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  • From Student to Professional (Part 2)

    Now that I have given you a general background of my thoughts surrounding my first film and how the ideas and crew came together, this second blog is going to focus on how we actually started to execute these ideas.

     

     

    The first couple elements I would need to make this documentary were, interesting and diverse cyclists, and locations.  I had the advantage of working in a bike shop for many years, so to get things started I put the word out that I was looking for cyclist to ride in a documentary that would explore the many aspects of fixed gear cycling.  Johnny Lee and Ryan Ressureccion from San Francisco were the first cyclist I was in contact with.  We started discussing what they thought they each could add to the documentary, their style of riding and their experience.  They were both willing to give up a weekend to film with us, wherever we wanted in the city.  This meant it was time to scout locations that I felt best described San Francisco, but also visually demonstrated the difficulties and the obstacles the riders encountered in the city. I did two scouts in San Francisco, one by myself and the other one with the director of photography Justin Gamboa.  The documentary would be about cycling, but I wanted each city represented as well.  The cities are such a huge element of these cyclists’ stories; I wanted to make sure I captured the surrounding environment because San Francisco and Los Angeles provide different obstacles and objectives for the cyclists.

     

    While on scouts for locations, I also started looking for bike shops that I could conduct interviews with the employees and could give me an insight as to what it meant to ride in the city and what business had been like in recent years.  This is when I found American Cyclery. Turns out this is the oldest bike shop in San Francisco and a perfect place to conduct an interview about the history of the city and fixed gear cycling. Justin and I returned to LA with so many ideas on what to film, but we especially wanted to come up with creative shots to capture it all.

     

     

    Once we started production, choosing the cameras wasn’t nearly as difficult as figuring out how to film cyclist in the different cities. None of us had ever done it before.  We just assumed filming out of a car would be the best option only to find out that it was truly Not the case, cyclists move through cities much faster than most people realize and their ability to maneuver through traffic makes it almost impossible to stay next to them while filming.  We learned quickly that the only way to cover cyclists riding, was on foot or on a motorcycle. The main camera selection was really limited to what we had available to us on a regular basis, also what we could take with us to San Francisco and San Jose. I owned a Canon 7D and Justin Gamboa owned a Canon T2i, which ended up being the main cameras we used for filming.  It was extremely important that we have cameras at the ready, in case for example we had a cyclist that was only available for a short time, or if we needed to shoot during an unscheduled weekend. We used a Sony EX-1 when it was available for all the motorcycle shots and we even attempted to cover a bike polo event with the Red camera, but 90% of that footage was corrupted and we just ended up using what I captured on my 7D.

     

    Day 1 of filming started off with a 5 hour drive from LA to San Jose, straight to a velodrome event.   A team of 6 crew members; that had never been to a velodrome event before, never filmed cyclists before, and were about to make their very first documentary, stepped on the to the velodrome field not really knowing how it was going to turn out. The energy was palpable.

     

    From the experience we all gained on that day, I couldn’t stress more, the importance of pre-production and camera tests.  The 7D, 5D and T2i were not designed to film 20 cyclists going 40 mph around a velodrome track.  Just taking 3 cameras and hoping to capture all the excitement is not a good strategy.  As a director you need to be able to communicate with the camera operators and describe exactly how this footage is going to be used and cut together.  There are many questions that come up, will this be filmed as a live sports event, a cinematic sports movies, or just a sizzle reel of all the action?

     

    This is why hands on experience, and just giving something a shot, is the most valuable tool in film making.  Every independent filmmaker should try and make a short film from beginning to end, irrelevant if its length or value.  You’ll know what works and what doesn’t, what cuts together and why this industry has so many specific tools.

     

    On that same note, arriving in San Francisco and coming to the realization that, historically people film cyclists on scooters, it was a bit of a heart breaker.  We didn’t have a scooter nor did we have the ability to rent one. So, a convertible car was going to be our only option.  With the hills, the streets lights, the potholes, and the traffic, it was extremely difficult to film Johnny and Ryan, and later on Marc Marino.  They could move through traffic so much faster then we could. We would get left behind filming nothing but air because they were two blocks ahead of us breezing along.   Luckily when we filmed in LA we had Jason Peel, who owned a motorcycle and our filming capabilities changed drastically.  In a way, this only added to the documentary, without even knowing it.  I wanted each city to have a different feel, have a different pacing and a different look.  Having a car in San Francisco and a motorcycle in Los Angeles enhanced the direction in which I had originally intended the film to go.  So, even when you think things are going wrong, you never know how it might turn out and work to your advantage.

     

    Filming in L.A. is always described as being pretty hectic and having a lot of rules. Well, we didn’t have any permits and we filmed for four days through the busy streets on downtown L.A. and not once were we bothered.  We weren’t stopping traffic, or causing a scene, so cops just looked at us and continued driving.  Although, once while following Sean Martin, a cop actually looked at us, shook his head and carried on.  I’m not saying every film shoot shouldn’t have permits, but when you’re just filming someone cycling and your not disturbing anyone, you are from our experience usually left alone.  The entire L.A. portion of this film starts with Sean Martin.  This is a guy that was willing to sit with me over coffee and describe what he thought L.A. cycling was all about, and the story he wanted to tell.  Within 5 minutes, I knew I wanted his personality and opinion featured on Fixation.  Sean, like the rest, gave up a weekend to work with us and do an interview as well as ride all day through L.A.. Sean also put me in contact with everyone else that I worked with in L.A., including John Gabriel, 5Fix2, and Jances Certeza.  One of the biggest problems we had in L.A. was how hard it was to keep up with John Gabriel, who is arguably one of the fastest cyclist in L.A. (at the time this was not known to us, we thought he was just an avid cyclist).  Watching a motorcycle being left in the dust by a cyclist, was one of the best things I got to see while making Fixation.

     

    In the the next blog I will cover the final shoot days and how I prepared to watch and filter through 2 terabits of footage.  When making a documentary like this, you never really know what your film is going to be like until you actually start cutting it and started sculpting the interviews together to tell the story.  Please feel free to leave comments or questions and I'll respond to them as soon as possible.

     

    Also check out the trailer:


     

     

    Alex

     

    PS: Continue reading Part 3 - From Student to Professional.

     

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  • From Student to Professional (Part 1)

     

    My name is Alex Trudeau Viriato and for the next six weeks I’ll be writing about my experiences on directing and editing my first documentary film, “Fixation”. In addition, I will be writing about my transition from student to professional. The blogs will focus on preproduction, production and postproduction. I’m going to share my knowledge on what can be done with a short film that doesn’t necessarily make it into major festivals but also gets recognition and a large following. Lastly, I will be writing about what to expect when filming a documentary and how to prepare for such a large amount of footage in postproduction.

