Have you ever sat down and thought to yourself, what do I really care about? When all is said and done, what are some of the values that I hold most important to myself. If you haven’t done this, you certainly should, it may change how you approach things. Secondly, it may change how you lead your team, and those around you.


Sometimes we can get lost in the “busy-ness” of going through life that we almost go on autopilot from time to time. This is easy for me as I am a full time college student with two jobs, and a freelance web business. It is easy for me to go into the motions of just doing things, and not paying careful attention while I’m doing them. I’ve recently developed a list of values for me and the people that I lead throughout the week that will, hopefully, keep us out of autopilot.


  1. Believe that we are right for the job This one is huge. Those that believe they are right for the job at hand, and those that don’t, are normally right. It all begins with the person and their drive to want to reach the same goals that you want to reach within your organization. It is no accident that the people within your organization are where they are at the moment. They either have a specific need that they fill well, or they are a valuable and trustworthy member of the organization. Regardless, they need to be asked constantly, “why do you think you are the right person for the job?” Although they may be valuable now, value starts to depreciate as people settle into procedures. Eventually, they may start to doubt why they are doing what they are doing, and doubting people don’t work very well. You must also believe that you are where you are for a purpose, because you are the right person.  Here are some other ways to figure out who the right people are.  (Links to an external site.)


  1. Details will make the team go from good to greatIt’s all in the details, the things that sometimes get overlooked for the big picture just may be the thing that send your organization to the top. Take Space Mountain at Disney, on its own it would be a fun coaster that everyone would probably enjoy. However, uncle Walt didn’t just want a coaster for his park, he wanted an experience. So, he enclosed it, added a ton of theming, and added lighting to make you feel like you are in space. The effect is, a typical unmemorable coaster is now one of the most iconic coasters in the world. With your organization, to go from good to great, you must examine details as if they are major. Click Here (Links to an external site.) to find out more about detail-oriented people.


  1. Beware of sideways energy Ok, many of you probably responded to the last point with something like, “How do I know I’m wasting too much time on the main things?” That is a valid question that can be answered simply, when the main thing starts to suffer the minor things need to step back. Take Space Mountain again, if there was a major track issue with the attraction, and the coaster was at risk of derailing, Cast Members would not spend time redoing the gift shop first. In other words, look for major things that need to be addressed and focus on those, then after, focus on the minor things. Sideways energy is spent because people are focused on details that don’t matter, and they start to consume their time.


This list is organic and ever growing, as it should be. Take some time to reevaluate your organization and how you are leading. Develop your own standards and values, you may just see a huge change in others.



If it’s one thing that I have learned in my years of mixing live sound it is that a mix can go muddy very quickly. We’ve all been in the situation where panic sets in as we desperately try to reveal an instrument that seems to have disappeared into the depths of the mix, and all we can think “what did I do wrong?”. In this moment it is good to stop and take a moment, pause and relax. Keep what you are doing in perspective. EQing a mix is hard work and very technical as well as demanding. It employs every aspect of critical thinking as well as tough decision making that can quickly end in disaster.

Ok, now that we’ve gotten past that, here are a few tips that I have learned while recording/live mixing.



This one may seem strange, but it is the first step in improvement. Go through each channel and mute each instrument. Is it missed? When you unmute it does it jump waaay out and overtake everything? Sometimes the answer is the simplest. Your instrument may be mixed well, but you are riding the volume a little too much. Anything (yes even the bass) can become overmodulated when ridden too hard.



When I first started mixing, I wanted to gain everything. I figured those negative gain numbers were for something else…or perhaps emergencies. You know, I really don’t know what I was thinking. The basic fact is this, it is a good idea to cut the nasty stuff out of your mix before you start gaining. You may find you don’t need to gain too much at all.

Think of mixing like cooking a steak. I personally hate all the excess fat and if it is not removed I will not eat it (I know sound guys are picky). Mixing is the same. Before you can start grilling the steak you have to trim the fat. Every and I mean EVERY instrument has something that can be cut.



Your gate and your Hi-Pass Filter (Links to an external site.) can be of great service or disservice to you depending on how you use it. Most instruments have sound information they are giving out at lower frequencies. Information that you do not need. Turn that Hi-Pass filter up and cut out more of the fat.

Gating (Links to an external site.) is also used to ‘clean things up’ but it works in a different way than a Hi-Pass filter. Normally, you will see a gate heavily used on the drums. Basically, it ‘mutes’ the mic until a certain frequency is played then it opens. For instance on a kick drum you may have your gate set at 90 Hz. Therefore the gate will not open until sound information hits the mic at 90Hz.


TIP: When vocals are close to the drums (yes even with a drum shield in place) you will want to gate your vocal mic.



What do subs and cake have in common (Besides that fact that sound engineers enjoy both). I’ll answer in an analogy, Subs are to mix as icing is to the cake. If you removed the icing from the cake you would still have a slice of heaven (depending on if it was made right). If you slather your cake in icing however, you may just hate the results.

Your subs are like icing to your mix. They will not save it, rather, they will enhance it. While starting the mix turn your subs down to about half power. The mains should be your focus (notice they are called ‘mains’ for a reason). After you feel you have a strong mix, add in your subs and enhance away. You may find that they aren’t needed as strongly as you think. This is especially true for the Bass and Kick. We tend to rely too heavily on subs for the low end of the kick when we should be EQing the low end then adding in subs.



