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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:
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.
How They Did It: Inside the SM58®
Crisp, clear sound. Fantastic low end. Great on vocals. Virtually indestructible. Rock solid. The standard bearer.
Like most performing legends, the SM58 makes it all look so easy. But making the leap from the original ‘birdcage’ style Unidyne models to the ‘new’, smaller handheld style was a real challenge. Shure engineers Ben Bauer and Ernie Seeler wanted to improve on the frequency response and directionality of Bauer’s original Unidyne design, while making the transducer much smaller to fit in a handheld microphone. The handheld form factor added some new concerns: p-pop protection, vibration isolation, and symmetry – things that were rarely an issue with large stand-mounted microphones that didn’t move around.
How the SM58 came to be can largely be attributed to three mini-miracles of microphone engineering: the diaphragm, the transducer and the shock mount. We’ll look at them one by one.
First, though, a crash course in how a dynamic microphone converts sound waves into electrical energy.
Like all dynamic microphones, the SM58 employs a diaphragm/voice coil/magnet assembly that forms a miniature sound-driven electrical generator. Sound waves strike a thin and light membrane called the diaphragm, causing it to vibrate. The voice coil is attached to the rear of the diaphragm and vibrates with it. The voice coil is surrounded by a magnetic field created by a small magnet. The motion of the voice coil in the magnetic field generates the electrical signal corresponding to the sound picked up by the microphone.
DesignWhen Ernie Seeler designed the diaphragm for the Unidyne III transducer used in the SM58, he set out to solve one of the biggest challenges of microphone design: diaphragm flexing. Diaphragms tend to flex differently depending on whether they are struck by bass, midrange, or treble frequencies. This means that the movement of the coil will not correspond exactly to the soundwave, and will cause noticeable variations in sound quality.
Seeler used Mylar™ polyester film for the new diaphragm – a particular form of plastic that is very rigid but also very light, so it would move easily in response to subtle sound waves but not flex much. He molded the diaphragm with a unique shape: like a doughnut, but with a dome in the middle. These features make the diaphragm and voice coil move up and down uniformly as one piece, with little flexing, regardless of the incoming audio frequency – bass, mid or treble. This Mylar™ diaphragm also has variable thickness and is thicker and more rigid in the center, resulting in a significant improvement of high frequency response. This design helped to give the SM58 its smooth, balanced sound across the frequency range.
The Transducer Design
Ernie Seeler wanted the Unidyne III cartridge to have “uniform polar response over the entire audio spectrum” — in other words, the cardioid pattern would be the same at low, mid, and high frequencies.
He also wanted it to be “rotationally symmetrical”, meaning that the sound and the pickup pattern would be consistent no matter how the mic was rotated around its axis. In the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, this wasn’t very important because performers stood in front of a microphone on a fixed stand. Most microphones at this time had polar patterns that were quite different above and below the mic, but it didn’t matter because the performer didn’t move in relation to the microphone, and the microphone didn’t move in relation to the loudspeakers.
In the 1960’s, as rock and roll grew in popularity, performers wanted to be able to hold the mic while moving around the stage and not be restricted to one location. Since the microphone’s position relative to the performer and to the loudspeakers could vary, it became important that the microphone’s sound quality was consistent no matter how it was oriented.
When designing the original Unidyne, Ben Bauer had devised an ingenious ‘front door/back door’ system (called the Uniphase principle) that provided two pathways for a sound wave to reach the microphone diaphragm. Sounds from behind the mic reach both the front and the back of the diaphragm at the same time. Like two people pushing on opposite sides of a door, the forces cancel each other out and the diaphragm doesn’t move, so no signal is generated.
Seeler adapted the Uniphase principle to work in the much smaller handle of newer hand-held models like the 545 , 565 , and SM58, and improved its directional capabilities across a wider frequency range by adding a complex network of openings, screens, and cavities that act as an acoustic network.
While the concept of a uniform polar pattern and rotational symmetry along the mic’s axis seem obvious today, they were instrumental breakthroughs that gave performers greater freedom to connect with the audience while allowing sound engineers to deliver more gain without feedback from the more powerful PA systems needed to handle larger venues.
