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Remote Recording – Is it visceral or knowledge based?
Old 20th June 2005
  #1
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Remoteness's Avatar
Talking Remote Recording – Is it visceral or knowledge based?

Are you intuitive or did your wisdom get you where you are today?

Do you go with your gut feeling (about a particular situation) and act spontaneous more often than not?
Or do you borrow information from the intelligence you gathered then make a move?

It’s a combination of the two for me. How about you folks – visceral or knowledge?
Old 20th June 2005
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Definitely a combination of the two... Especially when I walk into a situation where I'm not familliar with the room, I have nothing to work off of but experience and prior learnings. However, by now, much of that has turned into a gut feeling on how it should work and more often than not, I'm pretty close from the outset.

With location (especially live) work, often you aren't afforded the option to move microphones or change things. Because of that, it has to be right from the beginning.

--Ben
Old 20th June 2005
  #3
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cleantone's Avatar
 

It's both for me too. Obviously there are so many variable and once you make one mistake you typically never make it again. So every outting can be another lesson. Whether it was something that went well, or wrong you'll increase your chops everytime out.
Old 21st June 2005
  #4
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Isaac Asimov, through one of his characters in the "Foundation" series, wrote: "To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. You have to improvise as well."

Sometimes it seems as though the technical knowlegde, such as how to hook everything up, what all the knobs do, etc. is secondary to all the crap that comes with anything on-location. That crap includes the traffic, the parking, the load-in, where the hell are we going to find room for all of this gear, mixing from side-stage or on-stage, all the drunk people, etc. Knowing what the knobs do is just the price of admission.

So the wisdom gets me in the door, intuition gets me through the night.

-GRW
Old 21st June 2005
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Well said Greg...

--Ben
Old 22nd June 2005
  #6
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Right on, right on, right on... I'm with Ben -- Well said, indeed!
Old 22nd June 2005
  #7
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Gerax's Avatar
 

I usually don't have a good feel for improvisation...it brings me to mind some of these well know, so called "artists" who think they can do everything...improvising...on the fly...if you know what I mean...

Anyway, for me preparation is the key, like getting to know the room I'll be recording in, the AC outlets, the nature and stability of the power source, the possibility to park at a reasonable distance for load in and load out, the sound and isolation of the room, the band/ensemble I'll be recording, their musical style and technical needs, backups, backups, backups, backups...but I acknowledge the fact that there's a certain degree of improvisation that keeps things spontaneous, fresh, fun, challenging, the capability to overcome some minor (or major...) shortcomings that could bring the session to a grinding halt (particulary if it's a live gig...).

So, yes, definitely a combination of the two things, maybe the percentage leans more toward planning and preparation for me, because in my experience accidents do happen, getting yourself covered is what marks the difference between a true pro and a totally improvised amateur.

L.G.
Old 22nd June 2005
  #8
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Hey Ben and Steve Remote: Thanks! It means a lot hearing compliments from "The Big Boys."

Quite frankly, it's a scary time right now. I left my dfegad non-audio, corporate hell day job about 2 months ago becuase I couldn't take it any more. So now recording isn't "Greg's Little Hobby" it's "Holy $#!T, Greg's Bread and Butter!"

But I've picked up some steady live clients, continued to freelance for local sound companies, done a few on-sites, changed the name of the biz, made vast improvements to the web site, started to advertise in the local music 'zines, and begun to get organized a la "E-Myth."

I'm going for it, dammit!! And I know a small biz in recording is a lot more than just the recording. There's marketing, finance, and since I'm mobile, car stuff...

I guess what I'm saying is maybe sometimes I'll have to post over in "Moan Zone" asking for a kick in the ass. Not a hand-holding, but a real (Well, OK, verbal) kick in the ass, something like "YOU LAZY F---!! GET OFF YOUR ASS, TURN OFF THE COMPUTER AND GET OUT THERE!!" It will help...

And I'm going to say it to myself now, 'cause there's a website to be completed! A little bit more is added each day... heh

Thanks,
-GRW
Old 24th June 2005
  #9
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gregrw
Isaac Asimov, through one of his characters in the "Foundation" series, wrote: "To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. You have to improvise as well."

So the wisdom gets me in the door, intuition gets me through the night.

-GRW
i like the quote... but i myself think through lots of drinking and playing in bars, pretty much know how the night is [for the most part] goes so now whenever i do live work, its familiar on all sides. so knowledge based for the most part. how i got that knowledge is unknown at this point in time. further investigation pending.

yet, life has a way of always putting in front of you what you dont know yet... and colliding with it head on and having to deal with it QUICK and solve it... sum of knowledge? pure luck? [learned from] god reached down from heaven and blessed your problem? [in a drunken prayer]

maybe ignorance IS bliss.
Old 26th June 2005
  #10
Gear Nut
 

The worst part is that all the knowledge and feeling in the world can't make up for bad performance. Crappy musicians with bad technique do far more to destroy my recordings than any other factors.

I am sure we all use both past knowledge and feel when approaching a new act or venue, but how many times has a sh**ty band ruined the recording. I suppose you can make the argument that it is still an accurate recording of an event, but it's still not worth a listen. I don't know how many poorly tuned drums, flappy basses and noisy/out of tune guitar rigs I have recorded.

