Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Recording the Beatles

mixonline reports about a panel discussion which took place in the States the other day in which the authors of the book Recording the Beatles discussed their research for their book. They were joined by an engineer from Abbey Road who worked with the beatles and George Martin.
"While a great many entertaining stories were told, there were also solid audio engineering tips for the audience to apply to their own work. Most practical was when Ryan played back audio examples of the before-and-after of George Martin’s famed half-speed recording techniques on songs such as “In My Life” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” He observed that although this process is still available to engineer/producers today, it remains underused, serving as a solid reminder that we can still channel the recording wisdom of The Beatles as we work within our DAWs."
There is a video available of the session.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Gleetchlab is
"a stand-alone software for glitch music authoring and sound design. Gleetchlab is a modular software designed for realtime sound manipulation.
Features include convolution, granular, neural and attractors synthesis, spectral filtering, loop points manipulation, CD skip and wow & flutter simulation, vst plugins hosting, webcam controllers."

I've not had chance to download and play yet, but the features sound interesting and its free!
Might be a useful starting point for anyone interested in starting with MaxMSP to see what kinds of things can be done.

FMOD on iphone

FMOD, a toolkit for the development and creation of interactive audio is now available on the iPhone.
Company quote:
"We’re proud to bring FMOD to this exciting platform. FMOD is a natural fit for the iPhone with its support for sequenced music formats such as mod and midi, compressed samples and small code size. Users can keep it small, or scale right up to take full advantage of the microphone, 3D audio and suite of DSP effects that FMOD natively supports. Being conscious of the budget nature of iPhone development we are also releasing the API at a special iPhone price of $500 per title. This includes the use of FMOD Designer. By combining the power of the iPhone and FMOD we hope to see some really creative programs and hear some great sounding games."

Could be an interesting area for student projects...

Monday, 8 December 2008

Game Audio Explosion

I've just been reading an article posted here which is primarily aimed at game audio, but sould also be useful to people working on sound for film.
Key points:
- It is important that your audio team all understand what their role within the project is and that they all know what is expected of them. This will allow them to focus their efforts more effectively and produce higher quality work. It is fine for poeple to help out with other roles/jobs but ultimately it must be one persons role to oversee each area.
- The planning stage is extremely important. In your planning, think about the characters and locations and the style/type of sounds that would be generated/created by each.
- You can use emotional responses to certain sounds to help people to "understand" the emotional content of a scene quicker and more easily.
- It is very important to consider the frequency response of the sounds that are being created and how these will work when large numbers of sounds are combined. You don't want sounds fighting for the same space within a mix.

The article also contains a few brief tips for creating effective explosion sounds.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Rob Nokes - Sound Seminar

Rob Nokes, a sound recordist and supervising sound editor gives a seminar on sound for film.
He answers the following questions:
What is the job of a sound editor?
In your job what audio is expected of you to deliver?
What happens if you steal sounds?
How do you prove copyright?
In your job what audio is expected of you to deliver?
What bit depth do you record at?
Detail the sound equipment you actually use.
How did you make monster sounds sound real?
What makes a good sound?
Why is it best to record clean?
Is it better to have actors do adr?
Is there another way to avoid adr?
What is 'smoothing' or EQ?
Do you process while you record?
Is it better to have actors do adr?
Is there another way to avoid adr?
What is 'smoothing' or EQ?
Do you process while you record?
What is a series?
How best to record gunshots?
How do you make a sound bigger?
How close to the sound or actor do you record?
Do you change your levels while recording?
How best do you cut background sounds in?
What mic technique would you use to record a room?
How can you control loud sounds?
What is your underwater technique?
How did you create your favourite sound?
Do you record everything?

Ben Burtt - Talks

collider has posted 4 videos of a presentation given by Ben Burtt on the making of the sound for Wall-E.
He demonstrates the sources of some of the sounds used within the film, including the system he used in conjunction with a graphics tablet to create the voice ofthe main character.

get paid for designing sounds

kreativ sounds are offering the opportunity to get paid for designing sounds.
if you have created quality sounds that are not enough to be compiled into a big product, but they are too great to be given for free and you are also willing to sell them for as much as the buyer wants we are very interested in helping you do it through our online e-shop.

Here’s what we are looking for:

* Thematic Loops Packs with at least 25 loops in Apple, Acid, Wav or Rex format;
* Synthesizers Sound Banks with at least 32 patches / presets;
* Reason Refills with at least 64 patches / patches for Subtractor, Malström, THOR, Combinator, NNXT AND / OR NN19. Note that in case of a ReDRUM refill it must contain at least 8 drum kits.

Note 1: The more sounds a product contains the chance to sale better and for a higher price is increased.
Note 2: If your product does not fit in the above categories, please drop us a line and we’ll see what can we arrange.