The Shock Mount
Deep in the SM58’s handle is another technological innovation: a shock absorber for physical vibration. A microphone diaphragm is designed to be moved by the miniscule energy of sound waves alone. It has to be extraordinarily sensitive to do this, but that means that it is also highly sensitive to vibrations coming through the microphone handle when it is touched.
The simple solution is to mount the transducer in one or more rubber rings, which absorb some of the vibration energy. But every microphone is sensitive to some types of vibration more than others, and some vibrations have a more audible effect than others. Instead of the one-size-fits-all approach used in lesser microphones, Seeler designed a unique shock mount specifically for the Unidyne III transducer used in the SM58 – one that could actually be tuned to control vibrations in the most critical frequency ranges where vibrations posed the biggest threat to sound quality.
The shock mount is the unsung hero of the SM58’s performance. Tap on a cheap microphone and it will resonate like a drum; tap on an SM58 and you’ll hear only a dull, muted thud. The shock mount is the reason why performers like Roger Daltrey can be as rough as they want with the 58, to the point that it becomes part of their act.
Shock mount inside SM58
Engineering Then and Now
Legend has it that the development of the shock mount alone involved over 300 hand-written mathematical computations. How many hours were spent researching, testing and retesting the materials required to make the principle work perfectly in a microphone slated for mass production is unknown.
One person who understands the SM58 intimately is Principal Engineer Yuri Shulman. While the development of the Unidyne III cartridge predated Yuri’s arrival at Shure in 1981, he remembers Ernie Seeler very well and recalled the primordial tools employed by audio engineers of the day.
“Ernie Seeler, just like Ben Bauer in the U.S. and Georg Neumann in Germany, was one of the most talented engineers in the past century”, according to Shulman. “Ernie was a giant in acoustics and a brilliant mathematician.”
Back then, the tools of the trade were drafting boards, logarithm tables and slide rules. Frequency response was tested in a small sound room with an Ampex reel-to-reel tape machine. Mic drop tests were performed by dropping microphones from the mezzanine to the first floor. A team of machinists made parts for prototypes. Everything – from marketing, design, engineering, plating, molding, painting, assembly and shipping – was performed in the company’s headquarters in Evanston, IL. “If the plastic in the molding machine overheated”, he said, “everyone knew it.”
Contrast the limited space of the early mic development department to the 65,000 square foot Technology Annex at Shure today and you’ll find some of the same mechanical devices used in Seeler’s time, but there is also electro acoustical software that can produce more accurate results in seconds, not minutes or hours. Two anechoic chambers and a state-of-the-art listening room are constantly in use. 3D printers reduce prototype development by weeks. A small number of machinists (with the help of robotics) in the Tool Room do the work of many people thirty-five years ago.
There isn’t much about the old days that Shulman misses, except the convenience of being able to check production a short walk away. He is emphatic that today’s SM58 microphone “is dramatically improved”, pointing to more precise tooling, new materials, greater consistency, better production processes and increased durability. “Today’s SM58 is the best one we’ve ever made. Every SM58 is tested to meet all rigorous specifications before it leaves the factory. I don’t know of another manufacturer that does that.”For more great Shure Blogs, click the link below.
Song writing - like any other creative process - will always differ from person to person. Here’s the process I use to write my songs, written in a formula that hopefully allows you to apply it to your next creation!
It all starts with an idea.
As a vocalist, my songs usually start
with the lyrics. For me, that’s always been the heart of the song - what makes it
intriguing. For others, the idea might be a melodic fragment (a sick guitar
riff) or even just a topic. Write whatever interests you.
If you’re starting vague, try to narrow it
down. For my song “I Want You To Know,” I didn’t set out to write a love song. I was
determined to write a song about the fear that the person you’re falling for might walk away before
you get the chance to tell them how you feel. Humans are storytellers - and we
crave stories in return! Once you’ve nailed down what’s at the core of your song, there are
endless possibilities ahead for you to explore.
Trust your gut.
This is your song - you know what it takes to make it work. If it’s an exhilarating rush through a one-sided conversation, you might decide it doesn’t need a guitar solo. If it’s a calm lullaby, you might decide that the chorus should be the same line repeated four times. Sometimes the song tells you what it needs. Go with what feels best, and remember that nothing is set in stone; you can always go back and edit later.
