Fixing live drums

Discussion in 'Drums' started by zepdave, Dec 14, 2000.

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  1. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    Hi all... recently I saw this new forum (maybe with time the best audio forum because its very large boards).

    I have a little problem fixing drums.

    I've recorded 7-8 tracks of live drums. How can I quantize this tracks for fixing out of time hits or for thighten up? (or groovin' a
    sterile & clinical live performance).

    I do it now by manual editing... cut & drag the hits (to a grid or
    groove template), trim them (no silences) and smooth (crossfades).
    But I spend much time with it. I'd like to know how much time have I spend with this? I do special care in not much edit for not liveless.

    I'd like to know if there is a better
    way to do this... or to speed up the work.
    Tips of engineers who are experience with it.
    I know major studios do that (Andy Snitzer for example), but I don't know how much in the recordings we're hearing todays (it must be a secret like the use of AutoTune).

    I use logic & nuendo now, and I've worked with protools in studios... maybe with a tool like Beat Detective (automatic groove extraction-
    tempo map creation-trimming-smoothing) from Protools 5.1. But it isn't released at date and I do this kind of editing in a laptop (non Protools TDM).

    Thanks in advance and sorry for my bad english... cheers.
  2. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    Beat detective rules. It will do exactly what you are looking for. Rent a system if you have to, but it will do the trick.

    Or, use a plug-in like serato pitch & time. It'll take forever, but it will do what you want it to.
  3. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    How is Serato Pitch'n Time plugin? Does it really fix the out of time hits in 8 drum tracks? not phase problems & artifacts with it? professional results?

    e-cue... Have u used it for this work? I'll greatly appreciate help with this plug...

    Sorry for several questions...

  4. e-cue

    e-cue Active Member

    Oct 5, 2000
    My experence with pitch'n time has been that, first off, the newer version is better. (duh) If you pitch 'n time an entire song, drums lose some of their attack. If your using it bar by bar, you probably won't run into this problem. It sounds better than other programs & plug-in's I've tried like SPEED. Print a click track as a reference, and start chopping each bar, or however fine resolution you what to get into. This takes a long time, and if you doing a drum beat that just repeats (unlike jazz or something), it would make more sence to just copy & paste.Also, if the recorded material you recorded is digital peaking, but doesn't sound distrorted- it may if you speed the material up. If that's the case, use the gain plug-in to trim your audio a couple of db.

    [This message has been edited by e-cue (edited December 16, 2000).]
  5. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    I've downloaded the manual & the demo version of Serato Pitch'n Time. I don't understand how does it work with many tracks (grouping tracks before, applying the process to all tracks independently,...)? The documentation says that limits on 48 tracks maximun (phase coherence between them). I can't try the demo now.

    Thank you in advance.

  6. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi zepdave. Trying to do this manually is very time consuming. In my experience the beat detective (or equivalents) can cut down this time but still often need a lot of playing around unless the drumming is really simple.

    By far the best solution is to get a decent drummer in the first place. The ability to play in time is a basic requirement of any drummer of any age. A professional who cannot play in time should not be a professional.

  7. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    Hi Greg. I'm pleasing u answer this topic.

    I think too that it is very time consuming.
    I recorded this tracks without click track, and we prefered the first takes (the fresh ones) over 30 approx. There are some things that exist in this takes that don't in the last ones... maybe the drummer isn't so pro, but not all days u record an album with a great old experience drummer.

    When we starting the recording, we decided record without metronome 'cause a better aproach of dynamics and because the songs are very tempo changing with many odd signatures... maybe too pressure to the drummer. The performances obtained over 13 songs (3 months of heavy working) are great but some little hits are "bad" (only very little in time, awesome in dynamics), others "leak" sterile or "clinical" (some bars are groovies and others not much). We want a lineal/live performances (much groove and no using of loops at all), but with this type of songs is difficult to achieve. Some "bad" hits are covered by the bass performance (then we consider to this "ghost notes" and i don't fix them), other hits are bad timing but glued fine with the bass tracks (we consider this "groove"), and others don't without a fixing.
    We probably are too pretentious or perfectionist. Or I need more recording experience (sure).