Make sure you take a moment to relax and enjoy what you are doing. You are an artist after all and therefore need time to make your work shine. You will make mistakes and cause something to go awry. It is important to remember mistakes are not deadly but perfectionism is.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is play, play, play. If you aren’t experimenting you aren’t doing it right.


  1. (Links to an external site.)


We’ve all needed to communicate with someone at one point or another. Presentations to coworkers, important status updates/memos, and just plain old conversations are all part of our life. Is there a right way and a wrong way to communicate with someone? The answer is, it depends on a number of different factors. What are the goals of the conversation, why are you having it, what are the points you want the person(s) to leave with? These are all important questions to ask before you even begin the communication process. Keep in mind that the world needs more communicators. Here are a few tips to effective communication in the workplace and in our daily lives.





Life is very complicated sometimes, isn’t it? It seems that everyone around us seems to try and make everything complex. There is no better reason to break the mold of complexity than by being simple in your communication. Simplify your thoughts and ideas so that they are tangible and understandable for the receiver of the information. I tend to buffer a conversation with a huge set up, I realized recently that people are trying to keep up with me even before I start what I’m really trying to say. This is not an effective way of communicating as you will have to repeat yourself a lot. I think Forbes magazine put it best when they described the importance of simplicity,

Your employees and customers are being bombarded 24/7 by information, making it hard for them to hear you. Simplicity has never been more powerful or necessary. Effective leaders distill complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable terms that colleagues and customers can grasp and act upon.” (





Has there been a time where someone has finished their part of the conversation and you have no idea of what they said. Instead of asking them to repeat themselves you try to go along and respond with something hoping it fits in with their thought. This is a good example of not listening to someone. Make every effort when someone is talking to listen and take time to digest the information they are giving you. Sometimes we tend to form a response before someone else is finished theirs, let them finish. has a great thought on this concept.

“Listening is not the same as hearing; learn to listen not only to the words being spoken but how they are being spoken and the non-verbal messages sent with them.  Use the techniques of clarification and reflection to confirm what the other person has said and avoid any confusion. “ (





We are busy, but our communication with people can’t be rushed. Slow down and try to understand the conversation entirely. We can get into the mode of just throwing template responses to others rather than trying to stay and talk. If you find yourself saying your ‘catch phrase’ over and over again, there may be an issue. Make sure you take time, slow down, listen and simplify.




Do your home movies turn out like bad? Let’s be honest here. The majority of folks that ‘shoot video’ are normally not composing and shooting, but rather pointing and hoping.  So what separates the JJ Abrams from the JJ amateurs (The answer is not lens flares). Well, it boils down to a couple of things, that if employed, will increase the quality and polished look of your home videos. Hey, you may even realize you were better than you thought all along.


I’ve been asked many times to help price out cameras for people. I get people telling me that they do not want to spend more than a couple hundred dollars on it and that they want it very high quality. Well, unless you like using a GoPro (which is a good option for many) you will be very disappointed with the end results of the couple hundred dollar budget. True, the gap is closing as far as cost over quality is concerned, but it isn’t at the point to where we can safely get away with a cheap-o.

The point is this, owning a camera is one thing. Knowing your camera is another. I don’t just mean where the record button is, but where it came from, how much was it? Is it used? All of these questions may nip the ‘quality’ issue right in the butt from the start. Don’t cheap out on video gear I always say, but if you must then know your gear and don’t over expect.


The shaky cam movement is really starting to get popular with action and even adventure scenes. If you’ve seen Hunger Games you know what I mean when I say shaky cam. The camera shakes (almost nervously) in and edgy handheld type of way. While sometimes this can add to technique, I’m pretty sure you don’t want your child’s birthday or a wedding shot in this format. This is where the tripod will come in. In essence the tripod will stabilize your video and make it as smooth as silk compared to just holding it (yes, even resting it on your body will still be shaky). As you get more familiar with video you may choose to step away from the tripod, but for now just keep it with you and shoot with it. Look at it this way, your family won’t need Adderall when they watch your home videos anymore.


You may have immediately thought about lighting in your house or potentially in the venue in which you are in. You are basically shooting yourself in the foot (not by camera) if you rely on the lighting available in the venue you are shooting.What happens when you are demanded to stay in a dark corner? What happens when a light burns out in the room you are in? What happens when a storm passes by? (I’m writing this from Florida so this happens a lot). The point is this, you never know where or when ‘the darkness’ will creep up on you. Here is something you need to know, cameras (at the moment) do not see what we see. I would venture to say that at best they see 90 percent of what we see (and that is the expensive stuff). Until that technology is around you will need a good lighting kit. Check out the links in the ‘download’ section to get a good idea of some lighting kits you could use.


I plan on doing a post just on this, but we’ll start it off with this small paragraph. Shot composition is, according to the dictionary: an organization of pictorial images in a frame. Basically how you frame the story you are telling. Be it a birthday party or a full length film, composition is important for everyone to “get” what you are doing. We’ll go more in depth later, but for now remember this statement. Every inch of the area that fits on the camera’s screen is important at all times.

So hopefully this is a good head start on shooting. Each one of these could have its own blog in all honesty, but for now we’ll keep it short.



  1. Lighting Kit:
  2. More Lighting Kits:

3) How to compose a shot: