The Unmitigated Power of A Strong Work Ethic

Guest Blogger The Unmitigated Power of A Strong Work Ethic

CRAS will be featuring a Guest Blogger every few weeks.  These guests will be students, graduates, instructors, and staff members.  Each guest will be writing about a specific topic they are interested in sharing.  

Our first blog is by CRAS Graduate, Derrick Brilliant.  Derrick interned at Roundabout Entertainment and is currently still employed there.  Enjoy!

D.Brilliant The Unmitigated Power of A Strong Work Ethic

CRAS Graduate Derrick Brilliant

The Unmitigated Power of A Strong Work Ethic

If you were to conduct a survey of your peers, what would they have to say about the amount of effort you are personally willing to put in to ensure your success? Really try to consider your personal relationship and experience with the people alongside whom you work. Would they say that you are dedicated to your hustle, unflinching in your resolve? Would they say that you seem to put in as much work as everyone else; no more, no less? Perhaps they would say that you tend to put in the bare minimum effort, but you get the job done (sometimes)?

Some of you will chose the first answer, and you will be correct. Good job and keep up the good work. Some of you will chose the first answer, but lack the honest self-awareness to identify that it is not necessarily true for you and I am sorry to say but you will be weeded out in short order. I say this, not to be judgmental or overly critical, but if you are incapable of identifying your weaknesses, you will most likely fail to grow as a human being and that’s just life. If you chose any answer other than the first, let’s take a moment to discuss how and why the strength of your work ethic is so critical to your success in the real world.

“A fool thinks he is wise, but a wise man knows he is a fool.” -William Shakespeare

Many of you who are reading this are currently enrolled in school; wide-eyed, wet behind the ears, full of hope and promise, high on the sense of accomplishment that comes with following your bliss into the rewarding and fantastical world of professional audio engineering. Some of you knocked some relevant keywords into the google and stumbled onto this page haphazardly in the quest for deepening your understanding of what it takes to get ahead in life.  Whatever the case may be, not one of you are exempt from having put in a considerable amount of effort in life to get where you are, today. Where you are today, however, will prove to be but a stepping stone into your future, where few things will have determined your success like the extent to which you were willing to apply yourself.

For those of you who are currently attending school, I ask you to take a look around you. Examine the variety of personalities swarming by, all striving to achieve the same common goal that is graduation from the program that will qualify them to pursue a future in the field they love. At first glance, one would be forgiven for assuming that they all have an equal shot at being successful in the world once the final test has been graded and the diplomas have been handed out. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.

The fact is, there are a wide range of advantages enjoyed by some people, by sheer virtue of circumstance, that are not shared by those around them. Some may have family connections wherever it is that they intend to start their careers. Some may have come from backgrounds that leave them inherently better suited for the position for which you will both be vying. Some may be genetically imbued with natural aptitudes that allow for that with which you struggle to come naturally for them. Perhaps most frustratingly of all, some will simply be at the right place at the right time when opportunity comes knocking. The reality is that there is nothing you can do to change these things, but what you can do is take upon yourself the appropriate attitude to increase your odds of standing out from the crowd, once you enter the workforce.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” -Winston Churchill

Of all the things that I have witnessed in my career in the industry, one inherent fact is this: most people are lazy. It’s true! You may have thought that laziness was an attribute reserved for those in less demanding fields, but I can assure you that in all walks of life, the majority of the people by whom you are surrounded have resigned to do the least amount of mediocre work possible to collect a check and return to their homes at the end of the day. Here is the kicker: most of them don’t even realize it!

A series of studies was conducted by professors at Cornell University to determine how aligned a person’s perception of their own adequacy was with reality. They found that, more often than not, those whose abilities were lacking tended to view themselves as above average and those who excelled were likely to view themselves as sub-par. This is known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect.  We’ve all seen this curious phenomenon exhibited in our day to day lives, and you will not see it demonstrated any more clearly than in the workplace. What does this mean for you? That the bar for the status quo has been set relatively low, making it easy for those with the mental fortitude to apply themselves to rise above what is expected and excel, earning the recognition they need to advance.

