Madison, WI (August 16, 2011)–Engineer Leslie Ann Jones recently held a recording clinic at retailer Full Compass’ headquarters in Madison, WI.
Sponsored by Full Compass and Sennheiser, the presentation was well-attended with participants traveling from all areas of the upper Midwest to as far away as California. Jones’ 30-year career is full of highlights, including: the first woman Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, plus seven Grammy nominations and three Grammy Awards. Her long catalog of film credits includes Apocalypse Now, Dead Man Walking, Zodiac and Cars 2, and she is currently the Director of Music and Scoring at Skywalker Sound, a Lucasfilm Ltd. company.
Introducing herself, Jones spoke about the early influence of her parents (her dad was Spike Jones) on her musical growth and about her choice to move from performing to recording music. She also spoke about the role key mentors played in her development as an audio engineer.
After playing samples of her work and discussing the challenges and techniques for each of them, Jones focused on microphone techniques for recording live musical performances. She was joined by Matan Rubinstein on piano, John Schaffer on acoustic bass and John Vitale on classical guitar to assist with the demonstration. Jones described the choice and placement of microphones for the performance, emphasizing the fact each performance space is different and presents unique opportunities and challenges.
Jones believes that, “A successful audio engineer cannot rely on formulas, but must work to hone their listening skills and sensitivity to music. You have to use your ears. It is important to remember that you are not just recording sound, you are recording music”.
Recordings were made of the musicians playing solo and combo selections. Playback of the recordings and rough mixes of near, far and mid-range microphones gave Jones the opportunity to comment on how her microphone setup produced the results she was looking for. Throughout the clinic, Jones enjoyed lively interaction with the audience, fielding questions and sharing insights that enriched the overall experience. She concluded her presentation with a virtual tour of the recording facility at Skywalker Sound and the standards she has set for recording there.