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The John Lennon Education Tour Bus

Next Destination: Hough High School

Cornelius, NC

 

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August 29, 2011

Recording On The Road, And In Forest

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

One of the stranger aspects of living on a mobile recoding studio is that you become confronted with different ways of recording your music. While we were posted up in forest of South Carolina during Warped Tour 2011 , it allowed an opportunity me to reflect on how each of the engineers that live on board can utilize the aspects of the bus to our own creative advantage. There were a series of obstacles that were posed to us while we were in South Carolina. First of all, we were there because the generator of the bus was getting repaired and thus, we were deprived of most of the electricity that we would be normally. Second, we were also in a forest, which was an environment that is not normally akin recording good takes. With the M-Box, however, I figured out that recording off of the bus is not only a viable option but also can be a part of the recording workflow. I discovered that the following workflow through usage of Pro Tools 9 allowed for a seamless passage between creativity and output. Step 1: Demo guitar on M-Box. Thanks to the M-Box being bus powered, I found out that it was effortless to record the guitar through DI and then listen back to it through the outputs.. Step 2: Play back drums to the demo-recorded track. Once the basics of the track was laid down, I could either put down drums by using the electronic drum kit on …

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August 22, 2011

A Bokeh (BOH-Kay) for You to Behold

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

All right all you video and photography buffs, let’s talk Bokeh (which is pronounced BOH-kay). What is it?  Why is it there? How can we manipulate it?   First off Bokeh is pretty darn cool.   Essentially, Bokeh is the area of a video or photographic image that is out of focus. It is generally associated with the highlighted regions, or light sources, that are out of focus. When you are shooting (either video or still images) and you have a low aperture setting (which allows more light into your camera), you get a shallow depth of field, meaning you get a very selective focal region. That shallow depth of field will then cause bokeh to occur everywhere that is not in focus. This is what I’m talking about:       Using our array of Sony video and still cameras on the Lennon Bus, such as the Sony EX-3 and Sony Alpha-900, we can achieve some pretty cool effects with bokeh.Sometimes, lens aberrations or aperture can change the way the out-of-focus area of the image is perceived, creating either good bokeh or bad bokeh. The shape of the aperture is directly related to the shape of the bokeh.  Most lenses have a sort of polygonal aperture opening, thus, unless the aperture is all the way open, the defocused areas will be made up of a bunch of polygons.   Like This:       When the aperture is all the way open, the shape of the aperture is then a …

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August 15, 2011

Big Low-Budget Movies

Written by Jeff Sobel

 

On the Lennon Bus, we work with some fantastic equipment.  But one of the points that the Lennon Bus tries very hard to impress upon people is that you don’t need much money to bring your ideas to life.  Modern technology provides immense amounts of power per dollar and the tools available to non-professionals are now capable of producing results nearly on the same level as the very expensive equipment big-budget productions rely on.  In fact, one very highly regarded movie director recently quipped, “you can go into the store now and buy a laptop that is faster than the computers they used to make Jurassic Park.” The director who said that should know; he’s Gareth Edwards, and last year he released his breakthrough movie, “Monsters.”  Monsters is a suspenseful, science-fiction, alien movie shot entirely on location across several countries and incorporates exquisitely integrated computer generated FX (it is, afterall, an alien flick.) Gareth wrote, shot, directed, and created all the FX himself and the total cost of the equipment used to produce the film was about $15,000.  Now, if you haven’t seen Monsters yet you should definitely do so, otherwise you simply have to take my word that the movie appears in every way to have had a budget 100x more than it did.  If you’re a Netflix member you can stream Monsters right now, then hurry back to lennonbus.org. How is it possible that a movie shot on $15,000 looks like it cost $15 million?  For the most part, …

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August 08, 2011

Re-Amping with Pro Tools 9

Written by Ryan L'Esperance

 

    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 …

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August 06, 2011

Multiplicity with the MC

Written by Hans Tanner

 