“You have to learn the rules of the game; and then you must play better than anyone else.” -Albert Einstein

Although some of you may have learned and carried these values with you from previous employment ventures, these key points will guarantee that you shine bright like the unique little snowflake you are:

  • Once you have learned what is expected of you, master it. Whatever the base level of the job calls for, learn to do it as well as possible, sparing no effort and avoiding all corner cutting, regardless of what you observe being demonstrated by those around you. Granted, there is something to be said for “working smarter, not harder”, but you should never compromise the quality of your work in the effort to make your job easier.
  • Hone the foundation of your assigned duties until you are able to carry them out better, faster and longer than anyone around you. You will find that this is as far as the majority of your peers will have managed to get before they, for whatever reason, geared down and rested on their laurels. Do not, however, stop there. It’s a trap!
  • Everywhere you choose to look, there will be ways to improve your skill set, therefore making you more valuable to those around you. Cross-train in other areas when possible to demonstrate your flexibility and versatility. This serves the dual purpose of making you a go-to ambassador between what can otherwise be departments and positions that have a difficult time communicating with one another.
  • Seek out and embrace the opportunity to put in extra hours. Every hour of overtime passed up by your workplace counterparts is a chance for you to show that you are hungrier, more dedicated and more willing to do what needs to be done to help the team realize the bigger picture.
  • For extra credit: communicate to your employer that you are willing and eager to further your extracurricular education to obtain additional certification and training in areas that would benefit the company. This will ensure that you bring a particular set of knowledge to the company that may not be shared by those who work beside you, further cementing your indispensability and potential to share what you have learned with others.

These are but a few tips to keep in mind when setting the pace for your career advancement. They are by no means all-inclusive and should serve only as a primer to the type of mentality that is instrumental to success, as I see it. Whether you are an intern paying your dues, or the assistant to the regional manager, you must never become comfortable doing what the majority around you is doing if you want to continue to evolve and progress. It helps to view yourself and those around you as sharks. What happens when a shark sits still? It dies.

Don’t sit still.

Don’t be a dead shark.

My name is Derrick Brilliant ( I am a 33-year-old CRAS grad, currently living in Los Angeles. I’ve been working in the post-production industry full-time for almost three years. My hobbies include doing stuff and things. I wrote this post in two hours, with the aid of 5-Hour Energy.

If you’d like more information on our programs at CRAS, please go to our website:

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CRAS Launches the New Broadcast Audio Curriculum!

Here we are, nearly a year later after we officially announced our venture into the broadcast audio realm! I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. Everything has gone by so fast! This has truly been a remarkable journey. Today, we were able to be part of the broadcast crew at Chase Field for the Diamondbacks game!

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StuderVista 300x199 CRAS Launches the New Broadcast Audio Curriculum!

The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences adds the Broadcast Audio curriculum, continuing the tradition of creating opportunities for its graduates.

Building on the successes our graduates are enjoying in the various areas of the Recording Arts, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences – CRAS, is beginning a brand new partnership with the Broadcast Audio Community.

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The Studer Vista Console in the new Broadcast Audio Studio

Similar to the Audio/Music Recording and Game Audio industries, the Broadcast Audio Community is looking for an institution to work closely with them to provide their much-needed interns and ultimately — trained and certified personnel. With CRAS graduates being known and recognized for their knowledge and readiness, this large and exciting group has turned to The Conservatory to help fill that void. We feel it will be definitely a “Win – Win” for everybody involved, especially our students.

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Students Bryanna S. (front) and David S. (back) getting hands on time

Working directly with leading members of the broadcast industry, we have re-structured our curriculum, adding classes and ultimately skills to our students’ repertoire that fit the needs of jobs in broadcast. This new program strengthens our broadcast audio relationships, and as such, we can now offer expanded internship opportunities for CRAS students in both the broadcasting and the audio/music recording world.

The goal of the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences is to not only provide a quality education, but also to create gainful employment opportunities for our graduates. Simply put, this new broadcast partnership will now open doors that previously weren’t open.

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Studio E work in progress

We have also added completely new broadcast facilities, outfitted with the latest audio production equipment, which like all CRAS studios, mirrors the environment our graduates will encounter in the field. The addition of this broadcasting curriculum will extend our program from 30 weeks to 36 weeks on campus. There is also a modest increase in tuition, but the added class time adds great value to our curriculum, making it stronger and deeper in nature.

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CRAS tech and mad scientist Jeff Harris, who helped design and build the studio

Our new broadcast program will go into effect for all students starting with the October 25, 2013 start date and continue from that point forward. It is not an “elective” but a new, additional benefit of the Master Recording Program II.

You can reach our Admissions representatives at 1-800-562-6383 for more information.

This is a great time to be a CRAS student… now even more prepared for the professional world of Broadcasting and/or Audio/Music Recording.


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Check out the rest of what we offer for our fully immersive audio recording program!

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Graduate Spotlight: Miles Deiaco

We’ve been corresponding with our graduate Mile Deiaco and wanted to share his success with you. Here’s a bit of his story!

After completing classes on campus, Miles headed to San Francisco for his internship.  He interned at Different Fur Studios and graduated CRAS in 2008.  He is currently an engineer/producer in the San Fran area.

During your internship, what was your most memorable horror or success story?

