Black Rob :: An Audio Experiment

January 24, 2010 | • Gear & Gadgets GOYA

As we get deeper into video production I know that one skill I really need to work on is audio capture and editing. I headed out this evening with a Sennheiser ME-67 and an Edirol audio recorder. Big thanks to Marc for letting me borrow the recorder. The recording comes after the story.

Meg was in Little Five Points to purchase some props and wardrobe for a shoot we have next week. I met her there and walked around recording sounds of cars, people, etc. Someone called out to me;

“What in the hell is that thing? Is that a gun or something?”

The ME-67 is about 14 inches long and is kind of menacing looking in the dark. Black Rob (as he’s known on the streets) was just making sure nothing crazy was about to go down. He started asking me about recording equipment and I started asking about his life.

I recorded Rob without the aid of headphones. I scurried out of the studio too quickly today and left my headphones behind. Always a great thing to do when trying to learn how to capture audio. Luckily the Edirol recorder has a nice level readout so I just kept my eye on that while recording.

I came home needing some music to lay under the recording I had made. Meg disappeared into Loretta (her recording studio) to create an original song just for me. She reappeared at 5am. I had cut all the parts out of the recording that I wanted and got to work in Apple’s Soundtrack Pro. This is the first time I’ve used the program and it was the first time Meg used ProTools.  We’ve both been sliding down a steep learning curve.  

I’m sure you audio guys and gals would have some opinions on this. I would love to hear them.

Listen to the final project for the day

Cheers, Zack


  • Ab Sesay said on January 24, 2010

    Zack. Great meeting with you the other day. Love this post w/Black Rob, he really goes in. The things people will tell you, if only you listen. WOW. Loving It. Man you got soul….

  • Nick Adams said on January 24, 2010


    Your blog seems to be a never ending source of cool stuff dude…. well, not quite never ending. wish you posted more.

  • Ruwan said on January 24, 2010

    That is a powerful soundtrack. Thanks for posting it. Would have also loved to see some stills that may have been taken before or after gathering the sound track.

  • David Redding said on January 24, 2010

    Now audio guy, but that is pretty good for someone that is “on a learning curve”.

    Another thing I’m amazed at is how you seem to have a line on these great street prophets, people most would just pass on, people that most would think have nothing to say…turning out that they have some deep thought and feelings.

    Very nice indeed

  • rob hammer said on January 24, 2010


  • thejonesboy said on January 24, 2010

    Loved it.

    Maybe a slideshow of Robs photos with this audio is next ?

  • Erin Wilson said on January 24, 2010

    Loved it too. “Love one another”… street prophet indeed.

    And you two make a pretty amazing partners… wow!

  • Steve K said on January 24, 2010

    Attitude is everything.

    I’ve always envisioned learning curves as hills one has to climb in order to conquer.

    Your phrase “sliding down a steep learning curve” completely reverses that image and changes it from hard work to enjoyable, but inevitable mastery.

    I get a tremendous value from your blog, and only a little of it has to do with photographic technique.

    Thank you.

  • Marta said on January 24, 2010

    Brilliant. You, Meg, and Black Rob. Thank you for sharing and like your others…I will bookmark and save for the days I need a bit of inspiration and direction.

  • mattbeaty said on January 24, 2010

    Great stuff! Keep doin’ what you do Zack!

  • jon thorpe said on January 24, 2010

    great stuff love this.

  • Rachel Absher said on January 24, 2010

    BRAVO, Zack, Megan, and Black Rob.
    So inspired!

  • abe said on January 24, 2010

    awesome stuff man…would love to hear this over a video with some of your images.

  • zack said on January 24, 2010

    Abe – Yeah, I would like to have video or stills over this audio track but I’ve found that if I try to shoot video or stills while I’m trying to learn audio then everything suffers. I find that keeping it simple and concentrating on one task helps me improve that task I’m concentrating on. Eventually I’ll have it down enough to bring it all back together in one package. Eventually. :)


  • Sean McCormack said on January 24, 2010

    Zack, is there a particular reason that you didn’t just do the whole audio track in Protools?

  • zack said on January 24, 2010

    Sean – We only have one Protools rig and that is Meg’s domain and she’s just learning the program. I used Soundtrack since it is married to FCP and it is an app I’m sure I’m going to need to know. I haven’t even so much as launched Protools.


  • Ian Bail said on January 24, 2010

    Hey Zack, top job ! the recording quality is fine – working by eye obviously turned out OK. The soundtrack is marvellous, and your editing and pace of the piece is really effective. As a recording engineer I reckon the most important thing is not to let the technology get in the way of the performance – you have such a great eye and ear for things that will move people – just point the gear and let us hear and see the results of your brilliant vision. Awesome, and look forward to more. To Meg – special !

  • Chuck D said on January 24, 2010


  • Chris Bergstrom said on January 24, 2010

    Zack, Can I do a remix of this track for you?

  • zack said on January 24, 2010

    Go for it Chris!


  • Daniel Fuentealba said on January 24, 2010

    I looooooooove it… great job guys! what an amazing an complementary couple you are… bless you guys!

  • Chris Bergstrom said on January 24, 2010


    Here’s the quick down and dirty remix. I hope you like the simplistic style going on here.

    Peace, Chris

  • Michelle Williams said on January 25, 2010

    Absolutely wonderful Zack…loved hearing Meg’s interpretation as well. I have some great shots of Meg from your workshop a while back. I need to send those to you. Hope you’re doing well.

