This is the big if
in worldwide commercial television these days, as producers and directors
try to squeeze, poke, prod, and twist reality-based series
shoots. After all, there are no real scripts, no real actors. Often you
end up with large chunks of raw footage that for all intents and purposes
is merely a stunningly lit, beautifully photographed travelogue
or worse still, vacation movie. Yawn.
With the exception
of situation comedies and variety shows, its common knowledge that
post-production is what makes or breaks almost any television series.
Video/Film Editors and Music Directors are the unheralded heroes of Hollywood.
Today this is truer than ever.
Russ Landau happens
to be one of these heroes. Along with fellow composer David Vanacore,
Russ magically creates and sustains desired moods for the worldwide television
phenomenon Survivor. If the characters and conflicts are a bit subdued
or wishy-washy, they make the situations appear to be deep physiological
Mr. Landau also penned
the title theme for Survivor, Ancient Voices.
When Russ is composing
and recording, he relies on his Mackie Digital 8Bus console. What
he likes most about the D8B is its ability to route everything digitally
in and out of the machine. Im saving time, literally cutting
time in half, in the mixing and final processing. I really needed a mixing
board where I could bring in my synths and various digital audio gearand
still have analog inputs. I also wanted to improve my finished sound quality.
I did some research on the D8Btalking to other composers and producersand
I decided on the Mackie console right around the time I started doing
the music for Survivor, Russ says.
I use all of
the D8Bs on-board effects. Seriously, I use no outboard effects
at all because the effects from the D8B, combined with the ProTool plug-ins,
are so good. Plus, I dont waste processing power on my Mac to get
great reverb. Im waiting anxiously for my Drawmer D8B plug-in for
dynamics, as anything they produce you know is going to be great.
The Snapshot feature
on the D8B is the one that gets used most often in Landaus Topanga
Canyon (California) studio. When Im doing a MIDI automated
set-up within Logic, I set up a snapshot of a cue on the D8B as a basic
template. I have the reverbs, EQ, and delays controlled through MIDI automation.
With the D8B I can jump back and forth between all of the cue points Im
doing in a day. Also, I use Snapshots when Im doing soundtrack work,
as I can automate my mixes and use them to remember my settings for all
of my cue points in that application.
As with any television
scoring project, quick turnaround is important. Saving time is what
its all about. Everything I do needs to be done quickly and accurately.
Because I can set the EQ, compression, reverb, and delay settings instantlyit
saves me about a half an hour on each cue. If Im doing six cues
a day and printing them as I go, that saves 3 hours a day. Therefore,
I have 3 more hours every day to play with my kids.
Russ also takes time
out every now and then to informally rally with two friends at a local
java joint, The Water Lily. Denis Hannigan, the Emmy Award, Cable Ace,
and International Monitor Award-winning composer was recently honored
at the 2001 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for Most Performed
Underscore acknowledging his contributions to many of todays
most popular childrens TV series, including Disneys Recess
and Nickelodeons Rug Rats and Catdog. Denis work has also
been featured in the full-length Disney hit, Recess: School's Out. His
television credits include Beakman's World and Adventures In Wonderland.
And David Frank is one of the hottest songwriters and producers in pop/dance
music these days. One of the pioneers of modern R&B and Hip Hop with
his electronic 80s pop-duo The System, he is highly regarded for his keyboard
programming as well as his ability to write top-ten hits for artists like
Dream (He Loves U Not), Christina Aguilera (Genie In
A Bottle) and 98 Degrees (The Hardest Thing).
their little group The Topanga Coffee Club. One hot topic that always
comes up is the Mackie Digital 8Bus, since each owns one. Its
really great to sit down and banter with friends who have the same equipment
and do very similar things for a living, Landau says. A lot
of times, we have coffee and laughs and we figure out problems were
kind of like our own tech support and if we cant figure it
out, one of us calls Mackie Digital Tech Support. Theyre incredibly
helpful. Our gatherings are a really nice way of exchanging ideas. Youre
with friends, people you trust. Its great!.