Ok, so you understand how to record in various settings to achieve great or at least good sound (or how to ask someone like us for help!). But what else do you need to know that may help the success of your recording sessions? Of course, there are many essential 'soft skills' that come into play on a daily basis alongside any primary skill or trade, and this stands whether you are a plumber, a doctor, or a sound engineer. We all have to work with people and we all want to do the best job we can, so here are five of the things we have noticed to be most helpful for the smooth running of a recording session, outside of the actual recording part!
Top 5 (non recording) things
1) Plan the session
It doesn’t matter what it is or where you are going, plan it out so you know the what, where, why and how of the session. It always feels better when you aren’t walking into a session that is an unknown. You can be ready, and if you're planning throws up any questions in advance, call ahead and try to get them answered before you arrive on site.
2) Be polite - Be assertive
We have to meet a vast range of people, from CEOs to broadcasters, event hosts to superstar DJs... And have to get along with them all, so be polite, communicate clearly and if you need something, ask. This includes when recording; if you feel a re-take is needed, wait for a good time and then speak up, people will thank you later on when that additional take was the stuff dreams are made of! Always remember that how well you communicate with the other people on site will often be the thing that stays in their minds after the session, over an above the recordings you make.
3) Be efficient on site
This can cover many things, but we’ll start with knowing your kit inside out. Know exactly what you need it to do for you on the session, and how to get set it up and rolling quickly. Being tidy will also greatly help with efficiency, so take the time to keep everything in order, both in terms of the items people can see and inside the cases and bags you pack the night before. If you’re fumbling about, you’re wasting time, and it can look bad and rarely goes unnoticed. If you operate efficiently, everyone else will thank you (albeit silently!).
4) Test your kit, all of it
Cables, connectors, inputs, monitoring, chargers: Everything. Of course, things can go wrong, but many little issues can be eliminated via thorough testing. It is so easy to just grab your bag and run out of the house due to tight schedules, but the additional time spent checking and testing before arriving on site is gold as it will enable you to focus on the job at hand without the additional worry of faults and unnecessary problems stopping play.
5) Take notes
On a tablet, paper, phone, whatever works for you. This can be as simple as names and schedule tweaks, or recording edit points / re-takes that you can refer back to at a later stage. So when the client asks you a random question about take 73 during a break, you may just have it in your notes - result!
These are just a few of the most helpful things we have learnt over the years, but there are surely many more tips and practices that can tighten up the wider running of a session - If you have any of your own, please share, we would love to hear them!