If it ’ s not stuck in your head, it won ’ t be stuck in anyone ’ s else.
One of the biggest struggles I have is trying to figure out if the song that I’m working on is catchy. While this might not be essential for you in your project, I always try to have a hook to worm it’s way into listener’s ears so that they’ll want to listen again. One method I’ve found that works is to sleep on it. If you can’t remember your melody the next day, maybe it just wasn’t the right one.
It all ends with you finishing the idea.
I can’t even tell you how many half finished songs I have. So many. So, so many. And that’s okay! Sometimes you’ll find that whatever you’re working on just isn’t clicking. Don’t be afraid to set it aside and try it another day. That being said, if none of your ideas are coming to fruition it’s time to buckle down and see this thing through. Figure out what’s stopping you and continue on your way. Can’t find a lyric that flows smoothly? Cross out the last line you wrote and try again. The melody isn’t fitting right? Take a look at your chord structure and see what needs fixing. Remember how excited you were about what sparked the song in the first place. You owe it to yourself to complete it!
You will write more bad songs than good ones.
Maybe “bad” and “good” are too simple of terms, but there will definitely be songs you like more than others, and that’s okay. There are always more ideas to find and more songs to write. Just keep going.
Megan Anne is a singer, songwriter, ukulele-and-piano-playing human currently residing in Ontario, Canada. She is currently attending York University, working towards her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music. https://soundcloud.com/meganannemusic/phoenix-megan-anne-studio-version
Megan's single "Stay Out All Night" is available on iTunes. She is currently working on her first EP, and is always looking to play in new places.
For more information visit: http://www.meganannemusic.com
For bookings/inquiries please contact:
Useful Apps having an Impact on your AV Team
The massive mobile app market is expanding without any signs of slowing down. It’s high time for all AV professionals to jump into the future and take advantage of the amazing technology that’s waiting at the tips of their fingers.
Technology is constantly evolving. That’s what makes it so exciting! And the more IT changes the more it intertwines with AV, transforming the products that are available to tech-savvy professionals. Gone are the days of bringing all your calculators, documents or tools just in case. No need to lug that huge gear bag anymore, just don’t forget your phone!
Having any one of these AV inspired apps at your disposal decreases the number of tools you need to keep track of, will keep you organized, on budget, and manage all your important documents with ease.
Take a peek at four apps for AV professionals. We guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how indispensable these programs really are.
4 Apps - To Keep you Productive
Trello : Nowadays, with the high number of daily emails we receive, it is nice to have a different method of information sharing with your entire team. Event Planners can create project specific boards and invite anyone who needs to keep informed, including your AV team. On-Site Consultations, load-ins, budgetary information, resources and estimates all shared in one place. See the project unfold, share files and keep in the know saving everyone time.
AV Tools : This incredible app eliminates the need for excess tools in your gear bag. The versatile program includes multiple conversion calculators, adjustable tone generators, and an easy distance calculator, to name a few.
Cube time and Expense Tracker : This app will keep you on budget no matter what. Seamlessly track expenses, manage time, track income, and create reports for it all. You can easily take pictures of receipts, customize cost and tax rates based on each project, easily search past information, and sync all of your important documents with existing cloud servers.
LiveToolKit : Allows AV techs to determine ideal equipment placement, determine specific calibrations, and determine optimal conditions in a hurry. This app allows you to determine delay times for PA systems, save speaker and amp settings for the future, and provides multiple easy calculators.
Allows you to operate your Digital console at front of house, literally! To achieve a perfect audio mix, the perfect place for your audio technician to live is right mid-stage at the back of your room. Depending on the function, this is not always possible. It is difficult for a sound technician to hear what is coming out of the speakers when they are positioned to the right or left of the stage. Now, MTAV will be often seen mixing our 32 channel digital console from an iPad, walking, inconspicuously right into the sweet spot to verify the sound.
With some or all of these incredible apps in your pocket, your next job is sure to go so smoothly you’ll wonder how you ever worked without them.