John Stacey – Recording Prisms

Prisms are a local Prog-Indie band, mixing angular guitars with lots of interchanging time signatures, and adolescent lyrical content, in my eyes creating something quite unique yet skilled for musicians of their age (ranging from 17 – 20 years old). Jack, the lead singer/guitarist, is the cousin of an old friend, and after watching a video of them in the practice rooms at their Lincoln College study ground, I fell in love with what they are building and trying to do, so wanted to get them into the studio. Having won the Lincoln Battle of the bands very recently, and earnt themselves a four day professional recording session worth £2000, I felt this would be a very good experience for them to come in with myself and Luke Pickering, in an industry standard environment, before going away for this recording. It has been a worthwhile experience for myself and Luke, while producing a subsequent EP recording for the band to take to their professional session to work with.I felt I have learnt massively over the two day period, having to work through three songs, fully hands on, where everything right and wrong is down to ourselves and the band alone. Luckily the lads were very good musicians and highly professional throughout. John Stacey, Level 1 Audio Production.

Prisms: Square Dancing with Jerry Bruickheimer by audioproduction

Ricky Leacock, Prokofiev and a Tea Strainer

An out-take from the rushes of a documentary currently in production here at University of Lincoln, called ‘A Boatload of Wild Irishmen. Due to be screened at Galway Film Festival 2010. (Editor Chris Hainstock, Written by Prof Brian Winston, of our faculty)

© Mac Dara OCurradhin/Minerva Productions/University of Lincoln

Here Cinematographer Ricky Leacock (interviewed at Lincoln University) recalls a tale of when he went to film a performance of an unfinished work by Prokofiev. In 1937 the Russian authorities had banned Prokofiev from working on the project at the time. Prokofiev died in 1953.
Much later in the 1980’s Ricky used a rather unorthodox technique to get the best sound he could using early Digital Camcorders, to make a film of a new performance of this unfinished work in Siberia, alongside Conductor Sarah Cornwell (who found the manuscript in Prokofievs handwriting) and Victoria Leacock’s daughter.
Ricky had spent his life working on film 16 and 35mm. In his early career, sound was recorded on acetate discs, and sent back to the labs, where it was transferred to film.
See this clip \Sound took weeks to come back\

He witnessed over the years the changing face of sync sound recording. He went on to teach at MIT in New York.

Simon Ross – Level 1 Reflection

Growing up I took a very strong interest in music. I spent all my spare time throughout secondary school learning how to DJ but I wanted to take my interest in music and sound further. The Audio Production course has given me the opportunity to do exactly that.

When I started the course I was unsure as to what exactly I wanted to be doing, there are so many options where you can apply sound within the industry you are almost spoilt for choice. My main interests when I came here, however, were music production and radio broadcasting.

I had come to Lincoln with some basic experience of producing music after having collaborated with a friend I had met via the radio, but in the first few weeks of being here we were all taught how to operate a fully functioning 24 channel mixing desk. Already this was much different to making music in a bedroom!

We then applied our newly learnt skills to our first project as part of the Multitrack Recording module. I was very much looking forward to this module since we would be working in an industry standard recording studio, something I never imagined I would lucky enough to experience. We were split into two groups and were each asked to record and produce a cover song from scratch. My group and I all agreed to do a cover of  Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ and recorded each instrument week by week for a period of 6 weeks. Once all recording was done, everyone in the group took them away and tweaked them to perfection as part of the mixing process. We used our knowledge from the ‘Principles of Audio’ lectures to do this at the best of our ability.

Principles of Audio covered the physics side of sound and it has proven to be very useful for my both my university work and also the productions I work on in my spare time. Each week we would discuss a different aspect of sound, such as equalization, compression, frequency spectrums, and even how the human ear works. We would take what we had learnt and apply it to projects in our workshops that were held had later in the day. This is where we would learn more about the technical side of working with sound, like being careful not to have some sounds too loud, too quiet, and how to get most of what we are working with using effects and plug-ins.

Having already had some background working with radio, the Radio and Sound module was my other main interest in this semester. Rather than being thrown in the deep end, we were first asked to make a short radio feature based on a list of different topics given to us. My group chose the topic of extreme sports. We spoke to people who do extreme sports as a hobby, some who have careers in it, and we also spoke to people around Lincoln to gather some great opinions.

This small project later developed into a new project where we would broadcast a 30 minute radio show on a topic of our choice. This was really exciting for me as I have only had my music broadcast through the airwaves and not actually done any broadcasting myself. Working in the same group, we decided to compare the genres of rock music and dance music. Again we spoke to people relevant to the topic. We interviewed a local band member, Chris Jenner, to represent the rock genre, and to represent the dance genre we spoke to a fellow DJ and producer of mine, Rob Corbo. Both interviewees were extremely fascinating and provided great material for our show.

