Aus220 – Song Demo – Distant friend. 

8 weeks ago, we were given a solo guitar and vocal track, and the task to take it to full production.

This week, we finished the task. We completed recording in the Neve studio last week and students were given individual parts to take home and comp / make shiny. I took the vocal and B3 parts, as I needed to re-beatmap the recorded drums and render the B4 synth with the new timing. I was also keen to ‘melodyne-the fuck’ out of the vocal part.

I have previously used Melodyne for pitch correcting a horn section. After correcting the individual parts, I noticed there was a room mic which captured 3 parts at once – I wasn’t too keen to try to pitch correct polyphonically, so I decided to leave it alone. What I found was that the room mic mixed with the corrected parts created a really cool chorus/phase/flanger type effect, which I decided to keep in the final mix. I applied this technique again for the vocal part for this song, where I corrected one part, but left the room mic alone. This produced a cool Weezer/REM kind of sound which worked really well in parts, but required a bit of automation to pull out some of the more questionable notes.

I received all the parts over the weekend and compiled them into a session file for a final mix session in the Audient studio. Unfortunately it was fairly late notice for the mix session due to studio availability and public holidays, so I was pretty much alone for the first 2.5 hours of the session. In this time, I loaded the files and got all the channels up on the desk. I then started to replace the Pro Tools reverb with some of the outboard FX units in the Audient. I added 2 separate reverbs, one for drums + guitar, the other for banjo + organ. I also patched the transient designer into the bass to give it a bit more sustain.

I was a bit lost towards the end, as I had heard this song dozens an dozens of times over the weeks leading up to the mix session, and my brain was pretty much fried at that point. Fortunately Brendan showed up with some fresh ears and got into some more corrective EQ and reigning in the FX. This was most welcome. Unfortunately we ran out of time and only managed to get a quick stereo print from the Audient master bus, and on listening, there were a few issues that needed correcting. Mainly the left channel was about 3dB hotter than the right and needed adjusting. Also, the compression is a bit strong, but we couldn’t really hear it in the studio at the time.

Overall, this has been a very challenging project, but I am really happy with how the arrangement and the recording sessions worked out. I was also really happy with the quality of the recordings, having solid musicians with decent gear really helped immensely.




Outboard FX – reverb


Patching for the outboard gear



AUS220 – Live Sound – Week 6 (andplaythatfunkymusictillya…)

Till ya die. Till ya diiie. Til ya diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieee.

And there was dancing, and singing, and movin’ to the groovin’, and just when, it hit me, somebody turned around and shouted….

So today we spent about 6 hours listening to the same song, over and over, and over, and over, and over again, while students were doing their 20-minute live sound baseline assessment.

Poor Tim. I was done after the first hour. Tim has had to listen to the same song with 4 different groups throughout the week. A conservative estimate would suggest that he’s now heard the song approximately 1,000,000 times.


There wasn’t too much else to report for this lesson, everyone did a pretty solid job of mixing. I was slightly relieved we ran out of time before I could do my assessment as it was the end of the day and my ears were not in the best state to be mixing. Also my brain was done with the dancing and the singing and the movin to the gro…. damnit.

AUS220 – Live Sound – Week 5

Check check – check one – check one – tssu – tssuu – check -tsuu – check – ha – ha



For this session, the Live Sound space was in use by film students, so we took the foldback, sidefill and cat-5-icore into the green screen room. We were tasked with setting up a monitoring system for a small band.


We set up the wedges, 1 either side and a coupled pair for the center / singer. The sidefills were setup across the front line, also doubling as our FOH for this exercise. We mic’d up the school drum kit and fed it through the drum fill, DI’d the bass into the sidefill, mic’d up the guitar amp and set up 3 vocal mics for our imaginary singer and his girlfriend/girlfriend’s tambourine.  Everything was up and running well under an hour with the system tuned and cables especially neat.


We managed to get a decent level out of the system, and I only recall feedback happening only once or twice.




This was a fairly straightforward tutorial and everyone handled things with ease. Bonus points for the awesome Metallica jam we had ‘testing’ the system.


