In keeping with my resolution to blog at least once a week this year I figured I'd introduce a little structure into some of the things I blog about.
What I decided upon was the thoughtful decision making process that goes into recording something.
The recording process involves dozens of decisions, some of which can be have answers that are fairly obvious and some of which can be downright baffling. Half of the process is pragmatic and the other half is artistic. Too often, people earnestly seeking perspective from more experienced recordists receive the answer "it depends" with no further illumination.
My purpose in this series of posts will be to explore the answers to "It depends on what!? And then once I've defined what it depends on how do I execute it?" in as much detail as I can to as many aspects of recording as I can. This will include things like how many channels to record, which mics to choose, where to place those mics, what devices to record to, what other gear to bring and use, and of course what to record in the first place.
One caveat to all of this is that if you perfectly execute a set of recordings towards a flawed goal then you'll still fail. Along those lines, developing an appropriate recording goal requires two things: a well defined personal aesthetic and a clear context in which the work will exist.
So with that in mind, this first post will be about developing aesthetic, because so much of the answer to the above question is also the answer to "what do I like?"
Over on SSD Shaun Farley asked a question about what you do to develop your aesthetic. My answer was generally to both do art in other disciplines and to observe fully realized works within your own. I stand by that as a foundation, but I'd like to expand on that here.
First off, I do strongly believe that working art in other disciplines does wonders for sharpening one's aesthetic. The main reason is because all art requires creativity and technique and the process of learning and executing new technique can be very revealing as to one's personal aesthetic because you find out very quickly what is and what is not worth learning new skills and techniques to execute.
As an illustration, I've personally found that I thoroughly enjoy shooting both timelapses and super slow mo video in the photographic realm. I've spend a relatively thick amount of hours learning and experimenting with both, and what that's revealed to me in my audio work is that (like with visuals) I have a deep appreciation for the ability to drastically manipulate time in all of these mediums.
Secondly, as I stated in the SSD thread, I think its very important to both observe and discuss the works of others with trusted and knowledgeable people. The reason is because these type of discussion force a person to articulate a position and then to defend that position, the result of which is a more consciously defined sense of what goes into the thing that a person likes vs what that person doesn't like. If you can't articulate to me what you like about that show you love then you've done yourself no favors with regards to creating your own work.
The process of shaping and developing one's aesthetic is a personal and ongoing one. It must be actively pursued and nurtured throughout the time that one intends on creating and appreciating art.
Having a well defined personal aesthetic is an important context in which to make any thoughtful recording decision.