Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve been very busy with some new projects, one of which was the audio post-production on a state wide TV broadcast production that aired on christmas day.

The other however, was this:

http://www.justinkownacki.com/2010/09/27/10-tips-for-funding-a-successful-kickstarter-project/

I worked on many of the sound effects and much of the music for this game, and would very much like to see it come alive! And if it does, I will do a massive write up a lot of the stuff I did for anyone interested in some amateur game audio. So please back this!

The game has a really great story, a rough draft of which can be read here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/10sCTgO3bw99erYG3oBvSoEBmKed4cCxIqvsmgeM8Sx0/edit

And all my submissions for the game can be heard here:

http://www.detour-games.com/RAWdio/RAWdioSubmissions.html

(I’m Alec Shea)

It would mean a lot to me and the awesome dudes from Detour Games if we could get this funded, please help!

And I promise I will do an awesome tutorial if it does!

This post is going to be a tutorial on doing mashups using logic pro and some of the tools it has, mainly Flex Time and the ESX24 Sampler. The first thing I want to talk about is house keeping. When you’re doing a mashup, you need every sample or loop to have its own track, sometimes you can make exceptions for loops or samples from the same song, or similar songs, but if you have the power in your computer, I still recommend you put them on different tracks. The reason for this is quite simple, every song is mixed differently, so when doing a mashup of all these different songs, you’re going to have to mix them all differently to get them to work. As well as change their tempo, and their pitch and numerous other things.

As you can see here I’ve put all my samples/loops on different tracks, and some of them have drastically different settings. Now, collecting samples/loops themselves. Some producers will disagree with my here, but I personally find the best way is to just cut the sample in the arrange window, then test it by looping in the sample editor. This picture below shows the cut file selected, causing it to show up in the sample editor, then by clicking the button with the 2 arrows following each other, then clicking the speaker button next to it, you can hear the loop played in loop. Then its just a matter of some careful listening to get your selection perfect.

Next up is speed and beat editing so that you can get your mashup to sound like everything is at the same speed with beats that sync up perfectly. Logic makes this process very simple with its Flex Time tool. Once you have your loop cut, select the tempo you want your mashup to be at, select the sample you want to move into that tempo, and drag the end into the amount of bars the sample goes for. In this case below, its 4.

 

 

 

 

Now once the tempo syncing is done, sometimes you’ll find that beats aren’t always perfectly on the beat, so you have to move the beat a little, to do this just select a spot in the loop so that these locators come up, then drag the locators left or right to sync the beat.

 

Now the final technique for getting the mashup to work is by making sure all your loops and samples are in the same key, this is done pretty easily using the pitch shifter, its just move it up or down as much as you need (it takes some practice finding the right keys but once you get the hang of it it’s easy)

 

 

Another technique I like to use in mashups or any kind of modern music production is the stutter, this is also just a simple matter of clipping sections out of an audio file in tempo.

 

 

There’s one last technique I use in my mashups, this technique is creating a custom sampler instrument in the ESX24 sampler. What I’ve done here is cut each beat out of a synth riff, saved them as a series of audio files, then imported them into the ESX24 (this is done by opening the synth, clicking edit and dragging in the files.)  Then I assigned each of the samples to a note on the keyboard (seen at the bottom of the picture) so that if I played each note in order it would play the riff. This allows you to play the notes in random order and completely reinvent the riff.

To listen to my mashup and hear some of these techniques you find it on soundcloud here.

For my first assignment for digital audio programming at uni we have to do some sort of electronic version of Eleanor Rigby, so as to be expected I decided to go dubstep. The project  is still in the works but it will be up on sound cloud soon enough, however I’d like to mention as a logic user how effect it was using a sampled kit and mixing/adding effects rather than using ultrabeat, don’t get me wrong, ultrabeat has some great kit sounds, but a recorded kit is just so much fatter. If you want a big sound, you need big samples. I’d like to personally recommend http://changostudios.com/samples.html this kit sounds absolutely awesome. Changestudios is responsible for the production of my favourite band, Sleeping with Sirens http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poZLiypLJzQ but these samples when edited right will create just bout any huge sounding drum kit you like.

I’d also like to share this tutorial video, and this guys channel in general, I’ve spent a lot of time searching for good dubstep tutorials, and this guy is one of the best I’ve found.

I know you’re not supposed to master your own tracks but we were working on a budget, so instead I just too a 2 week break from doing anything and came back to master with fresh ears. I purchased a copy of Ozone 5 just for the occasion and I must say, it was DEFINITELY worth it, and as I use it more and become more familiar with it I will try put up a basic tutorial for it at some stage.

As for the EP

First was the linear EQ, as you can see I rolled off the bass a little, and gave some broad presence at 2k, this really helped bring the track out and really make some impression on you.

Next was the harmonic exciter, now these things are tempting to just push up and up and up cause they sound so cool and exciting (lol wonder why) but don’t over do it, you can ruin the effect of the song and the rest of your mix work. As you can see I’ve tried to keep mine relatively minimal with a bit more in the mid and highs were its most effective.

