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By Vanz Zinn 15 May, 2017

Written by: Teara Bella Stringer - Bella Event Planning


“Do I need to hire an event planner?"  

The most commonly asked question in my business of weddings, intimate gatherings and corporate functions. Now for the passionate DIYer, or the hostess at heart, they typically will not feel the need to hire a planner because, well, they themselves ARE the planner. And kudos to those who can pull it off, or make it look that way. Many businesses do not have the time to plan a function and will most certainly have an Events Coordinator on payroll, or they outsource on a contractual basis to a company like mine. For most Brides, Grooms and lovers alike however, it is often considered a luxury not a necessity, and quite often they feel they can do it all themselves, with a little help, of course – right? Absolutely! But that help should not be your mom, or your sister in law who happens to also be a Bridesmaid and the make up artist, and oh, the decorator too.


The Uniqueness of Wedding Planning

Your wedding day, of all days is a day for you to celebrate, enjoy and bask in the entirety of the day – stress free. And if you think about it, that is what a planner is, a helper. All your life (or for the past few years even), you have spent countless hours envisioning, creating and making your big day a reality. YOU have planned your big day, we just come and help ensure that vision is executed, while you get to enjoy your hair and make up artists spoiling you with your ladies. Your significant can rest assured that their partner is at ease, allowing them peace of mind too.


An Event Planners Role

 “What is it, that you would come and do?”, is the other question we are asked and here is the answer: everything that you would have done, if there was not a team of us, dedicated to making your day a success. It involves not only ensuring vendors show up, but that they provide the product or service they promised you both, at the quality you deserve. We not only ensure your décor is how you want it, but we are also a shoulder to lean on, a solution finder, relief expert, bargain hunter and most of all, in the end, your friend. We are your family away from family.

Bella Event Planning is proud to have been published two years in a row in Hitched: Ontario’s Most Beautiful Weddings Magazine. They pride themselves on their added value and taking care of their clients. They specialize in uniquely themed events and weddings, and offer a range of services that include Day of Coordination, Full Service Planning and Consulting packages. For more information or to stay in touch, please check out their website or social media platforms.


www.eventplanningbybella.com

www.facebook.com/planningbybella

www.twitter.com/planningbybella

www.instagram.com/planningbybella

www.pinterest.com/planningbybella

By Vanz Zinn 23 Apr, 2017

How to Record a Singer

This method involves recording several vocal takes to be "comped" later. Comping means taking the best lines and words from several takes and compiling them into one final vocal.

Setup

Technical aspects are well-documented so I will be brief on these.

- Ideally, record the singer in an Isolation booth, or in a quiet room. An isolation booth is ideal not just to contain sound, but also to eliminate natural reverb. Room reverb may sound nice, depending on the room and the song, but you're stuck with it. An isolation booth is anechoic (no echoes) which allows you to add an appropriate reverb later in the mix. High quality mics pic up heaters and air conditioners so these should be turned off during home recordings. A Shure SM-58 mic is good to use on a budget (about $150) since it will not pick up much noise beyond the radius of a foot or so.

- Use a good mic with a pop filter. Some singers sound better on different mics, even cheaper mics, so try a few if you have the luxury.

- Use a preamp. Think of the mic and preamp as two parts of a camera. Just as Photoshop cannot make your camera better, plugin effects cannot make your mic and preamp better. You only have one chance to capture in high quality and the better the mic and preamp, the better your vocal will sound. A good preamp will also compress the signal, which I highly recommend doing. I typically use these compression settings: Take out 6 db of gain on the loudest parts, set the release time to the fastest setting and set the attack time to a medium-fast setting.

- At the start of a session, test your levels. Have the singer sing something loud briefly and record it while watching your preamp levels.

- Adjust the headphone mix for the singer. Singers have a wide range of preferences for a headphone mix: some like everything loud, some like the music track almost inaudible, some want reverb, etc..

- I never apply EQs, de-essers or other processors (other than compression) to the vocal I'm recording because these can be applied non-destructively in the mix. There are different schools of thought on this and other engineers will use more processing during the capture.