Well I ended up interning for about a year at Different Fur Studios, and my most memorable success was when I was made a head engineer and given keys to the studio. Also it was very exciting when I got asked to go on a national tour that was super kushy.

Fisheye control room Graduate Spotlight: Miles Deiaco

Miles in the control room

That being said, it was a road of many up’s and down’s. I don’t think I had horror stories, but there were times while interning that I felt like quitting. Interning is not easy, and you shouldn’t expect it to be. But I say hold on the best you can and success will come.

How did you end up in your current position?

Upon my graduation I immediately moved to SF,  a city I thought would be a good cultural fit for me, because in the end if you’re not happy where you live, why start a career there? Through the help of the CRAS internship department, I got an in at Different Fur Studios as an intern. I was working 10 hour days for free, doing all the typical phone answering and coffee making to put my work in. I quickly started pulling in my own sessions with local bands. At a point I was pulling in the most clients, not including generic cold calls to the studio, and within a year I became an assistant engineer. In another 6 months I was promoted to head engineer and continued tracking and mixing bands on Different Fur’s awesome SSL 4K. During this time I was also juggling in general 3 or 4 local sound club gigs which supplemented my studio income.

After working at Different Fur for about 3 1/2 years I got a call from the production manager of Boz Scaggs (an international touring musician who won Grammy’s in the 70′s and is still riding a successful and long lasting career). Funny enough, I met this gentleman at a Different Fur industry party about a year earlier. He said that he liked my vibe and credentials and decided to call me when a touring position opened up. It was two grand a week salary, plus $50/day per diem, not bad.

So I decided to leave Different Fur, hop on a plane and begin touring the country with the Boz camp. I was hired on as a Pro Tools operator, stage tech, and drum tech. It was very exciting going from city to city, and staying in awesome hotels (Boz takes care of his crew!), and having the great salary. Plus the tour bus experience is very fun as well!

Miles at board red Graduate Spotlight: Miles Deiaco

Miles at the console

During this time, when I was home, I got contracted to record and mix the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (one of – if not the biggest – bluegrass festival in the world, held in beautiful Golden gate park and boasting 6 stages). Artists like Emmy Lou Harris, Robert Plant, Connor Oberst, Mike Patton, just to name a few, played this festival. I was contracted to multi-track record one of the stages to a Pro Tools rig for the 3 day duration of the festival (there were engineers on each stage recording). This was really great money for the amount of time it required. Then after everything was recorded, 1 to 2 songs from each act were chosen, and I was contracted to mix all the songs. It was really satisfying being able to mix such huge artists! I’ve done that 2 years in a row thus far, and will be working it again next year.

After a year and a half touring with the Boz camp I started re-thinking my priorities. Although I loved that gig and the money was spectacular, I realized my true passion was working on albums, as well as continuing my growth as a musician. I felt strongly my path towards being a strong producer/engineer consists of being a strong musician and having an extensive knowledge of music application. I’m not the hands-off Rick Rubin type, haha. I really like producers like Nigel Godrich, who also work as musicians and are sometimes considered another member of the band. That being said, about a year a ago I decided to leave the Boz tour to come home and work on albums. Also, during my touring period, while off, I started a band that became what is currently “Strange Hotel”, a band I love and believe in. A project that helps me strengthen both my studio and musician chops. We released our debut full length album a few months ago, and recently released an official music video for our single song “All the World is a Strange Hotel”

Have you ever found yourself star struck, or in an unreal moment?

No. I’ve met and been backstage or in the studio with various stars but it’s not really my thing to be star struck. The more you act like a fan, the more you’ll be treated like a fan. The more you behave like you belong around stars, the more you will work around them.

Do you have any words of wisdom for new students?

Don’t let ANYONE tell you what you can and can’t do. Of course respect who you work for, and I’m not saying don’t do your duties. Go above and beyond.

I’m saying studio management, owners, other engineers, ect have in the past told me I wouldn’t achieve this or that, or it’s not worth it to do this or that, or I couldn’t do something this way. And I generally proved them wrong. There are always lessons to learn, but follow your heart, and do your best the best way you know how, and you’ll be successful.

Are there any tips or workflows that made your internship or job easier?

Stay inspired, have a great attitude, find what you do well, and work from the center of that space! Other skills will develop around that.

What is the one thing that sticks with you the most from your time @ CRAS?

So many!! It was such a transformative period in my life. The overall experience is imprinted in me and a center point of my success in the industry.

I really liked running the late night sessions, and having access to the live sound room. I like being in charge, haha.

But it was all so important!

Were there any instructors who you felt stood out or imparted some wisdom that stuck with you?

