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Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.
Old 6th January 2021
  #1
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🎧 15 years
Lightbulb Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.

As many of you good folks know, I specialize in on location live performance recording, production and broadcasting. Whether it's in some remote location or at a live concert environment, on certain projects when I'm primary audio, and have a killer mix happening during the origination, I also include my stem mixes with my individual tracks. As a point of reference, I also include the FOH mix or other ancillary mix to the multitrack masters.

These stems could be broken down as a Rhythm Section mix, a Keys mix, Acoustic (strings) mix, Acoustic (horns) mix, Backing Vocals mix, Audience mix and such.

My stems each have individual signal processing (including reverb and FX) with their own settings relative to that particular stem mix. Those processed stems then feed the master buss which then feeds the broadcast, video production, live stream, etc.

This way, by tracking my stem mixes, if everything is "everything" during the capture, and I need to do a remix, I could just rebalance the stems and add the individual tracks as needed. If I have to remix one or more of the stems, so be it.

This concept helps me keep the vibe of the origination while potentially saving time in post.

What say you?
Old 6th January 2021
  #2
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It's a really good idea. The question is, can you build your stems on a one-nighter, after a short or nonexistent sound check or is this something that takes a few shows to put together? All the multi-tracks that I have captured, I have managed to get the mics to the tracks and a mix to two more and that's about it. I'm happy to have a clean multi-track for the mixer to work with with the luxury of time to correct mistakes.

I am certain that if I did as many multi-track live performances and broadcast mixes (is my jealousy showing?), I would have the confidence to try some more tricks, or as we used to say at Clair, Castle Building.

D.
Old 6th January 2021
  #3
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Steve, can you approach it another way...let's say a live to air stereo broadcast (so, no Time-shifting it to a 'live concert broadcast' a week or two later...allowing studio mixing...but real genuine 'get it right on the night' : getting the mix solidified within the first 40-60 secs of the first song)

In this context, would you be mixing with a digital (or analog ?) desk...or control surface...where those stems you describe correspond to physical submix faders, which all feed into a stereo master output ?

Or would you be mixing via mouse alone, all entirely within a DAW (ProTools)....where there's no necessary corollary between your stems and group/subgroup faders ? I can appreciate that every individual input/track plus every sub-group or stem gets routinely recorded for later remix....but what actually gets your sole undivided attention on the actual concert/broadcast night ?
Old 6th January 2021
  #4
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I definitely want to respond to your posts, but I'm busy finishing up a couple of projects. I trust I will get to these questions and observations either later tonight or tomorrow.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
It's a really good idea. The question is, can you build your stems on a one-nighter, after a short or nonexistent sound check or is this something that takes a few shows to put together? All the multi-tracks that I have captured, I have managed to get the mics to the tracks and a mix to two more and that's about it. I'm happy to have a clean multi-track for the mixer to work with with the luxury of time to correct mistakes.

I am certain that if I did as many multi-track live performances and broadcast mixes (is my jealousy showing?), I would have the confidence to try some more tricks, or as we used to say at Clair, Castle Building.

D.

Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Steve, can you approach it another way...let's say a live to air stereo broadcast (so, no Time-shifting it to a 'live concert broadcast' a week or two later...allowing studio mixing...but real genuine 'get it right on the night' : getting the mix solidified within the first 40-60 secs of the first song)

In this context, would you be mixing with a digital (or analog ?) desk...or control surface...where those stems you describe correspond to physical submix faders, which all feed into a stereo master output ?

Or would you be mixing via mouse alone, all entirely within a DAW (ProTools)....where there's no necessary corollary between your stems and group/subgroup faders ? I can appreciate that every individual input/track plus every sub-group or stem gets routinely recorded for later remix....but what actually gets your sole undivided attention on the actual concert/broadcast night ?
Old 6th January 2021
  #5
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The primary problem will always be dealing with the Hot back line influence in the primary FOH mix and the potential need to approach individual channel re-mixes. IMO any large channel count multi-track recording that is capturing a hot back line band should be based on pre amp only recording for each individual channel. Addressing the differences on this basis will require more mix time initially, however it will result in a better final two mix.

Question: do you use DCAs to control your groups? I find then very handy to work with for my bigger channel count jobs.
Hugh
Old 6th January 2021 | Show parent
  #6
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🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
(...)I also include my stem mixes with my individual tracks. As a point of reference, I also include the FOH mix or other ancillary mix to the multitrack masters.

These stems could be broken down as a Rhythm Section mix, a Keys mix, Acoustic (strings) mix, Acoustic (horns) mix, Backing Vocals mix, Audience mix and such.

My stems each have individual signal processing (including reverb and FX) with their own settings relative to that particular stem mix. Those processed stems then feed the master buss which then feeds the broadcast, video production, live stream, etc.

This way, by tracking my stem mixes, if everything is "everything" during the capture, and I need to do a remix, I could just rebalance the stems and add the individual tracks as needed. If I have to remix one or more of the stems, so be it.

This concept helps me keep the vibe of the origination while potentially saving time in post.