Vibe

Good vibes make good vocals. If both the engineer and singer are in a positive mood, the vocal usually comes out better. If the singer is depressed or angry, he or she might not be up to singing anything convincingly. Give it a chance, but if the singer is not on his or her game, suggest scrapping the session and re-scheduling. Most singers know when they have it and when they don't. There's no point recording and comping for hours when you'd get a better performance the next day or next week.

  Less Critique, More Takes

Imagine yourself in the recording booth, singing or playing an instrument. You do the first take. Now the engineer has a lot to say through the talk-back mic. He tells you to hold certain notes longer, emphasize certain parts, watch your timing in a certain part, watch your pitch in another part, etc. He spends more time critiquing you that you did performing the first take. This is a vibe killer and performers don't respond well to it. Even if the engineer is correct on all points, many problems are solved by the second and third takes without instruction. Use the first three takes to let the singer get acclimatized. Mark areas of concern on the timeline as you go, but don't mention these until you've heard a few takes. If take two solves an issue from take one, delete the marker. I never get specific about performance problems until the about the forth take because by then, I know that these are recurring problems. All I need is one good take for every line, not necessarily from the same take since I will be comping later. If someone else is going to be in the control room and they are qualified to advise the singer, I tell them ahead of time to be quiet until the singer has done several takes.

Workflow

The ideal workflow involves fast responses from the engineer. If the singer flubs a line, the engineer should be ready to stop the recording for a retake before the singer can finish the sentence, "sh**, let me do it again". If a singer says "I have a new idea, put me on a new track and record me from the bridge", the engineer should take no longer than five seconds to make that happen. This may create a disorganized timeline, but you can organize later. To be prepared for this flexibly and speed, have a lot of empty tracks ready to record onto.

Straight Through and Section Takes

Once the singer has done three or four takes straight-through, I like to record in sections, for example, we will record several takes of verse one, then several takes of verse two, then several for the bridge, then several choruses. This allows the singer to fine tune one small part of the performance before moving on, staying focused on the desired timing, emphasis, spots to breathe, etc.. The order of parts to record should be based on the vocal damage factor, IE, if the chorus requires screaming, do the choruses last, or the singer might not have a voice left to sing verses and other parts. The nice thing about having contiguous tracks is the flow factor, while lots of punches can sound disjointed, especially if the singer is inconsistent from take to take. During the comp, I will often harvest these straight-through takes for smooth transitions and even breaths. For example, sometimes I have to replace two words which overlap as a result of recording in sections. This overlap problem can be avoided with good punching practice.

Punching

Long lines with no time to breath may require a punch-in at some point to keep the energy strong until the last word of the phrase. Digital recording makes non-destructive punching easy, just record the punch on its own blank track. To make this work in the comp, an overlap of words is necessary. For example if the phrase is "I'm going off the rails on a crazy train" and you want to punch in "crazy train", make sure the singer sings "on a crazy train". If you want to record the first half, "I'm going off the rails", make sure you record "I'm going off the rails on a". In other words, sing and record at least one redundant overlapping syllable before or after the punch point, and the comp will be seamless.

Get a Lot of Takes

The more takes you capture, the happier you will be with all those choices during editing. You will often regret having recorded too few takes, but you will never regret having more. I tend to get 3 or 4 straight-through takes plus about 5 or 6 section takes for each part; verses, choruses, bridge, etc.. Obviously, the better the singer, the fewer takes you'll need.

Comping

If the singer is consistent and proper punching protocol has been followed, comping should be a breeze. Create a blank "comp track" above the takes and slide chunks vertically up into that track. Audition small chunks at a time from all takes, not necessarily whole lines. Make sure to keep the breath that goes into a line with that line, don't use a breath from the previous chunk. Sometimes you can cut between syllables. S and F sounds can be cross faded smoothly, but vowels are tricky and don't always work. Watch for repeated or missing consonants - a common artifact of comping. Check every edit to ensure all the cross fades sound natural.

As far as what parts to select for the comp, ideally, use the line with appropriate emotion, good timing, good intonation and smooth continuity with the lines before and after. If you are planning to tune the vocal, then choosing an in-tune part may be a less important consideration. For example, only one take has great emotion, great timing and great flow, but it was sung slightly out of tune. Since the intonation will be fixed, that is the take to select.

