Mr Dekam took a plane back to his new home town Houston, TX this morning. We got an enormous amount done in a week and a half in the Shed. His easy-going, cavalier style of live mixing carries over into his FinalCut editing. We have a rough assembly of the whole concert, though the sound is currently mainly direct off the camera and ‘board mixes’, and I now need to go into the studio and mix the separate tracks against picture. Then we will reassemble it into a fine cut, do the DVD authoring, and get it off to Discmakers for pressing.
I didn’t learn FinalCut Pro as I had hoped, but from looking over Johnny’s shoulder it’s clearly not a lot different from ProTools. (And even more similar to its Apple cousin Garageband.) If push came to shove I could probably do my own project in FCP; I’m just a bit lacking in technical understanding of compression algorithms etc. I learned the finer points of film and video editing way back in the eighties. I can easily spot when a shot is a couple of frames out of sync, and I have a good advance sense of which cuts are going to work, and why they don’t when they don’t.
As with producing music, I accept that there’s not much objectivity when I’m my own editor. I’d probably end up with a better result in objective terms if I let someone else call the shots. However, there’s already way to much ‘perfectly produced’ music and film out there. But not a lot that’s actually interesting and makes a personal statement. So I’ve always felt that I should please myself, and not try to second-guess the marketplace.
This morning I was reading an article in Electronic Musician about record production. It said that Rule #1 is you need your individual faders lower than your subgroup or master faders. The article treated this as gospel, as if it’s something every professional engineer and producer learned on day 1. In the same mag, Russ Kunkel, who is also a musician first and foremost (or rather a drummer, which may/may not be the same thing!) was talking about mixing boards with a +25dB overhead.
Well, I’ve produced and engineered several albums myself that have sold gold or better, and I have to confess I don’t really know what a dB is. I certainly didn’t know about Rule #1 with the faders. I like to use old analog Neve 8068 boards and plug my keyboards into the mic preamps. The good thing is, if a board from that era gets overloaded you can usually smell it because the tubes start to fry. So I let my nostrils tell me where the faders should be. I rarely look at a VU meter.
I learned to direct and edit music videos because Steve Barron overslept one day and didn’t show up for a production meeting for the ‘Science’ video. But I fancied his sister so I suggested we continue with me at the helm. I learned to engineer albums because Bill Bottrell announced on a Friday that instead of starting Monday on a 3 months long project on my album ‘Astronauts and Heretics’, he was going to work with Michael Jackson instead. I was pretty incensed at the time, though anyone in the music industry would probably say Bill made the right career move. My point is, magic happens in the studio or it doesn’t–you don’t necessarily need to know what you’re doing!