Why Record Strings Remotely?
Working with players who collaborate remotely – “overdub teams” – is an affordable alternative to hiring large sections or using virtual instruments. If you know what to watch for, you can save time and money while improving the quality of your project.
- Many expenses related to studio time, players, copyists, and engineers can be consolidated or eliminated when using remote players. Logistics and administration are decreased and you’ll save costs by utilizing remote recording and overdubbing when it comes to recording larger string, brass, or vocal ensembles.
- Time is saved since you don’t need to be present during a session, and you don’t need to slave over the mock up.
- Turn around time can be very fast. Recording remotely allows for players to do their sessions immediately after receiving materials if necessary.
- Control in post – Recording a large ensemble in one room can get messy in post production. With overdubbed ensembles, you have control over each .WAV file and can avoid problems stemming from bleed.
Common problems with recording strings and some tips to avoid them:
- Phasing: Here are some ways we have found to avoid phasing:
- Use multiple instruments, varied mic/player placements/positions, different microphones, ask players to make very subtle variations in articulation, vibrato, etc.
- The “1 then 3” rule – With instruments in tenor range or higher (violins, flutes, singers, trumpet, etc.), doubling may result in phasing issues. Make sure to at least TRIPLE each voice to avoid phasing, or simply settle for one voice.
- Less is more – Since you have total separation and control in post, you can use panning to create a bigger sounding ensemble with less tracks than it would take recording an ensemble in one room. Often overdubbing 27 strings can achieve a comparable fullness as recording a 40-piece section live.
Score Preparation/Instructions for recording strings
- Review charts to make sure notes/articulations are accurate.
- Send a reference that shows the sound/vibe you’re looking to achieve.
- Speak with the player(s) and describe your vision of the track. Just as when working with players in a studio, it’s paramount that everyone’s on the same page and understands your intention.
- If the goal is to blend existing MIDI strings with live performances, make sure the click track matches the MIDI files. In our experience, many samples tend to fall slightly behind the click.
- If you don’t have charts, ask if players can transcribe from your audio or MIDI.
Delegate the string arrangement: This can save time, especially if you’re clear about your vision. Hire improvisers who can convey the vibe without a chart when appropriate.
- Record a scratch voice-over track with specific notes spoken in real time. You can even sing melodies.
- Send references that convey examples of techniques you would like to have included in the arrangement.
- Be clear about where and when you’re hearing the entrance/exits of the strings, horns, choir, etc.
Our team at Christian Howes String Recording has helps composers and producers around the world save time, money, and hassles while augmenting their work. We provide orchestral sections as well as small ensembles and solo work in all styles, including tracking, arranging, as well as full production needs.
Feel free to check out some of our work samples here and call or email us for a quote related to your project. You’ll be surprised at how affordable it can be to add strings. Why fuss with virtual instruments?
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