The shaping of sounds is something that most people never really consider as a conversation piece. True, we all love being enveloped in a great movie, or being whisked away into some virtual video game setting, or vibing to the latest album of our favorite performer, or being at a great concert, or simply vegging while binge-watching our favorite show on the tube. I’ll give you that a lot of that experience it the VISUAL sensation, but, now that you’ve read up to this point, imagine muting the sound for any of what’s been mentioned, and making it through the entire experience. Last I heard, watching anything with the sound OFF is nothing more than surveillance!
I know that feeling. The feeling of pressing PLAY and hearing something that you’ve worked on for countless hours come through a set of speakers… That feeling of goosebumps on your skin when you get to see your sounds actually affect those that are hearing it… The feeling of moving a microphone around until the sound SOUNDS like you’ve heard it in your head… That feeling of experimenting with the audio tools that you have access to until you make it sound like magic… Yeah, I know that feeling.
It’s a GREAT DREAM, isn’t it? You know what I’m talking about. That DREAM where you’re on stage and the audience is singing your song back to you, and you can almost see the stadium flexing with the movements of every single person that came to see YOU! It’s funny that that DREAM will keep you from sleeping. You’ll stay up all night learning your instrument(s), experimenting with your DAWs, figuring out why certain microphones in certain positions make certain sounds, trying to make a beat that sounds like what’s floating through your head, attempting to pour your emotions into an ear-friendly song that you can share, and hope that it becomes a worldwide sensation, just to end up on that stage in your DREAM. Right?!
What was, what is, and what will be. The landscape of the Audio Industry is a wild and exciting one that is magnetic to those that have a penchant for Music, Sound, and Audio. The career field is extremely broad when you take into consideration the fact that “where there’s sound, there’s a gig!” From making Music, to Broadcasting a NASCAR event, to dealing with Live Sound Audio, to making explosion effects for Video Games, to doing Audio Dialog Replacement for a Movie, and all aspects in between, SOUND is the thread that connects it all.
Most people that desire to enter the Audio Industry mistakenly only refer to it as the Music Industry. While the “music” side of the Industry is the goal, the truth is that the Music Industry “lives” inside the Audio Industry. Those that thrive in the Audio Industry are those that are prepared for the entire width of its opportunities. More on that later, but, for the moment, let’s focus on the desire to be in the “Music Industry.”
There comes a time when you must really consider the “next step” of your life. So many questions to consider: What am I good at? What satisfies me? Where do I see myself in the future? How do I get to where I want to be? Is where I want to be where I currently am, or will I have to leave home? Do I go to a trade school or university? Which trade school and where is the trade school? What resources does the school have to “connect” me to my goal? How do I become my BEST ME?
If you’re reading this, it’s because you have a passion for Audio… Sound… Music. There was once a very movie-like route to living this “life,” where you knock on the door of a Recording Studio, they hand you a broom, you pay your dues, you get the chance to learn from watching professionals, the manager takes a liking to you and starts grooming you for the “big chair,” learning how to work with clients, and becoming a bona fide Audio Engineer. The other “traditional” route was to receive an education in Electrical Engineering, and then knock on the Recording Studio’s door, and hope for the same result.
It’s not hard to make sense of the fact that professionals make a living from their craft. The most believable versions of these professionals are the likes of doctors and lawyers, right?
In helping maintain a person’s health, or to defend a person’s rights, these professionals are worth every penny of their wage. There are other pro’s, as well, that deserve their pay, like an Air Condition repairman in the middle of a brutal summer, or a mechanic when your vehicle starts to sputter. What they all have in common is that their livelihood stems from having access to studying their given trade.
That “study” has allowed them to gain “experience” in the field, and that “experience” has provided “worth.” So, why write about these trades, if what brought you here was a keen interest in Music/Sound/Audio? The answer is simple: YOU can make a GREAT LIVING for yourself dealing with Music/Sound/Audio/Producing, etc.!
