I definitely have two of the coolest jobs on campus: this blogging gig, and my job as a Student Recording Engineer for the Music Department. But even though blogging is pretty straightforward and simple, I had no idea what I was in for as a Student Recording Engineer until my first day on the job, and I have to admit that parts of it really can be simple; you just have to really pay attention because one mistake can mess everything up. I learned that the hard way.
So how exactly did I learn this vital lesson, you ask? Well, it all started last Saturday, when I was actually working for the first time. I had been trained twice before, but only under supervision, so if I missed something, it would have been caught by whoever was training me. Actually doing the job is different, even if there are instructions everywhere and everything is labeled. The responsibility just increases. Anyway, I was assigned to the recording booth because I had only been trained with the camera once, so I wasn’t ready to operate it yet. I always had another Student Recording Engineer in the booth to “supervise” me–my coworkers for the night had both already recorded a couple of concerts, so they were more experienced with the whole process than I was. For the first half of the show, my partner was a guy named Sabari who had worked both the recording booth and the camera before, and for the second half of the show, my partner was a girl named Della who had only worked the camera before. The first half of the show went almost flawlessly: the only thing that could have possibly been anything close to a “problem” was that the view on the screen in Protools, the computer program we record on. The time span at the top of the screen was a little too zoomed in, so we had to adjust the view in order to be able to view the screen for the entire concert. Sab decided that we’d take care of it during intermission since it wasn’t really a pressing issue and we didn’t want to risk messing up the recording, and I agreed. Thus, the first half went well.
Once we hit intermission though, the mistakes started happening and we didn’t even notice. First, when Sab stopped the recording on Protools and dropped the cursor, I totally forgot to put the program back into “One-button” mode, which is when everything is set up for recording and there’s only one button left to push to record. Then, when Sab and I tried to adjust the view for the time span, he tried scrolling through the screen to get back to the beginning of the recording, unknowingly dragging some of the recorded tracks onto each other. How the last and worst mistake occurred is still a mystery though: at some point during intermission, one of the buttons on the mixer got pushed, changing the audio coming out of the stereos. All I know is that right when the concert started back up, most of the audio in the room was gone and the CDs didn’t seem to be recording any audio even though they said they were recording. The computer also didn’t seem to be recording any audio. At this point, Della had no idea what was going on because she’d never even been trained in the recording booth, and Sab was working the camera on the balcony, so I was pretty much on my own. Thus, I decided to call for help.
When I called my boss, he was upset, to put it lightly. He asked why we didn’t call during intermission to update him on our progress–something I had no idea we had to do. Thankfully, the next thing he did was tell us how to fix the problems, and sure enough, the computer wasn’t recording any audio because instead of making sure to push both the record and the play button, I had just pushed the play button because I didn’t realize that the recording button hadn’t already been pushed. The CDs, however, were the big problem. The CDs were what the performers wanted that night, especially because they were playing a West Coast debut…which just happened to be during the second half of the show, the half of which we missed a part. We ended up losing 5 minutes of audio on the CDs and on the computer, but luckily we got all of the audio on the (very simple to operate) Flash Player. In the end, none of end ended up getting fired (which honestly shocked me); our boss just scolded us and told us that we needed more training–something all of us had to agree with. And since all of the audio was recorded on the Flash Player, the performers should be able to get a CD with the entire concert on it eventually. So…all’s well that ends well?