I thought it might be useful or interesting to see how we prepare for a live broadcast and record session here. This is the first day, which goes like this:
- Make a Pro Tools session
- check the session
- save as a template for possible future use or refinement
- mic up the stage (80 piece symphonic orchestra, 4 soloist)
- refine the session and mix during the rehearsal
Pro Tools session
As I’m writing this, I’m already finished the Pro Tools session which comprise 60 mono tracks, 4 stereo tracks, 6 stereo aux sends, 4 stereo buses, 10 VCAs.
We have produce a live mix that adheres to the r128 standard basically. The refined specs for us for this even is to hit –23LUFS (+/- 1) with a TruePeak no higher than –3dBTP. Our studio not only produce the complete mix, but we record the multitrack and all the rehearsals, might come handy later if we need to fix some mistakes. Our mix goes to a HD OB van, supervised by LGM television as the finished product will be aired at Mezzo TV.
Let’s see the plugins I plan to use:
All input channels has a Trim and a Avid ChannelStrip inserted on it, later if I really need to go deep with something I might insert a few Fabfilter ProQ2 and/or some Sonnox Dynamics on a few. Usually the ChannelStrip is enough for the most part. The audio buses right now has the very same simple chain: 1 ProQ2 and 1 Sonnox Dynamics per bus. All bus plugins are set up, ready to process, but bypassed until I need them. The master section has the most complicated chain in this session. Note that although I have many plugins inserted, they all do small things, they are not there to solve all the issues. The first plugin is a ProQ2 followed by a Sonnox Dynamics, then a Avid ProMultiband, after that a Avid ProLimiter. On the master output I use an Izotope Insight to proper metering. For starter I use 3 stereo reverbs: 1 Exponential audio Phoenix reverb and 2 Exponential audio R2, one for chamber and one for hall.
Few words on plugin usage. The Trim and Channelstrip basically works as a conventional console, serving as board gain, eq, dynamics, nothing complicated. I like to use the ProQ2 and the Sonnox Dyn where more detailed process might be the solution. On the master bus all the plugins serve as a kind of final polish, no hard processing goes on there. If any of the master processors start to work hard, meaning I need huge cuts or boosts on the eq, or the comps start to attenuate too much, that means something wrong with the basic mix. The master bus is not the right place to solve these bigger issues. The hall and the chamber reverb is quite obvious. Although we have a fabulous hall here, sometimes we need to lengthen or reinforce the natural decay of the hall. The R2 seems to be a perfect candidate for this. It is interesting to note that I’ve tried to achieve a more natural result with the Phoenix verb, but the R2’s character seems to fit better for this. Probably the most interesting is the early reflection verb. Because of the picture we often need to go very close to the instruments, which is not the best thing to do in a classical concert. Apart from different mic techniques I generally use this early reflection reverb to add some depth, a touch of realness to the close miced signal. In the final mix no one’s going to notice it, but it really adds that depth what we need. Without it, every solo or close miced instrument tend to sound too sterile, too in-the-face which is very unnatural. I can’t praise highly enough Michael Carnes’ reverbs for the very sophisticated early reflection part, which by the way sounds phenomenal.
As I’m finishing this first piece, I’m ready with the session, saved a backup and a usable template session. I double-checked everything and the Avid S6 is ready to fly with the rehearsal. The surface for the whole broadcast-record is an Avid S6 M10 with 24 faders.