Mixing Good Friday

It's hard to believe Easter weekend was a month ago already. With all the NAB coverage, these posts got pushed off a bit. But they're still valid (we have 11 months before next Easter...), so I wanted to put them up.

After Christmas, I wrote a couple of posts on my mixing process for large services. If you missed it, you can find them here and here. For Easter, my process is very similar, but Good Friday was a bit different. I decided to try some new things this year, and for the most part, it worked out very well. First, our schedule: We have a single rehearsal for Good Friday. It takes place on Thursday night. Before Good Friday. Since we do a run-through before the 4 PM service, I don’t have a lot of time to do a leisurely virtual soundcheck system. So this year, I cheated.

We do basically the same “no spoken word” service for Good Friday each year. We change out some of the songs for the worship section, but for the most part it’s the same. Since I had last year’s services on the hard drive, I decided to pre-build the whole service, and use what I could from last year to create my starting points. 

Though only numbered to 35, there were a lot of point cues in there. When I renumbered the list after the service, the final tally was 62.

Lots ‘o Snapshots

As I mentioned in my Christmas post, I normally don’t go crazy with snapshots. For for a big service, I will. This year, I ended up with a total of 62. I think I had 8 on the last song alone. For every piece or song that we did last year, I cued up last year’s service and ran through them a few times before the rehearsal. I had already pre-set all my gains, trims, EQ and dynamics based on last year’s show file. Since the band is the same, and my guys are pretty consistent, I figured it would all be pretty close. And it was. We had a few things change more than a few dB, but for the most part, it was dialed. 

For the new songs, I simply created a starting snapshot with the proper channels up, and mixed from there. Because I already had so much pre-built, I was actually able to use the rehearsal as my first pass. I only really had about 2-3 hours the next day to tweak it, so I focused mainly on the new songs. By the time we hit dress, I was only making minor adjustments and fixing mistakes in my recall scope.

Beware the Scope

One of the trickiest things to manage with snapshots is the recall scope. Since everything is saved on every snapshot, it’s really easy to have snapshots start changing things that shouldn’t be if you’re scope is too broad. I had one issue where one of the vocalists kept disappearing from a monitor mix. I finally tracked it down to a snapshot where I turned it off, then forgot to turn it back on. I missed it when I built the rest of the snapshots, so it was recorded as being off the whole time. Once I found it, I bulk-edited the snapshots to change the scope to fix it, so it wasn’t a big deal. But you have to watch for that stuff.

Planning is Key

As I said, I normally don’t go to this level of planning for a normal (or even a big) service. This process worked for me this time because our band plans very well. I already knew the songs, the tempo and who was playing what on each number. If it was a lot more loosey-goosey, this may not have worked. 

Of course, even with a lot of planning, there were things to adjust, fix and create. But what I found was that by pre-building as much as possible, my workload was a lot lower during rehearsal, and the week was a lot more relaxed. 

Now, I have this year’s service on the hard drive, and when we get to next year, if we do the same basic service, I’ll most likely implement the same basic plan. But I will pay more attention to my recall scope settings when I build...

Next time, I’ll go over some other things we did that made the week a little better for the production department. 

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