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Mixing a live recording

Discussion in 'Sound, Music, and Intercom' started by MyWifeIsAnActress, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. MyWifeIsAnActress

    MyWifeIsAnActress Member

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    Has anyone ever done post-production on a full show recording? This is my first time working on a full show as opposed to doing studio work on a song-by-song basis, and I'm realizing that it's a whole different animal.

    Is it easier to separate the recording into tracks and then mix each song, or is it better to do everything at once? Or should I do a general mix, then attack the songs one by one and split it all when I'm done?

    Any other tips?
     
  2. DaveySimps

    DaveySimps CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I guess it all depend what your ultimate goal is. If you are trying to make a good quality recording of the show, separate it into separate tracks for later editing, mixing / rerecording. If you are just trying to make some sort of archival recording, just take a feed off of a matrix via your main outputs.

    Keep in mind that every live recording never is of CD quality directly from the board, since there is so much processing, mastering eqing, and such done in a typical studio recording. You are documenting something from a live environment, that does not have all of the control of a studio recording session. Also a direct feed from the board does not take into account the effects of acoustics in the space, speakers, and other processing, that alter the sound after the board, but before the audience hears the sound. So, what may sound like a lousy recording may truly have actually been a great sounding live show, especially in theatre.

    ~Dave
     
  3. dvsDave

    dvsDave Benevolent Dictator Administrator Senior Team CB Mods Fight Leukemia

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    1. Do you have a budget to accomplish this?
    2. What board are you using?
    3. How is the show being mic'ed?
    4. What medium are you recording to?
    5. How many simultaneous channels can you record?
     
  4. MyWifeIsAnActress

    MyWifeIsAnActress Member

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    I guess I should have been a bit clearer. Haha. My fault.

    The show was directly recorded to hard disk via ProTools. Each mic recorded onto a separate track, so I can mix and balance everything separately as opposed to an aux feed. So it's purely a matter of post-production now.

    At the moment, the entire show is in one big, long file. It's primarily music, with a few speaking parts interspersed, so I'm needing to EQ and balance each instrument, take out white noise, etc. The room has amazing acoustics, and the mics picked up the natural reverb beautifully. I just hope that that doesn't come back and shoot me on the foot later.

    What I'm wondering is if I should EQ the big, long file, or should I split the file into separate songs and work on them one at a time? Or is there a whole different technique that I should take?
     
  5. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    How is the final product going to be split up? If it's going to be in tracks then you would probably be best to split it now, giving you the ability to work on each section to get it sounding right. If the final product is one continuous block, then you might run into issues with continuity if you chop and restitch later...

    Truth be told, I think you're a little outside the league of this forum with these sorts of questions, but I suspect you might get a couple of pointers anyway...
     
  6. MyWifeIsAnActress

    MyWifeIsAnActress Member

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    Yeah, I figured that this was a bit out of the ordinary for the forum, but I haven't been able to find anywhere for studio tips. I'm primarily a live mixer, anyway; I just did this as a favor for a friend.
     
  7. DavidDaMonkey

    DavidDaMonkey Active Member

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    I've only done this a little bit, but the biggest thing that helps me is ample amounts of compression on the vocal mic's. It seems to me that theater can be alot more dynamic than average studio work and the compression can really help control some of that. It also has the added bonus (or drawback) of boosting up the ambient room sound if that is something you want (or don't want).
     
  8. Dionysus

    Dionysus Well-Known Member

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    I work on an outdoor celtic festival every year and have put it forward that we record the mainstage shows and sell the CD the year after, the trick would be getting rights from all the performers...
    Anyways I have indeed done this at the festival on smaller stages for my own purposes. Many of us record our mixes from the console to listen to at a later date. We never re-master them into a CD of course because the bands would NOT like that one bit.

    You don't capture everything just right like this, but it can still sound really good. I simply take out of a matrix, and record to my laptop using SAW.
    Works just fine.

    And yes I actually do delete the recordings after listening to them again (unless the band said otherwise. I still have the recording of last year's blues festival).
     
  9. rwhealey

    rwhealey Active Member

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    Have you looked at this forum? They might be able to help you better:

    Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music & Location Recording - Gearslutz.com
     
  10. airkarol

    airkarol Member

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    Take a look at the LAB on ProSoundWeb. I haven't actually been on any, but there's a few recording forums there as well.
     
