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Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Lesson 21 of 27

Process for Editing

Sylvia Massy

Studio Pass: Sylvia Massy

Sylvia Massy

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Lesson Info

21. Process for Editing

Lesson Info

Process for Editing

Now, my process for editing might be different from other people. But as I am recording in Pro Tools, I am recording each take, not as playlists but one after the other. So if you take a look at my screen, you'll see that each take, you can see all the takes on the screen. Then I can take parts from each take and assemble a master take down at the end of the session. And that's what I'm gonna do right now. I'm gonna take that take seven front half and cut it, cut take nine onto take seven and create a master take. A master edit. Okay, I'm gonna do that right now. Here's my take. Is this the part where we're supposed to leave the room again? Yes. (laughs) (laughs) I have a question for you Yes. About saving. What's your save or save as method for session management? How do you do that? Saving happening right now! (laughs) Okay! It seems like I always have to be reminded to save and it's especially important after you've had a big loss, but yeah, I try to just have saving...

going on throughout. It's nice to have an automatic save, automatic backup, so in case you lose something you don't lose so much time and you can backup into your saved backups and recover where you were. So yeah. How about for guitar tuning, since it's a notoriously out of tune instrument, if there's a problem with chords, are you going to punch those in with more accurate tuning in the overdub stage? There's a real art to getting guitar players in tune because everyone seems to start with maybe learning how to fret improperly in some way. So a lot of people blame the instrument, but I found that usually it is not the instrument. I try to record with quality instruments, the higher quality instruments. And if you hand a Les Paul to someone and there's a problem with certain chords, and the same problem happens with a Fender or any other guitar you give 'em, it's more likely that it's the fretting that's the problem and not the instrument. It's not intonation. My cure for that is to initially ask the guitar player to to have a lighter touch on the fret board. Don't dig in, because it seems when they dig in, it pushes the strings out of tune. Another thing that I'll do is ask the guitar player not to hit the strings hard when they're strumming because that also bows it out of tune. The strangest thing is when I worked with Prince, in the early '90s, he was the one person that could grab any instrument, any guitar, no matter if it was, had been tuned or intonated or if it was a cheap guitar or an expensive guitar and he would pick it up and play it perfectly in tune because he would bend with his fingers, he would bend the strings in tune as he was playing solos. It was an unbelievable thing that I saw. But most guitar players don't have that skill. You can cheat later and fix chords with Melodyne, if you really need to go in and fix things. Another cure is to, after you've recorded an entire take with a guitar player and you find that there's just no way to get one of these chords in tune, go back, have the guitar player fret the chord, the problem chord and then while they're fretting it, play each string individually, and look at it with a tuner and see where the problems are with the tuner. Tune each string while they're fretting it in tune, and then punch in those chords into your performance. That's that seems to be the cure for the problem, rhythm parts at least. Yeah. Any other questions? No I think we're good. Okay. So I'm gonna go ahead and assemble this edit now our master edit for Speed Queen. I'm gonna do it to the grid. So perhaps we could do some easy editing later, if we need to. And I'll make sure that we have a little time in front of the song. And I'll make an edit, I won't just copy, I'll actually edit, use the edit function in Pro Tools, so all the tracks will travel together. Okay, and now we're gonna find the spot in the second half to make our edit. I'm gonna take a listen. (rock music segment) (rock music segment) I learned how to edit on analog tape, on two inch, actually. I did a lot of editing on two inch during the Tool era and System of a Down. It used to be very difficult, we used to have to take the two inch tape, the drum tracks from the two inch tape and measure between a kick and a snare, actually measure it, put little white marks on our tape machine, and then take and mark where the kick and snare was on the two inch tape and actually measure and then if there was if it was too long, then I'd cut the tape and splice it together so that it was in time. So, a lot of those, the Tool records, the Untertow record was full of drum edits. But it was all done on two inch. System of a Down also was a lot of editing. But yeah, it was a lot of work. But we'd have pieces of tape hanging from the ceiling covering the walls. (laughs) Big pieces of two inch tape. Now it's really simple here, you just go Apple+E, ta-da! (laughs) It's much easier these days. (rock music segment) Alright, there's my edit point. (rock music segment) Doesn't seem to be on the grid anymore. Let me see what's going on. Oh, I know why. The tempo changed when we bumped it up. Can the tempo map be cut and copied with? We didn't record it as an audio track. We'd have to just build the tempo map I see. I see, well it's not that big a deal. I don't think we're gonna need to use the grid. Okay, let's abandon the grid. I'll just do it like this. Go back into slip mode, and just drop it in. Take a quick listen before, doing my crossfade to see if my placement is good. (rock music segment) One more listen. (rock music segment) I'm gonna nudge it a little bit. I'm gonna move it a little bit. Alright. (rock music segment) Take another listen to my placement. (rock music segment) I think I'm fortunate to have had experience doing analog editing before getting into Pro Tools, 'cause I think it just makes it easier. I'm more confident with what I'm doing with editing in Pro Tools. Alright. Take another quick close up look at this. (rock music segment) I don't think I like that edit so much. I'm gonna try my edit point a little earlier. I'm gonna nudge this forward a little bit, okay. Crossfade. Let me listen to that now. (rock music segment) Alright, I'll go for that. I'm gonna listen farther back just to double check. (rock music segment) Okay, I'm gonna do a little listening now on the kick, because I had some questions about the kick track on a previous take. On take six it seemed inconsistent. This take, take nine didn't seem too bad, but I just want to double check. (rock music) There's a little bit of inconsistency there. I think it's tolerable though. I think we have our edit for the song Speed Queen. Bring the band back in so they can listen to it? I think so. Alright! Are there any questions, Drew, at this point? We do have a question, since disk space and cost isn't really an issue anymore, why choose to record at a lower res or why would you choose to record at like 44, over higher res, which is more commonplace today? Does it matter to you? It doesn't matter. A higher res, I would prefer to record at higher res, usually. If you can. Yeah, if I can, yeah. Definitely. Cool. Depending on my IO's, I suppose. Yeah. So in your studio, what do you record at? I usually record 98. Okay. Yeah. Cool. Yeah. That's pretty much all we got. Okay! So after this, after we listen to it, we're gonna take a break I think. Yes, we're gonna take a listen and then we're gonna take a break. And, are you ready? I think so. Okay. ("Speed Queen" song) Yes! (laughs, instructor applauds) Right? Alright, yeah! That was awesome. Excellent! (laughs) So next, we will be doing overdubs. We'll come back after this break. Wait, that's it? We're not done now? I'm so confused. (laughs) It's not naptime! But we'll take a short break. Yep! And then we'll get back into it, and we'll do some guitar overdubs. We're going to play around with some Variac which is going to be fun. Doing solos, doing some overdubs. We will do vocals, and we'll do some interesting vocal techniques I don't really think I'm even needed, actually! (laughs) Instrumental now, so yeah. So stay tuned, and come back for more. It's going to get very interesting coming up.

