Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Sweet Sorrow 3 VIVA!

February 2, 2012

Last week we finished work on the 3rd album by Korean band Sweet Sorrow.  Jazz composer, pianist and producer D.D. Jackson brought me on board to record and mix the 4 songs he was producing for the project.

At Dubway Studios

At Dubway Studios recording drums, piano and bass.

There were so many wonderful elements that fell in place to help make this such a great sounding album, that if I start listing them all, this is going to end up reading like a boring sappy award acceptance speech.  So, im going to concentrate on just a few of the aspects that made this project great and really fun for me to do.

the crew after 1st recording session at Dubway Studios

from left back row: Me, In Ho-Jin(SS), Mark Peterson (bass), D.D. Jackson (producer, piano), Tony Lewis (drums), Song Woo-Jin(SS), Anthony Gibney (asst. eng) Left front: Sung Jin-Hwan(SS), Kim Young-Woo(SS)

The Ingredients:  The starting point of having great songs, great arrangements, and a high level of musicianship all in the same project, is the equivalent of starting off a cooking session with a bag of really good groceries.  Hats off to all the talented people I got to work with here.  Everyone involved was just really good at what they do.

The Gear:  The recording studios we used had some really sweet mics, preamps and compressors.  Lots of vintage and tube gear.  Nowadays we spend so much time in the digital realm, that we’re all looking to add as much warmth to our sounds as we can, before digitizing things.  At least that’s always my goal.  Old analog gear sure helps with this quest.  Recording sessions are so much fun that they never feels like work to me.  I love recording sessions!   Now, a key element to keep it fun is having a great  assistant engineer.  You see, what Kato is to The Green Hornet, that’s what it feels like to have a session with a great assistant.  Anthony Gibney at Dubway Studios and Mark Bengston at Downtown Music Studios were my Katos in this project.

(video: At Downtown Music Studios recording the brass section for Viva)

Of all the cool gear I got to use here, two big highlights for me were the Coles 4038 ribbon mics and the EV ND868 kick drum mic.  I think the EV instantly become my favorite kick drum mic.  It’s not really a standard in studios, so I might have to buy my own if I wanna keep using it.  Good thing it’s not too expensive.  The Coles, I used them for an extra mono drum overhead, for an external second kick drum mic, and then again for a stereo pair for the brass section.  Ribbon mics went out of fashion and almost disappeared in the 90’s, but they have made a big comeback.  They just sound so warm and sweet, how can you not love them?

in ther studio

Working at Downtown Music Studios with Kim, our main guy within the band.

The Plugins:  These mixes were made “in the box” like they say.  This means that my main tool was my computer software, as opposed to a large studio console.  There’s one external reverb I use, an URSA MAJOR Space Station SST-206, but most of my mix sound comes from carefully selected plugins, and then I just mix inside my ProTools HD system at my home studio.  For automation (that is, for recording volume rides), I use a single motorized fader, the PreSonus Faderport.  I love it, I use it constantly.  As for my plugins arsenal, for this project I got a hold of the recently released Waves bundle Eddie Kramer Tapes, Tubes & Transistors.  Oh man, these Waves guys did an amazing job with these things.  They are analog emulations of 3 pieces of gear that engineer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Kiss) loved to used to make some of his landmark albums.  Again, hats off to the guys at Waves for making such awesome plugins.  These things have a warmth and “analogueness” about them that I only used to dream off in a plugin.

The Mastering:  I’ve always said that mastering engineer Bob Ludwig is the Yoda of sound engineering.  A very wise man (and an incredibly sweet human being), I always learn something important when I talk to him.  I’ve known him for years and he has mastered several albums i’ve engineered, but I think this was the first time he was actually mastering mixes I had done.  I say “I think”, because in my years working in the Miami music business, many times I would finish my work in an album and then I’d never know anything about it until I heard it on the radio one day.  Either way,  I felt honored to get this chance to work with Bob.  In the end, he handed us an album that sounds like “it should”.  I love the kind of transparency in his work.  The songs sound bigger, with the perfect balance of air and girth, and still sounding like the mix i did.  I mean, he doesn’t color them in any obvious way.  The rest of the album was produced by a different crew in Korea, so naturally, those tracks sounded very different from the stuff we did here in NYC and yet, Mr. Ludwig made them all sound like they came out of the same room.  He’s a true master.