  11. BingemanJ

    BingemanJ Member

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    I'm doing a similar set-up for a youth theater production of grease, however im using ACID Pro 7 as my DAW because I intend on using my live show recordings to dub over the video recording off of the handycam we are using to film the show in Sony Vegas 9. We are using 3 floor and 2 overhead condenser mics to pick up the chorus and 6 wireless headset mics for our leads as it is a musical...we are also recording a cue track (stereo blend aux from our cd player off of the FOH console) and then placing the original cd tracks over top...I've done many shows where we've recorded the entire show and eq'd the giant file and I've found that it sounds worse when you eq the whole file in comparison to eqing each track individually because when you do each track individually you can change your eq and effects to match the particular song or sound clip..
     
  12. brubart

    brubart Member

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    I've found it necessary to split the long recording into individual songs, then work on the mix balances, EQ, effects and automated level changes for each song. That's because each song has different requirements. You do have to maintain a reasonably consistent sound from song to song, so it's a bit of a compromise.

    Here's one way to split the long multitrack recording into several smaller multitrack recordings, one per song:

    1. In your DAW, open new a multitrack project. Import the track wav files of the entire concert into a multitrack template. Save this editing project as "Entire Concert" or whatever. Note the start and stop times of each song, including applause.
    2. Open a second project in your DAW. Save this project as "Song 1" or whatever.
    3. Open the "Entire concert" project. Select and copy all the tracks from Song 1. (You might need to split all the tracks at the song's start and stop times first). Paste the copied tracks into the project called "Song 1". Save that project for later mixing.
    4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the rest of the songs.
    5. Mix each song project.

    Hope this helps,
    Bruce Bartlett
    Author, Recording Music On Location
    Bartlett Microphones in Elkhart, Indiana - home page
     
  13. christographer

    christographer Member

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    One addition to the good advice from brubart - at least, this is what has worked for me in the past.

    Find a song that you find "representative" of the show, and then mix that one first - in the "Entire Concert" template.

    When you're done with this mix re-save the project as "Song 1" and "Song 2" and "Song 3" and all the rest of them. From here on out work with the individual projects for the separate songs. And...

    You've already got that mix's good EQ, panning, compression, and any other effects built into every songs project. If you want to change something specific for a given track, so be it...but at least you're starting from a good mix to attempt to maintain some sonic continuity. Of course, mute the tracks you don't need once you're mixing the individual songs and crop to the audio you're working on.

    Or you can also do this as a template where you just fly in the tracks for each song once you've done that first master-ish mix and saved the project as "Mixed-Song-Template" or some such. (not to be confused with a final master of a recording before pressing)
     
  14. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    This is something that we are exploring for our music production major here. We do live multitrack recordings of concert (with permission of course!!!!) where all mics feed a set of preamps via a transformer split, and then off to a laptop for storage until we can get the files transferred to the main computer in the studio.
    We recently had a group call the Brawner Brothers here (amazing blue group BTW) When I started mixing down the tracks in the studio, I origanally cut the whole show down into individual songs and mixed 3 songs separately, using the individual songs as projects for a recording class I was taking at the time. At the end of the class I put all my material on one CD and I listen to it time to time. Since the songs were mixed in different sessions, I can hear differences in the EQ and mix from one song to the next. For example one time I had a tighter sound on the kick drum, once I had a smoother comp on a vocal etc. That bothered me because those differences weren't something present during the concert. Each song was fine individually, but when listened to as part of an album, the differences were very apparant and it didn't flow right.
    What I ended up doing was starting back over with the big concert file and doing my EQ work, panning, comps, noise reduction, and some gross balancing with the whole file at once. That way the kick drum for example sounded had exactly the same EQ, dynamics, and timbre on all songs. Which it should since the drummer used the same kit all night and didn't change the tuning between songs. Then it was just a matter of doing the fine tuning of and tweaking of the mix to follow the flow of the individual songs. I actually did that in the big concert file as well, but one could cut it up to different songs at this point too. So far I've worked on 3 songs that way and have found the overall flow of the album to be much smoother, and more pleasant, and I find it easier to concentrate on the fine details of the mix if you get the timbre and feel of the instruments consistent from the get-go. Seems to make for a smoother work flow.
    Matt
     
  15. jonnyfive1985

    jonnyfive1985 Member

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    Ive done this several times,

    What i find best is to split the file into each song indiviually and then work on each one seperate in a live enviroment the instrumentalists will move around alot causing mic positioning to change unlike that recorded in a studio. In the studio you get control over what is happening but in live you just go with the flow.

