October Sticky Punching In/Out

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October Sticky Punching In/Out

Post by drumsound » Sat Oct 14, 2006 8:45 am

The Art of the Punch-In/Out

As many of you know my studio is pretty old school in that I prefer to work on tape machines and have a RADAR instead of a full on computer. My first studio job was in an ADAT room. I do sometimes get out of my 'safety zone' and do work in home studios. I was on a gig in California a couple summers ago and I noticed that when a part was being punched in the engineer would just randomly put the computer into record on the track being fixed. After the player was successful the engineer would trim the files to fit where the mistake was in the previous take. I thought it odd. I recently did some tracking at a home studio where I was playing drums. When I asked if I could punch something to make and ending tighter the engineer set up additional tracks (I think) and I recorded onto them and he would later edit the new recordings into the old recording. Then at yet another home studio where I was engineering I asked the owner what the key command to punch in was he said that using the keyboard was always a little behind, so he uses the auto-punch feature and he taught me how to set that up. Of these three scenarios only the third put the punch points where they needed to be in context. I found this all quite strange.

Then at TapeOpCon back in June I was having lunch with a very well respected and talented engineer and producer, as well as a great artist and recordist. I don?t remember how it came up but the 'known engineer' mentioned that he too punches in early and out late and then trims the file.

I've noticed this mentioned here at the TOMB and on other boards. People are afraid to punch! I read a poster recently at another site that wanted to punch-in the second half of a guitar solo on a tape machine. He hadn't been working on tape for very long and was convinced that it would never work. The he pointed out that A) there was a clear musical phrase with space for the punch and B) that he was working on an Otari MTR-90 one of the fastest punching machines ever made. This poor guy got himself so worked up that he put the second half of the solo on another track even though he knew he would never use the first take's second half.

I understand equipment issues like an older computer, and I think auto punch can be really helpful. On the RADAR I have it set up so markers are set whenever I punch into or out of record. So if I have a tight spot I can use auto-punch if we have to try the part again (and again?) but it's very rare that I set the marker and use the auto-punch on the first one. When I'm working on a tape deck I'm always the guy doing the punch. I'm as engaged as the player, making sure we both get it right.


C'mon people! Listen to the music, listen to the mistake, learn your 'part,' and (in the words of a fellow Moderator)

PUNCH LIKE A MAN!
Last edited by drumsound on Thu Nov 23, 2006 7:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by JohnDavisNYC » Sat Oct 14, 2006 1:04 pm

fuck yeah tony. i punch on tape almost every session, and i always punch manually in logic. very rarely do i have to trim the region... logic is pretty realistic in punching... adn the nice thing is that it starts capturing when you press play, so you can open up the front end of the punch if you come in late, or the player/singer does a cool pick-up.

i'll drink a beer tonight in the name of manual punches!

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Post by Mark Alan Miller » Sat Oct 14, 2006 8:21 pm

I almost never use auto punch-in/out. Takes too much time to set up and audition. In the time it takes to set the in and out points I can already be in record with the player/singer and be getting it done.

On analog, where I cut my teeth and lived for years and years, one had to 'perform' the punch correctly or really risk screwing stuff up. And on certain machines and/or speeds, one had to 'anticipate' the in and out points a touch to compensate for the slight lag of the electronics getting in and out. (I sometimes still punch like this is the case, out of habit, even in digital-land...)

On the other hand, the 'in early/out late' method can be deployed on purpose, not nessesarily to be lazy or "safe" but to create flexibility at the punch point to yeild options... it's simply using a tool to one's advantage.

But I think, just like learning to edit with a razor blade, knowing how to punch musically and on-time within the area one is trying to fix makes one more rounded, more flexible, and more adept at the art, craft, and skill of engineering music.
he took a duck in the face at two and hundred fifty knots.

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Post by high five » Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:00 pm

toaster3000 wrote:i always punch manually in logic. very rarely do i have to trim the region... logic is pretty realistic in punching
One other nice thing about Logic (and probably other computer DAWs) is that you can use crossfading to make the edit really smooth. The more you overlap the regions, the longer the fade is.