And here’s a sampe of the finished product.  A video released only a couple of days ago, for the song Viva, one of the tracks we helped create.

Chua! Daebak!!!

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Reid Farrington’s A Christmas Carol

December 6, 2011

John Forkner (left) interacts with Reginald Owen from the 1938 film version.

I just finished work on a really cool theater project.  It’s a multimedia version of A Christmas Carol.  Director Reid Farrington created a video collage of around 30 different screen versions of the famous Dickens story.  With the help of 5 performers, he delivers this collage in a staging that blurs the line between a theater performance and a multimedia installation.

He spent a couple of years studying these 30 something films, from early XX century silent film versions, to the Muppets, Mr. Magoo and Bill Murray versions.  He edited a 4 layer video collage in FinalCut Pro and refined and tweaked it with the performers for several months.  At the end of the summer he locked in the final version and gave me all the audio edits via OMF files.  I converted that into a ProTools session and began cleaning up all the material.

Once in the space, I created an 8 channel speaker system, linked to an 8 channel edit template in ProTools.  That allowed me to build a customized surround system that would make the sounds follow the blocking of the performers onstage.  As Reid and the actors created the very dynamic choreography, I was, at the same time, editing the sounds so that they would follow their movements.

Actors rehearsing and part of the 8 track mix using ProTools9 with an M-Audio Firewire 410 interface, for the 8 discrete outputs.

Whether it’s the actual piece of video appearing on a moving screen, or the stage actor lip-syncing the film performance, the sound always seems to emanate from where the visuals are happening.  I’m really happy with the result. It really pulls you in, into this crazy and very active storytelling that’s happening in front of you.

For this project I used an iPad app called V-Control, by Neyrinck, that gave me 8 virtual faders to control ProTools.  It was a crucial tool that allowed me to do volume rides on the fly as the rehearsal was happening.  I didn’t have the luxury of rewinding and revisiting moments like I would in a regular mix environment.  I had to keep up with what the actors where doing and with the limited rehearsal time we had.  Since I also had to compress and EQ each piece of audio as I was building this, I had my hands full.

iPad running the V-control app. I had 8 faders at a time for quick on the fly mixing.

It was a beautifully intense and difficult process that pulled many different skills out of me that i’ve brought in from different fields of my career.  I really loved working on this project.

The project made the cover of the December issue of American Theatre Magazine.  We’re mentioned in 2 different articles there.

Go check out the show.  It runs until Dec 18th 2011, at the Abrons Arts Center, in the Lower East Side, NYC.

2 live actors, 2 screen actors playing Marley's Ghost (one is actually from Jim Carrey's animation flick) and 2 Black Theatre 'ninjas'.

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Performer by Adam Frank

October 12, 2011

Adam Frank at his installation "Performer" on Anita's Way Times Sq. NYC

I recently finished a cool project.  Installation artist Adam Frank brought me in to help create the sound design of his street art piece titled “Performer“.  Basically, it’s a theater spotlight located in a public space.  When you stand in the light, you get a big round of applause!  And it seems to be making everybody smile.

The night before the install, testing and tweaking the system at Adam's studio.

Mark Stock tweaking the programming on site.

Programmer Mark Stock worked on creating the computer code to make this work.  Using an old webcam as the sensor for a custom made motion detection system, a computer triggers the sounds of an audience who is very happy to cheer, shout and wow at anything you do in that spotlight.

We used about 100 different separate sounds, between whole crowd ambients and individual claps, shouts, whistles, ooh’s & ahh’s. Then we created different rules for the different types of sound, for when they could play or wait, how often, volumes, etc.  The end effect is that you never feel any kind of repetitive loop.  It doesn’t feel like a pre-recorded sound effect.  It comes across as if the same crowd of people is reacting in different ways every time you get them excited.  This gives a sense of realism that is hard to describe and really cool to experience.  You just have to go there yourself and stand in the light.

The team at Anita's Way in Times Sq.

Mark testing the motion sensor system.

Located in Anita’s Way, One Bryant Park, between 42nd & 43rd Streets, near Times Square, NYC.  It’s running now until November 21st (8am-10pm).  Official opening is Oct 13th, 2011.

Project commissioned by the Times Square Alliance

Adam discussing with the rigging guys how to attach the computer box to the truss. Inside the box, a mac mini, an audio interface and lots of cables.

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“Slate” screened at MoMA & Lincoln Center.

April 27, 2010

“Slate” is the title of a short film I did the sound design for some time ago.  It was officially finalized this year, I think (low budget projects sometimes take a looong time to finish).  The thing is that it was selected to be screened in early April during the “New Directors/New Films Festival 2010” at MoMa and Lincoln Center in New York City.  It was an honor to sit at that theater (I went to the MoMA screening) and listen to my work in such an important place.

Written and directed by Carmen Vidal, Slate is a short story about a film editor that starts to become strangely attracted to the material he’s editing.

Carmen won a “Student Academy Award” (yes, an Oscar!) in 2006, for her short film “6 AM“.

She approached me a couple of years ago with this project.  We had a few friends in common and she had seen some of my theater work as well.  As a sound designer I was immediately interested in her film.  The lead character would never speak, we would only hear sounds from the studio he’s working at and from the footage that he is editing.  It felt like a wonderful challenge.  How can one describe, with sound, the emotional content of a scene with a silent man working in an apparently silent room?

Using and rearranging sounds that were basically part of the ‘background noise’, I managed to contribute to the storytelling.  For an audience who’s simply paying attention to the film as a whole, these sound elements might even pass completely unnoticed, but unconsciously they contribute an important emotional charge to certain moments in the film.  Like the stylist’s work during a photo shoot, where most of the credit goes to the model or the photographer, the sound designer’s work is sometimes meant to be invisible, since the whole point is to help bring attention to the main character or the story, not to what we’re adding to it.

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New York Times Review for “Diary”

April 5, 2010

Hi, I wanted to share some great news. Our show “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” received last week a great review in the New York Times.  For those of you outside the NY theater scene, let me tell you, this a big deal for a NYC theater production.

A view of the finished set

If your show is not a big budget production, it’s hard enough getting their critics to come see it.  There are literally hundreds of shows and events happening in New York City at any given time.  It’s impossible for anyone to cover them all.  And then, once they do come, it’s a really big deal to get a good review from them.  I actually don’t like that their opinion has so much power.  It’s not fair that one person’s comment can make or break a show, but that’s the way things go in this town.  I guess we always need some kind of yardstick to measure things up against.  And of course, it feels wonderful when the fruit of your work ends up on the positive side of that comparison.

Here’s the link to the NYTimes review.
http://theater.nytimes.com/2010/04/01/theater/reviews/01teenage.html

And here are some other great reviews we’ve gotten in the last few days:

http://www.backstage.com/bso/reviews-ny-theatre-off-off-broadway/the-diary-of-a-teenage-girl-1004079223.story

http://www.thefrisky.com/post/246-why-you-need-to-know-about-the-diary-of-a-teenage-girl/

http://culturebot.org/2010/03/28/diary-of-a-teenage-girl-at-3ld/

The show runs until the end of April 2010.  Hope you can come see it.  Tickets at:

www.thediaryofateenagegirl.com

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The Diary of a Teenage Girl

March 19, 2010

Working in theater as a sound designer is one of the great things I’ve enjoyed since I moved to NYC.  Creating and building a show with other designers, actors and directors can be such an intense process.  I always seem to end up completely drained of energy towards the last days of production.  Yet the journey has so many beautiful moments and the experience ends up being so artistically rewarding, that I keep wanting to do it again and again.

