Rick Camp Travels With Beyonc

Engineers tend to fall into two categories: live or studio. Occasionally, a studio denizen goes on the road and vice versa, but it's the rare engineer who's at home in both situations. Rick Camp is one of those individuals.
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Engineers tend to fall into two categories: live or studio. Occasionally, a studio denizen goes on the road and vice versa, but it's the rare engineer who's at home in both situations. Rick Camp is one of those individuals.
RCamp.jpg

Engineers tend to fall into two categories: live or studio.
Occasionally, a studio denizen goes on the road and vice versa, but
it's the rare engineer who's at home in both situations. Rick Camp is
one of those individuals. With 22 years of experience, he's hardly new
at this, having worked with top performers such as Earth, Wind &
Fire, Madonna, Erykah Badu, Burt Bacharach and Destiny's Child, as well
as recent solo tours with DC's Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé
Knowles.

What's also unusual is that after mixing at front of house for
Beyoncé's last tour, Camp immediately went back to his Reel Tyme
Recording studio in Southern California to mix Beyoncé's concert
DVD, which he recorded live at London's Wembley Arena and is slated for
release this month.

These days, more and more live recordings are tracked simply by
printing every channel from the house console to a strategically placed
hard disk recorder or MDM rack. But with this project, Camp had the
luxury of working inside a recording truck, which was provided by
London's Sanctuary Mobiles. “We stored the 64-track show onto a
Sony PCM-3348 and a couple DA-88s for the crowd mics and spill
over,” Camp explains. Ironically, after months of mixing FOH for
Beyoncé on tour, Camp turned over the house mixing duties to
someone else for these dates, but as he says, “It's tough mixing
a show with 64 inputs, but it's easier to do the FOH mix than supervise
the recording, and I needed to be in the truck.”

After the show, the 64 tracks were transferred to 48kHz Pro Tools
session files so that Camp could mix the live DVD at Reel Tyme.
London-based Scarlet Productions was handling all of the video editing,
which brought up a minor snag: “The whole thing was done in PAL,
so I had to rent a PAL-to-NTSC converter to see the video.”

Once into the project, things went smoothly. Camp used a hybrid mix
that was partly done on his Sony DMX digital console using some
favorite outboard goodies — Avalons and a Lexicon 480L —
while the rest of the DVD was mixed entirely within Pro Tools with, as
Camp describes, a “gang of plug-ins: Focusrite, Waves stuff,
1176s, Pultecs and more.” For surround monitoring, Camp relies on
Genelecs: “I have 1031s all around with three 1092 subs.
I've never had a problem with these translating to anywhere. I love
'em.”

After months of listening to Beyoncé live from the best seat in
the house, Camp had his mind set on how to approach the DVD mix.
“I'll move with the picture somewhat, but the overall mix is from
the front-of-house perspective that I'm used to from mixing her on the
road. It's me sitting in the center with the crowd around me,”
Camp explains. “I've listened to lots of 5.1 concert mixes and I
don't agree with mixing the show from the perspective of the artist
onstage.” In addition to adding crowd ambience in the rear
channels, Camp printed reverb and some of the band into the surround
channels. “This creates what you'd normally hear bouncing off the
back wall, just like the house engineer's perspective in a live
show.”

Camp began the production process “by creating a stereo mix
that I liked. I saved that stereo mix as another Pro Tools session and
changed all the pan pots to 5.1,” he explains. “I then
started moving things around, like the crowd and some of the
instruments to create the 5.1 mix. Going the other way around —
starting in 5.1 and the doing stereo mixes — would have been
twice as hard.”

The project's studio part was relatively simple as compared to the
logistical issues, but here, technology came to the rescue. “I
finished the stereo mixes first. The finished DVD is due out in a month
[May 1, 2004], and with customs delays and shipping, we didn't even
have enough time to FedEx the mixes,” Camp says. “I went to
Universal Mastering in North Hollywood, took my stereo Pro Tools mix
with timecode and sent it over Wham-Net, which is like a quad T-1 phone
transfer but very private and very secure. We first
‘Wham-Netted’ the stereo mix so they could do the stereo
playbacks in London. Then they'll FedEx the picture to Sony in New York
for the final conforming and conversion to NTSC and do the Dolby
Digital encoding on the final 5.1 mixes that I'm sending out tonight.
The 5.1 mixes are delivered as a FireWire drive with mix files as Pro
Tools session files, along with a backup on DA-88 tapes.”

Camp has only positive things to say about working with this year's
multi-Grammy Award — winning sensation. “Mixing
Beyoncé is a pleasure because she's a real singer and makes it
easy. There is hardly an overdub on this project — it's 95
percent live Beyoncé. In my 22 years of mixing, I've never come
across anyone who could deliver like she does: vocally and her ability
to do a show. I've seen this young woman run across a 60-foot stage,
hit every note and never miss a thing. And that makes my job so much
easier.”

George Petersen is Mix's editorial director.