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Author Topic: Long Mastering Sessions..  (Read 8055 times)

Thomas W. Bethel

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Long Mastering Sessions..
« on: October 11, 2011, 05:56:46 am »

Recently I have had a couple of really long mastering sessions without a break. One 8 hours long and one 9 hours long. At the end I was really drained. I was wondering how others on this forum prepare for long mastering sessions (exercise, longer sleeping periods, etc.) and how you relax after the session? These were both because the clients waited until the very last minute before getting their stuff mastered and there were some problems that had to be solved before their material could be sent off. The longest mastering session I have done was 13 hours and that was not fun. Suggestions or comments are welcome. Thanks in advance.
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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

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bblackwood

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2011, 07:19:44 am »

Why aren't you taking breaks?
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Brad Blackwood
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2011, 03:48:43 pm »

I take bathroom breaks but these clients wanted to get the stuff done and into the mail and pushed like he!! to get it done. Most times if it is a long session I schedule a lunch break in the middle and maybe a coffee break or two but clients are clients and these two wanted to get stuff done on their time table.

I really wish people would stop setting up their CD release party before they have a finished master in hand or at the plant. Also people seem to wait until the very end to decide to do mastering and then expect you to move heaven and earth to get it finished in a ridiculously short time frame.

These two sessions really wore me out. Must be getting old.

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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Celebrating 23 years in business in 2018

Twerk

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2011, 05:59:23 pm »

I really wish people would stop setting up their CD release party before they have a finished master in hand or at the plant. Also people seem to wait until the very end to decide to do mastering and then expect you to move heaven and earth to get it finished in a ridiculously short time frame.

Not a week goes by that I don't have several projects that need mastering and the release date is just days away. Someone forgot to give the next generation of labels and artists the handbook on how this sh** works. ;)
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jdg

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 06:38:46 pm »

i wont do it, not worth it for me.

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John McCaig
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adamgonsa

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2011, 08:48:01 pm »

Breaks are crucial for attended album sessions. 
Do you have a set of terms that you can put in an email for clients to read and agree to Thomas?  That way they'll know even if they need it done immediately you're not going to fry yourself with some 13-hour mastering session (which is completely insane btw).   
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Adam Gonsalves
Telegraph Mastering

djwaudio

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2011, 01:45:20 am »

You gotta be the alpha dog on attended sessions, or the clients will walk all over you until you assert yourself. YMMV
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lowland

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2011, 02:56:39 am »

Some of this goes with the territory - mastering engineers will from time to time inherit track and mix time overruns colliding with release dates, and dealing with that can be part of the job.

However, running oneself ragged does no favours to anyone, and it's surprising how often ways round present themselves. One that comes to mind is that CD plants commonly build an extra couple of days' buffer into their delivery dates, and a little negotiation can work wonders for one's sleep schedule.
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Nigel Palmer
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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2011, 06:58:22 am »

Recently I have had a couple of really long mastering sessions without a break. One 8 hours long and one 9 hours long. At the end I was really drained. I was wondering how others on this forum prepare for long mastering sessions (exercise, longer sleeping periods, etc.) and how you relax after the session? These were both because the clients waited until the very last minute before getting their stuff mastered and there were some problems that had to be solved before their material could be sent off. The longest mastering session I have done was 13 hours and that was not fun. Suggestions or comments are welcome. Thanks in advance.

After an 8 or 9 hour session with too few breaks I'd be seriously keen to re-visit the material the next day to see what tricks my ears had been playing in the last couple of hours ...

Cheers,

Eric
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bblackwood

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2011, 07:28:36 am »

Only you know how long you can work before it becomes detrimental, therefore you have to make that call.
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Brad Blackwood
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2011, 07:31:22 am »

Yep, one of the Perils of attended sessions.
I try not to do marathons these days.
Gettin' too auld for that shyte!
A couple of months ago I had one with a popular Austin band.
Session ran for 14 hours, project was "due" the day before we mastered.
3 versions of a 15 song record; CD, instrumental, Vinyl HD prep.
Including stems :-) PT-HD>ATR-102>analog EQ>soundBlade 2.0.
They surprised me with the quantity of work & deadline,
but i decided to hang tough and do it.
I always take a good ear/brain break every few songs.
Plenty of food/drink/personal time included.
Clients were pleased, Record got great reviews.

Warning, "glorious tales of yore" to follow:

Of course, all thru the 90s I did two-session 12-14 hour days every day,
With almost ~no~ days off. Worked many holidays, even Easter Sunday morning.