Again so many! I feel the CRAS has a wide spectrum of personalities, teaching approaches, and knowledge bases. Which is how it works in the real world so it’s a good preparation. That being said I really liked Brock’s strait forward passion. I liked Mike Jones laid back, yet wisdom filled approach. I loved how Nancy had so much patience in her classes and made students feel comfortable. I liked Brian Burill’s teaching style and analogies. John Berry, Allen Leggett, Dave LaBounty, Paul Richards, Jeff Thomas, Jason Losett, Sean Conkling, just to name a few who come to my memory at the moment, I’m sure I’m leaving out some great ones!

Now that you aren’t touring anymore, what are you doing?

Since I’ve been back I’ve been recording and mixing bands as an independent contractor at various studios depending on my clients needs and budgets. I also work out of my home studio in which we have a Pro Tools HD system, Apogee and 192 interfaces, outboard gear  (LA-2A, Twincom stereo compressor, LA-4, to name a few), API and GML mic pres, the API master section with the 2700 stereo compressor… We have a pair of Genelec speakers and a pair of NS-10s. Not a bad place to supplement my studio work and offer clients a much lower rate.
All in all I want to thank CRAS for giving me the jumpstart I needed to get into this amazing career, and for a great price (the main local audio engineering school here in the bay, Expression, is roughly $80,000 to attend!)
I also recorded, mixed, and co-produced my band “Strange Hotel’s” new album and music video.
Strange Hotel Photo 1 Graduate Spotlight: Miles Deiaco

Strange Hotel

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!  We wish you the best of luck with Strange Hotel!

If you’d like more information on The Conservatory, head over to our website:

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How To Be Successful In The Audio Industry – Part 1

HOW TO BE How To Be Successful In The Audio Industry   Part 1

During the months of September and October, we are going to feature a series of blog posts on “How To Be Successful in the Audio Industry”.

We will be sharing traits and qualities from various people in the industry; facilities that work with our students, graduates, and some of the staff and faculty here at CRAS.

The first list we are sharing is from Cameell Hanna, Studio Manager from Serenity West Recording Studios in Los Angeles. Serenity West is an amazing facility and we appreciate the advice and opportunities that they allow our students.

If you haven’t seen this studio, check out their site here:

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“Top 10 Successful Traits as an Engineer Starting Out in the Audio Industry”

  1. Patience - Everything in the music industry takes way longer than you want it to. Develop your patience muscles.
  2. Attentiveness - There are opportunities all around you, you need to be not only aware of the things happening around but how they affect everyone else.
  3. Excellent communication skills - Being able to communicate effectively will make your life and everyone in your life less stressful. Find simple, clear ways of articulating things.
  4. Good grooming and fashion sense - How you look matters in this industry. If you don’t dress and groom like you care about yourself, no one else will.
  5. Interesting social life - You are a result of your experiences, so make them rich. Got to the cool spots in town, kiss that mysterious stranger, know where to get a good scotch. Develop your taste.
  6. Know the web - You will always be surrounded by disinterested out of touch senior executive types. This is always a great way to get a working relationship with the upper floors.
  7. Find solutions - Most problems have solutions and you will run into lots of them on a daily basis. Your mind is a powerful resource, put it to work. If you see a leaking faucet, fix it.
  8. Learn who the leaders are and understand how they work - They are the gate keepers, you can learn a lot from them, utilize whatever time you have with them effectively.
  9. Read - There are galaxies of self-help and “tips of successful people” type books. They offer lots of different points of view that you should know about.
  10. Understand yourself and how other people view you - You may be surprised how your interpretation of yourself is different than those around you.  Be aware of how you affect people and keep that in mind when meeting with different personality types.

This is a great list, I find it to be very insightful and brings to light that moving forward in the industry is a lot about being perceptive and social. We preach to our students how networking is key to starting your career in the industry. It’s nice to see that some of these traits are listed here.

The traits that are about being aware of yourself and others emphasize the importance of being able to read situations and environments. It also enables you to practice the old adage of being “a fly on the wall” – observing what is happening in the session or meeting, while at the same time having a good awareness for what’s going on around you.

I respect that reading shows up on this list. I feel that while you are obtaining hands-on experience at a facility, you should be learning as much as you can.  Reading up on their equipment, their clients and the history of the building and the company shows that you care about the studio and that you really want to be there. Always be reading and learning. The more you know, the more valuable you can make yourself.

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Your first step out into this amazing industry is about being open to learning and experiencing new things. It’s about showing your great character, your hard work ethic, your ability to think on your feet and how to become a team player. You’ll leave CRAS with a great foundation of audio engineering, but it’s up to you what you will do with it. My advice – print out Cameell’s list and keep it with you while you navigate through the industry!

For more information on the education you will receive at CRAS, head to our website

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Took a chance and ended up with a #1 hit single under his belt!

