Rusty's tip of the week #8 - Communication - How To Get The Best Performances

This topic is infinite and experiential, not something you'd easily be taught at audio college.

Something all great recording engineers know and utilise every session is their communication skills.

From countless hours recording with players and producers, they have discovered what works for both themselves and the artists, to find out exactly what they're after in a take or song and then how to coax them into achieving it in a relaxed and creative way.

This is a key element in recording that is so often brushed over because it's very personal and subjective. There's certainly a reason artists keep going back to a particular engineer or producer for their projects and it's much less about their gear and more about if they 'click' and feel confident and comfortable with that person.

Sales people certainly don't want to hear this but it's so much more about the people than the gear. A great engineer can work with a 4 track or an unlimited track Pro Tools rig and achieve amazing results every time because they understand the process and where the artist wants to go. For example, it may mean they only want to use one microphone and do no overdubs.

Some tips along these lines are -

1/ If you're recording a band get to know them as soon as they arrive, or have a meet beforehand, help them carry some gear in, find out their names and write them down alongside what they play for reference during the session, make them feel like you are part of the band for the day.

2/ Suss out what kind of music they listen to, what sounds they like, what recent and or classic albums and songs you have all heard. This way you can talk about the sonic side of things and have some references to draw from. Finding out what they want to sound like can be really invaluable. They may have previous releases you can discuss to find out what they do or dont like about their earlier stuff.

3/ You can then apply this little bit of inside knowledge in a big way when cutting tracks and takes, as you will be pretty much on the same page from the start.

4/ Spend time helping with their individual sounds, but always be careful about putting your own ideas across, it's a matter of judgement as to when is a good time. Always ask what they think of the sounds when playing back.

5/ With any ideas they ask to try out, start with "it's not a problem, lets give it a go", even if it sounds crazy. They'll figure out themselves if it works or not. You never know, it may end up being a great new part.

6/ Help remind the artists about time, e.g. if they are trying to finish a song in a day keep them moving along in a nice way.

7/ Speak in the positive, never say a part is really really bad. Instead,  'maybe give it another go' or "maybe that guitar needs tuning again'.

Its all about keeping the artists comfortable and not intimidating them. Raving on about some flash new mic you have that they aren't allowed to go within 3 feet of isn't going to do that, but saying - hey why dont we try the vocal on a 'hand held SM58 just for fun'? can be the difference between a nervous vocal take and a great one. Its a matter of spotting those kind of problems early on and solving them before the band have even realised.

This list could be endless of course but hopefully some of the above will help.

Russ T Rokk Pilling has been tracking and communicating with bands at Damien Gerards for over 25 years.

Miking Guitar Amps with Russell Pilling

In this video, Chief Engineer at Damien Gerard Recording Studios Sydney - Russell Pilling - talks about the Miking Guitar Amps.

If you have an enquiry or would like to book some time at Damien Gerard Studios simply call us or use the bookings email below:

Phone: 0416 143 030

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web: http://www.damiengerard.com.au

Studio Address: 174 Mullens Street Balmain 2041

This video was produced by Damien Gerard Studios with the help of:

Peter Montgomery (editor / camera / music)

Phone: 0404 817 613

Web: http://petermontgomerymarketing.com.au

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeterMontgomeryMarketing

For more info on Damien Gerard Studios watch our about video here...
http://www.damiengerard.com.au/about-us/about-dg.html

The UREI 1178 Compressor with Russ Pilling

In this video, Chief Engineer at Damien Gerard Recording Studios Sydney - Russell Pilling - talks about the Urei 1178 Compressor. 

If you have an enquiry or would like to book some time at Damien Gerard Studios simply call us or use the bookings email below:

Phone: (+61) 2 9331 0666

Email:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web:  http://www.damiengerard.com.au

Studio Address: 174 Mullens Street Balmain 2041

 

This video was produced by Damien Gerard Studios with the help of:

Jaimie Carter (camera operator) 

Web: http://cartermedia.com.au/about/

 

Peter Montgomery (editor / interviewer / additional footage)

Web: http://petermontgomerymarketing.com.au

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PeterMontgomeryMarketing

Click here to check out our list of equipment

For more info on Damien Gerard Studios watch our about video here... 

 

Rusty's tip of the week # 7 - Room Mics

When you have a great live room, then its crazy to not use 'Room Mics' to really capture the full sound.
If you are able to isolate all the amps when live tracking so the drums are 90% the only sound in the main room then a mono mic 20-30 Foot away is a great start but even better is a stereo pair in a stairwell, up high in a corner or utilising another space as we do just outside the live room iso door in a great concrete high ceiling area where we are able to open and close the door to control how much of the room hits the mics.(see pic) This tip is all about using your ears and experimenting, put the room on a separate track and try different compressors and eq - use your imagination and work out where it works/or not in the song.

Rusty's tip of the week # 6 - Live in the studio

Having an entire band play live in the studio can be a daunting prospect. With all those mics + lines, all that spill, things can easily spiral out of control, whoa... In fact, this is how The Beatles, The Stones, The Stax, Motown, Chess Studio bands and even the Swampers down in Muscle Shoals Alabama (who cut all the massive 70's tracks with Aretha, Clarence Carter, Wilson Picket, Otis Redding and so many more) recorded. All in the studio playing live, vibing off each other and creating those legendary feels that are so sought after today.

Read more: Rusty's tip of the week # 6 - Live in the studio

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