What say you?
pretty much the same here: direct outputs of undividual channel, subgroubs/matrices/stems/desk mixes all go to the multitrack since the days of the da88's (or adat for other folks).

on small to medium projects, my track list (for a full madi stream) looks like this:

trk 01-40 direct outputs of indvidual channels, off the preamp/a-d converter, occasionally including filters and/or dynamic processing (i can move the position of the direct out anywhere in the signal path).

trk 41-56 eight stereo subgroups/stems including efx

trk 57-64 surround plus stereo master including processing

larger project can occupy up to three madi streams (i'm using a rme madiface xt as my main interface) and then have more direct outputs, more subgroups/stems/matrices.

___


maybe worth noting that a) my desk allows for an almost unlimited number of channels/auxes/groups/stems/matrices/mix-minus/masters and dca's, b) even my dca's can have dsp (sic!) and c) i'm using dca's (*) and subgroups/matrices/stems in somewhat different ways:

the latter refer to 'logical' groups of instruments while the former refer to musicians: all the instruments a multi-instrumentalist is playing get controlled by a dca (or multiple dca's) while his/her instruments can also go to subgroups, depending on type of instrument.

my normal list of subgroup for rock/blues/jazz looks like this:

drums
perc
bass
guit
keys
horns
strings
voc
electronics/playback/miscellanious/spare
ambis


for classical, mostly like this:
1st
2nd
vla
celli
bass
horns
reeds
percussion
soloists
choir
organ
electronics/playback/miscellanious/spare
ambis

as a standard, i have my desk configured for 128 mic/line/digital inputs, 128 tape returns, 128 direct outputs, 12 stereo auxes, 12 mono auxes, 12 stereo subgroups, 12 mono subgroups, 12 stereo matrices, 12 mono matrices, 40 stem groups of varying width (mono, stereo, l/c/r, quad, 5.1), 2 surround masters, 2 stereo masters, 6 mono masters, 30 dca's...

...which mostly gets the job done :-)

___

in addition to stems and dca's, another layer of organization is the temporary gang feature which can get applied to every parameter and to every input and/or output in an instant: very handy not only for setting up the desk but say to adjust the hpf on al 1st violin or toms etc. or eq on rhe output so there won't be any phase shift between different arrays, to route to stems etc.

i'm also making use of my three different modes of mix-minus mixes, one of which allow for communication between artists and techs (and me monitoring) between songs without the audience getting to hear their internal communication.

finally, i can split or more precisely isolate one section of my desk for true two-operator mode - having four internal screens certainly helps to organize things too.

frankly, on very high profile shows, i wouldn't know how to do without all (or at least most of) these extra features...

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse ➡️
Question: do you use DCAs to control your groups? I find then very handy to work with for my bigger channel count jobs.
Hugh
yes, absolutely - see above (*)

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 8th January 2021 at 08:23 PM.. Reason: edited twice for additional information
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tourtelot ➡️
It's a really good idea. The question is, can you build your stems on a one-nighter, after a short or nonexistent sound check or is this something that takes a few shows to put together? All the multi-tracks that I have captured, I have managed to get the mics to the tracks and a mix to two more and that's about it. I'm happy to have a clean multi-track for the mixer to work with with the luxury of time to correct mistakes.

I am certain that if I did as many multi-track live performances and broadcast mixes (is my jealousy showing?), I would have the confidence to try some more tricks, or as we used to say at Clair, Castle Building.

D.
I can indeed build my stems on a one-nighter, because I have a system in how things get organized before we arrive at the event for load in and sound check. My console is built prior to the arrival, and any changes will be addressed onsite. 

Like I mentioned above, on the projects when I'm primary audio, I like to include my stem mixes with the individual tracks. As a point of reference, I also include the FOH mix or other ancillary mix to the multitrack masters. 
This concept helps me keep the vibe of the origination, while potentially saving me time in post. I usually start with rebalancing the stems, then add the individual tracks as needed. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by studer58 ➡️
Steve, can you approach it another way...let's say a live to air stereo broadcast (so, no Time-shifting it to a 'live concert broadcast' a week or two later...allowing studio mixing...but real genuine 'get it right on the night' : getting the mix solidified within the first 40-60 secs of the first song)

In this context, would you be mixing with a digital (or analog ?) desk...or control surface...where those stems you describe correspond to physical submix faders, which all feed into a stereo master output ?

Or would you be mixing via mouse alone, all entirely within a DAW (ProTools)....where there's no necessary corollary between your stems and group/subgroup faders ? I can appreciate that every individual input/track plus every sub-group or stem gets routinely recorded for later remix....but what actually gets your sole undivided attention on the actual concert/broadcast night ?
My live to air stereo broadcast mixes also use my stem mix technique for the stereo broadcast mix. Each of the stems have individual signal processing (including reverb and FX) with their own settings relative to that particular stem mix. Those processed stems then feed the master buss which then feeds the broadcast, video production, live stream, etc. 

Using my stem mix concept when when balancing a live stereo mix is an excellent way in getting the mix solidified within the first song. 