There is nothing traditional about working for a travelling recording studio.  As you may already know, this particular studio bus takes part in activities throughout its yearly tour that make it impossible to think of it as a “normal studio”, as in one you would see in Nashville or Los Angeles.  Between the student sessions, public tours, music festivals, celebrity interviews, and many other interesting events we apply this bus to, we have to be constantly adaptable, able to serve multiple purposes at any time.  Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with our activities, and are familiar with a particular type of recording session we do, known as a Lennon bus Live.  Traditionally, this involves a band that has won some sort of contest, where the included prize is having the opportunity to come on board and take part in recording their song in a full HD professional studio, while simultaneously capturing the performance on video.  In the end the band has an HD music video they own the rights to, and can do whatever they want with free of charge! Pretty sweet deal, I know.  But enough of that Jazz, this blog is pertaining to a recent Lennon bus Live that occurred in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which was a little different from the rest… we only had one winner to work with!  Number one lucky guy Kevin Cedar got the chance to come on board and get his very own Lennon bus Live session.  As you are now familiar with the …

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July 27, 2011

Eleven Racks and Bedrooms

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

I remember my bedrooms and the little recording set-ups that I had in them throughout the years and the one predicament that was perpetual was the problem of space. With time and different houses, factors changed and what I was able to accomplish in each bedroom studio was different than the last, but I was always in perpetual (proverbial) fisticuffs with being able to fit everything I wanted to into the space. I would stack microphones or mandolins on-top of desks and see if I could balance guitar amps on the bed. We having amazing guitars on board and can cater to whatever is needed but a huge part of a guitar’s tone is the amp. There is always a tone that is being chased after and being in a studio with limited space, we have to be able to cater to whatever sounds could be desired (because in the end, it just makes it that much more fun). Our back trailer isn’t filled with a plethora of perfect preamps and amps, space is just always too limited for that. I learned that we don’t throw in the towel for that, we work around the constraints. It is this idea, that creative constraints can always push you forward, which made me seek out a way to get a guitar tone that I would be happy with and that other people would be happy to hear as well. I knew that there were options inside of the recording programs but there …

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June 20, 2011

Audio-Technica 20 Series Mics

Written by Jeff Sobel

 

Are you a home recordist in search of a better sound?  Got your Pro Tools chops honed, but still having trouble getting that big, smooth vocal or guitar sound you crave?  It’s probably time to consider upgrading your microphone.  Stepping up to a quality studio microphone is the single best way to improve the sound of your recordings.  When you have a great mic paired with a quality mic preamp there is nothing stopping you from getting the same quality out of your home recordings that pros burn thousands of dollars a day to get in a big name recording studio. In the Lennon Bus’ studios we live and breathe Audio-Technica microphones.  Many of the 40 series mics (4060, 4050, 4047, 4033) are heavily used in our recording sessions and we absolutely love them, as do studios across the world.  If they’re in your price range, you can’t go wrong with an A-T 40 series mic.  But did you know that Audio-Technica also makes a budget-conscious series of studio mics?  The Audio-Technica 20 series studio mics (2020, 2021, 2035, 2050) provide nearly the same professional sound as the premier 40 series, but at a fraction of the price.  The AT2050 is a lovely sounding, multi-pattern large diaphragm condenser studio mic that sounds great on vocals, piano, guitar amps, drum overheads and room sound.  It looks slick, sounds amazing, and is as versatile as any mic out there.  You can easily find the AT2050 for under $250 in stores, making it one …

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June 13, 2011

Imagine This…

Written by Hans Tanner

 

You are invited to spend a full week in Las Vegas with comped rooms at the Mirage Hotel and Casino, where you are placed at VIP status, which includes a free ticket to the 5th Anniversary Beatles LOVE show, seated in the artist section, at the same show where every single person that had a major part in the career of the Beatles as well as the making of the LOVE show (which includes Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, and George Martin) attended as well. If there were every a sentence that was deserving of run-on status I believe it’d be this one.  The only catch to all this? You have to: conduct public tours of an awesome studio bus for 5 hours every day, give interviews to local news stations, record a sweet track and video with a couple of cats from the local Boys and Girls club, setup and record interviews of Yoko Ono with Gayle King, The L.A. Times, and Mont Blanc, and you have to giveaway Epiphone guitars signed by Yoko to a few lucky winners, which can be seen below!  Does this even qualify as a catch??  Not even debatable.  In case you’ve not deduced by now, this is exactly what the bus experienced this past week in Vegas.  Seriously, we need to give a HUGE thanks to The Mirage Hotel and Casino, The Beatles LOVE Show, Mont Blanc, and Epiphone for allowing this organization to carry on with its mission, affecting peoples lives all …

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May 13, 2011

“Double Take” Takes Asheville!

Written by Ryan L'Esperance

 

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!

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May 09, 2011

Mixin it up at SAE

Written by Ryan L'Esperance

 

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!

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