     

    When I made the decision that I was going to pursue a career in film editing, I had no idea what my future would entail. I only knew that I had a strong passion and drive to work on films, and that I wasn’t getting any younger.

     

    In film school, the idea of creating a thesis that could possibly determine your worth in the industry was very intimidating. Would I even be the one to direct or edit the thesis? If so, would it just end up being viewed by my family members? On the other hand, could it have the potential to win awards, bringing attention to all of the members that helped to complete the project? I soon found out that with any of these questions or outcomes, none of them were going to guarantee my success or failure. Success comes from personal effort, how much work you put forth and how the project makes you feel once it is completed. Though my project has brought some mild success, I still had questions about the overall value of my film. Through all of the screenings and festivals, I had one question that was lingering: If the film gets a standing ovation and/or a constant applause once it has been screened, is it still considered a “success” if you don’t make any money or see any future jobs from it?

     

     

    During my time at the L.A. Film School, I made the decision to be the one to direct a film, while at the same time taking on the role of editor. In a way I wanted to make sure I had control over what I was going to be editing for the next 5 month. The idea for “Fixation” came early on for me while I was in film school. Originally “Fixation” was minimally developed as small weekend project that I could do on the side. Growing up, I lived in the Bay Area and worked a bicycle shop for many years. Throughout my time at the shop, I noticed a lot of negative connotation towards fixed gear cycling, some of which I admittedly believed to be true. Associate producer Curtis Newton and myself talked about making a short, single weekend, small film on fixed gear in Los Angeles, entailing the key points and factors about a few fixed gear riders. Once I realized how much time and effort it was going to take: finding cyclists, locations, film, and not to mention the time it would take to edit the project, I decided that the best option would be to make this film my thesis. I also realized that I wasn’t going to limit myself to working on the project solely while I was in school. Why not expand the time frame and create something larger than the suggested 10 minutes? I further expanded the idea, deciding to cover 3 major cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. Lastly, instead of choosing to spend time on one specific individual, I decided to explore various people throughout the fixed gear community, to find out why and how it all came together.

     

    To make a film you need money, obviously some film require more than others. The money that was used on production was donated to us on Indiegogo.com. My family, crew members families, friends as well as people that I didn’t know, but who had heard about a film on cycling and wanted to help get it made also donated. Crew members also worked for free, giving up their time to see that the film was made to the best of their abilities. Some even chipped in from their own pocket, on any last minute necessities. The remaining funds came from my own personal account. No matter how good the idea of Fixation was, without the crew members willing to work with me, there would have been no film. If this industry is “all about who you know” you better have the right personality and friendships to back up your “great” ideas, especially starting off.

     

    I originally wanted to cover all single-speed cycling, not just fixed gears, but freewheel as well. Once we got into post-production I began to realize that the material on freewheels wasn’t nearly as interesting, and the cyclists involved weren’t half as passionate. So, I decided to eliminate the sections that were specific to freewheels and focus on the fixed gear cyclists. In the past, I’ve heard the quote that, “films are made in post production”; now, I can’t say that is true for all films, but it was definitely true for “Fixation.” We shot hours and hours of great footage, and when I watched it in the editing bay I no longer saw a place for some of it in the film. The editor of a documentary can tell so many different stories and manipulate the intended objective of the film. I felt as the director and editor I really wanted it to play out as the interviewees intended, no manipulation or misrepresentation. If I was truly to explore fixed gear cycling, I wanted to let the cyclist tell the story. The idea of having multiple stories guide you through the film was frowned upon by professors, they seemed to think that documentaries needed to have a “main character”. In my film I didn’t want to follow one person, I wanted to know why they all rode. I felt while doing that I could also make a documentary that was cinematic and focus on the cyclists themselves and what made them so passionate about this particular style of riding. I knew that the general population had a stereotype of young punk kids that road fixed gears, riding dangerously through red lights. I made it a point of finding riders with different types of lifestyles: fathers, teenagers, event promoters, businessmen, Olympic athletes and professional cyclists.

     

    The cyclist in the film were all so easy to work with, just a great group of guys that were willing to give up their Saturday or Sunday for a filmmaker that they had never met (except Nick Hart, we are friends and former coworkers). I put out the word on forums and social media that I needed cyclists for a documentary. People like Ryan Ressurreccion, Sean Martin and Marc Marino just stepped forward and knew they could bring their own perspective to the film, same thing with the other cyclist and the bike shops included in the film.

     

    My crew was selected from the months of work I had done with fellow students of the L.A. Film School, all except the executive producer who was my roommate at the time, Dustin Bramell. Having someone around like Dustin was always helpful to make me think of the bigger picture, or expand ideas that were not specific to being a student. You’re not going to be a student forever, why make a film that is limited to student constraints? Instead, take advantage of the fact that you are learning and mistakes are much more understandable and acceptable in this stage of filmmaking. Take chances, ask for favors, take advantage of what the film industry offers students. I had a close group that I worked with on 2 school projects already and I knew I wanted my core group to stay the same. My right hand man through the project was the director of photography Justin Gamboa. We shared a strong passion for detail and hard work, which made for a perfect combination on location scouts and during filming. Choosing my line producer was fairly simple as she was the most passionate producer in our course - Kelsie Bieser. Both associate producers, Jason Peel and Curtis Newton were giving that title because of their ability to multi task in many different fields.

     

    In Part 2, I’ll cover what happened in production and what you can expect when starting a film as a student and then continue post production past graduation. I will also go into detail on how we were able to film cyclists in the city and how we dealt with permits and locations with the limited budget we had. Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions on the crew, cyclist or film.

     

    Alex

     

    PS: Continue on to Part 2 - From Student to Professional

     

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  • Behind the scenes of Venom: Sink your teeth in (Part 5)

     

    Sound Design Tips and Tricks – Venom Comes Alive in the Matrix

     

    In my previous posts we discussed how to get more out of Venom’s oscillators, filter, LFOs, and envelopes. Now, we’ll take a look at how all those pieces connect together. At Venom’s core is a powerful 16-route matrix that allows you to patch physical controllers and other modulation sources to destinations all over the synth engine. Making good use of these patch points is what really brings a Venom sound to life.

     

     

     

    Tip 11 – Max it out

     

    Unless your goal is to make a very stable sound with a decidedly digital feel (hey, sometimes those are great too), it’s a good idea to visit the modulation matrix and do some creative routing to animate various elements of your patch. You can use LFOs and envelopes to make ear-catching wide modulations, but oftentimes the most useful modulations are quite subtle, like the analog drift modulation we discussed in Part 3 of this series.

