Meeting Topic: LIVE BROADCAST RECORDING
Moderator Name: Jay Yeary
Speaker Name: Malcolm Harper - Owner and president of Reelsound Recording Co. , Chet Himes, David Hough - Audio for Austin City Limits., Bill Johnson - Owner of Austin Records, Greg Klinginsmith - Engineer/producer for the University of Texas Longhorn/IMG Radio Network
Meeting Location: Mosaic Sound Collective, 6400 FM 969, Austin, TX 78724
Bill Johnson, Malcom Harper, David Hough, Greg Klinginsmith and Chet Himes all came together to share their collective insights into live broadcast recording. They also shared tales of their journey in Austin that began in the 1970's.
The talk was formed into three main sections; The past, the present, and their processes.
In the past, long before there was a professional audio scene in Austin, they pooled resources together and built their own. By building their own equipment they managed to form a remote recording rig to record shows. In the late 70s and early 80s they formed the first audio sales team in Austin. This got them access to the $150,000 consoles and $60,000 tape machines that were cost prohibitive due to tax credits as well as gave others a chance to buy the used gear at a fair price.
In the present they remarked on the myriad of changes that have occurred. ISDN is no longer being installed in most places and digital IP versions will replace it. Dante is leading the way for IP transmission and formats like AES67 and SMPTE 2110 are poised to allow a secure and stable IP solution. They are all quite hopeful for a digital format that have interoperability with any other digital system to prevent having protocols that can't talk to each other.
The general process of setting up for a show is similar for each member of the group. It generally consists of receiving a clients call, working out how to make the project happen, defining costs, sending a contract for a deposit, contacting a crew, contacting a road manager for stage plots and technical details on systems and splitting the audio, then repeating communication until the event.
Preparing for a show with a truck is a day of interfacing between a tv truck, talent, and satellite feeds.
For gear, it's important to be over-prepared. As Bill Johnson said, "If it takes two suitcases, you bring twelve.". Having an organized kit is essential so you leave and come home with the same kit after the gig.
For surround setups they often add outriggers and hall microphones. David Hough uses 8 Shure mx202 microphone to cover the room and has a decca tree where the middle of the crowd is. David often sends these to the musicians in ear monitors for monitoring.
They all agreed that one big difference between studio recording and live broadcast is learning to accept leakage. For broadcast you have to not only live with leakage, but make it work for you. Chet often deals with this by visualizing the stage, positioning instruments in the same way and not straying from the actual physical positions too much.
They still love their consoles, but see them as color boxes and effects.
All of them stress the importance of backup systems when recording live. Some employ an extra ProTools rig, Malcolm uses Radar systems, but all of them are keenly aware of how critical back up rigs are to recording anything live and being prepared for the inevitable issues that come up in a live setting.
We are all capable of excellence and put that into our products.
Overall, it was inspiring to hear how five men came together before a professional audio scene existed in Austin and ended up building one on their own. David Hough also offered inspiring words that "We are all capable of excellence and putting that excellence into our products.".
A video of this presentation will be uploaded to the AES archives in the near future.
Written By: Aaron Brown