BBC Orchestra recording

bbcorchestraI was recently involved with Carlos Lellis (Freelance engineer, Lecturer and author of “Music Production: Recording: A Guide for Producers, Engineers, and Musicians” ) recording the BBC Elstree orchestra, which specialises in film and show music from a wide range of classical and contemporary pieces.

The recordings took place in the gorgeous hall of the King’s College. It comfortably housed the whole orchestra and provided a very smooth yet full reverb tail. The micing was very “traditional” and we used 20 channels of pure musical goodness. A Decca Tree array, 2 outriggers and several spot microphones were recorded onto 2 protools rigs (for redundancy) using the AUX ADAT ports on the RME converters. The whole rig was clocked with an Apogee clock.

Shaken Oak Studios, Oxford

Shaken Oak

Patchbay Fitted Jan 2014

I want to give you guys a heads up to Shaken Oak Farm/Studios in Oxford.

If you are looking for a cosy environment for a nice weekend away from London, recording away on a “budget”, then look no further.

Arthur is developing what he calls “the super project studio.” The idea is having a computer centred recording system (and approach to tracking) with a few great sounding pieces of kit on your signal path, from UREI to Neve preamps, or perhaps an LA2A for your vocals or brass, or a Drawmer Mercenary edition for your drums?

Or if you are bussing elements, why not use the Thermionic culture mixer?

Arthur and Jake Murray brought me to this project to assemble a patchbay where a very comprehensive routing of talkback, cues and preamps were normalled in such a way that recording can happen instantly after plugin in microphones. But if your heart so desires, you can tirelessly select your preferred preamp for the perfect sound, or create complex signal flow paths.

 

Where the facilities really shine is on his amazing live room. This hall has that classic cottage feel to it, with tall ceilings, elevated mezzanine and fantastic view into the green fields of Oxfordshire. Did I mentioned it sounded very controlled and pleasing, with a nice short tail?

Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures as Arthur is working restlessly to get the place 100% functional. There were some furniture being moved around to clear the place and make space for special furniture designed for Shaken Oak.

Have a look at his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/shaken.oak.studios

 

 

Unity3D game engine

Unity3D LogoFor those of you that know me well, you know I am a very technically oriented guy. You know that I will not rest until I’ve opened every piece of gear in a studio to see what makes it tick or if I can improve it or modify it.

 

One area that always intrigued me has been videogames. I grew up in the 90s, where the Nintendo SNES, the Mega Drive 32, Sega Saturn and PlayStation made their mark. I’ve abandoned gaming due to time constraints but recently I’ve made a point to catch up on the current game generation.

Games have evolved from a square, pixilized interactive media that had little or no content to a media that can deliver – in my honest opinion – better and more intense stories than the moving pictures ever could. One reason is because the player becomes part of the story – even for linear games. The other is because a developer has more than 10 hours to convey a story, develop characters and show you a different universe. Fallout can take you on adventures through the capital wasteland that can amount to over 100h. Skyrim beats Fallout for a few hundred more hours of exploration and questing.

 

Even the Blockbuster-type games will leave you hanging on the edge of your sofa for 10-15h. Uncharted 3 can get your blood pumping better than any modern day blockbuster movie, and Tomb Raider (2013) really made you feel like you were learning how to “toughen up” and become an hero.

 

I’ve recently joined Berklee Online for their course on Video Games, where I’ve been learning Unity3D, more specifically, Unity3D audio engine, scripting and how to prepare media for deployment in videogames. It’s been an interesting journey adapting my knowledge of computer science and Python and use it to create scripts for Unity3D in Javascript. From simple audio managers that can manage interactive music arrangement, or trigger SFX. I’ve become so intrigued that I have picked up books on Artificial Intelligence scripting using C# and Unity.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been guided on this adventure by Gina Zdanowicz, the owner of Serial Labs – which specialises in sound design and music for games, post production etc. She was credited on Take2 games such as Bioshock2 and X-Com: Declassified.

 

I think it’s fair to abandon the “videogame” name. Games have become alive, from the big television in shiny HD to your phone and portable devices. I think that 2013 proved that this platform can easily surpass other mediums when it comes to storytelling, entertainment and replayability – giving the general public more bang for the buck. Unfortunately for many, the “videogame” still brings the memory of time-wasters such as pong, tetris or the money-eating arcades. The industry deserve a new, catchy name for what’s being done here. I believe games are here to stay and might even become a favourite medium of entertainment for the general public.

Denmark Street Studios

DENMARKST-LOGO15-150x150Hello all!

Just wanted to share with you that the famous producer and mixing engineer Guy Katsav took over the historical studio in Denmark Street where Rolling stones, Jimi Hendrix and many others recorded.

This studio is re-opening under Guy Katsav’s expert direction and features a very vibe-y complex of studios. The main studio has a decent sized (and decent sounding!) live room and 2 booths. And how surprised was I to find a true EMT 140 plate???

 

Anyway, I’ve spent a lovely day there working out some new wiring and setting up some of the new ties. The studio is equipped with a nice selection of gear and it’s ready to roll! So give them a call if you are looking for a studio to record. Have a look at their website here.

 

 

AMS – RMX16 Maintenance

ams rmx

working

I had the pleasure of working on one of these beauties. Originally released in the late ’80s, this is a reverb unit that became somewhat of a legend. The ambience and the non-linear presets do wonders on a track, but I have to say the reverse reverb was probably one of the sweetest things I’ve heard. This particular one sat in a few historical rooms in London and is now in the hands of a private owner.

photo 2

This unit is really well designed. From a user point of view, everything is accessible from the front rotary encoders or from the numeric keypad. The addition of the assignable encoder to the left makes it a breeze to use and map for those mixes where you’ll be shaping your effects “hands on”.

 

On a maintenance point of view, the cards are very well laid out and the inside – although very packed – is very clean. Huge LED’s indicate the status of the power rails, and the fuses for each rail are accessible from the back.

My struggle with this bad boy was the fact that the front panel is incredibly hard to pull apart and assemble, which is necessary when replacing the switches. The spring support was broken on a couple of the switches.

photo 1

This is a beautiful unit however this particular one was beginning to show signs of old age. Some of the PCB traces were lifting easily and I’m not sure how easy it is to get ahold of some of the older components. If you get one, I think you’ll be in love with the organic and very “particular” reverbs this unit offers although be prepared to dish out some money servicing this unit if something happens.

Siobhan Tebbs Wesley EP

Siobhan_postDuring the space of 2 days, I’ve recorded and mixed 3 tracks for Siobhan Tebbs Wesley (singer/songwriter). We took a very traditional approach where we’ve setup the instruments and spent the remaining of our time working to achieve better performances and giving the music what it required, rather than franticly rushing through songs.