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How do you approach the "7-P's"?

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by anonymous, Feb 24, 2001.

  1. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    The "7-P Rule": Pre-Production Planning Prevents Piss Poor Productions...

    When I get involved with a project, I go through a ritual of mental gymnastics prior to "setup". Having gone over the available hardware list, I have a pretty good idea of what hardware I'm going to try on each of the sounds that comprise each song. If I'm producing from the side of the desk, then I'll have gone over this information with the person engineering. Normally, I'll defer to their judgement, occasionally, I'll voice an opinion.

    Now, this is always subject to change without notice, and as the project progresses changes more often then not, usually by the 3rd or 4th overdub we get into "audibles" (football term for changing the play at the last second). Again, when I'm not in the center of the desk, it gets into "what do you think" territory...which we usually try first, but don't always end up keeping.

    At the onset, I usually have a pretty clear idea of the direction I want to take the project, how the setups are going to be done for basics, and initial conceptions on how I'm going to handle alot of it in 'mixing'. More often than not, these 'pre-conceptions' are gone with in the first week.

    I'm huge on taking notes, but not on making schedules. I'm also not big on committing to 'pre-conceptions', but into trial and experimentation "on venue"...though that experimentation is usually a abstraction of the original premeditated program.

    How do you approach a new project?
     
  2. dgooder

    dgooder Guest

    This is a great topic!

    I have only been "in charge" of a handful of projects, but I would say my methods have been similar to what Fletcher posted. I have not produced many bands - most of my work has been with singer/songwriters, so I don't really have the luxury of traditional rehearsals. I will usually have the artist record the tunes on a cassette (basic vocal and gtr, or whatever instrument the artist uses to write with), and I will go into the studio (I have some trade deals worked out with some very cool project studios) and do a basic demo of ideas based on conversations and directions from the artist. This gives me a chance to hash-out ideas without wasting too much time, all the while communicating with the artist to stay on track with everyone's vision. This is probably the most important stage, and can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or more. Once everyone is happy, I will hire real players and an appropriate studio to lay down the basics. This is the foundation, so once we're happy with the structures and ideas, I usually won't change too much. This is my favorite part of the project.

    Once the basics are down, I will usually move the project to a less expensive room to begin od's. This is where things can change as needed ("Audibles" as Fletcher says...). A lot of experimentation can happen as time and $ dictates, and is where a lot of magic can happen.

    Once everyone is happy with what's on tape, it's on to mixing. At this point I will have already decided where this will happen.

    Every project I've worked on is a bit different. The only thing that remains true is that the lack of pre-production results in "compromised" results (compromised usually means $*^t....).

    Dave g http://www.groovestainproductions.com
    570-839-1019 570-350-3422
     
  3. lflier

    lflier Guest

    I like to rehearse as much as possible and, if possible, do some demo recordings before the "real thing" - even if it's just a cheesy DAT recording or some such thing. Just to get an idea of whether we're headed in the right direction with the arrangements. Also, for everyone to "sleep on" the songs for awhile is good. I hate parts by session players that sound like they were "phoned in" because the players didn't hear the songs until 10 minutes before tape started rolling.

    To me the ultimate time to record is when you have a great band who's just gotten off a tour playing all the songs that you're about to record, you've been living with those songs for months, you totally are inside of them and have a clue what to do with them. If you can't have that situation, I think you try to get as close to it as you can - with rehearsals, some demos, maybe a few gigs if it's possible. It's not enough just to know the chords and the beat or even the lyrics. To me, to get the best performance you need to really know the emotional context of the song and what it's all about. So to play it as much as you can before you get into the studio is a good thing.

    --Lee
     
  4. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    ive given birth to several songs in my studio. in fact i have some recordings of songs that had never or ever been played again.

    oh yeah, projects. i get a demo from whomever of anything [live 2track mostly] and go see them play a couple times live beforehand. i check out their audience and how they interact etc. then i basically tell them how its going to be recorded, live tracking, ods, vox, mixed [its not uncommon for some songs to be done tracking on the live day if the vox is good]. between each step, i have rough mixes of the songs to go over and think about before they do the next step. i let sessions roll as long as they feel inspiring, a prolonged downhill turn i stop it till later to the next day. each step lasting as long as it takes to be satisfied to move onto the next.

    usually i have the band rehearse so they can kill at least 4 songs each day live, not a lot of restarts if any, a few takes sometimes if they feel inclined.

    not to say that doesnt save my production from being pisspoor :roll:
     
  5. Mixer-man

    Mixer-man Guest

    I agree with you there Fletcher. I always try to go into a session prepared. But I'm always willing to accept that things might happen or come up that work better than the original plan.

    This is much easier, of course, (and safer) when you're doing an entire album. When you cut 15 songs, you can have up to 5 'misses' so you can take some chances.

    This one album I produced, I had one song that I went into wondering how I was going to pull it off. The drummer was playing this relentless beat on the snare with brushes. When we go in, I audibled, (not that there was a choice) and it ended up being a jewell. It was a great song to begin with, but now the production matched, and was as good as the song.

    As you know, I mix more than anything else, currently. So I get to hear allot of different engineers and Producers work. What kills me is how few people really think about the sonics within a production. i.e. The drum sound working with the bass sound. Making sense, or keeping a cohesiveness within a production. Good sound isn't the issue, but rather using sounds that work together, can make the difference between an OK production and a great production.

