Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tour Dates 2011 and Facebook Live Q&A

Howdy all!

As spring/summer approaches, it’s time again to hit the road. This time, aside from being joined by my ‘other thirds’ (ie, Terry White & Greg Rewis), we’ve augmented our trio to become a quartet, adding the services and on-stage presence of Paul Trani, our dedicated Mobile & Flash evangelist here at Adobe. We’re crossing the globe (as per usual) but we’ll have some friends/colleagues stepping in here and there, simply because the experiments to clone us were unsuccessful ;P

But before I list tour dates, we’ll also be hosting a live Facebook Q&A session on Monday, April 11th at 9am PDT. If you’ve got CS5-related questions, this is the place to ask them! Check it out HERE

Details and registration links to follow, but this should give you an idea of where and when. All cities will host the four of us, unless otherwise noted…

May 02 Gothenburg
May 03 Stockholm
May 04 Oslo
May 05 Czech Republic [Jason, Greg, with local staff]
May 06 Helsinki [Terry W, Paul Trani, Tommi Luhtanen]
May 09 Copenhagen
May 11 London
May 19-21 Warsaw
May 23 Amsterdam
May 23 Seoul [Paul Burnett, Michael Stoddart, Tommi Luhtanen]
May 24 Kortrijk/MultiMania  [Other Adobe staff]
May 24 Hong Kong [Paul, Michael, Tommi]
May 25 Moscow
May 25 Taipei [Paul, Michael, Tommi]
May 27 Istanbul
May 27 Singapore [Paul, Michael, Tommi]
May 31 Sydney
May 31 Beijing [Paul, Michael, Tommi]
June 02 Melbourne
June 02 Mumbai [Paul, Michael, Tommi]
June 7-8 Paris- [Other Adobe Staff]
June 9-11 Barcelona OFFF Festival [Other Adobe staff]
June 13-14 Sao Paolo
June 17 Mexico City
June 17 Skellefteå, Nordics event [Other Adobe staff]

Blog on.

The Sound of Small Drums

Does size really matter? Well, without getting into that conversation, I can only say this: it’s more about where you place the microphone.

Now, that comment may have a few readers scoffing, perhaps clicking away immediately at my perverse and unnecessary use of innuendo; but literally, I’m talking about microphone placement, and the case-in-point is the track I’ve uploaded below from recent sessions (detailed in my last blog entry)

Gotta Get Up – Live, from Take 1

I needed a drum kit (preferably a silver/black pearl Ludwig, circa 1970); I didn’t have one. However, I was able to very easily acquire (and mic-up) a children’s drum set. One kick (approx 14″), one snare (approx 8″x5″), one tom and one (8″ splash) cymbal. Two condenser microphones, placed appropriately, with a -20dB pad on both, a little soundproofing in and around the kick, and I was able to turn that ‘little tots’ set into something that sounds, well, big and thumpy. Hear it for yourself. Do those sound like ‘kids drums’ to you? I’ll answer that: No.

My sonically-matched stereo pair, AT4041 Condensers

This is one of the many passions of mine, microphone technique. Way back in the day, my specialties in the studio (which I become somewhat known for) were drum miking, bass miking and vocal capture. I had some amazing teachers (all old-school cats who engineered countless classic records from the likes of Atlantic Studios, Ocean Way Recorders, even Abbey Road and Trident Studios in the UK) and they really hammered the idea into my head that you can essentially make ‘any’ instrument sound good (and more importantly, make it sound bigger than it is) if you simply put the mics in the right place. It’s still true, and I’m forever indebted to their fine teachings.

The set-up here was a little odd, in that I actually recorded the piano first (solo, no vocals), then played drums to the piano track (which, if you know about how difficult that is, means that my timing had to be spot-on!) and then overdubbed vocals later. This was the process for each song, as I didn’t feel like setting up 4-8 mics at once; so I effectively stereo-mic’ed my baby-grand piano, recorded all the piano parts I needed. Then, I moved the mics to the drums, overdubbed all of those parts, then used one mic to add some rough vocals.

In any case, what you hear is what was done in that session. Everything was done in a live take (ie, no edits) and this will provide the backing for what will eventually be a fully-produced cut (or rather, series of cuts). The song above is an old Harry Nilsson song, and a favorite of mine for years. It’s main lyric also seemed to fit appropriately with my ‘post-sabbatical, back to work’ status. Hope you like it.