Many all nighters as well, watching the sun rise as I was driving home with bloodshot eyes.
I wore my stamina as a red badge of honor, and spat in the eye of any whiny newbies.
it was before the availability of energy drinks, so you just got tough and did the gig ;-)

One particular morning, after working all night with a picky OCD gospel producer,
I was driving home and saw a type of ultra rare lunar eclipse (there's a term for it that escapes me),
one where the eclipsed magnified crescent moon was beginning to set in the  west,
while the sun was beginning to rise in the east.
Looked like something from a SciFi movie.
Had just topped a really tall hill on my drive, and the view was perfect, stunning, breath-taking.
It was a brief fleeting moment though, by the time I had reached the bottom of the hill, the view was gone forever.
Before digital cameras were kept at hand, so only a deep impression burned in the memory remains.
When I got home, showered up, changed clothes, and immediately drove 400 miles for a family reunion.

Cheers, JT
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2011, 07:38:21 am »

Oops double post, not enough java yet.
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Gregory Thompson

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2011, 07:54:03 am »

The irony here is palpable, Jerry.
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Jerry Tubb

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2011, 07:54:59 am »

The irony here is palpable, Jerry.

"like" :-)

JT
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Technologyworks

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2011, 11:29:19 am »

Breaks are essential for me to retain objectivity, and for me to be confident in my decisions, eq choices etc.

I try to schedule attended sessions to start at 10, so we get our overall approach dialled in and several tracks printed before we break for lunch. I always make sure we break for lunch. I need to refresh my brain. Maybe psychologically this is where a charging scale based on per track instead of an hourly charge helps. Clients know any breaks are on 'my' time, not theirs.

Having said that, I have had recently a couple of projects where there were hold ups and a mix had to be recalled and re-printed. Makes for a long day for sure if you have a lot of tracks.

So long as I'm not fatigued during processing I'm fine. I'm ok even at the end of a longish session to wrestle with Soundblade CD Text, EAN, ISRC and so on.

I try to make attended sessions rewarding, fun and informative for my clients, but it is MY studio so I feel I need to run the session to suit me as well as them. If my ears or my head need a break, we take a break

Peter
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Peter Beckmann
Technologyworks Mastering
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Tim Boyce

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2011, 01:06:05 pm »

unless your doing live moves ... leave the room and 'break' for 2:30 while the song is printing... especially if your client wants to listen LOUD. (this is one of the perks of working in a full facility, instead of just a single room or a home).

same thing for disc burning / SRC processing, etc ... get the process started, then leave. You don't need to baby-sit the computer... it's a big kid
(although you know the rule about digital and turning your back ... )


I'd love a scientific study on how long the average human now spends watching little blue bars fill up. . . times that by 5x in our profession.

Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2011, 05:40:05 pm »

^^^^^Most of the time was spent working on material and very little watching blue bars go across the screen. The kicker on one of the sessions was the producer/artist was telling me what a great sound I had gotten at the same time the mix engineer was saying it needed to be a lot louder. The producer won the war of words and I was very glad about that since I had just spent about 7 hours doing the mastering and was NOT about to do it all over again to gain a couple of dBs. I think I am also getting a bit of carpal tunnel since my wrist and forearm really ached a lot after the session. I normally provide some built in breaks in session I know will go long but in this case I really was being pushed to "get it done" and to the plant. I may have to rethink our contract for mastering with people present (attended sessions) because right now there is no built in break times for me.

Both were good ongoing clients and both are always last minute. I should have had a flashback to our earlier session that were also rushed but just did not think about it. They are normally not this pushy but they got way behind in their mixing and were facing some rather stiff time commitment from their pressing plants.

I will update both their profiles to watch for last minute sessions and make sure I don't get into this jam again.
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
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Loving what you do is happiness.

Celebrating 23 years in business in 2018

PBM

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2011, 04:26:06 am »

Only you know how long you can work before it becomes detrimental, therefore you have to make that call.

Yup - that's what I meant: I think individual tolerances vary quite a lot. Maybe it's because I'm out here in the rural sticks and most of the time I live with silence and natural sounds, but after 6 or so hours of listening, even with dog breaks, I think I've reached my daily limit.

I know my judgement is on the edge when decisions start to get a bit slower and - oddly enough - when I start to lose interest in the music, even to get irritated by it.

Cheers,

Eric
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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2011, 02:36:59 am »

A full length album that requires 8 - 9 hours in a single attended session means that I will be taking a lunch or dinner break at some point during the session.  The client doesn't have to join in with me on this - but they don't get a choice whether I do or not.  I can't function when I'm seriously hungry - and it makes no sense not to have a 1/2 hour or so to break up the session, get a second to refuel, and to give the ears a little bit of a reset.  If anything the extra half hour in the middle of doesn't really stretch the session any significant way longer - but it sure does a heckuva lot to make sure the results from the session ultimately come out to the client's liking. 

Being in Brooklyn I keep a bunch of menus handy and have lots of great restaurants that can deliver quickly - including Thai, Turkish, Italian, Chinese, Peruvian, Mexican, Polish, and Japanese.  Luckily I really haven't met any clients that come for attended sessions that don't also consider lunch a great opportunity.  Seems to me sometimes the most important decision made during an attended session is actually whether to get the chicken panang or the pad see-ew.

