Film Makers: Escape The Studio

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

By Robert Hicks | Media Composer

For Film Makers, Composers & Creatives

In terms of music technology, it’s been an exciting couple of decades. For a while now it has been possible to make broadcast quality music straight from your laptop and this has liberated many from the confines of the windowless studio.

Yes, studios remain completely necessary. After all, they’re controlled spaces tuned to the needs of recording and audio engineering but, do you have to write there? I suggest the answer is often no. Of course, the studio can be an inspiring place. I can’t imagine how incredible it would be to work at locations such as Abbey Road or Skywalker Ranch but let’s face it, most of us occupy that space in our home usually earmarked for storing cardboard boxes and offcuts of carpet.

I’d recently posted a picture of my ‘mobile’ writing/recording rig online. It was a shot of my MacBook Pro and some choice peripherals located on a sunny garden table, under a shade with a flowering and fragrant jasmine plant to the side.

The reaction from my Media Composer peers was fascinating. Some were saying, “wow, I’m jealous”, others asking for more detail on the kit specifications. A few people asked how this was even possible!

It made me wonder, do we instinctively associate the art of making music with traditional studio spaces with vast mixing desks and rack gear with their LED’s idly glowing in the background? I suspect we probably do, and that association may dictate our workspace design.

The reality is that most of us build our studio around a computer. For me, the laptop became my principal choice as part of a strategy to migrate to a largely ‘In The Box’ setup. Of course, you still need some outboard gear, but I was thinking that I could perform a significant amount of my composing tasks from anywhere.

Why escape the studio? Well for me it’s infinitely more inspiring to compose whilst sat in the garden.

A view over the neighbouring fields, the sunshine enhancing the vivid colours, bees going about their pollen collection, birds arriving and departing. A solid garden table, a fresh cup of coffee. It’s a great place to be. Until it rains…

OK, it’s true. If you’re a professional composer, you still need a dedicated treated room with certain pieces of kit always on hand, but, once you’ve recorded those guitars, why not edit and arrange them in the garden, on the train or whilst you are sat next to the pool?

For me, it’s important to regularly change the location of my working space. It keeps my ideas fresh and can often lead to clearer thinking and inspire alternative paths, because, sometimes having a dedicated room/studio can lead to a mental association with ‘work’ or ‘isolation’.

Have a go at writing that woodwind passage or performing a rough mix on your headphones whilst the sun shines. You might be surprised how liberating it can be.