At the moment we are all focusing our attention towards the module Sound for Visual Media. This is something I never even considered before coming here but it’s already becoming great fun to do! We started working with still images using sound to apply the appropriate mood to what we could see, resorting to literal sounds and also abstract approaches too.  This module is also great for us as it allows us to work with other students at the university. Soon we will be working with photography and animation students, and also media students, helping them get the most out of their work with our audio skills.

Now that we are reaching the end of the year, it’s great to realise how much I’m learning every week, if not every day! There is never a moment where something sounds irrelevant. By the end of this course I hope to be working at BBC Radio 1 which may be a little ambitious at the moment, but I feel confident that it’s achievable when I see what I am currently learning here at the University of Lincoln.

A Year of Audio Production

As we approach the end of the academic year I thought I would invite our first cohort of Audio Production students to write a post reflecting on their experiences and learning on the course. Here are Jake Walsh’s thoughts on his first year as an Audio Production student:

So we are nearly at the end of our first year as Audio Production students – and looking back we have covered a lot of material and learnt a lot of new techniques and skills.

Starting with Semester A we were introduced to Radio and Sound, Principles of Audio, Multitrack Recording, and Mediation and Representation.  During our Radio and Sound sessions we learnt about the skills necessary to create and produce radio pieces – working to create short clips, and radio shows that were of a broadcast quality. We have also been looking at a variety of different elements during Mediation and Representation, looking at the ethics of broadcasting, semiotics and issues such as feminism.

My favourite two modules so far have been the Principles of Audio and Multitrack recording modules, which both went hand in hand – allowing us to work with audio to create and edit pieces. We covered items ranging from an overview of the MP3 format, to the methods of calculating, for example, the wavelength of a sound wave at a certain frequency and we worked as a group to engineer and record two cover songs. We then mixed and reported on this individually.

Moving on to semester B, we are studying Electronic Music Production, Understanding the Cultural Industries, and Sound Editing for Visual Media. During our Cultural Industries sessions we have been looking at changing trends, attitudes and perceptions of audiences, and creating presentations on a variety of topics – my group looked at the issue of how audiences perceive illegal music downloads.

Furthermore, we have also been looking at the techniques, tools, and research needed to create audio to accompany images – looking at techniques for sounds that are used for a variety of methods; including creating sound effects, narrative, foley etc. We have also been looking at Electronic Music Production, and examining the methods used for electronic music making, whilst continuing with our Pro Tools tutorials.

Perhaps the highlight of the year so far for me, has been working with a local band, The Fix, recording them in the studio and producing their EP, which has just been finished and will shortly be released.
You Gotta Live by jakewalsh

Recording Prisms

John and Luke are using their Easter break to record another local band. This time it’s Prisms with their intricate and complex sound; think Foals or Vampire Weekend. They chose to record barefoot guitarist, Paul, in the live room using a combination of a close mic (SM57) on his amp’s loudspeaker grille and a room mic (C414). As I popped my head into the control room to have another listen they were busy setting up the U87 in the dead room for vocals. The band are all very good players and are well rehearsed and, as John and Luke’s recording is sounding particularly good, I’m really looking forward to posting one of the tracks up here soon.

EP Recording Session

Mute, a young band from the Lincoln area, are recording their EP in the University’s multitrack studio. Level 1 Audio Production student Luke Pickering plays guitar and sings for Mute and this evening he is tracking his guitar parts. Fellow AP student, Alex Curtis is engineering the session leaving Luke to concentrate on his performance. The band have a lot of energy and a powerful sound which Alex is trying to capture. The plan is to upload the stems to Soundcloud for other students to create their own mix balances and remixes from. It should be a great little EP which you will be able to hear here!

Presentation Day

Today was an assessment presentation day for Level 1 Audio Production students. In small groups, they pitched their ideas for a music or sound design concept for the Electronic Music Production module. Being the creative bunch they are, ideas were wide ranging; from a drum and bass remix, to a sound design for a horror game, to an audio aid for relaxation, to a theme tune for a game show! The presentations are a great way for students to see, hear and comment on each other’s work and to receive developmental feedback. They now have to turn their concepts into fully formed audio products for the end of the semester. I’m looking forward to hearing them!

5.1 Up and Running

Level 3 Audio Technology student Adam Boardman has been busy this week. Not only has he been working on his various university modules, he has configured Control Room 2 into a fully functioning surround sound tracking and mixing environment. Students can now record into Pro Tools from any of the three recording areas (live room, dead room, isolation booth) and mix in either stereo or 5.1 surround sound using the great sounding Blue Sky monitoring system. Not only that, Adam has set up a Pro Tools tutorial blog as part of one of his university assessments and is developing an iPhone app for another! Keep up the good work, Adam, and thanks very much!