Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Getting in Sync Part 2

**Begin Nerd Speak***

After recording our services last week via the new Motu/Digital Performer rig, I listened to all of it back and am happy to report that the lovely pops and crackles seem to be gone. There is still a signigicant learning curve for me and DP, but I'm making progress quickly. I mixed a song using some of the internal processing and BLARG, the compressors in Performer are sad. I'm going to try using the MasterWorks comps instead and see if they sound better. My fear is that they will eat so much CPU power that I may create problems. Some of what I am hearing is the console I realize but, my mixes from FOH sound better so far. Just need to find the groove. Despite the initial hickups and the inevitable "I sure wish I could do..." type of things, I am confident that between myself and my team we will crack this nut and give ourselves great opprotunities to have quality recordings of our services.

Continuing with the nerd speak, head over to Dave Rat's blog and check out his ideas and practices on sub cannons (and flying to Japan).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wild Hogs

A group of my friends from the church and I went out last night to see the movie Wild Hogs. A bit of dinner before the movie at Taco Bell (yes, I know thats dangerous) and sharing stories. We are pretty much wild hogs ourselves and felt the Taco Bell and movie just fit us well. The things you learn about people while at the Bell. It's amazing that God uses all these people for his kingdom, because we really are pretty goofy, myself included.

Pictured from left to right Kent (senior pastor), Reuben (drums & keys), Joel, Wayne(guitar), & Glenn(producer & IT director). Not pictured because he was late is Shawn who also plays drums. I love working and playing with these guys. The movie is a great laugh and we all enjoyed it.

Getting in sync

Back in 2000, long before my time here, the church built a new auditorium. As a part of that build they took some gear they had and added some new stuff in order to have a small studio. The setup was functional at the time but certainly nothing all that special. A Mackie 3208, four ADAT XT20’s and a pair of Mackie 824 monitors hold down the primary pieces. Since I have been here, I’ve added acoustic treatments to the control room as there were none before (scary). However, despite all my best efforts I have been unable to make the old ADAT XT20’s work correctly. Sometimes they would record and sometimes they would play back. I tried carefully cleaning them properly, new tapes, and just about everything I could think of other than changing the heads or buying new (used) ones. I finally gave up and the stuff has sat there doing nothing but mock me for many months.

Our church asks for our worship that they can take home regularly. I do record our FOH mix for our team and I am often surprised at its quality, but it’s still not something that I am comfortable giving to our people in general. I am not concerned with mistakes, but I am concerned with mix issues that come up when you are mixing for a live room and not for recorded playback. People are accustomed to listening to music in their cars and I want to give them an experience they enjoy and remember hearing live. Its not worship if it’s distracting.

Oh, it was frustrating to see the infrastructure, full iso-split, full patch bays, nice out-board gear including a Manley pre-amp, just collecting dust. We’ve changed so many things and have come so far over the past two years. We now have a worship leader who is a GREAT song writer along with a band that can really play and I wanted to be able to use this capability. I decided I would figure out a way to record and edit 24-32 tracks without spending much money and try to use as much of the gear we have as I possible. Hmm… a nice Mac G5 dual processor box I have, only being used occasionally for video as I much prefer Sony Vegas, would make a good platform. I’ve got 32 converters in those ADAT boxes, nothing amazing but very functional for what I need. Along comes the MOTU 2408Mk3and Digital Performer (wish I could afford ProTools) via eBay and I’m off and running, mostly.

It took a phone call to my good friend Jesse Jones to help me configure all this gear as I'm mostly clueless with a Mac. Last night I recorded our rehearsal to see how things would work and was thrilled to see all the tracks recording along with ease. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to all of Jesse’s advice and tried to use the digital sync clock riding on the optical lines as the reference for the system. The recording I made had lots of pops and fuzz on all the tracks but the first eight channels where the clock was originating. I grab another ADAT sync cable and attach the last ADAT sync out to the sync on the MOTU PCI-424 card and try again. This time all is quiet and clean. Lesson learned, again. I will record Sunday morning and see if I have everything working correctly. I sincerely hope and pray it’s right now. If all goes well I will be looking for a DAW controller of some kind. I’m open to suggestions if you have any. I may also move to Cubase as a DAW as it appears that it fits my work style better and I can move over to a Windows box with it if I need to. Long term I hope to loose the Mackie 3208 and move to something like the Focusrite Saffire or the MOTU 8pre. It will be exciting to see where this leads.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Its a small world

I took some time tonight to go have a look around at Experience Island, the new campus of LifeChurch.tv. While wondering around I meet a guy named Terry. We chatted for a while and I said the place looked great and I am looking forward to seeing events happen in the new place. He shared with me that he was on staff at LifeChurch.tv and come to find out I was talking with Terry Storch of The Blogging Church fame, which I'm reading now. How cool is that? Its unlikely that I would ever get a chance to meet him and talk with him one on one like that in any other environment. The new church has amazing potential.

I also got to meet Jason Curlee, a student ministry pastor in Texas. Always fun to meet new people.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Second Life Part 2

Back in November I wrote about some of my experiences in on-line worlds and my thoughts about starting a church in the virtual world of Second Life in this post. It seems I was not alone in my thinking. The always cutting edge team at Lifechurch.tv have decided to take the lead on creating a real church within the Second Life world. They have actually purchased an island and built the church there. In case you don't know, islands cost REAL dollars, not virtual ones. While this is not the first church in Second Life, its the first one that I am aware of that has roots in a solid evangelical church. I am excited to see where this endevor leads.

I wonder if they need a virtual tech director... :)