    We do two productions a year in which we record 48 channels to a Tascam X-48 and then pull into Protools to do a full mixdown for CD. I have found spliting the songs up is the way to go.
     
  16. JoeGriffin

    JoeGriffin Member

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    +1 on Gearslutz and ProSoundWeb. There is also a creative music recording messageboard at messageboard.tapeop.com, and Digidesign has a ProTools-specific board at their site.

    I would agree with the people who said to split it up, and I also agree with the idea of mixing the "representative" song first and borrowing the settings as a starting point for the rest of the songs.

    I'd also look into maybe asking someone else to master the recording so that levels and subtle EQ shifts between songs can be evened out. You can find guys who do mastering work on any of the messageboards listed above. The mastering stage my be where it's appropriate to stitch the show back together, with the dialog bits etc. depending of course on how you wish to present the show on CD.
     
  17. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Perhaps I missed it, but has anyone addressed the legality, regardless of the purpose, of recording a show?
     
  18. Soxred93

    Soxred93 Active Member

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    Where I am, the general accepted idea is that if it is a copyrighted show, it a) cannot be sold, b) cannot be mass distributed, c) cannot be hired to edit it. Basically, it's just for people involved with it.

    Certain companies are more strict about copyright than others. On a production of Pirates of Penzance, DVDs were sold to quite a few people. A few years later, when we did West Side Story, they were only allowed to be sold privately via snailmail.
     
  19. mixmaster

    mixmaster Active Member

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    If the material being performed is copyrited, one needs to obtain permission to make a recording of the performance. This is why most programs say not to take video or still pictures, it's a copyrite violation. Permission is usually gained by obtaining the mechanical rights to a song or performance through the Harry Fox Agency.
    That being said, we have also gotten permission in the past, directly from the performer, to record concerts for our Music Production classes. We've always stipulated up front that the resulting recordings are for academic purposes and will never leave the studio. Usually the performers are happy to grant us that specific permission. Iv'e only been turned down once in 6 shows from the last two years. Our TV studio makes arrangments ocasionally to shoot shows too, but I'm not sure how they handle their arrangments.
    I remember doing a show out on the road once that went the opposite direction. The rider specifical called for us to provide a DA fed from matrix for any Tom, Dick, or Harry to plug in a recorder. Recording was not only allowed, it was encouraged by the band, and advertised as such ahead of time.
    The only other time we record an event is our schools band and chior concerts. A single recording gets made and returned to the band director for him to hear and evaluate the concert. It my understanding that this single cd , made specifically for academic revue of the performance in the band room, is legal under the Fair Use Act.
    Matt
     
  20. Kapoyk

    Kapoyk Member

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    Mixing Live recordings can be a nightmare. I have been recording, mixing and producing live bands for nearly 20 years. There are a few simple truths to follow.
    #1) There are no textbooks on how to acheive the perfect live sound. That comes with experience, a good ear, a clear vision of where you want to go with the project and a solid understanding of what tools to use to get that golden sound. I am still embarrassed to listen to my first 20-30 live productions. Most of them I gave refunds to.
    #2) you can't fix a bad signal. Crap in is crap out. You can't work with an overloaded mic, so watch you levels and use a good limiter.
    #3) cheap compressors sound cheap. Anyone with experience will agree you can hear the difference.
    #4) whether it be external hardware or software, know your equipment, what you can get out of it and how sparingly to use it. Over-produced Live recordings sound fake and lose the feel.
    #5) mix each track separately. Part of mastering is putting the flow of the show together. You can use "jumping off points" as a starting place but be flexible. What works on one track might ruin the next one.
    #6) never master in the same room where you mix. Depending on your experience and skill you might be better off hiring this out.
    #7) don't work long hours looking for the payoff. You'll end up with ear fatigue and hate what you've done when you review it tomorrow.
    #8) multi-band compressors, good quality eq's and patience. Remember, small moves can make a big difference.
     

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