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R/E/P => R/E/P Archives => j. hall => Topic started by: iluvatar on June 01, 2004, 07:43:40 PM

Title: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: iluvatar on June 01, 2004, 07:43:40 PM
Well, I have about 12 pages of notes from just the panels & workshops, so I don't think I'm going to be able to describe the whole thing in detail, but I'll try to hit the high points.

But first, I'd like to thank everybody involved with the convention for doing a great job and J Hall, elcabron, and Fletcher specifically for helping me get there. Very Happy

Day 1:
Compressor Do's and Don't's:

Dave Derr, Geoff Daking, Michael Brauer, Bill Skibbe, Will Shanks, Mike Caffrey (moderator)

I don't have much to write about this one. It was mainly an overview of the different types of compressors and their different characteristics and uses. It was good for a newbie like me who didn't know much about the technical details of compressors.

Freelance Engineering:
Dave McNair, Hillary Johnson, Michael Brauer, Jay Robbins (moderator)

This one wound up dealing a lot with having a manager - when/why you should/shouldn't get one, how to pick one, what to expect from one. The basic jist was that once you really start making money at this, management may be something to look into. Be wary of people who promise you everything, and ultimately you are responsible for your own career. Even though their job is to find you more work, don't count on that.

Interview w/ Cosimo (Cosmo) Matassa
Interviewer: Larry Crane

It was really neat to listen to Cosmo talk about his experiences throughout the history of the recording industry. One comment of his that I made a point to write down was, "Records transmit an emotion to the listener." I know this sounds kind of obvious, but it'll come up again later in my summary.

(to be continued)
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: testtone on June 03, 2004, 11:18:50 AM
Did anyone else go to this/ have any comments on what they thought? I didn't get to go this year, and not much (other than pix) are up @ Tape Op. Just wanted to see what people thought. How the moderators/forums were and if they thought it was worth the $$$.
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: outoftheblue on June 03, 2004, 09:10:45 PM
I went. It was amazing. I missed the whole first day and it was still worth every penny. I was absolutely amazed at how such a big part of the audio industry is a community. Everyone shares ideas. No one hides their trade secrets.

Also a lot of the people that helped create some of those records you love have really great personalities. They were a riot. Especially Steve Albini, Jim Dickinson, and Tony Visconti.

I'm anxiously awaiting next year.
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: iluvatar on June 04, 2004, 02:44:00 AM
Well, I had day 2 almost done when Mozilla crashed (so much for blaming everything on Micro$oft, eh?) So here's attempt #2, hopefully I won't forget anything.

Day 2
Microphone Design
Brad Avenson, Gene Lawson, Kelly Kay, Peter Janis, Nadine Korby, Steve Albini (moderator)

This one, for me, was a lot like the compressor workshop - I came in without much prior knowledge and picked up some interest tidbits.

There was an interesting social dynamic in this panel that wasn't as present in the compressor panel. It was quite apparent that certain panelists had strong opinions about the products made by certain other panelists, but everybody was trying to hold their tongues.

Using Our Ears More Effectively
Don Zientara, Roger King, Fletcher, Steve Albini, Mitch Easter, Andrew Gilchrist (moderator)

IMO, this is where the weekend really started to get good. Harry Shearer (Spinal Tap, The Simpsons) was the MC opening up the panels on Saturday, and the members of this had strong opinions and were not afriad to give them.

Just by reading the title, it should be pretty easy to figure out the main idea being put forth in this panel - listen!

When buying equipment, listen. When positioning mics, listen. When producing & mixing, listen. Don't be too impatient to screw things up.

Regarding the role of an engineer - somebody told be not too long ago to "not be a fan" when running sound, meaning be a professional and do my job, even if it means exerting some authority.

Albini touched on the same subject - engineers shouldn't get caught up in how cool the music might be. They/we have a job to do. He gave the analogy of engineers as gynocologists. While a woman may want her husband to get excited at seeing her naked nether-regions, she wouldn't want the same reaction from her doctor. We have to be more objective.

The Mixing Panel
Trent Bell, Dave Fridmann, Trina Shoemaker, Michael Brauer, F Reid Shippen (moderator)

The most important things I got out of this were tips on handling the sociopolitical aspects of mixing, specifically doing some work/meetings up front to find out what the band/producer are going for and if there are any specific things that they like or dislike, and ultimately to have their input during mixing.

