Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Post Production and Foley

From recording live bands on the Mackie 32 to creating our own 30-second movie trailer on the Control 24, instructor Rich Ott and class 180 makes their exciting transition into Post Audio! 

As a group we select a movie trailer, remove all audio, and recreate every sound from scratch.   

When we watch a movie at home or in theatres, we may think everything is captured right there on the set - but this could not be further from the truth. Everything from the actors/actresses voice, the loud explosions, gunshots, and car crashes - to something as unnoticeable as a bird chirping in the background - is recreated during Post Production. 
Post Production refers to the syncing of audio to video. What most of us do not know is that after a movie is filmed, the actors and actresses come into the sound studio to rerecord the script. This is referred to as ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement). Without ADR, what we watch would lack quality and overall impact. In actuality, only 15% of what is shot on set is kept and 85% is done in post audio.
Foley is the term used to describe the reproduction of sound effects. The sound a Transformer makes - or the roar of King Kong running through the jungle - was all created from nothing but imagination. Sound designers have the exciting task of creating these sounds that heighten our senses.

For example, the sound of the dinosaurs stomping in “Jurassic Park” is really a crew of sound designers dropping tree trunks into the ground and recording it! 

So next time we are in the theaters and the credits roll, we should all thank the production team, sound designers, staff and cast for forever enhancing our experience! 

written by James Glenn

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Conquering the Mackie Console

For the remainder of our time at F.I.R.S.T Institute, class 180 will head off to the Post Production Studio to further our knowledge of audio engineering... but before we go into our next exciting adventure, we must pass our final exams. 

It has been a wonderful experience as we can all see tremendous growth in our classmates and ourselves. The final examination consists of 100 multiple-choice questions followed by a 10- part hands-on portion. Everything we have learned from “day one” was put the test.

It is remarkable to witness how much information is retained over a short period of time. No one knows this better than recording arts student, Marcos Vargas, who comes in everyday at 9 am to conquer the Mackie 32 x 8 console: “It’s all about understanding sound and signal flow,” he says. 

If all of this sounds fun to you, consider a career as an Audio Engineer or Music Producer. Contact F.I.R.S.T. Institute today!

Playing an instrument or having background in music theory is not a necessity but it is definitely a plus. Not only does it help you to better understand the pre-amplifiers that are built into the console, it gives you the upper hand when dealing with bands that come in to record.
Having a solid grasp of routing, inputs, and outputs is a must for any engineer. Most in-studio signal and sound problems stem from improper I/O setup and/or routing. Your initial look at patch bays may be a little scary. Always refer back to your signal flow chart and remember every send has a return and every out has an in.  

It ‘s not as difficult as it seems. Our first class instructor John LaRosa explains, “It’s a whole lot of simple.” He was right. Paying attention and repetition sets the foundation of becoming a successful audio engineer!    

If all of this sounds fun to you, consider a career as an Audio Engineer or Music Producer. Contact F.I.R.S.T. Institute today!

written by James Glenn 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Know Your Craft!

It's hard to believe that class 180 is half way through our journey at 
F.I.R.S.T. Institute! 

Your first day in basic audio you will introduce yourselves, express what your goals and aspirations are, and why you came to F.I.R.S.T Institute. From learning about frequency and amplitude in basic audio to working on a Mackie 32 x 8 Console, we have certainly come a long way. 

For class 180, graduation is right around the corner. It is vital more now than ever that we know our craft!
Even self-taught freelance engineers can become content and unwilling to advance because they know their programs so well. If you know Logic Platinum 5 like the back of your hand, you may have an “If it's not broken, don’t fix it". 

While you may know the ins and outs of your current D.A.W, you must not be complacent - the audio world is changing all around you! Be willing to grow even if it means starting all over again and rebuilding your studio from scratch. Take with you your general knowledge of compressors, EQ’s, reverbs and other plug-ins and become a master of your art. It’s going to take time, discipline, hard work and dedication and for that; there are no quick keys.

The times, gear, and recording techniques will always progress and we have to be willing to do the same. Even if you have previously worked in a professional studio, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try new things. 

