News From The Woods - February 24, 2004

NEWS FROM THE WOODS

By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published February 24, 2004


"Boy! That was some dream...."


Boy, did I have a weird dream last night!

I was working at a recording console - I suppose in my studio…. And obviously in a recording session. But as I took a closer look at the console, things were…. Well, different. First of all there was no recorder. So I thought to my dreaming self…. "Hmmmm, this must be a DAW."

I know, I know. I don't get out much. But bear with me here.

I can't even tell you who the artist or band was. I don't recall ever seeing them in my dream. I don't remember a studio room, only the control room I was seated in. My focus was on the gear in front of me. I always feel a bit insecure working with gear that I have not had experience with or for that matter ever seen before, and this was definitely the case, so my dream was true to form and following how I would react in real life. So I began to attempt to grasp the form and function of the exotic console sitting in front of me.

I began to hear music coming from the speakers so - without even looking up - I searched for the RECORD button. It then dawned on me that I was holding a wireless remote control in my hand. It was very much like a VCR remote but larger and a bit heftier than an old time TV remote. It had the usual buttons for stop, play, fast forward and rewind, as well as a red record button. There was also an LCD display and as I instinctively hit the RECORD button I noticed the LCD started counting off the seconds. On closer inspection I saw it was giving me a read out of the time being recorded.

Cool.

But I still could not locate the actual recorder.

At first I assumed it was a part of the console on the desk in front of me but I could not find either a place to access a hard drive or a tray for a CD-ROM. Searching the control room with my eyes I couldn't locate anything that looked like a recorder, either digital or tape. No computers were nearby and I don't recall seeing any display screens resembling a recording device of any kind. Stranger and stranger. Meanwhile the counter in my hand was ticking off the minutes as the music continued. I was starting to sweat now as, even though I felt confident we were recording, I had no clue of WHAT we were recording TO.

Nevertheless, when the music stopped (and WHERE was that music coming from, anyway?) I dutifully hit the STOP button and the time display also stopped. I breathed a sign of relief. Somebody said, "Let's overdub some vocals". It was at that moment that I also noticed several rows of tiny LED red lights on the bottom of the remote (now where did THOSE come from? - dreams are so convenient and frustrating that way). The first eight were flashing on and off and just on an educated hunch I pressed my finger on those lights and they went out. Okay, so now I realized we recorded eight tracks on that last pass…. Now to overdub. I pressed the ninth button and it began to flash (Ah, HA! I had just armed track number nine!)

My dreams are weird in that so much is so very real and yet surreal at the same time. For some reason I had sidestepped the issues of ""what am I doing here and why doesn't anything work like normal"?, and I continued to work on the session as if nothing were wrong. Although I still don't recall actually seeing any singer I assumed he/she/it was going to sing soon, so after arming track nine I again hit the REC button and the singing magically started as if right on cue. And the time counter on my remote continued on its merry way.

So far so good.

As this scenario continued I used every spare second to locate the missing recorder if for no other reason than to make me feel more secure in knowing first of all that it even existed and then that it was doing what it was supposed to be doing. This must have gone on for a while because my dream fast forwarded to the end of the session. Faceless people started appearing in the control room as we were wrapping up. It was then that I realized I must be in someone else's studio as it was time for me to go home. I laid down the remote control and the person next to me (the studio owner?) reached over and pressed a button on the side of the remote. A hidden door popped up and a cartridge popped out, which was then handed to me. In that instant it all hit me. The remote control was the recording device! It communicated with the console through wireless means! Wow! I was stunned…. Even in my dream! It was at that point that I woke up.

At first I was excited, but then I gradually became used to the concept. I mean, I should not have been so stunned. After all, today you can hold a device in front of your computer screen and it will automatically download and store all your email addresses using a wireless connection between the computer and the device. Storage devices are getting smaller and cheaper every day. And there are now miniature flash drives which hold up to a Gigabyte of data on them, and password protected at that. They connect up to your computer via the USB port and are recognized by your computer as a removable storage device. I have a Jumpdrive by Lexar that is so small that it doubles as a key ring and holds 128 Megs on it! It is cheaper than buying a removable Zip drive and using a cartridge, which only hold 100 Megs of data on it. I could keep my entire website on a keychain and plug it into any PC capable of handling a USB connection!

In retrospect, I don't know why we should be surprised to see in the not too distant future, multichannel digital recording devices that can communicate wirelessly to a mixing console and have self-contained storage media. It is not unthinkable, and certainly not undreamable.

I just need to slack off on those big meals right before going to bed . . . . . .

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