These days, I'm (pretty much) always mixing with a digital desk. In any case, those stem mixes will always correspond to physical submix faders, which all feed into a stereo master output.
When I'm tracking, and only providing a rough or monitor mix, I may use a DAW in static mode while mixing via mouse alone. This DAW (ProTools/Reaper/Harrison) would be an additional third (parked) recorder to my two digital hard drive recorders. I may include a DAW controller on large track count dates. 

Keep in mind that the stem mixes are primarily balances to help the cause and effect of the live stereo mix during the actual concert/broadcast performance. My stems, my stereo mix, and any other outside mix (like FOH or broadcast truck mix) will also be tracked with the individual tracks. The multitracks are captured accordingly, then, I build my stem mixes to feed my stereo master buss. My sole undivided attention during the capture is keeping an eye, and ear on all of the above. 

These stems could be broken down as, Band, Keys, Strings, Horns, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals, Audience, and such.
I attached an image of the stem groups I created for the Harry Connick Jr. date we did a while back.


Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse ➡️
The primary problem will always be dealing with the Hot back line influence in the primary FOH mix and the potential need to approach individual channel re-mixes. IMO any large channel count multi-track recording that is capturing a hot back line band should be based on pre amp only recording for each individual channel. Addressing the differences on this basis will require more mix time initially, however it will result in a better final two mix.

Question: do you use DCAs to control your groups? I find then very handy to work with for my bigger channel count jobs.
Hugh
I don't find a problem dealing with the hot backline influence when capturing the individual multitrack, and creating the individual stem mixes (with signal processing) that will eventually feed the master stereo buss. The primary FOH mix that I'm also recording on the multitrack recorders is there purely as a reference.

I have rarely needed to remix my stems during post production.

My small or large track count multi-track recordings are based on pre amp levels for each individual track. All the input channels are hitting the recorders pre EQ/fader. The EQ, signal processing and fader balancing is happening post fader for the stem mixes that feed the master stereo buss.

I use DCAs to control my particular channels, but not the groups. The individual channels feed the group, and I adjust the group faders accordingly to balance my feed to the final stereo mix buss. They are indeed very handy to work with for size channel count jobs.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
pretty much the same here: direct outputs of undividual channel, subgroubs/matrices/stems/desk mixes all go to the multitrack since the days of the da88's (or adat for other folks).

on small to medium projects, my track list (for a full madi stream) looks like this:

trk 01-40 direct outputs of indvidual channels, off the preamp/a-d converter, occasionally including filters and/or dynamic processing (i can move the position of the direct out anywhere in the signal path).

trk 41-56 eight stereo subgroups/stems including efx

trk 57-64 surround plus stereo master including processing

larger project can occupy up to three madi streams (i'm using a rme madiface xt as my main interface) and then have more direct outputs, more subgroups/stems/matrices.

___


maybe worth noting that a) my desk allows for an almost unlimited number of channels/auxes/groups/stems/matrices/mix-minus/masters and dca's, b) even my dca's can have dsp (sic!) and c) i'm using dca's (*) and subgroups/matrices/stems in somewhat different ways:

the latter refer to 'logical' groups of instruments while the former refer to musicians: all the instruments a multi-instrumentalist is playing get controlled by a dca (or multiple dca's) while his/her instruments can also go to subgroups, depending on type of instrument.

my normal list of subgroup for rock/blues/jazz looks like this:

drums
perc
bass
guit
keys
horns
strings
voc
electronics/playback/miscellanious/spare
ambis


for classical, mostly like this:
1st
2nd
vla
celli
bass
horns
reeds
percussion
soloists
choir
organ
electronics/playback/miscellanious/spare
ambis

as a standard, i have my desk configured for 128 mic/line/digital inputs, 128 tape returns, 128 direct outputs, 12 stereo auxes, 12 mono auxes, 12 stereo subgroups, 12 mono subgroups, 12 stereo matrices, 12 mono matrices, 40 stem groups of varying width (mono, stereo, l/c/r, quad, 5.1), 2 surround masters, 2 stereo masters, 6 mono masters, 30 dca's...

...which mostly gets the job done :-)

___

in addition to stems and dca's, another layer of organization is the temporary gang feature which can get applied to every parameter and to every input and/or output in an instant: very handy not only for setting up the desk but say to adjust the hpf on al 1st violin or toms etc. or eq on rhe output so there won't be any phase shift between different arrays, to route to stems etc.

i'm also making use of my three different modes of mix-minus mixes, one of which allow for communication between artists and techs (and me monitoring) between songs without the audience getting to hear their internal communication.

finally, i can split or more precisely isolate one section of my desk for true two-operator mode - having four internal screens certainly helps to organize things too.

frankly, on very high profile shows, i wouldn't know how to do without all (or at least most of) these extra features...