Graduate success is always great to write about. It’s exciting to hear first hand of a student’s success! This is why I am so excited to write this post about our graduate, Kevin Anyaeji.

He has been working in the audio industry for a little over 4 years and has had some great success. Right before leaving, I approached Kevin and asked if he’d be interested in an opportunity that we had just received. Without hesitation, he said yes and the rest is pretty much history!

Kevin was able to intern at a private facility, with A-List engineer/producer Wayne Wilkins, who had just relocated to LA.

Wayne was originally an engineer/producer in England and had relocated to LA to work with his clients. Wayne’s discography is amazing. He’s co-written and co-produced songs for Natasha Bedingfield’s “These Words”, “Single” and “Love Like This”; Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams”; Cheryl Cole‘s “Fight For This Love” and “Promise This”; and Jordin Sparks’s “Battlefield”. You can see more about Wayne Wilkins on his website:

Me and Weezus 300x200 Took a chance and ended up with a #1 hit single under his belt!

Kevin and Wayne in the studio

Kevin had remained with Wayne after his internship was complete. He’s even called CRAS and requested interns.

A few months ago, I ran into Kevin while he happened to be at our Gilbert location one night for a session. He thanked me for everything, and said that he owes it all to me. I was very humbled by his gracious comment. I thanked him for the kind words, but reminded him that all I did was offer him an opportunity; his hard work and character allowed him to move forward with his career.

This past week, I got an email from Kevin with some great news! He had flown to London and had been part of the songwriting and recording sessions on Cheryl Cole’s new album. Her first release was “Crazy Stupid Love”, featuring Tinie Tempah. This song has hit #1 on the charts in the UK and has remained there for the past 6 weeks.

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Kevin during Cole’s studio sessions in the UK








Check out Cheryl’s video for “Crazy Stupid Love”

The release has also certified as Silver with BPI, which is the equivalent to the RIAA certifications here in the US.

If you’d be interested in taking a chance with a great internship opportunity and would like to attend CRAS, apply here:

Congratulations to Kevin with his success and we hope this is just the beginning for him!

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Our Favorite Pro Tools Quick Keys

CRAS ProTools Instructor Phil Nichols 300x167 Our Favorite Pro Tools Quick Keys

Pretty much every aspect of life these days is computer controlled (shout out to Frankie Bones!). To be a good audio engineer, you must be a good computer user. One thing that will absolutely make you stand out in a crowded computer lab is your proficiency behind the QWERTY keys. The mouse is perhaps the most commonly used computer peripheral, but the keyboard can absolutely out-perform it in many cases, if you know what you are doing! So to be an elite Pro Tools ninja, you must know your quick keys.

questionkey Our Favorite Pro Tools Quick Keys

10. Command + = : Switches between Mix and Edit windows. This also brings the windows up from the dock if you’ve minimized them!

9. Command + 1 through 7 : Selects an appropriate tool. This can save you a ton of time by not having to go back and for from the center of the edit window to the tool bar.

  1. Zoomer Tool
  2. Trimmer Tool
  3. Selector Tool
  4. Grabber Tool
  5. Scrubber Tool
  6. Pencil Tool
  7. Smart Tool

8. Option + C : Clear Clip Indicators. While you can click on individual clip lights to clear them, this will clear them across the board.

7. Option + Command + M : Narrow Mix Window. Sometimes you just want to focus on mixing and levels, and by narrowing each track you can see more of your session on screen at once. Toggle this quick key again to see more detailed info on each track again.

6. Shift + Command + N : Creates new tracks. As a bonus, you can also toggle how many of each sort of track you need without the mouse as well!

  • Command + Left/Right Arrow – Change Track Format
  • Command + Up/Down Arrow – Change Track Type
  • Shift + Command + Up/Down Arrow – Add a new track row

5. Command + G : Create a Track Group. There are tons of options you can use with track groups that can maximize the quality of your workflow. Check out our resident Pro Tools expert Phil explain some of the benefits of working with track groups!

4. Command + F : Create a fade. Depending on your selection, this can bring up the batch fades window, create a fade in/out, or create a crossfade.

3. Enter (num pad) or Fn Return : Create a memory location. Most commonly used for creating visual cues and quick jump markers in time to identify different parts of our song, like verse, chorus, or bridge. There are many additional features to memory locations beyond just storing a time in the timeline!

2. Command + Spacebar or F12 : Record! Probably the most important feature of Pro Tools, right? But remember, sometimes the Mac OS preferences may override these quick keys. Sometimes F12 may be mapped to turn up the volume on a laptop keyboard, or open the Dashboard. Command + Spacebar is also commonly used to activate Spotlight to search for files, so keep that in mind and adjust your preferences accordingly!

