When I woke up around 9am, Rich was already working and after a quick cereal and running through the shower I joined him in what is the last day of the whole process. Tomorrow I will fly home, so we NEED to finish it today. And also because of the dealine the label gave me. I need to upload the masters today, or else the release date could be in jeopardy. We planned on finishing up around 4pm, and have the evening off, so I finally could see something of the area. We where planing on having diner in Hollywood and drive around all night and have fun, sleep a few hours, and then drive to the airport around noon so I could catch my flight back home. Boy, did this day change…
Looking at the fact we are almost done, I went out and bought a bottle of Champagne to celebrate that we finished the album, but only to open when we really are finished. So up until lunch time we where trying to finishing the mastering. We also decided what we thought of being ‘our sound’ and made the album sound like that. Of course that meant we had to go back to the work we did yesterday, and re-tweak that, but it’s worth it.
Around 1pm Paul Gargano, the product manager of Inside Out/Century Media came by to chat, work through some details about promoting the album and to listen to the music, since he had not heard anything. We had a great time chatting and working through the details. We listened through a lot of parts of the album and it was fun to get to know the man that will work for us in the States. We shot some pictures, and around 4pm he left again, so we could finish the album.
Looking at the fact that we thought we would be ready at 4pm, and we still needed to finish the mastering and print all the versions. So we had to reschedule our evening plans a bit. Finally around 11pm we decided that we probably won’t be able to do a lot of sightseeing/fun/partying, since we where still not done. It just took a long time, and I rather have a good sounding album, and have not seen anything of LA during this trip, than be a tourist with a bad sounding album. When we finally finished the mastering process, we needed to print all kinds of versions. The label needs a normal version and an instrumental version. And I need drum less versions for clinics and workshops and Daniel needed guitar-less versions of all the songs for his clinics & workshops. Meaning that we will have to print all the songs in real time at least 4 times. So that is four times 85 minutes of music. So that is a good 6 hours of just printing. Then we needed to make the actual album into a digital Red Book CD master through a DDP image. Up until this moment we where still working with masters in 88.2 kHz/24 bits. And to get it on CD, it needs to go down to 44.1 kHz/16 bits. You can just use any program for that to do so, but while reading up on that, and talking to some mastering engineers in the field, I learned that there is a lot of junk out there, that will make the conversion, but makes the music sound worse as well. Of course we did not go through all this hassle to let the end step mess it up, so I search for the best solution. There are a few programs very good at this, but they cost a fortune. Something I don’t have unfortunately (did I already ask you to buy this album?? 🙂 ) But went for a piece of software that does a nice job: Izotope Rx.
Then the tracks needs to be put in the right order, have the proper crossfades (since some of the songs run into each other), add all the ISRC data to it, and then print it to a DDP image, which then needs to be uploaded to the label. The software I bought for this is Soundblade LE and is used by a lot of professionals – so it better be good. When I bought it, a few days ago, they promised to transfer the license key to my iLok asap, but up until now, I did not receive anything – so I could not make the DDP files. So I had to get back to the label and ask for their patience once more, as I will need to make the DDP files at home.
Half way through the night it was time to regain a bit of energy, so we took the car and drove to a restaurant that was open 24H and ate some food. While driving listening to where we where, and decided that we needed to change a little thing. So when we came back (around 3pm) we redid some of the masters and finally decided on that we where done and pleased with the masters. It must have been somewhere around 4am or something. So the printing of the music could begin. Still another 6 hours of work to do. That means that we will be ready around 11am and I will need to leave for the airport at noon. Just in time!
One if the things we where hoping to have time for was printing stems as well. Stems are mixed down files per instrument. So you would get a stereo file of the drums, stereo guitars, stereo keys etc. In that way you can load those stems in a DAW and without loosing the sound of the album you can make your own balance. But where we wanted to use this for are the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games. I think it would be very cool to have our music on that network as well, and have people have gaming fun with our songs. Unfortunately this did not work out, as there simply was no time enough. So I will have to do that back home in my own studio. Of course the sound will be a little different, since I do not have Rich’s outboard gear, and I don’t have an analogue mixing desk, but I think that for this purpose it will be alright.
We where printing (and sometimes still tweaking some stuff) all the songs up until 11am in the morning. It was a working day of over 26 hours non-stop. Yeah! Rock ‘n roll baby! As promised, we took the Champagne out to celebrate, but as it was already morning, and since Rich had to drive me to the airport we decided to keep the bottle closed. After a last back-up of all the sessions, I quickly packed my bags and we drove off to the airport. We took the touristic route, and drove through Hollywood, but I was too tired to really see something. It was very hard to keep awake 😉 When I arrived at the airport, checkin was a breeze, and now I’m sitting here at the gate waiting to board. This trip has come to an end. Last hurdle to take is the travel back home, and I can’t wait to be home, see Jessica and sleep in my own bed!