Archive for the Recording Sessions Category

The Greater Game: Part 5

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , on September 25, 2015 by dazzlesoundproductions

So just a quick note to say it’s here – download for free or listen at the website where you can learn more about the story of Frank Edwards and his experiences in war.  I’ve learned a lot about the manipulation of pure sound and how to build an atmosphere around dialogue and create a whole sonic picture, I hope it resonates for listeners too.  Next up, back in my comfort zone with a busman’s holiday working on my own songs with my own band and a couple of client projects.  Watch this space.

The Greater Game: Part 4

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , , , on July 27, 2015 by dazzlesoundproductions

Mix and master time!  The mix was quite involved as sounds had to be layered in order thusly:

Dialogue – edited to timeline removing fluffs, adjusting pauses, cutting breaths, coughs, cardiac arrests etc.

Bed sounds – the ambience of each scene whether indoors or outside or a combination of both.

Foley/acute sounds – sounds of war, sport, various other activities.  These often have to align with the dialogue.

Everything else – credits, impromptu songs.

Panning decisions, reverb decisions, compression, soundstaging all done on the segmented play.

Once this sonic quilt had been stitched, each individual scene had to be cross-faded so as to provided an uninterrupted soundscape.  The 39 minute master was initially parallel compressed but the decision was made that as this had been done with some elements already and that it rendered the background noises too intrusive, it was dropped.  Instead the whole play was merely gently eq’d and gain adjusted to achieve the desired result.  Some people think it’s all over, it will be on 25 September, or rather just beginning.

The Greater Game: Part 2

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , , , , on April 30, 2015 by dazzlesoundproductions

Onto recording dialogue for our radio play.  The studio we are using has a good size damped rehearsal room and this is where we decided to set up.  Less pleasingly, it is next door to a curry house with a large extractor fan and on a busy roundabout (though traffice had declined by the time we were rolling in the evening).  In these situations it’s all about maximising signal to noise.  We started in this position;

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The fan is outside on the right and the motorway is beyond the back wall.  The right mic was getting a bit of ambient noise although the other was relatively quiet.  So we moved to this configuration;

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This largely eliminated noise as the nulls are now presenting their ‘deaf’ side to the sources.  Keeping the talent close to the mics helped build up proximity which means the recording level could be kept down and noise was further filtered by me in post-prod.  The dialogue tracks are 90:10 signal to noise which means ambient noise will be almost entirely masked by the soundscapes we are planning to build around them.  The only remaining problems were mopeds with silencers removed (angry wasps) and actors moving off-axis (usually to read scripts).  To be on the safe sides 3 takes were laid down of each scene to give options at mixdown.  Next up, Foley.

The Greater Game: Part 1

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , , , on March 29, 2015 by dazzlesoundproductions

I’m working on a radio play set during the Great War called the Greater Game.  Written by author Ed Harris, it tells the story of young footballers who fought at Loos in France in 1915.  This a battle largely forgotten today but it saw poison gas used for the first time and nearly resulted in a breakthrough for the British on the western front.  Many young lads were killed in the offensive and the play brings that episode to life.  Here’s some of the cast at read-through.

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The production is divided into four parts; dialogue/foley/soundscapes/edit.  We are concentrating on the spoken word first and when complete a rough cut will be assembled, ready for the remaining sounds to be layered in.  Next up are studio sessions which I’ll cover in part two.

Yet more drum tracking

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , , on November 18, 2014 by dazzlesoundproductions

Tracking for Phil’s third album – a full day of banging.  Freak Machine in Whitton was the venue, painted green for film work, luckily this had a calming effect on all concerned, or did it?  There was quite a lot of the dreaded click, but this time provided via Logic as I was not engineer on this session merely “producer”.  So after choosing mics and checking levels at the desk my job consisted mainly of eating crisps, shouting “once more with feeling!!” through the glass and shooting a gun into the ceiling.*  11 songs were the result including Phil’s disco extravaganza – result!  Except we now have to do all the remaining dubs so we will be busy for some time to come.  I took a couple of crappy fotos on my phone but you get the idea, stereo and room options plus close mics as required.

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*Our lawyers have advised that this is deniable.

Franklin: Goin’ up the city

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , , , on July 25, 2014 by dazzlesoundproductions

In the city summer’s here and the time is right for recording the wonderful Franklin (website) in Ben’s amazing three floor Peckham pad.  It may be 27C outside but in here its cool and relaxed.  There’s more than enough room to spread out and the giant wood-floored space is just the ticket for what we have in mind.  With a grand total of five mics run into the desk we are ready to roll, the three musketeers in a rough L-shape on the only rug to hand.

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There’s no need to worry about comb filtering, the space is huge, there’s no bass player and no headphones, we are doing this Cowboy Junkies style.  Five songs went down live without overdubs in a country-folk style and then beer and sarnies were imbibed.  I have just finished the first passel of mixes and I can always recommend this method; maximum refreshment, minimum effort.

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If you or your band need something similar, you know where I am.

More drum recording techniques

Posted in Recording Sessions with tags , , , , , , on May 31, 2014 by dazzlesoundproductions

Recording the drum kit remains the most involving part of the producers life.  Despite automation, sampling, drum machines, quantization etc real drums still have a pull on the ears.  It’s probably because we were biffing hollow objects before we had lit the fist fire or opened a branch of Mammoth King.  What ever, I was experimenting again last week with the help of a talented young drummer called David Shaw.  In his drum studio we cooked up load of grooves using various techniques.

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The opportunity to try some offbeam positioning was much appreciated.  In particular mid-side stereo was something I was keen to check out.  The idea is one figure of 8 mic pointing sideways is paired with a cardioid pointing forward.  The side channels is decoded by being cloned and phase reversed so you end up with three channels of audio – you then pan out the two side elements widening or narrowing the stereo as you desire.  I used a ribbon for side and a Schoeps condenser for the mid, as seen here:

Mid Side Drums

What did it sound like – alright but it answered my question as to why I never hear of this configuration being deployed.  I’ve now chalked up most mic setups for drum overheads in action but this one’s appeal was a little elusive.  It sounded tight, focused and control of the width is a bonus but it didn’t have soul somehow, the phasing decoding of the peripheral 8 signal made it seem a bit thin and constricted.  Bolstered with something else around the kit it could be fine and of course there is no end of mic combinations to try, for different flavours.

Dynamics as overhead? Nutty but nice – two Audix i5s in ORTF formation set fairly high and back up.  You don’t need a whole lot of gain really and we both really took to the sound which was meaty and slightly compressed with a springy cymbal sound.  A room mic adds airiness back in but this unconventional setup gives you a hard and muscly sound for rock.

Dynamic ORTF

I got to test out the ATM250 DE, Audio Technica’s dual element kick mic blending clickety-click dynamic and circus drum condenser.  If you have two channels to spare it sounds great as you pick up the character of the shell ring and the batter head.  You can process them independently and a really cool trick is to sidechain the condenser from the snare or toms so the kick sound fluctuates in character.

So much was learnt, samples were taken and fodder for loops and other projects gained.  Plus it was raining most of the day so we didn’t miss being outdoors.  Check David’s site out at http://davidshawdrummer.com/  That’s all for now, and remember, it’s time to call time on drummer jokes!

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