AUS220 – Live Sound week 4

And the Lord (or possibly Tim Dalton?) said: ‘Let there be live!’ And then there was sound. And it was good.




This week was our first time in SAE’s all-shiny and brand-new Live Sound space. The room is ‘bloody huge’ and according to Lance Krive, has about 2 (presumably metric) tonnes of sound proofing in the the ceiling. Also, we have a shiny new motorized lighting rig; lovely black curtains and even a green room, which is not actually green.

Avid S3 Surface with AVB-networking

Oh yeah. We also have a brand new Avid S3 control surface to work with and a whole bunch of fantastic amps and FoH speakers, but, most impressively; the ‘giant fuck-off multicore’ has been replaced by a much more sensible (and several orders-of-magnitude cheaper) CAT-5 networking cable.


The blue thing means the sound.

I am really impressed. I did Live Sound -BAP190 with Lance just over a year ago, and we were still using the ‘giant fuck-off multicore’ and having arguments about ‘analogue vs digital’. PS: Digital won.

We spent the day going over the basics of a live sound rig, and also had a look at the features of the S3 surface and interface. The Avid software is incredibly powerful, and has may options of customization, and most importantly, recall for just about every parameter you could think of.  Usually, a live sound rig is accompanied by a massive rack, or racks of outboard hardware: parametric EQ; Compressors; Reverb; Delay; general FX modules; which normally take up a whole bunch of 19″ rack slots. This has all been superseded with software. I am slightly torn about this. Whilst the software is incredibly powerful, I do miss the tactile response and direct control of hardware. However, the software is incredibly  powerful, and oh-so-much cheaper than hardware. Also, you can use the standard array of Pro Tools plugins, plus a plethora of 3rd party plugins. It’s a no-brainer. Digital has won. Software rules.

I shall miss the fun of plugging in a whole bunch of seldom-used outboard gear, and the inevitable signal flow headaches that follow. However, it’s a new age and a new frontier. Now I need to get used to software layers, and almost ‘imaginary’ signal flow that ‘just works.’

We managed to get the basics down fairly quickly, and managed to tune the room with pink noise, dutifully facilitated (and easily recalled) with the click of a mouse with the new S3 rig.


I am looking forward to see how our already excellent group deals with the challenges of our Live Sound projects.


AUS220 – Post Production wk 3.5 – I’ll be back

We finished our sound replacement project for our scene from ‘The Terminator’.

A few things got lost in the mix towards the end, but was overall a success (also, a lot of fun!).

Interestingly, about 2 seconds after I’d finished uploading the video to Youtube, I was served with a copyright infringement notice!

Hi Rick Reeves,

Due to a copyright claim, your YouTube video has been blocked. This means that your video can no longer be played on YouTube, and you may have lost access to some features of YouTube.

Video title: AUS220 G1 Terminator – Sound replacement – AES
Includes: Visual content
Claimed by: mgm, FOX

Why this can happen

  • Your video might contain copyrighted content.
  • Copyright owners can choose to block YouTube videos that contain their content.

– The YouTube Team


I managed to contest it successfully, stating:

This video uses copyrighted material in a manner that does not require approval of the copyright holder. It is a fair use under copyright law.
This clip is an original work of sound replacement using pre-existing footage. This clip is used with respect to the Copyright Act 1968, as outlined in the document ‘Fair Dealing’ by the Australian Copyright Council.
I have a good-faith belief that the claim(s) described above have been made in error and that I have the right(s) necessary to use the contents of my video for the reasons I have stated.

Even though I was able to argue the claim, it was still interesting to get some insight into the Youtube copyright protection algorhythm, and how quickly it operates (shoot first, ask questions later).


My final contribution to the project was:

ADR – Police officer

Foley – Terminator footsteps

SFX – Wilhelm scream was totally my idea! :-p

Score – everything! transcription, synth design, programming and rendering.

So, here it is.



AUS220 – Location sound wk3

Location! location! location!  …recording.

Today I had my first experience working with the film students, recording location sound for documentary footage.

I was looking forward to this, but ultimately was a little disappointed with the recordings.

