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The John Lennon Education Tour Bus

Next Destination: The 2018 NAMM Show

Anaheim, CA

 

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October 17, 2011

The Theory of Making Music Videos- Part 1 (Pre Production)

So we on the Lennon Bus produce a TON of music videos and we do it in a very little time frame. This is why it is so important to have a set method for production, with a check list of points that one must hit to make the whole production run smoothly.

In any production, the process is split into 3 major steps:

The first step is the “Pre-Production Phase.” Here the artist or students brainstorm on the concept for the video and create a basic shot list for the camera man and director to start thinking on a technical level of how to best compose the shots. These ideas are then put into motion by storyboarding. Storyboarding can take a few different forms. Typically we have one or a couple of the students, who are not working on the audio portion of our project, to go scout locations in the area. This can be anywhere. It is usually done by sending a student out with a digital photo camera and having them take pictures in each location. In our case though, since we don’t have a car, we are typically limited to our immediate area. We gather all the photos and make a story board, or sequence of shots or locations that are going to be the story or scenes in the video.

So, when making decisions on shots, you need to factor in “the Look” and also “the Gear” that it you will need to haul around, to get the look. Pre-Production is a very important step that helps you sort out any potential problems that you may run into while on location when resources are limited. It also gives you an assessment of what gear to equip yourself with. For instance inside locations typically require more lighting and maybe lighting accessories such as light gels, which match the color of your lights with the pre existing rooms lights. (better said through a wiki link or a litepanels.com link than taking the time to explain) Outdoor settings are typically more forgiving when it comes to lighting, but present their own sets of challenges. (explain the challenges or drop this phrase)

So, with all of these factors in mind, you need to make a gear list of all the items you may need, including “the Extras,” like extra batteries for the camera’s, extra storage media, gels, a bumpin audio playback device for those dance videos, tripods, etc. All of these are very important to make your life as easy as possible when shooting on location. As with many things, the most important thing is to BE PREPARED!!! Rain or shine, pay attention to the details and make sure you cover all your bases. 

September 13, 2011

Making Midi Magic

Hey everybody! So the Lennon bus staff recently went through some really cool Pro Tools training. We learned a ton of cool new things and most definitely enjoyed the Avid facilities. One of the cool things we went over is writing music from scratch using midi. A cool way to write from scratch is to use loop playback with midi merge. Check out this quick demo on how to build a drum performance using this easy and fun technique!


Let’s build a basic drum beat… first lay down your kick normally, for a one bar loop. Now you want to add more elements to the beat, but you don’t want to have to play the whole performance at once. Here’s how you build one from scratch!



The next step is to enable Midi Merge, shown above, and you’re good to go. Just record enable the track in loop playback and add the other elements to the kit. If you do not see the Midi section in the toolbar, simply right click on the toolbar and add it to the shown tools.



Once you have your rough parts added into the loop like kick, snare, and hat, there may be a couple timing issues that you want to fix. The next process is simple.  Just select the loop, and in the Event menu select Event Operations > Quantize. This will allow you to snap your beat to the grid by a specified grid value or apply preset grooves to your beat for the best possible performance.



Finally, once you have the settings you would like to use to quantize your beat or beat element, click apply and watch it snap! Close the window, play back, and your beat should be locked to the tempo set for the session.

August 08, 2011

Re-Amping with Pro Tools 9

    Hey Everybody! Ryan here, with a cool new tip for all you prospective studio peeps out there. Ever been inspired to put down that EPIC guitar lick or that funk-tastic bass line, but don’t have the time or space to set up mics and get that killer tone? Or perhaps you live in a place where making loud sounds is just not an option? Well never fear, the Lennon Bus guys are here to deliver a quick and easy way to capture those in the moment performances without the hassle. This clever little concept is called “re-amping.” The principal is simple enough. Just plug your guitar, bass, or really anything with a pickup in it, and plug it into the instrument input on your Mbox or a standard DI box. Utilizing Pro Tools, record that shredding guitar solo you’ve been waiting so long to capture,  and lock it in with that good ol’ “save” button we all know and love.
Now that your performance is in the can, or box, you can take it anywhere you want, let’s use your friends basement for this example.  It’s here where you can properly set up mics and crank that puppy! So you want to experiment with guitar tone?  Just Re-amp! It’s easy! Re-amp devices come in many different shapes, sizes, and costs. The whole concept is to take a signal coming out of your interface, which is line level and low impedance, and make it the instrument level or the high impedance signal that the guitar amp is looking for.
There are lot’s of great products out there, but for this demo, the DIY re-amp trick on a budget will do just fine. A good set up to use is a standard mic cable and an adapter that takes a Low Z (low impedance,) balanced signal and converts it to a Hi Z, unbalanced signal that you can plug into a guitar amp. You can pick one of these bad boys up at your local radio shack. So thats the concept, but how do you connect this whole set up? Just assign your guitar track output to one of the audio interface’s individual outputs, take a cable, and connect your Re-amp device. Hit play on the computer, and your raw guitar part now plays out of the amp. Once you’ve connected your Mbox to your guitar amp, using the Re-amp device, set up your mics and get the tone you want. Again in PT you will want to set the output of your direct guitar track to the physical output of the interface, and connect that output directly to your amp. Create new mic channels in PT and once your tone is set, hit record, sit back and watch it go! You can repeat this step as many times as you like, changing tones or amps and your performance will remain the same. Works great for layering guitars too! I recommend experimenting with this one, using whatever space you may have to play with different amp levels and mic set ups as well. And remember kids…. Practice make proficient.

