Reading the Recording Charts

The recording charts are pretty simple but for newcomers, they're either a pain in the eyes or you just come away wondering what all the tiny pictures of Tina Fey are about. So for those of you new here, let's run through a quick explanation.
Depending on your school of thought, recording is a two-part process: Tracking and Mixing. Tracking is the actual recording bit of it - putting sound on tape (or hard drive, as the case may be). My tracking charts are nowhere near as elaborate as they ought to be but that's only because I have a relatively simple mic set up that I rely on ninety percent of the time unless I want to start getting silly or fancy or whatever. Therefore, my tracking charts lack information such as what kind of microphone I used on which amplifier at what distance and what angle because if I went that route, I may as well just copy and paste everything over and over again. Basically, I just do a "Yes/No" thing.

Drum Kit/Program?
This is where the tiny pictures of Tina Fey come in. In the chart above you'll see one of two pictures, unless I do something super fancy that I have to make a notation on. You'll see Tina Fey:
Or the barfing dog:
Where you see Tina Fey, that basically means "Yes, I accomplished that". The barfing dog means "Nope, I got to get to that". It's like an incentive program; I'd rather look at Tina Fey than a barfing dog because Tina Fey is fucking awesome. Simple as that.
Generally, you'll see that the barfing dog is stamped next to the vocals. That has nothing to do with the quality of the vocals (debatable), it's actually because, generally, vocals are the last thing I do.
Really, it's the most fun I can make a chart.
I tend not to elaborate on tracking sessions unless there's something out of the ordinary that fucks up the process or a new technique that I learned about and wanted to try, therefore necessitating posting the results of the experiment. Otherwise, a fairly straightforward session with the same set up as the last one requires, in my book, at least, a simple check list.

Then there's the mixing portion. Mixing is where you play back everything you've recorded and (duh) mix them together. You do this by adjusting levels, moving things around left to right in the stereo field, equalizing, editing, all that shit. I'm not writing a fucking book about this shit, I'm just telling you how to read the goddamned charts I punch up. You've seen the chart similar to this:

LevelPanEQ/FilterDynamicTime-BasedIssues / Notes











Pretty simple to follow, fairly similar to mixing charts you'll find real engineers (unlike me) using. If you're new to the entire idea of mixing, let's just do a simple left to right on this chart.
Level is volume, generally notated in negative decibels, with zero being the loudest point.
Pan is your left/right position. I generally notate it in twenty four hour time because I'm an asshole like that. As midnight is notated as "Midnight" in twenty four hour time (as opposed to 24:00 or 00:00), it seems convenient to notate mono as "Midnight". From there, I just eyeball the board and just estimate the left/right position in terms of, say 23:30 or 01:30, whathaveya, meaning the widest positioning would be at 19:00 (7PM, full left) or 05:00 (5AM, full right).
After that, there's the EQ portion and just real quick I'll run through the common tech terms I use:
XdB/8ve = the slope of a filter. 6dB/8ve is gentle and more natural sounding, 24dB/8ve is hard and deliberate sounding. For example, say you set a HP filter at 6dB/8ve, the filter will slope down at a rate of six decibels per octave. If your center frequency is 100Hz, 50Hz will be six decibels quieter than 100Hz, 25Hz will be twelve decibels quieter than 100Hz, and 12.5Hz will be eighteen decibels quieter than 100Hz.
HP = High Pass filter, sucks out all sound from below your selected frequency.
LP = Low Pass filter, sucks out all sound from above your selected frequency.
Dynamics are things like compression which you can look up on your own goddamned time and time-based effects basically means echoes. Or phasing shit. That sort of thing.
Lastly, there's a notes section where I'll either gripe about something or put a little comment in there about a particular technique I employed.

That's it. That's how you read the charts. If you have any questions about this shit, you'd be better off asking somebody who knows what they're doing but you can always email me and I'll try to answer like I know what I'm talking about.

ADDENDUM: As of Sunday, November 28, 2010:
I think I've pretty much found every KRAKOA four-track tape that exists and I will be mixing directly off of those which, in turn, means there will be a new style of mixing chart. It will look like this:
Send 1
Send 2
"High" through "Pan" will be expressed in "clock values", that is to say the way I express panning in the other mixing chart; 1900 = all the way down or full left and 0500 = all the way up or full right. I don't foresee having to resort to using either send, so those will usually be marked "N/A", nor will I be making any use of the "5-6" or "7-8" stereo channels so those will be omitted completely. Tracking techniques have long been forgotten; after all, we're talking about sessions that occurred while I was either doped up or trying to hastily get things done while my girlfriend at the time or our neighbors weren't home, so don't expect too many stories about those.
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