Welcome to the Sled Dog Studios tumblr!
This summer, we’ll be documenting our quest through the “Free Track Friday” project. Every week we will be arranging, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering a new track and releasing it for free each Friday. The following week we will upload the track to iTunes and donate the proceeds to charity. We’ll also be posting here to document notable lessons we learned along the way.
Our first track was a doozy. Dave and Ted were staring at the list of songs the team had come up with for the summer and weren’t sure where to start. Ted started going through his iTunes and came upon Britney’s Femme Fatale remix of Till the World Ends featuring Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj. Everything sort of clicked. It was a song that did everything from hip hop to dance to ambient with a bunch of funny stingers thrown in. And thus the journey began.
Till the World Ends was an eye opener to be sure. Besides confirming the fact that one needs to go ten steps too far in order to sound OK when tracking, it taught us new and interesting ways to utilize and effect the human voice to achieve certain sounds. One example we leaked during the process was turning Dave’s horrid singing (http://ow.ly/5gwQt) into something straight out of the underwater scenes of Super Mario Brothers (http://ow.ly/5gwRT). You’d be surprised how far pitch shifting and a little tremolo effect can go. All of this discovery was the fun and creative side of the project.
However, we were working with the electronic genre after all. Dave recalled during his Remixing with Pro Tools and Reason class at Berklee hearing: “More…it just needs more. Put the thing on loop and let it flow, pick and choose later” And thus we did. And thus Pro Tools began to fight back. On Till the World Ends we used Native Instruments Battery 3 to trigger our vocal percussion samples, each of which had their own auxilliary track to shape the sound. In the end, there were something like 16 tracks just for percussion. There were bass tracks, 5th bass tracks, 8va bass tracks, -8va bass tracks, and various octaves to fill the sound out: roughly 10 tracks there. Every synth or distorted guitar you hear is most likely chords of doubles of Ted destroying his voice, which gets you about 10 tracks each. The woah chorus contains doubles of everyone who worked on the song, all said and done about 20 tracks. Beyond that each little bleep and bloop and funny saying has its own track and we have solos and harmonies and the usual. In the end, our rough estimate is roughly 275 audio tracks (not including layered samples) all with quite a bit of processing on them.
275 tracks do not play well with Pro Tools. We were mixing this on a Quad Core Mac Pro with 8GB of RAM on Pro Tools 9 HD3. Regularly the system would crawl to a halt and die. As such, we learned very quickly that good session management and the freeze track method are a mixer’s best friends in this situation. Even when we got the session below the 192 voice limit, the system would still cry as it ran out of memory (32-bit limit = 4GB to the application) or processing power (Elastic Audio on that many tracks = sad hard drive). We also narrowed down our issues to certain plugins, which led us to start freezing those tracks to disable those power hungry demons. Below is our FINAL system usage after freezing darn near everything.
Keep your eye out for Till the World Ends (Femme Fatale Remix) O.P.B. Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, Ke$ha at http://www.sleddogstudios.com this Friday, June 17, 2011
David Longo (mixing, bass, comedic relief) @sleddogstudios @longodj
Ted Trembinski (jack of all trades) @sleddogstudios @tedtrembinski
Mickey Hamilton (jack of all trades) @sleddogstudios @MickeyBluEyes81
Josh Goodman (percussion) @JoshyPGMan
Rohit Crasta (percussive synths)
Nicole Milano (Ke$ha) @sleddogstudios @nicolemariemil
Heather Newkirk (Nicki) @heathernewkirk
Katie Riegal (Britney) @kriegal
Dave Sperandio (mastering) @diovoce @davesperandio