Pete Swann, Producer/Engineer, Attitude Productions
AttitudeProductions.com
Pete@AttitudeProductions.com

By Vanz Zinn 20 Feb, 2017

I've been an audio engineer working in the corporate audio visual industry for over 25 years. In that time I've done literally thousands of events. Many of those events included a panel discussion component. For those that aren't familiar with this, a panel discussion involves a group of people situated on stage that answers questions from a live audience or sometimes questions coming in via the web or other conferencing equipment. The technical aspect of these can be difficult to manage especially when the panel groups are large. Many times event planners decide that wireless lavalieres should be placed on each panelist which makes managing it even more difficult. What I often propose is that wireless handheld mics be used for the following reasons:

 

Sound Quality-

Handhelds sound better than lavs. If this wasn't true then people would sing into Lavs.

 

RF Signal Strength -

The wireless transmitting strength of a wireless HH is considerably more than a LAV because of the larger antenna. Also, the antenna of a LAV is often hidden from the sight of the receiver, since the transmitting pack is often placed behind a person on their pants or dress. This lessens the broadcast strength considerably and can cause dropouts in the audio.

 

Management-

Multiple Lavs are extremely difficult to manage for several reasons. It takes time to place a LAV on a panelist and can be challenging if somebody isn't wearing clothing that allows the mic to be placed properly. Then the transmitting pack needs to be clipped on to a belt or waistband which may be impossible with some (ladies) outfits. Now if you have concurrently running panels things get crazy and often a secondary audio technician needs to be hired at an extra expense to manage the chaos. You will need one LAV for each panelist so if you have a 10 person panel you now have 10 lavs that need to be turned up at the appropriate time. You can't simply just turn them all up at once unless of course you want feedback . So what is normally done is all the mics are pushed up to 50% and the audio tech does his best to watch for who is talking and turn up the correct channel (unless you have a Dugan, more about that later). Things get worse if you have simultaneous translation. All the open mics makes it difficult for translators to do their job properly because of all the extra noise (coughing, sneezing, side discussions amongst panelist and other undesirable sounds that you don't want broadcasted that having all the mics open creates).

 

Enter the Wireless Handheld -

Handhelds are the smart choice in this situation for many reasons. You won't need to place them on anybody. You can simply place them on the panel chairs or a table. You will not need one for every panelist. You can have one for every 2 or 3 panelists and have them pass them around saving you money. Concurrent panels?, no problem just make sure the mics get put back to where the next set of panelists can see them and access them quickly. No need for a secondary technician, saving you money. With fewer mics to manage it becomes easier for your audio technician to turn up the appropriate mic. Because Handheld mics are held closer to the mouth they don't require as much gain so you can push them all up without creating any feedback. The noise is also reduced significantly which will make your translators happy.

 

If after all these great reasons, to use handhelds over Lavs, you are still wanting to use lavs for aesthetic reasons, there are tools and protocols available to make things run smoothly. One thing you can do is setup your panel so where they are on stage (audience left to audience right) corresponds to the mic number 1 to 10 as an example. This makes it easier for the audio technician to follow. Another easy one is have your panel facilitator refer to the panelists by name when asking them a question; this also helps the audio technician.

 

Why I love Dan Dugan

The Dugan Automixer is used by many broadcast TV shows to "automix" multiple microphones. This does not replace an audio technician but rather aids them in managing multiple microphones more effectively. What the Dugan Automixer does can be explained best by it's inventor Dan Dugan "An automatic mixer controls a group of live microphones, turning up mics where someone is talking, and turning down mics that aren't being used." This is faster than the reaction time of even veteran audio technicians. The Dugan Automixer is available as a separate piece of equipment but is becoming increasingly available in many digital audio consoles.

 

For more details go to:

https://www.dandugan.com/products/ or

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automixer

 

Vanz Zinn is the owner of Multi Tech Audio Visual and has been working in the corporate audio visual industry for over 25 years. Visit his website at mtav.ca for more great tips.

 

 

By Karen Zinn 06 Feb, 2017
A little insight from Vanz's good friend Pete Swann explaining his "Demo to Single" process.

Pete adds a little humour to his very informative video.  Working with artists throughout North America he brings 30 years of industry experience to our community.  