* The rates are 50% - 50% from the sale price! All the PayPal and promotion fees are supported by Kreativ Sounds!
* The minimum payment accepted for a product is 1 EURO (or the currency equivalent).
* Transparency in sales is absolute! You’ll receive automatic emails when one of your products is sold with the amount of money payed so you can calculate for yourself the profit made!
* The Payments are made through PayPal between 1-7 of each month with a minimum of 50 EUR in profits. If the profit for your product(s) exceeds the 50 EUR limit before the month ends, you can request the money any time!
* The product must contain copyright free sounds, patches or loops!
* If the product contains in full or in parts sounds, patches or loops from other products you created, please specify this!
* The product is non-exclusively distributed through Kreativ Sounds websites!
* The product remains entirely yours and you can retire it (if you wish so) after 1 Year accepting the distribution contract.
* Kreativ Sounds is committed to help you promote and create graphics for the product(s) at request, free of charge.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


auditorium is an online flash-based music game.
The idea is to direct the flow of particle streams to "fill up" some auido level meters. By doing so you increase the volume of different audio tracks and produce a finished piece of music to complete the level.

The game uses flash-based audio and so this side is not brilliant - it only plays audio loops and these are quite obvious when they loop.
However, the game is still only a prototype and so the audio side of things may well get better as they developers continue to work on the game. Visually it's very good!

Wacom tablets

Here's a video of two australian academics in their research/rehearsal space discussing and demonstrating their use of wacom graphics tablets to control digital audio.

Getting one of these tablets working within maxmsp is pretty straightforward and you can use it in a variety of different ways...


Wednesday, 3 December 2008

EQ tips

audiotuts has little tutorial giving some tips to help you with the EQ-ing of tracks and mixes.
There's nothing new here, but EQ-ing can be a hard thing to get right and it takes a lot of practice to be able to quickly achieve the desired result.

The most important tip they give is:
"Don't fix it in the mix"


speaking of taking yourself too seriously...

Here's a video where the maker of a wii-mote based theremin explains how it works. He's using the infra-red sensor of the wii-mote to determine the position of two markers (one on each hand). He then maps the position of one marker to pitch, the other to volume to create a theremin type instrument.
It doesn't have to stop there - the mapping could be done so that the two markers control any parameter of the sound - giving you expressive control over any sound.

Grainface laptop performance

Here's a video of a german laptop ensemble giving a performance.
The music is quite 'ambient' with long sustained tones and then short percussive elements introduced throughtout - there's also some vocoding going on.
Musically, it's not everyone's cup of tea and the performers do look like they're taking themselves a little too seriously at times. But they use wii-motes as gestural input devices to control the sound and the link between their actions and the sounds being generated is pretty obvious - so worth a look...

Monday, 1 December 2008

another free DAW

mu.lab is a free cross platform DAW. It's not exactly packed full of features, but it looks pretty easy to use and allows you to host VST's so could be used as a basic audio editing package.
" MU.LAB is an alternative, state of the art software application for OSX and Windows, transforming your computer into a real music studio!

It does not overwhelm you with a complex feature set, in which you can get lost.

On the contrary, MU.LAB is a user-friendly yet rock-solid musical tool designed to create, finetune and play Your Music!

MU.LAB's core feature set:

* Audio Recording & Playback
* MIDI Recording & Playback
* Flexible Composition & Sequence Editing
* Supports Audio and MIDI VST Plugins
* Powerful Audio and MIDI Plugin Routing (up to 100% modular if you want)
* Integrated high quality synths, samplers and effects
* High quality Audio Engine
* Sample Accurate Sequencing
* Available for OSX (Universal Binary) and Windows"

free chat application

Chat rooms can be pretty handy when your doing group work as they allow you to discuss ideas online as you work.
stinto is a free web-based web application that allows you to create your own disposable chat rooms. You can set up and control a number of different parameters to do with your chat rooms.

Free Drum Samples

orange tree samples has released a free set of jazz drum samples for use within Kontakt.
"In celebration of this month, I’ve decided to release a free jazz drumset sample library. This sample library features unique and rare drums and cymbals and has an excellent tone suitable for jazz and funk."

direct link to the .rar file

via synthtopia

Friday, 28 November 2008

Tone Generation

matrixsynth has posted a series of links to a series of .mp3's detailing the history of electronic music from around the globe.
There are 12 in total.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Pro-Audio videos

wire to the ear has put together a little round-up of 5 websites that offer online videos geared towards the audio industry.

keyboard mag
EQ mag
inside home recording

These are probably worth checking on a regular basis as they often have some very interesting videos.

Dead Space - Sound Design

original sound version has a good interview with the Audio Director repsonsible for the new Dead Space game. In the interview he discusses the approach his team took when designing the audio (sound design/effects and music) for the game.

He talks about how the original idea form the outset was to use the sound design to establish the mood of the game and not to have separate music and sound design tracks. He wanted the whole thing to be combined into a single unit that they could use as a textural device to support the ingame action and drama.