    Feel is first, but things can't feel good, if there's something that just doesn't seem right.

    Mixerman
     
  6. Originally posted by Lee Flier:

    To me the ultimate time to record is when you have a great band who's just gotten off a tour playing all the songs that you're about to record, you've been living with those songs for months, you totally are inside of them and have a clue what to do with them. If you can't have that situation, I think you try to get as close to it as you can - with rehearsals, some demos, maybe a few gigs if it's possible. It's not enough just to know the chords and the beat or even the lyrics. To me, to get the best performance you need to really know the emotional context of the song and what it's all about. So to play it as much as you can before you get into the studio is a good thing.

    --Lee



    I'd agree with you here Lee, and as you know I'm a HUGE fan of proper pre-production, but sometimes there's a certain magic you get on a "first take" - even occasionally on something they haven't played very much in the past.

    Ever done the old "don't tell the drummer everything that's coming up" trick and just grab whatever comes out? You can get some surprising results out of session drummers that way (occasionally).
     
  7. lflier

    lflier Guest

    Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe:

    I'd agree with you here Lee, and as you know I'm a HUGE fan of proper pre-production, but sometimes there's a certain magic you get on a "first take" - even occasionally on something they haven't played very much in the past.

    Ever done the old "don't tell the drummer everything that's coming up" trick and just grab whatever comes out? You can get some surprising results out of session drummers that way (occasionally).


    Yeah, it happens. But I've engineered or played on or otherwise been witness to a lot of sessions where the players come in cold. And although sometimes it can "work", and certainly the good players come up with a "competent" part, more often than not the tune would sound better if people weren't in such a hurry to lay it down.

    Sure there's always that jam session that just "happens" in the studio and turns into a great song. But doing proper pre-production doesn't seem to kill those moments.

    --Lee
     
  8. John Sayers

    John Sayers Active Member

    Whilst I agree with you Lee there's gotta be a limit somewhere. I did a session awhile back where recording the acoustic guitar part started at 4pm and at 10pm the producer was saying "Yeah, you're starting to get the feel of the song now you know it". I prefer not to engineer for other people anymore, even friends as this was.

    I'm a stickler for Pre Production which may take weeks. I want to hear the singer perform all the songs fully and comfortably before I go near a studio. I want to know all the tempos, song structures, and most importantly the KEY. Sorting this out in advance really helps the budget and can even determine where I record.
     
  9. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Metronome. Get the rough bpm for each song in the live show and rehearsals if you can. Have the notes around when it comes time to record. A lot of the time, inexperienced people play either way to fast or way to slow when they're being recorded, so having the reference can be a big help. Sometimes you are going for a different feel, but more often than not, the difference can kill a song.

    da Bear
     
  10. I guess my gig is much different than most of yours. I generally function as the "engineer" and have no idea what the songs sound like before they are played/recorded. My happy lot in life is to get the best possible "sounds" in the most efficient manner. Therefore the initial setup of the tracking date is of the utmost importance. It ranges from everyone in the big room with no headphones at all, to everyone isolated with individually adjustable cue mixes. Generally this is deduced during the initial discussion with the client, and recomendations are made regarding the options/tradeoffs of a given setup. After many years of doing this, no two sessions have ever been exactly the same. However, the one thing that always holds true regardless of setup, is to always record the first take or "run-through" of every song, no matter
     
  11. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    i find great deals of magic in songs when they are brand new, some songs take longer to finish and evlove over periods of time playing them also. so i dont really care as long as the players are competent. i recorded this beautiful song one time that was only 2 hours old.. so much emotion [there are some "sour notes" but it only adds to the performance]
     
  12. Tom Cram

    Tom Cram Active Member

    Hi everybody, I'm new to this bbs.

    I'm totally anal about pre-production. I take extensive notes, talk with the client about arrangements, get all tempos, lengths, philosophy, yadda yadda.

    This is all usually for naught.

    Once the tracking starts, all bets are off. I can't remember the last time any of my pre-production notes were worth a damn. The tempos change, the arrangements change, etc. ad infinitum. Yet I still do it,everytime.
     
  13. alphajerk

    alphajerk Active Member

    "Once the tracking starts, all bets are off. I can't remember the last time any of my pre-production notes were worth a damn. The tempos change, the arrangements change, etc. ad infinitum. Yet I still do it,everytime."

    the reason i dont do much pre-production except see them live as many time before. and holy $*^t, i just saw a ^#$%ing incredible rock band this weekend... had to pick my jaw up off the floor. already talking them into my studio :D it was all the pre-production i needed.
     
  14. mrpoole

    mrpoole Guest

    i like to take the time and hear the band play the stuff in the studio. rehersals aren't the same. some people are gamers and some people are chokers. and you never know who is gonna step up or suck. so i like to listen to the bands play the stuff in the studio after the setups have been done. this can lead to "we're wating time!!!!!!" anxiety but all that takes to quash is a soft answer and an eplanation of what is going on. after i assess the band in the studio we start working...

    changes sometimes take place mid recording when i hear something i think should change or someone makes a "happy" mistake.

    i also like to have demos of stuff well in advance so i can learn the material on guitar so i can talk about the songs with the band in an educated manner.
     

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