It seems obvious, but it's easy stuff to forget if, like me, you like to do things your way.

Mercenary Audio Dinner

This was pretty neat. I got to meet a ton of cool people including Brad Blackwood, Jonathan Little, Dan Kennedy, Steve Albini, George Massenberg, Fletcher, Jay and Samara from Mercenary, Lesa & Gregg Siebert, Laura and ?John? from CRAS, and Richard from Japan who I hung out with often during the weekend.

The food and the service at Antione's was great. Who'd have thought deep-fried oysters covered in chocolate would taste so good?

Afterwards, most everybody headed over to the Howlin Wolf, at which point Fletcher began pontificating about stuff mentioned in the Listening panel, comparing a mix to a stimulated woman and how both will tell you what to do if just listen. I wasn't quite prepared for the level of detail to which he went in describing the analogy, so my response didn't consist of much more than "ok." But the more I've thought about it, the more it makes sense and the more appropriate and even necessary that detail seems.

Howlin Wolf

The music on Saturday night was fantastic. One thing that struck me, though, was that throughout the whole weekend, I never heard a band introduced by an MC or even by themselves, so you were never quite sure who was up. But regardless, they were all good.

(to be continued)

Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: elcabron on June 04, 2004, 06:05:31 PM
thanks Dan.
I feel like I was there.
Good on ya'.
That Fletcher sure has a salty mouth. Heh heh.

El Cabron
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: redfro on June 05, 2004, 11:31:39 PM
The headliner at the Wolf on Saturday was North Mississippi All-Stars (amazing!) and on Sunday was Drum and Tuba (mind-blowing!)

Here's my take on the thing:
1. Lots of philosophical, not much practical.
  Do you think in a workshop called "Compresser Do's and Dont's" we could have an actual compressor there?

2. Moderator control.
  The workshops and panels usually started off on track but quickly ran on tangents.

3. Great people and genuine community.
  I got to meet and talk to really great people that I would never had met if it wasn't for the con.

Overall I'd say it was money well spent (except for the $100 at the Crazy Horse at 4 am, but that's a whole other story). Other than a few strange things I'd say a success.
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: Level on June 07, 2004, 07:20:26 PM
I was not invited to a be on a panel and I asked 2 months in advance. I had a lot to bring to the table....

One year...maybe..or maybe not..
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: j.hall on June 08, 2004, 10:23:31 AM
lets not derail this thread into who should be and who shouldn't be on the panels

Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: Ross Hogarth on June 08, 2004, 02:32:48 PM
Hey all
Being to busy right now, and it being my wedding anniversary, I did not get the chance to make it down. But Thanks for all your reports on the Tape Op Con. I think it really great that our favorite little underground mag has grown into it's own.
Title: Re: My TapeOpCon Comments
Post by: iluvatar on June 12, 2004, 04:21:15 AM
ok, Day 3

Sorry it's taken me so long to finish this. I probably should be sleeping right now, but since I won't get more than 3 hours anyways, what's a little less, eh?  Cool  

Honing Your People Skills
Don Zientara, Pete Weiss, Dave Trumfio, John Vanderslice, Larry Crane (moderator)

As you can probably guess, this panel dealt with interfacing with the clients to help the session run more smoothly. I'll just outline some of the suggestions made.

Teach the clients - sometimes it's helpful to teach the band about the recording process so they 1) are not so intimidated by it, 2) feel more comfortable in the studio, and 3) can make more helpful, informed suggestions/choices regarding how to go about making the record.

In the interest of keeping the singer fresh and relaxed, it sometimes helps to spread out vocal tracking over the course of the whole project, rather than doing them all in one long stretch.

Emotional coaching - if certain members of the band perform better when in a particular mindset (e.g. angry, sad, happy, etc), it may be a good idea to try to induce that state. Care must be taken, though, when intentionally pissing them off.

If the situation is devolving into chaos, try pulling aside the "Alpha" member and recruiting his help in reorganizing the situation.

