Solutions

Floating Earth

"Using FileMaker to automate the track information has brought major efficiencies in terms of the time it takes to complete the work around a recording session and the quality of the information we are able to pass onto the production team. Using plug-ins we have been able to make FileMaker talk to a host of different equipment and this openness has been a real advantage." says Mike Hatch, Lead sound engineer, Floating Earth

FileMaker and Floating Earth make sweet music together

FileMaker Pro database integrates with company’s recording equipment.

Overview

  • Company needed to keep comprehensive notes on each individual musical piece recorded, whether they are working in the studio or on location.

Industry

  • Entertainment: Established in 1987, Floating Earth is an independent recording, production and post-production company based in West London.

Solution

  • Thanks to FileMaker recording sessions are completed quicker and more efficiently.

Benefits

  • Using plug-ins and scripting commands, the Floating Earth team has been able to link the FileMaker database with the various pieces of recording equipment they use.

Established in 1987, Floating Earth is an independent recording, production and post-production company based in West London.

Having begun life specialising in classical music recordings, the award-winning business now offers a broad range of services, such as audio editing, mastering and mixing across all genres of music. Artists Floating Earth has worked with reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of popular music and includes Adele, David Bowie and the Kings of Leon.

The firm moved to a purpose-built facility in 1989, enabling it to offer some of the finest post-production suites in the country. Since then the company has continued to invest in new technology - the jewel in its crown being the Floating Earth Mobile recording truck, a fully-equipped 7.5 tonne mobile unit that is used to record concerts on location.

Recognised as a leader in it field, the Floating Earth team has won a clutch of awards including Gramophone Awards, Academy Awards, BAFTAs and Grammys.

Having begun life specialising in classical music recordings, the award-winning business now offers a broad range of services.
Having begun life specialising in classical music recordings, the award-winning business now offers a broad range of services.

The challenge:

The music industry may on the surface seem like a glamorous business but when it comes to recording the music, technical know-how and the ability to follow rigorous procedures are paramount. Just ask the team at Floating Earth, who are required to keep comprehensive notes on each individual musical piece that is recorded, whether they are working in the studio or on location.

“We have to document the running times for every piece and when each individual piece starts and stops on the recording, so our clients and production teams are able to easily locate the precise piece they want,” says Mike Hatch, a director and lead sound engineer at Floating Earth.

“On a recording session, it’s not unusual to end up with several hundred different takes, and in order that someone can find a particular take, they use our notes to enable them to navigate their way round the recording.”

In addition, engineers also need to include details of different effects used and the recording levels for each piece, such as the settings on microphone amplifiers and other equipment.

Traditionally, the laborious task of noting all of this information down was undertaken by sound engineers with nothing more sophisticated than a pen and paper.

“If we were working late on a recording session we’d find ourselves staying even later, jotting down all the information and trying to decipher hand-written notes,” adds Mike.

“This job might even take up half of the next day to complete. We were getting fed up because it was taking up valuable time we could have been using much more profitably.”

Having resolved to find a much more efficient way of documenting this important information, Mike turned his attention to FileMaker to see if it could be suitably adapted.


FileMaker talks to the machine we record on and is able to pick up all the time codes and settings for each piece. This information is stored in files on the database and is easily retrieved and searched if required.

—Mike Hatch, Lead sound engineer, Floating Earth
“Now that they are integrated with FileMaker, we work much more efficiently and have time to do the jobs we didn’t have when we were taking notes manually.”
“Now that they are integrated with FileMaker, we work much more efficiently and have time to do the jobs we didn’t have when we were taking notes manually.”

The FileMaker solution:

Using FileMaker’s scripting commands, Mike has been able to integrate the FileMaker Pro database with the company’s recording equipment, so all the required detail about individual musical pieces is automatically logged.

He says: “FileMaker talks to the machine we record on and is able to pick up all the time codes and settings for each piece. This information is stored in files on the database and is easily retrieved and searched if required.”

Thanks to FileMaker, this arrangement allows Mike and his team to complete recording sessions quicker and more efficiently.

“Now at the end of the session, I can leave all the music stored safely on the hard drive and provide a print-out PDF of the notes that gives the production teams all the detail they need about every track,” he adds.

Mike says, despite having no IT training, he has “been fiddling around with FileMaker for years” and was able to write the scripts that have enabled this automation himself. He describes the scripting language as ‘simple to learn.’

He says one key advantage of using FileMaker is the ability to integrate it with a number of different pieces of equipment – many using different protocols.

“Different machines we use have different protocols, be it Ethernet, P2, USB, SNMP, or midi. Using plug-ins and writing a little bit of script I have been able to make them all talk to FileMaker,” says Mike.

“Now that they are integrated with FileMaker, we work much more efficiently and have time to do the jobs we didn’t have when we were taking notes manually.”

The Floating Earth team has been able to link the FileMaker database with the various pieces of recording equipment they use.
The Floating Earth team has been able to link the FileMaker database with the various pieces of recording equipment they use.

Notable benefits:

  • Ability to integrate – Using plug-ins and scripting commands, the Floating Earth team has been able to link the FileMaker database with the various pieces of recording equipment they use.
  • Automation cuts work time – The ability to automate track listings and settings has reduced administrative workloads and enabled Mike and his team to focus on more profitable work.
  • Easy to write scripts – The scripting language used by FileMaker is straightforward to understand and use meaning Mike has been able to make the necessary modifications without buying-in costly expertise.

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