Anyway -when required I will push towards completion when they have to get things done in a single session.  Longest in recent memory attended was 11 hours for a 52 track continuous 74 minute DJ-style remix album.  Luckily most sessions tend to go shorter these days and I'm seeing a trend where the 5 or 6 six song EP is almost becoming more common than longer albums these days.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

PBM

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2011, 05:02:16 am »


Being in Brooklyn I keep a bunch of menus handy and have lots of great restaurants that can deliver quickly - including Thai, Turkish, Italian, Chinese, Peruvian, Mexican, Polish, and Japanese.

Suddenly feeling sheer, utter, visceral envy - and it's only breakfast time here ....
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Gold

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2011, 11:53:08 am »

Suddenly feeling sheer, utter, visceral envy - and it's only breakfast time here ....

He forgot to mention the Columbian potato and egg breakfast soup. In a clear scallion broth or cream broth. Mmmm.
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Paul Gold
Salt Mastering

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2011, 12:32:24 pm »

He forgot to mention the Columbian potato and egg breakfast soup. In a clear scallion broth or cream broth. Mmmm.

Oh yeah - I know the spot you're talking about that I have a bunch of friends rave about but haven't actually made it down there yet. 
Also forgot to list Indian, Korean, and good ol' American "comfort" food in there as well.

One other point - is whenever I print tracks I turn the monitors way down to give the ears a break at these points.

And I thoroughly agree with Dana that you have to establish control of the attended session from the get go.  It's your studio - so it indeed should be your rules (while still being concerned with the customers wishes as your priority).  I don't have many rules - but the ones I do get enforced- i.e. folks don't get to walk near the speakers or smoke cigarettes in my place - and I get to take a lunch break when I'm really hungry!

Best regards,
Steve Berson

adamgonsa

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #22 on: October 25, 2011, 01:34:42 pm »

Luckily most sessions tend to go shorter these days and I'm seeing a trend where the 5 or 6 six song EP is almost becoming more common than longer albums these days.
For me it's not almost, I see way more EPs (7 songs and under) in a month than I do full lengths.  Is this true for anyone else or are albums still the bulk of most people's work?
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Adam Gonsalves
Telegraph Mastering

Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2011, 07:32:13 am »


And I thoroughly agree with Dana that you have to establish control of the attended session from the get go.  It's your studio - so it indeed should be your rules (while still being concerned with the customers wishes as your priority).  I don't have many rules - but the ones I do get enforced- i.e. folks don't get to walk near the speakers or smoke cigarettes in my place - and I get to take a lunch break when I'm really hungry!

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Easy to say sometimes hard to do especially when the client has a deadline (artificially created by the client or a real deadline) and they want to finish up quickly. I had one client that literally was so impatient to get his materials off that he called the local post office and UPS store to see when was the latest he was able to get the materials to them so they could be shipped that day. I told him I did not think that was a good course of action and that he should take some time to listen to all the tracks before he sent them off but he refused to listen saying "the plant says I have to have these to them by tomorrow morning if my CD is to be back here in 10 days and we have our CD release party in 10 days and I HAVE to have media to sell". It seems to me that a lot of clients plan their CD release party way before they finish up mixing and then when the mixing takes longer than expected they keep putting off the mastering until the bitter end and then expect me and others to work tirelessly until the job is finished - never pausing for lunch or even bathroom breaks. I work with a lot of Indie clients and many of them do everything themselves up until the final mastering and have told me about being up for 36 or 48 hours strait to get their music finished up. By the time they get here they may not have slept in 2 days and drink coffee continuously until the session is over. I know a lot of musicians are driven but sometimes they fail to understand that others may have needs like sustenance and bladder relief that they can not go without. It is a very delicate balancing act between try to be sympathetic to my client's needs and my needs. Since they are paying my salary they win most of the time.
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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Celebrating 23 years in business in 2018

SafeandSoundMastering

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2011, 09:23:57 am »

It's pretty pretty easy to be up at 95dB SPL + on the kind of reproduction systems we are listening on without realizing due to low distortion and pleasant reproduction/acoustics. This is important and I know when my ears
feel a touch frazzled, that is instant step away time for me.

I do not do attended sessions at the moment, so I am in control of the situation in that respect.

I prefer to work 7 hours a day tops and work weekend instead if there is heavy workload, keep you refreshed.

Today I have been mastering some really superbly produced Psytrance and being tranced out is a problem, lol, not fatigued, have to keep stopping and "be normal" for a bit, immense fun.
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Barry Gardner
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aleatoric

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Re: Long Mastering Sessions..
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2011, 05:00:54 pm »

For me it's not almost, I see way more EPs (7 songs and under) in a month than I do full lengths.  Is this true for anyone else or are albums still the bulk of most people's work?

Same here Adam.  More EP's than full length albums.  It is definitely an ongoing trend and has been for the past few years it seems. 
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