As the Unit 12 production project draws to a close I will be evaluating my performance and contributions made throughout. For the project I took on the role as producer and artist. To meet the criteria for the artist role I had to perform live as well as play on the two recorded tracks. As a producer I also had manage recording sessions and help mix / master towards the end of the project.
‘Ground’ – The song ground was composed by myself and my group member Jack Weston. For this track I performed and recorded the piano instrumental. For many of the recording sessions I also undertook my role as producer to keep the workflow in studio efficient and within the given timeframe. I also applied a variety of mixing and mastering techniques using multiple Waves and Logic plugins to polish the overall sound of the track.
‘Travel Size’ – The groups second song travel size was composed by Jack Weston and produced by me and Harrison Lloyd. I also played part of the percussion throughout the song and ensured the recording sessions were structured and organised. I spent lots of time in studio experimenting with a variety of waves plugins and iZotope Ozone when mixing and mastering in order to achieve the highest quality sound possible.
The End Result:
The overall outcome of the project was an all round successful performance and album release. The performance was recorded live in front of an audience at the Underground Theatre. The venue was chosen by us as a year group and planned over the first few weeks of the project.
Our groups performance was overall strong and we played well together. Our drummer Harrison Lloyd remained in time with the rhythm guitar and piano chords throughout the song. Vocalist and guitarist Jack Weston co-ordinated the rhythm guitar and fingerpicking with the piano I was playing throughout the song. It was my role to play throughout the song and also include an improvised solo towards the end of the song to extend the running time.
The performance featured a variety of different genres including: rock, acoustic, metal and more. Students not only performed at the gig but also engineered during setup and takedown. The album release and deign was planned by students. An artist was commissioned specifically to design for the artwork and was discussed by a group of us before release.
If the project was done again there are a few things I would do differently to further improve my work. Firstly, I would ensure that the composition process was more organised from the start. When I was composing the first song there were many changes made before the final song was written. Ideally this composition process could have been done quicker to allow more time for recording and mixing. This was noticeable when we had to record the drum tracks as we did not have time to re-record and achieve the perfect sound. As I took the role of producer in the project I would also ensure that the recording sessions were slightly more organised as sometimes the process would go off track.
As for the performance the overall outcome was as desired. If I was to change anything I would ensure a more thorough rehearsal before the gig to polish the overall sound.
The past week has been spent preparing for the final performance next week. As a band, we have had multiple rehearsal sessions in order to be as prepared for the live performance as possible.
We have changed the song ‘Ground’ slightly from the recording by adding in a piano solo, bridge, and extra extended chorus. We did this to lengthen the song out further as it currently was too short.
Today we made the decision to re-start the mixing process for the song ‘Ground’. As a production group we were not happy with the overall sound so all plugins were removed and the faders were set to zero.
As I have taken the producer role it was my job to create the new mix. I decided to import the project in to Logic X on my laptop as I would achieve a better final mix.
To start with there faders and panning were adjusted to fit the levels of the song. This was to create a base to work around when applying plugins and bussing.
After this busses were created in order to group the Piano, vocal and guitar tracks together so that when plugins are applied minimal CPU usage and time is used.
For this project I decided to use a selection of waves and stock plugins in logic. I heavily focused on the CLA plugins for applying reverb, delay and adjusting the EQ. I also used the PuigTec EP1A and R-verb to create a professional sounding reverb and EP. Below are some images what was applied within these plugins.
During todays session we were able to finish the mixing process for the song ‘Ground’. As a production group we decided to keep the mix simple with the use of plugins such as a compressor, multi-band compression, bussing. If there is time further towards the end of the project we will go in to more complex mixing and mastering of the final track. Below are some examples of what mixing techniques were applied:
- Compression – compression has been applied to multiple tracks within the song to tame frequencies and give an overall rounded sound. We decided to use the vintage VCA compressor in logic and adjusted the settings to fit either the piano, guitar or drum tracks. The desired sound was achieved through experimentation and monitoring of the frequencies in the visual graph.
- Bussing – Multiple channels have been bussed in order to organise the project and apply plugins without using unnecessary CPU usage. The image above shows and example of bussed channel strips for the drum tracks. The same reverb settings needed to be applied to all of the tracks so they were sent to bus 7 to do so.
- Multi-band Compression – The multi band compressor has been applied to some of the piano tracks in order to divide the frequencies on to its own sections and apply compression to each. The EQ of each band has also been adjusted to achieve the desired sound.
From todays session the final mixing process for both songs has begun. We aim to have the songs fully mixed and mastered using advanced techniques we have learnt at college and through our research.
We have decided to first mix the song ‘Ground’ and after this move on to mixing ‘Travel’. Todays session involved applying basic panning, EQ and some reverb to all of the tracks. Below are some examples of what was applied.
- Panning – the example above is what was applied to the piano tracks. The left and right microphones have been panned to the far right and left and the room / back microphone to the left slightly.
- EQ – the EQ above has been applied to some of the drum tracks for some small boosts / cuts at certain frequencies.
- Space Designer – Space designer has been used as our chosen reverb plugin for multiple tracks. We have experimented with the parameters as well as taking ideas from the presets in the plugin.
Tomorrow we aim to have the mix for ‘Ground’ completed so that we can move on to mixing ‘Travel’.
During todays session we were able to complete the recording process for the second track ‘Travel’ composed by my group member Jack. Todays session was fully focussed on vocal tracking in the live performance space. We decided to record in this area as there is a natural reverb to the space which suited the style of the song. Although the process took many takes the final recordings sounded polished and professional. For these recordings we used an NT1A condenser microphone through to the stage box and in to the pre-amp. Now that the recording process is finished we will be moving on to mixing after the half term period.
Today’s session involved experimenting with various different percussive instruments. We collected these instruments from the tech office and tried out different playing techniques fro each.
For our track we decided to only use a shaker, Cabasa and the sides of a acoustic guitar (images below). Together these instruments fit the track well and gave it its acoustic style. We were able to fully record these sections in one recording session as they were relatively simple.
The percussion from the acoustic guitar was created using various taps against the body of the guitar. I also happened to have a ring on my finger which created a different sound for some of the taps.