Zone Recording: Workshop Live

Hello readers and welcome back to another installment of Zone Recording. This month I will share with you some experiences I have had with being video/audio recorded.

There is a company in the United States called Workshop Live that has come up with something very new and exciting - on-line lessons that enable students to pick and study with any teacher they want. There is an amazing database of lessons that have been video/audio recorded from many teachers including myself.

Part of my job was to first come up with the entire rock curriculum (along with three other individuals) and break it down into sections. That was no easy task I tell you. Much heated discussion and debates were had... but I am not here to talk about that.

Once that information was all figured out, it was time to write and prepare the lessons.

Each lesson had to be no longer than 8 minutes. It also had to have an introduction to mention what the lesson was about. This was just a voice over.

After that you had the main section of the lesson which could consist of three exercises, for example. They would have to be notated out ahead of time. I used the free program PowerTab 1.7 for this job.

Here is an example.


Then there would be the recorded video and audio. It was quite interesting because you had to script out everything in advance so it could be edited and reviewed by the company. All of this had to be read from a teleprompter which was actually inside of the main camera.


This was Bill, who was one of the camera guys responsible for shooting me. It was a three camera shoot so they could get close-ups of hands, picking, etc.

I must mention that the sound I heard back came from a mono earplug that felt like a bug was burrowing into my brain after it was placed in my ear.

The sound was quite small, as you can imagine, and you had to deal with it.

Along with this, sometimes you might have to have a backing track prepared for your lesson. You would have to make it up to go along with whatever you were talking about. Here is a sample backing track that might be used.

MP3 - Sample Backing Track

Then you would play along with the backing track through your earpiece with your guitar sound. At first, it was difficult to get used to this small sound, but after a few attempts under my belt, it was fine and worked great.

All of the sound was recorded in Pro Tools by a guy named Monk.


Tempos also had to be worked out with metronomes for all examples, because they would be animated on the web page. We were told after the first bunch of lessons that we had to keep the bpm to 120 at 16th notes because we were driving the animators crazy trying to match it all up. That was fine and made things easier for all.

All of my sessions were produced by Dan the Man, who had no problem letting me go or calling cut!


The above photo shows the video control portion of the studio, where Dan would pick his choice of the three camera angles to make me look like I know what I am doing!

Here I am in the hot seat. Notice the George W 50 at my feet. I used this for my sounds being recorded. This went through a feed into the amp room which was in front of a Line 6 amp close miked with a SM57.


At the end you have to tie in all the loose pieces and make sure the lesson rocks - as well as being fun and enjoyable. I made sure of that!

After all the lessons were finished there was a photo shoot as well as a bio reading and a 2-3 minute jam improvising section to just let it rip. That was fun.

I found that being prepared was the best experience for this type of work. It would be difficult to just wing it, and I did on a few lessons which were great, but prepping is the key.

Watch for the site to be launched some time in December.

I will leave you with one last shot of myself and David Smolover, head CEO and main good guy in charge of everything in this camp!


May the tone be with you.

David Martone is a guitarist from Vancouver, Canada who has released seven solo CDs which showcase his musical diversity and brilliant guitarmanship.

His 2007 CD is entitled "When The Aliens Come", which features a progressive sound incorporating jazz, rock, fusion and metal influences.

David Martone