AUS230 – week 12 – The Odd Sock

 
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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.

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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.

CIU111 Week 3 – Your income & your art.

Gettin’ paid:

This week we took a look at the different kinds of income streams for the self-directed practitioner. What I took away most from this class has been a common theme throughout this stage of the course: to not limit oneself to preconceived, fixed ideas, and to keep yourself open to as many different opportunities as possible. You never know where things may lead.

The same thing can be said for how you get paid as a self-directed practitioner. A diverse skill set is vital, because creative project work traditionally does not pay regularly, and at times it is necessary to have supplementary income streams coming from as many sources as possible. This also means diversifying your skill set and learning supplementary skills which have seemingly nothing to do with your chosen technical or creative area.

Skills such as public speaking are important in a number of areas which can potentially translate to greater income. Confidence when speaking in front of people is essential when delivering pitches, doing any presentations, communicating in group project environments, or begging people for money applying for government grants or crowdfunding.

One of the single most important aspects of developing a diverse income stream and ongoing work is via networking. Creative jobs are rarely advertised via traditional mediums (seek.com, newspapers, employment agencies etc) and almost always rely on word of mouth. It’s not necessarily what you know, rather than who you know. It is important to maintain a high personal and professional standard in different industry as well as social environments. It is also important to try to be someone who is easy to get along with as you’ll generally be known by your reputation long before anyone will have an opportunity to sit down and read your resume or CV. Even if you have a lot of experience and a stellar CV, nobody is going to want to work with you if you’re a difficult person.

 

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-49-273700

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.

nexus_big

 

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

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EMP Week 4: Remixing

his week, we took a look at remixing – essential taking a track or recording of a certain style and transforming it to fit another. It is a staple of modern electronic music but has the potential to be done quite poorly, with little care and attention. This usually involves dropping a 4/4 beat loop over an already successful song in an attempt to capitalise on a modern genre trend (see: nearly every shitty track incorporating the word ‘remix’ or ‘VS’ in its title from the mid 90’s onwards; basically, every Nick Skitz album). This is sometimes seen as a threat by original artists, as a producer trying to capitalise on their success while contributing very little creativity of their own and is often perceived as plagiarism.

One of my favourite examples of remixing done well is actually a remix of a remix. In this track, Melbourne artist Terrafractyl applies his epic production skills to a reworking of the Propellorheads’ remix of Shirley Bassey’s original ‘History Repeating’.

http://terrafractyl.bandcamp.com/track/history-repeatin

He uses a pulsing psytrance bassline with overdriven Hammond organ and live electro-jazz piano riffs along with lo-fi sampling of the original horn lines with Shirley Bassey’s original vocal part to great effect.

Another favourite is the remix of the ABC News Australia theme by Perth DnB artists Pendulum. Here they have added a driving bass part with some rock drums and sidechained to the original ABC orchestra recording.

 

 

Here is another great example of a Queen remix from NZ artist and Ableton guru Tom Cosm:

 

For this weeks class exercise, I had a lot of fun with the Queen stems provided in class and decided to go with a breaks-funk kind of thing:

EMP Week 3: FM and Granular Synthesis

If anyone listening to any ballad or TV show theme between 1985 and 1998 said “That’s sounds so cheesy!” they were in no doubt referring to sounds made by the Yamaha DX7.

The DX7 was a ubiquitous powerhouse in the 80’s and styled a lot of our ideas about what synths ‘should’ sound like, to the point of homogenisation. This has been repeated in recent times with people using the same software (FL/Reason/Cubase/Ableton) and sample packs (Vengeance) with all-in-one mastering (Oxygen).

FM Synthesis very quickly falls into a pit of ‘sounding like an FM synth’ due to the relative simplicity of its oscillator waveforms – Sine, Square, Saw or Triangle and has a mathematically limited pallet to draw from. Granular synthesis seems to avoid this as it uses snippets of infinitely more complex waveforms as its base points.

I have had incredible success incorporating Granular synthesis into live performance, as it seems to give much allow much greater expression and exploration of the patch, especially when incorporated with MIDI elements such as velocity, aftertouch and breath controls. Almost all of my lead patches which I have created in Reason are using the Malstrom synthesizer.

https://soundcloud.com/flect/flect-psytrazz-live-jam#t=4m1s

 

I look forward to exploring and incorporating more graintable synth into ambient and soundscape tracks for film in the future.

For the class exercises, I tried to keep things simple by emulate existing sounds and came up with a Glockenspiel/Bell sound created using a sinewave oscillator with fast attack and a lot of sustain/release. I also made a Carnival Organ sound using 4 oscillators with some course and fine detuning and a longer attack with a quick release.

EMP Week 2: Sampling

This lesson we looked at the history and basics of sampling and its latest machination: warping.

Sampling has always intrigued me but for a very long time was somewhat elusive due to the lack of hardware ($$$!) or processing power it used to require.

When the power of my desktop PC was finally caught up to the hideously expensive hardware and was finally able to playback more than one track/VST without crashing, I did go through a bit of a “That’s AWESOME!! I should totally sample that and put it in a track”-phase, with interesting results.

Sample meme

For the class exercises, I had some trouble importing and working with the samples I wanted to use due to their relative complexity. It seemed that the Warp Marker algorithm was on another planet trying to find appropriate transients to latch on to. In fairness, I did give it some relatively complex Acid Jazz which was in the compound time signature of 6/8. After an hour or so of *almost* getting it to work the way I wanted, I quickly realised that I would have to repeat the same arduous process every time I wanted to add another layer so I abandoned the Acid Jazz for more suitable EDM/EMP based 4/4 loops.

One of my first introductions to Acid Jazz was artists US3, who released a track called Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia) in 1993. This track is almost entirely sampled from old Jazz records, predominantly from the Blue Note label. The rhythm and melody loops are sampled from Herbie Hancock’s ‘Cantalope Island’ and features hits from Lou Donaldson’s “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On). The rest of the song uses a hip-hop vocalist and a trumpet solo was recorded over the top.

 

For the class exercise, I sampled the pad breakdown from ‘Shatter the Sky” by Melbourne artist Blinky.

This was warped to fit a 4 bar loop over some sequenced drum rhythms. A bass line was added and automation was recorded to give it some movement (slight LFO on the filter).  I then recorded a synth melody over the top which ended up as a 16 bar loop.