One of the most interesting things discussed is the use of "fear emitters"; these are attached to objects and enemies within the game and the players proximity to and the numebr of these emitters was used to control parameters of the audio. This meant that, just like in Horror movies, the audio team could produce a soundtrack that "builds up to the boo" and heighten the sense of suspense within the game. The musical soundtrack was also controlled by these "fear emitters" which allows the audio system to mix, in real time, the 4 stereo layered streams based on the level of fear at any given moment.
The team also created sounds that have no real source and are just there to make you look behind you and to scare you!


Following on from this article music4games has a brief artcile written by EA's Audio Director Don Veca which looks at the music within Dead Space. He touches on things covered in the previous article and exaplains a few more things as well.
"Linear media allows the composer the luxury of knowing precisely what is going to happen; for example, the film dictates when and how long – exactly – a musical build-up will take. This is not the case, however, for interactive media where the video game player determines how the scene plays out.

To build a run-time system to interactively simulate this linear technique, we had to stop thinking like musicians and start thinking like programmers:

1. The music builds because things are getting scarier;
2. Things are scarier because there is more fear;
3. Fear is caused by eminent danger;
4. Certain objects in the world are (seemingly) dangerous.
5. Ergo, find a way to attach a sense of danger (fear) to various objects in the game world.

It occurred to us that our games already had the ability to emit point-source effects such as sound and light, so all we needed was a way to emit fear. This was the birth of the Dead Space Fear Emitter, which is simply a first-class game object that designers can place in the world or attach to other objects, most notably, the enemy alien creatures"

There is also a pretty good summary of the process involved in creating the music for the game.
The composer originally produced the 'traditional' type of ingame music but the game's creators wanted something that produced more of a texture and was not so obviously melodic, so in a method similar to temp tracks within the film industry the game's creators took sections fo music from horror movies and put these to the game to test their engine. The composer then took these themes and wrote new parts which were more improvisational and tetural in nature.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Modulations - Book

I've just finished reading this book - Modulations: A history of electronic music; throbbing words on sound.
It's a collection of discussions on various genres of electronic music collated and edited by Peter Shapiro.
- Pioneers
- Krautrock
- Disco & Post Punk
- House
- Hip-Hop
- Techno
- Jungle
- Ambient
- Downtempo
- Technology

Each section covers the genre in great detail and discusses the main players and some of the key releases.

One of the reviews on the back of the book pretty much sums the book up:
"A primer for the uninitiated and comprehensive history for the obsessive."

Heartily recommended!

Monday, 17 November 2008

spring reverb

audio cookbook has posted a short sample of an experiment they conducted using just an old amplifier with a built in spring reverb.
All they did was turn up the gain and knock the amp about a little bit.

It produces some pretty cool 'industrial' sounds that could be used as sound effects in a number of different projects - but would sound good in a sound for film project.
Obviously if you're using a borrowed amp then be a little careful about how much you bang it about.

click to hear the mp3

creating a background drone sound

audiotuts has a tutorial on designing an ambient/background drone sound suitable for use in a film's soundtrack - especially if you're working on a sci-fi or horror style film.
It involves taking a constant 'musical' sound such as a flute note and then combining this with modulation based effects, pitch shifting and some convolution reverb (the key here is the source sample of your convolution, the tutorial uses a growl sound).

Worth a quick look.

Sharing audio files across different DAW's

Electronic Musician has an article describing how to ensure that you can confidently share audio files on different DAW systems when working on a project collaboratively.
The article focuses on using Digital Performer to import the files, but the principles are the same for any DAW - you just need to find the correct menu/commands.

Basically, you have 2 main options.
1. you can create files which all start at 00:00:00 even if there's no audio all the way through using some form of "merge" command (DP parlance).
2. you can record your files using a format like Broadcast Wave which automatically timestamps your files with their start and end points. when these are imported into your DAW you can then simply instruct the software to align the files with their correct start times.

Markers in Logic

Here's a little video via audiotuts showing how to set up Markers within Logic.

Logic Pro: Markers from Elizabeth A. on Vimeo.

Tempo Tracks in Cubase 4

Audiotuts has a nice little tutorial on using hitpoints and marker tracks within Cubase 4 to create a changing tempo track. This is useful as it allows you to set up a tempo track that goes through multiple tempo changes over the course of a project. The use of hitpoints means you can 'sync up' these tempo changes to an existing piece of audio.
Could be useful for setting up a project for sound for film in which you would be likely to have varying tempos within your project.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Brief interview with Ben Burtt

pixar planet has a brief Q&A session with Ben Burtt, the sound designer on Wall-E.

In it he discusseshow he goes about creating voices for creatures and robots. He explains that voices are one of the hardest sounds to create as they have to be both intelligible and realistic for the creature/machine that's producing the sound. He finds that sounds that contain a human element and an electronic element work best.
He likens this to the creation of "ordinary" sounds for sci-fi films. He says that when you're trying to create the sound for a futuristic object that doesn't actually exist then it often pays to try and use a real-world sound as the basis as this will enable people to connect with the sound and make it more believable.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Visual Synthesis

via matrixsynth.

Here's a really good video that takes you through the basic waveforms available on a synth using both audio and visual media. It's useful as you get to see and hear the differences in the harmonic content of the waveforms. The video also gives a brief overview of the effect of filtering on the audio spectrum.