There are so many new bands the record companies have thrown out there to see what sticks. These bands are green and haven't paid their dues. Even some really great new artists that I have worked with like Jason Mraz and John Mayer seem to have problems keeping their guitars in tune. John has problems keeping his voice in tune. Others like Cowboy Junkies, Dave Mathews Band and Lisa Loeb always sound great. They know their craft and perform with consistancy.

The bands have to also be both visceral and knowledgeable for a good recording.
Old 26th June 2005
  #11
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well thats kind of out of your control innit? just take a xanax and sit back when that happens
Old 26th June 2005
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Yeah, it's out of my control, but then I see the show on TV and it just irritates me again. Need more Xanax.
Old 26th June 2005
  #13
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lol, we are all irritated...
Old 26th June 2005
  #14
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Don S's Avatar
 

Quote:
The worst part is that all the knowledge and feeling in the world can't make up for bad performance. Crappy musicians with bad technique do far more to destroy my recordings than any other factors.
I agree! It helps being a musician. You can usually find the more talented artist and 'spotlight" them in the mix. I call it "maximizing performance value"!

Quote:
It's both for me too. Obviously there are so many variable and once you make one mistake you typically never make it again. So every outting can be another lesson. Whether it was something that went well, or wrong you'll increase your chops everytime out.
When I first started I made so many errors that I wrote them down and learned from them. Hoping to never see the same thing twice. So many tricks are learned while in the trenches. That's what makes this forum so valuable!

Don
Old 26th June 2005
  #15
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Remoteness's Avatar
This turned out to be an awesome thread -- Thanks!
Old 26th June 2005
  #16
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alphajerk's Avatar
 

quite a topic...
Old 30th June 2005
  #17
Registered User
 

A combination of the two, or more specifically, an applied combination of the two. Nothing replaces the "trench" factor. The way you approach a new venue, band's playing style, problems on the fly etc... framed by your past experiences.

I was intrigued to find after the first dozen gigs, how well I could visualise my equipment inventory and patching. Such a basic piece of knowledge that has cut my "floundering time" by about two hours a show.

(And that's got me where I am today, LOL)
Old 30th June 2005
  #18
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Excellent!
Old 30th June 2005
  #19
One of the things about remote work is there's almost always something unexpected, or some obstacle to overcome. Sometimes it's minor, sometimes it's huge. Some improvisational skill is necessary to roll with the punches. However, there are some technical things and some background experience necessary to initially minimize the potential for disaster, and to have resources to draw upon when solving a problem. I'm of the opinion that a mix of the two is important.
Old 30th March 2006
  #20
great thread...i missed it first time around.

i agree that it's both...with some improv.

for instance...intuition tells me to show up 3 hours earlier than they
tell me to, but wisdom and experience has taught me also to bring
a couple extra extesnion cords, a few flashlights, some batteries,
screw drivers, soldering gun, adaptors...et. al.

the improv happens when a channel on my mic pre dies, or my
PT rig isn't clocking correctly, or suddenly the acoustic set turns
into a full-band.

i'm still fairly new and very small-time, so all these experiences add
up to a greater body of intuition and wisdom.

i'll tell you one other thing...forums like this are worth their weight in
gold. hearing how everyone else does "it" and generally sharing
war stories/ideas is one of the best tools in my toolbox.

marty.
Old 31st March 2006
  #21
Lives for gear
 

There is an old saying I´ve heard more than once: "Planning is everything, plans are nothing". Sort of sums it up.

Last recording had too little planning so I turned up with everything but the small headphone adapter (small on headphone, large output). All had to be done on feel as there was not enough time to go back to base to fetch it.

Gunnar
Old 31st March 2006
  #22
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The greatest thing is when they tell you "yes, it's a standard orchestra setup" but "standard" means something different to them than to me. Violas where normally vl 2 or cello would sit, or worse. This becomes best when you've been around setting up mics for 80 mins, and 10 mins before the rehearsal start (which should be the safety take in a live recording, except for the first piece...) the director and musicians show up and set up completely different than they told you. And no, we're rehearsing now, you can put up your mics later (in those 40 mins between rehearsal and show??!!), and why do you need so many mics at all, when recording to my MD walkman I just need that Sony electret stereo mic.
Old 29th January 2007
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghellquist View Post
There is an old saying I´ve heard more than once: "Planning is everything, plans are nothing". Sort of sums it up.

Last recording had too little planning so I turned up with everything but the small headphone adapter (small on headphone, large output). All had to be done on feel as there was not enough time to go back to base to fetch it.

Gunnar


I like that saying.
Old 29th January 2007
  #24
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Another along the same lines is "Plan not to Plan"... .in other words, prepare for everything you can think of ( and some things you couldn't!)
Old 30th January 2007
  #25
I'm noticing that my remote recording skills are like my bass playing skills. I'll work on something for a long time, struggling with it. Then I get to a point, without realizing it, where it seems like I am doing what I have always done, yet it's somehow a lot better. Just recently, everything has been sounding a lot more coherent. It doesn't feel like I am doing any one thing that differently, but little pieces of the whole are falling together. As much as I try to plan, things never are what I expected when I get to a venue, so improv is a huge part of the action.

