UCLA Extension

How do remote music recording sessions work? An interview with recording engineer Damon Tedesco

If you’re a Film Scoring student taking a course that includes recording sessions, you probably know that the ongoing pandemic has prevented us from physically gathering in a recording studio like we used to do. But even though we’re studying apart, students’ compositions continue to be recorded, albeit remotely. How do remote music recording sessions work? We checked in with Damon Tedesco, Entertainment Studies’ longtime recording engineer, to find out.

Damon is a recording engineer and music scoring mixer who has worked on hundreds of films, television series, and commercials.  He has recorded and mixed music for a wide variety of projects, including Animaniacs, Looney Tunes, Family Guy, American Dad among many others. In addition to his work as the recording engineer for remote music recording sessions at UCLA Extension, he also co-teaches the course Recording, Mixing, and Editing Techniques for Film Composers.

Can you describe how students’ compositions are recorded in the remote environment?
The process of recording students’ compositions is a collaboration between me, the student, the contractor who hires the musicians and the studio musicians themselves. I work with the student and build Pro Tools sessions for the Los Angeles based professional studio musicians. I then send the sessions to the musicians that the contractor has hired. They all have very high quality studios with professional grade instruments, microphones. and interfaces. Once I receive the recordings back from each of the musicians, I compile them into a master Pro Tools session and do a reference mix for each student. This gives them an idea of how I would mix their composition for them from my studio. I also send the raw audio tracks of each recording to the student as well as my reference mix for them to take a listen to. They can use these raw audio tracks to remix and listen to each part to compare to their score.

Is this process common in the industry?
This is extremely common in the industry. I record many of my TV shows and films in this fashion. I would love to always go to a recording studio but in our time right now this is a great alternative.  

What are some advantages to recording this way?
There are a few distinct advantages to recording this way. The studio musicians see this as their audio calling card. They will not send files to me unless they feel great about the quality of the performances and recording. They do spend time and try and perfect their takes before I receive a master from them. On many of these courses, composers are working on their writing for live musician skill set. They can now look at each part of music that they wrote for each of the musicians and truly evaluate how they wrote for each player. Was it in the range of the instruments? Was it easily readable with their parts? Did anything trip of the players that could have been written by the composer more clearly? The comments from past students is that they liked the quality of the recordings. In addition, since they were all isolated from one another there is no microphone bleed between instruments. This makes it much easier for a composer to remix and get the mix levels exactly how they intended for their composition to sound.