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Of course, the ritual will vary from one recording studio to the next, but the best way to determine anyone’s order of tasks is to keep in mind why the clients are even there in the first place (i.e., recording, mixing, or whatever stage they're at to make a product).
Rule number one means doing whatever it takes to create a productive and comfortable, working environment conducive to making the highest quality of recordings possible and making maximum use of everyone’s time. Just turn on your common sense and always keep the sessions' objectives in mind when deciding whether to, for example, make the coffee or plug in microphones.
I make a lot of references to “The Book,” also known as the studio schedule, because the studio schedule is the bible at any recording facility. It dictates what happens and when it happens every day, and proper meditation over The Book at multiple times per day--coupled with the common sense mentioned earlier-- will clarify the priorities and decisions of the entire studio staff.
This basic overview is also going under the assumption that you are the first person to walk in the door that day, which is always a good idea. “On time” for a recording session is at least a half-hour to an hour before the client arrives.
When in doubt, refer to rule number one: Get those sessions ROLLING!
When you walk in the door:
- Look at the studio schedule
- Check for any advanced, studio setup information from the first engineer.
- Make the coffee (Don’t be a tease: Check for cups, cream & sugar, too.)
- Open up all the doors and turn on all of the lights for the rooms being used that day
- Take a walk around the studio. Is there anything that needs your immediate attention or fixing?
- Stock the control rooms. (See “Volume Four: Stocking” for further information.)
- Setup for today’s session. (See “Volume Two: Session Setup.”)
- Take a walk around the studio. Any leftover cables that need putting away?
- Look in The Book / studio schedule and mentally note any changes.
- Make sure everyone’s fed. (More notes can be found in “Volume Three: The Lunch Run.”)
- Give everyone his or her lunch change.
- Put on a fresh pot of coffee.
- Take a walk.
- Look in The Book.
- Take inventory and re-stock all of the supplies in all of the rooms, including the storage room.
- Take another walk.
- Look in The Book.
- Have a cleaning regimen. Is it time to mop, sweep, clean out the fridge or the bathroom?
- If anyone’s there before you leave, check to see if anyone needs anything else, take another walk and have one last look at The Book.
- If you are the last one to leave, follow your exit regimen. Turn off the lights, turn off the coffee machine, lock the doors, etc..
As Frank, my partner from back in my Foley days at Saul Zaentz, said, "That's a lot of walking." Yes, after you accomplish every major task that day, take a trip around the whole of the studio, just in case something needs your attention. The goal is to develop the level of intuition that allows you to poke your head in to check on someone just as you're about to be needed.
“I’m just checking to make sure all the patients are okay, that all of their I.V.’s are still in place.”
Other articles you may find helpful:
Recording Preparation for Bands Part One: Rehearsal
A [Not So] Modest Proposal for -14dBfs