I didn’t do too much with the dynamics and compression apart from the mids, but this was a light deep compressor to bring out some of the clarity and harmonics a little more.

Next is the most noticeable part of mastering, the loudness maximising, I wanted a really full track, but I didn’t want it to just blare in your face so I went for a quite smooth heavy maximiser, and some MBIT+ dither to spread the noise evenly.

I did quite a bit of experimenting with the stereo spread and converting in and out of mono, switching phase, ect, to make sure any spreading I did didn’t cause and phase cancelling, I found some really awesome settings, but many of them didn’t work at all in mono which meant they were best to avoid, or at least tweak, in the end these are the settings I went with.

finally the post EQ, all this work had given really great spread, clarified highs but the bass became a little over powering, so I pulled that down a little and gave a tiny bit more low mids and tiny bit less high mids.

So that was my process for mastering ‘Fairly Natural’ the first serious release by my good friend and the very talented Sam Luff, please check him out and comment on my recording, mixing and mastering with your ideas, advice, questions and opinions as I’d love to hear them.

This is a great article on the history of reverb and echo, definitely worth a read if you get a chance.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/06/how-humans-conquered-echo/258557/#.T-U6heVIq0k.facebook

The Mix was an intense process. Without many instruments we had to create a full sound. With the help of Logic 9, I think it went pretty well.

All songs were recorded in the one session and each instrument had the same track for each song, so these settings were applied to all songs, then split off and minor tweaks were made (most of which probably won’t be mentioned because they’re not really very interesting.) Sam wanted his EP sound to be really consistent so we decided doing it like this would be a fun, challenging and interesting approach.

I started mixing the first song, which was probably the thinnest of the lot with nothing but guitars and vox. It’s quite an intense and raw song and I wanted the EP to start strong. I started with the guitars and did the usual pan each mic to either side, high pass and low pass EQ to keep out sounds not in the frequency range, some low mid cuts and a slight high mid boost to eliminate any masking, compressor and a noise gate. This got it sounding pretty good, but after mixing everything else the guitar just seemed to not… sit right, it was just a little overpowering in the high mids, so I decided to do something I tried in a different mix. I put a stereo spreader on both guitar mic tracks and spread the upper mids a little, order 11 for one and 12 for the other so the same frequencies weren’t being spread on either side. Being already panned to one side, this pushed some of those frequencies just a little closer to the middle, widening it at the loss of some of its power, perfect!

 

On the left we have the left guitar mic and its plugins, on the right, the right!

 

The vocals were a lot more simple, just a matter of EQ, compression, noise gate, and a tinyyyyyyy little bit of delay.

 

Now the lead guitar was interesting, for the electric lead solos we had 2 mics, one dead on and one to the side, so I panned them to show this. This sat the guitar slightly to one side but still gave a nice full sound, almost like if a band were playing and the guitarist had come up to do a solo and was standing just to the right of the singer.

Here you can see the centered mic on the left and the panned right mic on the right, as well as the EQ, compression, noise gate and delay decisions I made.

Next was the acoustic guitar solos, there wasn’t really anything special done here, it was recorded with a single mic so I opted against any crazy stereo imaging, quite a decent amount of EQ and delay, and more compression than I normally try to use, then a good ol noise gate.

 

The only other major instrument recorded was the double bass, once again a pretty simple process, decided to go for some more creative EQ to try and keep the clarity of the double bass whilst removing resonances and fixing some masking problems.

 

There were some other instruments used, including an egg shaker, a MIDI glockenspiel, a MIDI kick drum and some whistling, but I opted against doing those ones as they were very simple processes, but if anyone is interested let me know and I’ll show you how I did them, or help as best I can with mixing those instruments.

The final part of the mix was the reverb, this was done by setting up an auxiliary channel strip and putting the space designer reverb on it, then bussing all tracks to it. I don’t know very much about designing reverbs, in reality or in plugins, but I found the preset my ears agreed with most was the small booth reverb. It just sounded right and fitted the style perfectly.

I also used a concert hall reverb on the vocal echoes in the first song, ‘Heaven’.

If anyone has any advice for my mixing process for future mixes, please don’t hesitate to send it my way!

Also, please look up Sam Luff on facebook! or soon iTunes! He will be extremely grateful and is very much worth your time!

A friend of mine organised to record the bass exam of another friend, he had some really awesome originals, a jazzy pirates of the Caribbeany thing, a very Dream Theater like one and some others, all awesome songs.

Anyway the mix:

Most of it was just tweaking EQs and gains to get levels right and keep from masking, but I experimented a bit with stereo imaging using a stereo spreader with the keys, guitar and sax (keys center with a massive spread, guitar and sax with smaller ones but panned to the left and right a little) this gave an incredible stereo image. The keys sat really wide throughout the mix and the sax and guitar sat in areas slightly left and right of center. I highly recommend experimenting with spreading to give a sound a wider sense of space in its position, especially when you don’t have many instruments.