Graduation season is upon us. Many students are exiting their safety net of High School (and even traditional College) in hopes of steering themselves towards an exciting life built on doing what they’re passionate about. If you’re here, reading this, it’s likely that your passions are based on music… on sound… on audio… on being able to make a way for yourself making sonic magic happen for your clients.
The world of Professional Audio is far wider than most can imagine. While most people see it as the Music Industry, the truth of the matter is that the “music” side of things is just a piece of the amazing opportunities that exist. Let me give you a few things to think about:
- Ever wonder who made your car door “ding” when it was open?
- Ever wonder how the sound of your videogames came to life?
- Ever wonder how hundreds of sounds make their way through your television?
- Ever wonder how that helicopter whizzes around your head at the movies?
- Ever wonder how you’re hearing everything at a concert?
- Ever wonder how that voice does that “thing” on your favorite song?
Capture. Contour. Edit. Combine. Collaborate. These are just a few of the words that we use to describe the process of dealing with audio, at the professional level.
Historically, the “sounds” we’ve heard were captured in the traditional environment of a large recording space, connected to a control room with tons of equipment, that allowed Audio Engineers to commit those sounds to an analog tape recorder, and played back, repeatedly, until the client was satisfied with the sonic result. That “result” may have been a song on an upcoming record, the score for a certain scene of a theatrical release, pre-recorded audio for television broadcast, and maybe even the sounds of footsteps in a creepy scene of a movie.
Although that romantic notion of being in that kind of “environment” still exists in large scale, the times have changed, and technology has made massive progress in the ease of dealing with professional audio, from the convenience of your personal computing device, like your computer... and, even your phone! That’s right, it is possible to be an audio professional in today’s day and age, if you’re using the “right tools.”
Moved by the Op-Ed that Virginia Foxx (R, North Carolina’s Fifth Congressional District) wrote for The Wall Street Journal, I would love to take the opportunity to lend support to her point of view and help substantiate “how often misused words generate misleading thoughts.” Please take a moment to read it for yourself:
By Virginia Foxx Dec. 31, 2018 6:22 p.m. ET
I know how it feels to be the only woman in a room of powerful men. I also know how it feels to be tuned out because of how I look or where I’m from. For these reasons I’m sympathetic to those who are passionate about changing culture for the better by promoting “inclusive” language. But the focus on inclusivity hasn’t extended to the way we talk about education.
Education has always been the key to opportunity in America, rightly called “the great equalizer.” But the sociologist Herbert Spencer once noted “how often misused words generate misleading thoughts.” By placing descriptors like “vocational” and “technical” in front of the word “education,” we generate misleading thoughts about the types of people who enroll in such programs.
If ever there were two words whose meanings have been blurred, in the Audio World, it’s MIXING and MASTERING. Most “listeners” don’t truly concern themselves about the process, rather they just enjoy the music coming out of their speakers. For that matter, this process of MIXING and MASTERING happens in all disciplines of Audio (Music Production, Video Game Audio, Post Production, Live Sound Reinforcement, and Broadcast Audio), but it is typically “invisible” to the listener. However, there are a few exceptional “listeners” that find themselves wanting to pursue their passion in music (or sound), and do not realize that they might be misusing the terms that truly represent MIXING and MASTERING.
Music Production Sound Engineering
Although MIXING and MASTERING happens in all disciplines, let’s focus on Music Production to accurately define the terms.
Since most consumers are never part of the entire process of “making a record,” but trust me when I tell you, it’s quite the process! Imagine this: An Artist has created/written s song and wants to record it so that they can distribute the song to their fans (and hopefully gain new fans!). If they are a notable Artist, they’ll contact their Producer, and set the wheels in motion. The Producer will listen to the song and piece together a plan of action, which might include: booking a studio, booking musicians, enlisting the help of an Audio Engineer, and making sure that there’s enough time and talent to make it all happen.
Audio Production is an often-misunderstood phrase. While most quickly assume that these words mean the “making” of music, the reality is that these words are more of an “umbrella” for all the efforts that go into a finished product.
