Tag Archives: James Englund

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.

 

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!

13 Apr

Recording Studio and an RCA 77dx

Recording Studio Gods were surely looking down on us this week! We fatefully acquired a beautiful vintage RCA 77dx ribbon microphone. The story of how this microphone became ours is certainly worth sharing.

Recording Studio Luck at the Op Shop!

My mother, her old mum, and all her two sisters, are avid trawlers of Sydney’s op shops. There’s a lot in Sydney. When I was younger I used to tag along to “Vinnie’s” to see what little finds there may be waiting to be found. Fast-forward a few decades and now there’s a group called LifeLIne. They’re basically a charity. They take donations of old and unused goods, sell them, and then help the poor.

This week I woke up one morning to a text picture my mother had taken of an old microphone in a LifeLine shop. I instantly recognised it. It was an RCA 77dx Ribbon microphone. These microphones are iconic microphones both to look at and how they sound. They are well known for being used on many Elvis and Bing Crosby recordings. They have a particular sound to them which is impossible to emulate without the real microphone being available. When you see pictures of Elvis in a Recording Studio it’s usually with one of these microphones in front of him.

Recording Studio Recording Studio Recording Studio

My Reaction to the Finding!

I thought “there’s no way this could be true!”. So I went up to the shop and spoke to the girl who had it in a locker. She had certainly done her research. The microphone didn’t have an XLR cable attached to it. So I couldn’t use it in the Recording Studio immediately. She was charging a third of what these microphones sell for on Ebay and they all come from America! Getting one to Australia would be painfully expensive. On the price tag it said “ONO”. Without hustling I asked how much she was prepared to shift on the price. A lot! I couldn’t believe it.

I left the shop and made some phone calls and I called the microphone Gurus of Australia that I know very well. Both Gunter Wagner and Glen Phimister were very surprised to hear about the find. After consulting Glen he suggested that I “couldn’t really go wrong” in purchasing the microphone for the price they were offering. So I made the buy!

Assessing the Quality of the RCA 77dx

The main concern with the microphone was with the quality of the internal electronics. Ribbon microphones are extremely simple microphones. The likelihood of not being able to restore it to working order was very minimal. When Glen opened up the microphone he couldn’t believe the quality of the microphone. He felt that it had never been used. It was as healthy on the inside as it looked on the outside. Basically unused! The one thing required was to install a lead so the microphone could be used. I left it with Glen.

A day later I get a call from Guru Glen. “I’ve finished with your mic”, he said. “How does it sound?”, I urged! “It sounds great! To be honest, I really don’t think this microphone has ever been used!”. The Recording Studio Gods were on our side this time. I was over the moon. I can’t wait to use this microphone on some records and get that old school vintage sound the proper way. It was a great week for our Recording Studio Crash Symphony Productions!

If you would like to record with our ever growing array of vintage gear call us on 02 9953 7686 or contact us at [email protected]

 

06 Apr

Sydney Recording Studio for Home

As a commercial recording studio Crash Symphony Productions often get enquiries from people with very small budgets. When they learn of our rates they sometimes freak out! As a result, we’ve actually gotten really good at giving budding musicians advice on how they can start working on recording at home. You may think that this is counter-intuitive to business? Well, actually, it’s not. We’re going to begin a series of articles that repeats this advice that we give to those callers. We’ll explain why it actually helps us all in the long run. And not for the reasons you may think. Read on to learn more about producing your own music in your own Sydney Recording Studio.

Why it help everyone if you set up your own Sydney Recording Studio

Here are some reasons why it helps us to give these callers advice. Firstly, the more you know about music production the easier it is to communicate with engineers and music producers that may one day help you. This helps get the results that you want in the studio. Of course, we do our best to communicate in layman’s terms but when someone requests ‘echo’, and what they really want is reverb, it gets tough. Secondly, when musicians have a chance to record at home it helps them work out what they really want on their recording. People who are new to recording often have no idea about the process, no idea how to communicate what they want, and no understanding of how long the process can take. Thirdly, if a musician is able to work on their own music at home it gives them a chance to take the project as far as they can. When they do get to a point where they need professional help they are more aware of exactly what it is that we can do to help them.

