032 - THE TONIGHT SHOW - MIXING TV BROADCAST

Doing television shows is always fun for me. I’ve done a ton of them with different bands: The Tonight Show w/Fallon, The Late Show w/Letterman and also w/Colbert, Seth Meyers, Ellen, Wendy Williams, The Today Show, Jools Holland, Graham Norton, various BBC specials, and my favorite - Saturday Night Live.

And you know what? I barely touched a console at any of them! Once in a while, I’d help by managing a fader or two, but most of the mixing is done by engineers who actually work for the show. They are the ones who ultimately control what goes out on the broadcast.

This can cause some issues, especially with artists I’ve worked with who have unique sounds and a specific vision of how the performance should be mixed. It’s my job to help translate that to the engineer and advise on how the mix should ultimately sound.

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By coincidence, I actually did two shows on The Tonight Show w/Fallon over the past week. One of the artists is represented by a management company that also handles a major client of mine, and the other one uses a production design company that a friend of mine works at. These kinds of personal connections are often how I get work - not by resumé posting.

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The performances were more straightforward than what I usually deal with as they were both using prerecorded tracks and a couple wireless mics. It makes it much easier than cramming a full band with 50 inputs into a small studio! But we still have to make sure the tracks are taking up the space they need to and get the vocals sounding just right, with the proper compression, EQ, and FX.

Being chill in these situations is really the best way to get good results. Since I have to work with other engineers to get the mix going, it’s way more effective to be nice and friendly when walking in the door. I guess that’s good advice in general, but when you’re in a tight control room it’s especially important!

-Scott