Webchat – Radio Production Tips and Tricks

so the guys at benztown have asked me to participate in a webinar about radio imaging and production. because it’s such a broad topic, we’re going to leave it pretty open as far as topics go and see what the everyone wants to talk about. for this one, it’s looking like me, andy and a special guest producer will be moderating.

if you’re interested in joining in, hit up the benztown guys here and rsvp.

the date and time of the webinar will be determined in the next few days and we’ll be sending out that information to everyone who registers.

personally, i’m really looking forward to the webinar because it’ll give us a chance to talk to a bunch of different people and see how everyone else approaches the same idea. it’s going to be a great time and who knows, maybe this’ll be the first in a series of webinars that will help current and future producers for a long time

big ups to the benztown boys for this great idea and continuing to contribute and progress our craft.

demo daze

i hate making imaging demos.  literally…HATE IT!

it’s not because i think what i make is crap or anything like that, it’s really because i’ve produced so many things over the year that i don’t really have the patience to go through all of it.  it’s tedious and you’re usually going to find something months later that you forgot you made and then you have to revise it again.

so very recently, i started keeping a folder seperate from my archives purely for pieces i’d consider putting on a demo.  i can usually tell when something is demo worthy when i can’t stop listening to it.  i tend to be pretty critical with my work (always looking for things to change), so if i can get through listening to something 5 or 6 times without changing it, it goes in the folder.  sure it’ll double up on your hard drive usage, but in the end, it’ll save you time when it comes to putting together a brand new demo.

speaking of demos…i just finished a new one.  have a listen and i’d love to hear your thoughts.

Flash, Boom, Bang…BRING THE NOISE! Introducing FameFX

so my buddies, oli and andy, the guys behind benztown and soundquadrat have come out with a great new fx package called FameFX. it’s pure buyout and it’s amazing!

the effects are supersonic and huge, the beds are super fat and there’s enough mixouts to create your own sounds! the full package is about $299 and totally worth it. if you’re doing a CHR or HOTAC, you’re definitely gonna want to pick this thing up.

click the flashy picture thingy to get to the FameFX website.


Click Here to Buy FameFX

have fun with your new toys!

The More You Know…

okay, it’s been almost a month since i’ve posted anything. it’s really not because i haven’t been doing anything, it’s more like i didn’t really know what to talk about. quick update:

the pro-tools adventure is coming along swimmingly. while it’s still taking me a bit more time than audition, i think i made the right move in at least having a pt system somewhere. still haven’t gotten into the sequencing/composition part of this little endeavor yet, but it will happen soon.

so here’s the skinny on the latest:

3 weeks ago, my station Alice 105.9 had our tiny acoustic performance called AuNaturAlice. it’s an awesome show, only about 300 people get in and it’s always at this place called the soiled dove underground. now the soiled dove is great because the have a pro-tools HD system running so we can record the night and put some of the songs online and on-air.

okay, so normally what happens is that we’ll do the show, and i’ll wait for the engineers to mixdown the night for me (which takes forever cuz it’s in REAL TIME! c’mon pt…get on this!). but this year, i figured, i’ll just ask the guys for the session and mix it on my own on my rig at home. at least that way, it’s we can do more with it than just have a rough mix on the air. now i’ve dabbled in mixing and mastering a little from my days in a hs band, a cappella groups, and artists coming into our sessions studio, but i was never really at the helm…just more of a bystander adding his two cents. so this would have been my first go.

like anything you do for the first time on your own, you’re never really comfortable with the choices you’re making. is this too much? is that too quiet? should i eq that a bit? these are always gonna be questions that enter your mind. what makes matters worse is that these are going on air, so you really don’t want to screw it up your first go around. the important thing is that you trust yourself and you trust your ear. the nice thing about mastering a live performance is that generally, the mix is pretty good already thanks to the sound guy. so all you have to do is maybe add a bit of reverb, some eq, compress a bit and master it. done! just remember that in situations like this, less is always more.

another great thing is that it allowed me to mess with a lot of aux inputs and things like that. on my normal imaging template, i have 1 aux input that has my reverb and compression on it for my VO, but for this, i got to mess with keys, vocals, guitars and even a cajon. so for this session, i had my guitars running through one aux with a little compression and a little brightness in the middle, the vox going through another with my eq, compression, and a little reverb on it and then had everything going through a master aux with pt’s “maxim” plug in going through it.

overall, i’m really happy with the final mix. it’s basically what you’ll hear live just beefed up a little bit. the vocals are mixed a little better and you still get the feeling of a live performance, complete with ambient crowd noise (thanks to some well placed room mics).

so really what was the point of this post? i’ve never done any kind of post prod like this before and i figured, that this was my chance to jump into the pool. i always tell my interns to learn as much about your craft as possible. the more you understand one part, the better you’ll be at the other. the more knowledgable you are about music, the more musical you’re imaging will become. the more you learn about mixing music and live music, you’ll notice how much better and how much more fluid your mixes will become. you’ll have a better understanding of things fit and how they work together.

don’t just challenge yourself to be a better radio producer, challenge yourself to be a better producer. cuz the more you know, the more dangerous and the more valuable you will be. (insert twinkly “the more you know” music here)

i’ll try and get a sample of something once this is all mixed. soundcloud can be a bit of a pain with this stuff…


Adobe Audition vs Pro Tools…

It’s always a topic of conversation: which is better? Adobe Audition or Pro-Tools? There are loyalists on each side and would defend their choice to the bitter end. Up until about a year ago, I had been on the Audition side of the argument. I didn’t feel like I needed to learn PT to get the job done and to be perfectly honest, I haven’t had to. So what changed? Why the sudden urge to go learn the ways of the “enemy”? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you. It probably any one thing, but as of two weeks ago, I’ve officially become a PT user.