Sincerely,

Dr. Profesperance

Example of Dry Guitar

Exaple of Wet Guitar

May 13, 2011

“Double Take” Takes Asheville!

Today, the Lennon Bus rolled into Asheville, NC super excited to start the day. Those of you that follow the bus may know that Asheville is one of our favorite stops to hit, and the talent here is ripe for tracking! This group of eight students form the band Double Take are writing a killer original piece about their city. Look out for more good things to come, here in Asheville!

May 09, 2011

Mixin it up at SAE

When mixing projects in Pro Tools on the John Lennon Bus, it is always important to listen to your mixes in a variety of places. If you have the opportunity, you should listen to each mix in different studio environments and speaker systems to accurately understand your mix and double check any decisions you’ve made throughout the production process. It’s not necessary to exclusively listen to your mixes on accurate monitors, but to also check the mix in headphones, your car, or any other playback device that you are familiar with. Because of the access that we had today to the incredible facilities at SAE downtown Atlanta, I was able to take full advantage of their awesome listening environments and compare various mixes we’ve produced.  I urge all you up and coming mixers and engineers to do the same with your material, and figure out where your particular studio/mixing environment differs.

Shout out to Scott Kieklak over at SAE, thanks for the studio time.  We had a great time with all of you and we are looking forward to the next visit!

February 25, 2011

TED 2011 - The Rediscovery of Wonder

Last year was the first year at TED for the Lennon Bus as well as myself. Spending a week with brilliant people, hearing new ideas, refreshing old ideas, and creating music and art on the Lennon Bus makes it one of my favorite events all year.

At TED 2010 we collaborated with Jill Sobule and friends and created a music video that went along with the theme of TED “What the World Needs Now”. This year we’ll be back at it with the 2011 theme being “The Rediscovery of Wonder”

While you’re waiting on the edge of your seat to see what we cook up this year, check out last years video.

February 15, 2011

Comping Vocals on the Lennon Bus with Pro Tools 9

Hey everybody! Ryan here, with a little Pro Tools Tip that I’d like to share with you. I often find myself working on the Lennon Bus in a situation when there is a point in the song that the artist is having a little trouble in a section or we want to try some different variations for a verse per say. So I use a technique called comping that allows the artist to do multiple takes of a section, try as many variations as they like so I can later pick the best take or pieces of the take to create the best “comp.”  Here’s how you set it up.


The first thing you do is set up Pro Tools to Loop Record. This is done by right clicking or control clicking the Record button until it shows the loop record icon.

 



Next you record as many takes as need be to get the best performance out of the artist.

 


Once you have your takes recorded, right click on the region that you’ve been loop recording and select “matches> Expand to new playlists.”

 


Go to your Track View Selector and select playlist.

 


You will now see all your takes, you can select and solo each individual part and pick the best takes.

 


Next to the Comp Solo Button is an arrow that will allow you to copy the selection to the Main Playlist. This is where you rinse and repeat.

 

Continue going through all of the takes to create your final comp in the Main Playlist.

 


Once your comp is complete, go back to the track view selector and choose waveform to hide the playlist view. Your comp is now complete! Add some crossfades and you’re done.


Hope this tip helps you with your production needs.

January 26, 2011

Imagine That! Magic in Costa Mesa

Magic is the claimed art of altering things either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult natural laws unknown to science. Every now and then John Lennon himself stops by the bus to dust of his wand and make a little magic happen for us. Yesterday was one of those days. While on breaking from the Lennon Bus studio session, students stepped outside to have some fun with a piano that looks like it fell out of the record slip of Sgt. Peppers. Using their iPhone’s they looked up the chord progression and lyrics to John Lennon’s Imagine and started to play. Quickly following suit I took out my iPhone and started to record. It wasn’t until the magic was over that I realized this brief moment captured the defining spirit of the Lennon Bus. Students coming together to make music while using technology to explore the Lennon Legacy and their own imaginations.

Check out my iPhone video here.

