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live strings....less is more !!!!!
Old 3rd July 2005
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kudzu's Avatar

live strings....less is more !!!!!

Started 5 day backing track 1 set up 3 tracks sounding manager pulls me to one side "eh...I've double booked the studio 2moro, live string date...any chance.....?" Now, my first thot way...not my problem...I'm set up, everything sounding good, musicians happy with phones/sound etc...but I like the studio/manager (good bloke), I can see he's I approach the artist I'm working with and......he reluctantly agrees and we suspend the session for a day.
Then the studio manager asks if I can engineer the string session....Now, I'm engineering/producing this backing track session.....he says his in- house guys haven't recorded strings B4, and he knows I've done it B4.....I could do with a paid day off....but again, I'm feeling sorry for this guy, so I agree to do it

I'm using a 16 channel VTC console...13 channels I'm using for my backing tracks and I'm not moving the "string date will have to be 3 channels" is the thot I fall to sleep with.....

Next day, the fixer eventually phones back...."8 players, BT ensemble (they're the best in UK)"...I raised a happy eyebrowe....usual string date set up...find enough space/chairs/head phones (that work)...clean the place up...I set up a Rode NT4, 15' up in the middle of a semi circle of 8 empty seats and a Neumann m147 (for the double bass)...all my other mics were on the kit/bass/gtrs

By 2pm I'm pretty much ready, and the players start to turn this piont I still don't know what kinda music it is we're recording....
Then whilst outside having a cigarette, a beautiful Aston Martin DB5 turns up and out gets Craig Armstrong (string arranger, U2, Madonna, Romeo & Juliet, Ray.....etc,etc) OH ****!!!! nobody told me...F*CK !!!! now I'm thinking...the room?....the mics?....this is a rock'n'roll studio....3 mics? I'm I mad ? He hands me a CD " this is what they're playing to..."

The players are in place...the conductor askes for the track in their phones...I reply with "can I hear them without it, just to hear the room?" I pull up the two NT4 faders....adjust the trims.....and far so good....bring in the 147....again, good....look round at Craig in the control room....he smiles....

45mins later we're done....I mix it in the next 2hrs (only a bit of altiverb needed)....Craig takes me out for a beer...."great string sound man...thanks....only three mics? like it...old school"

Now this was a great day...the song "Breakdown" theme tune to a new hollywood movie...they needed it done ASAP...thats why it ended up on my lap......

Future string dates....3 mics....and balls of steel...... heh
Old 3rd July 2005
Lives for gear
Jamz's Avatar
Great story. Well done.
I certainly know the range of emotions you went through.
Have a beer on me.

Old 4th July 2005
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Stick's Avatar

Cool story.

I got to record a string section in Warsaw when I was recently there producing a record. I totally didn't know what I was doing, so I had the house engineer just set up his usual for this group (9 players). He did section mics and a Soundfield mic in the middle and some high up ambience mics. Now that I'm mixing it, I probably would've been just as well or better off with your set up. I've got a million mics, but end up using mostly the Soundfield...

Regardless, it was a pretty fun rush to have co-written a tune the night before, arrange the track, made a rough sequence, then arrange and score the string parts and have the real deal playing it (along with four other tunes for the record) the next day.
Old 4th July 2005
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Ruphus's Avatar

I like the story!

Old 4th July 2005
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audioez's Avatar

way to go, a story of inspiration!!! Next thing you know you'll be the "go to guy" for strings
Old 4th July 2005
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MJGreene Audio's Avatar

Great job. After recording and mixing a bazillion string dates. I still record a lot of mics but most of the time only use the Decca Tree. In a decent room with balanced players it just makes your life easy. If they play balanced your job is done.

Good job,
Michael Grene
Old 4th July 2005
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Plush's Avatar
Standard stuff and technique! Professionals only need apply.
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