Nashville Skyline

When digital recording first arrived on the scene in the '80s, Nashville was first in line to sign up for the format. Legendary producer and record exec Jimmy Bowen spearheaded the city's embrace of the new direction, and, when ADAT arrived and eventually DAWs, Music City bought into them in a big way, too — from commercial facilities to songwriter home studios.

When digital recording first arrived on the scene in the '80s,Nashville was first in line to sign up for the format. Legendaryproducer and record exec Jimmy Bowen spearheaded the city's embrace ofthe new direction, and, when ADAT arrived and eventually DAWs, MusicCity bought into them in a big way, too — from commercialfacilities to songwriter home studios.

Over the years, I had been watching the development of recordingsoftware that worked in native computer environments. One company thatI always thought was onto a good thing was Steinberg. I always feltthat it was a matter of time before personal computer power was suchthat one could run heavy-duty recording applications and do seriouswork. While Steinberg had some great programs, like Cubase VST andWaveLab, I felt that they really “arrived” with a programcalled Nuendo. I wasn't alone in that feeling, as Chuck Ainlay, one ofNashville's (and the recording world's) finestengineer/mixer/producers, jumped onboard with great enthusiasm for theprogram and its capabilities.

This summer, I was offered the chance to check out a Nuendo seminarthat was put on by Nashville's Primal Gear. Primal Gear ( sells and supports a widevariety of new and vintage gear and is located on Music Row. The PrimalGear Nuendo Power Users School — which was held at BelmontUniversity in The Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Businesswing of the school — was conceived to provide a formal trainingto teach the ins and outs of the Nuendo program (for both Mac and PC),including the latest edition: 2.0.

“In selling the Nuendo system, we noticed that no trainingcourse had been offered by the manufacturer, Steinberg,” saysPrimal Gear owner Duncan Rowe. “We presented the idea to thefolks at Steinberg and they gave us their blessing to develop acurriculum and offer formal training.

“The first Primal Gear Nuendo Power Users School was held inDecember '02, also at Belmont, and it was a great success. Twelvepeople attended, making it a nice, intimate group, which gave us plentyof opportunity for individual attention,” Rowe continues.“We are currently running the school each quarter with the nexttwo-day course set for September 28 to 29. We find that with eachcourse, we make improvements. We have each attendee fill out anevaluation form at the end of the course and ask for suggestions. Wehave had nothing but positive feedback so far, and our instructor,Steve Mabee, receives great praise each time.”

From my perspective, Mabee was an excellent teacher. As anadmittedly old-school kind of guy, I've never thrown myself into thewhole DAW and recording software world. I've always just hired peoplewho could work it. From the beginning of the session, Mabee covered allof the points and answered everyone's questions in as much detail aswas needed in a very clear fashion. A half hour into the event, I waspretty stoked, as were the other students who represented a wide range:from young recording school graduates to more experienced engineerslooking to keep up with new technology and introduce themselves to theDAW world. It was interesting to me that the school, just in its secondsession, has already attracted attendees from as far as Connecticut andNorth Carolina.

“I think the idea of the Nuendo School came from watching theway Nuendo users worked with the application,” states Mabee.“In using the Nuendo software, I knew that most of our clientswere only touching the surface of what it was really capable of. Mostof our clients start working with Nuendo right before big projects andare so busy that they never have the chance to really get in depth withit. The idea was to educate the students about the application and makethem understand how they can create the answers to their own questions.When the student leaves the class, we not only want them to walk awaywith the knowledge we gave them about the operation of the program, butalso the knowledge to be able to answer their own questions in thefuture.

“In the writing of the curriculum, Wesley Bulla and I tried tofocus on designing the course on real-world needs,” adds Mabee.“We set up the classroom in a semi-circle and outfitted every twostudents with their own Nuendo rig. Every task I perform on theprojector screen can easily be mimicked by the students, keeping theclass highly interactive and less monotonous. We also set up two FAQsessions every day where we attempt to interact with each studentone-on-one, making sure that the large amount of information is sinkingin.”

One of my classmates was engineer/mixer Bob Bullock, who has beeninvolved with some heavy-duty projects over the years, includingworking with Robert “Mutt” Lange on Shania Twain's albums,as well as releases from George Strait, Reba McEntire, Waylon Jennings,Patty Loveless, The Tubes, Nanci Griffith, John Prine and ToddSnider.

“I feel I gained in two days what would have taken two monthsto learn any other way,” says Bullock, who not only works in manyof the main studios in Nashville, but also runs his own facility, TheDining Room. “I still feel I am a friend and a client to theprofessional re-cording studio. At the same time, I am glad I haveNuendo to work with at other studios, as well as my home.”

On the second day, Primal Gear brought in Karl McBride of TechRepMarketing, and he gave everyone the lowdown on a number of softwareprograms and libraries that interface well with Nuendo, particularlyThe Grand, Groove Agent, Halion String Edition and Virtual Guitarist(acoustic and electric editions). In the near future, Primal Gear isplanning on augmenting the course with a DVD that should be completedby early next year.

I was told by Primal Gear that Steinberg was going to be puttingon an event during Summer NAMM in Sound Stage Studios and SAEInstitute.

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One of the day's highlights involved a NAPRS-sponsored paneldiscussion, featuring producer/engineers Chuck Ainlay, Jeff Balding,Gary Paczosa, Steve Bishir, George Massenburg and Tony Brown. Thisevent marked one of the first public appearances by Brown, who suffereda near-fatal fall in April. The panel covered topics ranging from howDAWs have changed the production flow, getting started as an engineer,hi-res and surround (they all like it), the future of music and how itwill be released (no one knew), and their first piece of gear. Therewas a surround demonstration at the outset of the panel, featuring workby each of the panelists. The sound was delivered through an NHT systemthat was quite impressive.

During the day at Sound Stage, Primal Gear offered an edited versionof its Nuendo Basics School, while engineers Bishir and Paczosademonstrated real-world applications of Nuendo with recording andmixing sessions. A common denominator for all of the engineers involvedis their enthusiasm for Studio Network Solutions' A/V SAN, as they allhave recently added it to their arsenal of gear. Studio NetworkSolutions was demonstrating its storage solutions in a workshop atSAE.

Besides Studio Network Solutions and Steinberg, there were alsoproduct demonstrations by NHT Pro, Apogee and Waves. Steinberg,however, was rolling out Nuendo 2.0, and one of the day's highlightsinvolved a live Nuendo recording of a rootsy trio called Blue MotherTupelo, which I was told was discovered by Brown. He introduced theband from the stage and, for the next couple of hours, everyone wastreated to a set of spirited blues rock that included originals and asmart cover of Junior Kimbrough's “Meet Me in theCity.”

Audio-Technica provided all of the mics for the stage, and ClairBrothers Audio supplied the incredible sound. Ainlay, Paczosa,Massenburg and Bishir took turns recording the live performance toNuendo in Ainlay's studio, BackStage.

The idea for this event was born out of Ainlay's desire to offersome more pro audio options for Summer NAMM attendees. “I justthought it would be great to bring together some of the coolest gearthat I use, good food and drink, and interesting discussion to fill asummer day. We hope to make this a tradition,” he said after theevent.

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