Visual Synthesis 1 from GM on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

elastic~ external for maxmsp

elastic~ is an external that can be used to independently control time and pitch within maxmsp. It is designed to work with the standard buffer~ object, making it easy to integrate into projects.

Unfortunately you have to pay for this external (£20), but it does show that there are some money making opportunities in producing new objects for maxmsp.

There is now a free alternative to elastic~ that you can download from here

Audio Analysis Creates Landscape

flight404 have a very nice example of what can be done in real-time within Processing in terms of audio analysis and graphcial creation.
The audio signal is analysed and the resulting FFT data is manipulated to make it a bit more manageable and then used to create graphics that resemble a landscape scene - all done in real-time.

Audio-generated landscape from flight404 on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

electronics tutorials for circuit benders

If you're thinking of getting into circuit bending but have little or no experience with a soldering iron then these video tutrials are probably a good place to start.

Using MaxMSP to control your face!

Daito Manabe is using MaxMSP to trigger pulses of electricity to sequence muscle movements in his face.

Ardour - free DAW

If you're running a Mac (or Linux) and are after a free DAW then Ardour may be well a good choice.
"Ardour is a digital audio workstation. You can use it to record, edit and mix multi-track audio. You can produce your own CDs, mix video soundtracks, or just experiment with new ideas about music and sound.

Ardour capabilities include: multichannel recording, non-destructive editing with unlimited undo/redo, full automation support, a powerful mixer, unlimited tracks/busses/plugins, timecode synchronization, and hardware control from surfaces like the Mackie Control Universal. If you've been looking for a tool similar to ProTools, Nuendo, Pyramix, or Sequoia, you might have found it.

Above all, Ardour strives to meet the needs of professional users. This means implementing all the "hard stuff" that other DAWs ( even some leading commercial apps ) handle incorrectly or not at all. Ardour has a completely flexible "anything to anywhere" routing system, and will allow as many physical I/O ports as your system allows. Ardour supports a wide range of audio-for-video features such as video-synced playback and pullup/pulldown sample rates. You will also find powerful features such as "persistent undo", multi-language support, and destructive track punching modes that aren't available on other platforms."


Over at Make Magazine there is a video of a demo of the AudioTouch system. This is a multi-touch musical interface.

This system is being produced by Seth Sandler as part of his final degree project.
At the moment it is still a work in progress, and there appear to be one or two little buggy things still in the system, but some of applications he has created using the multi-touch system look pretty cool - think tenori-on and Elecktroplankton.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

dead space music

music4games has an interview with Jason Graves the composer working on the new release, Dead Space.
In the interview he briefly discusses his background and how he got into scoring music for games.
In terms of the game he talks about the decision to use 4 different layers of intensity within the score to allow for an adaptive score. The audio engine of the game allowed all 4 of the layers to be played simultaneously, with the gameplay itself determining the volume of each of the 4 different levels. This means that the transition between levels of intensity can be done very easily.
He also talks about some the "experimental" techniques he used when scoring for traditional orchestral instruments in order to achieve the 'scary' feel for the score.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Tour round Toerag Studios

Sonic State has a video interview (one in a series of many, apparently) with Liam Watson, the owner of Toerag Studios.
Toerag Studios is a fully analogue (using mostly vintage gear) recording studio based in London, his only concession to the 'modern age' is a couple of CD recorders so that he can create mixdowns that people can listen to "in the real world".

part two of this series is now available. Liam Watson talks about some more of his equipment (desk, speakers, etc..) and also a bit about the recording of the WHite Stripes album...

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Film & Game Composers Forum

filmandgamecomposers forum is a new(ish) forum for people interested in composition for film, games, animation and TV. Contains posts of techniques, software, hardward, etc...

Team Working

There's an article on gamastura discussing how to build a functioning and effective team.
Whilst the article is aimed primarily at games companies, it does have some useful tips for groups working in any field.
"A team is made up of individuals who perform unique tasks, and when combined, produce a finished product that is greater than the sum of its parts. You want team members to do their best and be ready to help others, so you need to promote a sense of cohesion; the team will only succeed if everyone works together. Your team should be able to generate their own tasks, tackle problems, agree on solutions and implement their decisions with confidence."

Some of the key points are:
- Set appropriate goals: These will need to be monitored and adjusted if necessary.
- Identify appropriate measurements: This should be done both individuallu and as a team. Team members should document their progress through these measurements.
- Conduct regular team reviews: Both as a whole team and with sub-groups/individual members. Check performance against objectives. All team members should be aware of their responsibilities.

A couple of quotes:
"Milestones are vital to the team's process (and to getting paid!) They ensure that a product is delivered to specification (and customer satisfaction), that team members adhere to schedules and budgets, and quality standards are met. They also tend to be the basis for individual and team rewards over and above normal compensation."

"Set realistic deadlines (remember to multiply all estimates by 1.5 to allow for unforeseen obstacles and a tendency on anyone's part, including yours, to think you can get the work done faster.) Don't promise the sky unless the team (a) agrees and (b) can reasonably deliver on the promise."

