Here's a couple tips for those who want to be the best assistant out there. (I skip some of the gimme's like "Show up time" and "documentation")
- As soon as you know the BPM calculate the delay times, write them on console tape & stick it above a delay unit on the FX rack
- Write out SMPTE (or ABS) numbers down for every 4 bars. This will help the engineer determine where everything will go before any vocals are laid. (on the back of the track sheet is great)
- When striping SMPTE start at 00:59:30:00-00. If sequencing, have the producer start the song at 1hr (with a count-in bar) The count-in helps the song start correctly without any midi-burps & helps for tracking
- When tracking vocals, document the vocal chain & date it. Put this with the track sheet. This helps in case overdubs are necessary later.
- Make sure every pencil in the room is sharp. Place at least 2 pencils & a notepad in the studio. Place a bottled water next to the cue box.
- Create a cue list or write one out if your console doesn't provide this option.
- Calculate delay times, write them down & put a 1/4 note in so the engineer knows your ahead of the game.
- Watch everything the engineer does. This will teach you a lot, & helps you determine things you can do the next time you work with the engineer.
- Set your DAT & cassette levels before it's time to print.
- Never leave the room.
- Make sure your knowledgeable about the room. If the engineer isn't used to the room he/she may ask you to "dial up a micrppitchshift somewhere". Make sure your prepare to do this kind of stuff.
- Learn ALL automation. If the engineer is a SSL9K guy/gal, & your in a Neve VR room, he/she might say "how do automate in static mode". Be prepared for work-arounds.
- If you eat in the lounge, have a runner clean up your control room (trash, etc.). This will make it feel like your starting fresh when you get back in the control room.
- If you have the leave the control room, tell the engineer & try to wait for the most suitable time. Check to see if anyone wants anything (A drink/snack etc)
- Don't suggest anything unless it's tackful. (Save it for YOUR hit record) This can piss-off many engineers.
- Treat everyone with respect. I was working a session & my assistant told the artist he was too busy to get her a coffee because he thought she was the producer's girlfriend.
- At least 2 times a day, try to neaten up the control room. Organize cables, etc.
- Don't whine. We know, We know- you were here 2 hours before us & you'll be here 2 hours after. Blah-Blah-Blah. If you don't like it- get a "real job".
- If a non-essential piece of gear is broken, write a tech report & try to tell someone verbally what is wrong with it.
- When the session is over, ask the engineer if there was anything you could've done to help the session run smoother.
- If the engineer leaves the room & it's just you & the client, it doesn't hurt to compliment the good things the engineer has done. Don't kiss ass. But if the engineer did the greatest vocal ride in the history of engineering, give them a little credit.
Remember this is a client-based business. We are here to work for them. I mean, when you get your hair cut, you want it cut your way right???