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Post by cgarges » Sun Oct 15, 2006 7:12 am

In the last couple of years, I've noticed a growing group of people doing the "punch in early, punch out late and trim it" thing. I've even seen guys who I KNOW have done on the fly punches for years doing this regularly now and it astounds me. I've asked a couple of them about it and they've said that it's easier, but I can't see how ALWAYS having to trim the punch just doing the punch is easier than just doing it and being done with it.

To each his own, I guess and that's all cool, but I'd just like to understand how some of the stuff that's really time-consuming in the big picture supposed to be "easier." Is it fear? That's all that I can figure. Why is there so much fear in recording nowadays?

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Post by amishsixstringer » Sun Oct 15, 2006 4:31 pm

I honestly do a mix of the 3 main methods. I punch in protools (I love the way protools works as far as punching...not so much for other things). I usually try to punch manually where I think everything will need punched, and the cashe punches about 4 seconds before I actually hit record, so I can move that away if there's a pop or something. I rarely punch early and out late, but I have dont it. And, protools is actually VERY easy to set up punch points and record a specific section very quickly, but just hilighting a section, roll a few seconds or preroll in, hit record and sit back. I agree that manual punches are cool and impress people, but technology is moving forward and if it can be done easier, I say go for it. Why trip over a 5 to pick up a 1?


Neil

(edited for puting words in places that made no sense...sure I left a few out)

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Post by cgarges » Sun Oct 15, 2006 9:24 pm

amishsixstringer wrote:I agree that manual punches are cool and impress people, but technology is moving forward and if it can be done easier, I say go for it. Why trip over a 5 to pick up a 1?
For me, it doesn't have anything to do with impressing anybody except by getting more done in a day. I agree that having the ability to save a punch if you blew it is pretty sweet, but since you have to hit record anyway, why not try to actually make the punch happen like it's supposed to? That way, you don't have to do anything else, like move your punch point forward or backward. You punch it, it's done, move on. That's what I don't get about it. I'm not knocking the ability to adjust those things at all, but just trying to figure out what's easier about having to adjust punches after every single one than just doing it right to begin with.

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Post by Mark Alan Miller » Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:17 am

Precisely, Chris. That's why I use the early-in late-out method when I think I might need to generate material on either side of the punch for crossfading or something. But If I know I just need one phrase, I usually try to get in and out on the right spots. My main recorders automatically put tiny crossfades on the in and out points, so that's automatically covered (and adjustable - I keep mine at 1ms, a holdover from my Sound Designer II days, I suspect.)

Getting in and out as precisely as possibly for more 'routine' punches saves time, like you said.

But, again, having the ability to choose different methods of punching when one sees fit is pretty sweet.

That's why, when in digital-land, I use whatever seems right at the moment.

amishsixstringer rightly pointed out that auto-in and -out punching is quite easy on PT. Sadly, not quite so on my main recorders, and I have to give up my LOC 3 and LOC 4 to do it.

Just some thoughts...
he took a duck in the face at two and hundred fifty knots.

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Post by Recycled_Brains » Mon Oct 16, 2006 7:26 am

i think that sometimes, how you punch in/out can depend on the instrument/style/musician. i work in PT, so i take advantage of the quick-punch mode, and the pre and post roll times.

now in sticking with the "punch like a man" philosophy, i always set the punch-point at the exact point, or just a touch before the part, and the end of the punch at the exact end of the part. that being said, when in quick-punch mode, it records during the pre and post roll time (although you can't see it), giving you the option of trimming if necessary. i find this useful when recording say, a solo acoustic guitar w/ no click track and a smaller section in the middle of a song, because the player may have the tendency to speed up and slow down a touch while they play.

i also have a bit of experience working w/ reel-to-reel machines, and i always thought it was really fun to hit the record button at just the right moment and then punch back out again at the end.

i don't think it really matters how you do it, as long as it's not sloppy.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Oct 19, 2006 12:45 pm

meh.

