Las Vegas, NV (April 8, 2016)—The excitement of the annual NAB Show is primarily a visual one, emanating from the video halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center with huge, beautiful HD reminders at every corner, collectively dominating the exhibition floor. Yet NAB is always a worthwhile trip for audio engineers—from musician/composer-types, diversifying and fledgling pros to the most accomplished, comfortable mixer out there. The show lends valuable insight on what modern broadcasters increasingly need sonically, and how today’s audio content creators can fill that need. For 2016, the NAB Show is simply more creative and musician-friendly than ever; suits and sneakers increasingly play well together at the show.
Having engineered a variety of stereo and surround CD and DVD video releases (Al DiMeola, Joni Mitchell, Emerson, Lake & Palmer included), PSN Software Editor Rich Tozzoli is now largely serves a broadcast TV client base. He’s primarily a by-day guitar-based music composer for televised programs (NBC Olympics, Pawn Stars, Counting Cars, Duck Dynasty, etc.), knowing the perks of creating audio content for TV broadcast quite well.
“One of the things that’s a bit unusual about the way I write for TV is that I often write off the DAW grid … meaning when I’m working with a drummer on rock tracks or something, we’re not locked to a click. That lets things flow more naturally and organically, and the editors end up cutting where they want to anyway—which is often quite a bit. While you all have to have good timing to do that, it’s more fun as well.”
That said, Tozzoli approaches a TV mix to serve the story and dialog, he notes. “I tend to push the kick and bass slightly off to the side, to make a little extra room for the onscreen talent’s dialog. It may be a small touch, but it’s my approach. Also, I will filter out a lot more bottom than I would if I was making a record—below 200 Hz will be lost anyway. I also listen closely to how editors use my music, simply by watching the shows that I’m on. Sometimes they mix loud; sometimes they don't. I also include extra trail off reverbs in my cuts, so that editors have something to use to cut from scene to scene.”
As interest continues to grow in emerging broadcasting technologies—from Dish Network’s hot streaming television service Sling TV to even free and lowly YouTube—both fledgling audio content creators and savvy, self-starting audio engineers are paying attention to potential associated jobs in supplying content. PSN Review Contributor Rob Tavaglione of what non-traditional markets he considers potentially lucrative for cultivating new clients. “Rappers call them mixtapes, bands call them demos, popsters call them singles and customers under 21 record them constantly (sometimes for future sale, grouped as EPs). Whatever you call them, these recordings evidence that modern artists differentiate between product for sale/stream and fodder for the machine—like social networking, fan freebies, and teasers between proper releases.”
Meanwhile a growing global client base for broadcast content has been helpful, too. “I’m finding that VO work is getting slightly more popular, especially for overseas clients,” explains Tavaglione. “I cut an Israeli Nike commercial in a hotel room. Now that Skype can bring a producer/director right into the room, it’s much more cost effective than ISDN—it’s free. Conversely, I don’t think I’m getting nearly the amount of VO work I ought to, though great affordable mics, good video-cam audio quality and effective DAWs are allowing video directors to cut their own adequate audio.”
Tavaglione insists that, with a reasonable yet not necessarily large audio production budget, he’s experiencing some overwhelmingly positive results in producing content for new media “broadcasts” of many types. “Conversely, my bid to score 13 custom theme-music packages for a new brewery’s line of beers was declined, surely over the ‘high cost.’ My view is that customized new-media audio production will reap rewards in the long term [but] new media directors need to quit acting, or just quit budgeting, like it’s a recession and think bigger to achieve the new-normal of ultra-competitiveness.”
National Association of Broadcasters