Blog on.

Post-Sabbatical, Projects & Prime Lenses

It’s been well over a month (approaching two) since I last blogged, and now that I’m back to work (following my 10-week sabbatical…the BEST time ever) I figured now was as good of a time as any to provide some updates.

As reported back in December/January, my sabbatical was filled with all kinds of things: music, family & friends, recording sessions, photography, Macallan 12; and once I got back in the groove, I realized that it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to really ‘finish’ a good deal of the projects that I started. Pity, as that generally isn’t my style (I’m definitely the start-and-finish-in-record-time, move-onto-the-next-thing type person). However, there were a few snippets and pieces of things that I felt merited posting here and sharing, at least in their early, not-yet-fully-realised form.

Live Music, BoodahJooMusic-style
One of the benefits of sabbatical was that I was finally able to sit down and realise a few music projects that have been buzzing around in my head for the past three years. Considering Greg, Terry and I have spent the better part of 600+ days on the road during that time, it’s no surprise that it’s taken this long to get *anything* done, let alone multiple things. Case in point: I wound up recording about 14 different songs, meant for 3 different projects, all in very short bursts of inspiration. The instrumentation on these master takes? Piano, drums, vocals, and the occasional acoustic bass. In a-typical fashion, I laid down piano first, testing my own timing chops, (which proved to be wonderfully in tact) followed by drum kit (played on kids drums; yes, an actual child’s drum set) and then laid down whatever vocals were needed for reference.

One kick, one snare, one tom...miniaturized.

I’ll post a few snippets of the rough mixes shortly. It’s a mixture of obscure covers (again, in multiple genres) and even some stuff in Hindi. Yes, Hindi. I can sing it, and I love it! Now, if that’s not mildly intriguing…

New Album Sessions with Fred Fung
Fred and I have been collaborating for nearly 20 years, and last week we went back to ‘our’ roots (so to speak) and recorded a series of more traditional-sounding tracks & grooves utilizing his incredible (and varied) collection of authentic Asian and Middle Eastern instruments.
Tuning the Yangqin
A longtime master of the Chinese Hammered Dulcimer (also known as the Yangqin, pictured above) I decided to capture Fred playing live, while I typically accompanied him on Dumbek or Tavil, or a variety of other doubled-sided drums whose names I don’t know;P
Percussion variations
Following those initial live takes, we’d switch, me moving to the Bass Lute (imagine a mariachi bass, but with an Asian flare) and he on either Bawu, Dong Xiao or additional percussion.
Trad Bass Lute Headstock
In short, we recorded about 10 different tunes over two days. Some of these will likely be used in some of our upcoming Adobe asset projects (we’re always creating new assets to showcase the products). Here’s a snippet called Wei Wan Dilbara Groove, recorded with only the instruments you see here.

Bizznesscard Commercial
A good friend of mine asked if I’d be willing to shoot and edit a commercial for his new bizzness…the business in question, is Bizznesscard. In short, Bizznesscard is a company that enables small business owners to market themselves online, with ease. You don’t have to be technical, you don’t have to understand coding or SEO, nor do you have to listen to the likes of Guy Kawasaki to make yourself heard and seen on Twitter and other social networks. Bizznesscard’s unique offering literally allows the small business owner to compile, drive and promote their business online, from ONE place; and they even provide great online tutorials to help get you started.

The video won’t go live for another few weeks, but you can certainly ping them now and get more information (and more importantly, get started!). Here’s a brief snapshot from the video, shot with my Canon7D and EF 50mm f/1.2 lens. All naturally lit, with dual system audio captured via the camera (+ RODE mic) and Adobe Audition on the Mac with Audio-Technica condenser lav mic thru my MOTU Traveler.

Still extracted from video, shot with Canon7D + 50mm f/1.2

You can currently find them on Twitter as well, so be sure to drop my buddy Scott a line. They’d love to hear from you, and they really know what they’re doing. This concept is a great one, and something I really believe in too.

Lastly, even moreso than making music, I was taking pictures. Hundreds or pictures. I really put my new lenses to the test, both on random walkabouts in the desert, as well as in Los Cabos, Mexico and even at Disneyland. I also had the opportunity to create an actual ‘complete’ slideshow of our Egypt Tour (from November) so if you’d like to check it all out, visit my Flickr page.

Until next time,
Blog on.