My Sally Field moment

I had a private Sally Field moment the other day after I came out of the closet. First of all, I should tell you that the closet I came out of had an Audio-Technica microphone in it. You see, it’s my sound booth, which is a major part of my audio production company that, thanks to all the newest whizbang audio gadgetry, consists of only two people — my wife and me. We specialize in podcast imaging and editing. In other words, we produce podcast intros and outros for podcasters, and then we edit their shows. Besides doing voice work and editing, we also occasionally produce the music we use in our productions right here in-house. And I mean literally in-house because our studio is in our house in Georgetown, Texas (just north of Austin).

Using Acid Pro software, a Yamaha MOTIF 6 keyboard, and an E-MU X Board 25 midi controller, I can create a 30- or 60-second music track in about an hour. I try to offer music a bit more on the quirky side because I find that podcasters like off-the-wall kind of stuff. Because each music track I create is custom, I start off with the podcast script in front of me as I sit at my computer listening to various music loops. I first decide on the genre. For example, I just completed a podcast intro for a high school podcaster in Louisiana who asked for music that sounded like Whitesnake and ZZ Top. I knew right away that I would be using electric fuzz guitars, an edgy bass, and rock drums. After laying down about six audio tracks in Acid Pro consisting of electric guitar, bass and drum loops, I fired up the Yamaha MOTIF 6 keyboard — a great keyboard for studio production — and picked an overdriven electric guitar to use for the main lead. After a about three tries, I liked what I came up with up on the keyboard. So I was ready for the final mix.

Song endings are always difficult for me when working with Acid Pro. I usually have to do some chopping of instruments at the end of a song to create a solid ending. However, the client wanted the music to fade, so I created about 64 seconds of music and then faded it down at 60 seconds. When finished with a music track, I always try to come up with a name that describes the song. In a rush, I called it Don’t Mess with Texas because ZZ Top is from Texas. Later I renamed it High Energy.

After completing the music track, I recorded the voice work for the podcast intro. Unfortunately, I had two things going against me. It was late in the day and my voice always sounds strained late in the day. And on top of that, the Saharan dust that somehow made it’s way to Central Texas was wreaking havoc on my throat. I recorded my voice anyway, edited it, and mixed in the music using Adobe Audition. I processed the heck out of it to compensate for my strained voice. I then did the ultimate bad thing: I uploaded it to the Internet, emailed the client that it was ready (well under my 48-hour turnaround time), and I went to bed.

The next day I woke up feeling better. I listened to the podcast intro again and HATED IT!!!! I was embarrassed that I had produced it. After one quick cup of coffee (warm liquid on the throat helps the voice sound better but I confess that coffee is not the best choice), I stumbled back into the sound booth (the closet) and recut the voice work with a much-improved voice, dropped the new voice track into the mix, and posted it online as a revision, as I call it. It could just as well be called saving face because I was really disgusted with the first version. I quickly wrote the client and explained why I did a revision and gave him the link to the new download page. I started planning the next project while waiting anxiously for a response from the client. Later in the day, after coming out of the closet for the umpteenth time between voice takes, I checked my email and found this reply: “You are the greatest! I have not begun my podcast, but your services have encouraged me to go full speed ahead. I am sure I will be contacting you again for more work very soon.”

Whew! I lucked out. He liked it. He really liked it! Sorry, I was having that Sally Field moment I referred to earlier. Although I was worried that the client would feel like he got mediocre voice work, I was also worried he would not like the music. And yet, it was a good ending to a project. Time to check my email to see what my next project will be.

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