22 Oct

Sydney Recording Studio, Juan Carmona and the Sydney Opera House!

Sydney Recording Studio

Juan Carmona performing with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.

Crash Symphony Productions, our Sydney recording studio, had the honour of recording the internationally acclaimed Flamenco guitarist, Juan Carmona, at the Sydney Opera House. Sinfonia Flamenca was the official name of the event. The concert took place in early September and Juan was accompanied by the wonderful and flawless Sydney Symphony Orchestra. This is the story of that recording and how our engineers worked to capture a beautiful video of the event.

When the Sydney Opera House became a Sydney Recording Studio

The highest temple of musical performance in the southern hemisphere is the Sydney Opera House. It matches most other venues around the globe in both sound quality and architectural uniqueness. For any music lover to work there is an immense honour and extremely exciting.

There are some challenges in recording at the Sydney Opera House. Understandably, they do not permit cameras to be used on stage. This was the first challenge. It is important to the management of the Sydney Opera House that guests not be interrupted by cameras that are visible on the stage while the symphony is performing. Anything that would be considered a distraction from the musical performance is strictly forbidden. This means that our video crew required positions that were away from the audience. We needed to have very powerful high-definition telescopic lenses. These lenses would allow us to get in close to the musicians from far away.

How we used a Telescopic lens to get in close to Juan

In Juan’s case this is particularly important. Juan is royalty in the flamenco guitar world. The way his hands and fingers move across the fret board of his classical guitar was awe inspiring. We really wanted to capture that magic. Using the new Sony 100-400mm G Master series lens allowed us to zoom in close to his hands and make the viewer feel as though they were right on stage with him as he performed.

Our star engineer is Stewart Havill. Stew is the guy in our Sydney recording studio that has the most experience with videography. He operated the telescopic lens. Stew coupled the telescopic lens with a wide angle lens. This lens’ purpose was to capture the entire orchestra. We did this in 4k so that we could crop into sections if we need to do so. This wide angle was setup with a 4k recorder that allowed us to set and forget the camera as it recorded the whole performance.

The third and last camera was setup in the back of the auditorium looking down on to the stage. It had the eagle eye view. We were able to move between these spectacular angles quite seamlessly.

About the Performance

Importantly, there were two sections to this concert. The first was a small ensemble of seven musicians. Juan was the focal point and leader of the ensemble. Worthy of note, Juan had a marvellous flamenco dancer, Karen Lugo, that would take to the dance floor in front of the musicians. She had as much musical impact as the surrounding band members with her feet clapping away to the rhythm of the music. Her confidence and her musical grace was immense and, there’s no doubt, she certainly complimented Juan’s magical flamenco guitar work.

The second half of the concert saw the full symphony orchestra introduced into the musical equation. David Robertson conducted the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. He brought them into synch with the latin group with absolute command and ease.

Thankfully the Sydney Opera House already has extremely high-end recording equipment. For an evening it became the superlative Sydney recording studio. French engineer, Lauren Serrano, organised capturing the audio captured by the orchestral microphones while the CSP team focused on the videography.

It is worth mentioning that the audio mixer and video editor. Lauren Serrano worked on the audio mixing of the recording. Luca, our video editor and sound engineer, worked on the final cut of the video at Crash Symphony Productions. Luca did a wonderful job and put in a significant effort. His skills in videography are completely remarkable. He used a lot of slow-fade cuts to show off the multiple angles, simultaneously. For these kinds of concerts this is a commonly used technique.

Contact us if you need a concert recorded

In conclusion, Juan’s performance at the Sydney Opera House was nothing less than dazzling, and as a result, we had a ball capturing the event. If you would like your concert videoed and recorded by our Sydney Recording studio contact us here. Alternatively, call us on 0408 300 402.


17 Oct

Bridge of Clay Audiobook Sydney Recording Studio

Bridge of Clay is the new novel by Australia author Markus Zusak. He earned international acclaim with his last novel, The Book Thief. Bridge of Clay is essentially autobiographical, however, elements are fictionalised. The audiobook was produced in our Sydney Recording Studio, Crash Symphony Productions. Our engineers worked closely with Markus (who narrated his novel) and the wonderful people at Pan Macmillan. It was a mighty effort by all people involved and this is the story of the recording process.

About Markus Zusak

The first thing that strikes you when you meet Markus Zusak is how young he is. When you think of an internationally famous and successful writer the literary-novice in me tends to think of some wise old sage. He looked the same age as me! Well, he is a bit older than me but not by much. The second thing that really stands out about Markus is how nice he is. He’s an absolute gentleman, incredibly polite, humble, and friendly. He has a great sense of humour which completely diminishes any star-stuck nerves you might feel prior to meeting him. Thirdly, he has a lot to say and it’s well thought-out, too. You can tell he thinks a lot and very deeply and this is certainly why he’s such a good writer.

Lastly, his attention to detail and work ethic is very much above average. It’s immediately apparent that this is a big part of why he’s been so successful. When he entered the recording studio booth he worked in there for hours and hours on end without exiting. Most narrators start getting tired and generally ‘over it’ after 4 hours. On some days Markus recorded for up to 8 hours with very minimal breaks.

The emotional attachment

We have recorded a lot of audiobooks in our Sydney recording studio. In fact, audiobooks and podcasts are becoming our specialty. Bridge of Clay was a very different experience to any other audiobook that we’ve record and here’s why.

The book was largely autobiography, but it was packaged in such a way that it wasn’t completely transparent. It was fictionalised. I can only guess that it was written in this way to allow Markus to fully explore the emotion of his story and possibly to protect the real people in his life. This is my guess. It is a really emotional story and it draws you in. There were times when you could hear the intense emotion welling up inside Markus as he narrated the story in our recording studio. This is a unique situation for our recording studio, and as a result, there was a higher sense of purpose attached to this audiobook production. We wanted the absolute best result for him and to honour the people in the story.

“The Beast”

Our editor, Adam Xycore, needs a shout out. His effort throughout this book was nothing short of epic and very much unsung. He didn’t get to meet Markus but was working on the project as the chapters were being recorded. Bridge of Clay was one of the longest audiobooks that we have recorded in our Sydney recording studio. It was so large, in fact, that Adam began referring to the book as ‘the beast’. He spent so much time surgically editing and scanning the audio to make sure that the quality of the audiobook was second to none.

Stew Havill had the job of recording the audiobook with Markus. Stew is a particularly gifted audio recording engineer. We’re extremely lucky to have him working in our Sydney recording studio. Stew has a very humorous and friendly personality that gelled very well with Markus. Basically, they got on with each other wonderfully.

The girls from Pan Macmillan deserve a warm mention. The audiobook was organised and overseen by Victoria Stilwell and Kate Faherty from Pan Macmillan. They were both very lovely to work with and extremely professional. Kate would come in to the recording studio daily to help produce the audiobook as it was being recorded. There’s no doubt that it would not be the polished success that it is without their direct involvement and oversight.

It was my job to proof the novel. Once a chapter had been recorded it would be sent to Adam. Then Adam would send the edited chapters to me. I would listen through the chapters and create a document indicating where I thought there could be quality improvements or if there was an error that I had discovered. Once all the chapters were done in this manner any re-recording was done by Markus and Stewart in the recording studio. Adam would then act on the ‘re-edit’ recommendations and then I would do a full re-listen. So, yep, we all listened to the book twice. We now know it well.

The Generosity of Mr Zusak!

As you can imagine, completing this audiobook was very cathartic for us all and particular Markus. This was the final stage in the process of releasing this huge novel. It took him almost 14 years to write and it was a huge relief for him when it was completed. Markus was also extremely generous to us all when he finished the book. He gave us all signed copies of the book and of his original international bestseller, The Book Thief. He also gave me a copy of the famous epic, The Odyssey by Homer. This epic features heavily in Bridge of Clay. Not only did he give these to us, in the recording studio, but he gave copies of his books to my mum! Mum’s a huge fan!

We recommend Bridge of Clay to everyone and hope you all enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed recording it!

