By Marissa Stapley
A group of radio and television arts students are making Canadian music history. What began as an assignment has become a ground-breaking venture into music and technology as they get set to release Canada’s first original audio DVD.
Because recording music directly into DVD is new, it’s also expensive. This technology aspires to one day replace the Compact Disc as your standard music format of choice.
The school of RTA spent thousands of dollars on the equipment for the project, which will feature Canadian recording artists Maestro and Ivana Santilli, Toronto musicians Oba Funke and E3 and Ryerson bands Time Score and Half Full.
DVD audio offers higher sound quality, surround sound and longer play time. The difference in sound quality between a DVD audio and a CD is comparable to the sound quality between AM and FM radio. The DVD also includes photographs and album liner notes.
The eight students, known as 3 Bone Audio, are fourth-year audio students Reza Dahya, Jared Goldberg, Gregg Henderson, Mark Bialkowski, Helen Garcia, Jed Harper, Simone Campbell and Simon Mah. The DVD project is for an advanced practicum class that requires students to independently create an original audio project.
The group put $1,000 of their own money into the assignment on top of nearly $200,000 in sponsorships from companies such as Tascam and KDA2 Mastering, and are working on a distribution deal with Los Angeles-based recording company 5.1 Entertainment.
Brian Moncarz, 3 Bone’s instructor, said the group approached its teachers with an impressive proposal. They had most of the details worked out, but were missing some of the necessary equipment.
“They had these great ideas and the school really wanted to help them out,” said Moncarz. The facult agreed to buy a 24-bit hard disk recorder/ editor for the RTA program. The machine retails between $5,000 and $7,000. “This is advanced audio,” said Moncraz. “This is the way audio is going and the machine will definitely be used well by many students in years to come.”
Lori Beckstead, an RTA instructor, said the decision to buy the equipment was an easy one. “We like to accommodate the students as much as possible, especially when they’re breaking new ground,” she said. “3 Bone Audio will be using it this year, and we’re in the process of hatching new and exciting ways of working it into future curriculums.”
Dahya, the producer, e-mailed friends and contacts in the audio industry this summer, asking if anyone in Canada had used the newest high-resolution surround sound technology yet.
“The response I got was ‘No way, are you kidding?’ It’s way too expensive. No one is doing it yet,” said Dahya.
Members of the audio industry are impressed by the project. MetalWorks, the only other studio in the Toronto area equipped to record audio DVDs, has yet to record an original disc.
“No one has asked us to do it yet,” said studio manager Alex Andronache. “Artists are still recording from songs that were already made for CD.”
He says the technology, which offers the highest possible sound quality, will likely be coming to the audio forefront soon. Next year, Volvo is coming out with a high resolution surround sound stereo for its new cars.
“Once this technology hits the dashboards, it will proliferate the market,” said Andronache.
3 Bone is recording a mix of musical genres including hip-hop, dance, R&B, rock and an a-cappella into recorded by group members Goldberg and Garcia.
“This way we can show exactly what the technology is capable of doing and how far it can go with every type of music,” says head engineer Henderson. “We want to push the technology as far as we can.”
The students are also pushing themselves as they juggles full course loads, part-time jobs and the DVD project.
“We’ve never worked with this equipment before, so we’re learning as we go along,” says Dahya.
He says the project is not just an assignment, it’s like having another job. The group spends weekends and evenings working on the project.
“We’re not just doing this for the grades now,” he says. “We’re following new technology from the ground up and we’re getting our names out there for when we graduate.”
If the deal with L.A.-based 5.1 Recording goes through, 3 Bone’s name may be out there sooner than expected. Dahya contacted the company earlier this year because it is the first audio DVD record label. He gave them a distribution offer and recently received tentative confirmation that the company may release 3 Bone’s DVD as a promotional item with the purchase of 5.1 DVDs.
“This could be really big for us,” said Dahya. “We might have to go to L.A.”
3 Bone is also working on a deal to mix the DVD at McClear Digital Recording Studios near Ryerson. If the studio agrees to work with 3 Bone, it could pave the way for future RTA students work with McClear, said Dahya.
While they record at school, Moncarz says mixing the vocals with different instruments and beats off campus will keep the faculty happy, too. They won’t be monopolizing all the studio time.
The final touches — the authoring stage — will be done at Gateway Masterings in Maine. There are currently now houses in Canada that author DVD-Audio. The DVD will be submitted for grading in March.
Moncarz says 3 Bone are opening doors for themselves. “The industry can be tough to break into, but they’re going to have a great show piece.”
To help offset the production costs, they will host Choctails, a party at Club Inside on Richmond St. on Nov. 29. The event will feature Inside’s resident DJ Kevin “Kaje” Johnson and 3 Bone’s Jed Harper.
For more info, visit www.3boneaudio.com.