Monday, 20 October 2008

interesting sound

progsounds has posted a pretty cool sound that was created by recording the sound produced by a pan of simmering pasta sauce, pitch shifting it down and then processing it using reverb, EQ, compression and granular effects.
check it out! would make a pretty good ambience sound.

wii-mote controlled guitar fx

via synthtopia
This guitarist has produced a patch in maxmsp that takes his guitar signal and processes it in various ways. He uses the accelerometer and button press data from the wii-mote to control the parameters of his fx processes.
Sounds quite good, and adds a performative element to the whole process.

6 tips on academic success

At the new enrollment of Berklee College of Music Derek Sivers gave a speech which outlines his "6 things I wish I knew the day I started Berklee". Whilst this is obviously aimed at Berklee students he actually gives some very good pointers that can be applied to all students generally.
1. Focus. Disconnect. Do not be distracted
2. Do not accept their speed limit
3. Nobody will teach you anything. You have to teach yourslef
4. Learn from your heroes. Not only theirs
5. Don't get stuck in the past
6. When done, be valuable

The full transcript can be found here - http://sivers.org/berklee
There's also a youtube vid...

via gearfire.net

Friday, 17 October 2008

music for film - career?

via the music of sound

If you're thinking that you might fancy a career composing music for film and/or TV then you will probably want to check out the following articles which appeared in Sound on Sound in 2005.

Part One: Getting a break

Part Two: Creating your showreel

Part Three: Essential gear

Part Four: How to make a pitch

Part Five: You got the pitch - Now what?

Part Six: Completed orchestration

Part Seven: How to cope with revisions

Part Eight: Being creative under pressure

Part Nine: Roll credits

RJDJ - music app for iphone

Got an iphone? Get RJDJ!
RJDJ is an app for the iphone that generates original interactive music/sounds based on sensory input from the microphone, camera and accelerometers of the iphone.
The software for RJDJ is written in pd, the open-source alternative to MaxMSP.
"Instead of just evolving and allowing inputs, it makes use of the iPhone microphone and sensors to respond to your environment. Not only does the music change, but it changes because of where you are and what you’re doing. The creators describe the effect:

The world around you will sound different or suddenly become part of a song. Some scenes sound best in certain situations like walking through the city, being alone, or making music with your friends. You can also record your mind twisting hearing sensations and listen to them later just like a normal music title.

RjDj affects the perception of your reality. It is the soundtrack to your life."

via create digital music

Some video demos of RJDJ in action:

The "single' version of RJDJ is free, but only comes with one "scene" (a scene is essentially a patch that produces sound in a particular style), while the "album" version which comes with multiple scenes is $2.99 (at the time of writing).
As the app uses pd as its audio engine it is possible to create your own "scenes" and load them into RJDJ in order to create your own unique auditory experience.


Touchless is an open-source application framework that enables you to use your webcam as a multi-touch interface.

via lifehacker:
"Right now the Touchless Demo lets you play with four proof-of-concept ideas: Draw, Image, Snake, and Defend. The first is a free-form drawing application, while Image is an image manipulation utility that allows you to zoom in or out and move around on a map with marker gestures. The other two are games (Snake is exactly like the classic, and Defend is up to four-person Pong). To set up a marker that Touchless tracks, just grab something colorful, click Add A New Marker, then draw a circle around the object. From there on out, Touchless will monitor that marker wherever it is in the shot. Right now the application is a little clunky, but as a proof-of-concept it's not bad (and it's fun to play with)."

Interview with Matthew Wood

Matthew Wood is a supervising sound editor at Skywalker Sound.
HDFilmTools has a 3 part (currently only parts 1 & 2 are available) video interview with Matthew discussing a variety of things.

He talks about the role of supervising sound editor in realising the director's vision for the use of sound within a film and how he approaches the start of a film through spotting for effects, etc.
He also talks about how he started at Skywalker Sound when he was 17 and the roles he's had within the company since then and who he has worked with.

He briefly discusses the software that he uses on a daily basis - namely ProTools and the Waves plugins.

Part 2 ends with a discussion of his work on Wall-E and how the process of working on an animation is different to a "normal" film.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Avant Garde Project

The Avant Garde Project is
"a series of recordings of 20th-century classical-experimental-electroacoustic music digitized from LPs whose music has in most cases never been released on CD, and so is effectively inaccessible to the vast majority of music listeners today."

They release regular 'installments' in their series via bittorrents which can be accessed through Pirate Bay or Mininova. The torrents themselves are announced on the I Hate Music forum.
Earlier installments, of which there are currently 117!) can be found at the AGP Archive.

This is a very useful resource for anyone interested in the early history and development of electro-acoustic music.