     

    But you don’t have to stop with the frequency and phase of the oscillators—you can send analog emulating modulations to the Filter and Amplitude destinations as well. When setting out to maximize a sound, it’s good to think about all the dimensions available to you beyond the basic parameters. Start with pitch, timbre and volume, but then expand your reach to cover such aspects as how the sound varies over time and its perceived placement in space. Venom provides useful tools for sculpting all of these elements.

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear how multiple subtle animations can combine to create a lively synth bass tone.

     

     

    Actually, this sound is useful for illustrating many different maximization techniques. If you download it from Venomsynth.com, you can explore a variety of modulation applications, including:

     

    · LFO routes crossing destinations in order to create multiple layers of movement

    · Using all three envelopes with varying stage values

    · Utilizing stereo panning and effects to create space

    · Engaging FM and Ring Mod to add texture

    · Combining waveforms from different manufacturers to increase timbral variance

    · Using all mod matrix routes at once (it’s maxed out!)

     

     

    Tip 12 – Bipolarity at Its Best

     

    In Venom the modulation routes are bipolar, which allows you to set up modulations in both positive and negative amounts. Some really interesting effects tend to occur when the polarity of a mod route is flipped. For example, you can invert the envelopes to produce negative shapes, have pitches track the keyboard in reverse, or even dynamically change the direction of a saw wave LFO. When you flip its polarity, an “up-saw” LFO becomes a “down-saw” and vice versa. You can get some wild effects if you then put the polarity of the saw LFO under the control of another source, like a sample and hold.

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear how a bipolar Linear Sample & Hold modulation affects a saw LFO routed to oscillator pitch.

     

     

     

    Tip 13 – Modulating Mod Routes

     

    Venom allows you to modulate a modulation route with another modulation route. That’s what lets you set up the basics, like having the Mod Wheel control vibrato (LFO to Pitch). But it also allows you to do the more esoteric stuff like the bipolar sound example above. The rule with modulating mod routes is that you can go two levels deep, but not three. You can’t have a mod route modulate another mod that’s already modulating a mod. (Got that? Right—the whole thing can get pretty complex...) Fortunately, the Vyzex Venom software editor keeps track of how the modulation routes interweave, and will remove any invalid mods from the destination list so you don’t have to worry about them.

     

     

    This example shows how Vyzex lets you know at a glance that route 6 is modulating route 5. Other modulation routes are free to target route 5, but they won’t be able to modulate route 6.

     

     

    Tip 14 – Scaled vs. Additive

     

    In the modulation matrix you’ll notice that plus “+” and minus “-” signs appear in front of some modulation sources. What does this mean?

     

     

    The plus sign is really straightforward. Those denote an additive modulation source, where the modulation value is added to the destination value. (In deference to high school algebra, negative numbers can be added here as well.)

     

    The minus sign however doesn’t necessarily indicate subtraction. Instead, it can mean that the source is multiplicative and will scale downward from the parameter value set in the target, or it could be a negative or reverse modulation. It depends on whether the source with the minus sign is paired with a source with a plus sign or not. If it’s paired, then it’s scaling. If not, then it’s subtraction.

     

    Look at the “Velocity” sources at the top of the pictured source list. Those are a pair that provides scaling, while the “Mod Wheel” entries farther down the list are only additive sources.

     

     

    Tip 15 – Need Some Assignable Knobs?

     

    There are two top panel Performance Controls that actually require routes in the mod matrix in order to function. The “Filter Envelope Amount” and “Filter Keytrack” knobs utilize routes 1 and 2 respectively. However, they don’t necessarily need to be assigned that way. You can set up any engine modulation you want in these slots, and the amount of modulation will be controlled by the corresponding top panel knob. Obviously, the top panel labels won’t match what’s happening in the patch anymore if you do this, but in return you’ll be able to create custom performance controls for your sound.

     

     

    In either modulation route, the top panel knob directly controls the modulation amount through its full bipolar range. If you want a static source, i.e. the knob directly affects the parameter; use a free envelope with no Attack, Sustain set to full, and the Release set to “Hold”. Or, you can set it up to use the knob like a mod wheel, where it might bring in the effect of an LFO.

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear Performance Control knobs changing the levels of oscillators 1 and 2, which are otherwise unavailable for tweaking from Venom’s top panel.

     

     

     

    Venom’s extensive modulation matrix provides much of the versatility found in modular synthesizers for patching synthesis sources and destinations into each other. From the sheer number of routing options available, to the useful mathematical transformations applied to the modulation amounts, Venom provides ample opportunities to shape your sound just the way you want it.

     

    As always, I look forward to hearing your creations!

     

    If you’d like to take a closer look at the Single Programs used in the sound examples, they’re available for download at VenomSynth.com:

     

    http://www.venomsynth.com/content/maxoutsgl

    http://www.venomsynth.com/content/bipolarsgl

    http://www.venomsynth.com/content/knobssgl

     

    To learn more about the Venom synth watch the intro video, listen to audio samples, and check out the buzz.

     

    Taiho

     

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  • Behind the Scenes: Unified Licensing and Activating Sibelius 7.1

    Less than a month ago we talked about Avid Media Composer 6.0 and the our Unified Licensing scheme. As promised, we are revisiting this discussion with our newest release of Sibelius 7.1, which is offered as a free upgrade from Sibelius 7 and includes the move to the Avid Unified Licensing platform.

     

    As a refresher from our last blog, the move to a common licensing platform will provide the following benefits:

     

    1. Offers our customers a simplified activation experience across all of our Avid products

     

    2. Provides our Customer Success support personnel with an improved set of tools to help assist our customers with software activation related issues

     

    3. Offers our customers new use case opportunities with regards to how they activate our software

     

    Being the second product in the Avid portfolio to utilize our new licensing technology, Sibelius 7.1 leverages much of the same functionality as Media Composer. If you are one of those devoted Avid customers that uses both Sibelius and Media Composer, you will instantly notice the common activation experience utilized in both products.

     

     

    Sibelius License Types

     

    The Sibelius 7.1 product utilizes the Node Lock license type, which ties the activation to a specific device (Sibelius allows you to activate on 2 separate devices). In addition, Sibelius introduces two license types that we have not yet seen on the Unified Licensing platform, Site License and Network License.

     

    The Sibelius Site License allows our customers the opportunity to use a single Activation ID to activate multiple devices. This is important for customers who have large numbers of Sibelius machines running and don’t want to have to manage large numbers of Activation IDs.  With this license type, you only have to remember one number.

     

    The Sibelius Network License allows our customers to attach multiple Sibelius licenses to their existing Sibelius license server, which offers a multitude of license management functions and is ideal for classrooms.