Rigging old phone to hook up to sound system

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on the sound design for the play “The Diary of a Teenage Girl“.  A theater adaptation of the graphic novel by the same name, written and illustrated by Phoebe Gloeckner.  The theater version was written by Marielle Heller, who also plays the lead role.  It’s the story, based on real events, of a teenage girl in the mid 70’s in San Francisco, who has just began an affair with her mother’s boyfriend.  The story is intense, screwed up, funny, sweet, uncomfortable, hopeful.  Emotionally, it pulls you in many directions.  I love the cast and crew I’m working with.  The play is directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde and Rachel Eckerling.  I’m really proud of what we’re putting together.

Sound is a big element in this production, I’ve been really busy these past few weeks.  My multi-speaker designs end up being labor intensive, but in the end it pays off.  I like to make the sonic experience of a play as enveloping as possible and this custom, hexagonal-like shaped set designed by Lauren Helpern has helped greatly.

2 sound systems.

We ran into a problem with sound early on in the process.  Video designer C. Andrew Bauer, was using 12 video projectors that have noisy cooling

The set in it's early stages. Studio A at 3LD

fans in them.  Lighting designer Laura Mroczkowski, was using a similar amount of  ‘scrollers’ which are basically these devices that allow her to have multiple colors on a single piece of lighting gear.  These scrollers also have noisy cooling fans, so we ended up with a pretty noisy environment.  Even though the space isn’t that big (it seats somewhere around 90 people or so),  we found we were having problems hearing the actor’s voices.  We didn’t want to use ‘body mics’ (a simplified name to describe small wireless microphones placed somewhere on the actors body, usually on their cheeks or hidden in their hair) which are always unsightly, especially in an intimate setting like this where the audience sits so close to the actors.  Costume designer Emily DeAngelis was also unhappy with the idea of body mics getting in the way of her cool clothing and looks.

During rehearsals.

So we ended up solving the problem with 2 separate sound systems.  One takes care of amplifying all the music and sound effects, with 17 speakers spread out throughout the space, while the other takes care of reinforcing the actor’s voices.  I placed some ambient microphones hidden around the set.  Then, using some inverted speakers and taking advantage of the bare concrete ceiling of the space, I managed to create an electronically enhanced acoustic system of sorts.  Basically the audience never realizes that the actor’s voices are being amplified, it just feels as if the place has great natural acoustics and all those fan noises aren’t really getting in the way.  I’m very happy with the end result.

The show’s happening at 3LD Arts & Technology center, a theater space in NYC that focuses on multimedia-rich plays and performances.  This is my third production there.  I love working in that space.  Lots of equipment and wonderful people to work with.

Previews are now running until March 27th 2010.  Official opening is March 28th.  It runs

Video & audio tech tables on the set

for the month of April.  There’s also an art exhibit outside, showing some of Phoebe Gloeckner’s beautiful illustrations from the original book.  Hope you can come.

www.thediaryofateenagegirl.com

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Welcome! & Grammy News!

November 28, 2009

Hi!  Thanks for coming!  I’m starting this blog to share info and stories about some of my projects.  Once a month I’ll publish info about some cool project I’m involved with, or stories from interesting gigs I’ve done in the past.  I’ll try to give you guys a balance of anecdotes, technical insight and information that might even be useful.  After 23 years of career, I’ve accumulated quite a few stories.  From doing sound for a ballet company in Cuba, to working with famous celebrities in studios in Miami, to building speakers out of PVC pipes for a theater play in NYC.  I hope I can dig out enough cool stories from my past, as well as build new great experiences from upcoming gigs to keep you guys entertained.

My first post includes a pretty exciting piece of news about a recent event in my career.  Written by Mix Magazine NYC editor/SonicScoop.com co-founder, David Weiss.

