Lower Your Bar Of Entry

Some posts are longer than others. (Say that to the melody of The Smiths’s Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others.) I don’t have a set minimum length for these things just an idea I want to get across in each post. Some ideas are going to be long and some are going to be short. Still all ideas worth thinking about.

This time I want to talk about one part of getting motivation to do what you want/need to do more creatively. One of the biggest things I think about in this regard is Lowering The Bar Of Entry. Pretty much anything you want to do is going to take several steps to do. And a lot of the time the more creative it is the more steps it’s going to take. And each one of those steps is an opportunity for you to back out and take possibly an easier, less creative route.┬áNow, there’s nothing wrong with taking the easy route sometimes. There’s lots of times where it’s the right thing to do. Nothing like a looming deadline to make the easy quick way to create a sound the right thing to do.

But if we can start to eliminate steps, or at least streamline them, the easier we can make it to use our possibly more complex methods in any situation. For anything we want to do there’s a bar we have to jump over to do it. And each step raises that bar. So eliminate the steps, lower the bar to jump over. Now we’ve got the metaphor if we didn’t before.

So what’s some of the things we can do to eliminate/streamline steps and lower our bar.

First one for me is to make recording sounds easier. Recording generally has a bunch of steps to it that can really quickly kill motivation. At my home studio I always have a mic plugged in on a stand next to my desk. There’s no setup if I have a quick voice idea to record. It’s ready to go. At work, the recording room computer is always also with a mic on a stand at all times. There’s even generally a DAW open as well so you can walk by throwing it into record and walk into the booth and do stuff. Ok usually you’ll have to test out levels as well but you get the idea. The quicker you can get from your recording idea to having a file of that idea the more likely you are to do it.

Very related to that is DAW templates. Lots of us have similar starting points for lots of things we do. Maybe it’s how we record or build UI sounds. So templates are a great way speed up your starting of a given area. For me the key is to make my templates as sort of vague and flexible as I can get away with. I want the bare minimum of boring stuff I know I’m going to do every time but not enough to trap me into the exact same flow each time. I don’t want my templates make me lazy and possibly make things sound the same across projects. But I sure know I’m going to have a master fader in PT with usual metering plugins on it. And who wants to go through putting that together each time.

In a more physical sense having things like you’re foley objects organized can really help your desire to use them. (I’m using that in the broad term of any objects you’ve got to make sounds with even if it’s not actual for true foley sounds. Just didn’t know a better short hand for that.) At work, we have a bookcase of items to make sounds with that I’m way more likely to us than my collection of junk at home that’s stuffed in a closet. Having things out in the open and within view inspires me way more to grab them than to dig through milk crates stuffed in a closet.

So in general this is about prepping your workplace and workflows so you’re more likely to use the most creative solution and not just the fastest one. Most of all I think of this not about technical aspects cause for sure most of my library sounds are better recorded than I can do it. It’s about getting your passion and creativity into the project. And I feel the more hands on you are will all the parts and steps of a song, project, or even individual sound the more you’re going to be excited by it. And the more excited you are by your work the better the end result will be. So look at how you do things. Look at what you might do repeatedly and how you could speed that up. Or what ideas you constantly talk yourself out of and how you can make getting to those ideas quicker with less boring steps in the way. Sometimes a little pre-prep can go along way to lowering the bars and get you into doing things more creatively.

So what’s some of things you do to lower the bar of entry on your work?

2 thoughts on “Lower Your Bar Of Entry

  1. Hey Matt, I can vouch for most of the aspects you mentioned. I also find that when I’m out hiking I rarely stop and record anything, unless I have my D100 in my hands ready to press record.

  2. Recently I moved my workstation from my room on the first floor to the basement right next to the vocal booth and immediately started recording stuff all the time. I used to try and get away with sounds and vocals recorded with a meh dynamic on my desk, now I just hit a button, step through a door and doing foley or VO with an appropriate tool. I have to agree, the lower the bar, the more likely it is you are going to do a task and the more you will enjoy creating (as opposed to being a technician).

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