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5.25.2007

carried away on a wave of music down a desert road 

at the moment, the sun is out and shining brightly, there are lots of birds flying about and singing beautiful melodies, and i’m sitting in the climate controlled luxury that is the control room on the scoring stage at skywalker ranch up in marin county, smiling quietly at where i happen to be located on this the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the first star wars film in 1977.

yesterday and today, david has invited me to join him up here to record a few high school choral groups that are putting out some cds. the first group that we recorded yesterday had about forty voices, all singing a cappella. we were able to get about fifteen songs recorded before they had to take off for a performance that night in advance of their graduation ceremonies.

today, we are recording another choir of about forty-six voices, combined with a small orchestra consisting of piano, keyboard, a horn section with an alto and tenor sax, a contra bassoon, a french horn, several trumpets, and a rhythm/percussion session with a timpani and drum kit.

yesterday was a bit more fun, because today’s group was accompanied by a bunch of parents and chaperones that are currently taking up a lot of space in the control room. right now i’m sitting on the floor in the corner near the mixing console (which you can see pictures of on my flickr account), where as yesterday i was lazily sunken into the couch in the back of the room (which at the moment is overloaded with a bunch of kids listening to us record the track for a quartet vocal number).

there’s probably about twenty-five people sitting in here right now, and i’d much rather have it like it was yesterday, when there was just six of us sitting at the board. although yesterday my allergies were so bad that i had a hard time seeing through my extremely watery eyes, and at least today i am able to breath a smidgen more than if i had balls of cotton wadded up my nostrils.

each of our sessions began around 9:30 or so, after getting all of the kids warmed up (vocally), and today, with tuning all of the instruments, and dialing them into the mix to get a nice recording. there is hardly any equalization required when recording here, because the microphone selection (worth in excess of two million dollars) and the room itself combine to produce some of the most favorable acoustic conditions imaginable.

(i did take personal delight when anytime i was actually in the stage and i sneezed, that the room i was in couldn’t help but ensure that it was the most sonically perfect sneeze a person could ever hear)

on thursday in between recording songs, one of the engineers here, judy, took myself and another friend of david’s named brian on a tour of the foley stage, where the sound effects for a certain "yellow" project were being recorded, and then after the choral session we were involved with was over in the early evening, the other engineer dan took us on a tour of the ranch house, where some guy named "george" or something like that is rumored to have an office.

sadly, he wasn’t here at the ranch (rather he is attending a convention in la), but we did get to check out the prop case on display in one of the halls, which houses a number of famous lucasfilm memorabilia, most notably from the indiana jones franchise, as well as some other priceless pieces of film history, like the original hat that charlie chaplin wore in his films. we also got to see the lucas library, which houses a massive amount of research material and is topped off by an amazing gilded dome skylight (sadly, they ask that guests not photograph the library or the dome itself, otherwise i would have taken a number of shots).

it is kind of daunting to be sitting in a room that is literally worth several million dollars, but at the same time, it almost feels natural. if i was interested in spending the money and time on college courses for advanced sound design and production, eventually i could possibly get a job here, but i doubt that i have the ambition or follow through to be able to get myself to a point where i would have the privilege to count myself in the ranks of the employed at skywalker sound.

in all honesty though, as incredible an experience it is to come visit here as it may be, i would be way more interested in establishing my own company and constructing my own sound production retreat/facility. ideally, i’d love to setup some kind of remotely located all encompassing film production compound, complete with sound stages, visual effects house, recording studios, lodging, and recreational activities.

however, that’s way too far on down the road… somewhere between "never fucking likely to happen-ville" and "fat chance land." something like that would either require that i somehow earn an obese wad of cash (which won’t happen at my current job), or to have a lot of investors jump on board and risk the chance that i wouldn’t ever actually have possession of the studios in my own name. is that really so important for me? i guess so, because i dream of the ease of spirit that would come from standing outside of a pristine hideaway for artists such that skywalker is and knowing that all that i can see is not only mine, but that i don’t have to worry about making payments until i’m three hundred years in my grave.

now the entire group of kids are back in the studio and getting ready to do a full ensemble piece, so i’ll write more when time permits.

may the force be with you.


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