    I've heard that this method is used all days in major studios with major bands (Andy Snitzer with BonJovi,...), like the use of Autotune and VocalAlign in very complex vocal songs. I'd like to know if this is true.... What are your experiences in this working way? Any recording with this that u know?

    Sorry for my english one more time...

    and thanks in advance.
  8. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi zepdave,

    << we decided record without metronome... >>

    You can use an internal metronome in your audio/MIDI software that will follow your tempo changes. However for dynamics and feel, your reasons for not using a metronome are spot on.

    << << We want a lineal/live performances (much groove and no using of loops at all), but with this type of songs is difficult to achieve. >>

    Especially if you're not using a metronome, in your situation there really is no alternative to using a high quality professional drummer. If you look at it from a different perspective you will understand why:

    MIDI and sampling has hit the professional drummer harder than almost any other instrumentalist. The question is why are there still quite a number of quality professional studio drummers out there? What are they doing to earn money that can't be done cheaper using a loop or some drum programming? The answer is there are a lot of people who want the drums to have a live feel, to be the opposite of sterile or clinical. This is where the quality pro drummer comes in. As yet there is simply no satisfactory substitute and this is what pro studio drummers rely on to earn a living.

  9. Eric Bazilian

    Eric Bazilian Distinguished Member

    Dec 23, 2000
    "Fixing" live drums....ah, a fave topic of mine. The good news is that, yes, setting up a tempo grid and slicing, dicing, chopping drums to fit does actually result in a track which not only has all the nifty "human" performance elements intact, but is as perfectly in time as you want it to be. Having done this for the past couple of years I can guarantee that it does NOT strip the "feel" from a performance....rather, it can rescue moments of wild inspirational abandon which may have otherwise ended up on the floor.

    Also, if said track contains any kind of drum loop the difference between corrected and uncorrected drums is dramatic.

    Bear in mind....this has nothing to do with "good" or "bad" drumming. I've chopped up the very best, and even they agree it sounds better. Then again, if you actually have the luxury of recording a good band in a live situation, disregard all the above. In such case, should one desire to try laying in a loop of some sort later on, it becomes necessary to create a manual tempo map, then chop the loop into its constituent particles and use Command-U (I believe it's this) to quantize to the map, then go through and trim all the regions to eliminate clipping attacks or leaving blank space.

    The bad news is that all the above is quite labor intensive. I do await the arrival of Beat Detective somewhat catiously, though my experience has been that separating regions (and, of course, grouping all drums...), snapping them to the grid, then trimming regions back and forth as needed sounds significantly better than using any kind of time compression/expansion. Then, once all the hits are in place (and edits checked....some nasty clicks can arise....crossfades can accomplish miracles), Audiosuite Duplicate all the tracks to give your hard drives a break.

    The other advanrage of editing to a strict tempo map is the ability to freely edit fills, sections, etc. creatively.

    Then again, this is just my experience.....

    Eric Bazilian
    The Mousetrap
    "Music Is Good"
  10. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    Thanks Greg, thanks Eric, thanks e-cue...all & Merry Xmas.

    Greg... I agree with u in most of your answers. A very best drummer is the ONLY thing, nothing than a performance of a great percusionist (his/her tempo, live, groove,...). This things let the performance a fresh one; everytime we hear this, we note new things (it seems that the performance change with our state of mind, i listen it today and it seems different tomorrow). Greg, are u the greg i imagine? The clasical performer & composer? Great...

    But I agree with Eric too. I think to edit a performance that is estelar, make this a more stelar one. For example, I think Roger Nichols did a good job with the last album of Steely Dan, in which a primo-drummers play around (Michael Lawson, ...). Only we care 'bout the liveless of editing work.

    Eric, can u give some tips for speed up the session? I work in Logic now, but Protools too.

    Cheers to all.
  11. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi zepdave,

    << Greg, are u the greg i imagine? The clasical performer & composer. >>

    Many years ago I was a professional orchestral musician, but I no longer play. Although I use a lot of classical elements in my compositions very few of them sound like classical music. My knowledge of soloists and percussion come from my wife who is a full-time soloist.

    I'm lucky in that I very rarely ever need or want to edit a take. Although I have heard some good work with highly edited percussion. There is no doubt in my mind that the overall shape and feel are better if you can get away without editing.

    BTW, although Logic is far better for MIDI, I prefer PTools for editing audio.

