When we look at credits for an album we love, our eyes are usually drawn toward the top of the marquee. As we scan down the page, we'll often see a credit for "second engineer", "technical assistant" or words to that effect. There's a lot more to this job than most people know: a good assistant makes an enormous difference in the tone and efficiency of the session. Many great engineers have started careers as seconds, and Emiliano shows us just what it takes. He's posted at the legendary Galaxy Studios. In his own words...
Nowadays, more and more people have their own home-studio, and the knowledge and experience of working in a world-class facility, with top professionals is something that you don’t normally experience in the home studio environment. Knowledge is power, and sharing is key, so here I share my humble (and personal) experience towards running a session while keeping everyone happy!
1. Preparation Is Everything
Be the first to arrive to the studio, and the last one to leave. When you are the assistant, you are the shadow of the engineer, making everything easy and smooth around him, so he or she can perform his job as his/her best!
Ask in advance for mic lists, setup descriptions and layout of the musicians in the room. Check your recorder, signal flow, and all the technical details that involve recording…no one wants to find out that we are running out of hard drive space in take 4! In that way, once the engineer steps in the recording studio, all that he needs to think is recording, and not troubleshooting,
2. Anticipation Is Your Friend:
Be always two step ahead of possible issues while running a session, which will save you time! Keep extra cables at hand in case you have to run to the live room and quickly replace a broken cable. Have a toolset in the control room, Cable testers and gaffer taper are your allies!
Backup your data: always have an extra booting drive for your computer, that will save your life! As well, right after you finish a recording session, back up the material you recorded!
3. Communication Is A skill
It’s really important that there is a clear understanding of what needs to be done and by whom while preparing a session. Keeping a clear communication with the engineer and the rest of the team will ensure a good preparation and will avoid mistakes like: did you connect it to channel 4? oh wait, or was it channel 6?
Don’t forget that the first microphone you should connect? Yes, the talk back :)
4. Data Structure Is Essential
Keeping files and folders organised is a must. During the setup for the session, discuss the folder structure and the backup system to use. It will save time while looking for files, and it will minimise the chances for missing data!
Tip: Use a separate Audio Drive (SSD preferably) for recording (Don’t record in the same hard drive as your system drive!)
5. And Remember: You Are Working With People
At the end of the day, is all about the music. Is all about the musicians. Getting the right take to tape, it will be an more joyful process if the people involved and the musicians playing are enjoying a relaxed atmosphere and a good working environment…everyone likes to work with nice people!
BIO: My name is Emiliano Caballero, Music Studio Supervisor from Galaxy Studios (http://www.galaxystudios.com) I’ve started at Galaxy a few years ago, as a Tech assistant, preparing sessions and assisting different engineers, which allows you to learn and experience how different people think, what’s common between all those engineers and so on.