1. Command + S : Perhaps the most important quick key you should absolutely know. Save! My hand permanently rests on my keyboard in this configuration. I’ve seen so many projects lost because users forget to save, then perhaps Pro Tools crashes, you get unexpected errors, power outages. Save early, save often!

JesusSavesOften 300x225 Our Favorite Pro Tools Quick Keys

What are some of your favorite or most used quick keys? Let us know in the comments! You can even take a virtual tour of our studios and classrooms and see how much Pro Tools has been integrated there as well!

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New Classes for Post Production @CRAS

With the expansion of the curriculum at CRAS, new classes are now being taught that expose students to more opportunities for work in the industry.  Staying true to our mission, we are always looking for topics to teach  that can add additional skills to the employability of our students.

One of these classes is our new production shoot that has been added to our Post Production course.

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Post Production shoot

Students start Post Production in 7th Cycle*.  Throughout the Post Production course, they are exposed to the basics of working in the post industry.  They learn about storyboards, understanding of sync, dialog replacement, foley, and sound design. They even record a small orchestra, which will be used as the music score of a movie project they work on in class.

But…let’s get back to this new class. When students arrive for class they are given objectives for the production shoot, then have the day’s class time to set up and record their mini documentary.

The signal flow for the day is discussed, roles are assigned and students begin the production shoot with the guidance of their instructor.

The equipment needed for the day is obtained and students begin to assemble the gear and get the location set up for the shoot.  Cameras, lights and audio all need to be set up to record the mini documentary.

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Post Production Equipment set up for production shoot.

The total time for students to set up the location, test their signal flow for both audio and video, and get everything prepped usually takes about 2 hours.  Once the set is ready, they begin to record their documentary.  They have the remaining time left in class to record as much as they can of the scripted documentary.  The following Monday of class, they will edit the audio and learn how to re-apply that edited audio back to the video they shot.

I mentioned earlier the students are assigned roles – some of those roles in this class are camera operators, lighting, boom operator, production sound mixer, a utility person, and also the talent for the day.  The instructor plays the role of Director.  Not only are students assigned these roles, the instructors talk to them about the specifics of these jobs and potential for these positions in the industry.

Check out this article below, from Forbes, about jobs in the movie industry, including a boom operator and production sound mixer.

Hollywood Hard Hats

All in all the day is a great experience for CRAS students.  Preparing a location for recording is a real world hands-on learning experience that are students get to immerse themselves in for the day.

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Post Production class- Students recording a mini documentary

They have to be very conscious of the time during set up and recording, have to be able to troubleshoot in a timely manner, think quick on their feet when dealing with challenges during the recording, and complete the objective of the class with a mini documentary being the end result.

A production shoot is just one of the newest classes we’ve added. In the upcoming weeks, I will be covering more additions to our program!  For more information about our program, visit our website and see the additional courses we offer.

*Classes are on a cycle system, every three 3 weeks, students advance into the next cycle.  There are 12 cycles in our Master Recording Program.

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Soldering 101 with Cory P!

Cable Spaghetti 300x187 Soldering 101 with Cory P!Cables, cables everywhere! Technology always has at least one cable that needs to be plugged into something somewhere, and the higher quality, more technical the gear gets,  the more cables that come along with it. Whether it’s a guitar cable, power cable, ethernet, BNC or who knows what else, cables are just an accepted part of technology, love it or hate it.

The worst thing is when you have a cable go bad. Especially with how expensive many of these cables are, it is incredibly frustrating when a cable starts shorting out – or even worse – stops working altogether.

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To start off, what does our standard audio cable consist of? There are generally two types – balanced and unbalanced. An unbalanced cable typically will have two conducting wires that allow electronic voltage to pass, are generally less than 20 feet long, and are prone to interference from radio and magnetic signals. A balanced cable is an unbalanced cable with an extra conductor – a shield – that intercepts EMI/RFI and acts as a grounding wire. These cables generally can be longer and allow for a better quality signal.

The wire inside a cable is typically copper, which is very conductive, wrapped in an insulator – rubber or plastic that does not conduct electricity. The idea is to transport electromotive force from one end of the cable to the other uninterrupted. In order to have this wire actually connect to our devices, we will need some sort of connector. While this isn’t necessary, it certainly has advantages, such as interconnectivity, strain relief, and ease of setup/tear down. The connector is designed to plug into a port on each piece of gear we want to connect. Inside the connector is where we find the individual wires of the cable connected to “pins”, which will make our actual connection inside the port we plug the cable into.

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In audio, generally we have a TS (unbalanced), TRS (balanced), or XLR (balanced) cable. Of course there are many others, but those are some of the more common ones we use. TS cables are typically used with guitars and basses, TRS are used often to interconnect speakers, and XLR is most commonly found as a mic cable.