About Logic Pro X

The first thing we begin with is the DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. This is where all the action happens inside your computer. It’s the program where you record your audio. Think of it as your canvas. For many people out there this is super obvious, but some people don’t even know about these programs. Our Sydney Recording Studio, Crash Symphony Productions, works predominantly in Logic Pro X. This is a program that is now exclusively an Apple program. It’s extremely cheap and you get a huge amount of bang-for-the-buck. It’s a big program, too. The reality is that most engineers and producers won’t even use all the functionality that Logic Pro X offers. The key is to learn about what you want to achieve and aim for that. There’s a mammoth amount of learning material on Youtube that you’ll never have a problem learning how to do something.

Sydney Recording Studio

About Pro Tools

The next big program that our Sydney Recording Studio also owns is Pro Tools. This was one of the first audio production programs. It is found in almost all the large recording studios because they adopted this program very early when studio recording changed over from analogue tape recording to digital recording. There’s no doubt the Pro Tools is a powerful program. We find that we only use it for when we are working with UK or American film companies. They send us big Pro Tools Projects and then we record the actors into those projects and send them back. We wouldn’t recommend people who are starting out building their own Sydney Recording Studio to invest in this program. Support for the software is expensive and difficult to get, it’s an expensive program for what it offers, and it is hard to learn. Logic Pro X blows it out of the water.

Sydney Recording Studio

About Ableton Live

The last big player that we’ll talk about is Ableton Live. This is a seriously strong contender for your first DAW. It all depends on your genre of music. If you’re into electronic, hip-hop, “In-the-Box” styles of music then this is probably the program for you. We have found that a lot of young producers who create this type of music are using this program. So many, in fact, that we were forced to purchase the program for our recording studio. One of our young-gun producers, Adam, is a guru in this program and so we found that he uses it a lot.

Sydney Recording Studio

There are other great programs out there that are useful like Cubase and Reaper, and many more. However, one of the great things about recording on computer is being able to take the project around to different studios, track some content directly into your project, and then bring it home. If you choose a more obscure program as your DAW it is more difficult to do this. Our clients, who use logic, can send us the Logic Pro X projects. We can open these up just as they are on their home computer and continue working on the project. If they want us to mix or master it’s a lot easier when there is some kind of DAW compatibility between your home studio and the commercial recording studio. There’s no doubt that there are ways around this issue if it becomes a hurdle. However, the workflow is a lot better for all when we can open up your project the way it was in your bedroom.

Next, we’re going to look at what you might need to record into your DAW in your Sydney Recording Studio.

For more information about our Sydney Recording Studio contact [email protected] or call 02 9953 7686.

25 Nov

Audiobook: ‘Mythos’ by Stephen Fry

What Audiobook Are We Listening To?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, we’re listening to Mythos as written and read by Stephen Fry. This audiobook brings to life the classic Greek myths, retold in Stephen Fry’s inimitable voice.

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01 Nov

Audiobook: ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A.A. Milne

What Audiobook Are We Listening To?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, we’re listening to Winne the Pooh, written by A.A. Milne and read by a cast including Judi Dench and Stephen Fry. This audiobook dramatises in vivid life the classic book. It’s an award-winning dramatisation, and certainly the best audio adaptation of the books to date.

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17 Oct

Audiobook: ‘The Last Unicorn’ by Peter S. Beagle

What Audiobook Are We Listening To?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, we’re listening to The Last Unicorn written by Peter S. Beagle and read by the very author. This audiobook brings to life Beagle’s classic magical tale of grief and loss.

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24 Sep

Corporate Video Production: Mother! (2017)

Corporate Video Production: What Film Are We Watching?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, in order to inform our approach to corporate video production, we’re watching Mother! the brand new Aronofsky film features Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem.

Corporate Video Production: Mother! (2017)

Corporate Video Production: Mother! (2017)

Lawrence and Bardem play a couple, marked by a significant age difference. He’s a poet, and she’s an artist in her own right, and becomes a literal creator by having a child, and this is contrasted with artistic creation, so that there are three things: art, the house, life. This stands for the three different realms. Is is an interesting exploration of the ideas of the muse and female disposibility, and what it’s like to be in a relationship with a very particular sort of man. It’s a literalised metaphor in form and style, and while a lot of the criticisms about it are that it’s too on the nose, I think it justifies itself very well. It’s shot beautifully, and the sound editing is really interesting. It results in a very visceral filmic experience.

Female creativity is characterised as self-sacrificial and giving, in contrast to male creativity, which is life-taking, selfish, turned inward. It’s a really interesting story to bring to the screen, especially in such a visceral way. It makes sense that it’s a horror movie, because it is a horrific experience, and it happens every day. And it’s not really talking about or explored. It’s sad that a male director has to make a movie about it in order for it to be taken seriously, I can imagine if a woman had the exact same film it would have been laughed at and dismissed and too self-pitying, hyperbolic, hysterical, etc,. I think that’s quite significant.

Aronofsky must have learnt a lot from shooting his previous film Black Swan about a ballerina’s descent into psychosis, because his flowing camera-work as it tracks Lawrence is beautifuly fluid and has something of  dancing flow about it.

We thoroughly recommend Mother! 

17 Sep

Audiobook: ‘How to be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use’ by Randy J. Paterson

What Audiobook Are We Listening To?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, we’re listening to How to be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use written by Randy J. Paterson and read by Stephen Paul Auldrige. This humorously named audiobook is a guide of what not to do if you want to be healthy and as a result: happy.

Audiobook: 'How to be Miserable' by Randy J. Paterson

Audiobook: ‘How to be Miserable’ by Randy J. Paterson

This video by CGP Grey on YouTube is a great introduction to some of the fundamental points the book makes:

Publisher’s Summary

In How to Be Miserable, psychologist Randy Paterson outlines 40 specific behaviors and habits which – if followed – are sure to lead to a lifetime of unhappiness. On the other hand, if you do the opposite, you may yet join the ranks of happy people everywhere!

There are stacks upon stacks of self-help books that will promise you love, happiness, and a fabulous life. But how can you pinpoint the exact behaviors that cause you to be miserable in the first place? Sometimes when we’re depressed, or just sad or unhappy, our instincts tell us to do the opposite of what we should – such as focusing on the negative, dwelling on what we can’t change, isolating ourselves from friends and loved ones, eating junk food, or overindulging in alcohol. Sound familiar?

This tongue-in-cheek guide will help you identify the behaviors that make you unhappy and discover how you – and only you – are holding yourself back from a life of contentment. You’ll learn to spot the tried-and-true traps that increase feelings of dissatisfaction, foster a lack of motivation, and detract from our quality of life – as well as ways to avoid them.

So, get ready to live the life you want (or not?). This fun, irreverent guide will light the way.

©2016 Randy J. Patterson (P)2016 Wetware Media

Audiobook Details

Corporate Video Production: Lost in Translation (2003)

Corporate Video Production: What Film Are We Watching?

This week at Crash Symphony Productions, in order to inform our approach to corporate video production, we’re watching Lost in Translation (2003) by Sofia Coppola, starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen as an unlikely friendship between a young and ignored woman, and an old, lonely actor stuck in an alienating marriage. It’s set beautifully in Tokyo, where the culture shock is played to dazzling effect.

It’s a stunning film, with an entrancing, hypnotic pace, and the lonliness of the two characters is made palpable but the stunning cinematograhy and editing and direction of Sofia Coppola. It’s incredibly non-verbal, but very well written.

Corporate Video Production: Lost In Translation (2003)

Corporate Video Production: Lost In Translation (2003)

The film features beautiful and slow-moving shots of Tokyo. It’s part of a swathe of excellent films that came out in the early 2000s. It remains as one of the best and most memorable, and it’s still watched and admired today, and it stands to become a classic. It’s one of my favourites.

Of course, the things to which the title refers to as being ‘lost in translation’ are multiple in nature, ranging from the obvious to the very subtle. The tensions, interpersonal and emotional, are foregrounded by the absence of dialogue, which adds another element to the mis-translations of the film. Not only are Bob and Charlotte lost in a culture and language that is foreign to them, but they are also lost within themselves and their own frameworks of their lives, which have fallen apart slowly around them.

Corporate Video Production: Lost In Translation (2003)

Corporate Video Production: Lost In Translation (2003)

Details

Country:

USA | Japan

Language:

English | Japanese | German | French

Release Date:

9 January 2004 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Perdidos en Tokio See more »