Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest Post - Anthony Kosobucki: Save Often

Smart to Noise: From the studio, Sweet Jesus don’t forget to save, often, and more than one place.

Anthony Kosobucki is the audio and lighting director at a church in the Buffalo, NY area. He's also a former touring musician and one heck of a live and studio engineer. This is his sad story. Apparently one in a long line of guest contributions on the topic of preparedness. Got your Plan B ready?

I seem to always be the guy who ends up with some pretty dumb stuff happening to him. I haven’t figured out if that’s dues to my own fault, or being surrounded with an astounding amount of people that are just really, really good at wrecking things. It makes me consider changing my business cards from reading “Audio and Lighting Director” to “Incident Containment Specialist”. This is a serious thought. Vista print cards are cheap enough...

This post is my vent from coming in to work this morning.

There is a worship leader at my church who is currently recording some original material at the church. Usually Tuesdays are a pretty set day in the studio for me. Sessions typically from 9:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. I understand that an amount of sessions like that could be done by Brian Moore or Kevin Bruschert whilst number 2ing. However, I also have to maintain 4 sound and lighting systems, and help with some landscaping. So it gets a little hairy. Yesterday was a rare occurrence of me having to leave work sick. I had thrown up a handful of times in about 30 minutes, and was getting a fever. I went home to find out that the previously mentioned artist, still wanted to do a little bit of work in the studio. Now, because I work in a church, I am not the only individual with keys to my office/studio area. He let himself in and sent me a handful of texts about some drum and MIDI programming. In between launching some more at home, I answered his questions and thought that everything would be ok. I WAS WRONG. I came in this morning to find my monitors set at about -40dB and the project he was working on still open. Scrolling through what was two days ago, a mix about 75% done. We haven’t laid down all the BGV’s yet, so that’s what I’m waiting on. As I looked through the mixer screen, I noticed an astonishing amount of plugins and preset EQ’s thrown on almost all of the drum channels, preset verbs on certain drums (even though they had already been grouped out) and the master output set at +6dB.

Everything was clipping and a little later I realized that my overheads had been muted, and the cymbal sounds were only coming from the ride (which was under mic’d) and the hi hat. It really helped the toms pop, let me tell you. Snare compression set to limit was pretty great too.

I spent about 15 minutes assessing what the frick happened, and started to attempt to salvage what was once a good working mix.

Now, back to the post title, I always save all my projects in a few places. The problem was that he went through and saved to all the same locations I always back my work up in. All of my mixes were trashed. Then I remembered, after checking all those places, that there was a possibility that I had copied it onto a network drive as well.

Thank God.

I usually don’t worry about dumping on that drive, because no one usually comes up here and screws with things. Usually.

This time they did, and had I not saved to that drive, I would probably be set back at least 4 or 5 hours of work. It can only take 20 minutes to totally trash a mix and make it sound as bad as it did. Thankfully, I had a back up and was able to get back to where I was the last time I had left the mix.

I’m sure there are a lot if worse stories and examples of how awful things can get if you don’t save all the time, but it’s early, and that’s all I’ve got.

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