Documentary of my learning process about recording
Aim :  In order to gain my recording skills to enhance my creative approach to sounds
    

Learning Process in the class


1st Class

Date:13th of October 2017.

Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Recording Studio


Our first class of advanced recording module.

We reconfirmed the definition of Stereo, the combination of MID (what happens on Left and Right) and Side( difference between Left and Right) and  the microphone position so called, ‘MS (Mid-Side) microphone recording.


This is the combination of cardioid and figure of 8 (side substract and negative) and apparently enable us to take the very precise stereo sound.


*When you use this setting, one of the figuree of 8 feed must be out of phase.

2nd Class


Date : 8th of November 2017,

Venue: Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Recording Studio

In the 2nd class with Mr Odilon Marcenaro, we checked the bit and sample rate system by using the basic calculation of binary form.

28 is 1 byte (8 bits)

0 – 127 counts = 27 : 7 bit system in MIDI (Status byte is used for another 1bit)

28 in Total.  

Etc…


Summary

More bits gives depth, add bottoms, and more Hz (per seconds) gives more signal information.


Actual recording practice


Project: Sousa recording project with RWCMD wind orchestra led by Naxos Records with the college recording team.

Date: 20th – 26th of September, 2017

Venue:Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Dora Stoutzker Hall


As an assistant of Mr Odilon Marcenaro, I set up 12 microphones for the wind orchestra on the stage. In this particular session, Faulkner Array microphone setup was used as a main stereo recording to capture the whole picture of the sound. The details of the Faulkner Array set up is below.

http://www.sengpielaudio.com/TonyFaulknerPhasedArray06.htm

(Accessed 30th, April, 2018)


Set up information

  1. AKG451 (Cardioid) – Close pair of Faulkner Array
  2. AKG451 (Cardioid) – Close pair of Faulkner Array
  3. DPA 4060 (OMNI) – Outside pair of Faulkner Array
  1. DPA 4060 (OMNI) – Outside pair of Faulkner Array

5.  SHURE KSM 141 – Harp

6.  AKG451 – Tuba

7.  AKG 451 – Timpani

8.  SHURE KSM 141 – Xylophone

9.  RODE – Chime etc.

10. RODE – other percussion

11.Carlec – Solo instrument or Bass. Clarinet

12. Carlec – Solo instrument or Bassoon



This project was the largest professional recording project ever happened in college, so the preparation was done really carefully to avoid any troubles and mistakes. Different from the general recording set in Dora Stoutzker Hall, the connection between microphones and control desk was directly made via the cables. In order to have a clear vision of the live musicians, the control desk was set in the booth behind the audience seats.

Overall, the experience I could have as a team was valuable. How quickly the conversation between conductor and producer was made and the process to keep running the recording session smoothly was incredible and something I admired  I again realised the importance of having flexible knowledge as a recording engineer to be able to answer and respond quickly to what the producer demands.

My Actual Recording Experience

Locational Recording

Project: Community Chorus, WNO and NEWS Magnificat Concert

Venue: St. Asaph Cathedral

Date: 24th, 25th of September 2017

Brief information:

I took this location recording work as a behalf of Tŷ Cerdd recording engineer with my colleague. Since the venue of this concert was quite far from my normal working area, so the preparation of equipment had to be done really carefully. Once I got the instrumentation from the organiser, I quickly made a microphone combination layout with my supervisor.

One of the most difficult processes for this kind of recording project is that I often have to guess the layout of each instrument and simulate the sonority of the venue. Especially the venue is the one you haven’t been before, the challenge level becomes high. Once this work becomes the professional, obviously there is a lot of pressure and responsibility to make everything work smooth and perfect.

I interviewed my supervisor, Mr James Clarke, the recording manager at Tŷ Cerdd about importance of careful preparation of not only equipment but also any data.



Like Mr Clarke mentioned, I did a careful preparation for this project not only putting extra equipment just in case with checking list but also the plan which gear to prepare first in order to use up all of the allocated rehearsal time to check each microphone sound with each instrument efficiently.


As you can see in the image, a special stage for choir member was unexpectedly high, and the pipes of organ was positioned somewhere I couldn’t set any microphones. During the rehearsal, I kept checking every aspect of microphone setting including positioning, height, angle, connections and checked balance of the sound in the Nuendo software in case there is any required adjustment for each piece. Another challenge of this session was that we had an interview between pieces without having an interlude break. Without having any amplification, I ended up moving the solo voice microphones for the interviewees quickly when the seat was placed. In the end, although the recording was only for archiving and the session was a concert, I found a lot of challenges. Through the experience, I realised that I always have to be aware of detailed sound and several alternative methods to prepare to respond quickly to the changes what performers make. Communication skill was highly required to explain my opinions and to make sure everyone was comfortable enough with the presence of the recording equipment. This experience was really worthy to let me discover the depth of recording technique and joys of controlling sound.


