I have a storage area in the studio which is used as a final resting place for equipment that becomes outdated. My wife and I began the process of cleaning out that storage area last night. We were forced into this radical action because there is no space remaining in the storage area. What kind of equipment is in there? I have an old D&R series 4000 recording console. This is a pretty large piece of equipment in its own right. Roughly 7 feet wide, 5 feet deep and about 300 pounds. I have cables, amplifiers, speakers, monitors, computers, files, tapes, and more in that space.
We began by exploiting the divide and conquer approach. All of the old computers were brought out first. There were 6 computers, four monitors, a scanner, assorted modems, mice, keyboards and many computer cables.
It was obvious to me that a couple of the computers were ready for disposal. They were incomplete units. One of them consisted of a case and power supply. Two of them were full machines.
I powered them up. They still worked! One of the computers was a Compaq DeskPro. This computer had a 100MHz Pentium MMX processor, 32MB of RAM and 1.6GB of storage. The last operating system I had put on that machine was Windows 98. I could not believe how slow computing was back in the mid to late 90s. My current video cards have more processing power than this Compaq.
However, what totally distracted us from making progress on the storage area was a journey back in time. I had left the hard disk intact and it contained all sorts of documents that have sentimental value to our family. Thankfully, I can still recover that data and move it to a media where I can do a better job preserving some of the memories we have created on an electronic basis.
Thank goodness I did not just throw that machine out!
Some of you may have caught the news about U2’s new album being pirated away just prior to its release in November.
A major investigation is already underway by the French police. BBC News reported that around 20 people were being questioned regarding the CD’s disappearance at the Victorine recording studio. The studio, located in Nice, was the site of the band’s photo shoot.
U2 recorded much of the new album, which has not yet been titled, in Dublin. The band was in France completing some post-production work. The missing CD was a rough cut and not a finished product.
Studio de la Victorine is part of the Euro Media Television Group and has been renamed to Studios Riviera. The studio offers 10 sound stages and over 750,000 square feet of space. I spent some time in Nice many years back. Not a bad place to to hold a photo shoot but be wary of pirates. They are everywhere.
Cinram is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of pre-recorded DVD, VHS Video Cassette, CD-Audio, CD-ROM, and Audio Cassettes. I have toured one of their facilities in Toronto and they have impressive manufacturing capabilities. Most commercial audio CDs that are distributed in Canada are manufactured by Cinram.
Cinram also requires proof of licensing for all new orders. They are now active in the International Recording Media Association’s (IRMA) Anti-Piracy Compliance Program. This program allows Cinram to be in compliance with applicable copyright law protecting the rights of legitimate intellectual property rights holders. Cinram’s Huntsville, Richmond, Indiana and Toronto facilities are all certified.
This means that for any new orders, or any re-orders for which licensing was never provided, proper licensing documentation is required prior to manufacturing.
Of course, small run operations have no such requirements and neither do all of those millions of CDRs but I suppose it is a start.
I was hoping to use the week-end to upgrade the Pro Tools platform from 6.4 to 6.7. The upgrade is a 43MB download from the Digidesign website. I spent several hours trying to download the file.
To ensure legal download of the upgrade, Digidesign presents a web-based form to gather specific information such as the serial number of the Pro Tools installation. From there, you are redirected to a secure site to download the upgrade. I could only get 1MB downloaded before I received a “download decoding failed” error. I quickly became locked into the classic “let’s try it again” mode of resolving the problem. I repeated this sequence half a dozen times before I finally concluded that this download was not working.
I searched the web to see if there was any commentary on the download decoding error. Several sources suggested that this was a common feature of Safari, the Mac OSX browser. A workaround is to use a different browser or download from a Wintel machine. I tried Internet Explorer on the Mac. Instead of a download decoding error, this browser simply stopped responding after 1MB. Again, I repeatedly tried to download the upgrade. And, again, I got nowhere. I finally bailed from the Mac platform and tried to download on a Wintel box. No joy.
I checked the Digidesign site this morning and found this little “alert”:
Software Downloads Temporarily Unavailable
We are having some network storage device problems that came up this weekend. Most software downloads are affected, including demo downloads and software updates. We are working to fix the problem, but we do not expect the problem to be resolved until sometime on Sunday or Monday.
Perhaps this was a sign to hold off on the upgrade?
The joys of recording.
A friend of mine came across this symbol and he asked me for more details on the Canadian content requirements.
For a musical selection to qualify as Canadian or CANCON it must generally fulfill two of four Canadian content conditions known as MAPL:
M (Music): the music is composed entirely by a Canadian
A (Artist): the music is, or the lyrics are, performed principally by a Canadian
P (Production): the musical selection consists of a live performance that is recorded wholly in Canada, or performed wholly in Canada and broadcast live in Canada
L (Lyrics):The lyrics are written entirely by a Canadian
The following are special cases where a musical selection may qualify as Canadian content:
- The musical selection was recorded before January 1972 and meets one of the above conditions
- It is an instrumental performance of a musical composition written or composed by a Canadian
- It is a performance of a musical composition that a Canadian has composed for instruments only
- The musical selection was performed live or recorded after September 1, 1991, and, in addition to meeting the criterion for either artist or production, a Canadian who has collaborated with a non-Canadian receives at least half of the credit for both music and lyrics.
Getting closer to the start of a new project. I’m not sure that I am ready yet. Yesterday I received the CD from one of my recent projects. And, in another week, I should receive a CD from another project. The artists of these two projects have both selected November 27th as the date to hold their CD release events. Very unfortunate for me as I can only attend one. My son and I were asked by one of the artists to play at his CD release concert. That pretty much rules out attending the other event.
I have been making some more changes to the studio during my break from recording. I upgraded the Mac G5 to OSX 10.3.5 from 10.3.4 and I am still in the process of upgrading Pro Tools to 6.7 from 6.4. There are times when I wish the whole process of upgrading was much simpler. When you take into account all of the time needed to backup the existing installation, download and install all the required updates, test the new installation, it really becomes an arduous task.
Here is a cover shot of one of the CDs:
Contemporary recording techniques allow us to add novel features to music. One of the more interesting techniques is physical reversal of sound or backward masking.
Likely the first purposely reversed vocal track came from The Beatles. When George Martin was recording the song Rain in April 1966 he wanted to add something to John Lennon’s vocal. He copied a segment of John’s vocal from the original four-track tape to another recorder. He reversed the sound and recorded it back to the original tape.
This link presents some interesting background on audio reversals. I remember the Beatles White Album. I listened to the announcer say “Number Nine” on the song Revolution 9. When I played the record backwards, I was sure that I heard the announcer say “Turn me on, dead man”.
I was looking at how The Edge tracks his guitars in the recording studio. You can find an interesting report on his technique here.
Lanois did some recording with Eno in 1979. Eno was asked to produce an album for U2 and recruited Lanois to coproduce. Based on that work Peter Gabriel asked Lanois to coproduce his soundtrack to the 1984 film Birdy. Gabriel and Lanois also shared production credits for So and Us. Lanois coproduced U2’s The Joshua Tree with Eno and acted as principle producer for 1991’s Achtung Baby.
And, to top it off, Lanois is a Canadian. I suspect he influenced much of the sound that we hear from U2.