Friday, September 26, 2008

Wireless Upgrades Phase 1

This week we began the process of upgrading the wireless systems at Lake Pointe. We changed out the Shure U4 systems as well as a few UHF-R systems in our main auditorium to the Sennheiser 3732.

We also changed all the IEM and instrument wireless sytems as well. It was not as simple as I had hoped the process would go. Just the physical install took a bit more time that I would have thought. Lots of new cabling to deal with and learning the new systems. One funny moment happened during the install. We were trying to figure out how the battery packs for the SKM5200 hand helds work. There were 5 fairly intelligent tech people, each with one in hand, wondering how the batteries go in. It was pretty funny to watch us struggle. Yes, we did look for instructions, but could not find any information. We finally discovered they open like a PEZ dispenser. (Sorry I didn't take a picture.)

Once I got them all networked together and set IP addresses on all the 3732's, I started assigning frequencies per the chart that Chris from Sennheiser gave us using the Wireless System Manager software. Unfortunately, several of the frequencies we had been given we no longer available. I fired up the frequency sweep function in the software and found some open channels near the ones we had been given that were in the green. The Sennheiser software worked great in helping me find those available frequencies. In general, the upgrade went very well. It just turned out to take much longer than expected.

The initial testing of the new 5200 vocal mics with the Neumann capsules went without a hitch. I was very please with the way they sound. The new 5212 beltpacks are so small its sick. (Also visible in the picture of the vocal mics in the picture above.) Our pastors have not seen them yet. I'm sure they will be happy with the size.

Over the next couple of weeks we will roll out the new systems to the rest of the of the building and the other campuses.

If you are wondering about the old systems, the UHF-R systems are moving to one of our other campuses as they are in the 500Mhz range and will be good for some time to come. The older U4 systems will be sent to some of our foreign mission partners where they can be used without much worry.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Stage Set

We put up a new stage set for the upcoming series this week. The video wall is similar to what we have done before, but we built custom frames for he Coroplast and separated each panel. The floor of the stage is also covered in the same material and looks like an ice rink. It reflects the light in some very cool ways. I hope to shoot some video this weekend to post.

Thanks to Carlos for hosting Creative Chaos. I love seeing what the Church is up to all over the world.

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Next step mixing

Training volunteers to better understand how to take the steps beyond the basics of mixing audio is one of my favorite aspects of my job. I love to help volunteers succeed. Its probably one of the reasons I enjoy being a Producer so much. For the rest of this post I am taking the perspective that you have a solid grasp of the basics for mixing. In other words, you have been doing it a while and want to dig a little deeper.

Two foundational principles I use when mixing:
1. It’s all about the low end.
2. It’s all about relationships.

How often have you heard a mix that the low end was a mess? Perhaps there was to much in general, maybe the vocals had a boxy, muddy tone. Maybe it’s the lack of definition in the bass guitar or it’s not there at all. There is so much acoustic energy in the lower frequencies they must be dealt with carefully and with intention. Virtually everything all the stage has some energy below 200 hz. This is the critical area of your mix. It’s all about the low end, get it right and everything else is much easier. It starts with system tuning, however for the sake of this post, I will assume you have things in order. System tuning is for another day and most likely beyond the scope of what I can do in a blog.
The two foundational principles are closely tied together when reality steps in. You can’t work on the low end without thinking about the relationships of your mix. If you think about the relationship of the kick drum and bass, how are the two working together within the low frequencies? I like to give the kick drum the very bottom end of the spectrum say 50-80hz and let the bass ride on top of that. One trick is to add a bit of 400-500 to your bass to let have more note definition. This is so dependant on your particular instruments and system so I hesitate to get too specific here. That’s a good place to start in finding the low end issues you may experience. Take time to dig into the relationship between kick and bass, it’s worth the effort.
Relationships Matter…
One simple way to help improve your mix is to examine the relationship between almost any two inputs and groups of inputs. If we think about volume level and volume level only in the relationship it will help you build the foundation for a better mix. This is not about making everything the SAME level, but finding the balance between inputs. Starting with the kick and bass as above, how do they fit together? Do they each have a distinctive tone and does either of them stick out? Now start working through the entire console, listening to just two things at a time, kick-snare, snare-toms, snare-hh, snare-acoustic guitar, bass-electric guitar, bass-acoustic, bass-vocal, snare-vocal, electric-acoustic, etc. Take groups of inputs and do the same process, drums-guitars, guitars-vocals and on thru the mix. Now for the fun part, you should to this all while listening to the entire mix running, not actually doing them separately with everything else off. Listen in your mind to two things at once and just those two. It may take a little practice but in the end you will get to the point where you can do this exercise in a few seconds. Up to now we have focused mostly on level in the relationships, but it extends to the EQ of everything as well. However, I am taking the perspective that you have each thing dialed in to a reasonable place already. You now have some foundation from which to work. Next post will be taking the relationship concept and adding dimension and depth and how to visualize those concepts.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Creative Chaos

Thanks to Los, I'll add to the Creative Chaos today. We have been doing a series called Heart Attack over the past few weeks. It is about understanding how things like guilt, anger, prejudice, and jealousy. Kevin and the rest of the video team put together a great opener for the Jealousy message. You can check out the rest of the message at the Lake Pointe site.

Jealousy from JasonCole on Vimeo.