Project: Nearer the God to Thee for Only Boys Aloud

Venue: Gwersyll yr Urdd Glan-llyn in Balla

Date: 21st, 22nd of October 2017


Brief information:

This recording project was passed from Tŷ Cerdd as a part of training camp style trip of Only Boys Aloud choir member to show how the recording is taken. Alongside their practice, I did an actual recording to collect the enough sound to enrich the core sound which has already taken beforehand by the other engineer and producer.


Compared with the recording work for Magnificat concert, this project was only for choir, so the amount of preparing equipment was smaller. However, since this was the proper recording session for producing the music with multiple takes, I was required to understand the music well enough to lead the choir from the view of producer. The original period I was involved with this long-term project was only for two days, so my challenge for this specific session was not only digesting the previous data, but also to consider how to pass on the data to the next process.



As you can see the image of the original Nuendo project, I already had a set of core near-perfect sound of each part and solo section, so what I and my colleague engaged choir to do was to record the music as in all parts together. In order to be able to synchronise all takes with already taken parts, I kept sending the roughly edited parts with click track only to the conductor whilst the recording. In this kind of production, I also had to think about multiple options for the final editor to have, so once I took the enough takes of whole sections, I divided the part of choir (this time, not only for each part, but also separated for each line when they had a two notes in one part), and recorded separately as long as we had a time. During the recording, I made sure to write any notes about takes with classified number to let the editor know which take could be the options. See the reference of physical score in the handout.

Although I had to judge the sound crucially and lead the choir to produce the best sound of them, I also had to make sure their motivation was kept through the session especially the situation we were working with children not with the professional musicians. To avoid getting and giving any negative influences, I only routed our voices to the headphone of conductor. Since the conductor, Tim Rhys Seven was the professional leader of the choir, so we managed to get the best result of the choir member. This kind setting was only done because of the place of control desk, which was actually the corridor of the building.


Setting wise, since the venue was not really an appropriate place for recording, but I made the acceptable setting of equipment through discussing with various people.


Editing

In terms of the editing of the recorded takes, I had a chance to do the actual editing before the project was passed on to the mixing step. Although I managed to take the best sound of the choir, when it comes to the step to pay attention to the very details of the sound, there were a number of points I did editing. This process included adjusting the timing of each sound, tuning, and even the dynamic control of each phrase. By doing this process really carefully, the sound of music kept polished step by step. 

*In the portfolio, the music, Nearer the God to Thee is the result of my original mixing and editing.


Overall, it was another very exciting but also very challenging project. I gained the skills not only covering the technical issues but also to cover the requirement of smooth works with wide range of people. This was definitely another great experience that I could be proud to work as recording engineer.


College Recording


Project: Harp to Guitar sound imitation.

Date: 30th of November 2017

Venue: Sony Recording Studio at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama


Brief information

This project was made through the conversation with the guitarist, Jimmie-Lee Kendall in terms of exploring the sound of guitar with use of postproduction techniques. Once we discussed the possibility of creative approach in terms of recording, we decided to use my harp practice piece as a goal to recreate the sound with guitar. Since the project was meant to be about postproduction work, the limit of physical performance style was released and we actually went beyond of the concept of notational composition.

Setting


In order to collect the details of sound as much as possible, I used four different microphones. As you can see in the pictures, AKG451 microphone was used to mainly collect the sound in front of the guitar with additional sound of physical fingering gestures. Sony c-48 is used to record the sound of back side of the guitar, and another AKG414 was placed to capture the overall frame of the sound. In addition to these microphones, one contact microphone is attached to the surface of the guitar in case there is interesting sound going around the guitar.

After all, the process of recording and editing was hard, but it was totally worth it. This was purely because; I could explore the way of developing the sound through recording and postproduction skills without changing the note and rhythmic values. With small amount of different values of effect and separated tracks setting, I saw how dramatically the sound could have been changed and that process was eye-opening experience. By the end, the piece itself became a collection of various layerings and extended exploration of guitar sounds. The music sill had a huge resemblance of the harp version, but the fact that I could create a piece which can be almost called as different piece showed me another aspect of postproduction potential.

*The portfolio is available via my google drive or the submitted USB.

*The rest of sessions, Creative recordings and Other sessions are available from the printed resources.