The Production Room was founded in 1995 as one of the first full time digital commercial recording facilties on the central coast of California. We started with 4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive. A lot has happened since then. Today we're focusing on ways to serve clients who are creating web based media content. This includes strategic planning to integrate the benefits of traditional media, web design and IT solutions into new programs produced especially for on-line consumers. Join in the conversation. Throw rocks at glass houses. Share your vision of the future. This is the most progressive time in the media arts since Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rob Lowe From Santa Barbara by ISDN

It's always my goal to have the studio ready before each session. And it's not unusual for me to feel a bit nervous before working on a project  like this.  Bad things can and do happen.

Today we were scheduled to piggyback two different studio clients recording scripts with Rob Lowe. That meant one session immediately followed by another from two different remote studios on a day that was booked solid.  

My work on this session began as soon as the bookings came in  several days ago. I made sure scripts were delivered, payment options were locked in, W-9 forms relayed, contracts forwarded and studio engineers ready for dial ups. And I was at the studio early this morning to run ISDN tests before the session.  That extra work pays off when the talent steps into the booth and everything is perfect. Thankfully everything was perfect!  I enjoyed working with Rob and he was kind enough to record special greetings for several people on the project. He also posed for this snapshot which I forwarded to the clients just a few minutes after the session.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Hear Matthew Stewart via Santa Barbara ISDN On CBC Radio 1

Once again CBC Radio in Toronto  contacted The Production Room in Santa Barbara to provide local ISDN services.

And once again host Anna Maria Tremonti conducted an interview for "The Current". 

Our friends in Canada know that The Current airs nationally in Canada and is heard across the country at 8:30 AM
(9 in Newfoundland) on CBC Radio 1 and on Sirius Satellite 137.

Last week, our guest in studio was Matthew Stewart, author of, "The Management Myth. Why The Experts Keep Getting It Wrong." The interview aired as part three of  The Current, Monday Dec. 7.  You can click the link to hear the fascinating discussion.

I'm also hoping you'll notice the technical quality of the ISDN from Santa Barbara.  We've recently switched out our always compatible and lovely sounding Neumann TLM 103 and replaced it with an older Microtech Gefell M900

We mated this unique "large diaphragm" condenser mic with some older outboard gear that had been gathering dust in the closet. Listen to the sound as Matthew Stewart begins speaking.  It is rich, full, and pleasing to hear.  There is real "presence" in the recording.

It seems we may have fallen for the breathless audio and computer tech hype of the past few years.  The idea is that you can plug a digital simulation into your signal path and get, "that classic sound".  What we're really getting is homogenized sound as everyone reaches for  mass produced hardware with the same digital algorithms instead of plugging in a real classic. For this session we simply  used older outboard gear that wasn't built in China and set it up in a very basic configuration.

It might be a bit heavy on proximity effect even though the mic was placed about 7 inches from the subject.  But I think it sounds pretty nice. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pirate Radio - The Boat That Sank

I went to see Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked) yesterday with my 17 year old son.

Verdict? I'll have that for you, right after these words...

Boss Radio hit Boss Angeles in the summer of 1965 as Drake/Chenault and Ron Jacobs used 93KHJ to dismantle what had been LA radio. By the end of the year, my home town of Santa Barbara California had it's own top 40 legend, complete with the PAMS jingle package. In those days, 1340 KIST was scoring a 70 share in the local surveys.

Anyway, I was raised on the sounds of Top 40 AM radio on a Montgomery Ward transistor radio smuggled under the covers at 11:00 PM. Years later, I became part of the last wave of top 40 radio when I became a DJ and a program director. I started when I was just 20 and working part time on a Top 40 AM station on the California Coast. I wasn't legal to drink but I had a license to play rock n' roll on KUHL (The Super Cool) radio at 2:00 AM on Saturday nights.

And now about the movie...

The Bad News.

It didn't happen like that. Radio Caroline has a much more interesting story. Too bad they booted it in favor of a fantasy that pales in comparison. The offshore pirates did have a major impact and Brits loved their home grown radio and the American influenced fireworks that followed. But this film isn't doing that any justice.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a fine actor who absolutely SUCKS in this move. He was badly mis- cast here. He's 43 years old for Christ's sake! Too old to play a rock DJ in 1966 - an era that didn't trust anyone over 30. He should have been 26 and thin as a rail.

The story was re-edited for the American market... but apparently not for coherency. It's a film clipped together from what must have been a fun shoot. And it ends in a tragically over hyped and lame finale. Once again, sticking to the truth would have been better.

The disturbing irony is that this film is a tribute to artistic and cultural freedom that ends up mocking it. It was hacked by the studio to try and salvage box office. In other words this is what the 60's would have looked like if the international entertainment corporations had supervised the birth of R&B. It's clear that the creatives lost. And isn't that what really happened to radio.

The good news.

There ARE bits and pieces worth seeing here. There are moments of what are (or could easily be) radio truth. The cruel groupie. The young man getting laid. The live broadcast of the young man getting laid. The comradeship, the desperate heart break, the ridiculous attitudes, the egos, the outrageous moments that came out live on thousands of watts of radio energy - they were all represented here. Those are things that I saw or participated in as a young DJ. And it was wonderful.

My son liked the movie. He liked the "Young Carl" angle of the story. But as we left the theater I realized another reason why this film struggled to find an audience. Nobody under 30 understands it. How could they?

Remember American Graffitti? All of the cars out cruising on Saturday night had their radios tuned to Wolfman Jack. You could get out of you car and walk around town and you'd still hear the same radio station coming from 100 small speakers all around you. That was rock and roll radio. And for a moment I was part of it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What Did Obama Say About Afghanistan?

We have seldom had a president with such command of language. That ability placed him firmly in charge before he was elected. When he went to West Point to speak on the Afghan War, the nation and indeed the world stopped to listen.

I found his speech well constructed and well delivered as always. Barely had he finished speaking than interpretation of his remarks began. It's one of the hazards of instant punditry. When a leader, even a master communicator who knows how to choose his words with precision delivers a clear message the fog of analysis sweeps in immediately to obscure his thoughts. It's an odd effect.

As someone who focuses on communication I listened carefully to the post-speech commentary to find out what Obama had communicated.

The rejection of his message was swift on the left. The right gave it a tepid nod of approval, with several notable exceptions who burst into applause.

Some progressives already frustrated by the pace of reform branded this as the final straw. The policy statement was a sell out of their desire to end both wars and concentrate on their domestic agenda. The speech itself was not well heard.

Some on the right, including Karl Rove, applauded the policy politely while rejecting aspects of the speech itself and it's specific wording. I have the feeling that the right is all too eager for Obama to ante in and double down. This not only shifts the burden of this war to Obama, it validates their point of view after a long period of withering critique.

Overall, the president's verbal power was reflected in our news media which went to 'round the clock discussion and analysis of what he said. In broad terms what he said is in fact policy and what I heard from the public were a variety of coping strategies for dealing with an unpopular war.

Our media and our political ideologues are nationalistic to a fault. No mention was made of the NATO charter or the US call to lead NATO allies in this campaign. No thought was given (until today when Defense Secretary Gates addressed it) about the timetable some of our allies have already adopted for the end of this mission.

So what did the president say about Afghanistan? It depends on whether you stand on the right, the left, or somewhere overseas. The rest remains to be seen.