Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Why It Takes So Long To Paint A Recording Studio...

It has 12 ft high ceilings, or higher; there are three windows in every room; double doors; soundproofing panels which must all be cut-in around with a brush; and not a single right angle in the whole place.

Plus I'm very picky about how things are done.  I'm married to the place, after all.  I'm in debt for half a recording studio.  You're darn right I'm going to do my best work!

Sometimes I forget that the average person in this world doesn't know what the inside of a studio looks like.  Today's your lucky day though, because I'm giving you a special sneak peek inside our little Laboratory of Greatness...

This is one of our new Iso-booths.  Jethro calls it Booth B, or the drum booth.  I call it The Silo.  It's slowly taking hold as an official name, heh heh heh.  

With my trusty little Cyber-shot camera, I can't get the whole room in from floor to ceiling.  In this picture you can see up to the 12 ft height.  The yellow insulation will soon be covered with "architectural panel fabric" which is basically um, very expensive.  It's got to have a Class 1 Fire rating.  We do things right here, y'know.  And there's the blue ladder.  Ah yes, I spent a lot of time up there.  

In this shot you can see into Booth C, aka The Chicken Coop.  To the left is the window into the Live Room.  

Here's the door into the Silo.  It's a double door; you'll see the exterior door later in this post.  At this point, everything's been primered except what will be covered in insulation.

And here's the Silo door open, after I'd painted Montgomery White on the walls and Wilmington Tan on the trim.  Oh I know, so elegant, such gracious and classy names for biege!  It's like it's not even biege anymore because it's so uppity!  I do like these colours.  They're calming.  

From this window in The Silo, we can see into the Control Room.

When we turn around from there, we've got a view into the Live Room and the Chicken Coop.  

Oh look, here we are in the Chicken Coop, gawking in at The Silo and from there into the Control Room.  As you can see from the gear set up, there was a session in the next day.  Just because we're still under construction doesn't mean we don't have to, you know, earn a living.

I'd like to say that the yellow walls give off a warm glow but all I can think about is staying the heck away from it to avoid the insulation itch.  Yichhhh.    But it is amazing how a nice rug can really, um, tie the room together.  

We basically built a new building inside a building.  This is the new wall, which houses the new booths.  
The doors in front of you are to the Chicken Coop, then the Silo, and at the back, the Control Room, which is exactly where it was when the place was first built in the 90s. Up top, Jethro plans to put up a railing and make that little loft into his new office.  Yes, I'll be calling it the Hayloft.  I kind of have to, doncha think?  The higher level will become home to a whole whack of plants!!

I was standing in the doorway of the Control room to take this picture.  Those are the double doors to the Silo right in front of us.  On the far side of the Chicken Coop doors you can see the steps upstairs, and a little bit of the lounge.  To your right, not visible, is the kitchen.  This whole Iso-booth area used to be open space.  It was beautiful but... Jethro said it well.  "It's a recording studio, not a restaurant."  

Here I am last week, sitting on my cute scaffold, which is much tinier than Big Dusty Dude's man sized scaffold.  I sat most of last week after stepping stupidly off a 2 ft bench.  I'm over it now.  I mean, I'm not berating myself so much, and I'm walking without a limp!

Yeah, I know, the bandanna is way cool.  And yeah, I matched it to the green walls.  Dude.  I'm like, almost perfeshnul.  

Just dig me, laying on that perfect pale green on the trim.  Ohhh yeah.  We had to match the paint here to the original walls, and didn't quite have it on the first try.  Hey, four coats of paint just make the walls look smoother, right?  The guys got to roller on the green wall.  That's how the got four coats on in one day.  Meanwhile I got two sets of door trim done with my little paint brush.  Oh but if you could see those clean hinges... I'm so picky.

And finally, here is a look from inside the Live room, into the Chicken Coop on the left and the Silo on the right.  
The yellow wall is all painted up like it has always been that way.  You'd never know that the window into the Silo used to be the original door.  I still have to paint the trim, clean up the glass, and paint baseboards.  I figure with all the trim and doors left to paint, I've got two days of work.  (I've got a teenage helper this week who is done her exams, yay!)

I haven't shown pictures of the inside of the Chicken Coop, or the Piano booth, aka the Granary, because a) this post would get too long and b) I think they'd all start looking alike after a few more pictures.  

Now at this point, many people start asking two obvious questions that are so clear to me, that I forget how puzzling this can be.  

First of all, What exactly is an Iso-booth?  

It's basically a soundproof room.  It means that the musician inside is isolated from the others.  The Silo is legitimately soundproof; it's a room inside a room, with it's own floor built on top of rubber blocks.  The inner walls do not touch the outer walls, which eliminates vibration, buzzing, hums, and the noise from the garage next door!  Each wall is made of up several layers of particle board and drywall.  

The next logical question is... Why do you want all the musicians separated like that????  Aren't they supposed to be recorded together playing the same song?

Good question, and luckily for me I've been answering it the right way!