November 01, 2010

The Mbox Family: Easin’ the Wean

I consider myself a techie. I consider my home a toy box. Living on board the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a dream come true. As we travel all across the country creating magic with students and artist one day at a time, many people ask us about our lives on the road. However, few people ask us about our time off the road. The Lennon Bus has a tour schedule that keeps us busy for 10 months out of the year, but what about those other two months that we are not living on board a world class recording studio? At first thought you may imagine that it is a nightmare going from having a bus that yields the highest production value to sitting on your own couch at home having nightmares about bus call. Luckily for me Avid Pro Tools has made the weaning process an ease. The MBox family allows me mobility without compromising quality. I can take all I learned this year out on the road and keep tracks cooking at home working on music with my friends.

This winter I’m going to miss the bus, but I’m not going to have to miss the quality of music Avid affords me on board and at home.

October 24, 2010

Mackie and Lennon Bus: The Truth Never Sounded So Good

It has been said that the art of mixing audio is like painting with sound. Painting requires a canvas to create upon and paint and brushes to illustrate your dreams. Mixing requires a sharp ear and equipment that tells the truth. We like hearing the truth on the Lennon Bus, that’s why we love using Mackie mixers and monitors.

When preparing a mix for the radio, iTunes, or a mixtape you want to make sure your artistic decisions are transparent and true, crossing over effectively to all of their potential playback options. The Lennon Bus uses Mackie mixers and monitors for this exact reason. We don’t know where the students are going to take their tracks after a hard days work on the bus, but we do know we want it to sound good. We feel confident handing them a CD at the end of the day after mixing the track on our Mackie HR624mk2’s.

Sure our monitors are pretty, they look good and sound better, but they are just as tough as they are sweet. Everyday our studio equipment stands the ultimate road test by traveling across the country on some rough roads and they hold true. Rest assured, if the Lennon Bus is up and running then the Mackie monitors are on and bumping. From public tours to the Black Eyed Peas, our monitors entertain everyone from pedestrians to celebrities. Will.i.am has pushed these puppies to the max and they’ve held their ground so next time you come on board the Lennon Bus to listen to a track or watch a student video, don’t be afraid to ask us to turn it up. With Mackie and the Lennon Bus the truth has never sounded so good.



Students from SAE Atlanta, carefully listening to their mix on our Mackie HR624mk2 Studio Monitors.


Mackie HR624mk2 studio monitor close up

 


Mackie 1402-VLZ3 Mixer

 

Posts By Ryan L'Esperance

  • The Theory of Making Music Videos- Part 1 (Pre Production) So we on the Lennon Bus produce a TON of music videos and we do it in a very little time frame. This is why it is so important to have a set method for production, with a check list of points that one must hit to make the whole …
  • Making Midi Magic Hey everybody! So the Lennon bus staff recently went through some really cool Pro Tools training. We learned a ton of cool new things and most definitely enjoyed the Avid facilities. One of the cool things we went over is writing music from scratch using midi. A cool way to …
  • Re-Amping with Pro Tools 9     Hey Everybody! Ryan here, with a cool new tip for all you prospective studio peeps out there. Ever been inspired to put down that EPIC guitar lick or that funk-tastic bass line, but don’t have the time or space to set up mics and get that killer tone? …
  • “Double Take” Takes Asheville! Today, the Lennon Bus rolled into Asheville, NC super excited to start the day. Those of you that follow the bus may know that Asheville is one of our favorite stops to hit, and the talent here is ripe for tracking! This group of eight students form the band Double …
  • Mixin it up at SAE When mixing projects in Pro Tools on the John Lennon Bus, it is always important to listen to your mixes in a variety of places. If you have the opportunity, you should listen to each mix in different studio environments and speaker systems to accurately understand your mix and double …
  • TED 2011 - The Rediscovery of Wonder Last year was the first year at TED for the Lennon Bus as well as myself. Spending a week with brilliant people, hearing new ideas, refreshing old ideas, and creating music and art on the Lennon Bus makes it one of my favorite events all year. At TED 2010 we …
  • Comping Vocals on the Lennon Bus with Pro Tools 9 Hey everybody! Ryan here, with a little Pro Tools Tip that I’d like to share with you. I often find myself working on the Lennon Bus in a situation when there is a point in the song that the artist is having a little trouble in a section or we …
  • Imagine That! Magic in Costa Mesa Magic is the claimed art of altering things either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult natural laws unknown to science. Every now and then John Lennon himself stops by the bus to dust of his wand and make a little magic happen for us. Yesterday was one of …
  • The Mbox Family: Easin’ the Wean I consider myself a techie. I consider my home a toy box. Living on board the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a dream come true. As we travel all across the country creating magic with students and artist one day at a time, many people ask us about our …
  • Mackie and Lennon Bus: The Truth Never Sounded So Good It has been said that the art of mixing audio is like painting with sound. Painting requires a canvas to create upon and paint and brushes to illustrate your dreams. Mixing requires a sharp ear and equipment that tells the truth. We like hearing the truth on the Lennon Bus, …