Okay, so let me start off by saying that I didn’t switch from Adobe Audition to Pro-Tools because I think one is better than the other, but after working on Adobe for almost 10 years, I think I’ve got a pretty good grasp on what I’m doing there. As far as Pro Tools is concerned, I’m familiar with it, but would never thought about actually producing on it. When I first thought about switching from Audition to PT, I was tentative mainly because I didn’t think I had the time to learn how to produce on a different program, but after watching my buddy Oli’s Katy Perry video tutorial and seeing the real-time automation function, I finally decided to bite the bullet and do it. Sometimes it’s the littlest things…haha

So two weeks ago, I switched the home studio from Adobe 3.0 to Pro-Tools 8.0.5 on a PC running WindowsXP SP3.

Now I’m not gonna lie, the first week was frustrating as hell. PT was crashing, it wasn’t importing, the drag and drop option would crash the program, it got to the point that I was so frustrated with it, I thought about returning it. It just didn’t seem like a stable system on my PC and I really didn’t want to deal with the frustration. BUT after 2 weeks of finally tweaking with it and going back and forth with Ryan Drean, and checking out the tutorials on the Benztown blog, I’m finally up and running and everything has been great. It’s still taking a little getting used to and I’m not producing as quickly as I normally would but it’s coming along. I still find myself trying Adobe shortcuts on PT (haha), but if your accustomed to working in a multitrack, you’ll find that the transition will be relatively easy.

If you’re thinking about switching your systems over, here are some tips that’ll hopefully keep you from going through some of the frustrations that I did.

1. PT doesn’t like hard drives that are FAT32 formatted. Whenever I would import files from my external hard drive, it would let me import 1 file, but when I tried another, PT would crash. So make sure whatever drive you’re pulling files from is formatted NTFS. From what Ryan told me, having a second internal drive installed would be optimal, but I’ve been using a NTFS Western Digital USB extension drive and have been having no problems.

2. Avid has a list of things that you can do to optimize PT on your PC (this is for PT8, not sure if the same applies for PT9, but I’m sure there’s an optimization page for 9 as well).
– If you’re running Windows XP you can find it here: http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=349591
– If you’re on Vista, click here: http://avid.custkb.com/avid/app/selfservice/search.jsp?DocId=211077

3. Make sure all your drivers are up to date. Not just your audio drivers, but EVERYTHING. Amazingly enough, having an out of date video driver can really screw with how PT runs.

4. If you’re wondering what the keystrokes are, PT has about a billion of them. You can find them all under “Help,” but if you want a basic list of keystrokes that you’ll use the most, it’s always good to ask another producer. My friend Andy at Benztown gave me a short list of shortcuts and it’s definitely made the learning curve a lot shallower.

After that, everything else comes down to just producing. Getting used to working exclusively in the multitrack, bussing, switching views for volume and panning, and of course, mixing down in real-time (kinda lame if you ask me PT!). But I have no regrets about switching over. It’s an amazingly dense program, and it’s been fun learning how to produce on it.

Here’s something that I was messing around with:

So if you’re thinking about switching over to Pro-Tools from Adobe (or whatever DAW you’re currently working on), I’d say go for it. There are a lot of pros and not a lot of cons. If you have the time and are willing to put up with being a little lost for a bit, it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to be something you move exclusively to (I still use Adobe at the office), but think of it as having another weapon that you can add to your arsenal. Plus, now that Pro-Tools 9 has gone native, you don’t have to worry about buying any kind of hardware! Well…except for an i-Lok.

Beatmatching Madness!

ever since the guys at benztown put up a beatmatching tutorial on their blog (benztownbranding.wordpress.com), there’s been a lot of talk about beatmatching and whatnot. working at alice, i don’t get to utilize it very much and since i haven’t done one in a while, i thought i’d have a go and see what happened.

it’s a little hot tempo wise…but damn it was fun to make!

till next time…

Number 1!

okay…first post…has to be a good one.  still trying to figure out how to work this thing, but hopefully i’ll get this right.

i woke up in a weird mood today and thankfully, after opening up my facebook account, my buddy chuck matthews (www.chuckmatthewsvoice.com), posted this little gem (you really only need to watch the first 30 seconds):

after getting through the morning insanity at the office, for some unknown reason, i came up with this.  **WARNING** explicit language…you’ve been warned!:

it’s weird…kinda gross, but what have you done today?