Fish make music

Submersed Songs is an installation by Vivian Caccuri that uses 4 live fish in a tank to control audio manipulations and processing.
The piece uses MaxMSP/Jitter to track the individual position of 4 fish in a tank, the resulting data is used to control spatialisation parameters, distortion and some other effects.
The idea is that visitors to the installation select 2 tracks from a library of .mp3 files. These are then subjected to various manipulations in order to create a new piece of audio.
"This sound-installation, winner of the Rumos Arte Cibernetica Prize (Itau Cultural Institute - Sao Paulo), promotes an interference of four carp fish in a glass tank, over the sound output of mp3 players (iPod's and others) of the visitors. The animals' movements and the proximity among them work as a parameter for modifying and juxtaposing the audience's music tracks in real time. With this idea, new sound landscapes are created, not only from the interaction among the fish, but also from unveiling the intimate music archives, which are "submersed" underneath the mp3 player devices.

The visitor can connect his audio device to the interface, and chose a song of his preference. It is also possible for the user to record the track in the system in order to let the song be modified during the next visitor's interactions. The visitor will as well listen to the previous visitors' songs, as the system juxtaposes the previous visitors' tracks with the current visitor's song. Accordingly, the piece will be always meshing up two different songs.

The two tracks are submitted to different modification processes, both building a real time continuity between the swimming of the carp fish and the levels of distortion, which can vary from an intense reverberation to a simulation of the hearing underwater."

Submersed Songs | Canções Submersas from ∆LEX on Vimeo

Creating multi-sample EXS instruments

following on from this post...
audiotuts has a tutorial on creating a multi-sample instrument within Logic's EXS Sampler. The tutorial focusses on using glass bottles as the sound source, but obviously the same principles apply regardless of the source.
It's quite a brief article but it does cover some tips on how to edit your samples in preparation for loading into the sampler.
In order to take advantage of the "automap" function within the EXS you need to name your samples with their pitch at the end of the file name, eg. sample C3.wav
The automap function will read your file names for a pitch value and automatically map your samples to the correct pitch, saving you loads of time and effort.

Free Samples

via waveformless
"Cybernetik Mayhem Samplepack - by Cybernetika
- October 2008 -
Compressed Size: 480 MB
Uncompressed Size: 844 MB
Sample format: 44.100-48.000khz / 16 bit .WAV

download link (right click, save as)

These are the best samples I used in my released or unreleased tracks. This Sample Pack is focused on Dark & Cybernetic Sounds for Psytrance, Techno, Drum'n'Bass, Dark Ambient & IDM.

Feel free to use them in your tracks, these samples are 100% free to use however you like to use them. Please give me some credit if you use them and like them.

The samples are organized in 5 categories:

Dark Neurofunk Basses and Reeces, and some trance bass sounds.

Pads & Atmos:
Nightmare pads & post-apocalyptic ambient soundscapes.

Robotic Future FX, mostly one shot samples.

Psy Riffs & Sequences:
Mind-bending leads, FM assaults, acid sequences

Percussion Loops:
Digital Drumloops, from technoid to glitchy. "

Mind Maps

gearfire has a nice little article on using mind maps to take notes with.
I find taking notes using simple bullet points and lists is not the most effective way of taking notes as I struggle to remember how certain points inter-connect.

I've been looking into mind maps and have found that they are a useful tool in the note-taking arsenal (depending on the situation).

The article at gearfire discusses the strengths of mind maps and offers some online mapping apps that you can use. To be honest I quite like pen and paper, but occasionally it is useful to be able to include a mind map in a presentation or report.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Creature Sounds - a tutorial

audiotuts has a short little tutorial on creating creature sounds - particularly vocalisations.
The tutorial takes you from starting with sounds created using the human voice, pitch shifting these down, applying amplitude modulation and then using some convolution techniques to combine the human sounds with some "normal" animal sounds.
The results are pretty good and with a bit of tweaking you could produce some very nice results.


Soshiku is a free (but requires you to register) little app that you can use to keep your coursework organised.
It will keep track of your assignments and the progress of your work, you can keep track of your average mark by entering your grades. It also supports file sharing for when you're working in groups.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Synth Drone

Another good sound from audio cookbook. This one was created by programming a single note in a DAW assigning that to a VSTi synth and then setting up some of the parameters to be controlled by MIDI cc in realtime.
The output of the synth was processed using compression, delay and chorus.

The result is a pretty ominous drone sound with some nice sweeping textural changes that could be used as either a piece of atmospheric sound design or the basis of an electronic music track.

synth drone sound

Creaky Wooden Floor

audio cookbook a site that aims to post one "interesting" sound file every day has posted a recording of a creaky wooden floor that has been pitched down 2 full octaves.

The results sound very cool; you can hear lots of the timbral and textural changes taking place within the sound and the whole thing sounds like some massive creaking construction as opposed to a small piece of flooring.

This technique of extreme pitch shifting to reveal the hidden intricacies of a sound can be very useful when designing original sound effects.
"To make this 4:15 minutes long recording I found a creaky spot on the wooden floors of my house, rocked back and forth in place and pointed a stereo mic at my feet. I remember doing this years ago, but thought I’d give it another go using a faster sampling rate and bit depth so the quality is not reduced as much when pitched down. Before making the recording I set the sampling rate and bit depth to 96kHz and 24 bit. I pitched it down two octaves and then normalized the results before rendering the final output.

I’ve suggested this technique on several occasions to students and sound designers to manufacture a realistic simulation of a creaking ship. It’s sounds as if I added reverb, but it’s just the natural sound of the room itself. I was not particularly careful about recording in a quiet environment. I heard a car go by outdoors at one point, but it’s not too noticeable after the down pitching."

creaky wooden floor sample

Monday, 13 October 2008

Kosmix - alternative search engine

Kosmix is a relatively new search engine that works slightly differently to google.
"Kosmix scours the Web to automatically generate home pages for any topic. We strive to connect you to the information that makes a difference in your life. Spend less time searching and more time exploring, discovering and learning."

"Kosmix does standard searches, but it delivers your results by assembling complex “topic pages” on the fly so that you can investigate your search topic from many angles. Kosmix is partnered with many services, so some of the results come from partners, and others are gathered from applying your search string to video libraries and other sources."
via webworkerdaily.com

This is probably a good alternative to google when you are conducting preliminary research into a topic and are looking for a wide variety of info as opposed to a specific 'answer'

Rough Rider - free compressor plugin

Audio Damage (makers of very nice-looking and nice-sounding plugins) have made their Rough Rider compressor plugin freely available.

Its not an amazingly complicated piece of kit, but it's functional and should sound pretty good.
"Rough Rider is a modern compressor with a bit of "vintage" style bite and a uniquely warm sound. Perfect for adding compression effects to your drum buss, it also sounds great with synth bass, clean guitar, and backing vocals. Definitely not an all-purpose compressor, Rough Rider is at its best when used to add pump to rhythmic tracks. Of course, you can use it however you'd like. The Compressor Police aren't gonna come to your house and give you a citation. Slap it on a track and crank some knobs.

The front panel layout is done the same as many hardware compressors, so it will be immediately obvious how to use it. A brief overview of the controls:

Ratio: The ratio knob is logarithmic in operation. Completely anti-clockwise is 1:1, and completely clockwise is 1:1000. The 12 o'clock position is 1:10, so everything to the left of center is single digits, and everything to the right is "atom bomb squish," essentially.

Attack and Release: We left off the actual time values, so you're gonna have to use your ears, like the he-men did it in times of myth.

Meter: That honking big dial in the middle of the UI is the gain reduction meter. It basically shows how much compression is occurring.

Sensitivity: usually called "threshold" now, but we think "sensitivity" always made more sense. Turn to the right, you get more compression, essentially. Turn it all the way to the right, and you've got a distortion box, the sound of which is tuned by Ratio, Attack, and Release.

Makeup: 30 dB of gain to compensate for the attenuation caused by the compressor.

Active: From the front panel, this is simply an off/on switch, but if you automate it, strange things happen...

MIDI Learn: Like all of our products, the VST version has MIDI Learn. Download any manual from the current product line for an explanation of how this works, as it is common among all our VST products.

Rough Rider is available as a VST effect for Windows, and an AU or VST for OSX. The OSX versions are Universal Binaries, and require OSX
10.4.0 or later.

Basic FMOD tutorial

audiotuts has a basic intro tutorial to FMOD. FMOD is an audio middleware application that allows you to design and create interactive audio environments and audio engines for particular events within a game (such as gunshots).
The tutorial takes you through creating a simple system that places one of three specified sounds for a gunshot. It covers all of the basic settings (and their meanings) that you need to worry about to setup a simple system like this one.

Dynamic FX Busses

audiotuts has a nice, short little tutorial on using side-chaining compressors across FX busses in order to automate the volumes. This has the effect of lowering the effect level whilst your audio track is playing and then raising it back up again when the dry track is silent.
This works well on vocal tracks and help to prevent your vocals getting swamped with effects.
The tutorial was produced using Logic, but the same prinicples will transfer to any DAW.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Microphone Database

Microphone Data is a website that collates technical information for over 1700 mics from 124 manufacturers. You have to register to be able to access the site, but it is free to register.
For each mic you can access pretty detailed specs relating to frequency response, polar patterns, etc...

A similar website, although not quite as extensive is recording hacks, this consists of a blog about recording related things and a mic database which has some technical data but also reviews of the mics listed.

Both of these resources should be useful when selecting mics for varying jobs.

GBridge - File sharing app

gbridge is a free windows app that allows you to remotely share files between computers as well as providing back-up facilities.
All you need is a google account to get it working.

Could be very useful for sharing files between group members when working on projects.

Behind the scenes of Dr Who's audio

Sonic State has an exclusive behind the scenes documentary from Bang, the post-production house in Wales responsible for the sound for the Dr Who series.
This first video is an introduction to the facility and their equipment/resources.
There is a short intro to the world of foley.

Following episdoes promise a more in depth look at sound design and foley - so should be good.

The second episode is now available. The majority of this post discusses their new Dolby licenced 5.1 studio. There are also a few comments from Russel T Davies (the main producer of ther series)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Interview with Ben Burtt

unidentified sound object posts a video interview with Ben Burtt discussing the Wall-E film.
This is a little different from the usual interviews in that they didn't focus entirely on the cute little robot sounds. Instead Burtt discusses the advantages of working on the project from the very start and how he was able to create little sound experiments of how he thought the character might sound. He would pass these recordings to the animators who would create short sequences to using his soundtracks. The cross-collaboration between the 2 departments really helped to develop and refine the character of Wall-E.

He touches on the amount of sound effects that needed to be produced on this film (over 2,600!) due to the fact that it is an animation and so everything in the film needed to have a sound created for it.
He goes onto explain how he finds himself recording "interesting" sounds from every day life as he walks around (he calls it "collecting"), even whilst he's on holiday. He recalls taking his daughter shopping so he could get away with recording the sound of shopping trolleys crashing into things.

He finishes up reminiscing about some of his favourite characters from the films he's worked on. Obviously he mentions R2-D2 and the difficulties he had in fabricating a personality for the little robot through the use of sound. He suggests that sound designers really enjoy working on some of the minor characters in films as it allows them "invent" personalities and show off a little bit with sound.

Creating custom EXS instrument

audiotuts has a nice little tutorial on creating your own cutsom instrument in Logic's EXS sampler.
It's only basic in that it covers loading a single sample, mapping it across the entire key range and adjusting it's loop points, but it's a good starting point if you want to start making your own instruments.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Wiggio - Collaborative Tool

Wiggio is a free online app that aims to help you work collaboratively.

It has a pretty simple interface with 6 main tools:
1. Calendar — A fairly simple shared calendar that allows you to manage group events. There’s no easy way to add this calendar to whatever time management system you use, but you can set up an automatic email whenever a change is made to the calendar (or any other part of your group). Gmail seems to be able translate those emails into Google Calendar events without an issue.
2. Folder — You can upload most file types to your Wiggio groups. Wiggio can even handle version-tracking automatically. A group member can download the file, change it and re-upload it. He doesn’t need to change the file name or anything for Wiggio to recognize it as a new version. Old versions are still available.
3. Meeting — Wiggio offers two types of meetings for users: a chatroom and a conference call. For conference calls, Wiggio uses Rondee, a free conference call service. Wiggio will also host chats for your group.
4. Poll — Not all collaboration applications offer any tools to help with decision making, but with Wiggio’s Poll system, you can matters to a vote in your group. You don’t even need to track responses to get an answer.
5. Messages — Through Wiggio, you can send messages to group members in three different ways: text message, email and voice note. You can also post notes on your group’s home page, but no guarantee that group members will log in and see them. I was a little concerned at first that the text message and voice mail options meant that the entire group would have access to my phone number, but all of that is handled internally.
6. Links — The link tool is simply a place to paste in links so that your group has a shared set of bookmarks.

"There is definintely an assumption for Wiggio that group members aren’t going to be sitting at their desks all day, every day. If you’ve had problems keeping touch with those members of your group that seem to prioritize their social lives over group meetings, being able to send them text message reminders may prove invaluable."

I think this tool could prove very useful - especially as it allows you to file share and send text reminders to group members mobiles - no excuses now!!

via lifehack

Tips on Critiquing

lifehack have put together a nice little piece with tips on how to better constructive feedback/criticism.
This would a useful thing to read if you have to take part in any critique of another person's work - as either part of group work or as part of an in-class discussion.

The main points are:
1. Comment on what's right
2. Ask why they've done something
3. Focus on the general
4. Brainstorm fixes
5. Offer an honest opinion
6. Leave it to their judgement
"Critiquing is a skill, just as much as any other aspect of communication. Considering how often we’re asked for our opinions on something, it seems worthwhile to develop the skill to give an opinion without getting everyone in an uproar. While I’d love it if some people would just identify a little less with their work, the truth is that many people take critiques very personally and it takes a deft touch to help them improve a project without everything ending in tears. Whether you’re participating in critique sessions for your company’s next big marketing campaign or you’re headed off to the local writers group, think about how you can give a great critique. How can you really help the person asking for your feedback improve their project?"

Comping in Logic

something/anything have posted a video on their blog highlighting how to easily create composite tracks from multiple takes.
This method would prove extremely useful when recording dialogue within films, amongst other things.

Subtractive Synthesis Video

HowAudio.com have made one of their video tutorials on subtractive synthesis freely available on youtube.
The video deals with oscillators and waveforms, it explains the differences between each of the main waveshapes and their sound.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Fusion - Educational Discount

If you're a Mac user and are wanting to run any Windows only app (there are some that are worth it!) then you may want to look at Fusion by VMware.
Fusion is a virtualisation application which lets you run Windows (you may have to install a Boot Camp partition) directly from your Mac OS without having reboot into a Windows install.

VMware offer educational discounts for all their software and the price for Fusion works out at $40 which is equivalent to £22.50 (at the time or writing).


Check it out.