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ajcdrum
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#1
6th February 2012
Old 6th February 2012
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Talking What's Your Stamp?

Philosophical discussion for ya...

What do you see your role as a remote engineer as? Of course you're trying to accurately portray an event that occurred live, but do you see your role going above that? Do you leave a little personal touch on every recording you make, or do you think of yourself as purely an archivist?

What I'm getting at is that when you hear a Bruce Swedien mix, you know it's Bruce Swedien. When you hear a CLA mix, you know it's Chris. When you hear a Steve Remote mix, do you know it's Steve? Plush? Yes, you might simply assume it's a Steve or Plush mix just because of the wonderful clarity and depth, but is there something else there that tells you it's one of them? Steve and Plush (and this applies to everyone...), can you look back at previous work and say "hear ____, that's what makes it my mix." If so, please share!

I feel location recording is so different than album recording because there is something "tangible" that your final product will be compared to. That "tangible" thing being the sound of the original performance, in the room. Of course it's impossible for anyone to 100% accurately remember that sound in their head (or they weren't even at the performance), but there is still some concept of a reference point. The object in your still life you're painting.

If you're recording a record, there's plenty of room for your identity as an engineer to show through. When you're remote, do you feel the same? If so, what are some of your trademarks? Do tell!
#2
6th February 2012
Old 6th February 2012
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#3
9th February 2012
Old 9th February 2012
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Quote:
Do you leave a little personal touch on every recording you make, or do you think of yourself as purely an archivist?
I can not speak for anyone else here but I do have a personal "stamp" that I try to leave on all of my recordings.

Just before the music starts I let out a tiny little yelping sound. Almost like a fox cub crying out for milk. Most of my clients don't notice this and those that do seem to understand the importance for a professional engineer to have his/her own sonic thumbprint.
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9th February 2012
Old 9th February 2012
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#5
10th February 2012
Old 10th February 2012
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Getting the hell out of the way.

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#6
10th February 2012
Old 10th February 2012
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I know what you mean man, it's hard to put into words though. Like, for example, why one person chooses blumlein an one spaced pairs, and another ortf. We all have a signature, though subtle perhaps.
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#7
4th March 2012
Old 4th March 2012
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#8
4th March 2012
Old 4th March 2012
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SO much reverb that it drowns out the whipped to death metaphors and the retread lyrics, generally.

If someone brings me a song with the word "RIVER" in the title and it was written within the last 25 years, my signature is the sound of a huge explosion that levels the songwriter's garage.
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4th March 2012
Old 4th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mosrite View Post
Just before the music starts I let out a tiny little yelping sound. Almost like a fox cub crying out for milk.
You stole my stamp. I have the copyrights.
#10
4th March 2012
Old 4th March 2012
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One "signature" I settled on long ago for concert recordings: after the final applause dies down, I let the tape deck run for another minute, and then the next minute is a slow fade out...

This replicates the experience of the actual concert goer, as closely as possible-- the concert ends, you chat with your friends, and make your way out the door and onto the rest of your evening.

It's always seemed so jarring to me to hear the last note of the last piece, and a quick fade to silence. Ruins the illusion that you are there-- smacks you upside the head with "nyeah, nyeah, you weren't really there you deluded fool, you were just listening to a recording!"
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#11
5th March 2012
Old 5th March 2012
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#12
5th March 2012
Old 5th March 2012
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I always struggle on how long the fade outs should be. I always make the last one be longer, but not minutes of fade out.


As for a stamp, I'd like to have a hottie from the audience ululate. ;-)
#13
5th March 2012
Old 5th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
I always struggle on how long the fade outs should be. I always make the last one be longer, but not minutes of fade out.


...
Good, then it'll be recognizable as my own unique trademark.

But then, I'm kind of voyeuristic, anyway... I mean... maybe that's a requirement in the FIRST place for being a recording engineer, the irresistible urge to listen in on other people...? is there a thesis lurking here, anyone...?

Also then, as a practical matter, you get the conductor congratulating the players, the excited chatter, the shrieks of joy... it turns it into an impromptu verite documentary of the event, and it's just the most natural way to end a recording.

Natural's not for everyone, though.
#14
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post

<snip>

Also then, as a practical matter, you get the conductor congratulating the players, the excited chatter, the shrieks of joy... it turns it into an impromptu verite documentary of the event, and it's just the most natural way to end a recording.

Natural's not for everyone, though.
Off topic

I read an article about a fellow, in NYC I believe, who records the orchestra during the intermission. No hassles from the orchestra, the musicians, the musicians' union or anybody. Are they foleys? What are they? And I wonder what became of him and his recordings.

On topic.

I do not have a signature. I try to be as "not there" in the recording as possible. YMMV
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#15
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tommy-boy View Post
As for a stamp, I'd like to have a hottie from the audience ululate. ;-)
That'll get you arrested in some parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia...
#16
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boojum View Post
... What are they? ...
Even further off topic... one time, shame on me, I was given a pile of little answering machine tapes to sift through: the ex-husband in a divorce case had started screaming at the ex-wife, into the answering machine (?!?!??) and my job was to distill the "best parts" and bring a little PA into court and play them for the judge.

It was proof the guy was something of a jackass and a fool... but then, the whole twenty five hours, which I transferred to ADAT, was weirdly fascinating in its own way... as each new entry started, you had to guess how long it had been since the last message... themes emerged, like the woman trying to get a removable back seat to fit into her van... and just like the random crosstalk of your orchestra taking a break, it would make a fascinating reality audio show, for an audience that was bored and interested in (1) divorce cases, or (2) musicians at rest.
#17
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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I too hate quick fades. Give the performers their due. As to putting my stamp on the performance I would never do that. I am recording something and in so doing I am capturing what is occurring and I don't want to add or subtract anything.
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#18
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
... capturing what is occurring ...
This is true, as far as it goes... but don't you have to agree that you are, at the most basic bedrock level, "creating" what occurred? The thing that occurred vanished the moment it was done... your document, which endures, is fully a concoction and a representation... and I always like to think, with mics suspended over the conductor's head and nearer to the orchestra than anyone in the room, the recording "sounds" much better than what anyone who was there experienced...?
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6th March 2012
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^^^^^^You are sooooo correct!

