Tuesday, April 13, 2010

D.I.Y.= D.I.E.

As we continue our build out process I realize how fortunate we are to have such a great group of contractors available to us right here in Metro Detroit. Turner-Brooks, the best stud and dry wall people in the business, Sendak Painting, Eagle Electric, Albaugh Masonry, Richmond Interiors, Interior Environments, Memtech, Brown Mechanical, Michigan Lighting and Chandelier and many others, including our own Marna Hamilton masterfully managing the whole show.

These people are true artists. Masters of their craft. And I would never even think of asking one of them to work for free. After all, one rule that never changes is "you get what you pay for". I am so grateful to all of them, not only for doing a great job at a fair price, but for reminding me of the importance of hiring professionals. It is always the right thing to do.

I've built many studios over the years, but know next to nothing about what a professional builder, carpenter, plumber, electrician, painter, mason, etc. does. And for the most part, these folks know next to nothing about what I do as a professional sound engineer. Good thing too. I don't know about you, but I'm not sticking my hand in the circuit breaker box. Let the electrician do it. He's trained, it's his job to risk his life. And you sure as Hell don't want me as your plumber. Butt crack jokes notwithstanding, it wouldn't be pretty.

Which brings me to my point. With very few exceptions (those companies with enormous checkbooks) "in-house" production facilities don't tend to work out very well. I know, I've worked for them, seen several make the attempt, even been asked by my own clients to help them set one up. Really?! Seriously?! Help you cut me out of the loop? Sure! Love to!! At first glance it seems to make sense, keep that money in the building. But if you actually think it through, you quickly realize that to do it right and actually maintain a reasonable level of quality, it's still a time consuming and pricey proposition.

Sadly, technological advances have put some very powerful software tools into the hands of people that have no idea what to do with them. Sorry to burst your bubble, but over and above the computer and software, in audio it still takes a great microphone, pre-amp, accurate speakers and a properly designed room. In video it still takes a great camera and lens, lighting and proper monitors But more importantly, it takes the trained and experienced eyes and ears of seasoned pros to make things look and sound their very best. Again, I don't know about you, but my clients still expect just that. The very best.

My brick mason says "If you want a straight wall, ya gotta start with a straight brick". Amen! Unless you can really afford all the right gear, the proper facilities and, of course, the payroll and benefits for a trained and experienced staff, you're going to end up with people that wear too many hats and soon they begin to look ridiculous. Not just because they're running around with all those hats on their head, but because things will slip through the cracks and the quality of the work will suffer.

Cheaper, cheaper and cheaper is about to come back and bite all of us in the ass. Unless, of course, we recognize that it takes more than software and a computer to make great spots. It takes true artists. Masters of their craft. Leave the plumbing to the plumber and never let him do your electrical. Leave the recording, mixing, mastering, shooting, editing and graphics to us, the post community. We've made you look brilliant for a long time. With things the way they are, now is really not the time to start looking bad.

The Mound