     

     

    Activating Sibelius

     

    Along with the move to the Unified Licensing scheme, Sibelius 7.1 now uses a common 11 digit System ID and a common 16 digit Activation ID for the initial software activation.  The Sibelius Activation IDs are coded, with the first two digits representing the product (e.g. SB = Sibelius).  Here is a snapshot of the Avid License Control activation UI using the new Sibelius Activation and System IDs.

     

    You will also note that we’ve added a new convenience button called “Paste from Clipboard”. For those customers who have obtained their activation information electronically, you can simply cut and paste these annoyingly long numbers directly into the UI from the clipboard.  They don’t even have to be in the right order, Avid License Control will look for the proper formats and auto-populate the correct fields for you.

     

     

     

    Sibelius Network License

     

    Activation of the Sibelius Network License is similar to the Node Lock example above, but in this use case multiple licenses are activated on the Sibelius License Server, which then distributes these licenses to the Sibelius client machines.  Avid License Control keeps track of the network licenses, even if you add additional license seats later. The example below shows an initial activation of 10 seats, followed by an additional activation of 4 seats. Note the Activation ID starts with “SW” for the Sibelius Network License.

     

     

     

    Here they are in the Sibelius License Server UI.

     

     

     

    Indirect Activation

     

    For those users who are not connected to the internet. Sibelius can also be activated using our Offline Activation web site. We’ve added a “Copy to Clipboard” feature in Avid License Control to help in capturing the necessary data for Offline Activation. Instead of writing down your System ID, Activation ID, and Device ID (a painful task). Simply copy this information to the clipboard, save it onto a USB thumb drive, and carry it over to the internet connected device you will be using for your Offline Activation.

     

     

     

    We believe that you are going to really enjoy this new licensing experience. I recommend you get your Sibelius 7.1 update, check out the new activation process, and let us know what you think.

     

    Happy Activations and we look forward to telling you more when our next Avid product releases.

     

    Rich

     

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  • Behind the scenes of Venom: Sink your teeth in (Part 4)

     

    Sound Design Tips and Tricks – More Tools for Sculpting Your Sound

     

    In my previous blog we talked about Venom’s oscillators and discussed many of the deeper sound design functions that you can perform with them. Now we’ll talk about the rest of the synthesis engine and how it can shape the waveforms we’ve generated. Oftentimes, people focus on just the oscillators or filters in synthesizers when talking about their character, but the entire voice path is just as important, and every one of those elements works together to make an instrument unique.

     

     

    Tip 6 – Pre Filter Boost

     

    Digital filters clip in really unpleasant ways, so quite often DSP engineers will work to keep the levels low enough by limiting the range of the input signals. Venom, on the other hand, gives you the option to actually turn things up with its Pre Filter Boost parameter. This is only possible because we went a step further and built in a tube saturation limiting algorithm that can be overdriven gracefully. When Venom’s filter is clipped, it generates a nice analog distortion sound that adds to your waveform’s harmonics. It’s one last bonus parameter where you can make additions to the timbre before you start using the filter cutoff to subtract from it.

     

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear how the Pre Filter Boost parameter overdrives a sine wave going into the filter.

     

     

     

    Tip 7 – Vocal Formants without a Formant Filter

     

    Venom doesn’t have selectable formant filter algorithms, but you can still make those distinctive “talking synth” sounds. Vocal formants can be created by arranging two or more resonant filters in series at specific frequency relationships to each other. Venom only has one main filter, but secondary filters are available in a couple places farther down the signal path. One filter to try is the Auto-Wah on the Insert effect, but strangely enough, the Sample Rate Reduction effect (decimator) also does a really great job in the formant filtering chain. Check out Single Program A106 “Gibberish” for an example of this. It’s not too hard to experiment with cutoff frequencies until you find some relationships that sound vocal.

     

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear Single Program “Gibberish” talking.

     

     

     

    Tip 8 – Extreme LFOs

    There are tons of LFO options in Venom. Between the three main LFOs, A-Mod LFO, Effects LFOs and the oscillator LFO trick we discussed in my previous blog, there are a myriad of ways to put some interesting motion into your sound. Venom is designed this way because animating different elements of a patch can really give it life, from subtle effects that are more felt than heard, to real sonic fireworks.

     

     

    Check out all the options the main LFOs have to offer, from the extended set of 12 wave shapes, to Tempo Sync expressed in musical note values, to envelope-like fade-in settings, to determining the Start Phase position. You can use these parameters to put together some intense modulations, like in Single Program C003 “LFO Mashup”. This patch uses three tempo synchronized square wave LFOs to create a musical pattern by modulating the pitches and level s of the individual oscillators at different note divisions.

    Listen to the sound file below to hear how the LFOs in “LFO Mashup” interact. (There were only four notes played here, corresponding to the chord changes.)

     

     

     

    Tip 9 – Hold the Envelopes

     

    Normally, envelopes only have one stage where they stay at the same level for any period of time and that’s the Sustain stage. With Venom, we took the traditional ADSR and added a Hold stage between the Attack and the Decay. This allows you to set up modulations that rise, rest, fall, rest, and fall — depending on the envelope settings and how you play the note, of course.

     

     

    For an example, I’ve created a three oscillator program that uses envelopes 2 and 3 to change the individual oscillator pitches, making a sound that moves from one chord to another while a single note is held. Since the Hold stages are set to different times, you can hear one oscillator change frequencies before the other. On the second oscillator I turned up the Decay time which sounds like portamento, or glide, when the envelope plays through that stage.

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear envelope Hold at work.

     

     

     

    Tip 10 – Mono Legato Envelope Mode

     

    Mono legato mode was used for a lot of classic synth leads and basses – the Minimoog D always behaved this way, for example. Venom, as a polyphonic synthesizer, only changes to Mono Legato mode under certain circumstances, but will do so automatically. If Venom is set to Mono mode, and Glide is turned on, the envelopes won’t retrigger unless your fingers are fully lifted off the keys between notes.

     

     

    (If you weren’t planning on having Glide as a part of your sound, leave the Glide Time parameter set to zero and it won’t get in your way.)

     

    You can hear mono legato behavior in the sound file below, which uses preset Single Program A015 “BigBadBob” to illustrate.

     

     

    Venom’s deep synthesis engine gives you many interesting and often unusual tools for sculpting your sound. From its chameleonic oscillators and filter, to its dizzying LFO and envelope modulations, Venom provides more than enough options to continue making wonderfully surprising patches for years to come. I look forward to hearing your creations!

     

    If you’d like to take a closer look at the custom Single Programs used in the sound examples, they’re available for download at VenomSynth.com:

     

    http://www.venomsynth.com/content/filtrboostsgl

    http://www.venomsynth.com/content/envholdsgl

     

    To learn more about the Venom synth watch the intro video, listen to audio samples, and check out the buzz.