yes, absolutely - see above (*)
Outstanding!
Attached Thumbnails
Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.-05-stem-groups.jpg  
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
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🎧 10 years
It is very important to remember the vital and game changing differences produced by the scale and venue nomenclature of any given turn key audio/video project. Hot back lines will have a much smaller impact in a large venue when all performers, be they acoustic or amped, are fed to console pre amps: as described above. This is the case when universal stems are developed for multiple distribution of broadcasting, streaming or big SR jobs that most always are manned by more than one mix engineer. They are far cry from the average small venue one man operation that generally is making an effort to balance the output of a hot back line, that needs no amplification, with vocals and acoustic inputs. Obtaining a viable post produced Multi-track for video editing under these very prevalent real world conditions demands a very different protocol. For every reader of these threads that work with remote trucks and big scale SR, hundreds of us are dealing with much smaller venues with much different needs. Keeping that in mind it is all well and good to peruse "big gig practices" however in the final analysis we must deal with our individual situations and needs. The extra effort to obtain a direct pre recording of all performers is all to often omitted and the house mix winds up on their videos. In this cases a new two mix of all pre inputs should be accommodated in post production.
Hugh
Old 2 weeks ago | Show parent
  #9
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🎧 15 years
My stem mix concept, and how I use them to feed my stereo mix bus has nothing to do with what you have described. It's more about how I can get a great stereo mix "right out the gate" during a live performance broadcast. It's about how each stem is a mix of its own elements, where all the elements of said mix are balanced and processed accordingly for that isolated mix group. The fact that I also track these mix stems for future use is to keep the vibe and feel of the original mix, while still having control over the balance of the rhythm section, keyboards, horns, string instruments, backing vocals, lead vocals, audience mics, and such.

This concept can be applied to any scale production venture, venue size or audio/video project. It doesn't matter whether it's a small or large venue operation. This approach is done by one operator, and has nothing to do with what you have described above. 

The signal processing I use for each stem mix may vary relative to the instruments and vocals that are part of the particular mix. Different compressors, reverbs and digital delays may be used to bring out the best possible mix environment for that specific stem mix or group stem if you prefer that terminology.

I appreciate the education, yet it has nothing to do with my mindset and dynamic on how and why I use stem mixes to feed my stereo bus or the reason why I like to track these stem mixes to multitrack for future remix usage.

I'm not here to pontificate what should or shouldn't be done during a live music performance broadcast; I'm just describing my approach when I'm behind the music mix console while tracking and mixing a live broadcast event. Everyone has their own way of dealing with their production projects. I'm explaining how I capture and mix my particular events, and the mindset and workflow concept behind them.

Like you have stated, "...in the final analysis we must deal with our individual situations and needs." This is exactly what I'm doing when I address all my production ventures. I'm dealing with my own situations and needs, so I can get the best out of the individual project I'm working on. Perhaps, I may not need to create a stem mix that feeds a stereo mix bus for a three piece acoustic act without vocals, but if there were the addition of drums, keys, vocals and such, I most definitely would have created individual stems to feed the stereo mix bus.

You also mentioned, "The extra effort to obtain a direct pre-recording of all performers is all too often omitted and the house mix winds up on their videos. In these cases a new two mix of all pre inputs should be accommodated in post production." You see, this is indeed the reason why an individual like myself would be hired. Guaranteeing that the original music performance is captured to multitrack for future use is mission critical in these cases.

Furthermore, the only reason why the FOH mix may end up on the origination video is because the recording engineer capturing the multitrack may not have the proper mixing situation setup and could have felt it would be best to have the FOH feed video. This is especially relevant when there is a future mix of the event being produced. This how we have handled the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz festivals since 2008. If we are broadcasting the actual set, the video department gets our music mix feed. If we are only tracking the set, video gets the FOH mix feed. For an example, when we capture John Prine's last performance at Newport Folk Festival in 2017, The FOH fed the video, and we recorded the multitracks. Back in April of 2020, when John passed, we created a tribute video by mixing our multitrack capture and syncing it to the original IMAG video footage we were provided. Newport Festivals Foundation also worked out a deal with his son, and their record label to produce a special addition double vinyl album of that historic 2017 event.

YMMV


Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse ➡️
It is very important to remember the vital and game changing differences produced by the scale and venue nomenclature of any given turn key audio/video project. Hot back lines will have a much smaller impact in a large venue when all performers, be they acoustic or amped, are fed to console pre amps: as described above. This is the case when universal stems are developed for multiple distribution of broadcasting, streaming or big SR jobs that most always are manned by more than one mix engineer. They are far cry from the average small venue one man operation that generally is making an effort to balance the output of a hot back line, that needs no amplification, with vocals and acoustic inputs. Obtaining a viable post produced Multi-track for video editing under these very prevalent real world conditions demands a very different protocol. For every reader of these threads that work with remote trucks and big scale SR, hundreds of us are dealing with much smaller venues with much different needs. Keeping that in mind it is all well and good to peruse "big gig practices" however in the final analysis we must deal with our individual situations and needs. The extra effort to obtain a direct pre recording of all performers is all to often omitted and the house mix winds up on their videos. In this cases a new two mix of all pre inputs should be accommodated in post production.
Hugh
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #10
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
i remember you showing me this technique when i came by to see that new mobile van a few years back. what i liked most about this way of working the broadcast mix is that your processing and reverbs and effects are all contained within each group or stem as you call it. vocal group too loud? just bring down that group. bringing any of the groups up or down does effect the stereo mix compressor but it doesnt effect the other stereo group compressors so the sound of each group is kept.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
My stem mix concept, and how I use them to feed my stereo mix bus has nothing to do with what you have described. It's more about how I can get a great stereo mix "right out the gate" during a live performance broadcast. It's about how each stem is a mix of its own elements, where all the elements of said mix are balanced and processed accordingly for that isolated mix group. The fact that I also track these mix stems for future use is to keep the vibe and feel of the original mix, while still having control over the balance of the rhythm section, keyboards, horns, string instruments, backing vocals, lead vocals, audience mics, and such.