  12. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    Many thanks Greg... I consider much your answers. It's great to obtain the help of people that are a big part or all in music and recording.
    And YES, Evelyn is an awesome percussionist, with instrumentalists like her, edits are unnecesary.

    Protools rules, but I prefer nowaday Logic, even in audio works and editing process. I think Logic sounds better than PT (maybe other topic ).

    Cheers... zepdave.
  13. supersonic C

    supersonic C Guest

    Greg seems to be spot on, in terms of time, feel, and YOUR time, getting the right drummer for the gig is paramount. If you're dealing with a band that is great live, but recorded-not so magical-spell it out. It's a tough call, but an edited drum track is just that, unless its loops that youre doing anyway. Also, where is the recording headed?
    Radio? A&R? Club booking? "Garage band" enthusiasts? Personal enjoyment? That answer may help you decide how much time/$$ to spend. Most of all, does the SONG ask for it?
  14. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    Hi Zepdave,

    How did you know I was married to Evelyn?

  15. Hey Greg,

    Give us some insight on snare drums used for recording, type, size, heads used (top and Bottom), snare wires (wide, narrow), not necessarily tuning but tension (top and bottom) How to get that "crack" sound, is it from overheads or close mic, etc?

  16. Greg Malcangi

    Greg Malcangi Member

    Oct 12, 2000
    << Give us some insight on snare drums used for recording, type, size, heads used (top and Bottom), snare wires (wide, narrow)...>>

    How long is a piece of string? There is no real answer to this, it all comes down to personal preference. There are many different snare drums on the market. Of which there are probably 50 or so that I would call professional quality. It's the same with heads, snares, tensions and mic positions. One is not neccesarily better than another, they all just provide variations of tone colour. Which combination is best for you depends entirely on the sound you are looking for. There is one more variable which complicates matters, the player. The same drum with the same sticks, heads, tuning etc., will sound different from player to player.

    My wife has about 10 different snare drums. The acoustics of the venue and the style of the piece she is playing dictates which snare drum she will use.

    << How to get that "crack" sound, is it from overheads or close mic, etc? >>

    I take it you are referring to a rimshot? If so, the biggest single factor is the player. A rimshot is usually created by the player hitting the rim and the head at the same time with the same stick. Getting the balance right between the amount of head and the amount of rim gives the clear "crack" sound but is very difficult to acheive baring in mind we are talking of a millimeter or less of difference on what is often a large full stroke. Even the very top players sometimes have difficulties getting the balance of a rimshot dead right.

    There is a cheat for getting the correct balance provided there is plenty of time in the part: One stick is laid across the rim and head and is then struck in the middle by the other stick.

    Dave, if you have any further questions on this subject you should start a new topic in the "Percussion" forum.

  17. zepdave

    zepdave Guest

    Sorry for my later replies... I have problems with my connections.

    I have to be honest... ... I encountered info of the relation between u & your wife when i was looking for info 'bout Evelyn (I don't remember now... I think a review of an album performed by her and "Greg produced", on a jazz magazine). I'll buy this cd in if available (only i've heard some parts of it).

  18. Injured Ear

    Injured Ear Guest

    Eric Wrote:
    << Then, once all the hits are in place (and edits checked....some nasty clicks can arise....crossfades can accomplish miracles), Audiosuite Duplicate all the tracks to give your hard drives a break. >>

    I was curious.. Generally I do "Consolidate selection [shift-option-3]" instead. Does this achieve the same result on Protools?
  19. Johnjm22

    Johnjm22 Guest

    When you guys are "fixing" live drum tracks what do you do about the overheads?

    I find that after I quantize the toms, snare, and kick it's slightly off with the overheads and sounds like crap!

    What am I supposed to do? Replace the overheads with samples? I imagine that would totally take away the feel.

    I know quantizing drum tracks has become a standard for the pro's nowadays, but I'm totally confused on how they do it with out throwing the OH's off.
  20. Screws

    Screws Active Member

    Feb 16, 2001
    Home Page:
    If I have to edit my drum tracks to fix some beats that are off, I usually edit all the tracks simultaneously, including the overheads.

    Even if you're only fixing a single snare beat, the other mics will have picked up enough of that snare hit to necessitate sliding it in all the other tracks as well.

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