The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
The Concept of Creating "Versions"
Old 16th July 2015
  #1
Lives for gear
 

The Concept of Creating "Versions"

RONAN's Thread about dumping his analog console in favor of a ITB/hybrid set-up made me think about a idea/concept that I have always kept in mind over the years.
The original idea behind this idea/concept was first presented to me by a very experienced and well respected engineer/mixer/tech.
This fellow has been in the audio business since the early '60s (an ex-BBC guy)
I worked and learned a lot from him back in 1987.
Some of his ideas and concepts completely turned my way of thinking around at at that time and I use many of them to this very day.

This is the idea/concept that after you spend sufficient time mixing and thereby creating an acceptable mix all mixes afterward are only different versions unless you zero-out the console and start over.
While that sounds obvious it also opens up these questions:

Are the mix versions that follow the initial mix idea improvements to the initial mix or are they personal preferences?
Most importantly, do they actually significantly improve the presentation of the music or production?
Would anyone other than the people who are intimately involved with the production even be able to hear the changes between the versions?
Do the changes performed in the new version(s) actually increase the worth of (artistically or monetary) of the production?

I'll go out on a limb here and say that if you are intimately involved with the creation of an artistic endeavor your first impression or idea of what is correct is rarely ever far from what needs to be the final presentation of the piece.
I have mixed professionally for right at 40 years and I can tell you that when I go back and listen to the thousands of productions that I have been involved in re-mixing has not resulted in anything except different mix versions.
They are all the same performances and to be truthful even I myself can't tell the differences in many of the mixes.

Maybe I just do my work well?
Maybe I have worked with a WHOLE BUNCH of people who are not very picky?
Maybe I intimidate people too much for them to ask for re-mixes? I dunno'...

I just know that in cases other than where there were obvious flaws and mistakes (amp noises, stick clicks, violin bow snaps, hum, hiss) which were not sounds intended to be part of the musical presentation the changes in re-mixes didn't alter the presentation very much at all.
Hell... When I had my music studio most of the people just wanted to use a re-mix as an excuse to hang out in my studio for more time!

Do you know that the mixes for EVERY band who I ever did a demo for that got signed to a major label deal (back when that meant something) had mixes that were done in under a few hours.
The band that got the very best deal was signed partially because of demos that we mixed starting at 4:00 am after recording for two days.
The mixes were first and second pass mixes!
They aren't my best mixes. but they were certainly good enough to get the point across.
Old 16th July 2015
  #2
Lives for gear
 
couch11's Avatar
 

The biggest reason for versions are the fact that studio time wasn't cheap before the 2000s. So it was a lot cheaper to run versions with different vocal levels(the majority of versions) then to come back in and spend 5 grand to recall a mix just so you can have a version with the lead vocal up 1 dB. Sometimes record companies only required 4 or 5 versions of the vocal balances( vocal up, down, bgvs up, down, etc). Sometimes they wanted over 20 versions. It was just a way of covering their bases so they didn't have to waste money going back into the studio to bring the vocal up for the choruses. If you had versions, in mastering you could just pop in the vocal up version for the choruses.

Now it's easy to open up your session, do a tweak and resend the mix to mastering.
Old 16th July 2015
  #3
Lives for gear
 
Funny Cat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post

Are the mix versions that follow the initial mix idea improvements to the initial mix or are they personal preferences?
Most importantly, do they actually significantly improve the presentation of the music or production?
Would anyone other than the people who are intimately involved with the production even be able to hear the changes between the versions?
Do the changes performed in the new version(s) actually increase the worth of (artistically or monetary) of the production?

I'll bite. Here is my personal perspective. About 90% of the time they are preferential changes IME. Every once in a while a client/co-producer etc. suggest a change that really opens up the mix and leads in new directions. That's why you have to be open to suggestions. Otherwise you would never leave your comfort zone and as a result never learn anything. But here is the important part...Most (not all but most) of the successful artists who stood the test of time make music that pleases THEM. Not the listeners. So "tweaks" become a part of the essential music making process. I'll add that listeners usually only care about the lyrics and/or melody unless they are also into engineering.








Quote:
Originally Posted by couch11 View Post
The biggest reason for versions are the fact that studio time wasn't cheap before the 2000s. So it was a lot cheaper to run versions with different vocal levels(the majority of versions) then to come back in and spend 5 grand to recall a mix just so you can have a version with the lead vocal up 1 dB. Sometimes record companies only required 4 or 5 versions of the vocal balances( vocal up, down, bgvs up, down, etc). Sometimes they wanted over 20 versions. It was just a way of covering their bases so they didn't have to waste money going back into the studio to bring the vocal up for the choruses. If you had versions, in mastering you could just pop in the vocal up version for the choruses.

Now it's easy to open up your session, do a tweak and resend the mix to mastering.

Nailed it.
Old 16th July 2015
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
[...]

Maybe I just do my work well?

[...]
That, I'm guessing.

A maxim of the old time-efficiency crowd was that a job expands to fill the time allotted to it.


In the old days, time was money, and often lots of it, so we got used to working fast. You'd rough in a mix and then refine it in the time left.


That said, outside the professional milieu, working on my own stuff, I will sometimes hack and tinker a mix for some time, back burnering it, coming back, then putting it aside again. Sometimes it stays fairly close to the initial conception, but every now and then I get to a point where I say, F this, we need to rethink this whole business.

One thing that often seems to happen with me these days, maybe my own idiosyncrasy, is that it often takes a while to occur to me that some recorded parts that have been in the mix from the beginning aren't actually needed in all sections (or sometimes at all). I'll cut them in some sections, using that to set up tension and release, spotlight elements, work the flow, etc, and slap my forehead, thinking, Man, I should have seen this right at the beginning!
Old 16th July 2015
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Whack Doofa's Avatar
IMHO.(?) I cant remember a requested revision of my original mix ever sounding better than my first print. Why would I send off a mix I wasn't 100% happy with.

That could just be my own arrogance of course.

Very occasionally too many people get involved and the mix can get destroyed by tweaking, but I do try very hard to avoid that or bring it back.

In terms of Vox Ups/Downs, sure people can tell if you A/B them but not normally in isolation. It's a necessary pain.
Old 17th July 2015
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I always printed VOX up 3db, DOWN 3db, up 6db.
I did do revisions in music mixing where I would keep the console up and maybe re-cut a section of piece.
Maybe bring the GTR solo up a few dbs and then cut it into the mix.
It didn't take me too long to need automation beyond what fader and mute automation could do.

You have to remember that I worked for over ten years in radio/TV production and the production music world.
Radio spots could easily have hundreds of versions, but they had different elements.
We built these all by using the recalls on an ITB system (WaveFrame 1000.)
The production music that I did had four edit lengths with three mix versions each.
Believe me, my world was nothing but revisions and different edits.

I still stand by my concept of "versions."
Old 17th July 2015
  #7
Gear Head
 

If an artist is presented with a mix they don't like, they have a few options. They can either abandon the mix and find another engineer to bring a new perspective (expensive and time-consuming), ask the original mixer to re-mix from scratch (no guarantee of a better result), or work with the mixer to tweak the mix until the artist is happy. Not saying this is the case for the op, but if a mixer doesn't 'get' the music, he/she is less likely to hear an improvement (or decline) in quality as a result of the artist's tweaks. Radio spots/production music is a bit more tricky (or easier, depending on your perspective), since there's usually no-one on the project who's emotionally invested enough to drive through that kind of process.

In the case of a demo, you're right - the mix doesn't need to be anything special to get the point across. Labels generally understand this, and will look past rough mixes when listening to unsigned bands.
Old 17th July 2015
  #8
Lives for gear
 
couch11's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
I always printed VOX up 3db, DOWN 3db, up 6db.
Holy crap that is a major vocal up version. Most versions I've done were the vocal up/down .5db or 1dB variety. Some would say .5dB would be pointless but when it comes mastering time, those versions came in handy.

A lot of times if the record company asked for vocal up 2 dB versions, I would just copy the vocal up 1 version and label it up 2. Record companies love the vocal up 2 version even if it isn't louder.
Old 17th July 2015
  #9
Gear Guru
 
Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

If you're doing any significant 2-bus limiting, 6 dB up really isn't. But yes, that's a lot.
Old 17th July 2015
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Maybe I shouldn't have said "always."
Maybe it would be more accurate to cut those numbers in half and say UP 1.5, DOWN 1.5 and UP 3 db.

I did once have a client do a big indie release, rock CD who insisted that his decent vocals be buried in the mix.
At my insistence we did mixes with the vocal up 3db and 6 db.
When he made the second pressing of the CDs he used the 6db UP version.
The vocal was buried that low in the first mixes he wanted to go with.
BTW... The guy got signed to a major-label deal partially because of the sales he had once the CD sounded proper.
Old 17th July 2015
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Spede's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by couch11 View Post
A lot of times if the record company asked for vocal up 2 dB versions, I would just copy the vocal up 1 version and label it up 2. Record companies love the vocal up 2 version even if it isn't louder.
Old 17th July 2015
  #12
Lives for gear
 

I once worked on a major-label mix project that we mixed at A&M Studios (now Henson) and in order to combat the record label "experts" who would pop in at random times during the mix the producer had me route the KICK and LEAD VOCAL to un-marked faders.
The actual faders being used were moved further down the console and labeled as something slightly different.
The label "experts" would insist on making tiny changes in the level of these two tracks, but they were clueless.
For over a week the "experts" would come in and want changes, we'd move the un-routed fader and they'd think they heard an improvement.
To be honest, I wouldn't have had the balls to do this, but the producer had been in the game long enough to feel comfortable with doing it.
In almost all cases it would be his finger that moved the un-routed fader.


In reality, all of the "expert" opinions and ideas had already ruined the sound of the record during the month of tracking.
Old 17th July 2015
  #13
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbubba View Post
I once worked on a major-label mix project that we mixed at A&M Studios (now Henson) and in order to combat the record label "experts" who would pop in at random times during the mix the producer had me route the KICK and LEAD VOCAL to un-marked faders.
The actual faders being used were moved further down the console and labeled as something slightly different.
The label "experts" would insist on making tiny changes in the level of these two tracks, but they were clueless.
For over a week the "experts" would come in and want changes, we'd move the un-routed fader and they'd think they heard an improvement.
To be honest, I wouldn't have had the balls to do this, but the producer had been in the game long enough to feel comfortable with doing it.
In almost all cases it would be his finger that moved the un-routed fader.


In reality, all of the "expert" opinions and ideas had already ruined the sound of the record during the month of tracking.
Classic. Too bad label guys don't really fall for that one any more.
Old 17th July 2015
  #14
Lives for gear
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

.
.
Old 17th July 2015
  #15
Lives for gear
 

This is very close to what the guy who initially brought the concept of "versions" to me said.
He isn't quite as famous as Bruce, but he has recorded some awesome records for some awesome artists and his name is on some mighty impressive records.

I'm tellin' ya'...
Trust your initial thought.
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Forum Jump
Forum Jump