Every Little Thing We Do

Confession: For an embarrassing number of years, I had it in my head – I have no idea why, I totally should have known better – that all bands recorded their music live to tape in the studio. In my brain, there were no overdubs. Vocalists tracked right alongside the band. No one played a solo over and over (and over and over). It was all fun! And games! And… fun! Like a live show right there in the recording studio! Like this video:

I wound up spending some time in recording situations and studios and immediately realized I was in serious error. Recording, duh Lisa, is the middle process (idea generation & writing & arranging come first and mixing/mastering come later); raw material is getting committed to whatever format (I was going to say “tape”) and it’s coming in pieces and a lot of it ends up not getting used and sometimes there are meltdowns, since not everyone involved has the same creative vision, and it can get really boring. Like anything can, you know?

Post_interview_1252104Me “taking direction” from Tim Meyers, our DP. Photo by Jack Brighton

When I started writing little bits for radio, I learned very quickly how the best pieces are a compelling balance between natural sound, sound bites, and narrative – and how 5 minutes can get eaten up in a hurry. They also took much longer to put together than I had envisioned, and I was working without much of a plan. As a result, I kind of sucked at putting the damn things together back in 2010. They sounded OK, but I had no idea what I was doing. I’m better at it now, but part of the reason I started this blog was so I could write thousands of words if I damn well pleased. I will say I now have a much better understanding now of how the process works, and how templating and having a general idea of what you’re doing is not creatively stifling, but just the opposite. Without going into a lot of detail, it’s never been easy for me to be visionary with my own work, to fight for what I want, and to not get discouraged. I’m FINALLY learning how to be critiqued without feeling afraid or attacked – an absolute necessity – while also standing up for things that I think are essential to a piece.

My latest challenge is twofold: Working with more partners and working in video. Tim Meyers (above) and I work together every day for our regular jobs, and collaborated on Course Work: Dinner Season at Prairie Fruits Farm last year. We also made a video short last summer that served as the proof-of-concept for the stuff we’re doing now with BYI. Here it is. Hope you’re thirsty:

Tim and I are working together on the BYI videos – the photo above is from a shoot we did yesterday afternoon at the Ramen Shaman’s house – along with a project manager (Jack Brighton) and, occasionally, a still photographer (Travis Stansel). They’re all awesome guys who are pumped to be working on a project like this. It was our first time working as a group, and on location to boot. I had prepped for much of the morning and talked to Tim a couple of hours before we got started, but we still made adjustments once we got to the location. It helped SO MUCH to have a plan. I thought the interview went well, everyone did their thing, there were beautiful snacks (thanks, Mark), we were done by 5. However, we shot an hour + of video, and way (way!) more will be shot on Tuesday… and all of it will need to be edited down to something awesome for PBS Digital Studios that is absolutely no more than 10 minutes long and preferably under 8 minutes. Getting to the finished product of any kind – an elaborate dish, a short story or novel, a song, an album, a 5-minute radio piece or an 8-minute video short or whatever – is always CRAZYPANTS. Why I’m continually surprised by the time and effort it all requires baffles me… but is not a deterrent. On the contrary.

*****

In other news, we found out yesterday that Child the Elder got a promotion at his job, which is awesome. Also: it’s going to be negative 12 degrees here tonight (it’s currently 36 degrees and the temperature is rising); like everyone else around here, I have Serious Winter Fatigue and will never take 40 degrees two days in a row for granted ever again. Finally: I’m making Red Stew from one of the Canal House cookbooks for dinner. I think it’s me shaking a fist at January. You can throw whatever you want at us this week, January 2014, but we’re having Red Stew. So there.

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