Improvisation, though, can be a misleading concept. I can't tell you how many times I have heard non musicians and beginners say that rehearsing improvisation kills spontaneity. This is pure BS. The best improvisers practice it constantly. The same goes for recording. It's perhaps a little more abstract, but there are constantly factors that crop up ("Didn't I tell you about the horn section?" or "No, you absolutely cannot put any mics there!") that require a fluidity of concept. If you don't think this way all the time, these things can be road blocks instead of opportunities!

That's my 02c, at any rate.

Edwin
Old 3rd February 2007
  #26
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I would say on the fly? The thing about music is it is in constant motion. You go to an art gallery and see a picture, its all up front. It is not going to change and nothing is time based. Music is a matter of time, so as it progresses things change, boards die, and A/C surges.

Its great fun.
Old 3rd February 2007
  #27
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I plan like crazy. I fret over it. I have multiple check lists. I have one on the dashboard that I read one last time before I pull the van out to head to the gig.

Many years ago a wise old tech director told me "if you're any good, you figure out a way and you MAKE it work". I've always remembered that simple bit of advice. I can still hear him saying that to me and it's inspired me many times when all seemed hopeless. There's been plenty of times when the rig was all screwed up, I ask myself "how can I make this work?" and then I head for that solution. I think that's where what you've learned before kicks in. Sometimes the solution sucks but the alternative is even worse so you takes your best shot.
Old 4th April 2009
  #28
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This is one of my favorite threads, so I had to bring it back to life.

Does anyone want to get on board this train?
Old 5th April 2009
  #29
Gear Head
 

I think the Visceral part of anything is basically knowledge that has been pack down so deep and hard it becomes second nature, where more recent learning still requires thought, as in knowledge.

Just got a gig recording a tribute to John Lewis tomorrow.
Never been to the venue, only know 1 player, don't know the situation with the "house" people.
I'm bringing the rig I want to use. Plus set ups for every possible variation I might encounter, whether I split the feed, put up my own Mics or patch from their board or any combination there of. Rehearsal is at 2, I'll be there at 11:30 to figure out what I need to do.
I guess I plan for what ever options I might have and be prepared to use the best of them. I feel good about this project, and am sure it will work out great, but experience has taught me to be prepared to make it the best I can.
Old 5th April 2009
  #30
Planning in advance is important. Doing what your gut tells you to do on location is priceless.

I try and scope out a new venue at least two weeks before the event. I want to know as much about the venue as I can so I usually go to the venue for the remote survey the same time as the concert. That way I can judge the traffic noise and what will be the background noise during the concert/recording session. I have been bitten more than once with low flying aircraft that were on a schedule that I would not have known about had I not been to the venue at the time of the concert/recording. I also want to find out where the electrical outlets are, how many people will be the "person in charge" and anything else about the venue I can learn.

The day of the concert I too use checklists both in my head and written down to make sure we have enough equipment, including backups, to get the gig done without having to drive back to home base. I use to be able to go to Radio Shack and get an adapter or some wire for making up some "left at home base adapter" but Radio Shack is becoming more of a phone and computer store and less of a parts store so that way of working works no more. I was pleased to see that now GC seems to be stocking more adapters and basic wire and supplies so maybe that knowledge would work in a pinch. The problem is there are a lot fewer GCs than Radio Shack stores so the chances of being close to one are very iffy.

So many things can change the day of the concert that it is hard to plan for all the eventualities but experience has taught me that oversupply is better than being under supplied especially with things like mic cords, extra stands, and an adapter box.

The people who run the venue can be your best friends or your worst nightmare. We did a gig a year ago with a pre planning meeting where we discussed all the parameters that we could think of. The person in charge of the venue agreed to all of the ideas put forth but on the day of the concert had a big "senior moment" and could not remember anything about what we had talked about. The place we were to set up had not been cleaned up and the manager said he did not have the time to do it so we wound up cleaning out a space for us. Then he got upset that we had "touched his equipment" he also did not have the audio feed he promised us and the person running the sound board was at most 14 years old and except for bringing up the announce microphone had NO IDEA of what he was doing. At one point the person in charge said that we were not welcome as suggested we leave at once. Cooler heads prevailed and we did the concert but vowed never to come back which we have not done. We have also been at venues where we were welcomed with open arms and had so much cooperation it was a pleasure to do the gig,

We did one concert recording where the conductor of the group forgot to tell us a few things about the concert, like he was using a backing track played over some loud speakers and that the choir was going to be processing down the center aisle where our microphones were setup and that for one piece he was using an Antiphonal choir in the back of the room. We had had meetings with the conductor, we had asked direct questions of him but all of this seemingly slipped his mind when we were discussing the event. Luckily we were use to some of his slips of memory and had a few "extra" things with us so we could do what he forget to tell us about.

Pre-planning, experience, ability to do the seemingly impossible without getting upset, being able to pour oil on troubled waters and the ability to do all of this with grace under fire and without breaking a sweat all seem like things a remote engineer needs to be able to do.

Good topic.
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