This concept can be applied to any scale production venture, venue size or audio/video project. It doesn't matter whether it's a small or large venue operation. This approach is done by one operator, and has nothing to do with what you have described above. 

The signal processing I use for each stem mix may vary relative to the instruments and vocals that are part of the particular mix. Different compressors, reverbs and digital delays may be used to bring out the best possible mix environment for that specific stem mix or group stem if you prefer that terminology.

I appreciate the education, yet it has nothing to do with my mindset and dynamic on how and why I use stem mixes to feed my stereo bus or the reason why I like to track these stem mixes to multitrack for future remix usage.

I'm not here to pontificate what should or shouldn't be done during a live music performance broadcast; I'm just describing my approach when I'm behind the music mix console while tracking and mixing a live broadcast event. Everyone has their own way of dealing with their production projects. I'm explaining how I capture and mix my particular events, and the mindset and workflow concept behind them.

Like you have stated, "...in the final analysis we must deal with our individual situations and needs." This is exactly what I'm doing when I address all my production ventures. I'm dealing with my own situations and needs, so I can get the best out of the individual project I'm working on. Perhaps, I may not need to create a stem mix that feeds a stereo mix bus for a three piece acoustic act without vocals, but if there were the addition of drums, keys, vocals and such, I most definitely would have created individual stems to feed the stereo mix bus.

You also mentioned, "The extra effort to obtain a direct pre-recording of all performers is all too often omitted and the house mix winds up on their videos. In these cases a new two mix of all pre inputs should be accommodated in post production." You see, this is indeed the reason why an individual like myself would be hired. Guaranteeing that the original music performance is captured to multitrack for future use is mission critical in these cases.

Furthermore, the only reason why the FOH mix may end up on the origination video is because the recording engineer capturing the multitrack may not have the proper mixing situation setup and could have felt it would be best to have the FOH feed video. This is especially relevant when there is a future mix of the event being produced. This how we have handled the Newport Folk and Newport Jazz festivals since 2008. If we are broadcasting the actual set, the video department gets our music mix feed. If we are only tracking the set, video gets the FOH mix feed. For an example, when we capture John Prine's last performance at Newport Folk Festival in 2017, The FOH fed the video, and we recorded the multitracks. Back in April of 2020, when John passed, we created a tribute video by mixing our multitrack capture and syncing it to the original IMAG video footage we were provided. Newport Festivals Foundation also worked out a deal with his son, and their record label to produce a special addition double vinyl album of that historic 2017 event.

YMMV
Old 6 days ago | Show parent
  #11
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🎧 15 years
As mentioned above, I also like to track these stem mixes. This way, if the mix is decent, but I need to make a few tweaks, I don't have to recall or build the entire mix to address a few change orders.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzzy Logic ➡️
i remember you showing me this technique when i came by to see that new mobile van a few years back. what i liked most about this way of working the broadcast mix is that your processing and reverbs and effects are all contained within each group or stem as you call it. vocal group too loud? just bring down that group. bringing any of the groups up or down does effect the stereo mix compressor but it doesnt effect the other stereo group compressors so the sound of each group is kept.
Old 5 days ago
  #12
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🎧 10 years
I totally agree with your protocol for the scale of the events you have described. My point of reference to scale was not about the number of performers in a given ensemble but the seating capacity and nomenclature of the venue. This is where "the rubber hits the road" in real world terms. The prevalence of standing waves in small venues when packaged with amped instruments that need no FOH distribution is at the root of the difference. Most folks working with this type of situation do not place a high priority for capture and then to set reasonable gain structure for all of the amped performers that can be assigned to stems for further processing. These folks are consumed with balancing miced performers with stage controlled amped instruments.
1) Over this past year a large number of small churches have been streaming their worship service: The spoken word is generally acceptable, but their praise band performance is mostly beyond hope. Clearly better organization of inputs into stems would be very helpful however that improvement in no way addresses small room anomalies.
2) Consider the typical bar band that mics only vocals for self contained, from the stage, FOH SR through an entry level QUsb controlled with an I-Pad. The extra effort to mic every thing for a pre only multitrack to a flash drive is very important. IMO, post production for a decent two mix works better with this type of protocol.
There is no question surrounding the certainty that your professional expertise would be very helpful running a console in all of these events: however, your fee would probably be a lot more than the gig would pay!
Hugh
Old 4 days ago | Show parent
  #13
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Hugh, you're making a lot of assumptions.

I have captured a fair amount of performances in "small" limited seating capacity venues.

