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Let's talk preproduction!

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by Heabow, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Hey

    I think preproduction is the key for a successful production and I personally always give advices to bands way before they enter the studio about how they should work their songs, how to think the tempos, etc. but then 90% of the recording time, I find myself teaching them how to play their own songs and fix writing mistakes actually. Details such as kick not being played properly to the riffs, fancy bass lines, bad tempos and no vocal arrangements are the main things I have to face everytime. And when its time to record the real stuff it's often very tricky to make drastic changes (mainly because musicians have to be familiar with the new way of playing and/or thinking their song...)

    So it makes me think about setting up a recording pack that would include preproduction as well and this leads me to wonder how do you guys manage this particular side of work? Do you always include preproduction into the recording time/price - no exception - or do you just offer this as an additional service? Do you consider it's not your business after all as the musicians have to be well prepared by their own before entering the studio? What is your "routine" for preproduction with the bands? I mean, they play live, you record, then you discuss about the changes that have to be made, re-record, etc.? Instrumental versions first, then vocals...? I'm talking about metal and rock bands here.

    Feel free to share you thoughts and methods!


    EDIT - To make it clearer, this thread is not really about advices I'd need on how to work with the bands, etc. It's more - and mainly - about sharing our different approaches and working habits on this particular artistic/technical/pricing side of the production ;)
     
  2. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    I'd get yourself down to their practice sessions, you can usually see certain flags there that are easier to solve in that environment. I agree 100% that it can save millions of problems by only recording the song when it's ready.
     
  3. nezvers

    nezvers Beast

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    Guitar pro/ Tux Guitar!
     
  4. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    If I'm actually recording/mixing/producing a whole record I'll do pre pro for sure.

    It is usually a giant disaster before that point anyways. The usual things happen, like wrong notes being played, parts not lining up, and my personal favorite.... 8 note triplets being played over a 16th note pattern cause the drummer/bass player can't tell they are playing it wrong.

    As far as routine, I generally try to at least get a demo from the band of the material, and see them perform at their jamspace/rehearsal spot. Use this to check out gear and who is the weak link(s) in the band. Als a good time to discuss tempos. On occation it goes way further then this and I start suggesting actual structure/arrangement changes.

    At a certain point either the band gets on board, or they don't. If they don't, I have walked from a project or 2 cause it was just too much work.

    I agree with the general sentiment here that spending a few evenings (For free) working witht he band at their spot will save you so much hassle latter
     
  5. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Care to elaborate? Do you mean you, as a producer, work with the band on the songs using GP/TG??
     
  6. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Thanks guys. I do ask for demos now and I also ask for MIDI bass parts. It leads the band to really know what the bass does - and in some cases, it reveals some bad points! - and it gives me a 100% tuned line to record guitars along. But although I always worked so much more than I was paid for during the actual production, I'm incline now to offer a pack that include a preprod for free, at least for good bands. And you made a good point Chris, seeing the band perform allows to detect the weakest link - the one you'll have to manage in a certain way or "fix" ;)
     
  7. Sloan

    Sloan Sounds like shit!

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    Bands around here literally only want to book one day to record a whole project and and I'm lucky I get anything done. I give them a huge list of how to be prepared and what exactly preproduction is, why you need click tracks, what you can do before hitting the studio to save time etc, and still they don't get it. I am really tired of it. I would LOVE to be able to have a band hire me to work with them for more than one week even just to get everything RIGHT.
     
  8. greyskull

    greyskull Member

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    Yeah, it's probably one of the best things you can do. If possible, I like to either hear demos in advance, or get down to a practice or two. Saves HOURS of time. I've billed for it in the past, but at a fairly low rate. Quite an easy sell, when you tell the band that instead of paying for just your time, they could be paying for studio time etc too!
     
  9. nezvers

    nezvers Beast

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    I ask bands to give songs written down at least as GP/TG if they don't have demos, so they have to commit to layout and notation. If something is off I ask them to make adjustments.
    And when it's time to record it's not a hassle to port midi to project, so drummer doesn't play verses too short or something similar.
    Plus it's easier to do my own edits and suggest some changes that they can see them selves how to play and learn that shit before record.
     