Bridge of Clay

Stewart Havill with Markus Zusak. This photo was taken during the recording of the audiobook of Bridge of Clay. This is Markus’ new book release.

25 Jun

Recording a Song called Wounds

Recording a song can be a challenging process. As if the songwriting part wasn’t hard enough! Bringing life to a song in a recording studio is both a technical and creative journey. When the end is reached it is the best feeling that I, in my short life, can think of. But recording a song has some challenges and I would like to use a project that I’m working on at the moment as an example. The song is called Wounds. It’s been written for a while, and even recorded once before, but the new version is proving a little tricky. Read on and I’ll explain why!

Recording a Song

James Englund is an Australian Singer-Songwriter Producer.

Recording a Song can lead you down infinite pathways…. but you can only take one!

The main issue that a producer will come to find when they begin recording a song is that there are a million different ways that it can be recorded. You can choose different tempos and keys, choose a traditional acoustic arrangement or a modern sound. All the different choices that the producer makes along the way make a huge difference to how the song will be at the end of the production. And that’s the way people will come to know the tune. The way they hear it. So, you’re asking “what’s the problem?”.

Here’s my first major issue when it comes to recording a song that I’ve written; I usually default to recording it the way that I wrote it on a certain instrument. So, if I wrote the song on an acoustic guitar, it’s so much easier, intellectually and creatively, to just go right ahead and record it on an acoustic guitar and maybe add a rhythm section later. After doing hundreds of tracks like that for many clients over the years I have realised, more than most, how boring that approach really is. It may have worked well in the 1960s but now it just puts me to sleep.

One Approach to think about

The trick, for me, is finding an interesting instrument or effect or melodic device to make the song sound unique. That’s really hard to do because it means I need to think about it for a long time. Often, I look at the lyrics and wonder what I can do to bring out the emotion of the song. I search through my mind, and even other resources like Youtube, to find something that will be really unusual for the listener.

Alternatively, it helps to have a track that is inspirational and similar to where you want to go. For my song, Wounds, I love the sound of John Mayer’s Gravity. I’ve listen to the song a few times. I feel there are similarities in the message and vibe. I’ve analysed John’s song a few times and wondered what it was that made it so emotionally impacting for me.

As I mentioned above, what I really love is that he doesn’t just default to the boring old acoustic guitar (Not that I hate acoustic guitar. I mean I spend my life playing it live and for pleasure). Instead, he has an organ / pad sound that brings the song in and holds down the main chordal harmony. It’s a sound that is somewhat familiar to us all as listeners, but yet it has an element to it which is different. The electric guitar plays the main riff over the top. This brings us to our next idea, the riff!

Recording a song with a unique Riff

Some call it cliché but I’m a real sucker for a riff. I love putting this kind of content into my music and it seems to be a reoccurring theme, pardon the pun, in many popular songs. A melodic stamp, if you will. My song, Wounds, certainly has this element. However, I’ve written the song on an acoustic guitar and I immediately recorded the song on acoustic guitar. Straight away it felt very meat-and-potatos.

I think that this is why I looked for a reference track. To guide me away from creating another boring song that has a stock-standed arrangement. Doing that is a sure way to have your song go completely forgotten and unnoticed. However, over the years, it’s always been the hardest thing for an artist to do. Most new artists can be very afraid to do something with their music that is dangerously original. It scares them and makes them feel like they’re doing something wrong.

Let’s make this first post – part 1!

I have so much more to say about this topic. In the next post I’m going to look at perfectionism and how it is the great white shark that feeds on songs. I’ve learned (after recording many songs for other artists) that keeping the ball rolling, and not getting caught up on details, is the key to success! This has certainly been my problem when I’ve worked on my own songs. It’s as much about psychology as it is about music. Until next time, happy producing!

03 May

Recording Studio: Mick jagger Part 5

Recording Studio Sydney: “We have performed in many special places during our long career, but this show in Havana will be a milestone for us, and, we hope, for all our friends in Cuba, too,” the band said in a statement.

The show at Havana’s Ciudad Deportivo sports arena was the band’s first concert in Cuba and part of its 2016 South American tour.

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Recording Studios: Mick jagger Part 4

Recording Studios: While screen success escaped him, Jagger remained a popular rock star. The Stones had several hit albums in the 1970s and early ’80s, including Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main St. (1972), Some Girls (1978), Emotional Rescue (1980) and Tattoo You (1981). But by the mid-1980s, the relationship between Jagger and Richards had become increasingly strained. Jagger focused much of his energy on a solo career with mixed results. While his first effort, 1985’s She’s the Boss, sold well enough to go platinum, his second album Primitive Cool (1987) failed to interest music buyers.

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Recording Studios Sydney : Mick jagger Part 3

Recording Studios Sydney: By the end of the decade, Jagger and the rest of the band were enjoying huge success. Beggars Banquet was released in 1968 and featured a straightforward rock style. One of its singles, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” hit the No. 1 spot on the U.K. charts and reached the top 5 in the U.S.

In 1969, the Stones went through several big changes. Jones left the group that June after his many drug arrests prevented him from leaving the country for a U.S. tour. He was replaced by 20-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor. Jones was found drowned in his pool less than a month later. The coroner’s report found that Jones was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of his death, and ruled his passing as “death by misadventure.” In response to Jones’s untimely demise, the Stones performed a free concert in Hyde Park on July 5, 1969, two days after their former bandmate’s death. Originally scheduled as an opportunity to present their new guitarist, the group dedicated the concert to Jones.

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02 May

Sydney Recording Studio: Mick jagger Part 2

Sydney Recording Studio: Jagger, Richards and Taylor soon joined up with Jones, who wanted to start his own group. Pianist Ian Stewart was also an early member of what would become the Rolling Stones. By 1963, Charlie Watts had joined the band as its drummer and Taylor departed, replaced by Bill Wyman. Stewart, however, stayed on to serve as road manager, as well as playing and recording with the band. Under the direction of their manager Andrew Loog Oldham, the Rolling Stones were marketed as a group of wild and rough rockers. The group’s wild style helped them land a deal with Decca Records. Jagger was a key ingredient in the band’s growing success, attracting audiences with his stage antics and sex appeal.

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Sydney Recording Studios: Mick jagger Part 1

Sydney Recording Studios: Born Michael Phillip Jagger on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, England, Mick Jagger, the lead singer of the Rolling Stones, has become a rock legend, delighting fans for more than four decades. Leaving the London School of Economics to start a band with Keith Richards, Jagger took the Rolling Stones to the top of the music world with major hits like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Angie” and “Miss You,” propelling the band and himself to a status unknown by most performers.

Sydney Recording Studios: Early Life and Musical Influences

Singer, songwriter, actor and producer Michael Phillip Jagger was born on July 26, 1943, in Dartford, England. As the lead singer of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger has become a rock legend known for his gritty, blues-influenced songs and charismatic stage presence. He has delighted a legion of fans for more than four decades.

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28 Apr

Video Production Sydney: Stanley Kubrick Part 2

Video Production Sydney: Kubrick made 10 feature films from 1957 to 1999, his early releases from that period including the acclaimed Spartacus (1960); Lolita (1962), based on the novel by Vladimir Nabokov; and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).

Denied official cooperation from the U.S. armed services during the filming of Dr. Strangelove, Kubrick went on to construct sets from photographs and other public sources.

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Corporate Video Production Sydney: Stanley Kubrick Part 1

Corporate Video Production Sydney: Born in New York City on July 26, 1928, Stanley Kubrick worked as a photographer for Look magazine before exploring filmmaking in the 1950s. He went on to direct a number of acclaimed films, including Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), A Clockwork Orange (1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Kubrick died in England on March 7, 1999.

Corporate Video Production Sydney: Stanlet Kubrick Younger Years

Famed filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was born in New York City on July 26, 1928, and grew up in the Bronx, New York, where his father, Jacques Kubrick, worked as a doctor and his mother, Sadie (Perveler) Kubrick, was a housewife. He had a younger sister, Barbara.

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