REVENGE OF THE ONE-EARED MONSTER
I was reading Paul Lehrman's July column and couldn't help but laugh out loud. I'd love to be able to say that his experience was uncommon, but I've heard many horror stories about dub houses. I mixed a sitcom pilot episode last month that was being produced by a local comedian. It was a Pro Tools mix, as well, mastered to DV. The guy insisted on using this dub house in New York. We sent instructions that it was a stereo mixed master, etc. The tapes came back overmodulated and mixed to mono, with a 7.5-second audio dropout 26 minutes into the program. Sounded like someone had pulled the audio patch cords for a second and then replaced them. I can probably count on one hand the number of times during the past six years that I have seen any kind of documentation regarding the audio.
ONE-EARED MONSTER: THE PREQUEL
I read with interest Paul Lehrman's anguished “Insider Audio” column (“The One-Eared Monster,” July 2003) about the perils of making VHS dubs.
Paul brought up a number of good points, but he also made several major mistakes of his own:
- Don't ever go for the cheapest bidder on a project. Often, when you spend a little more money (and do it carefully), you get better work.
- Don't leave something important like VHS dubs to an out-of-town dub house and let them do it without any quality control. If it's that important, then I say go there and supervise the work yourself. Be present in the room when the dubs are happening so that you can keep an eye on what's going on.
- I question your overall levels, particularly for a VHS release. The rule of thumb in the broadcast community is for an operating level at -20 (on a digital scale), with peaks not exceeding -10. This is typically done to avoid creating problems with analog satellite transmissions. In reality, it's not much of a problem anymore, because so many facilities routinely use peak limiting, which explains why so many TV projects sound “squashed.” That said, I believe you need a little bit of compression for VHS, simply because a superwide dynamic range isn't always desirable for a program that is viewed on TV.
- You also commented that MiniDV decks don't have separate digital audio inputs. Actually, some pro decks do, particularly some of the industrial JVCs and the dual-format Sony DVCam decks, which can record standard DV, as well. The reality is, you would've been better off taking your Beta SP master, dubbing it straight across to DigiBeta and then laying back your final Pro Tools audio to the DigiBeta. That way, you would've had zero loss in picture quality, no additional compression for audio or video, and uncompromised audio quality.
- Instead of going through all of this pain and expense to make substandard VHS tapes, why not send out DVDs? I bet you could have rented a decent stand-alone pro Pioneer DVD recorder for a few hundred bucks and then made your own discs, one at a time, in a few days. I know firms that can knock out 100 DVDs overnight for just a few dollars each.
Studio Blue Ltd.
Q: WHAT CAN SAVE THE MUSIC INDUSTRY?
A: MORAL MAJORITY
Though I should start by saying that it's probably too late. MTV has been the end of intelligent music, regardless of style, for some time. When you have to watch your music (and you're not reading a score), it's too late.
The solution is to get parents and schools to examine and teach music history so that we can learn where we came from, identify what people are listening to and finally understand (and admit) how much music has to do with American morality. Perhaps if listeners knew, they would demand more from their “artists,” who would, in turn, make more stimulating music.
It is the industry's fault for taking advantage of our youth. They are musical pimps. What you can do today is turn a loved one onto something musically different. And support live, local music.
I was reading the article on Justin Niebank (“Mix Masters,” July 2003) and was pleased to learn that he uses the Radial JD7 Injector on his latest recording. In your article, this was credited to the guys at Radikal Technologies. This should have been caught by your editorial staff. We are Radial Engineering. We dwell in the frozen northern land of Canada. We build direct boxes, snake systems, funky tube distortion pedals and the Radial JD7 Injector.
Peter L. Janis
IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING, SET IT FREE…
If radio had just been invented this year, the record companies would be crying, “This will put us out of business! People will just record the music they want off of their radios and stop buying our products. How do we compete with free?”
Why can't the record companies make money in the same way Nabster [sic] and others have become multimillion-dollar companies? They could set up a Website and give the %$#&ing music away. Let them supplement their supposed losses of CD sales by selling advertising space on their Websites. This is a time when billions of advertising dollars are being removed from TV advertising and retargeted toward Web surfers. Some of these same companies produce TV shows that are paid for by advertisers' money, and radio airplay (paid for by advertisers) has been generating income for years.
And what will become of CD sales? Remember those things called books? They are still sold by the millions. Why aren't people scanning books and trading them on the Net? Answer: People want stuff — something to hold, artwork and information on the artist. You can't wrap an MP3 and give it to someone as a holiday gift. The record executives need to start listening to their customers (the ones who pay the bills) and stop listening to their lawyers (the ones trying to justify their jobs).