There is so much more to “audio” than merely music. It’s everywhere around us. Every Video Game, every movie, every concert, every live stream, every record, every television show… there are scores of experts dealing with the audio side of the event. Oh, the things we take for granted…
Most consumers don’t put a lot of thought into how they’re actually “listening” to what they’re hearing. If it’s a favorite song of theirs, they assume that the artist(s) must have entered a recording studio, the lights must have dimmed, and moments later “the song” was born of sheer magic.
When a movie is being viewed, we try to wrap our heads around the story, but fail to realize that the sound effects, and musical orchestration, evokes the emotion that the viewer must live through, in order to convey the atmosphere that the movie-makers originally envisioned.
In watching a sporting event on tv, we fail to rationalize how we HEARD the swoosh of the basketball passing through the net, or that the sounds must match the visuals that are being passed from one camera to another.
I’d bet you don’t think about the two different concerts that are happening at once, when you go see an artist perform live. That’s right… there’s a team of experts controlling the sound for the audience, and another team controlling the sound on stage, so that the artists can hear themselves over the roar of the crowd.
The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu), an institution for audio engineering education, is proud to announce that its students recently had the opportunity to practice mixing live audio and video feeds from FOX SPORTS in the school’s 42-ft. remote-production mobile broadcast trailer during a three-game Arizona Diamondbacks home stand versus the Seattle Mariners Aug. 24-26 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.
“Our students received the raw feed from FOX and were provided the opportunity to train in our state-of-the-art 42-foot mobile broadcast trailer,” said Kirt Hamm, CRAS administrator. “The feeds included all the behind-the-scenes audio discussions and directions between the directors, broadcast crews, producers, engineers, and videographers. With all the background streaming in simultaneously, our students had the opportunity to experience what a broadcast is really like and to practice mixing the audio and follow directions amid the chaos of a live broadcast. This opportunity was devised to boost potential careers in broadcast audio in a real-world setting.”
The CRAS 42-ft. remote-production mobile broadcast trailer was located adjacent to the Mobile TV Group–MTVG HDX-31 truck on the broadcast pad at Chase Field. Fred Domenigoni, freelance senior audio engineer for FOX SPORTS ARIZONA, assisted CRAS staff with the help from Mobile TV Group engineers.
As a “regular person,” there is so much that we take for granted, as far as education is concerned. We go through our days expecting that those we trust to our homes, our health, our vehicles, and our education are EXPERTS in their field. Every home we walk through, we assume that it must have been built well, by EXPERT craftsmen. Every visit to the doctor, we expect that their title carries it with the kind of EXPERTISE that will keep us happy and healthy. Every vehicle repair, we never really question their ABILITY, and suspect that it all must be fine. These expectations of expertise surround us daily, however, we never consider the EDUCATION of these EXPERTS, and how they took their new knowledge and made their way to the “expert level.”
In today’s world, EDUCATION is CRITICAL. If you really want to rise to the level of your DREAMS, you’ll have to gain the kind of knowledge it takes to be taken seriously in that field, and hat all starts with a proper EDUCATION. In your search for the “right” education, there are many things that you will need to take into consideration. Is this educational facility State licensed and Nationally Accredited? Does this educational facility have an excellent reputation in your chosen field? Will this educational facility foster and nurture your goals? Is an education at this facility TRULY the launch pad you need to spring from, to reach your goals? Will you have the opportunity of “touching” your education with a “hands on” approach to learning? Does this educational facility make part of their “success criteria” an INTERNSHIP/EXTERNSHIP?
The choices in education are vast. REMOTE learning is the essence of “online training,” and while it may convenience your life to take courses like these, the ability of “making real,” and “touching” the education are miniscule, because there is little-to-no application of the newfound knowledge. ON-SITE courses lend themselves to student-instructor interaction and networking with others either working in your chosen field or looking to.