What is reality? What we make it?

If you delve into this question more and more you will realize that the only thing real about this reality is that we recorded some playing on some media at some time. Our ears are not microphones and what we are recording on is all 1s and 0s (unless it is analog tape) so it soon becomes an electronic representation of what reality was or is. We can, using a computer, mutilate or refine what we have just recorded and make it even more real or more screwed up. The choice, as always, is up to the person who is doing the recording.

I have always gone for the reality of what I am recording and do not tryi to to augment or change the sound to make it into what I want to hear or to put my stamp on it. Others may chose to do things differently. The choice is up to them.

WTCW and FWIW
#20
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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News Flash: There is no reality, only one's perception of what reality is.

You folks are so informative; thank you GS!
#21
6th March 2012
Old 6th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
What is reality? What we make it?


...I have always gone for the reality of what I am recording and do not tryi to to augment or change the sound to make it into what I want to hear or to put my stamp on it...
Quote:
Remoteness writes: News Flash: There is no reality, only one's perception of what reality is.
"Reality" for the person sitting in the second row of the orchestra section is going to be different than the person sitting in the last row of the balcony.

It is your version or "vision" of reality that ends up being the representation of the event captured for all time by microphones and electronics.

My good friend Leszek always said that the performer is the interpreter of the composition, and the recording engineer is the interpreter of the interpretation.
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#22
7th March 2012
Old 7th March 2012
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I just think of the recording engineer as being "God."
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7th March 2012
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bloody stamps i've still never perfected recording them :-(
everyone wants those We will rock you drum riser jobs !
#24
7th March 2012
Old 7th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RobAnderson View Post
"Reality" for the person sitting in the second row of the orchestra section is going to be different than the person sitting in the last row of the balcony.

It is your version or "vision" of reality that ends up being the representation of the event captured for all time by microphones and electronics.

My good friend Leszek always said that the performer is the interpreter of the composition, and the recording engineer is the interpreter of the interpretation.
Good points as always...

I try and record a concert or a recital so it will sound "like you were there second row center in the concert hall" I never try and record from the orchestra's member's perspective as it would sound "unnatural" to most concert goers. As to the person in the last row in the balcony...they get what they paid for <GRIN>

I did record a string quartet in the round with two omni microphones in the center so I guess that was from the musician's perspective. There was no audience in attendance and it was a trial recording of a student ensemble. It sounded pretty good but it was impossible to tell where the sound was coming from since they were in a circle and the omni microphones were, after all, omni directional.

FWIW
#25
10th March 2012
Old 10th March 2012
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My favorite stamps were the Elvis stamps issued by Barbados. They looked like those black felt Mexican paintings I see in TJ.
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10th March 2012
Old 10th March 2012
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I have a few oddball friends. One buddy of mine has probably been featured on more live recordings than any musician. He attended concerts for years and years, all kinds of bands and shows all over the East coast. This fellow had a particular skill of whistling through his fingers that could produce a controlled warbling shriek of about 100db or more, very distinctive, and crazy loud. At every show, he'd stroll by the taper section (if there was one), and let loose a peal during some quiet moment in a song.

That was his sig.

Drove the tapers freakin' nuts.
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10th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
Good points as always...

I try and record a concert or a recital so it will sound "like you were there second row center in the concert hall" I never try and record from the orchestra's member's perspective as it would sound "unnatural" to most concert goers. As to the person in the last row in the balcony...they get what they paid for <GRIN>

I did record a string quartet in the round with two omni microphones in the center so I guess that was from the musician's perspective. There was no audience in attendance and it was a trial recording of a student ensemble. It sounded pretty good but it was impossible to tell where the sound was coming from since they were in a circle and the omni microphones were, after all, omni directional.

FWIW
I like to say that if I have done my job correctly, I literally have the best seat in the house.

To go even further down this road, I think we would all articulate that we are essentially striving for the same things in our recordings: capturing a good ratio of direct to reverberant sound, a good musical balance, and a sense of transporting the listener to the "performance."

What is so fascinating to me is that there are so many different perspectives on, and means to achieving, these stated goals, and such a diversity of feeling on the part of engineers and producers as to defining what constitutes the achievement of those goals.

Said more plainly, when I listen to Telarc and DGG recordings, I can tell that these same goals were pursued by both labels, but the methods and results are remarkably in contrast with one another. Or if you are a Jazz cat, you might find contrasts in the sounds of Blue Note and Columbia recordings - even though some of those recordings might feature the same artists.

All may be successful in presenting a given musical work and performance in a way that is compelling and engaging, despite the fact that there may be a marked difference in how they "interpret the interpretation" and the sonic vocabulary they use to achieve their ends.
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10th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas W. Bethe View Post
It sounded pretty good but it was impossible to tell where the sound was coming from since they were in a circle and the omni microphones were, after all, omni directional.FWIW
But if the mics were spaced then you have a normal stereo image in this case and through time of arrival cues, be able to locate the players.
#29
11th March 2012
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I try to be on as many recordings as possible. Female a cappella groups sometimes wonder where that extra octave comes from.

Or I'll sneak an appearance on film...
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#30
12th March 2012
Old 12th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorseHorse View Post
I try to be on as many recordings as possible. Female a cappella groups sometimes wonder where that extra octave comes from.

Or I'll sneak an appearance on film...
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