the subject "into the studio," nor do you want to in some cases. It's just like "location" filming or photography... You capture a totally unique vibe and energy from "filming" the musician in a native environment. The sonic characteristics alone can have a delightfully unpredictable quality.

Quote:
posted by Hollywood Steve:
I'm thrilled with the sounds of the instruments. But I also picked up more "junk" sounds than I would have believed possible!
Steve,

We here at Curve Dominant are producing "urban" music. Many of our tracks are laced with such ambient sounds, and we cherish the added dimension and texture those sounds add to the mix. Listen closely, and you can hear the fan against the snare mic that is cooling the kid in the un-ventilated shack where he's playing his drums; there's a police siren filtering into one of the rapper's vocal tracks (I don't have an iso booth); a cellphone spontaneously goes off during recording a guitar track... and we not only leave it in there, but we actually boost the volume in the mix so you can hear the cellphone better.

[tangent]
My philosphy is that the music is not just the melody and the lyric, but also the environment in which it is performed. This is the foundation of my newbie-love of location recording. Depending on what type of music you are recording, your mileage may vary in that regard.

Getting back to the filmmaking analogy... I edit in Pro Tools, which to me is like what an "editing suite" is to a filmmaker. So I can ultimately decide which "junk sounds" are "cool" and will remain in the mix, or which are just "junk" and as such can easily be deleted.

In the case of this 12 y/o's drumming: His shack was horrid, but it had a sound: Unique, and, armed with some vintage outboard gear, not beyond a measure of control. Once recorded, it is what it is, and blended into a mix, has a power unique to itself. We've already taken a few measures of those drum tracks, and looped them into foundational beats for our hiphop projects. It might seem like a small aspect of the production, but the sound of that little shack dominates the sound of the mix. ANd for good reason... That's why I went out there. The kid drummer is a hiphop enthusiast, and wanted to have his drumming looped for our tracks. He knew we couldn't get that sound from a drum machine, and so did we. So we worked together.
[/tangent]
#10
22nd August 2003
Old 22nd August 2003
  #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by hollywood_steve

Any tips on stopping noise from the equipment (or my movements!) when recording in one room? I now know that I will have to baffle the recorder somehow to keep the fan noise down. I don't thnk that placing the recorder in the null point of the mic pickup pattern will work on its own. Any other suggestions?
If at all humanly possible, try to run a line into the next room. When it isn't possible, it's a lot of discipline. Hold your breath, don't move, place pens and screwdrivers out of reach, all that. I don't always succeed, but what I mostly do is loud rock 'n roll, so even if extraneous noise shows up on a vocal overdub, it isn't audible in the whole mix. (That's not the best philosophy, but sometimes you have to run with it.) Most of the time, things come out quiet enough. Just as we tell performers who are recording something quiet not to make any noise, so it is with us if we have to be in the same room.

And what recorder are you using that it makes so much noise? Maybe throw a blanket on it, or disconnect the fan for just a little while, during quiet takes. (Just don't blame me if it overheats! :-) Install a switch...)

-GRW
#11
22nd August 2003
Old 22nd August 2003
  #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant
And if I can get philosophical...can I? Yeah? OK...

From this experience, I now see remote recording like photography: You cannot always get the subject "into the studio," nor do you want to in some cases. It's just like "location" filming or photography... You capture a totally unique vibe and energy from "filming" the musician in a native environment. The sonic characteristics alone can have a delightfully unpredictable quality.
Yup. That's what I'm banking on, anyway...

Quote:
[tangent]
My philosphy is that the music is not just the melody and the lyric, but also the environment in which it is performed. This is the foundation of my newbie-love of location recording. Depending on what type of music you are recording, your mileage may vary in that regard.
I hear that! The vibe, whatever the hell that means :-) , is very important. The recording in practice spaces thing doesn't always work, but when it does, bands have told me that they feel more comfortable there than in a regular studio. They can smoke, drink, fart around, they know where the local coffee and pizza places are, they didn't have to drive forever to find the studio, etc. All of this can dramatically affect the final sound.

Quote:
In the case of this 12 y/o's drumming: His shack was horrid, but it had a sound: Unique, and, armed with some vintage outboard gear, not beyond a measure of control. Once recorded, it is what it is, and blended into a mix, has a power unique to itself. We've already taken a few measures of those drum tracks, and looped them into foundational beats for our hiphop projects. It might seem like a small aspect of the production, but the sound of that little shack dominates the sound of the mix. ANd for good reason...
[/tangent]
Acoustics are very important, and they don't always have to be designed by a famous engineer, nor gazillions of $$ spent on them. Sometimes, a band's space gives just what they need.

-GRW
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