What to do, what to do? With the traditional start of a “school year” right around the corner, many people, just like you, are looking to find the education that will get them nearer their dreams. Depending on what YOUR dream is, you’ll research educational facilities that nurture your wants, and there are many of them out there. As you do your research, you’ll also find that many of these facilities are multi-year schools. While there are great things to say about a multi-year education, the one drawback is that the employment field keeps taking on new employees, while you’re busy taking on your education, and will continue to do so, until you’re ready to be employed.
This is where Trade and Technical Schools come into the picture. With a Trade and Technical School, YOU might be able to start living your dream far sooner than a series of “gen-ed-filled” years. You immerse yourself in the subject, amass an employable intellect, prove your abilities with hands-on training, and can quickly enter the working-world… but, is it WORK if you’re living your DREAM and fostering your PASSIONS?!
If you’re still reading this, then obviously your interests are piqued with Audio. Yes, AUDIO! While some put forth the kind of effort to become “the Artist,” there are others, like YOU and I, which are cut from the cloth that excels at being “on the other side of the glass.”
Have you ever stopped to consider all the sounds that you hear? Ever stopped to think about where you’ve heard those sounds? How EXACTLY did those sounds get to your ears? What does it take to make all those sounds to come together? These are the kinds of questions that The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences (CRAS) focus their attention on, so that YOU can start living your DREAM in as little as 11 months!
Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences Students Recently Had the Opportunity to Practice Mixing Live Audio & Video Feeds from FOX SPORTS ARIZONA in the School’s 42-ft. Remote-Production Mobile Broadcast Trailer During a Phoenix Suns Home Game
From pit row at NASCAR races to the diamond at Major League Baseball games to the court at NBA games, Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu) students continue to have top-shelf opportunities to learn from the very best audio engineers and producers in the industry while on-site in real time.
Most recently, 12 CRAS students had the chance to practice mixing live audio and video feeds from FOX SPORTS ARIZONA in the school’s 42-ft. remote-production mobile broadcast trailer during a recent Phoenix Suns NBA home game versus the Los Angeles Clippers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“Training during a live professional sporting event such as NBA game is the chance of a lifetime for the next crop of professional audio engineers,” said Robert Brock, CRAS Director of Education. “The complexity, speed, and accuracy required for such a live broadcast was an eye opener for them. Dan Siekmann, Phoenix Suns V.P. of Broadcasting, was our initial point of contact and also toured our mobile broadcast unit. We are very grateful for his help in allowing our students this tremendous opportunity.”
Avondale, Ariz., March 22, 2018 – When he isn’t mixing the Super Bowl, Fred Aldous shares his insights and methodology with the next generation of pro audio engineers.
Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu) students recently had the opportunity to practice mixing live audio and video feeds from FOX SPORTS in the school’s 42-ft. remote-production mobile broadcast trailer with Aldous, a Sports Broadcast Hall of Fame inductee, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. from March 9-11.
“The exposure that the students get out of a large sporting event like NASCAR is an eye opener that has a lifelong effect…most are not aware of the complexity of live sporting event,” explained Aldous, an audio consultant for FOX Sports. “For the most part, they are overwhelmed at first. But once we start to dissect what they are listening to and how to approach it, they start to understand what is going on. Most everyone is amazed at the number of people it takes to put a production together and the amount of time and equipment it takes.”
Gilbert, Ariz., April 5, 2018 – Alea Davis has dreamed of recording her music one day. She just never thought it would happen while she was still in high school.
The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu), an institution for audio engineering education, is proud to announce that 17-year-old Gilbert, Ariz. high school student Alea Davis is CRAS’ latest BE HEARD! contest winner. As a result, she recently had the opportunity to participate in a recording session of her own music with industry professionals in one of CRAS’ world class studios.
“I have loved music since I could remember,” said Davis, who is a senior at American Leadership Academy in North Gilbert, Ariz. “I have been creating music since I was 10. I make music to feel something and to put emotions out to the world for others to relate to. When I hear others sing my songs it’s amazing to think my words and creations can have a real effect on other people in the world. I am so excited to have been able to record in CRAS’ studio with such amazing people. My vision has been brought to life! The CRAS people in the studio that I worked with were unbelievable.”