If you are looking to turn your musical aspirations into reality, we suggest you reach out to Pete at Attitude Productions. 

Pete is a music producer, recording engineer and musician operating his studio in Aurora, ON.
http://www.attitudeproductions.com

More Posts

By Vanz Zinn 15 May, 2017

Written by: Teara Bella Stringer - Bella Event Planning


“Do I need to hire an event planner?"  

The most commonly asked question in my business of weddings, intimate gatherings and corporate functions. Now for the passionate DIYer, or the hostess at heart, they typically will not feel the need to hire a planner because, well, they themselves ARE the planner. And kudos to those who can pull it off, or make it look that way. Many businesses do not have the time to plan a function and will most certainly have an Events Coordinator on payroll, or they outsource on a contractual basis to a company like mine. For most Brides, Grooms and lovers alike however, it is often considered a luxury not a necessity, and quite often they feel they can do it all themselves, with a little help, of course – right? Absolutely! But that help should not be your mom, or your sister in law who happens to also be a Bridesmaid and the make up artist, and oh, the decorator too.


The Uniqueness of Wedding Planning

Your wedding day, of all days is a day for you to celebrate, enjoy and bask in the entirety of the day – stress free. And if you think about it, that is what a planner is, a helper. All your life (or for the past few years even), you have spent countless hours envisioning, creating and making your big day a reality. YOU have planned your big day, we just come and help ensure that vision is executed, while you get to enjoy your hair and make up artists spoiling you with your ladies. Your significant can rest assured that their partner is at ease, allowing them peace of mind too.


An Event Planners Role

 “What is it, that you would come and do?”, is the other question we are asked and here is the answer: everything that you would have done, if there was not a team of us, dedicated to making your day a success. It involves not only ensuring vendors show up, but that they provide the product or service they promised you both, at the quality you deserve. We not only ensure your décor is how you want it, but we are also a shoulder to lean on, a solution finder, relief expert, bargain hunter and most of all, in the end, your friend. We are your family away from family.

Bella Event Planning is proud to have been published two years in a row in Hitched: Ontario’s Most Beautiful Weddings Magazine. They pride themselves on their added value and taking care of their clients. They specialize in uniquely themed events and weddings, and offer a range of services that include Day of Coordination, Full Service Planning and Consulting packages. For more information or to stay in touch, please check out their website or social media platforms.


www.eventplanningbybella.com

www.facebook.com/planningbybella

www.twitter.com/planningbybella

www.instagram.com/planningbybella

www.pinterest.com/planningbybella

By Vanz Zinn 23 Apr, 2017

How to Record a Singer

This method involves recording several vocal takes to be "comped" later. Comping means taking the best lines and words from several takes and compiling them into one final vocal.

Setup

Technical aspects are well-documented so I will be brief on these.

- Ideally, record the singer in an Isolation booth, or in a quiet room. An isolation booth is ideal not just to contain sound, but also to eliminate natural reverb. Room reverb may sound nice, depending on the room and the song, but you're stuck with it. An isolation booth is anechoic (no echoes) which allows you to add an appropriate reverb later in the mix. High quality mics pic up heaters and air conditioners so these should be turned off during home recordings. A Shure SM-58 mic is good to use on a budget (about $150) since it will not pick up much noise beyond the radius of a foot or so.

- Use a good mic with a pop filter. Some singers sound better on different mics, even cheaper mics, so try a few if you have the luxury.

- Use a preamp. Think of the mic and preamp as two parts of a camera. Just as Photoshop cannot make your camera better, plugin effects cannot make your mic and preamp better. You only have one chance to capture in high quality and the better the mic and preamp, the better your vocal will sound. A good preamp will also compress the signal, which I highly recommend doing. I typically use these compression settings: Take out 6 db of gain on the loudest parts, set the release time to the fastest setting and set the attack time to a medium-fast setting.

- At the start of a session, test your levels. Have the singer sing something loud briefly and record it while watching your preamp levels.

- Adjust the headphone mix for the singer. Singers have a wide range of preferences for a headphone mix: some like everything loud, some like the music track almost inaudible, some want reverb, etc..

