To record a CD at your Primary School is a very exiting project. This is something which the whole school can be involved in. As well as being an educational experience for your pupils, it is also a great fundraising idea for the school.
The most popular times for schools to record with us is usually towards the end of each term. We get very busy around Christmas and the end of the school year in July. However, the Spring Term also presents quite a lot of opportunity to record as well. We have been quite busy so far in February recording in various parts of the UK.
When we are out on location recording in Primary Schools all around the country one of the most common questions we get asked is ‘When do we get our CDs?‘.
The simple answer is usually ‘Within a few days‘ which often comes as quite a surprise to some teachers. To fully answer the question, let’s have a look at the process involved between recording the music at your school and delivering the CDs.
The Recording Day
We generally spend all day at your school recording with your staff and pupils. Sometimes we are finished by lunchtime but it just depends how much music there is to be recorded. At the end of the day, we then back up all the data onto separate hard drives and take this back to our studios.
Once back in the studio it then takes us about a day to properly master and prepare your music to go onto a CD. You could say, this is where the magic happens. There is no short description of exactly what happens in post production. But essentially we take several mono signals (the individual microphones) and we blend them together into the final stereo image which you hear on your CD.
Once we have finished working on the tracks we create a digital image of your CD audio which is called a DDP. This stands for Disc Description Protocol, also referred to as DDPi (DDP Image) or DDP File Set. An error-protected delivery format that has become industry standard for reliable CD & DVD replication.
Advantages of DDP include
Integrity Of The Recordings: DDP files are not subject to manipulation and end up exactly as the artist intended. An audio CDR, for example, can influence the sound of a recording when used as a master due to errors and other effects of different dyes used in the disc itself.
Delivery Speed: DDP can be transferred using any medium including over the internet which speeds up the production process. Many organisations now only accept DDP, as they are faster and more reliable to work with.
Replication Errors: Using a DDP Image with MD5 Checksum will ensure accurate replication unlike an audio CDR.
Before the Digital Master CD is sent to production (see below) we always listen through to it from beginning to end just as a final check that all the songs balance together properly or indeed have been correctly ordered and ‘trimmed’. This is an essential part of the process and one for which there are no shortcuts. There would be nothing worse than a CD being produced with tracks in the wrong order or talking at the end of a track for example.
As well as the audio, the CD artwork is a big part of our project. Yes we realise a lot of people can’t even play CDs nowadays – that’s why we include the Digital versions of the files too. However, the physical product and particular the packaging with its artwork is something which can be kept for ever. As a memento you might say. Even if in 30 years time there is no way of playing the CD, your pupils will still have something to remind them of their time at school and the recording they made.
You can find out more about the artwork by visiting our Downloads and Guides pages on the website. You can also see some photographs of a CD we recorded at a Primary School a little while back to give you an idea of how it might look.
Often the key to a fast turn around is getting the artwork done. Where possible we try to put the artwork together on the recording day. If you can send us digital scans of the front cover design (s) either on the morning of the recording or before hand then we can start work during the lunch break. In many cases this means the artwork is agreed and signed off before the recording session has even ended.
The final stage of the process once the artwork has been signed off and the audio is ready is the manufacture of the physical CDs and the printing of the artwork. Our standard packaging solution for School CDs is in a jewel case with a 2 or 4 page booklet.
Production is always done from digital copies of both the artwork and audio to minimise any chance of error at this point. Most of our CDs are made within 2-3 working days. Larger orders of 500 or more might take a bit longer, but no more than 10 days typically.
This might seem like a lot has to go on, but actually production of up to 300 or so CDs only takes 2-3 working days and the audio production is often done the day after the recording day. If the artwork can be agreed at the time of the recording then it is perfectly possible to have CDs delivered to your school within a week of the recording day.
To find out more about our recording services for schools in the UK please get in touch by telephone on 01225 302143 or click here to email us.