I had the pleasure of working on the Idina Menzel holiday album produced by Walter Afanasieff for Warner records. Special shout out to Missi Hale for her exceptional backup vocals on this project.
First off, I want to post this video. Last week I got to work on a really fun project with some great friends, and on some great music. The video above is a clip from the 2013 Covenant Awards which were aired on CTS and can be viewed in its entirety on Crossroads360. I mixed the live show, but what I was really excited about was post.. We decided this year to multitrack the show so I could mix the broadcast version as well. This band is called City Harmonic; I had never heard of them before but they were really really good! Also I think this clip shows off the amazing video work of Dan Stewart and Geoff Laforet. Looks more like a live concert DVD than a telecast... maybe they need to hire colours&shapes..
Because we already had Avid Venue consoles for the show, we decided the easiest way to record would be to get a Pro Tools HD rig and record off the console. We had 2 HD cards which allows up to 128 tracks to be recorded, although we didn't need that many.
The event took place at the Crossroads TV studio. They do live and recorded multi cam shoots all the time. We needed to make sure the audio would stay in sync with the picture once I was finished mixing, so we decided to use house timecode. They use "blackburst", which we don't use in audio land, and so the CTS engineers brought out a device which can convert the studio's timecode to 48k word clock which Pro Tools can use.
It ended up being a jumble of cables by the time we got it all hooked up.
Here's a shot from the control room. You can see what the camera is seeing. CTS's director John Luscombe tells each camera operator where to go and what to shoot, and tells a switcher in real time which camera to cut to and how quickly; this is called a line cut. If something is live to tape or live to air, this is what goes out over the air. For this show, we wanted the ability to do some effects in post and tighten things up a bit, so similar to what we did by multi-track recording the audio, they iso recorded camera feed so that DOP/creative director/not-sure-what-to-call-him-for-this Dan Stewart and editor Geoff Laforet can make changes after the fact.
Immediately after the show was recorded, I went to CTS's studio B to mix "on" their SSL. When I say "on", I mean literally - I put my laptop on top of their $200,000 console (it felt very wrong!) Seems crazy, but the SSL C100 (while a perfect console for television) is a digital console so I wouldn't be gaining much by using it for this, and I have their EQ and dynamics algorithms as plugins anyway on my laptop. So, this ended up being a completely in-the-box mix, and I relied heavily on UAD plugins such as the new API channel strip and their new Pultics and 1176s. It was tricky figuring out levels for television, but with the help of Dale (CTS audio engineer) we worked it out. It was a marathon mixing 13 songs in 1.2 days, but it got done.
Dan and Geoff did some amazing video work in post, with Brian Worster doing lighting for the show, Anthony Diehl doing the live video/projector mapping, and Gordie Cochrane and Melissa McEachern putting it all together.
Just finished work on an album for Amiena, entitled "Real". It's the second project we have done together. I've put a quick compilation together of some of my favourite parts. Most of the songs were written by Amiena, Diana Pops, and myself. We recorded a bunch of behind-the-scenes footage (I will get it to you ASAP, Amiena, I promise!!) -- I'll try to post that online. Thanks again to the fabulous Diana Pops for her involvement on this, as well as to my good friend Jordan Jackiew and my brother Julian for their across-the-country remote Skype tracking session that we did. And of course to the inimitable Alok Verma for his mad Tabla skills. Amiena is always on the road (well, in the air, to be more precise) performing all over the world.
I've been looking over my site, and have realized that most of the posts have been about projects that I have finished, and have been released. I've been wondering lately whether or not that is actually of any interest to anybody. It also comes across as a bit narcissistic. Yes, there are things that I am proud of, and feel tremendously grateful to have been a part of, and the reality of this business is that it requires a bit of self promotion.. "Hey! Check this guy out! He did so and so! We should call him for our project!" But as I read the blogs of non-music people (especially tech people), I'm intrigued by the experimentation, the innovation, the ideas -- the account of the progress, not just the completion. The idea of picking up a hobby that allows this sort of experimentation has crossed my mind. Taking a remote control quad copter and turning it into a drone. Re-learning basic coding to develop home automation systems. Even just getting back into chess. But then I remembered what it was like for me in the early days of music, before I realized it could be a job, or that there were limits to what you did, or standard operating procedures. It was, in fact, just as experimental, innovative, and creative as anything in the tech world. There are so many things you can do with music, sound, technology, that we often just don't, because it isn't strictly necessary. But when did producing music become about necessity? Over the last few months, I've been slowly reincorporating some of the things that made me fall in love with music production in the first place. Experimenting with ACTUAL programming, meaning using technology to create sounds that did not exist before. Or using "found sounds" to create subtle shifting organic textures that sometimes are more felt than heard. I remember years ago spending ages trying to sample a music box in a particular way so I could get a sound I was searching for for a Diana Pops song. Or showing up with my friend to a cafe with our computers, synths, and an electric violin to play experimental electronic music, much of which we were creating in real time.
I'm working with an artist right now (who for the moment shall remain anonymous) who's only mandate is to make the best record she has ever made. You might be surprised to know that this is quite a refreshing objective. We are experimenting with sounds, parts, textures, instruments, and it is a LOT of fun. Music technology has come a long way in allowing one the freedom to do these sorts of things. I'm not sure whether the results of this experimentation will be immediately obvious to the listener, but if not, I expect it to at least have a subtle psychological effect.
Instead of simply listing my completed projects in this space, I intend to document some of the things we are doing as they are in progress. Some of it will have to be redacted, or anonymized, as commercial projects often have to be kept under wraps until they are ready for their unveiling, but with artists' permission I will do what I can to let my readers in on the process. There are really cool things happening in music right now, and I feel very fortunate to have a part in it.
Anyway. Here's a pointless picture of some gear.