- I never apply EQs, de-essers or other processors (other than compression) to the vocal I'm recording because these can be applied non-destructively in the mix. There are different schools of thought on this and other engineers will use more processing during the capture.

Vibe

Good vibes make good vocals. If both the engineer and singer are in a positive mood, the vocal usually comes out better. If the singer is depressed or angry, he or she might not be up to singing anything convincingly. Give it a chance, but if the singer is not on his or her game, suggest scrapping the session and re-scheduling. Most singers know when they have it and when they don't. There's no point recording and comping for hours when you'd get a better performance the next day or next week.

  Less Critique, More Takes

Imagine yourself in the recording booth, singing or playing an instrument. You do the first take. Now the engineer has a lot to say through the talk-back mic. He tells you to hold certain notes longer, emphasize certain parts, watch your timing in a certain part, watch your pitch in another part, etc. He spends more time critiquing you that you did performing the first take. This is a vibe killer and performers don't respond well to it. Even if the engineer is correct on all points, many problems are solved by the second and third takes without instruction. Use the first three takes to let the singer get acclimatized. Mark areas of concern on the timeline as you go, but don't mention these until you've heard a few takes. If take two solves an issue from take one, delete the marker. I never get specific about performance problems until the about the forth take because by then, I know that these are recurring problems. All I need is one good take for every line, not necessarily from the same take since I will be comping later. If someone else is going to be in the control room and they are qualified to advise the singer, I tell them ahead of time to be quiet until the singer has done several takes.

Workflow

The ideal workflow involves fast responses from the engineer. If the singer flubs a line, the engineer should be ready to stop the recording for a retake before the singer can finish the sentence, "sh**, let me do it again". If a singer says "I have a new idea, put me on a new track and record me from the bridge", the engineer should take no longer than five seconds to make that happen. This may create a disorganized timeline, but you can organize later. To be prepared for this flexibly and speed, have a lot of empty tracks ready to record onto.

Straight Through and Section Takes

Once the singer has done three or four takes straight-through, I like to record in sections, for example, we will record several takes of verse one, then several takes of verse two, then several for the bridge, then several choruses. This allows the singer to fine tune one small part of the performance before moving on, staying focused on the desired timing, emphasis, spots to breathe, etc.. The order of parts to record should be based on the vocal damage factor, IE, if the chorus requires screaming, do the choruses last, or the singer might not have a voice left to sing verses and other parts. The nice thing about having contiguous tracks is the flow factor, while lots of punches can sound disjointed, especially if the singer is inconsistent from take to take. During the comp, I will often harvest these straight-through takes for smooth transitions and even breaths. For example, sometimes I have to replace two words which overlap as a result of recording in sections. This overlap problem can be avoided with good punching practice.

Punching

Long lines with no time to breath may require a punch-in at some point to keep the energy strong until the last word of the phrase. Digital recording makes non-destructive punching easy, just record the punch on its own blank track. To make this work in the comp, an overlap of words is necessary. For example if the phrase is "I'm going off the rails on a crazy train" and you want to punch in "crazy train", make sure the singer sings "on a crazy train". If you want to record the first half, "I'm going off the rails", make sure you record "I'm going off the rails on a". In other words, sing and record at least one redundant overlapping syllable before or after the punch point, and the comp will be seamless.

Get a Lot of Takes

The more takes you capture, the happier you will be with all those choices during editing. You will often regret having recorded too few takes, but you will never regret having more. I tend to get 3 or 4 straight-through takes plus about 5 or 6 section takes for each part; verses, choruses, bridge, etc.. Obviously, the better the singer, the fewer takes you'll need.

Comping

If the singer is consistent and proper punching protocol has been followed, comping should be a breeze. Create a blank "comp track" above the takes and slide chunks vertically up into that track. Audition small chunks at a time from all takes, not necessarily whole lines. Make sure to keep the breath that goes into a line with that line, don't use a breath from the previous chunk. Sometimes you can cut between syllables. S and F sounds can be cross faded smoothly, but vowels are tricky and don't always work. Watch for repeated or missing consonants - a common artifact of comping. Check every edit to ensure all the cross fades sound natural.