     

    Taiho

     

    PS: Continue on to Part 5 - Venom Comes Alive in the Matrix.

     

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  • Behind the scenes of Venom: Sink your teeth in (Part 3)

     

    Sound Design Tips and Tricks – Know Your Oscillators

     

    It all begins with the oscillators... If those don’t sound great, no amount of filtering or effects will ever really be able to fix that. Venom addresses this issue in a clever way, by playing back samples of classic analog waveforms as well as modern digital sources. Sampling allows you to go directly to the oscillators of the best synthesizers and drum machines ever made and easily capture every spectral nuance of their waveforms.

     

    As opposed to mathematical modeling, sampling duplicates the exact waveforms using very little horsepower in the DSP. However, the sample is like a snapshot, and the changes that take place over long periods of time, such as analog frequency drift, are not accurately reproduced. But with the savings in processor power, Venom allows you to reintroduce this behavior (and much more) through a comprehensive set of modulation parameters and sound shaping tools.

     

     

    Tip 1 – Recreating analog oscillator behavior

     

    The first thing that comes to mind is how the frequency of an analog oscillator drifts over time. It slowly meanders in a seemingly random fashion as the circuit reacts to small variations in temperature and other factors. To quickly add some of this behavior to a Venom sound, turn up the Drift parameter using the oscillator section of the Vyzex editor.

     

     

    Drift will add small random variations to the base frequency of each oscillator each time you press a key. It does introduce some nice phasing as the detuned oscillators beat against each other, but Drift doesn’t actually go so far as to continue moving the frequencies around over time. For that, we’ll need to set up some LFO modulations.

     

    I like to use LFO 2 set to the “Linear Sample and Hold” shape in order to introduce a smooth random modulation as the note is held.

     

     

    And since you can address each oscillator’s pitch independently, you can really enhance the analog vibe by setting different modulation amounts for each of them. This will cause the frequencies to “fan out” and the oscillators will beat against each other at different rates, but the overall pitch movement will be in the same direction if the modulation routes are all set to the same positive (or negative) polarity.

     

     

    To add the finishing touches to our analog frequency drift, I use LFO 3 to modulate the rate of LFO 2. Although the level values of the Linear Sample and Hold are random, the clock timing isn’t, so it’s a good idea to make this additional modulation route in order to avoid hearing pitch variances occurring at regular intervals.

     

    I bet you thought we were finished at this point, but there’s one more important component to recreating analog behavior in the oscillators, and that’s phase. Analog oscillators are always oscillating behind the scenes, and we hear them only when the filter and amplifier are opened (usually by an envelope). This means that the audible starting phase of the waveform is more or less random since you can’t really control the precise timing of when you play a note and reveal the waveform cycle.

     

    Samples on the other hand, tend to always start at the same spot – the beginning. So, in order to simulate phase variance, Venom provides an oscillator Start Mod parameter, which chooses a random spot in the length of the waveform sample to begin playback. As with the Drift parameter, Start Mod applies the effect randomly, and in different amounts, across all three Venom oscillators whenever a voice sounds.

     

    Okay, so let’s take a listen to what we just did. Listen to the audio file below to hear a three saw-tooth oscillator sound before and after the application of analog simulation.

     

     

     

    Tip 2 – Using the Waveshaper to generate PWM

     

    There are some other tricks to bringing more traditional analog behavior to Venom’s waveforms. Pulse Width Modulation is one of those essentials that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a sample, but Venom provides an interesting and ultimately more versatile way of accessing that classic sound. The key is in the Waveshape parameter on Oscillator 1.

     

    Venom’s Waveshaper takes any waveform that you feed it and turns it into a rectangular wave of varying pulse width patterns. The Waveshape threshold parameter determines the overall shape. Any part of the wave that falls above the threshold gets set to full positive, while anything below is set to full negative.

     

     

    Since Venom’s waveform samples have a fixed pulse width, we use them instead as a reference plot for the Waveshaper algorithm. On Venom, to make the classic Pulse Width Modulation sound, you actually have to start with a saw wave rather than a square, and as you modulate the threshold up and down, the positive going pulse width becomes thinner and thicker respectively.

     

    Listen to the audio file below to hear Pulse Width Modulation generated by the Waveshaper as applied to the MG Saw waveform.

     

     

    Because Venom achieves PWM through a waveshaper algorithm, that function can be applied to every waveform in the oscillator, not just to the square wave like on most analog synths. Some of the more complex Venom waveforms have multiple peaks per cycle at varying amplitudes, so the resulting PWM can even go to 0% on some peaks while not on others. This can make for some very interesting and gritty textures.

     

     

     

    Tip 3 – Unusual uses for drum sounds

     

    Since Venom’s drum samples appear as one-shot waveforms in the oscillators, you can apply algorithmic functions such as the waveshaper to those as well. And changing the threshold takes your kit from a nice rectified distortion sound to complete and utter oblivion... It’s a great effect.

     

    But what I really love is using drums as the source waveform for Sync sounds, which is something you don’t find on a lot of synths outside of the modular world.

     

    Oscillator Sync is generated by resetting the phase of the slave oscillator each time the master oscillator completes a cycle. That way, the slave oscillator takes on the fundamental frequency of the master oscillator while generating new harmonics. By nature of the algorithm, Sync is most interesting when the slave oscillator is set to a higher fundamental frequency than the master, and gets even better when its frequency is being constantly modulated. This creates a shifting set of harmonics over time.

     

    However with a complex master waveform like an analog tom (for example), oscillator Sync causes the slave oscillator to reset many times during the initial attack transient. Then it follows the fundamental frequency in the body of the tom sound as it falls, and finally stops resetting when the drum sample fades out. You can really hear how the sound changes over time if you tune the drum way down. In fact, the sound “Fatality” (A-032 in the preset banks) does exactly that.

     

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear “Fatality” show off the concept of using a drum sound as an oscillator Sync source.

     

     

     

    Tip 4 – Using Oscillators 2 and 3 as LFOs

     

    Another interesting use for a drum sound in the oscillator is as a one-shot complex LFO waveform. Venom already provides 4 LFOs, but you can add two more by tuning oscillators 2 and 3 down to sub audio rates and applying them as Ring Mod and FM respectively. The FM route becomes a pitch LFO and Ring Mod becomes amplitude modulation.

     

    Of course you can use the “normal” waveforms as well. Just tune the oscillators down all the way using the Coarse tuning parameter and then force them down even further using Envelope 3 routed negatively to the individual oscillator pitches. This allows you to use any oscillator waveform in Venom’s arsenal as an unconventional and distinctive LFO shape.

