CMF – Getting into production zone

If you’ve ever worked the festival season as a tech of any kind you’ll know that it is insane deadlines and expectations followed by hanging out and chillin’ waiting for the next “crisis.”  Then “tear down in 47 minutes!  Go, Go, Go!!!  Then just sit while the drummer tunes his snare, then BLAST OFF, emergency one of the monitors exploded! Then just hang while the piano tuner does her thing.” Over and over.

Now in my position I’m basically covering four people positions.  These include

  1. The live sound front-of-house (FOH) engineer
  2. The live sound monitor engineer
  3. The full multi-track recording engineer
  4. The mixing and post-production engineer.
  5. Crew for set-up and tear-down of this equipment

Once again if you’ve worked in this field you’ll know that if you’re mixing 5 – 20 inputs for a live concert it can be difficult to also deal with 4 – 6 monitor mixes, and monitor the levels of your recording rig.  The first three overlap in time and mental capacity.  It works, but there are several things to think about at any given time.

This is exciting.  It puts skills to the test, and I enjoy challenges.  But you may also see the issue that begins to occur.  While working tech you get time while musicians are rehearsing that you can just take a break and relax, stretch, what have you.  But if you are also the FOH engineer, you’re working during this time.  So essentially I’ll show up at 7:30 AM to start setting up microphones, monitors, the console, recording equipment, lay cables and ussually by 9:45 I’m done, then the rehearsal goes from 10:00 – 12:30, where I’m getting levels set for recording, figuring out monitor settings, figuring out FOH mix, tracking down signal flow issues, getting basic mixes together for the recording rig for the musicians that will inevitably come up five minutes after rehearsal to ask to “hear just a little bit back,” then after the rehearsal, till about 3:00 I’m tearing down all of the equipment, making sure everything is saved and I have notes so that we can get back to the same settings for the next rehearsal or show.

So there is no break.  There is no, just take a deep breath and sit for a second, and as I said, this is pretty exciting, tiring, but exciting.

Then on the “days off” I go up to the studio and mix the concerts.  In general it takes about twice the length of the concert to get a good mix completed.  If the concert was two hours the whole process of edit, mix, master, upload, back-up will take around four hours.

All together it is hectic and I’m committed to making some great recordings.  So far we have had zero (seriously) technical issues in concerts, and it is very rewarding personally to be learning all new equipment and not make any large mistakes, like feedback, microphones being off, speakers muted, inappropriate effects, microphones falling, etc… That is pretty awesome way to start the summer!

Ryan

Below is a walk through of a session for one of the concerts, where I did not have to amplify much except announcements (though of course I was ready to do so if the need arose.) Still trying to figure out quality issues here with the video and audio.