As far as what parts to select for the comp, ideally, use the line with appropriate emotion, good timing, good intonation and smooth continuity with the lines before and after. If you are planning to tune the vocal, then choosing an in-tune part may be a less important consideration. For example, only one take has great emotion, great timing and great flow, but it was sung slightly out of tune. Since the intonation will be fixed, that is the take to select.

Pete Swann, Producer/Engineer, Attitude Productions
AttitudeProductions.com
Pete@AttitudeProductions.com

By Vanz Zinn 20 Feb, 2017

I've been an audio engineer working in the corporate audio visual industry for over 25 years. In that time I've done literally thousands of events. Many of those events included a panel discussion component. For those that aren't familiar with this, a panel discussion involves a group of people situated on stage that answers questions from a live audience or sometimes questions coming in via the web or other conferencing equipment. The technical aspect of these can be difficult to manage especially when the panel groups are large. Many times event planners decide that wireless lavalieres should be placed on each panelist which makes managing it even more difficult. What I often propose is that wireless handheld mics be used for the following reasons:

 

Sound Quality-

Handhelds sound better than lavs. If this wasn't true then people would sing into Lavs.

 

RF Signal Strength -

The wireless transmitting strength of a wireless HH is considerably more than a LAV because of the larger antenna. Also, the antenna of a LAV is often hidden from the sight of the receiver, since the transmitting pack is often placed behind a person on their pants or dress. This lessens the broadcast strength considerably and can cause dropouts in the audio.

 

Management-

Multiple Lavs are extremely difficult to manage for several reasons. It takes time to place a LAV on a panelist and can be challenging if somebody isn't wearing clothing that allows the mic to be placed properly. Then the transmitting pack needs to be clipped on to a belt or waistband which may be impossible with some (ladies) outfits. Now if you have concurrently running panels things get crazy and often a secondary audio technician needs to be hired at an extra expense to manage the chaos. You will need one LAV for each panelist so if you have a 10 person panel you now have 10 lavs that need to be turned up at the appropriate time. You can't simply just turn them all up at once unless of course you want feedback . So what is normally done is all the mics are pushed up to 50% and the audio tech does his best to watch for who is talking and turn up the correct channel (unless you have a Dugan, more about that later). Things get worse if you have simultaneous translation. All the open mics makes it difficult for translators to do their job properly because of all the extra noise (coughing, sneezing, side discussions amongst panelist and other undesirable sounds that you don't want broadcasted that having all the mics open creates).

 

Enter the Wireless Handheld -

Handhelds are the smart choice in this situation for many reasons. You won't need to place them on anybody. You can simply place them on the panel chairs or a table. You will not need one for every panelist. You can have one for every 2 or 3 panelists and have them pass them around saving you money. Concurrent panels?, no problem just make sure the mics get put back to where the next set of panelists can see them and access them quickly. No need for a secondary technician, saving you money. With fewer mics to manage it becomes easier for your audio technician to turn up the appropriate mic. Because Handheld mics are held closer to the mouth they don't require as much gain so you can push them all up without creating any feedback. The noise is also reduced significantly which will make your translators happy.

 

If after all these great reasons, to use handhelds over Lavs, you are still wanting to use lavs for aesthetic reasons, there are tools and protocols available to make things run smoothly. One thing you can do is setup your panel so where they are on stage (audience left to audience right) corresponds to the mic number 1 to 10 as an example. This makes it easier for the audio technician to follow. Another easy one is have your panel facilitator refer to the panelists by name when asking them a question; this also helps the audio technician.

 

Why I love Dan Dugan

The Dugan Automixer is used by many broadcast TV shows to "automix" multiple microphones. This does not replace an audio technician but rather aids them in managing multiple microphones more effectively. What the Dugan Automixer does can be explained best by it's inventor Dan Dugan "An automatic mixer controls a group of live microphones, turning up mics where someone is talking, and turning down mics that aren't being used." This is faster than the reaction time of even veteran audio technicians. The Dugan Automixer is available as a separate piece of equipment but is becoming increasingly available in many digital audio consoles.

 

For more details go to:

https://www.dandugan.com/products/ or

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automixer

 

Vanz Zinn is the owner of Multi Tech Audio Visual and has been working in the corporate audio visual industry for over 25 years. Visit his website at mtav.ca for more great tips.

 

 

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