When each musician is in a separate room, they are wearing headphones so that they can hear each other as well as the engineer, who is in the Control Room.  If one screws up, the others can go on.  Later, only the messed up guitar track, for example, has to be re-recorded.  Truth is, most songs are done with many, many takes, with the best performances chosen for the song.  

Also, if everybody's in the same room, the instruments will all be "bleeding" onto each other.  You can imagine how serious this is with the drums.  They'll be in every single mic.  The drums have to be isolated.  So we put the drummer in the Silo.  I still think it'd be fun to put the drummer in a real silo!  Whoooo that'd be one hell of a reverb!

Of course, another good reason to isolate is protecting your music from the outside world.  Most studios, like ours, are located in busy cities.  You don't want the rhythmic beeping of a truck reversing to mess up your saxophone track.  Plus it's nice to keep the music inside the studio rather than all over the neighbourhood.  Believe it or not, not everybody likes jazz.  Or whatever it is they're working on that day.

Now Jethro is off to work for the day, and since he's got a session, I'm going to get a big round hay bale today for the horses at The Little Valley, and go for a ride.  That teenager who's off school for the week is going to get a lesson from me.  She's got to earn her keep, and I need teaching practice, so that's our day.  Tomorrow... back into a can of paint for us.

Any questions?


CindyDianne said...

I'd like to figure out a way for you to give me a lesson. Ponder that, would you? I think it might be a fun adventure.

CindyDianne said...

Oh, and I need you here because I am painting trim and it looks like you do a much better job then I do.

CindyDianne said...

And, apparently I don't have an amazing amount of curiosity about how music is recorded. I find that odd because I am normally quite curious. Borderline nosy even.

CindyDianne said...

I guess I'll stop now.

pseudosu said...

This is so interesting because some of my characters are musicians. I've often been curious about the recording process. It's cool to think about "what IS sound anyway?" what's the difference between what we head when we hear a band play live, and listen to a recording. Thanks!
ps-- You are so cute in your coveralls!

pseudosu said...

sorry- "hear" not "heaD". Typo queen strikes again.

Shelli said...

looks awesome!

Biddie said...

Yes, I have a question. Who did the taping? Shawn is VERY impressed!

Heidi the Hick said...

OH Bridget! I will tell the guys about Shawn being impressed! They were hoping they'd do it justice. It took forever to get it all straight... it took A LOT of that goopy sheetrock stuff... and so much sanding. There were heavy white clouds of drywall dust in the kitchen. For days. Weeks. We will be cleaning that stuff up for months, I'm sure.

(at this point I'm willing to say it's worth it!)


Shelli, thanks!

soodo-soooo, glad to help out, and any recording related questions, you just send 'em my way. And then I'll ask Jethro when he's half awake. It's amazing I get to know anything at that rate. Twenty years of sleep deprived mumbling, that's how I learned about the music making!

Cindy, you crack me up! I am pretty sure if you lived closer, or I lived closer, we could trade somehow. I don't know why you'd need a lesson though; I've seen pictures of you and JJ and you look like you ride just fine! As for music, you just keep listening and loving it and we'll sneak around and make sure there's enough of it to go around!

Heidi the Hick said...

Cindy, I just rethought that: I know why you would want a riding lesson. Because all of us can find a way to improve, every one of us who loves to ride.

Heidi said...

and here I thought it took so long because you were writing, and riding, and cleaning stalls, and raising kids....

very cool! I love the colors! and I know all that info will come in handy for you in some book! That's why we do everything, right? To have experience we can put into a book???

CindyDianne said...

I mean - couldn't you send exercises for me to do and then I could try to do them and video tape them? And then send the tape to you and you could watch and critique? Then, I could implement all your wonderful advice and stuff?

Besides, I like to see what others think of my riding. Plus, it might get me motivated to DO SOMETHING.

Heidi the Hick said...

Oh Cindy, that's actually a very good idea that I've never thought of!!! Let me think it over and figure out how we can pull it off; I'm not real slick with technology but that could be fun. Could be a helpful challenge for me to think of exercises to work on. Cool!

Heidi- Yep, this will come in handy in a book someday, I'm sure! And, I'm kinda tired...!

coffeypot said...

Okay, Missy! Which room is for the orgies and drugs and booze and stuff? I know about all you rockers. I've seen it on TV.

uh! Can I come over and play?

Heidi the Hick said...

Yeah actually that's all going on across the parking lot at the "spa".

(It's a slightly skeevy part of town...)

marsh to the fore said...

You've got such a neat group of correspondents. I love Cindy Dianne. You can tell her so.

I so am amazed at you--up on that ladder--painting that blasted recording studio. I hope you are appreciated.

How's the ankle? I twisted mine once walking from a hallway to a livingroom--a fancy one--that dropped an inch or two and I didn't realize it. Pain. Owe. I still remember it.

I have a niece who's married to a musician. I've half a mind to send her a link to your site. She's also into horses. Mind? Her name is Anna and she is one neat gal.

Lynn Sinclair said...

All that painting! You're my hero.