2.12.2010

All New Reduced Stress!

:: Much has happened at Evergreen since I got back from Spokane. I've had so much going on, and now that the end of the quarter is looming, my work load has actually gotten a little lighter. In fact, the biggest problem I'm facing right now is not getting enough sleep. I tend to be a night owl which doesn't really agree with my usual early morning schedule. My waking hours coupled with late hours getting home have resulted in a bit of a mess at my place; I basically clean and grocery shop a little on the weekends, and then let the dishes pile up during the week. Other than that, things are going great.

As far as my contract goes, I'm feeling pretty good about what I've done this quarter. The NBC gig already went over really well, and I've written previously about that, so I won't go into more detail. The next objective I had was administrative in nature. I continued to maintain the audio studios; this included cleaning equipment (during which I found a way to get at a big oxide buildup on the 16-track tape machine that is hard to get to during normal cleaning and was causing problems for students), repairing equipment (mostly problems with the computer), and helping students troubleshoot whenever I was around. I've also been processing reservation requests as usual; we actually ran out of forms again, so I took the opportunity to make some small changes and updates that hopefully will result in faster turnaround times from me and fewer denials for students.

I sat in on some MTC classes and at one point, when Peter had called in sick, took the opportunity to teach a few mixing skills to the students. I showed them how to apply the technique called "ducking the bass", in which the kick drum attack reduces the level of the bass so they sound tighter and more in sync. I also showed them how to use a gate with a side chain input to trigger other sounds like oscillator tones or white noise. Speaking of teaching, I've had the opportunity to hold a workshop with the other interns on the basics of sound theory. I had my material ready, but wasn't quite as prepared as I thought I was. It went fine, but I definitely think that I need to solidify the concepts I'm teaching beforehand and make sure I don't go off on too many tangents while speaking. It was a great learning experience about teaching (irony!), and I'm putting together another workshop on basic music theory for them this coming week.

One of my biggest goals was accomplished a few weeks ago as well. We finally got funding for our vinyl record project! The Student Activities budget committee gave us the green light, and that took a huge amount of stress off my chest. There's a lot of work to be done still, but we had to clear that hurdle before anything else could move forward. The students, unfortunately, are a little behind with their recording sessions, but hopefully most of them will be done by the end of week 10. I'd like to start pre-mastering during eval week and continue through spring break; we probably won't have all the final mixes from the students, but we can at least start work on a few of them. I'm really excited to hear what they've done in the past few weeks.

My last objective has been a tricky one. I wanted to learn about gaming audio, and I was directed towards two pieces of software: Wwise and Fmod. Wwise was the big one, and Fmod was something I wanted to compare it to, although I don't know anything about either of them. The problem was that Wwise is only made for Windows. Not such a big deal since I have an iMac with Boot Camp, so I can install Windows on a separate partition. I even had a Windows 7 installation disc! But then I found out that you had to upgrade to Mac OS X Snow Leopard to install Windows 7 on Boot Camp. So I had to order and wait for my upgrade disc. I installed Snow Leopard, then installed Windows, then downloaded and installed Wwise, and finally, after a little over a month, I got started on watching tutorial videos and learning my way around the interface. Basically, I haven't gotten to work as much as I wanted on this objective of my contract, but I've definitely learned some skills that I didn't intend on learning. I did some research on the Mac upgrade before I installed it because I had heard some horror stories, and I learned that the best way to install it was with a clean wipe of the hard drive first. This made me really nervous, but I had a backup, so I went ahead with it and haven't had any problems yet. I also had to do a lot of research to troubleshoot my Windows installation and found out that the ISO disc image I had downloaded from Microsoft was faulty, so I had to root around the Internets until I found a clean download that would install correctly. I'm still really looking forward to learning more about the two programs in the coming weeks.

That's pretty much it as far as my contract goes, but my next post will be about some of the things I've learned that weren't on paper ::