It’s incredible, isn’t it? Dim light, controller in hand, headset on, superfast internet, stunning visuals, realistic motions, and the sound… the INCREDIBLE sound that sinks you right into the role of the character that you’re maneuvering through the game’s map. It’s the edge of your seat excitement that pulses through you and lets you really become part of the game!
Very few people truly reach the depth of game-play as “real” gamers. Gamers have a HUGE appreciation for every aspect of the all-enthralling game. Gamers spend tons of time, and money, researching controllers, consoles, video cards, and televisions/monitors. Even so, most “real” gamers do not grasp the depth of what goes into the game that they enjoy. Game developers spend Hollywood budgets on the visual aspect of their games, to create life-like environments that gamers get sucked into. Developers spend months, if not years, developing the game’s story line, in hopes of creating a storyline that will bleed into the next game. Developers work with manufacturers to develop technologies that allow for lightening fast processing, creating fluid movement of characters and environments. All that said, very few gamers take into consideration the depth of the AUDIO in the game they’re playing. Some don’t even consider that the life-like sounds, or newly imagined sounds, are meticulously placed in to the game to enhance the gamer’s experience.
Video Game Audio is a CRITICAL part of any video game. Seriously… When was the last time you played a video game with the sound OFF? Video game developers, with their dedicated Audio Departments, utilize fantastic technologies, like Wwise, to integrate audio into their games. These Audio Professionals use techniques found in Recording Studios, Broadcast Centers, Live Sound Venues, and Post Production houses, trying to create, and deliver, sounds that are captivating and that will keep the gamer playing!
In preparation for its inclusion of Dolby Atmos as part of its curriculum, The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS), an institution for audio engineering education, is proud to announce it has retrofitted two studios in both its Tempe and Gilbert, Ariz. campuses with numerous hardware and software upgrades in time for its most recent crop of students.
“As studio production continues to evolve, keeping up with the latest trends and new technologies, such as Dolby Atmos, is vital so our students are not just keeping up with the industry, but are many times ahead of the curve,” explained Robert Brock, CRAS Director of Education. “We are pleased to offer our students the very latest industry innovations to invigorate and add to their skill sets so that they are properly prepared for their internships and careers once they graduate.”
Dolby Atmos transports you from the ordinary into the extraordinary with breathtaking, moving audio that flows all around you, even overhead. With Dolby Atmos, listeners are fully immersed in the action.
From Cardi B to the Foo Fighters, to Jay Z to Justin Timberlake, listeners, like YOU, around the world spend many hours focusing on every sound, every nuance of their recordings. These recordings have a certain magic to them that is hard to describe, and some people spend their lives trying to find that “magic” on producing their own recordings. Some people invest their money into audio gear that they see in magazines or in online tutorials, and still have the hardest time finding that “magic.” See, the truth is… it takes more than gear to make your productions take on the same kind of “magic”as those records that have inspired YOU to hone your craft.
While the Music Industry seems to be the most visually enticing aspect (see what I did there?) of this world, the same science that it takes to record a vocal or create a beat is the SAME SCIENCE that it takes to make sound effects for Video Games, or Broadcast the Indy 500, or run sound for Bruno Mars’ concerts, to adding dialog to a Movie scene.
“Year after year, CRAS graduates are well represented during the Grammy Awards, and this year’s 60th annual event is no different,” said Kirt Hamm, CRAS administrator. “We are very proud of each and every one of our graduates. All of our nominated-graduates, as well as all of our graduates that are living their dream in this business are fine examples of where hard work and dedication can take you.”
The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu), an institution for audio engineering education, will be featuring its leading audio engineering education curriculum during Winter NAMM 2018, held from Jan. 25 – 28 in Anaheim, Calif. at the Anaheim Convention Center, booth # 1340. 15 CRAS grads will also participate in AES@NAMM 2018’s “AES@NAMM Pro Sound Symposium: Live & Studio” during the convention.