Class Description

Over the last 30+ years, Sylvia Massy has built a career as one of the gutsiest and most innovative recording engineers and producers. She has worked with legends like Prince and Johnny Cash, and won awards for her work with bands like Tool, System of a Down and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. In this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will get a peek inside the recording process of one of rock’s legendary engineers. 

While she is a proficient master of vintage gear, Sylvia stresses that great records come not from having the right gear, but from capturing great performances. Join Sylvia as she records a song in the studio with Seattle alt-rock band Thunderpussy, and learn how to work with an artist to capture that magical take in your own work.

Pulling from her years of experience and sharing stories from her newly published book Recording UnHinged, Sylvia will show you:

  • How to get interesting and vibrant drum sounds, using the room and the drummer to your advantage
  • Capturing great sounding guitars at the source, without editing and reamping
  • Pushing vocalists to deliver their best vocal takes 
  • Mixing both in the box and through a console using outboard gear

Sylvia is also known as a prolific educator, speaking and teaching at some of the best recording schools around the world. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from one of the industry’s most celebrated A-list producers. 

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Jimmy Foot

This Studio Pass episode with Sylvia Massey covers a lot of ground. From fundamentals like correct mic placement and phase to experimentation with amps, cell phone delay and a few extra parts, Sylvia makes it fun! I have been lucky enough in my career to work with a number of great engineers and producers. I haven't had the opportunity to work with her, but Sylvia is certainly in that category, and anyone who gets a chance to work with her would be a lucky person. This broadcast is the next best thing. Great job there at Avast Studio and fantastic camera work! And as for Thunderpussy; you guys rock!

Marc Felish

Wow, that was such a blast. Thanks so much Sylvia and everyone else for making this such a fun experience. I picked up so many new ideas that I can't wait to try out! Sylvia is such a creative producer, it was so much fun to be a fly on the wall watching everything. Loved it!!

Marcus Soares

Awesome! A great opportunity to pick into the creative mind of one of the greatest and get that kind of knowledge that you can't acquire otherwise. Highly recommended!