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Izzy Knight
Sprit FM Lynchburg

Production Thoughts

 

 


You calmly lean back into your chair. Slowly nurse your coffee. Begin to enter your “zone” as you enjoy your quiet and stress-free space. Life couldn’t get any better. AE’s are honoring deadlines.  You have ample time to create and dream up the next best imaging campaign that will dazzle the station of the year judges at CMB and make “Angela” fall deeper in love with your station.

Then… you woke up to the chaos, budget restrictions, and vibrant ADHD environment we lovingly call radio. Sure you may complain here and there, but face it, you really do love it. There’s something special about this medium, and in Christian radio, you’re making an eternal difference for the kingdom.
 

What I wanted to share with you are some tips & tricks I wish I had learned in the beginning that will hopefully help you look at your creative process differently, and save you time.

Making life easier.
Marc Tischart, our fearless leader at Spirit FM has many quotes he likes to use. One of which is “there are only 24 hours in the day, and then you have the night.” Maybe you’re only doing production. Maybe you’re like me and you have an airshift and you’re the only guy doing spots and imaging production! Either way, you likely don’t have a lot of time.

Creating efficiencies and working smarter will afford you with more time to create a more effective and compelling product. Here are some of the things I’ve implemented:
1) Templates. Audition CC and CS6 have a fantastic feature called “Templates”. It’s a super easy way to have your toolbox of SFX and Beds automatically loaded with your rack presents set and ready to go. Just set up your session and export it as a “template”. If you have any older version, just set up a blank session and save it to your desktop. Just remember to hit “save as”.
2) Presets. Set up a rack for each voice over person you have. Unless they’re voicing a spot in another studio, you should never have to tweak their audio again after its set (unless you’re going for a new effect, of course).
3) Account Executives. There a ton of ways to approach this workflow. It needs to be simple, provide accountability and include enforceable deadlines for each party. I personally prefer one without paper and going completely digital.  If budget is an issue for you, and likely it is, going digital can be done, for FREE, by using google docs. Create a form with the fields you need and it will automatically populate the spread sheet. I just implemented this at Spirit FM and everyone loves it. If you have a budget, I’ve heard (but have not used) Vcreative is a good tool: http://www.vcreativeinc.com/
4) Policy. Make these deadlines, presets and templates standard operating procedure. Standardizing your work flow will save you mastering time in the long run and the continuity will make your station(s) sound a significantly better.
5) Batch Processing. Have a voice tracker? Batch process their files using your settings to give them a bit more punch and match your station.

Sounding better.
The best tip I’ve ever received when it comes to creating audio is: if your leg isn’t moving, it’s not good. There should be a rhythm to what you build. Your promo or sweeper should sound and move like a great song. It should take you places. It should create an image in her mind. I recommend you learn about music theory as this will make you a much better producer.
It’s difficult to get technical without being right there with you. Here are some thought starters when it comes to approaching mixing:
· Tell a story. Only use the active tense. You’re talking to her. Just her. Get her attention right at the beginning. Use effects to enhance the story. Silence can speak louder than words. Throw away the saying “the more you tell the more you sell” and keep it short. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! Make her feel something and never be boring!
· GIGO. Garbage in -> Garbage out.
· Presence. Play with the settings. Don’t over compress but don’t sound dull either. She has a lot happening, make it easy for her to hear you.
· Use your bandwidth wisely. Where it makes sense, cut the vocal frequencies in your music tracks to help your VO “pop”.
· Cut unused frequencies. Before you do any processing, remove the unused frequencies from your VO. Same with phone calls.  Cut as much that makes sense.
· Addition through subtraction. Curt Yengst from STAR 99-1 / WAWZ taught me this one. Use your parametric eq effect, set your Q to 100 and raise it up as high as you can and sweep through the frequencies to find the trouble spots, then cut it. Raising EQ adds noise. Cutting EQ is the way to go.
· Less is always more. When using processing / effects, find what you like, then cut it in half.

Art.
Most importantly, what you’re making is art. Create your own signature sound. Listen to the very best, including the secular stations. Most importantly: dream and dream often.
I sincerely hope this helps and blesses you. What we’re doing is significant. We need to all keep connecting and collaborating. Iron sharpens Iron. Let’s rock the radio world!

 


Izzy Knight serves as Afternoon Host and Media Director for Spirit FM, Virginia.  Previous work includes Director of Media Production / Event Marketing for the American Association of Christian Counselors and Digital Media Coordinator for STAR 99-1 / New York.  Izzy also co-owns an advertising agency, Imagination Spark, LLC, and is developing a radio runsheet and prep software called Go Jock.  Contact Izzy at isaiah@imaginationspark.com.

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