     

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear an example of the oscillators being used as LFOs. Note that none of the 4 main LFOs were used, and that the voice fades out because it follows the envelope of the drum sound used for amplitude modulation.

     

     

     

    Tip 5 – Frequency modulation of Noise

     

    In the analog world, it’s impossible to modulate the frequency of noise because it has no frequency. But in Venom, since the noise is a sample in the oscillator, you can vary the sample rate and change its “pitch/formant” characteristics. Pitching White Noise down starts sounding like Brown Noise, while pitching it up edges into Violet Noise.

     

    This is useful not just for changing the audible timbre of the noise, but also for changing the quality of the result when using noise as a pitch or amplitude modulation source. Normally if a synth gives you a choice of noise color, it’s a set-and-forget parameter, but in Venom you can continuously modulate the White Noise “pitch”, both positively and negatively for dynamic “color” variation.

     

     

    Listen to the sound file below to hear noise used as an FM source, and how varying the sample rate changes the modulation texture.

     

     

    Venom’s oscillators were designed to give you the best of both worlds. They can sound alive and analog or precise and digital depending on how you choose to use them. The tips listed here barely scratch the surface of all the sonic possibilities in Venom’s deep synthesis engine. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to explore further on your own, and I look forward to hearing the cool new sounds that you discover.

     

    If you’d like to take a closer look at the Single Programs used in the sound examples, they’re available for download at VenomSynth.com:

    http://venomsynth.com/content/analogoscsgl

    http://venomsynth.com/content/waveshapesgl

    http://venomsynth.com/content/osclfossgl

    http://venomsynth.com/content/noisemodsgl

     

    To learn more about the Venom synth watch the intro video, listen to audio samples, and check out the buzz.

     

    Taiho

     

    PS: Continue on to Part 4 - More Tools for Sculpting Your Sound.

     

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  • Behind the scenes of Venom: Sink your teeth in (Part 2)

     

    Behind the Industrial Design

     

    I originally thought Venom would be white.

     

    That seems like an odd thing to say, considering that Venom actually is painted white, but I think you’d be amazed at the incredible journey it took to finally get there. In this blog post, I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit on the design of Venom, and give you a peek at what it’s like to work with a group of colleagues who are so passionate about synthesizers. Sometimes, gaining consensus between various viewpoints can be quite frustrating, but after all of the “spirited” debates, the end result is a finished product that’s the best it can be.

     

    Onward with the tale…

     

    In the beginning, I decided that Venom really needed to look like M-Audio’s KeyStudio 49i:

     

     

    I’m kidding! This rendering was just a mockup to show the Industrial Designers the relative placement of various physical features on the unit. At that point, my only concerns were about maintaining the general functionality of the user interface and the overall ergonomics. I always leave it up to the ID professionals to make the final product look original and cool. To kick things off, I try to convey my basic ideas as clearly as possible, and I find it easier to do so by starting with a design that everyone is familiar with already.

     

    We started off the real ID process by discussing the aesthetics of Venom. The synth engine combines old-school waveform muscle with modern digital sensibilities, so we talked in abstract terms about how a “grille” might suggest that kind of power under the hood. We took this concept and applied it most generously to the side panels, but it’s also visible in other aspects of the design, such as the knobs.

     

     

     

    As the outer shell, knobs, wheels and even the buttons took shape, attentions turned to the color scheme of the product. Since purple has been pretty rare on synths historically, and because Avid was in the process of adopting that particular shade in its branding, we tried purple out as our main color:

     

     

    The problem with this purple was that the iridescence in the paint caused it to turn pink under certain lighting conditions, which we felt would not really help us reach our target audience.

     

    This led us to black; the old standby. When this color scheme finally seemed to stick, the discussions turned toward the accents and highlights. We went through a rainbow of colors trying to decide on which combination was most complimentary to the design, but one of my favorites wound up having an almost monochromatic feel, matching the black chassis with grey and silver trim. To me, it felt like a callback to Bob Moog’s old module style, but with a Nine Inch Nails kind of twist.

     

     

    Too bad no one else seemed to like that one… There were a couple more interesting versions with green and blue highlights, but nothing held until I pushed for a black and orange combination as a sort of ARP tribute. The team was relatively happy with this one for quite some time. In fact, we went through two versions in order to get the shade of orange right.

     

     

    All was well and good until a competitor beat us to market with a similar color scheme. That’s always a danger when you’re developing a synth over a period of years, but fortunately in this case we still had enough time to change course. So we returned to the white chassis, and the debate over the top panel silkscreen colors came back with renewed vigor. (As an added bonus for those of you with sharp eyes, you’ve probably noticed that the Venom logo has also changed four times in the midst of all this. That’s a whole other story…)

     

     

    This long iterative process might seem quite chaotic, but for good design you have to validate your assumptions with other stakeholders at every step. We start with internal feedback on things like feasibility and cost, and position in our target market, and then we reach out to our retail partners and get opinions from a select group of sales professionals. Finally, we listen to our customers and do our best to implement suggestions, and if it’s not possible in the current product, we definitely put it on the list of issues to address in the next one. In fact, that goes for the entire design, not just the styling of the outside surface.

     

    If all goes according to plan, you finish up with an elegant design that has been extensively reviewed and not only meets the functional needs of synth enthusiasts, but also elevates to the next level and inspires.

     

     

    Check out the Venom design for yourself at one of our music retailers: Guitar Center, Sam Ash or B&H Photo. Or find the Venom retailer near you with our dealer locator.

     

    To learn more about the Venom synth watch the intro video, listen to audio samples, and check out the buzz.

     

    Taiho

     

    PS: Continue on to Part 3 - Know Your Oscillators.

     

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  • Cutting Out the Middleman

    Vintage TVs

    Vintage TVs by Derek Thomas, available under a Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

     

    A recent article by Andrew Wallenstein published on Variety’s On The Air web site talks about the comedian Louis C.K.’s decision to offer his next show strictly behind an internet pay wall, instead of selling the rights to traditional cable broadcasters for distribution.  There has been much chatter suggesting that this is the first step in the elimination of the middleman from the broadcast distribution chain, impacting the broadcaster’s ability to capture critical distribution revenues. With the internet offering the content creator direct access to the consumer, content creators/owners (in this case, Louis C.K.) have the ability to sell direct to the viewer without having to go through the hassle of rights contracting or the burden of sharing revenues with cable/satellite providers.  Clearly this signifies the end of broadcast as we know it! 

