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Off the Grid Music Studio offers all-in-one package for audio, video recording needs of music students

Off the Grid Music Studio offers all-in-one package for audio, video recording needs of music students

Off the Grid Music Studio offers all-in-one package for audio, video recording needs of music students
October 30
12:30 2020

Off the Grid Music Studio combines audio and video recording services to give UNT music students the opportunity to get a professional recording of their performances amid COVID-19. It is run by co-owners and musicians Jose Saavedra and Joshua Vigran

“This is a COVID-inspired project,” Saavedra said. “We did the recording of my master’s recital in Joshua’s bedroom. In that moment we started recording some other people. Since most of the performances were already canceled for most of the year, we noticed that we were going to be out of a job. So, then we [found] that doing recordings, we were good at it and we can actually have really good production out of it.”

The studio began in March with the thought between the two graduating Doctorate of Musical Arts (DMA) students that because of COVID-19, students needed to record their performances for assignments, but many music majors cannot achieve a great quality video by themselves.

“There are a lot of the DMA students, masters students [and] undergrads — they’re playing so great, and with a cell phone recording, you lose most of the quality, most of the audio quality,” Saavedra said. “So when you get the access to have professional audio recording, they’re gonna be able to see all the hours of practice. To actually see the product is really beautiful.”

The studio came to full fruition in June and combines audio and video recording into one service, compared to other studios which only offer either one or the other. Vigran said the studio also stands out from the others because of their reasonable prices and student discounts.

“Putting the two [types of recording] together made a lot of sense since it’s what people need,” Vigran said. “Especially now with COVID, a lot of school assignments, finals, they’re not in-person anymore, they’re recorded. Not a lot of music majors outside of recording or sound engineering majors know how to do it. We could do it and wanted to be able to give that option in one place without having to go around and spend $1,000.”

Vigran and Saavedra run every aspect of the studio, allowing them to give lower rates without having to worry about paying a whole crew.

“Because we’re doing it ourselves, there’s [fewer] go-betweens,” Vigran said. “It’s not like there’s one person doing mics, one person doing this — there’s not five or six or seven or eight people involved, so it keeps costs down.”

Combining both audio and video recording has provided a learning curve for the two musicians. They had to learn how to record properly, mix sound and sync up the audio with the video.

“It was really well done in the way that they integrated it,” said Russell Thompson, double-bass player and Off the Grid client. “They definitely knew what they were doing as far as how they were sampling the audio. And it can be really hard to sync up audio and video, especially when you have multiple angles with the camera and multiple microphones taking sound. You have to mix them and change the mix in certain places.”

Along with recordings, with the finished products uploaded to a YouTube channel, the studio also offers livestreaming services. The studio is also mobile and goes to the client to record on-site, mainly on UNT’s campus.

“[Being mobile] just offered so many more possibilities,” Vigran said. “Having just the studio just in one place is nice, but it limits your reach. It limits the number of people you can work with. As far as venues are concerned, we can record in a lot of venues and it makes our concept look more diverse.”

Vigran said one of his goals for the studio is to further the idea of being mobile by creating an actual studio space on wheels that they can travel with.

“So, kind of to create a converted shipping container, which would have all the gear in it and we can drive it to different sites, and actually record in there,” Vigran said. “Rather than just setting up and tearing down every single time.”

By having the studio on wheels, Vigran said it would be an innovative way to combat costs of running a studio, comparing it to the notion of a food truck.

“I just thought it was sort of a novel idea that I haven’t really seen before,” Vigran said. “And it kind of mimics what’s going on with the other industries. Like for instance, the restaurant industry is very, very difficult these days. What’s happening with things like food trucks is a lot of restaurants are starting up or considering that as an alternative because there are way fewer costs than to getting a brick-and-mortar building.”

Until then, though, the pair are roommates and set up a home studio in their living room.

By having prior knowledge and experience of playing an instrument in a recording space, Saavedra and Vigran can provide the best experience for their clients, they said.

“It’s always hard when you have a really live room, you have to try to put the microphone as close as possible, little things like that,” Thompson said. “And having someone who knows where you can go and how someone’s gonna enter and leave a room with a bass is nice. And they were very well-prepared in terms of the setup they wanted to use and how once I positioned myself, how to put the microphones in such a way that they would not be too obstructive.”

While the studio’s main focus is classical music, Vigran hopes to reach a wider audience as both he and Saavedra have worked in many other genres.

“We also do multi-genre,” Vigran said. “Primarily, we do classical because that’s what we both got our majors in, but we’ve both worked in jazz, both worked in rock and pop and contemporary. We want to reach out to a wider audience. And I also think that helps them understand what’s going on outside of just the classical music world and the academic music world.”

Courtesy Off The Grid Music Studio

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Kelly Tran

Kelly Tran

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