Lots more work this week! The Streisand show is taking up a lot of time, but it’s a lot of fun! There’s also a few movies that I’m currently working on as well as a few live events, like the US Gymnastics show! It’s really cool to be able to work on such a variety of shows and events, it really keeps me on my toes wondering what is coming in everyday and what I’ll get to do! Also, got to help out a bit scanning scores for Back to the Future Live. These live shows are really interesting to get to know behind the scenes, especially how the printed music has to show and relate to what is going on on screen. The conductor gets a lot of notes in his book and streamers to make sure the picture is lined up just right to the music! I haven’t gotten to see any shows so far, but I definitely need to go to the Hollywood Bowl soon, because it looks amazing and it’s even cooler that I get to work on some of the shows that play there!
And thus starts my third week at JoAnn Kane Music Service, and it still is going strong! Also, a resident bird has seemed to take up residence above the entrance to our office. And laid a nest. And is attacking anyone who comes in and out of the office. Definitely scary, but thankfully so far I haven’t gotten attacked yet! But, on the bright side, we have huge windows outside our office where we can watch people get surprised and attacked by the bird, so, it’s not so bad. We put up a sign outside to warn people of Horace, the scary bird. And I thought I only had to worry about the black widows.
After the relaxing, as well as exhausting, scanning project, there were a lot of new projects that came in this week, from movies, to live orchestras, to shows at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a long end of the week, but was exciting to work on some big projects nonetheless. And that means the weekend of volunteering, petting cats, and sleeping would feel even better. I wake up so much earlier than my roommates and definitely feel it (four cats are also a force that keeps you awake a lot as well...especially when they meow at your door). LA is quite the late starting city, but that means that we have to start even earlier to make sure everything is prepared for those late morning recording sessions!
Slowly but surely, I’m getting to work on more and more stuff. Er...I guess pretty quickly, but the work days are so long, that it feels slowly to me! I’ve also got a lot of stuff lined up I want to do while I’m in LA this time around, and thankfully the train keeps me moving! Even back to Santa Monica, where it recently opened. I’m now into my second week at my new internship and have pretty much remembered everything I had learned last year, and am now moving onto some bigger stuff.
This week I was able to return to a place I had previously done an internship at--JoAnn Kane Music Service. It was awesome to get to see everyone again and reconnect with all my friends. A lot of people had no idea I was coming back, which made for some hilarious interactions from some very surprised people. The office was in a new location too, so it was something to get used to. The library had moved all the way over to another part of the city, and this new office was a bit smaller, but cozy. It was still only a few buildings down the same street from the year before, which made it still very easy to find and thankfully still close enough for me to walk to.
This week we were tasked with learning and putting into practice both elastic audio in Protools as well as how to use the plug-in, Slate Trigger. First, I will go through both of these things, explain how they work, and a few tips for someone just getting started.
Steven Slate's Trigger plug-in is, in essence, a drum replacer and reinforcing tool. We used it to replace both the kick and snare sounds on our tracks to make them sound a lot better, and Trigger is a very easy way to do that. To find a sound you want, load up the plug-in, and go to the browser and choose which sound you would like to use to replace the old one. Once you drag it down to the open section at the bottom, you're ready to start replacing. The triggering menu is where you'll do the rest of the work. The detail knob is very important in that it adjusts the level at which you want Trigger to trigger it's hit. The detail knob acts as a threshold, and if you move it, you can see the lines move towards or away from the middle. You want every single hit you want triggered to be above the top line. The key is to keep it low enough that the soft hits register, but that anything else that is heard in the track does not trigger it. The Mix knob then helps you by being able to blend the two sounds together. You can fully replace your old drums, or find a nix mix of both to help reinforce those you already have. Also, a helpful tip, the first time you load the plug-in, you need to make sure you route base directory under 'Settings' to your sample folder to make sure you have the samples. Also, there is a built in gate! This controls the input signal, not the output. You can see the signal you cut out by looking at the darker wavelengths on the viewer now. You can also flip the phase, pan, and tune the tracks.
Elastic Audio is a really fun and useful tool for anyone. For instance, we used Elastic Audio to help mend a drumset track a bit so all the hits were correct and on the beat. We did this with both the bass and snare hits. There are four plug-in modes to elastic audio -- Polyphonic (multiple pitches), Rhythmic (a rhythmic part, like any drums or instruments with a beat but not pitches), Monophonic (mainly one pitch), and Varispeed (random speeds). You need to make sure you choose the right one for the right situation. Then, you want to change your track view from 'waveform' to 'warp.' Then, to edit and move around the waveform, you can drag your mouse over one of the lines that form over the track. You can see arrows appear over the mouse head. Also, if you press 'Shift' while clicking, you change only one line in reference to the two surrounding it. You can remove or add single markers by right clicking on the track and selecting to remove a line or add one. If you right-click on the track, you can select 'Elastic Properties' where a window will pop up and from there you can change many properties, including the tempo (to change loop timing) and the Event Sensitivity is very important in that if you change the percentage, it recognizes more or fewer events along the audio. You also have pitch and input gain you can change. One really cool tip is that you can access your Event Operations and actually quantize all of your event markers to fit a certain tempo or note length, like MIDI quantization but with audio regions. This can also be used to stretch or compress your audio, where you can use it for timing reasons, or you can use it for sound effects and to make the audio sound distorted, or for sound engineering. ]
At the end of all your warping, you can render your audio so your computer can be freed up to process other things. You just need to select 'Rendered Processing' and it creates a new file that is saved to your audio folder. Also, when you disable your elastic audio, and a window pops up where you would press 'Commit' to process your audio.
Once we were all done with elastic audio and trigger, I mixed the song and here is the final product!
For my project this week, I was tasked with doing a microphone shootout through one of the preamps in Studio E. My client was Anthony Miozzi, who offered to sing for my session and help me test out all of the microphones to figure out which one was best.
First, I got around to finding and researching a few articles about recording vocals. I decided to go with one article that was a bit older but more comprehensive, and then an article about what NOT to do when recording vocals.
The first article was found here:
The first issue they went through was location; thankfully, the location is already there for us in Studio E. The next was the choice of microphone; I actually had to look up the capacitor microphone. I didn’t realize it was the same as a condenser, but wanted to make sure. One thing I hadn’t known before was to playback the performance for the singer and flip the polarity of the vocal track to see if one phase is easier to sing to than the other.
The second article was found here:
This article even recommended doing a shootout, since mic quality can change based on day as well as the performer. Also, for singers that move around a lot, a gentle reminder of some gaffer’s tape on the ground is a good method to have them always stay the same distance from the mic.
I implemented a few bits of advice into this session. The first I found really worked was the tape on the ground. It was a really simple way of making sure everything stayed in place, especially with me having to switch out a lot of microphones. As well, I made sure to always have the pop filter on each microphone.
Here’s my four microphones of choice!
Next, I’ll go through each mic and describe the sounds and characteristics of each that I learned from this session.
The Blue Kiwi was first to be recorded. The overall sound really cut through the rest of the recordings really well, although it makes the sound more harsh. It naturally sounds louder than the others as well as feeling more ‘excited’ sounding, having more mid range. The Kiwi was different from the rest in that it captured harsh noises that sounded almost ‘growly,’ somewhat more of the natural singing voice.
The Neumann M147 was second, and sounded very similar to the Kiwi in that it was loud as well as harsh in the sounds it captured. It also exhibited the excited qualities of the Kiwi explained above. Overall, this mic sounded a lot like the Kiwi except it was a bit more refined and didn’t quite capture all the mid range.
The AEA R84 added a bit of variety to the mix. The ribbon microphone sounded the smoothest of them all, but was naturally very quiet. The sound never got to the same level as the others, even with the preamp all the way up. It also sounds like the highs got cut off more than the other microphones.
The Shure SM57 always surprises me in some way. This microphone as well was very soft (as soft as the R84), as can be expected from dynamic microphones as it was made to be durable and able to handle loud noises. It was also a bit duller than the rest, but it was actually the cleanest sound of the bunch. It wasn’t harsh, and was very well rounded.
Now, I will rank them!
1. Blue Kiwi - The Blue Kiwi to me had the most character. It was a bit harsh, but I really liked being about to hear that part of the voice as well as the growly quality.
2. AEA R84 - I really liked the smooth quality to the voice that the R84 gave us. Especially with the song of choice, this microphone worked really well, but the reduced highs kept it from first place.
3. Shure SM57 - the Shure gets the number three spot because of how clean it was. It didn’t feel like it had many special things about it compared to the others, but the cleanliness of the vocals sounded very nice.
4. Neumann M147 - The Neumann was not a bad mic at all; I just felt like it was too similar to the Blue Kiwi, but did not present us with much else to differentiate itself. The Kiwi was a bit harsher, and while some might now like that, I feel like it gives the Kiwi a boost above the rest just because it gave something new to the sound the Neumann did not.
Just finished up getting certified in Dante, level one. It was great to learn about this system, which I had never known about until now.
What I was really impressed with was how user-friendly Dante is and how automatic it makes setup. Especially how Dante names things in a way you can understand (human-readable names) as well as being able to assign all devices with automatic IP addresses that make the whole system work. The system seems very easy to start using and Connect especially looks very clean and easy to use. The one-click channel routing is a huge plus. Another thing I never really thought about was how to route your devices, and that daisy-chaining wasn't the way to go for digital systems. The star method of putting devices together makes a lot of sense.
However, one thing that it can't do that I would maybe see a lot of use for is not being able to use SMPTE time code. This system is really nice and easy to use, and would be great if you could use it for purposes more aligned with the film industry, but that might take getting the SMPTE to work. You also cannot use WiFi to transmit audio, and all channels have to the be the same sample rate because Dante cannot translate different time codes.
Other than these few things, though, Dante seems like a great way to get connections up and running really quick and fast, and painlessly as well. Everything makes a lot of sense and looks very clean!
This last tracking and mixing project was a lot of fun. We recorded the band singing the Eminem song "Lose Yourself." We tracked three players, the drummer, guitarist, and vocalist. We ended up recording a lead guitar part as well. For our sound recorded in the hallway we decided to have three people stand in the hallway and all sing the chorus at the same time. This created a really cool effect, ending up blending together all the different voices but also keeping them different enough that you could tell it was a lot of people. Put that in the background of the lead vocal for the chorus and you get a really neat effect. The cool mic we used on the drum kit was the PZM for the bottom mic. It ended up sounding really interesting but also a bit too inclusive of all the other instruments. There wasn't quite a way to solo in on the snare drum but it was a nice experimental mic. The recording in whole went very well, the musicians were fun a pleasure to record, and ended up giving us a great recording to mix from.
This song was a lot of fun to mix, as well. The recordings we got were very nice to begin with so touching them up to sound good took a while but was not hard at all. We decided in tracking to have the guitar player double up on the chorus but not on the rest of the song. I also decided to put my surprise distortion on the doubled vocal part during the second chorus. It ended up sounding really different but cool!
After I got all the basics of the mix done I experimented a bit. The mix sounded a bit thin without any bass part as well as the song was very repetitive so I needed to spice it up a bit to keep the attention. In the beginning of the song I added an EQ sweep on the guitar track since it was so repetitive. Also, during the verses, I alternated between the regular drum set sound an an alternate drum set that was run through distortion to give it some variety. Lastly, I doubled some of the guitar parts (both regular and lead) and pitch bended them either an octave up or down to give the mix a little more oomph and thickness to it, especially since we lacked a good bass instrument. All of these little experiments ended up really well and helped keep up the energy of the song as well as give it a few little 'shimmers' to make the song unique.
For my Music Festival mix I decided on some of my favorite bands to feature: the elusive boy bands of the 90's. Who wasn't transfixed by the sounds of the Backstreet Boys and N*sync when those beautiful albums came out? Even better was that occasionally these boy bands would put out covers of holiday songs. This is the premise for my festival -- holiday boy band songs. The actual mix went very well and smoothly. The music I picked was easy to put in the background and duck underneath the vocals. The sound effects were really fun to find and ended up fitting in perfectly. The only thing I wish I could have improved upon was my vocal recording. The actual recording itself sounded alright and EQ and compression helped a bunch but it still sounded a little nasaly. The effects and reverb helped this a lot, though. I tried to put on an effect that made my voice sound like it was over a radio station. Overall a really fun mix.
Here is my script:
Voice: Have you ever wondered what it would be like for Justin Timberlake to sing you sweet, sweet Christmas carols? Well then look no further! Welcome to Boy Bands of Christmas Past!
*stadium applause and screams*
Voice: The music festival that combines your love of boy bands and the holidays in one amazing, 3 week experience! The stage will be set in beautiful Tucson, Arizona. But when will it start?...
*12 O'clock Midnight -- Spongebob Sample*
Voice: Did ya hear that? Starting midnight on December 4th, 2016 you’ll get to hear the ovary-busting sounds of the Backstreet Boys
*Backstreet song plays*
*Nsync song plays*
Voice: and New Kids on the Block!
*NKOTB song plays*
Voice: Too excited to handle the Boy Bands of Christmas Past?
Voice: Well that’s alright, because you can buy tickets at all participating Ticketmaster locations as soon as September 4th 2016! Get in quick, because tickets start at as low as $30 for this show.Bring your sleigh bells and 90’s paraphernalia, because this is gonna be one awesome show!
Voice: Boy Bands of Christmas Past!