     

    Let’s flash back to the summer of 2003, when Pearl Jam decided to bypass their record label and sell music directly to their fan base on PearlJam.com. Did this not mark the beginning of the end of the music industry as we knew it?  There was another major industry event that also occurred in 2003, just two months ahead of the Pearl Jam announcement, when Apple announced the launch of its iTunes Music Store. You remember iTunes?  This was Apple’s attempt at aggregating and then selling music over the internet, a strategy that clearly went against two dominant industry trends, (1) free music sharing, and (2) artists selling direct to consumers over the internet. Clearly Apple didn’t see the “writing on the wall”. So why did iTunes report record breaking revenues of $1.4 billion in Q2 2011?

     

    One argument is that perhaps Louis C.K. or Pearl Jam, although having a strong dedicated fan base, may not have strong enough brands to profit from selling directly to viewers. The pundits suggest that direct distribution is a viable business model for only strong media brands leaving distribution through traditional broadcasters as the place for only smaller players. For example, there has been much talk about the NFL selling the Super Bowl directly to viewers over the web. If the NFL can’t profit from a direct sales model with the Super Bowl, then who can? Well, just last week, the NFL renewed its broadcast rights with CBS, Fox and NBC, contracting the distribution of their content through 2022, including broadcasting the Super Bowl.

     

    At Avid, we have been having these same conversations with our major broadcast partners in an attempt to understand the implications of internet direct-to-consumer distribution, and the impact of the tablets/smart phones and pay-per-content apps.  All the broadcasters seem to agree on the idea that having an easy direct to consumer distribution process does not equate to eyeballs (or ears for music).  So, simply having a web site, or an iPAD app, does not guarantee success (revenues).  In the industry we talk about creating “content destinations”, brands that are strong enough that you immediately go there to source your media. For example, when you want breaking news, you might go to CNN.  Or, if you want to watch catch-up TV, perhaps you go to Hulu.  Or if you want to listen to a new song, you go to iTunes.  Because these brands have established themselves as content destinations.

     

    Broadcasters are really good at positioning themselves as content destinations, they not only have the reach, but they also have access to the content. More importantly, they have the marketing power to drive people to their brands, something Louis C.K. may not be able to do for his site.  Broadcasters also agree that content aggregation still plays a major role in the market.  Think of a world where every production house, every music artist, every independent film maker, and every major broadcaster relied on a direct to consumer model. Cutting through all the media noise would be a painful experience for everyone, especially the consumer. There would be no quality standard, perhaps no delivery standard, and no pay model standard.  So, by going it alone, are Louis C.K. and Pearl Jam actually doing themselves, and the industry, a disservice, perhaps reducing the overall ability of the industry to capture revenue?  It may be that content aggregators, broadcasters, and distribution middleman in general still serve an important function in making sure that the distribution pipeline is filled with well-regulated, high quality content.  If so, perhaps they are here to stay.

     

    “Where there is a large amount of traffic, there will always be the need for traffic cops.”

     

    Special thanks to Johann Lau and Christopher Payne-Taylor for their insights on this issue.

     

    Rich

     

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  • Behind the scenes of Venom: Sink your teeth in (Part 1)

     

    M-Audio Venom is Born.

     

     

    Hi, I’m Taiho, product designer of Venom, and here are a few things you should know about me…

     

    1. I have always loved synthesizers.

     

    Even as a small child in the 1970s, they captured my attention. There are certain songs that I loved back then, but at the time I didn’t know why.. Of course, when I listen to them now… there are synths all over them. I still remember the day that my first-grade teacher put on a 45 single of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn” and let us dance to it. Imagine sheer pandemonium with a roomful of tiny humans! And six-year-old-me was quite happy that she decided to play it twice.

     

     

     

    2. My dad is cool.

     

    One day when we were getting out of the car to visit my grandparents, my dad and I heard the sound of someone playing a synthesizer from an open window of a nearby apartment building. The sound twisted and morphed and made music in ways I’d never heard before. My dad asked me if I liked it and I said, “Yes.” That one word changed the course of my life.

     

    A short time later, I had my first analog synthesizer. My dad bought it for me, but I’m pretty sure that he secretly played with it after I’d gone to bed. It was a budget synth, but designed by the master himself, Bob Moog. On this instrument, I learned about Oscillators, Filters, LFOs, Envelopes, Pitch Wheels, Mod Wheels, Portamento, and Sync. I was nine years old.

     

     

    3. Andromeda is a galaxy of sound.

     

    Flash forward past many years of learning synths, sound design, sampling, and sequencing, and by a strange set of coincidences, I find myself working at a really great company, helping to make all kinds of synthesizers. In fact, it just happens to be my dream job, and I enthusiastically join my friends in the creation of every synth ever engineered there.

     

    But one of those synths turned out to be extra special… It brought us back to those childhood memories where synthesizers offered the potential of sonic explorations no one had ever heard before. I was so lucky to be a part of the development team for this 16-voice, real analog beast. As designers, we were able to collect everything we loved about our favorite synths and squeeze it all into this one awesome package.

     

     

    4. Hmm.

     

    There was just one problem with this particular galaxy of sound. Few mortal human beings could actually afford it.

     

     

    5. Venom is born.

     

    Fast forward a few more years, and I somehow find myself working at another really great company making synths. Like before, this company isn’t known for making synths when they hire me, but they have some experience with the Atmel Dream DSP, which happens to be really good at playing back piano samples. I was perfectly content with this…

     

    Until one day I realized that using new algorithms, we could get the DSP to play back samples of classic analog waveforms with Pulse Width Modulation/Waveshaping, FM, and Oscillator Sync. Then I started thinking about the 2- and 4-Pole Multimode Resonant Filters we could implement. And that led to thoughts about Envelopes, tempo-synchronized LFOs, and a giant Modulation Matrix where every element could be interconnected. And at that point it was too late. The dam had burst.

     

    Since then, it’s been a long journey both wonderful and terrifying. There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind every Venom that we build. In this blog series, I’ll give you a look behind the scenes of the making of Venom, as well as some power-user tips and tricks for getting every last morsel of tasty sound out of this beautiful synthesizer. Of all the synths I’ve had the pleasure to work on, this one is the closest to my heart, and I look forward to sharing the reasons why.

     

    By the way, my mom is cool too. Hi Mom.

     

    To learn more about the Venom synth watch the intro video, listen to audio samples, and check out the buzz.

     

    Taiho

     

    PS: Continue on to Part 2 - Behind the Industrial Design.

     

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  • AGENT MX-Z3RO—Making an Independent Movie (Part 9)

    Is it December already? This year has seemingly flown by and with the Fall season has come two big software version releases that help filmmakers: Media Composer 6 and Pro Tools 10. Both separately are key apps in the filmmaking process, but together form a powerhouse, integrated workflow… and it just got a lot more integrated and more useful to all of us.

     

    Editor, Eddie Hamilton presenting on the Avid main stage at IBC 2011 Amsterdam.