In many cases we may come across a non-working cable. It is entirely possible to fix a faulty cable, and that can certainly save you a ton of money. An essential tool in any aspiring musician or audio engineer’s kit is a fundamental set of soldering skills. Soldering is an incredibly useful skill that a surprising amount of people don’t possess, and it’s really not much harder than trying to hot glue something together!

Soldering with Cory P 300x179 Soldering 101 with Cory P!In this series of videos, we have CRAS instructor Cory P! talking us through basic soldering. This is a skill that is taught at the Conservatory as part of our Live Sound curriculum for good reason. The cost of buying a new guitar cable, for example, is much higher than the pennies it would cost to break out your iron and a spool of solder and fix the broken leads. Not to mention the hassle of having to go to the inevitable Guitar Center…

Here, Cory demonstrates how to solder a brand new XLR connector onto a mic cable. Repairing XLR cables is a great, simple way to show your worth to a new studio manager as well!

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By simply taking the two conductors, and the shield wire found inside a standard mic cable, we begin by trimming them to an equivalent length. Once our wires are trimmed neatly, we can strip back any of the extra insulation found on the outside of the wire, exposing the copper leads inside. The idea is to make a clean connection between the copper wire and the metal pins in the XLR connector. Using solder as a binding agent, we can make a very strong bond between these two components, allowing our electronic voltage to properly travel down the cable.

In most cases, when a cable starts going bad, it is likely that one of the wires or joints has broken off of its associated pin in the connector, so just resoldering those components together is a quick, easy fix.

There are many other uses for soldering outside of just fixing or creating custom audio cables. Anything from building a computer, a sound module, modding a microphone, building a guitar amp, or even fixing/upgrading an old video game system as we will see in this next part, as Cory adds a component to his old Atari to get better quality audio and video.

In part two of our Soldering tutorial, Cory P goes over some of the additional benefits of having soldering skills. Here, he demonstrates how adding an additional circuit to a classic Atari video game system can allow us to have higher fidelity video and audio. The mod also allows the old system, which traditionally only uses an RF Adapter to connect to a television, to output using a more standardized component system found on most newer TV sets.

Another point that Cory touches on is the quality of a solder joint. There can be from time to time what are known as “cold solder joints”, where the solder was not heated and placed properly. This can cause a poor, intermittent connection. In many old devices, these cold solder joints are the cause of many problems, and can be easily fixed. By reheating the cold joints, it can more accurately disperse the solder and flux to make a more solid connection. If that doesn’t work, using a device such as a “solder sucker” can be beneficial in completely removing old solder, allowing you to make a completely fresh connection.

Keep those irons warm!

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5 Things I Learned About Being On Tour From The Front-of-House Audio Engineer For Paramore.

There’s something energizing about seeing an entire concert being assembled from load in to sound check — especially if you are there to watch and learn as a student.

A handful of CRAS students got the opportunity to observe this process for the Monumental Tour with Paramore and Fall Out Boy at the Ak-chin Pavilion with special guests New Politics.  I’ve learned this tour has been a long awaited tour for fans of both Paramore and Fall Out Boy.

Students were given the opportunity to see and learn from the Front of House engineer for Paramore, Eddie Mapp, a CRAS graduate.  They got to see the process of an entire show being loaded in and set up for the upcoming evening’s performance.

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Paramore on Monument Tour


Whether you’ve been to a concert or worked backstage at one, nothing is cooler than seeing the end result of a hard day’s work.  One of the things our students learned about load in and set up is that it’s a very well oiled machine.  Every person and piece of gear has it place.

Semi trucks are unloaded, the entire contents of the lighting, stage set, instruments and sound gear are loaded in (or onto the stage) and set up within a small amount of time.  Our student learned that most days, unlike today, this process normally takes 1 hour and 40 minutes from start to finish.

CRAS students were able to see Paramore and Fall Out Boy’s entire stage and lighting set up and sound checks for both.

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Stage set up for Paramore and Fall Out Boy


Set up today took a bit longer than the crew would have liked.  During this stop on the tour, there were issues with the PA system.  Eddie explained to the students that sometimes venues have weight restrictions that require for the PA system to be changed to accommodate the requirements.  Not only did they have issues with their system being too heavy, the stage was not as in depth as most they have played on so the entire system was not able to be set up as planned. Thus, creating a change in the stage set for the band. But this crew adapted quickly to adjust the system to get it up and running so that the audio crew could get started.

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Even though the tour is starting to wind down for the summer, no day on the tour has been the same for Eddie.  Students were able to learn about how important it is to adapt the venue you are in and how important your tools, such as SMAART are in being able to make this mix for the fans, just as great as the night before.  Not only did the students get to observe the set up of front of house, but they got to question Eddie and FOB’s FOH engineer on venues and consoles.  After Paramore’s sound check, the students were able to approach the console and ask Eddie questions one on one.

