Getting the Most Out Of Home Recording
The video medium could have been made for the home recording tutorial, so ideally does it suit the imparting of the visual and aural information needed for a full understanding of the recording process. Julian Colbeck's video trilogy Getting The Most Out Of Home Recording illustrates video's suitability for this purpose perfectly; Level I opens with a relaxed and informative journey from the absolute basics of multitrack recording (including playing the other side of a multitrack tape, just to show the difference between multitrack and ordinary stereo recording), through studio connections, all shown in close up, and covering virtually everything the novice recordist needs to know when starting out. The necessary terms are explained simply (pan, buss, auxiliaries, and so on), and at regular intervals, useful tips are flashed across the screen — which you can copy onto paper for later use, naturally. Level I goes on to cover effects, basic arranging, including choosing the right sounds, and the recording of a song from scratch. Topics covered are too numerous to list in this short review, though the introduction to MIDI warrants special mention; suffice to say that Julian, a friendly and personable presenter who clearly knows exactly what he's talking about, makes it all seem immediate and accessible — and fun!
Level II delves deeper into the hard stuff — detailed information on effect types and advice on their use in various situations and on various sound sources is given; suggested effects settings are even displayed on screen, while appropriately-effected instruments play on the soundtrack so that the viewer can hear what the settings on screen sound like in use. (Note that, though the soundtrack is hi-fi stereo, the videos don't really suffer at all from being watched in mono.) This level even features an interview with producer Alan Parsons, giving some useful insights into the role of the producer. Level II continues with a detailed look at recording vocals, with Julian and a live vocalist going step by step through the construction of a vocal part with harmonies. Recording electric and acoustic guitars is then covered in the same detail, with a live guitarist (Milton McDonald). Level II concludes with a look at MIDI program changing, which is most illuminating if you've never really appreciated the facility before.
As befits its more advanced status, Level III moves onto more hi-tech topics — sequencing, sync codes and their use, tips on recording and improving sequenced parts, thinning out MIDI data — before the producer interview, this time with Martyn Phillips, producer of London Beat and Erasure. Julian then tackles sampling, illustrating looping and other basic techniques, as well as tricks like using the pitch bend wheel on your keyboard to fix the odd bit of out-of-tune vocal. Next, Julian introduces hard disk recording, with the help of Paul Wiffen, who demos Plasmec's ADAS system, illustrating the general principles of hard disk recording along the way, and finally the art of mixing is examined. As with Levels I and II, Level III is clear, unpatronising and very useful.
Niggles are few: very occasionally, Julian skips over a step in a procedure, but I guess this is because of time constraints, and it doesn't really result in any confusion. Apart from this, I can't really pick fault. Considering how much money many home recordists (me included) spend on our studio equipment, £25 per level for these videos is a very worthwhile investment in learning how to use it all properly; I can't believe there are many home studio users who couldn't pick up something worth knowing from Getting The Most Out Of Home Recording.
Getting the Most Out Of Home Recording Levels I, II and II, £24.95 each, plus £1.50 each p&p. All three videos for £64.95 plus £3 p&p.
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Feature by Debbie Poyser
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