John La Rosa, instructor for class 180, gives encouraging words to all students: “Treat this opportunity like a 8 month job interview.” 

The industry we have chosen is an ever-evolving one and we have to evolve with it or get left behind. My advice, not only to students but all is to without a shadow of doubt, know Your Craft!

Would like to learn the craft of Audio Engineering and Music Production? Contact F.I.R.S.T. Institute today, to start your new career tomorrow! Graduate in only 8 months!

written by James Glenn

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lessons Learned During Music Recording Sessions

This week at F.I.R.S.T. Institute, we put everything we have learned to the test. The ball was placed in our hands and it was “game on”! 

Class #180 had the responsibility and pleasure of recording some amazing live talent and soon-to-be-household-names. “A Silent Surrenders” multi-talented Nick Beaty stopped by to record his adrenaline-rushing new material. We set up drum, vocal, bass and acoustic guitar mics for Nick, set levels, then started recording. The team had a blast working with Nick as he effortlessly transitioned from instrument to instrument.
Also stopping by today was Emily and Al from the sultry, soulful, 60’s sounding group, “The Sh-Booms.” Emily and Al put finishing touches on their new record “1.2.3s”. The "Sh-Booms" not only left a lasting impression on class #180, but also kept every head bopping and every foot tapping as they laid stacks and harmonies.

There were many solid fundamental lessons learned from having the opportunity to engineer for serious, working, performing artists. 

A golden rule to remember is: 

Always be prepared! Arrive at your sessions as early as possible and have everything within your power set up and ready to record. This includes microphones, session files, notes or any other specifics you may consulted with the artist and/or producer about.
While recording, you want to create the most comfortable and productive working environment possible. The best way to ensure productivity is to keep the artist in the loop of what’s going on when not recording and by having an open line of communication - even when giving constructive criticism. Artists appreciate honest feedback! Last but not least, be quick when navigating through Pro Tools. This is important because you do not want to keep the artist waiting.

Music, much like life, is all about moments and most are moments you can’t get back or duplicate. “Always be on your toes and ready for the unexpected,” says student Billy Smith. A good engineer understands the importance of capturing those moments as they could ultimately make your recording stand out from the rest!    


written by James Glenn

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Creating an Original Song From Scratch

Class is in session, literally! 

This week class #180 will be creating an original song from scratch. Many of us have recorded songs at beginner or home studios but have never experienced the “real deal” in a professional atmosphere nor know the many roles that go into making a successful recording. By successful, I don’t initially mean a Grammy Award winning smash hit, but a quality, great-sounding record ready to present to the world. 

Truth be told, you can’t have one without the other. Our instructor, Rich Ott, who has worked with award-winning producers such as Dr. Dre and Rockwilder, gives us the lay of the land and task of assigning our roles in the studio.
Agreeably, the most important job in the studio is that of the producer. These days the term is disrespectfully thrown around as anyone who sits behind a computer or beat machine and makes a beat is considered a producer. This could not be further from the truth! However talented beat makers are, there is a massive difference in the role of a producer. A producer is responsible for overseeing a project in its entirety - not just the construction of a beat. In short, the producer has the most responsibility and pressure as his or her focus is to take the artists’ vision and deliver a marketable product to the label and consumer.       

Learn more about becoming a music producer...

Next are the engineers. The role of an engineer is focus on sound quality, picking the right microphones and editing. In sync with the head engineer is the assistant engineer. This role requires a multitasking runner who can set up mics, cables, and assist the head engineer in whatever way is needed to create a successful recording.

Learn more about becoming an audio engineer...
Time is always money. In most cases a song is already written and ready to record, but there are instances where songwriters will write on the spot, consult with artist, producer and engineers. Songwriters Tj Northon and Billy Smith both state that “dealing with different personalities, trying to mix different ideas and make everyone feel comfortable is the hardest element.” In reality, you will deal with egos, deadlines and disagreements but keep your eyes on the prize - and remember that everyone has the same collective goal of creating great music.

If you have a goal of creating great music, learn how at F.I.R.S.T. Institute. We offer hands-on learning, and you can graduate in only 8 months. 

written by James Glenn