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Who knew that there at times up to 20 people on a single tour, just as support staff for Paramore and Fall Out Boy.

As we met people during the set up for the evening’s performance, we learned of many different jobs that people held on the tour.  Riggers for lighting and set design, stage hands, production assistants, guitar and bass technicians, monitor engineers, production managers, lighting designers, tour managers, personal assistants, fitness trainers and last but certainly not least, front of house engineers.

All of these roles are important to the keep the tour going in a manageable fashion.  Understanding your role on tour and contributing your part not only makes the tour better, but also can lead to networking opportunities for yourself.  As a CRAS student, you learn how key networking can be to further your career.  Many of the people on a crew are able to find work on another tour by doing a great job and networking with people they meet on tour.

This is a great place to see the necessary skills that are needed for jobs in the audio industry.


Eddie explained to our students, how every show is like a white empty canvas and that each night while mixing for a live show he gets to paint that canvas for the crowd. I think this is the  one thing our students could relate to with the day’s experience is that mixing audio is a passion.  In order to make audio engineering a career you have to find the passion in it and the art it allows you to bring to life.

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Eddie running Sound check

Being able to spend the day with Eddie was a humbling experience for myself and the students.  His laid back vibe allowed the students to feel comfortable with asking questions ranging from his console set up, his sound check run through to the style of mixing he does for certain types of genres he mixes for.  I have a feeling with the time he spent with us, he ignited the passion in some of the students who were fortunate for the opportunity to be there.

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Students at FOH

Are you ready to start painting on your canvas?  Apply here to get started!

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CRAS is PARAMOUNT at PotLuckCon this year

This year, CRAS participated in many aspects of the PotLuckCon, hosted by Sweetwater in Tucson, Arizona.  CRAS hosted a demonstration room, Wired For Sound with Focusrite.  Brock, one of our great instructors at CRAS was on hand to demonstrate the capabilities of Focusrite’s RedNet audio interface and how it can work in cooperation with many audio sources being passed over network systems, even sending signals out to our Mobile Broadcast Unit.

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CRAS Mobile Broadcast Unit – Studer Console

Our very own technician, Jeff Harris was a moderator for a panel on Bass Response and Subwoofers.  The Director of Student Services, Greg Stefus participated on a panel about Interns and Studios: The Role and the Reason.

 We had a booth on the exhibit floor for people to learn more about CRAS.  It was great to see the students and graduates stop and visit with our Director of Admissions.  We also had instructors and our Tempe Campus Director, Mike Jones, in attendance working the exhibit floor creating opportunities with manufacturers for potential internship opportunities and future gear purchases for our campus.

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CRAS Students on Exhibit Floor

Graduates could be seen walking around the event, participating as exhibitors and even speaking on panels. Darrell Thorpe, a ’97 graduate of the Conservatory speak on a panel about Freelance Mixing.  Alex Otto, a ’99 graduate, spoke on a panel about Bass Response and Subwoofers and also held a DIY workshop on Bass Trap and Gobo Building.

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CRAS Grads and Instructors

Fred Aldous took part in the final panel on Saturday with Craig Schumacher.  Fred has been instrumental in assisting CRAS with the content creation of our Broadcast curriculum.

But my title was “CRAS being paramount this year,” how so you ask?

Not only did we have a lot of involvement with panels and workshops, we brought our Mobile Broadcast Unit (trailer) to record the main panels and provide audio feeds for demonstrations and archive the event.  CRAS was paramount with our students being immersed in a large part of the behind the scenes of PotLuckCon.  Students could be seen:

  1. Running cables on the day before the event
  2. Operating cameras for the main panels
  3. Shooting behind-the-scene footage
  4. Assisting with the Casita Crawl Friday night
  5. Tear down of the cables/equipment after the event.

It was great to see how they were able to put a part of their audio and broadcast knowledge into a real world scenario.

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CRAS Students as Location Recorders

CRAS was excited that this year we had the highest student count in attendance history.  We saw over 90 students attending the event on Saturday.  Many sitting in on the great panels, attending the workshops and exhibit floor to meet with manufacturers, and begin to establish their network of industry professionals.  With PotLuckCon being such a more intimate industry event, the students were able to really meet people without the rushed feeling most conferences bring.

We enjoyed being such a huge part of this year’s PotLuckCon, it was full of great information and great people.

For more information about the PotLuck Conference, visit

Check out this one of videos from this years PotLuckCon.

Intro of the set up of PotLuckCon 2014 using Focusrite’s RedNet and Dante

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