'punch like a man' sounds like textbook Macho Engineer bullshit to me.

not directing that at anyone in particular or anything. area man, just saying.

sure, on tape you gotta be good, and it's definitely a learned skill. and if you carry that over to computer then great. good for you. but i mean really, in early out late and trim it takes what, all of 5 seconds maybe? personally, since i know i don't HAVE TO punch in and out right at some exact time, i would much prefer to just hit record and sit back and focus on LISTENING to what the person is playing rather than concentrating on hitting the punch just right.

i can of course appreciate the excitement, tension, drama involved with having to get the punch just right, but i mean...i don't often find recording sessions to be lacking in excitement and drama.

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Post by JohnDavisNYC » Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:55 pm

getting all fancy with listening are we? j/k...

i think punching in on the fly is the epitome of listening, becuase you, the engineer, have to listen to the phrase the musician is playing, and be able to phrase your in and out points in a musical manner so as to fool the ignorant masses.

if you've ever tried to punch on tape and haven't been listening hard (much harder than when the machine is remembering in/out points for you by number) or have been tired or kinda spacey, you can really fuck things up royally. been there. it sucks. but it only happens when you aren't listening enough, or aren't really feeling the phrase or whatever.

I think that musicians, not only engineers, have gotten lazy about punching, too. Some musicians can't play through a punch well enough, or start and end phrases at the same time, so in those cases, they are so conditioned by the 'make another track and then edit it in' approach that it is alien to them to actually have to phrase something the same way in order for the punch to work.

It's no more macho than say, a rhythm section that prides itself on only needing one or two takes. sure, maybe it comes across as a little cocky, but if it is TRUE, then it really just means they are good. Good bands used to be able to nail shit live in the studio with very few takes, and good engineers used to be able to punch in on the fly. It was just what you did if you were a pro. If you couldn't do that on your respective instrument, you didn't work much. I think that they people still working on (or striving to work on) that level are probably the most commited, and busy in the scene.

like more space echo, I'm not directing this at anyone, just presenting the other side of the coin from his last post.

plus, to continue being devils advocate, the 5 seconds it takes to trim, if you make, say, 60 punches in a day (not rediculous if your doing vocals all day, might even be more like 100) and trimming, you're adding at least a half hour of mouseing tedium to your day... but that is kinda stretching it to use that in the discussion, isn't it.

cheers,
john
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Post by drumsound » Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:16 pm

I'm with John on this. You have to listen intensly and be "in the song" to get the punch right. You working with the player(s) to make it right. I's kind of like driving stick-shift. You just need to be more attentive than putting it in D on going forward.

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Post by dogcow » Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:59 pm

I knew an engineer who always did punches in Destructive Record mode in Pro Tools, his main motivation being that it didn't leave him with tons of oddly named regions in his audio files folder and was simpler to move all the files around becuase it just records the audio over the old material in the same file. I thought it was an interesting approach. Hope that made sense.

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Post by Mark Alan Miller » Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:38 am

dogcow wrote:I knew an engineer who always did punches in Destructive Record mode in Pro Tools, his main motivation being that it didn't leave him with tons of oddly named regions in his audio files folder and was simpler to move all the files around becuase it just records the audio over the old material in the same file. I thought it was an interesting approach. Hope that made sense.
Made perfect sense. Like recording on analog tape or ADAT or something. Commit as you go, but this time on purpose, not out of the nesessity of the format. Interesting.
How does PT handle non-zero crossings at the in and out points? ADATs have selectable automatic cross-fades, for example.


Regarding the whole "punch like a man" thing - reminds my of the story of the men in my wedding party. We got married in Scotland, and they went to get fitted for their kilts. "Man, I Feel Like A Woman" was playing in the shop, apparently. My friends found it a little amusing. The shopkeepers didn't (and perhaps rightly so.)
Perhaps one should "punch like a woman" if one is inclined to. :P
he took a duck in the face at two and hundred fifty knots.

http://www.radio-valkyrie.com/ao/aoindex.htm - download the new record (free is an option!) or get it on CD.

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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Oct 20, 2006 10:32 am

toaster3000 wrote:getting all fancy with listening are we? j/k...
:D

fwiw i can't drive a stick.

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