You mentioned "real world terms;" to me this is a real world expression of concept for me since it's my day job. The acoustics of any given room size has nothing to do with my stem mix to stereo master bus concept. 

You may think a packed small venue may not need a FOH mix, yet I beg to differ. Whether the engineer is creating stems to stereo mix or not, the idea is to blend and balance what's coming off the stage and what the audience gets to hear.

That said, this has nothing to do with why I use stem group mixes to feed my live broadcast mix. What the FOH engineer decides to do has nothing to do with my stem mix approach or capture to multitrack. 

You see, in my world, most folks working with this type of situation do indeed place a high priority for the capture when they are there to record the performance, either for a live stream or broadcast event. What I do with my mix to air has nothing to do with how a FOH engineer may address their mix for the FOH audience.

As a teenager into my '20s and '30s, I cut my teeth recording church folks in all sorts of situations. Capturing the best possible sound no matter how good or bad their church sound systems or acoustics were was mission critical for me. How I placed my mics, and how I positioned the transducers in the room was key in getting the right sound on tape, and a proper stereo mix on the fly, especially when addressing small room anomalies. You say, "no way," I say, yes way. I'm a solutions based recording engineer/mixer. I look at each and every situation (good or bad,) and do my best to bring out the finest performance capture I can possibly do under any circumstance. 

Furthermore, the projects I take on are not motivated by how much I'm getting paid. Over the decades, I have only taken on projects of interest. The economics of it all has nothing to do with it one bit. It's more about what the project is about, and if it's a good and valuable cause, or if I just happened to like the band or event. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy getting paid what I'm worth, yet capturing an outstanding performance with an up and coming artist is a lot more inviting to me. 


Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse ➡️
I totally agree with your protocol for the scale of the events you have described. My point of reference to scale was not about the number of performers in a given ensemble but the seating capacity and nomenclature of the venue. This is where "the rubber hits the road" in real world terms. The prevalence of standing waves in small venues when packaged with amped instruments that need no FOH distribution is at the root of the difference. Most folks working with this type of situation do not place a high priority for capture and then to set reasonable gain structure for all of the amped performers that can be assigned to stems for further processing. These folks are consumed with balancing miced performers with stage controlled amped instruments.
1) Over this past year a large number of small churches have been streaming their worship service: The spoken word is generally acceptable, but their praise band performance is mostly beyond hope. Clearly better organization of inputs into stems would be very helpful however that improvement in no way addresses small room anomalies.
2) Consider the typical bar band that mics only vocals for self contained, from the stage, FOH SR through an entry level QUsb controlled with an I-Pad. The extra effort to mic every thing for a pre only multitrack to a flash drive is very important. IMO, post production for a decent two mix works better with this type of protocol.
There is no question surrounding the certainty that your professional expertise would be very helpful running a console in all of these events: however, your fee would probably be a lot more than the gig would pay!
Hugh
Old 4 days ago | Show parent
  #14
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
i guess hugh is mostly referring to situations in which there isn't a dedicated broadcast desk, capture and mix available but to all-in-one situations in which the tech is responsible for foh, wedge/in-ears, multitrack capture and possibly an alternate mix which then is getting 'broadcasted'/streamed...

...and in which the desk at hand lacks features to get all things going at once in an elegant way.

besides, it is (almost) impossible NOT to mix for the room if being in the middle of it, so no matter how well the room acoustics, how well-balanced the band is, how well the pa got aligned and how capable the desk and the tech are:

there is always a dicrepancy between a desk mix and a broadcast mix, no matter what amount of stems one is using.

ime the only mixes which come close are those stemming from very large outdoor shows although i still separate the mix into band, lead, efx and ambis/crowd noise (in addition to the stems i record back into the multitrack recorders/daw).

(if broadcasting exclusively, i record the desk mix plus an ortf pair at foh as a reference).

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 days ago at 04:43 PM.. Reason: typo
Old 3 days ago
  #15
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Thank you deedeeyeah, that is precisely the circumstance I have been alluding to. In no way do I question the validity of organizing stems with most large scale productions especially when the capture is out doors. However over the past 50 years I have discovered the fact that I produce much cleaner, post produced, multi-track captured two mixes with a pre direct to HD utilizing only HP filters. This is for hundreds of live Bluegrass recorded projects as well as occasional Christmas/Easter special productions at my church: including recording Handel's Messiah with a 40 piece orchestra, 50 in the choir, piano & pipe organ along with the usual vocal solos. Some may consider my preferred recording protocol inefficient or a waste of time but my priority is always charting the best route for me to produce a market viable live recording.
There is no disagreement about the importance of organizing and processing tracks. It should be pretty clear that the protocol for a five piece Bluegrass band is substantially different than the needs of a stage full of performers. The bottom line is there is more than one way to attain good recordings of a live performance.