Here's the one that they mentioned that I'd been trying to work on - confidence. Something I've picked up from watching a lot of war movies is that in order for an officer to effectively lead his troops, he has to be confident and resolute in his actions. He can't running around screaming "OH NO!!! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" That's a pretty good way of guaranteeing that you will lose.

I've been trying to keep this in mind when I run sound - two of my natural tendencies in life are 1) be casual and jovial with whom I'm working and 2) joke about things that are going wrong.

Trouble is - buddying up with the band and then joking about how nothing works and our mic selection is pitiful does not lend itself to getting the band to put on a good show. All it does is stress them out and get them uppity.

This also applies to management.

So I've been trying to keep any of my technical problems to myself and keeping everybody else unaware of anything they don't really need to be worrying about.

Using the Studio as an Instrument
Larry Fast, JD Foster, Steve Fisk, Hillary Johnson, Jon Brion, Craig Schumacher (moderator)

This panel was kind of broad. The overall theme was just to be always on the lookout for anything that can make crazy sounds. Ya never know what'll wind up sounding cool.

Producers on Producing
Allen Toussain, Jim Dickinson, Tony Visconti, Joe Chiccarelli, Mark Bingham, Billy Anderson, Larry Crane (moderator)

This panel was interesting, but wandered off-topic quite a bit, so my summary will be brief.

The topic was basically what goes into producing. The two main things I came away with were:

* Surround yourself with good people

* When you can solo a vocal track for 4 minutes and still have it keep your attention - then you've got a good song.

On a side note - a weekend of PA problems (primarily low-frequency feedback) came to a head when Tony Visconti bitched at the soundguy from the stage. Yeah, it probably should have been fixed earlier, and the feedback was fixed as soon as this happened, but I think Mr Visconti could have handled it better. The way he addressed it, which riled up the whole audience of the soundguy's peers, was kind of shitty.

The Future of Music
Alex Maiolo, Steve Turnidge, Larry Fast, Tim Mitchell, Bill Putnam, George Massenberg, Andy Hong (moderator)

This panel dealt mainly with current and future changes in the music publishing/distribution paradigm rather than the stylistic future of music. Specifically dealt with were the impacts of mp3's, related portable devices, and internet distribution schemes.

I didn't take a lot of notes, because much of what was being discussed was opinion and speculation. But being a bit of a geek, I thought it was very interesting. The general idea was what many of us have been saying for a while - there's a lot of potential money to be made by selling digital audio online. It's just a matter of making the system convenient, affordable, reliable, and widely compatible and then promoting it well.

One of the guys did take a jab at the mixing panel from the previous day. During the mixing panel, most of the panelists said that they checked their mixes on cheapo boomboxes, but when somebody asked if any of them mixed to headphones, the answer was almost a unanimous "no." The guy on the Future panel (I forget who it was, maybe Alex) asked why they weren't checking their mixes on headphones when so many people listen on portable devices. I haven't mixed much on headphones myself, so I don't know how well they translate, but it's something to think about.


Well, that's about it. I didn't check out much music on Sunday night, since I was pretty tired and had to leave my hotel at 3 for a 5AM flight (which, incidentally, didn't wind up leaving until almost 8, because of bad weather in Atlanta Mad ) But all-in-all, it was a great time. Met some cool people, learned a few things...

I'm not trying to be a kiss-ass, but I gotta say, this advice Fletcher gave me about listening to a song like you listen to a woman... I keep thinking about it. I don't know about you guys, but I have a tendency to be fairly straight-forward and analytical about most things. So when it comes to mixing I have a tendency to go into robot-mode where I say to myself, "ok, this is the situation, this is how you mix/handle/fix it" and that's the end of it. But you can't do that with music. You have to first sit back and listen to the song and take it all in before doing anything. It seems like an obvious thing, but I imagine I'm not the only one who does this (at least I hope I'm not the only one...)

I do some computer science tutoring and now that I think about it - it's the same thing I tell my students - don't touch anything until you know what you're doing. Everybody wants to go messing with their code w/o first figuring out what's actually wrong with it. Then they screw everything up and have to start over.

This is how I mix. I guess sitting back and listening is actually a more analytical way of approaching things, but I think it's also more artistic.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me get there. You guys are awesome. Very Happy

Anyways, it's - ugh - 4:30. I should probably go to bed.