Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I think I'm in sync

My long experiment with recording our worship services multi-track on Digital Performer is finally starting to prove fruitful. Its been difficult because of my siginificant time restraints. Sunday's come relentlessly and I have to make that my priority so spending time playing with the software and hardware has not been high on the list. The last couple of weeks things have come together nicely and I'm getting some quality mixes now. They are still not up to the level I really want but I think I'm having some equipment issues that I can't over come right now. I have budgeted for some quality outboard mic pres to go directly to the computer via fireware (probably going to go Focusrite). Hopefully by the end of the year I can make that happen. Till then I will use what I have and get some worship CD's made for our people. We get asked all the time for recordings of the music.

What I am discovering is that if I build templates that have all the general settings I need to mix with and keep those with every recording it makes the process much faster. (DUH!) Even saving the setting for all the plug-ins and recalling those is not fast enough. Now that I have done some mixes that I am comfortable with I have made templates with all the plug-ins so all I have to do is sit and hit play and off I go. Still some minor tweaking of course but its certainly faster this way. My next step is to really start using the automation in the software. I'm slowly getting away from using the EQ on the console and using only whats in the computer so the next step is to not use the analog faders. I've mentioned before how mixing with a mouse is no fun at all. There is just something about the feel of a fader that helps me be more in tune with what is happening, and its tons faster and easier than trying to click and hold a mouse button and move the on screen fader. Having said all that I need to do it so the console is only used for input and all the mix happens in the software. Thats what it is made for anyway. I still have not opened the manual for the software. I think that speaks volumes for the quality of the interface and its ease of use. Now I am to the point where I'm not sure how to do a few things (automation) so I do plan to read some over the weekend.

I also want to teach some of our voluteers how to use the system. A few of them have spent some time on it already. No reason for me to spend time on the recordings when there are perfectly capable people around. The plan would be to let them make all the initial settings and I'll give it a listen and then dump it to CD. What a great learning tool!

I'm curious if any of you do multi-track and how you do it? What gear do you use, your basic procedure, etc?

Do you Zoho?

**Begin computer nerd speak**

For sometime now I have thought that many people don't need all the features of a product like Microsoft Office. They want a solid word processor and a solid spreadsheet program, a good email client and calendar, and perhaps a few other little tools to do most of their work. Google has made a stab at creating a free, online set of office tools that are very functional, but still not up to what I think will make people not want to use the MS products. Recently I read about Zoho, a new set of browser based tools, what Robert Scoble calls Work 2.0, that I think are a much more fullfilled promise of what these products can look like.

Its nice that MS does provide a method for churches to purchase software at a huge discount, but when you start adding up ~$75 each for MS Office, it can still mean a big chunk of money to deal out. There will always be a need for the most feature rich products like Office but for most people they don't need or even want all that extra stuff. Today's churches can save money, have the ability to share information from ANYWHERE, and still get all the things done they need done with nothing more than a browser. When you see Dell selling systems with a Linux OS already installed, using an all online office suite becomes even more appealing, again savings hundreds of dollars.

I hope to see more options like this in the future. Not because I hate MS, just the opposite actually, but I do think that $400 for a desktop OS is crazy, and $200 for a basic wordprocessor is just as bad. MS does have some amazing products. Despite their flaws, Windows and all the other software that runs on it, is a solid platform. For churches not needing to spend the money, or for that matter, students, small business owners, and grandmothers, it just makes sense to use a good and free solution.

**End nerd speak**

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Are you a poser?

Pastor Kent had an idea for a video about being a biker, really more about being a poser biker. The idea was that we are sometimes just posing in life, not really being the people of God, just posing like one. I think he just wanted a good excuse to wear a leather jacket and ride a Harley. All the guys in the video do ride regularly, but not the hard core guys that are often associated with the life style. One of the guys, Glen, is on our church leadership board.
We had a ton of fun putting this together. My uber assistant Jeremy was a big help in shooting the footage. We even sat in the back of a pickup truck in order to shoot some of the scenes which turned out to be incredibly difficult. It has made me put a steady cam system on my list of things to get. We did manage to get a few good shoots in the truck but I was not able to use most of it.
The graphics in the video are all from Digital Juice. I customize the colors to what I wanted but the basic stuff all comes from a DJ product. If you don't already use them, I highly recommend all their stuff. Even the music track on the video is a custom mix of some of the DJ StackTraxx. Makes my life so much easier.