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Location Production Services

Remote Recording Terminology...

What Do All These Words Mean?!?!

"Location Recording". "Music Mixing". "FOH" Mixing. "RF Management". Even the term "Remote Recording" can confuse. What do all these terms mean in the context of a show? Aren't they really all the same thing?

Since Click Track is a business that caters to a niche part of the industry, its no wonder that people outside of the industry don't understand what it is we do. When explained, we more often than not hear "That's a thing?!?!? This page serves to de-mystify some of the terms we use to descibe our little corner of the industry.

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Front-of-House (FOH) Mixing

We'll start here because it is the most visible of all these functions. At a concert, one will often see an area in the middle of the crowd where the audio and lighting control is operated from. This area is usually referred to as "Front of House" or F.O.H. From an audio standpoint, the person at the FOH audio desk is fully responsible for how the show sounds to the audience.

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Monitor Mixing

Working closely with FOH Audio is the monitor mixer. The audience generally doesn't see the monitor mixer because they are usually positioned on one side of the stage just out of view of the audience. Their function, however, is critically important. The monitor mixer is in charge of all onstage audio for the artists to hear.

Many don't realize that once the music starts, it is very hard to hear yourself on stage. It became clear over time that as public address (PA) systems got larger to feed larger audiences, there was more need for musicians to hear themselves onstage as they perform. Putting speakers on stage (called monitors) that fed the musicians their individual sound back to them allowed them to hear themselves accurately.

The monitor mixer provides separate "mixes" for each performer on stage. So if there are eight people on stage, and each of them has a speaker, the monitor mixer is providing at least eight (usually more) mixes across the stage. This takes a lot of focus to manage the individual needs of each individual musician, so monitor mixers have to have the personality and knowledge to deal with the needs of each person onstage. Their job is critically important because if the monitor mixer doesn't do their job properly, the band can't perform to their potential.

Broadcast Mixing

Broadcast Music Mixing

Most larger shows will have at least the FOH mixer and the Monitor mixer. However, if that same show is being mixed for broadcast, then there will be a third audio position located backstage or in a truck outside. This position is called the "Broadcast Music Mixer"

The broadcast music mixer is also mixing the live show simultaneously like the FOH and Monitor mixer. Their focus, however, is completely different. The broadcast music mixer's focus is to make the show sound "right" on a TV or radio speaker.

At this point, one may ask "but doesn't the FOH mixer provide the sound for TV?". On occasion, yes, this may happen, but it is not preferred. Since the FOH mixer's job is to provide sound for the audience, their mix is influenced by the venue. So they may leave certain elements of the mix out or lower because the room may naturally be aiding those elements. A broadcast mixer will isolate themselves in a quieter environment backstage that allows them to hear the finite details of the mix and ensure the representation of the show the TV audience receives is similar to that provided to the in-house audience.

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Remote Recording (aka Location Recording)

The broadcast music mixer position has, over time, grown to include facilities to perform multitrack recordings. Since they are in an isolated location, it is easy for them to be able to record and monitor the recordings to ensure they are usable when the show is over.

Remote recording (or location recording) is the collective term for all things related to performing a recording outside of a studio environment. Remote recording trucks (mobile studios) were created for this purpose. The Rolling Stones are credited with building one of the first mobile studios for location recording in 1968, as they looked to record in places other than the standard, sterile recording studio.

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Post-Production Mixer

Post production mixing is, pretty much as it sounds. This is a job where, after the production has been recorded, a mixer will take all the raw elements and remix them to match the post-production video. Often the remote recorder will provide a mix, the multi track audio files, as well as "stems"...grouped pieces of the mix. The post production mixer can then choose whether to use the existing mix, tweak sections of the mix using the stems, or rework the whole affair using the multitracks.

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Radio Frequency (RF) Spectrum Management

As more and more wireless devices are used on a show, special focus needs to be paid to these devices to ensure they work flawlessly. Wireless can be a tricky entity since it works on parameters that cannot be seen.

The RF Wrangler is the person who, on a show that uses multiple channels of wireless devices, ensures that all of the devices are tuned to their own frequency and will not interfere with or cause interference to other devices in use. This can be a very complex job, as the environment can change significantly between sound check and show.

The RF Wrangler will take care of all wireless devices involved in the show. That inlcudes handheld microphones, in-ear monitors (IEM), production radios, and interruptable foldback (IFB) units for on-air talent.