Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Lousy Day

A day full of lice?

Ben's producing a record by this duo called Connersvine and had to make a last-minute trip to Indianapolis today to help with some things. That left Gully and I in the studio with a bunch of background vocals to either record or at least flesh out so the guests will know what we want them to sing.

But there were problems. Oh, there were problems.

Yesterday we finally reached the limit of our patience with the computer/DIGI 001 slowness. The more tracks and plug-ins you're using the more demand is placed on the computer, the drive, and the audio device. At this point in the process that means that every time we press record there's a two or three second pause before it catches up. When you're starting and stopping a zillion times a minute that can tax your happiness. There are other issues too, but you get the idea. Gullahorn's older computer and older DIGI 001 have both been troopers thus far, but their time has now come.

At our first pre-production meeting I talked about rolling a new computer into the budget--one that I'll later be able to use at home for demos and web stuff (Appendix X, perhaps?), that Jamie can use while home-schooling the kids, and which will keep up better than my six-year-old G4. So we decided yesterday that it was time to upgrade the computer and borrow Osenga's DIGI 002

This made me giddy. Buying a new computer is rare for me. This morning I picked up a brand-spanking new iMac (not one of the recently unveiled new ones), swung by Osenga's house and read a book to his daughters while he disconnected his 002 downstairs, then sped to Gully's studio to unwrap the new gadget. I know all that stuff about materialism, about things not making you happy and all that, and I really believe it's true. But when you need a tool (and that's all this is) for your job (and that's partly what this is), it might as well be a finely tuned, fine-looking machine (and that's exactly what this is).

One of the best things about Mac stuff is the way they package it. When you open the box you're greeted not with styrofoam peanuts and their unearthly squeaking but with a sleek silver-grey box greeting you with a welcome message from Apple, written in the most pleasing font. You slide the machine out of its cradle and it feels like you're an archaeologist pulling treasure from Tut's sarcophagus. Knowing that the thrill will wear off in a matter of minutes only makes me enjoy it more while it lasts.

It lasted for about 16 minutes. Then we ran into all kinds of Protools compatibility problems which are too tedious to mention here. I was on hold for 34 minutes before I gave up. Gully and I spent a long time searching their support site before finding what we needed, which cost more money. Then the hardware wasn't working. And Ben, who knows way more than either of us about this stuff, was out of commission in Indy. So we finally got it working in time for a quick, late lunch. Then we pulled up "Hosanna", the song we tracked a few days ago, and realized with a sinking feeling that we tracked it too slow. Sometimes this happens, and when it does, it happens to me. It's a new song so the energy in the studio the other day was high, the guys played it great, and I was so wowed by hearing a band play the song that we misjudged the tempo. At least that's how Gully and I felt today.

We both tried playing guitar passes but they plodded along like zombies. We tried new ideas, new ways to play the song to try and raise the energy level, but all was futile. We tinkered with moving the drum parts around and it helped, until finally we tried a tempo shift. Neither of us had ever tried this before, and I'm a baffled that such a thing is possible without changing the pitch of the bass part. (These new-fangled machines!) But it is. We raised the tempo and found the energy we were looking for.

Then we realized that it was 6:00. A whole day more or less shot working on a computer that we bought in order to speed things up. That movie from a few weeks ago called "When a Captain is Away" was a pretty good picture of our day, and we closed up shop feeling frustrated.

Dumb ol' computer.


P.S. We have a show in Omaha, somewhere in middle America, on Sunday. I hope you Nebraskans can make it out--if you do, you might end up on the blog. Then on Tuesday we're recording electric guitars with Gary Burnette (who's GREAT, and who played on Clear to Venus back in 2001). Wednesday we're back at Mole End (Mr. Card's burrow) to record banjo with the great Ron Block, as well as putting to use a hurdy gurdy and maybe some of Mike's other stringed goodies. Then Thursday we're doing nothing but percussion with our pal Paul Eckberg. Next week should be a good and gratifying one, especially after today's liceyness.


Ben said...

There's a large group of us from Lincoln driving up to Omaha on Sunday for the show. Hoping to get there around five. We're excited. We hope you get right to the heart of matters; it's the heart that matters more.

Brandon said...

Nice Counting Crows reference!

I just moved away from Omaha (where we get right to the heart of matters) and am very sad to miss you.


Wes said...

I think there should be some sort of punishment for Ben, since it's clear from the Hosanna tracking video that he was the one pushing for a slower tempo. Tell him he has to make up for the lack of energy with a super-energetic piano part.

jeremy said...

oh oh oh...sorry for your troubles, but is it the sleek new imac? i want one so bad! :) my MBP is gettin kinda old

Jill said...

I am a long time fan from Omaha & have been gathering all the people I can to come to the concert!! Can't wait!

eiszoe said...

Sorry for the troubles. I've been hearing about such limitations with ProTools multi-tracking. And, here I thought Gully told me he recorded "Room To Breathe" on an MBox, not the Digi001, which is one reason I went out and got one. Guess that's what I get for not listening close enough. Hope your days improve.