I'm scoring a documentary right now for which I'm going to be overdubbing a small handful of strings (probably 2-3 violins, 1 viola, possibly cello and piano) onto cues I've been composing in DP 5.12. It's beyond the capacity of my small studio, my engineering chops, and the dimensions of my cranium to do this myself, so I'm looking for someplace I can bring my DP files, load them in and have someone engineer the overdubbing. Any bright ideas anyone might have are mightily welcome. Thanks!
If you get stuck you can always do an audio mixdown of each cue which you can take to anyone with any system, and record the strings against that. Just a stereo mix which you can take in on a CD or as a file.
You might want to put a click 'count in' on each cue so that the players know when to start (if they start at the top of a cue) - and if you think that the players will need a click throughout, put it on one audio track (say left) and the music from your cue on the right stereo channel. The studio can then mix them separately to headphones if needed.
Then you can take away the audio stems (tracks) from the recording session and drop them back into DP at home and mix at will.
In my experience, the simpler the material you bring in to the session, the simpler the session will be. What happens if another DP user has different plug ins for instance?
You need to be concentrating on getting the performance that you want from your expensive players, not worrying about whether the software is compatible.
Thanks, that's a really good point about the plugins. I use just one computer, so I've actually thought about bringing *that* to a studio and rigging it up, but that would certainly violate the simplicity principle . There's a great studio that friends of mine run who would be glad to take the time to set that up, and then, aside from not having to create all those stereo mixes in the first place, I wouldn't have to import all the new tracks either - they'd already be in my computer. But I'm sure this would present many complications of its own I haven't even thought of yet.
If you want someone to come make unhelpful suggestions during the session, I'm there for you! The fact that I've never recorded live strings won't keep me from having strong opinions!
Seriously, check out some of the studio listings in the Chronicle -- call around, you'll probably be shocked at the deals available. The economy sucks (not as bad here as elsewhere, admittedly), and everyone has a home studio now anyway, so you can probably get a good room cheap.
I agree with the mix-it-down suggestion. Do a stereo audio mix with a click count-in, and a mono mix with with click left and audio right as Barrie suggested, dump them to some CDs (and your iPod, just in case), and let the player choose which mix they want.
Seriously, preparation is everything at a session with live players. A little time doing some rough mixes that can be played back on anything*, or finding yourself at the session with nothing working nicely with anything else and the clock ticking on some bored (and by now disinterested string players!) plus the studio time! I know what I'd do.
And don't forget to check and double check the parts - including dynamics and the rest..Oh, you already did that, good!
Loyd is also right to say that studio time was never cheaper - sadly for studio owners.
* I just remembered a session with a singer where the computer hopelessly crashed, we were able to do it successfully by playing back some demos on CD and recording wild to DAT. I was able to import the vocals later and no-one was any the wiser!
Okay, the bulletproof angle is starting to really resonate with me. It's laziness, mostly: the idea of making 23 rough mixes (do I include the sampled string the real musicians are overdubbing? Leave them out? Pan them L/R? Then what about the click? all of the above?) and then, since I'm using a *small* string group and layering them, dragging 3 tracks of each string player - or do I record them en masse? - all back in and lining them up - oy, it sounds very labor intensive.
No tech issues to speak of as far as getting my own computer to talk to someone else's studio, or getting my files/lack of plugins to run on someone else's system, etc.
So maybe I just have to cowboy up and do it.
I did do a bunch of work this way over the summer for a documentary project where we overdubbed live horns onto my guitars and loops and there were a few conversion issues at first but it basically went okay. But we were doing the final mixes at the studio where we overdubbed, not mine, so all the stress was up front, making sure my stems were totally clean before I brought them over. Maybe that's why this sounds so elaborate to me, but I guess you're both saying it can just be rough mixes, something for them to play to that has all of my sounds and tempos (*sigh..."tempi") fixed as firmly in place as the digital world will allow.
Sorry, in haste, but the rule of 'keep everything separate to last possible minute' is a good one - you can still play with balance, pan, eq etc. until the final mix (although there'll be a bit of spill you'll appreciate this at the final mix) - so get a stem for each instrument definitely!
To make it easy you just ask the engineer (if he/she doesn't already) to mix down each instrument stem from the same point - then you drop all the stems in the same place in your arrangement. Simple!
Good luck (personally I'd leave out the string samples in your guide mixes - it'll only distract the real players and they'll find it more difficult to phrase naturally and listen to each other with quantized samples in their ears!)
You'd also be surprised at how little a good player really needs in a cue mix...
And believe me, you don't want to be sorting out computer issues while the clock runs on 5 players + engineer.
Unless you're rich, that is. Frank Sinatra used to often make sure that his recording sessions ran just long enough to trigger a 4-hour block of mandatory overtime for the (union) musicians in his recording session. He wouldn't keep them the whole 4 hours, just for the first 15-30 mins or so for "one more take". The musicians loved him.