Mar 28, 2013 - education    No Comments

Being a Student

Yesterday, NESCom had a Tech Expo that I was invited to, and when a meeting was cancelled I decided to check it out. It was really geared toward A/V pros (although there was one Epson guy there with an interactive projector, which was interesting), and I decided to sit in on a demo/talk by the rep from AVID. About 30 seconds in, I realized that I knew NOTHING about audio editing (and really don’t need to know about audio editing) and was completely overwhelmed. So, I did what most students in that situation would do — pulled out my phone and checked Facebook. I stayed though, because I didn’t want to be rude, and then I stayed because I realized that I was actually having a great learning experience — I was getting to be a student in class with an expert, and being totally confused.

I tried to follow along — here is what I learned. Alicia Keys uses ProTools to edit all of her stuff. AVID has an insane amount of fine tuning and equalizers and plug ins and effects to make that happen. If you are using AVID, you probably want at LEAST 3 monitors, because there is a TON of STUFF to tweak.

Then I started wondering “really? Why do you need to tweak THAT MUCH of a song/voice/instrument? What would the people at Sun Records┬áthink about all of this? They were the birthplace of rock and roll, and didn’t need to have crossfading clip gain automation (all words I learned, so I guess I learned something!) to make Elvis a worldwide phenomenon. Or the wax cylinders that Edison created in the 19th century?

— a digression — I went googling for an example of the wax cylinder recording, and found the Alan Lomax info at PBS: Lomax the Songhunter, and then noticed that their example of a wax recording was done in Calais, ME, of the Passamaquoddy snake dance in 1890. But the link was broken, so then I went in search of that recording, and found it on WFMU, and am embedding it here:

Anyway, so I was thinking of Lomax and Sun Records as we learned about all this tiny fine tuning Alicia Keys uses with technology, and realized that probably that’s how some people feel when I talk. “Great, oh my god, you can do infinite things with technology, blah blah blah, ELVIS DIDN’T NEED ANY FANCY PRO TOOLS!” ┬áSo, I decided to sit back and see what I COULD learn. By the end of the 45 minute talk, when the expert was demoing how the audio is done for a movie, it was really interesting. I don’t think I’ll listen to a movie in quite the same way, when you see all the things they take into consideration, just for the audio – never mind the video. In the clip he showed, there were 312 tracks for one tiny scene. 312 DIFFERENT SOUNDS that make my movie-watching experiences more realistic and more enjoyable. Crazy!

While I really didn’t need to learn anything about audio editing, I did enjoy the experience of learning to be a student again.

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