HARNESSING THE CUTTING EDGE,
CREATIVE Ej GETS SMART.
Jeff Gastineau, VP of Creative Ej, and their Elite E72 Smart Console running Logic Pro with Pro Tools.
Since opening their new facility in North Carolina in April of this year, Creative Ej has been turning some heads in the American Southeast.
Creative Ej (think ‘Edge’), in North Carolina, was built as a ‘complete music center’ and is designed to provide it’s music students with a wide array of educational options ranging from contemporary music instruction, audio technology and production skills, right through to musicianship and music business affairs.
It’s an ambitious project, featuring a modern 10,000 square foot timber frame building located on a seven acre campus near Charlotte, NC. The facility includes a 200+ seat performance theater, a studio, a host of classrooms, lesson rooms, rehearsal areas, and plans for further expansion throughout the United States.
The studio is based around an Elite E72 Smart console fitted with 24 faders which controls either Logic Pro or Pro Tools, as the need arises. The console is capable of controlling up to 216 channels – so project size is never an issue.
But after the students go home, the recording begins, and the same control room is then used as a professional production studio specializing in surround, multi-media and DVD content as well as full scale band recording.
These requirements fitted perfectly with the capabilities of the Smart Console which controls a number of leading audio platforms including Apple’s Logic Pro, Steinberg’s Nuendo, Merging’s Pyramix and also provides HUI controls of Pro Tools.
Jeff Gastineau, VP of Creative Ej, had the following to say:
"Our goal at Creative Ej was to create an environment for beginners and professionals alike to “Experience Music” in the most ideal settings. While featuring the latest in high tech equipment geared toward the professional, we actively encourage beginning and intermediate musicians to perform and record. Since we guide them through the entire process, lack of experience is no longer a barrier.
One commercial project we are working on right now is an album project for the independent band ‘Campbell’. Their blend of modern indy rock and Celtic influences takes full advantage of the entire DAW system, with the Smart console pulling it all together very nicely.
In addition to instruction and outside projects, the studio is also used to produce new material for use in music lessons. Our computer network extends to every lesson room and practice area, allowing us to quickly determine student’s interests and needs, produce new material, and feed it back to the instructors and students through the network.
We use Logic about 80% of the time, Pro Tools 10%, and Digital Performer about 10% of the time. I have used another 24 fader DAW controller system for years, and tended to use the mouse for most fader and automation work. The Smart Console has allowed me to get back to the faders and work in a much more fluid way.
We have a Pro Tools HD Accel 3 system with 192 Digital, 96 and 96i interfaces running on an Apple Macintosh Dual G5. We use Focusrite and Trident console pre-amps to convert to digital which then hit the Digidesign hardware and are recorded straight into Logic Pro. All audio tracks are processed using the Pro Tools HD TDM engine, except for virtual instruments, which are processed natively in the G5 and fed into Pro Tools using Logic’s Direct TDM engine.
Our workflow in Logic Pro is mostly jumping back and forth between environment and arrange windows– in the environment window we’re building the console as we go along, and in the arrange page we add tracks as we go, all of which is controlled by the console. We generally start to build the mix while we’re tracking so that when we’re done we’re pretty far along in the mixing process already.
The great thing about the Smart Console is that it gives you that large format console feel while fully integrating with the DAW software. The interaction of the Smart Console with all the software plugins really enhances the recording engineer’s efficiency during the session. And compared with other controllers, it definitely gives some speed and feature accessibility that you don’t get from a traditional DAW controller.
Being able to instantly switch the console between Logic and Pro Tools is fantastic, and innovations like the Arc, Active Panel, and Smart Panel functions are allowing us to do more with our productions without a lengthy learning curve.
We also find that people respond to the striking look – it helps with the studio profile and our focus on using the latest technology throughout the facility. When new clients visit the studio and see how the Arc, motorized faders, and scribble strip display turn a 216 channel console into an efficient package, they instantly understand the power it provides."
Jeff has also been providing user feedback to Smart AV regarding the continuing development of the Smart/Logic solution.
"Despite being half a world away, the email and/or phone response from Smart AV has been very good, which is reassuring. In fact, they have been far more responsive than other major vendors. I’m impressed that they have been receptive to input on how we work with the console, rather than expecting us to change to fit the console."
The Smart Console is available with the following Engines:
• Merging’s Pyramix
• Apple’s Logic 7
• Digidesign’s Pro Tools (via HUI)
• Steinberg’s Nuendo
For the main Smart AV website, please refer to:
For high resolution images of the Smart Console please refer to the Press Resources section of the Smart AV website: