We're here recording a new Steinway & Sons Model B piano. Instead of a concert hall like our Model D, it is being recorded in one of the best sound stages in the world. Skywalker Studios is an impressive facility and unlike any other place I've been.
Everything is going perfect. Like the Model D project, Steinway & Sons provided the piano, the technician and Steinway artist. The piano sounds gorgeous.
We have a terrific Steinway technican and specialist, Peter Sumner. Great engineers - Leslie Ann Jones, Director of Music Recording and Scoring, and engineer Dann Michael Thompson. We had a gifted Steinway artist, Richard Cionco who played the Steinway. George Massenberg was also consulted on the project. Jeff is here as lead technical director and Tom is also here.
Skywalker Ranch is located in the green hills of Marin County, California, about an hour north of San Francisco. The drive here is winding and the entrance is non-assuming and easy to miss. But when you get though the gate and security checkpoint you enter into a different world. The 6000 acre setting of the ranch is breathtakingly and bucolic. We passed a covered bridge, inn, fire department (yes the ranch has its own fire dept) and other buildings.
The recording facilities are in the Technical Building. This vast building has many edit suits, various isolation rooms, a large control room equipped with state-of-the-art gear, Neve consoles and every vintage mike and outboard gear imaginable.
We're recording in the main Scoring Stage where many movies are scored. The Scoring Stage is quite large, about 60 'x 80', with a 30' ceiling, and can accommodate a 125-piece orchestra. There are over 20 microphones, including a binaural head, set up to record the Steinway piano.
Lunch is served at the Main House, a beautiful mansion nestled in the hills that houses the offices of George Lucas. The Main Building exudes quality and history. We walked though the hallways and were treated to displays of original movie props, like original light sabers from Star Wars, Charlie Chaplin's hat, Indian Jones' fedora (my favorite), the crystal skull and Holy Grail, the original keystone cops badges, original models from Star Wars, etc. There was exquisute artwork - sculptures, Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish paintings. Large wooden staircases, stained galss doors (and domed ceiling in the library), intricate hand carved woodworking were abundant throughout the Main House. All this was a visual treat after sonic bliss at the Scoring Stage.
We stayiing on the premises and the accomodations are first rate and they really pamper people here. Last night we were treated to a private showing in the on-premises theatre. This threatre is larger than most movie theatres I've experienced and has one of the best surround sound system's I've heard.
The best thing of all is the atmosphere. So much going on here. The place is sizzling with creativite energy yet it is so relaxed. Being here puts you in a state to do your very best and inspires you. The force is strong.
One of the music magazines also will be doing a feature on their visit to this Steinway session. To find out more about Skywalker Studios or view photos you can visit www.skywalkersound.com
I am enduring these harsh conditions for you all - to bring you another fine Steinway piano.
The hardest part is going to be leaving.
May the force be with you,