The film students had to go out and get shots for a poetic style documentary. This entailed a lot of varied shots of the juxtaposition of man-made and natural environments. The group I was with decided to film a lot of trees and grass in the parks around the campus. The job for me was just to capture some ambient sounds. I was looking forward to recording some dialogue in the wild but it wasn’t necessary for the project.

Instead; I have about 5 minutes of the traffic noise around campus.



We tried doing some spot recordings of leaves rustling etc, but ultimately this was unsuccessful as there was just waaaaaay too much background noise of the Normanby Rd traffic, nearby tram line and helicopters flying overhead.


I brought a variety of equipment with me, as I was unsure what would need to be recorded. This included the Zoom H4N recorder, Rode NTG-2 mic with shotgun grip and a boom handle.


I tested the NTG2 with some mono spot recordings and discovered there was way too much noise to be effective, so instead oped to record in stereo with the Zoom X/Y mics at 120°. As the kit I was using did not include a wind filter, my first efforts were completely unusable, and I had to run back to campus and swap recorders.

We tried a few shots of different trees and grass etc. so the director could get the footage he was after. These looked great on camera; in my headphones was a different story. Yet more traffic noise.


One of the last shots was of an industrial excavator in action. This was slightly more interesting and I managed to get some good sounds of the machinery… with a whole bunch of traffic noise.


After they finished shooting, I realised what I had recorded wasn’t necessarily all that useful in its current state, so I volunteered to take the clips home and try to edit them into something usable. I wasn’t sure where to even start – aside from removing obvious background talking and artifacts – so, I check in the Matt Bangerter for some advice – he suggested some basic EQ so it’s not so washy and not to bother compressing. I plan to do this over the weekend and deliver the files for the director via my website.



AUS220 Post Production – Week 3

This week in post production we looked at bringing together the different team’s assets into a single file, so we can start to look at mixing our replacement sound for ‘The Terminator”.

I volunteered to do the score as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

I found an interview with Brad Fiedel, who composed the original score. In this, he mentioned that a lot of the hardware synths he used were pre-MIDI, so there was a lot of CV fun and syncing by hand.

I opted for a simple sound-alike replacement because the original soundtrack is so iconic and relies heavily on fairly analogue synths and sounds, which I enjoy playing with immensely. Because of this, I chose to record the parts live rather than sequencing, but recorded the MIDI at the same time as a fail-safe.

That is a Prophet 10 synth used in the iconic ‘Terminator’ soundtrack.

I was contemplating using Reason 7 for a lot of the sounds, but remembered the nightmare I had the last time I tried to use Reason and ProTools together using REWIRE. They technically do work, but there is an incompatibility issue when trying to use Reason 7 -64bit with Pro Tools  x86, which requires installation of the x86 version of Reason, which wouldn’t be an issue if I have more than 2gb left on my 128gb SSD main system drive.

Instead, I opted to record both audio and MIDI directly into Pro Tools using my Novation X-Station synth/controller.

The score was relatively simple:

  • a low synth drone when the Terminator appears on screen;
  • dark, brooding taiko drums (the famous ‘dundund dun du dun’);
  • another short synth pulse when a car crashes through the police station
  • faster and more intense taiko after the crash while The Terminator gets locked and loaded
  • synth horn pulse in unison with the taiko

The drone and the synth pulse were recorded with custom patches from the X-Station. I think I started with a basic 303 kind of sound and played around till I got it sounding right. I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing and it seems to have produced a decent result. The X-Station is great for modern synth sounds but doesn’t really have much by the way of percussive sounds.


Novation X-Station. I like it because all the buttons and knobs do stuff.


For the taiko, I ended up creating an instrument track and loading up a VST called Nexus by reFX; which is a Rompler soft synth with some amazing sounds.

I managed to find a patch called “Terminator 90bpm” which was a drum loop, but somehow amazingly had the exact kind of drum sound I was looking for. 😉

Because this was a loop and you can’t edit the ROM sample, I had to pay attention to the performance and get the velocity and length of the taiko hits just right while paying attention to the rhythm.