  10. Kohugaly

    Kohugaly Member

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    People often don't realize how important pre-pro is in music production. What I mean, when you build a house you don't just order a pile of bricks and cement and start slapping it on top of it other an hope for the best...
    Musicians often don't fully comprehend few things:
    1.Life gig and a recording are two different realms for a song to exist in. More often than not, song needs some adjustments to be an interesting recording (e.g. vocal/guitar harmonies, sound effects). It's better to plan these beforehand - there is that extra wasted time when you (the band) have to come up with it while recording.
    2. Band members each hear the song from their perspective (not the listener's). Often they fail to hear what the song needs / what's wrong with it until they have it on CD in their car. Sometimes they need that 2nd guy to judge them / push them in the right direction. Finding those things out on a recording day is HELL. Making demo/GP/TG helps to prevent that problem, but it seems like extra unnecessary work.
    Preproduction either solves above-mentioned problems or at least identifies them, which makes them easier to deal with along the line. It's so much easier when both you and the band know what to expect. All-in-all although preproduction is an extra time (and money) spend, it saves time and money on later stages and results in higher quality product (making both the band and you worth more).
    I'm rather a hobbyist recording/mixing man, I mainly work with my band and friends for free. However, if I'd be pricing for recording someone's stuff, I'd definitely include pre-production in the service. Even for free (well we all know what "2+1 free"-type-of-free means ;-) ).
     
  11. scorpio01169

    scorpio01169 Member

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    Pre pro is absolutely key, how amateur bands won't understand because they look at the cost of pre taking away from just plugin in and recording. I had a band ask what I would cost to record and when I explained pre, ie click track set up, tempo mapping, scratch guitars. They decided they couldn't/wouldn't afford the cost or time for pre and wanted to live record.
     
  12. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    Yeah, I don't count anymore how many bands I had who were not even aware of tempo in their songs. Many just plug their guitar and play at their reharsal place and decide to record with the conviction they're ok to actually record (when - in most cases - they play sloppy as fukk). Many don't even attach importance of a good tuned instruments and I find it absolutely amazing to not take care of these stuff (bring instruments in good shape, make the right choices for the string gauge for the specific tuning/playing, bring good cymbals and not fucked up pieces of crap, etc.) BUT they all want a big sound, a big production and expect from you to get a Colin Richardson quality mix :D I think a prepro defo help to make them more realistic about gear as well which is crucial as you all know.
     
  13. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    imagine if the band you were working with had agreed to go and record in a £500 a day studio and you were in charge of making sure things go to plan. if you said to them that before setting foot in there you want to make sure everything is planned and organised as much as possible so you get the most out of that time, It makes perfect sense.
     
  14. Heabow

    Heabow More cowbell!

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    How is or would be your method for prepro? I think I'll install a little PT rig on my laptop with a firestudio and bring some mics, just enough to record a drumkit (2/3 mics), two guitar amps + a DI and my trusty SM7b and a headphone amp to send the clic track to the drummer. That way, I could work easily on tempos and record the song with first corrections. I'd like something less bulky but I think my Zoom portable recorder would not be enough. Thoughts? Ideas/experiences?
     
  15. Kohugaly

    Kohugaly Member

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    1.ask the band to send you demos/GP/TG projects if they have them (if they don't ask them to make some / help them to make some). Ask them if they match the way they play it (Specifically ask if they use clicks - if they do, ask for the click too).
    2.Take a note block, listen through the demos and make notes (e.g. "part at 1:50 needs harmonies on vocal", "Part at 2:20-2:30 should not repeat twice") and make click tracks (or possible versions of clicktracks).
    3.Meet with the band at rehersal place and repeat following steps for each song.
    4.pick the simplest song first. Discuss any arrangement ideas you have with the band.
    5. Make a quick recording setup and ask them to play the song to the click. Discuss the tempo with the band (simple "is the tempo OK?" will probably not suffice).
    6. Help them to decide on vocal/solo harmonies (and make sketches).

    The process may take more than one day. Points 4-6 do not have to happen in a particular order. Once you're done you may give the band a week or two to adjust to the changes and possibly make revisions.
     

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