One of the smallest measures of time in the world is now the time that elapses between when Apple ships a new mobile product and someone has uploaded a video / album / feature film with it. It’s rather amazing. Somewhere, other tech vendors are … crying.
But that said, I think the video above is a wonderful thing. Perhaps the mobile smartphone is this generation’s new PortaStudio – something so readily accessible and portable that there’s really no excuse not to record a musical event when it happens. And however you do that I think is healthy.
So, in case you’re curious how a spare cable or adapter or two and a phone can be there – just in case someone forgot their laptop / ADAT machine / reel-to-reel deck – let’s just copy the full press release, as it’s told as a very nice, personal little story. And the music is sweet-hearted, too.
The app in question is Sonoma WireWorks’ FourTrack.
CDM’s own Marsha Vdovin has her 4S and loves it, hopefully shooting with it a bit over at AES. I’m, meanwhile, hobbling along with my unlocked original G1 in Europe, so, uh, if any vendors want to buy me off, I’m game.
Here’s the other thing: while the iPad gets a lot of attention these days, our internal stats at CDM tell us many, many CDM readers have iPhones – and only a fraction of you have iPads. Little wonder: it’s easy to justify a smartphone, harder to justify a tablet on top of the laptop you probably already own.
But enough of that: let’s hear how they recorded. And reminisce about the days of the portable tape 4-track. (It worked for the likes of John Lennon.)
“I’ve been touring lately with Alexa James and thought my new song “Come Running to Me” would be a great song to sing with her. We started doing the song together on a recent tour in Europe, and people seemed to like the song. We took that as a cue to get a recording of it, and thought- why not the new iPhone 4S? Let’s see what it can do,” says Rory Partin, a Los Angeles based recording artist.
Rory pre-ordered his phone, and in thinking about how to approach the video, realized they would need a second phone. So this past Friday, iPhone 4S’ release day, Alexa went at 5:30 am to camp out in the long line at the Apple store. Approaching the front of the line around 10am, she was almost in the store. But then AT&T systems started to overload, and delayed her getting set up. Soon, Verizon and Sprint were also facing delays because of the great demand of the new iPhone 4S. Alexa was finally up and running around 1pm, and the recording began.
Sonoma Wireworks created an app called FourTrack which is the app Partin used for the recording process. Along with a learning curve of a new app itself, there was also the learning curve in how to best record into the app. “We spent hours,” says Partin, “recording guitars, keys and vocals using different microphones and plugging those directly into the phone because usually you can get a cleaner sound going direct (like you see in some shots of the video). But we found that we got the clearest and best sound just holding the phone near the instrument or voice. We couldn’t believe how much better it sounded to just use the built in mic that comes on the phone. So when our guitarist, Jeffrey Miles was recording his guitars, I literally stood next to him and held the phone over his shoulder.
To record my vocals, I was able to fit the iPhone 4S in between an open slot in the microphone clip on a mic stand, and I sang into that. Alexa was next to track vocals. By the time we got to her, it was 4am. I then re-recorded the keys. The three of us pulled an all-nighter, and left around 7am Saturday morning so i could go catch a plane.”
Mixing down the tracks was also an interesting process, as FourTrack iOS has, you guessed, it, four tracks. FourTrack iOS allows you to bounce tracks, so we were able to do several guitar tracks, mix them on the iPhone 4S, and then bounce them down into one track. You can then send those files to your laptop to make room for more tracking, as well as for back up and a final mix. We also used our MacBooks for final video edits for the sake of time. Alexa grins, “We obviously didn’t have fancy lighting or makeup artists, but the quality of the iPhone 4S to take video is quite amazing in spite of how I looked after a few hours of sleep and camping out at the Apple line.”
Hang on, I’m supposed to be keeping up the anti-Apple bias everyone tells me I have.
Hey, what’s up with rounded rectangles, anyway? What’s wrong with corners?
Wait, crap, this may be one of the posts where I get told I’m personally responsible for the destruction of the Earth and my promotion of capitalism. Uh… we are the 99%?
(Seriously, I do have concerns about toxic waste, human rights, and mineral extraction; that’s why I’m glad to see people making music with these tools and finding lasting, meaningful uses for them.)