Change of address…

After many years of living in the Chattanooga market and working in the Atlanta/Nashville/Knoxville area, I have relocated my base of operation to a new house in Tybee Island, GA., just outside of Savannah. I can now work as a local in Savannah, Jacksonville, Charleston S.C., and Columbia, S.C.

While I’ll still be available to work with clients in Nashville, Chattanooga, and Knoxville, I can’t do this for single-day shoots- the driving distance is just too far. If you really want me for a single day, I’ll have to charge two travel days and a room in addition to my normal day rate. Multiple days are negotiable.

Thanks!

Ikea Deal of the Year for Record Collectors

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We’re moving to a new house this year, and we were furniture shopping at the Ikea in Atlanta when I stumbled across these these little beauties… they’re called “Kallax.” Closeout sale, $16 each. Sorry, they’re probably all gone by the time you read this… Ikea seems to roll that way, as soon as I find a good record storage solution, they discontinue it. Anyway, each of these things have four cubes that are perfectly sized for albums.

They’re a good looking, solid build, and if you assemble them with glue, they’re a great solution for record collectors. Buy some while you can!

The only other mod for my record corner will be a piece of chair rail spaced out from the wall at about a half inch- to make a sort of “now playing” holder to display album cover artwork. More details to come.

New version of VinylStudio

I’ve been using a little program called VinylStudio for several years now. It makes the process of transferring vinyl records into my computer (and into my iTunes library) relatively easy. Since I have a new-ish Mac Mini that I use for my audio work, I updated my old version to version 8.8.2 and thought I’d post a review.

First disclosure, the software came to me courtesy of my wallet. It’s difficult (but not impossible) to write a truly unbiased review in exchange for a free thing-that-you’re reviewing. A pet peeve of mine is when reviewers don’t state up front who paid for the item, so I can take the review with one or two grains of salt.

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The main screen of VinylStudio. Here I’m working on a transfer for a client in Nashville called “A Christmas Delight” by Winifred Smith, cut in 1967… not likely to show up on iTunes anytime soon.

VinylStudio was designed to be a standalone program for getting your vinyl records onto your computer. At $30, its a fairly inexpensive, yet still pretty capable program. You can use it to burn CDs of your records if you like, or save the files in a number of different formats besides MP3s, including WAV, AAC (Advanced Audio Coding), AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format), ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec), DFF, DSF, (there are different types of Direct Stream Digital formats) FLAC Free Lossless Audio Codec), and OGG (Ogg Vorbis open-source format).

The program has a capable noise reduction section, but I use other programs for this job. It’s not because Vinyl Studio can’t do the job, it’s just that I’ve been using other programs for editing and noise reduction for years and I’m more familiar with them. Besides, they cost a pile of money so I’d rather use them than let them sit. I mainly use Adobe Soundbooth CS5 for editing and noise reduction, but for really difficult situations, I’ll use Izotope RX Pro.

While you can use VinylStudio to record the file directly into your computer, I record onto a Somy PCM10 recorder. The biggest reason is that my turntable is downstairs in the basement, and my audio workstation is in the office upstairs. I always clean the surface of the vinyl with a water-alcohol solution. (three parts distilled water, one part pure isopropryl alcohol, and one or two drops of Dawn dish detergent to break the surface tension. I usually make a gallon at a time). One of these days I’ll build an utrasonic/ centrifugal record cleaning machine. A somewhat risky way to clean really dirty albums is with a thin layer of Elmer’s glue. Once dry, it peels away from the vinyl, taking specks of dust and dirt with it. I’ve only done this experimentally though. Once recorded, I bring the PCM10 upstairs and download the file into my computer.

First I usually apply a rumble filter which greatly cleans up the waveform, then scan for really obnoxious pops and fix these individually. I’ll then declick the guard bands in between songs. But it’s rare that I’ll do further noise reduction… a certain amount of minor clicks and crackle is a part of the vinyl experience, and too much cleanup destroys the character. I’ll manually optimize the file and balance the tracks if necessary.

With that done, I then bring the file into Vinyl Studio for final work. This is where the program is a huge time-saver… dividing the file into individual songs, and looking through databases on the internet for the track names. This way, you are saved the work of typing in each track name individually. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like when the database can’t find a record, or more rarely, when there were several different versions of a record on vinyl or CD and the order of the songs has been rearranged. But more often than not, it works well. Then it’s a matter of trimming the breaks between the tracks to make the start and stop more accurate.

Another great advantage of the program is bringing the album into my iTunes library, which is a simple one-button affair. VERY handy.

Overall there aren’t a number of big changes with the program over the previous version, which is a relief. It’s a must-have if you’re new to vinyl. For me, it’s a super way to preserve my collection, which includes a small number of fairly expensive and hard-to-replace classics. For casual listening, I just hit the spacebar on my computer. It isn’t the same as cleaning the record and dropping the needle, but it’s really close. Vinyl has a finite number of times it can be played before it gets worn out, and this keeps your collection in nearly unplayed shape. Besides, it’s fun… and records can be traded or sold, which can’t be done with Spotify or iTunes. Buy yourself a turntable, a preamp, some old records, and this program and give it a try… it’ll change the way you enjoy music!

Fat Hair commercial

Another commercial that I did awhile back in Atlanta. Admittedly not much audio made it to the final cut, but trust me, it’s there!

Bonnaroo’s “Festie Besties”

Here’s a video that I worked on for RedBull Media in 2015. It features Manon Mathews and Bree Esserig, a pair of very smart, funny young actresses. They’re already semi-famous… they were stopped for photos a number of times… but I’m sure they’ll go far.

 

Polyribbon Photos

My good friend Sandy Andrews happens to be a commercial photographer in Columbia, SC, so when I travelled there for the IPMS Nationals, I brought the Polyribbon with me and we headed over to his studio. These shots are the result. Sandy does catalog work for some very high-profile clients, so he’s got the chops (and the equipment, and the space) to shoot some really nice images. Hopefully you’ll see these in Mix Magazine someday!

While this looks like a vintage mic, everything in it is brand new. Les Watts, the designer, is a little bit neurotic when it comes to accuracy and quality… everything on this mic is executed with tolerances that are extremely close, which makes building these very time consuming and expensive. The banding around the headbasket is hand-filed brass that is then nickel-plated, the edges of the grille are all soldered. The frame that holds the magnets are assembled with dowel pins instead of screws, since screws have microscopic gaps that affect the magnetic reluctance of the frame. The wrinkle paint finish on the body is a custom formulation that Les had made just for this mic.

This mic has plain knobs because Les had trouble finding a laser engraver who could maintain the proper accuracy. Since each knob has to be handmade, a screw-up by the engraver would cost hours of work, so they have to be extremely careful. We’ve since located a supplier, so the new mics will have knobs with laser engraved and infilled legends. A simple silkscreened legend is much easier to make and looks the same at first, but these rub off after a few years. Les builds these with an expected lifespan in excess of fifty years, and all materials are selected for longevity.

These mics really need to be seen- and heard- to be appreciated. If you’re interested in acquiring one for your studio, contact me for a demonstration!

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Positive Coaching Alliance PSA

Here’s a look at another commercial that I completed this summer for Humanaut/Fancy Rhino. The spot is called “Dare To Chill” about the negative effects that parents can have on their kid’s sports.

 

This one was a lot of work, as it was shot all steadicam. That means I have to be my own boom op, following everyone around with thirty pounds of gear strapped to me. It makes for a long day.

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That’s second AC Dillan Forsey prepping a shot

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Location was the Baylor School soccer fields.

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Steadicam op/DP Brett Mayfield