In the field of music production I am, first and foremost, a sound engineer. Whether recording in controlled studio environments or on-location for film or broadcast media my goal is always the same; to make the cleanest, most true to life recording with the tools at hand. In addition to being a recordist- I also find myself involved in quite a bit of post-production work for indie film productions. As a matter of fact- I am a documentary junkie- and as such, I am constantly amazed at how many people make pretty important documentary films which you can barely hear over the music!
Nothing is more annoying than getting in to a subject you might care about (especially if it’s political) and as soon as the subject matter expert starts to speak the music spikes up and the words disappear. Argh! I hate this!! I, and plenty of others, have turned off films because of this; so I have made it my life’s mission to consult with young/new filmmakers on how to avoid doing this. If you are an indie film maker and you have had this problem before- or just want to avoid it on your first film- please contact me so we can talk. It will cost you nothing to talk to me and hopefully I can help you get your message out to the audience.
In addition to my engineer’s skillset, I am also a music producer. As such, I have produced many music albums in my career and coached dozens of bands and solo artists on their path toward finding their own identity through their sound; both sonically as well as in their songwriting.
How, when, and where to record an artist is a decision that I typically make once I have come to know the songs as well as the “personality” of the artist. Every studio has it’s own personality that stimulates the “vibe” of the recording sessions and what is good for one ensemble is not necessarily good for others. So I find that getting to know the artist is an important factor as I find a delta between what makes the artist accell vs. what technical requirements I must consider in capturing the sounds (instrumentation) of the artist.
So for you techies- I own several remote recording rigs that allow me to work across multiple studios or other venues. I use them for studio as well as location recording of live shows or film production. While most studios today have their own DAW’s- I prefer to cart my own around because I know exactly what I am going to get sonically. My rigs are based around SSL’s MX4 MADI sound card and their Alpha-Link series of AD/DA modules. Like many- I do use ProTools but I also use other DAW’s if the situation calls for something more user friendly (like when I am working with other engineers who are not ProTools fluent).
So oddly enough- while I am a fan/user of SSL as my DAW I/O I am not an SSL fan on the front end. I tend to drift toward the Neve and tape crowd in terms of capturing and mixing. The SSL fits my style very well as the DAW I/O because it is very accurate and transparent; so I get back (from the DAW) exactly what I heard going in to it. This is a big deal because with a good Neve, Harrison or Trident console you can make recordings that sound six feet thick; and if you have a sub-par AD converter you will play it back and notice that you lost half of the dynamics and power you thought you heard going in; very un-cool and un-productive. The last word on my I/O is “MADI”. If you don’t already know about MADI- I will just mention that recording latency is a thing of the past once you jump on that train.
I have my own private mixdown facility for any/all of my recording and mastering projects.
Let’s see, what else can I tell you? OK- producers who’ve influenced me include- Bill “Sputnik” Spooner, Martin Birch, Bill Laswell, Todd Rundgren and Robert “Gopher” Harris. In my schooling, I actually studied with Gopher Harris and Bill Spooner. Their different approaches to the recording process really influenced the way I worked when I got started with recording in the 1980’s; and I am eternally grateful for their contributions.
Finally- I am a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the Grammy’s) and through such organizations I try to stay involved in the greater music community beyond my own microcosm.