“There are incredible opportunities in audio engineering out there, and we are dedicated in helping our students learn to harness their craft here at CRAS,” said Kirt Hamm, CRAS administrator. “For this reason, we are exhibiting at Winter NAMM 2018. We want the leaders in the professional audio industry to learn more about us, and for us to talk with those who seek top tier intern candidates for their studios and businesses. We also want to speak with those who are looking to get started in the business so they can see what we have to offer and how successful our grads have been.”
You are never too young to begin learning, and a proper head start is ideal for students to learn their future trade. As such, the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS; www.cras.edu), an institution for audio engineering education, and local Arizona high schools have formed partnerships to help educate and energize the industry’s next generation of professional audio engineers.
“We have begun forging relationships with local high schools in an effort to help the next generation of audio engineers realize and get started upon their passion early and take the steps necessary to get the most out of their high school experience,” explained Kirt Hamm, CRAS administrator. “As both CRAS and these forward-thinking high school instructors believe in a ‘real world education’, it was ideal that we strike this accord. These terrific high school programs provide excellent preparation to enter our realm of education, propelling and preparing students for employment into the five disciplines within the audio recording and production industry.”
Phoenix, Ariz.’s Arcadia High School Creative Musical Arts & Sciences Program has been in existence for nine years, according to Richard Maxwell, who created the program and has been with the high school for 18 years. “Previously to creating the program while I was running the bands and orchestras at the school I was also developing what would become this program over all those years. From a technology standpoint, we focus a lot in studio on Pro Tools. Live sound is also a big part of what we do that is always contingent on what we have available in terms of gear and, more importantly, since it’s a school budget. That said, the real thrust of the program is the students’ creative process, so they are creating all of their own material in pretty much any style they want on pretty much any instrument they want and the idea is getting that music to an audience.” Maxwell explained that it initially didn’t really seem like that big of a deal. “But as I look back on it now, the notion of allowing students the opportunity to explore their own musical interests legitimately was something that was missing. The students really get into the idea of all the opportunities that they have available to them. “It does take a considerable amount of student self-discipline and real interest in pushing their own creative process.”
According to Maxwell, many of his students have gone on to CRAS. “I’m always humbled that they want to credit anything they did with me before they got to CRAS. I am certainly glad at least to be a small part of their journey and I have great affinity for CRAS. Not just because of what they do, obviously CRAS’ credentials speak for themselves, but more selfishly because when I was trying to establish my program the endorsement of so many people at the Conservatory really made a difference in terms of legitimizing what was possible for us. I am incredibly grateful to them.”
How many videos have you seen of Artists in the Recording Studio? Ever been to a concert and stared at the person that is obviously controlling all of the sound? Ever rationalized that there are movies with dinosaur sounds in them, but there are no dinosaurs on Earth to record? Alien spaceships in video games always have their own, sound, too, right? In answering these questions, you’re probably recognizing that you might be cut from the cloth of what makes up an Audio Engineer!
Being an Audio Engineer is SO MUCH BIGGER than just being the “science guy” in a Recording Studio. In EVERY sound that YOU hear, somebody was responsible for getting that sound to the masses. More so, before that sound is available to the consumer, some Engineer captured the sound, manipulated the sound, and delivered the sound on some format: music download, movie, video game, television broadcast, concert sound, albums, etc. ANYWHERE YOU HEAR SOUND, other than the sounds of Nature, an Audio Engineer was at the helm!
For people that are excited about leaping into the field of Audio Engineering, there is a vast world of opportunity! Many aspire to be in Recording Studios working with Artists and Producers, but, the truth is, Artists and Producers exist outside of the confines of the studio, as well. Regardless of the occasion, or location, these Artists and Producers demand to stay focused on their “art,” and require a “technical artist” to provide for them the means of getting their “sound” out!