I knew the basics and some advanced things in Pro Tools, but after the courses, I really feel confident in my abilities with the application.
Don’t knock the retail gigs. All that salesmanship, elbow-rubbing and idle chitchat can pay off. Especially when it’s backed by some serious Pro Tools training.
Jason Wynne, like many musicians, fell into a day job hawking recording gear at Guitar Center in Atlanta. It wasn’t the most glamorous line of work, but it paid the bills and let Wynne dive into the town’s booming music scene. He made friends. He made connections. And he found the ProMedia Training program, an intensive boot-camp style course that turns out a new group of Pro Tools-certified graduates every two weeks.
Within a short time, Wynne earned his own Pro Tools certification and landed a job at Atlanta’s Soapbox Studios, working alongside mixing great Phil Tan. “When you work in a place like Guitar Center, you never know who’s going to come in,” he says. “And this industry is very collaborative—it’s all about meeting people and making connections.”
Wynne’s story is more complicated than that, of course. The 26-year-old punk rock and heavy metal drummer grew up in Plymouth, MA, jamming with his high school buddies. “I had a neighbor around the same age who had a bunch of recording equipment in his basement,” he says. “That’s when I really became interested in recording and production.” After high school, Wynne didn’t dive right into the industry—he pursued other talents, studying 3D animation and video production at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
But he never dropped his drumsticks. He played and toured with his band, traveling across the U.S. and Canada, and worked on music production in his free time. He became so engrossed with his music that he actually took on a second major at Savannah— sound design. He completed both majors in addition to recording several bands plus producing music and sound for several independent films. When he was done at Savannah, he went on tour with his band, Circle Takes the Square, for a year.
“A lot of people start looking for internships or jobs right out of college,” says Wynne. “I didn’t do that, but I gained a lot of experience in the music industry just traveling and meeting people.” At the end of the tour, Wynne settled in Atlanta and began weighing his options. He soon decided that he wanted to be behind the scenes, recording and eventually producing bands. “Once I realized that I could record music and intertwine that with being in a band, it was a no-brainer,” he says.
Enter the ProMedia Training Pro Tools program. The school has been training students how to use Pro Tools for about four years. It holds classes in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Nashville, New York, and Philadelphia, and boasts one of the most intensive training programs in the country. “Somebody can be certified with us in nine eight-hour days,” says John Sawyer, manager of ProMedia Training. “That’s really what sets us apart from other programs. We offer classes that can fit into anyone’s schedule, no matter how much time they may have.”
Most ProMedia Training students choose the school’s 14-day Music Production and Certification program. The coursework includes basic Pro Tools training for beginners plus more advanced tips and tricks for Pro Tools professionals. Students emerge from the gauntlet bearing Pro Tools 210M certification (for music production) or 210P certification (for audio post production for film and television). Either way, they’ve learned the skills they need to tackle any technical task in a Pro Tools studio. They can also continue the training with specialized courses in audio mixing and other recording software.
Wynne got some time off from his day gig at Guitar Center and plunged headfirst into the ProMedia Training two-week intensive course. He took the music production route, learning the ins and outs of using Pro Tools in a music recording studio. “I knew the basics and some advanced things in Pro Tools, but after the courses I really feel confident in my abilities with the application,” says Wynne. “It has really helped me streamline the process of recording. It’s made it transparent, which is very important in the studio. When a band comes in, they just want to focus on the music. They don’t want to worry about the technology— they just want creative options. Now I really feel like I can provide those options using Pro Tools.”
ProMedia Training’s Atlanta facility helps students foster that transparency. The school shares space with Stankonia Studios, the creative hub for Outkast and many other cutting-edge pop and hip-hop artists. “Most musicians are not day people, so we have the luxury of using the studio during the morning hours, when it’s almost always empty,” says Sawyer. Each student works with a Pro Tools system and a dazzling array of mixing boards and outboard processing gear. “It’s a very cool place to be, and it really helps the students learn what it’s like to work in a big professional studio,” says Sawyer.
Shortly after earning his Pro Tools certification, Wynne landed an internship at a big professional studio. Soapbox Studios is one of Atlanta’s most productive audio facilities. It has produced music and motion graphics for major motion pictures, independent films, and television. The studio is also home to mixing legend Phil Tan. Working at Soapbox, Tan has mixed albums for Ludacris, Fergie, Usher, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, and Pharrell Williams, to name a few. He has also taught mixing at ProMedia Training. “A lot of time was spent hanging out in the studio, watching Phil work, just picking up on the subtleties,” says Wynne. “He’s a very focused individual, and I really learned how to concentrate on a project. He also showed me the importance of listening to the music, really listening to where the song is going and figuring out how you should approach it.”
Wynne will use all the knowledge he gleaned from Tan in his new role as an engineer at Soapbox, working directly with recording artists in a newly constructed studio onsite at Soapbox. Much of the work will focus on live recording and some nitty-gritty production, but there will be room to expand in the future. “I’ve always tried to push the envelope with music, no matter which band I’m in,” says Wynne. “That’s a big part of how I approach music, and in the future I’d like to work on music that’s challenging to me as a listener and a musician.”
Article By Dustin Driver - DIGIZINE: Dustin Driver is a freelance writer in Berkeley, California. He is obsessed with good stories, inspirational people, and technology.