At the end of the article you can listen to one of the mixes I did in the album mentioned here.

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GRAMMY WIN #4 FOR ENGINEER/MIXER MARCELO AŇEZ
WITH LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES FOR ‘COMMERCIAL’

NYC-Based Audio Pro Shares in Group’s Latin GRAMMY Win for ‘Best Alternative Music Album’

In the Studio With the Band. Photo by Yker Moreno (www.djspinbalon.com)

NEW YORK: Mixer/engineer Marcelo Aňez (www.justasong.com) recently celebrated his latest award, capturing the Latin GRAMMY® for his role in Los Amigos Invisibles 2009 album Commercial. The win, which was in the category of “Best Alternative Music Album”, represents the fourth GRAMMY award of Aňez’ adventurous career.

Aňez engineered all of the tracks and also mixed two songs (“Vivire Para Ti” and “In Luv With U”) on Commercial, the sixth studio album from the celebrated Latin disco/funk group. “I was a big fan of the band before meeting them,” says Aňez. “Aside from the fact that we’re from the same country, I always loved their sound and concept. I remember telling a friend once, years before I met the group, ‘I hope I get to work with a band I love as much as those guys.’ There’s nothing like mixing work with pleasure.”

A native of Venezuela who compiled a solid track record of engineering and mixing hit records in Miami (Gloria Estefan, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Thalia, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Secada, Carlos Vives), the now NYC-based Aňez applied his distinct mix of engineering and people skills to the Commercial sessions at NYC’s famed Magic Shop.

“The band wanted to get as much of a live performance as one can get inside a studio,” he explains. “With all these old classic microphones and tube compressors and pre-amps, I was in heaven. I also made a point of making each one feel comfortable at their post.  For example, I had set up bassist el Catire’s bass amp inside this small booth, so I could mic the cabinet, play it loud and still isolate it from the other instruments, but I had set up a chair outside for him to play in the main space where everybody else was.

“He actually got really excited about being inside that little room with his bass sound playing that loud, and asked, ‘Can’t I stay in here while we record?’ So of course, I accommodated him. Those things are so important to get the most out of a musician.”

Album cover

Aňez sought-after mix skills made him one of a select team of top mixers chosen by the band to sculpt the album’s vivid tracks. “I know I would’ve done a great job mixing the whole thing,” he says, “but when you hear a Los Amigos Invisibles album, you always have this feel that a DJ is mixing a set for you, so it makes sense to have the sound of different mixers.  Two of the band members actually are DJs, so that’s another important color in the band’s pallet.”

Marcelo Aňez feels a special satisfaction in his fourth GRAMMY win. “Some projects simply touch you more than others,” he concludes. “This project wasn’t only fun, these guys are my friends and I really felt this was somehow also ‘my’ project. I was really proud of this work, long before we got nominated, so the award means that much more.”

About Marcelo Aňez:

With over 20 years experience engineering and mixing, Marcelo Aňez is based in New York City. His career, which began in Caracas, Venezuela and continued in Miami, includes GRAMMY wins for his work with Gloria Estefan (“Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album 2000”), Shakira on MTV Unplugged (“Best Latin Pop Album 2000”), and Thalia, (Latin GRAMMY “Best Engineering 2001”). His expertise also includes sound design for theater, sound applied to art, audio post-production for TV, radio and independent films.

For more information, please visit www.justasong.com.
Contact: Marcelo Aňez, marcelo1@justasong.com
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Listen to one of the mixes I did for the album.  The song is called “”Vivire Para ti”, written by Mauricio Arcas and Jose Luis Pardo.  This is actually a duet with guest singer Natalia Lafourcade.  It was produced by Los Amigos Invisibles and Dimitri from Paris.


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Next Post:  I’ll go more in-depth into the production process of this album, with the Q&A with David Weiss in preparation for this article, more behind-the-scene photos, and other music samples.