So after moving to Boston in 1989, Dino power-schooled it nitro-style straight through his music courses at Berklee, finishing all of the classes for his four-year degree in just two years. Fast forward six years now and Dino is a savvy DAW guru who is launching a successful composing company called Sculptured Music, and busting his way into music/film as a composer, engineer, programmer, and editor, contributing to Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez, and American Hi-Fi, and is credited for his work on films from Alien Vs. Predator to The Day After Tomorrow.
Dino Goes To Hollywood
How did he do it? Straight out of school, Dino scored himself an assistant position at Rusk Studios in Hollywood. “There I learned all the studio stuff: miking techniques, working on SSL and Neve consoles, and later mixing,” he says. “It was even better than school.” He eventually got to do some rap mixing for Candyman and Prince Paul, and mixed a record that went gold for Latin recording artist Daniela Romo.
Then, after just two years at Rusk, Dino moved on to calculate and execute a series of successful entrepreneurial exploits: a recording studio that built its clientele recording bands for less than 10 bucks an hour, becoming a Logic guru, programming and engineering for some of the composers he met through his consulting work, and partnering with orchestrator Daniel Hamuy to launch a company called PowerKeys that provides custom shortcut keys for Logic, and keyboard guides, to pros.
One thing led to another and by 1997, Dino was able to close his low-budget recording studio, buy swank digs in the hills above Los Feliz, and plunge hardcore into composing, editing, and engineering for film, TV, commercials, and pop music.
Dino’s Studio Setup
Dino runs his productions on a dual 2.5GHz Power Mac G5 stocked with a Pro Tools HD 3 Accel card and an HD 192 interface. The computer is loaded up with Logic, Reason, and Live, as well as a collection of his favorite plug-ins. “I’ve been using the Waves Platinum bundle for post production for many years and I love the equalizers and the compressors they have,” he says. “When I bought the Pro Tools HD 3 Accel card, it came with about $10,000 worth of plug-ins, including Amp Farm, and I just love it. I also love all the Bomb Factory ones, the Focusrite plug-ins, the Indigo, the Sony Oxford, and Reverb One.”
But what he’s totally crazy for is Sound Toys’ PitchBlender. “PitchBlender I adore,” emotes Dino. It’s got this crazy flanger. You can get weird sounds with it and change your sound to do percussive things, like time-delay them. That’s my favorite plug-in.”
In the native world, Dino relies on Spectrasonics’ Trilogy, Atmosphere, and Stylus instruments. “I also have my EXS library converted from my Roland and GigaStudio libraries,” he says. “And another good thing that I have is Retromatic EXS Manager. If you have more than 30,000 sounds, you need this. It scans your EXS samples, matches them to the patch, and loads them into the sampler.”
He also loves the EVP88 software instrument. “And Yellow Tools Culture is the best percussion plug-in ever made,” says Dino. “It sounds so real, but you have to learn to play it because it’s hyper mapped to multiple velocity levels. I also have Yellow Tools Majestic Bass and Candy saxophone software instruments. And Tape Delay is a fantastic delay from Emagic.”
The key to his success? “I have a very broad spectrum because I’ve been doing Top 40, R&B, hip-hop, electronica, and classical,” he says. But he also gets gigs with the sheer power of speed. Dino sums it up, “One of my teachers at Berklee, Carl Beatty, told me: ‘Be fast. If you’re working with a producer and you like to look at things and figure them out, great. But that’s not a good thing when you’re in the studio. Just learn your stuff and be fast. That’s how you get hired again.’”