I hope the readers of this thread will permit a small digression: Most all of the great bands I have worked with thru the years prefer a "set and leave it" protocol. This allows the performers to manage all of their dynamics and blend by carefully listening to each other, assisted with their monitoring. The last thing they want is a knob jockey auditioning to be a member of the band! I have some fabulous recordings of some of these bands that started with Pre only tracks. The last private conversion I had with Sam Clayton was about the pure pleasure he experienced when he could work under these types of circumstances.
Hugh
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #16
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
You see, my original post doesn't say anything about the FOH perceptive. When Hugh, came back with a rebuttal based on something I wasn't talking about or eluding to created a different discussion than what was originally intended. 

On the all-in-one situations in which the engineer is responsible for the broadcast mix, FOH, wedge/in-ears, and possible multitrack capture, I have been there and done that. We did a small tour called, 'Summer In The City' for CBS News. We went to various cities around the country and did a live broadcast all from the FOH position.

I handled the broadcast mix via my stem mix to stereo master bus concept, these stereo stem mixes also fed a second console just in front of me, with the addition of individual vocal mics, so my FOH engineer could dial in what he needed, when applicable. It worked smashingly well for us. I attached a few images for your reference.

When I'm recording and broadcasting from inside the room, I prefer to mix at or near the FOH position. I also mix on delayed bookshelf monitor speakers. It's not the perfect situation, yet it gets me closer to what I want my mix to sound like on air. I mainly listen to the monitors in front of me, and do my best to block out the room acoustics and such.

There can indeed be discrepancies between a FOH mix and a broadcast mix, when the FOH engineer doesn't pay attention to what they are mixing, and stems have nothing to do with it. Case in point. We were working with Sheryl Crow; I always like to get the FOH mix tracked to the multitracks as a reference. This time around, not only was it tracked to my recorders, it also was the live stream mix on the day of the show. Sheryl's FOH engineer, Mike is an amazing mixer, not only did his mix sound outstanding, he also asked me if I needed any adjustments. He created a second mix for the broadcast feed to us. To tell you the truth, his mix sounded perfect, and there was no need for any change orders. Eventually, I remixed the show and everything worked out as planned. His attention to our needs gave us the extra advantage we rarely get as the recording/broadcast crew.

When handling FOH duties, I do my best to get the mix sounding like a "record" instead of mixing the set for the room. Meaning, I get the mix sounding the best it can be (like Mike did for us during that Crowe set) then handle the room issues and anomalies. 

That being said, there's no right or wrong way of doing it; if it sounds great, fantastic, if it sounds like crap, well...


Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
i guess hugh is mostly referring to situations in which there isn't a dedicated broadcast desk, capture and mix available but to all-in-one situations in which the tech is responsible for foh, wedge/in-ears, multitrack capture and possibly an alternate mix which then is getting 'broadcasted'/streamed...

...and in which the desk at hand lacks features to get all things going at once in an elegant way.

besides, it is (almost) impossible NOT to mix for the room if being in the middle of it, so no matter how well the room acoustics, how well-balanced the band is, how well the pa got aligne and how capable the desk and the tech are:

there is always a dicrepancy between a desk mix and a broadcast mix, no matter what amount of stems one is using.

ime the only mixes which come close are those stemming from very large outdoor shows although i still separate the mix into band, lead, efx and ambis/crowd noise (in addition to the stems i record back into the multitrack recorders/daw).

(if broadcasting exclusively, i record the desk mix plus an ortf pair at foh as a reference).
Attached Thumbnails
Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.-shot-rig-foh-orlando-florida-broadcast-2007.jpg   Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.-wide-shot-rig-we-had-road-cbs-summer-city-concert-series-2007.jpg   Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.-my-music-mix-position-cbs-news-summer-city-tour-2007.jpg   Stem mixes and how they can be implemented into an audio production.-road-cases-c1-c3-c2-your-review-.jpg  
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #17
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 5 years
even if not the focus of this discussion here, hugh has touched on what i think is a valuable topic as i suspect that for the vast majority of folks in this forum, reality is indeed from the perspective of the foh technician (or a somwhat isolated 'recordist) as the scale of most productions simply isn't large enough to include the typical trio of foh, monitor and bc techs... [well, there are many more techs involved in large sacal productions these days]

___


anyway, what interests me is that you voluntarily/consciously seek closeness to foh, which i understand insofar as communication with the foh technician is of course much easier than communicating via intercom; nevertheless, i keep it exactly the other way round and seek the greatest possible distance to foh when broadcasting (or tracking for any sort of later release).

what i like to do however - if the recording/broadcast is supposed to reflect the live atmosphere as closely as possible - is to have a small pa of (roughly) the same type as the main rig, in an attempt to more precisely understand what the foh technician's intention might be; i therefore ask the system tech to tune the small system similarly (or do it myself on the basis of screenshots from alignments, which is the reason i carry a lake speaker processor almost everywhere) if the conditions allow but of course i do not mix on the small pa system: i just occasionally check things.

possibly out of this habit, i do favour horn-loaded monitoring systems and keep carrying a pair of tannoy dmt-10's with me; admittedly just on larger gigs, otherwise old genelec 1029's still serve me well - in all situations, i have a single fostex 6031 with me though (digital version so i can easily sum l/r).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
You see, my original post doesn't say anything about the FOH perceptive. When Hugh, came back with a rebuttal based on something I wasn't talking about or eluding to created a different discussion than what was originally intended. 

On the all-in-one situations in which the engineer is responsible for the broadcast mix, FOH, wedge/in-ears, and possible multitrack capture, I have been there and done that. We did a small tour called, 'Summer In The City' for CBS News. We went to various cities around the country and did a live broadcast all from the FOH position.

I handled the broadcast mix via my stem mix to stereo master bus concept, these stereo stem mixes also fed a second console just in front of me, with the addition of individual vocal mics, so my FOH engineer could dial in what he needed, when applicable. It worked smashingly well for us. I attached a few images for your reference.

When I'm recording and broadcasting from inside the room, I prefer to mix at or near the FOH position. I also mix on delayed bookshelf monitor speakers. It's not the perfect situation, yet it gets me closer to what I want my mix to sound like on air. I mainly listen to the monitors in front of me, and do my best to block out the room acoustics and such.

There can indeed be discrepancies between a FOH mix and a broadcast mix, when the FOH engineer doesn't pay attention to what they are mixing, and stems have nothing to do with it. Case in point. We were working with Sheryl Crow; I always like to get the FOH mix tracked to the multitracks as a reference. This time around, not only was it tracked to my recorders, it also was the live stream mix on the day of the show. Sheryl's FOH engineer, Mike is an amazing mixer, not only did his mix sound outstanding, he also asked me if I needed any adjustments. He created a second mix for the broadcast feed to us. To tell you the truth, his mix sounded perfect, and there was no need for any change orders. Eventually, I remixed the show and everything worked out as planned. His attention to our needs gave us the extra advantage we rarely get as the recording/broadcast crew.

When handling FOH duties, I do my best to get the mix sounding like a "record" instead of mixing the set for the room. Meaning, I get the mix sounding the best it can be (like Mike did for us during that Crowe set) then handle the room issues and anomalies. 

That being said, there's no right or wrong way of doing it; if it sounds great, fantastic, if it sounds like crap, well...

Last edited by deedeeyeah; 3 days ago at 10:35 PM..
Old 3 days ago | Show parent
  #18
Super Moderator
 
Remoteness's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Funny thing, in the early '80s, I used to track bands in different on location mansions and castles in the Northeast. I used to setup my control room in the same room with the band, and had a small PA which I used for playback, During the recording, I used the PA as a way to energize the room tone of the tracking room. I would setup the drums in the main room, with the other musicians surrounding the drummer, while their individual amps were setup in the surrounding rooms or other areas. It's a pretty awesome way to capture the drums, and applicable instruments.


Quote:
Originally Posted by deedeeyeah ➡️
even if not the focus of this discussion here, hugh has touched on what i think is a valuable topic as i suspect that for the vast majority of folks in this forum, reality is indeed from the perspective of the foh technician (or a somwhat isolated 'recordist) as the scale of most productions simply isn't large enough to include the typical trio of foh, monitor and bc techs... [well, there are many more techs involved in large sacal productions these days]

___


anyway, what interests me is that you voluntarily/consciously seek closeness to foh, which i understand insofar as communication with the foh technician is of course much easier than communicating via intercom; nevertheless, i keep it exactly the other way round and seek the greatest possible distance to foh when broadcasting (or tracking for any sort of later release).

what i like to do however - if the recording/broadcast is supposed to reflect the live atmosphere as closely as possible - is to have a small pa of (roughly) the same type as the main rig, in an attempt to more precisely understand what the foh technician's intention might be; i therefore ask the system tech to tune the small system similarly (or do it myself on the basis of screenshots from alignments, which is the reason i carry a lake speaker processor almost everywhere) if the conditions allow but of course i do not mix on the small pa system: i just occasionally check things.

possibly out of this habit, i do favour horn-loaded monitoring systems and keep carrying a pair of tannoy dmt-10's with me; admittedly just on larger gigs, otherwise old genelec 1029's still serve me well - in all situations, i have a single fostex 6031 with me though (digital version so i can easily sum l/r).
Old 1 day ago | Show parent
  #19
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Remoteness ➡️
Funny thing, in the early '80s, I used to track bands in different on location mansions and castles in the Northeast. I used to setup my control room in the same room with the band, and had a small PA which I used for playback, During the recording, I used the PA as a way to energize the room tone of the tracking room. I would setup the drums in the main room, with the other musicians surrounding the drummer, while their individual amps were setup in the surrounding rooms or other areas. It's a pretty awesome way to capture the drums, and applicable instruments.
do you have any pics or tracks you can put up for us?
Old 16 hours ago
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
Hey,

I'm in the one person does it all camp (usually no broadcast, though). I haven't tracked groups / stems yet, but I think I set it up for the next concerts. One thing I wonder, though: Do you have individual reverbs for all stems which are routed to the stems? That's how I read Steve's post. I was thinking about using groups for stem recording, but DCAs for mixing so that I can have like three or for different reverbs I mix into which again form one or more stems of their own. As I run an SQ5 more sends lead to fewer groups and vice versa... Any thoughts?

Cheers, Peer
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