  • LluisGerard said on January 25, 2010

    Wow, it sounds brilliant. I love how you mixed the background music. I used to compose some tracks, and electronic music too, and I think is very clear.

    As he sounds very clear, I don’t really understand all words ’cause I’m from Barcelona, Spain, and I learned english by myself. I speaked in english only 3 or 4 times in “real conversation”. I will try to listen it carefully once more time but it sounds good.

  • PeeWee said on January 25, 2010

    Zack, this is really inspiring – I’m a saxophonist, and producer who totally at home in the studio, and recording professionally, but I’m moving towards photography now as another creative outlet. It looks like you’re going the other way – great! I don’t feel so alone now…

    Good Luck!


  • Jesse Hoorelbeke said on January 25, 2010


    You continue to amaze me. Growing up around music all my life, and growing up around soul, Motown, and characters like Rob, this mini-project absolutely strikes home. Such mood and feeling from Rob’s first few words, to Meg’s emotion-laden melodies and vocals. The simplicity and sensuality of the piano paired with the painfully strong voice of Rob is perfect!

    As far as the recording goes, having the mic pick up the ambient sounds of the streets as well is a perfect touch. It really shows the “live” aspect of Rob and his discussions. It reminds me of when I was young standing outside my dad’s studio in Los Angeles listening to the “earth-walkers” and their declarations to whoever would listen. It really took me back.

    I dont really have words for it. I am trying to type something witty and cool so that you would know that I understand exactly the feeling you were going for. All I can really say is that I am amazed. Something as simple as this has really struck a tone deep in my soul. It is as if I was there with you, talking to Rob and hearing Meg haunting my thoughts and setting the mood.

    Thank you for all the inspiration, and maybe one day, when life settles out a bit, I can begin to pursue projects like this to satisfy my own creative hunger…

    Thank you!


  • Chris Bergstrom said on January 25, 2010

    Thanks Lluis! I just hope Zack likes it. :-) I’m going to be building upon this remix with guitar and other effects as the song progresses this week/weekend. I love Spain by the way. I lived there for 3 months back in 2001 in Sevilla and it was an amazing place to photograph!


  • zack said on January 25, 2010

    Kick ass Chris! Thanks! Well done. We should collaborate on something.


  • Will said on January 25, 2010

    Holy Crap! Very Well Done!

  • Kris Hollingsworth said on January 25, 2010

    I really just want to follow you around for a day. You have the coolest adventures.

  • Chris Bergstrom said on January 26, 2010

    Zack, I’d love to collaborate on something with you, whether music, video, photos or otherwise. You’ve got my email address I believe if this blog let’s the admin see it. Keep an eye out for part 2 coming soon!


  • Eric said on January 26, 2010

    Man, what a way to start off my day! Im gonna have to look up synonyms for inspirational. You and Meg rock. Lovin Black Rob too.

  • Betty said on January 27, 2010

    Meg is simply incredible. Your combined talent is out of this world…

  • Stefanos L. said on January 28, 2010

    wow Meg’s recording is awesome…

    The noise from the street adds authenticity but it also distracts from the words spoken.

    Nice work, if this is your first what is to be expected next?

    You always lifting the bar….

  • Shel said on January 29, 2010

    What do you guys do with your kids when you’re out just walking around talking to people?? Meg needs to update her blog and let us moms know.

  • zack said on January 29, 2010

    Our boys are troopers. They usually are tagging right along with us. I’ll tell Meg to update her blog. :-)

  • Steve Perks said on January 31, 2010

    This is a really cool and very creative direction you are moving in Zack.

    I’m very much a fledging music photographer but played in bands for a quarter of a century and still compose and record on the PC.

    To combine powerful narrative, unique tailored music and imagery, whether it be still or motion is an exciting concept.

    Loved Megs’ track and Bob’s >140 character words of wisdom.
    The audio recording wasn’t that bad either!

    Seriously, looking forward to more.

  • Bradley B. said on February 1, 2010

    Heya Zack,

    I only stop by your blog every so often, but damn if it isn’t inspirational EVERY SINGLE TIME…I love recording, I love music, and I live photography and videography, and overall, this was really well done, in my opinion. Again, it’s really inspirational to see that you just went walking and made something unique and awesome from it…I don’t make enough time to do “GOYA” projects and learning projects compared to what I used to, but this is certainly making me want to head out on the streets and get to work.

    Bravo to you, Meg and Black Rob…working together the 3 of you made something awesome.

    Props to Chris on the remix, as well!

    Keep it up!

    -Bradley B.

  • James McClean said on February 1, 2010

    Sounds like OutKast! Love that accent.

  • Guido Bouman said on March 9, 2010

    Amazing, I love the beginning, the first minute is great! But at about 1:14 the soundtrack, in my opinion, starts to interfere a bit too much with Black Rob.

    A soundtrack, again in my opinion, is to fill up the silence/”negative space” of an audio track. But here the vocals interfere a little too much, maybe level out the soundtrack, and lower it a little.

    The ending is as strong as the beginning, beautiful!

    Ambient sounds are great too!

  • Rob said on March 15, 2010

    I love this piece. I’m blow away.

    Very haunting track which is perfect for the piece.

    We don’t often actually sit back and listen and thats what I did…..Keep up the great work.

  • Daniel V. Kevorkian said on July 24, 2011

    Great way of narrating a story.
    The quality seems to be great.

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