The patch was fairly velocity responsive and quite dynamic, so I couldn’t press too hard. Also the loop start triggering the 90bpm pattern if it was too legato, so that was a lot of fun to perform and took a couple of takes no not get double hits/start rushing/get too loud etc.

The synth horn was also a Nexus patch with some basic filter and amp modifier tweaking.



The music was imported into the master Pro Tools session without incident, which was also great!

Gratuitous stock SAE action shot

Gratuitous stock SAE action shot

At the end of the session, we normalized the imported audio and had a look at loudness metering. We set dialogue to around -20dB and foley/atmos/sfx to -30dB


AUS220 Studio 2 – Week 2

ADR, Foley and SFX, Oh my!

This week we take a look replacing sound for a clip from ‘The Terminator’, using the Avid D-Command


Before we could start with anything, we had a spotting session to identify the elements that needed attention, such as deciding what sounds the characters were making and also atmospheric effects

The first thing we looked at was ADR – Automated Dialogue Replacement. This is a bit of a misnomer, as there is absolutely nothing Automated about it. It actually means going in and manually re-recording and replacing production dialogue in the studio.

That said, as with holding a stick, ADR is more difficult than it seems and relies heavily on a good performance, although there are a lot of tools, such as Elastic Audio,  available in Pro Tools to help with dialogue editing and sync.

Next we recorded some Foley – these are sounds based on character actions, such as footsteps or clothes rustling, as opposed to SFX, which usually involve explosions etc. We had to record footsteps for two different characters: The off-duty psychiatrist and The Terminator – these characters are quite contrasting so their foley had to reflect that. We recorded footsteps for the shrink using soft shoes on a piece of MDF which was muted using the rug in the studio – this character was walking indoors on what appeared to be linoleum. IMG_2162.JPG

For The Terminator, I was chosen to perform the footsteps as I was wearing the heaviest shoes. We moved the MDF up on to the raised area with the couches so the floor created a deeper sound. This was recorded with an Electrovoice RE20 for a duller sound than the C414 and pencil condensers we tried. This was more challenging than I anticipated as I had to really think about the performance and try to get my footsteps as ‘robotic’ as possible, whilst trying to focus on synchronizing with the action on screen.


Next, we had to record the sound of the Terminator in the carpark. We ended up blending different recordings of stepping in sand, along with stepping on gravel which was muted with a heavy jacket.

IMG_2169.JPGWe spent well over an hour discussing and recording these elements, only to realise that the music fades in at that point, so our masterpiece of sound design would barely be heard.


This class was a lot of fun and definitely something I want to do more of in the future. For next week’s class, my job is to recreate the music for the scene, which will then be mixed with the other assets, currently being recorded by the rest of the group.


AUS220 Studio 2 – Week 1

Hello World!

This week it’s full steam ahead as we take a look at what’s coming up for AUS220: Studio 2.

Studio Production.

In weeks 7-9 we will be working in the Neve studio for the first time. Our task is to take a demo recorded by Trinski and flesh it out into a full production. I grabbed a copy of the demo and imported it into ProTools for some basic editing. I did a simple mix, adding EQ, compression and some reverb to start getting some ideas of how to produce it. I added some markers and noticed that the arrangement is somewhat peculiar and unconventional, with multiple half-choruses and instrumental sections. These will be dealt with later. For now, I have been musing on some ideas for reference tracks and instrumentation:


Reference tracks:


  • Vocals
  • Acoustic Guitar
  • Drums (brush kit)
  • Bass
  • Hammond B3
  • Banjo

Instrumental section options:

  • Horns
  • Flute
  • Strings
  • Banjo
  • Whistle


Post Production

This week we took at location recording (aka: holding a stick is harder than you’d think!). We started with a basic camera and interview setup, which became more complex with every iteration until we were running a boom with full blimp setup, with a Rode NTG-2 and Senheiser lapel mics into a Zoom H4n using the preamps from a Sound Devices 302 field mixer.

The group took turns at the various roles (recordist, boom operator, etc) and we re-set in the Neve recording room for a sitcom/drama setup which involved recording actors moving around a sound stage. This was a lot of fun, although the boom is frustrating and uncomfortable to operate. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more location recording and post production in the future!