     

    In The Big Leagues

     

    I was very inspired and awed by hearing Eddie Hamilton (editor of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) and John Refoua (editor of Avatar) speak and demonstrate at various Avid shows and events. They showed several in depth scenes from Kick-Ass and Avatar respectively and the matching Media Composer Sequences/Timelines which were filled to the brim: maximum video and audio track count. They use every aspect of the program to show his director and producers the biggest potential that their movie can be. Their audio skills and attention to detail in the program are top notch, so it makes sense that you would want to keep as much of that good work as possible in the audio post process. I’ll come back to that in more detail later….

     

    On bigger films, it is now common to have an audio suite right down the hall from the video edit bay. The advantages of having a sound person on board early and helping sound design and shape the soundtrack simultaneously with the picture editing makes so much sense to me. It becomes a stronger, more collaborative result and each screening grows more towards the ‘final’ with each and every passing day. Two such films that have functioned this way are Avatar and Water For Elephants. Here’s a quote from the Sound Supervisor for Water for Elephants:

     

    “We have this system that we’ve been working within for several movies… we’re been able to come on early enough to have a real contribution during the editing period in terms of design, but also we can get ready for temps and screenings as well as maintaining everything that had been done (in Media Composer). And In the old days, everything happened in the last two weeks (for sound). The music came together, the sound effects, everything all arrived together at the stage for the first time, at the craziest part of the post-production process. And this is really a gigantic advance. It has to do with being able to gradually create the soundtrack over a longer period of time. And we could not do it if we did not have workstations that were compatible and also workstations that we can edit and mix on in the same process.” -Skip Lievsay Sound Supervisor, Editor and Re-Recording Mixer

     

    I think there is great wisdom here in the idea of being able to ‘gradually create the soundtrack over a longer period of time’. It gives you time to live with, experiment with and become part of the movie sound and spaces. You are not as rushed to just get it done. I truly respect and enjoy Skip’s soundtracks, to name a couple favorites: I Am Legend and No Country For Old Men. For me, they have air, great sonic depth and room to breathe – the sound plays such an incredible role in the storytelling of those movies.

     

    In The Indie Leagues

     

    For our movie Agent MX-Z3RO, we followed the model of Skip and his teams, and I was waiting in the wings with my Pro Tools rig. Files were exchanged in both directions: Media Composer to Pro Tools and vice versa. It started with the first AAF interchange of audio files from Media Composer (5.5) to Pro Tools (9) and a 720P Photo JPEG QuickTime version of the Movie (which is smaller, still looks good and doesn’t take a lot of bandwidth in Pro Tools). At this point, I used Pro Tools to enhance or ‘sweeten’ most of what Greg (our film editor) had done (in his Media Composer cut) like building bigger gunshots, replacing some other backgrounds, fixing dialogue bumps, replacing some dialogue lines and adding some lines in my home studio (to be replaced later in the real ADR session). I also began temping the music from classic action/spy movies like “The Bourne Identity” and “La Femme Nikita” and then sending those back to Greg in the Video Suite as I finished each cue. Much care was given to (temp) mixing as well (as I went along) in order to screen the film for various people/executives who needed to see it. Much of this work was carried forward...

     

    Once we had locked picture, another AAF export was done from Media Composer and into my existing Pro Tools session. This time, it was mainly used as a guide/map to conform all the work that had been done previously. Anything that was new, was pulled down and edited, mixed and added to the work in progress. We later made sub mixes of the dialogue, temp music and effects to use as guide or reference sync tracks for any ADR, Foley, Music Composition, SFX or Dialogue editing sub sessions and distributed those to the various team members contributing. The 720P Photo JPEG QuickTime version of the movie was used throughout editorial for size (ease of transport and ease of playback in Pro Tools. For final dubbing on Scott’s ICON stage, we did end up using the much nicer and larger 1080P DNxHD QuickTime HD version (DNx36), which was exported from Media Composer. It looks amazing projected on a 40 foot screen and really doesn’t tax your Pro Tools system (a 22 GB file for a 19 minute movie!)

     

    Media Composer 6 and Pro Tools 10 Enhancements

     

    Back to my statement above about picture editors: they spend the most amount of time with the director, interpreting his or her intentions and generally are the first point of contact for the audio person on what is intended for the story. So it makes great sense that their audio work is a solid starting point, where the audio team should be starting. The great news is that there are many improvements in the functionality and interchange of both apps, as I mentioned above, that allow the picture editor to create a crafted and convincing soundtrack inside of Media Composer and then carry that valuable work over into the Pro Tools sound suite.

     

    Here is a bullet list of just some of the enhancements to the last few versions of Media Composer 5 & 6.

     

    • Addition of the Avid Artist series tactile controllers for mixing and automation control, as well as macros for speeding up tedious tasks and mouse clicks.

     

    • Support for 5.1 & 7.1 Surround Sound Tracks and Panning

     

    • Support for RTAS (Real Time) Plug-ins like EQ’s, Dynamics, Delays and Reverbs

     

    • Show or hide waveforms, volume, and pan displays on individual tracks or on all tracks

     

    • All new audio mixer window and support for Pro Tools audio hardware (to share the same high quality audio ins and outs).

     

    • Unified terminology between Pro Tools and Media Composer. This provides greater user experience consistency between the two Avid applications.

     

     

    Here is a bullet list of just some of the enhancements to the last few versions of Pro Tools 9 & 10.

     

    • Real-Time Fades (also with AAF and OMF Sequences)

     

    • Waveform display improvements: Both the quality and detail of the waveform from 8 bit to 16 bit, a new outline view and a new overlap waveform display in the fades view. All of these may seem small, but when you spend 10 hours of your day looking at and editing in Pro Tools – this is a huge improvement.

     

    • Export Selected Tracks as New Session or AAF

     

    • Clip-Based Gain Automation (which comes over from Media Composer)

     

    • Import RTAS plug-ins and settings from Media Composer AAF

     

    • 24-Hour Timeline - useful for dailies, which are recorded to Time of Day or live broadcast situations recording to time of day Timecode.

     

    • Disk Cache – Disk Engine improvements resulting in Pro Tools being able to play and record to Network Attached (shared) storage like Avid Unity ISIS (which is extremely common in post/film editing suites)

     

    • Improvements to the Dialogue Field-Recorder Workflow: not only is it working better, but now you can search an external drive, as well as not need to import and split the poly files.

     

    • EUCON Phase 2 enhancements for Artist and Pro Series Consoles

     

    • Audiosuite Enhancements – for editing and processing files with handles and maintaining real-time fades.

     

    • An included free down-mixer plug-in, to help easily create stereo from surround or monos from stereos, etc.

     

    • Interleaved and Mixed File Format (like stereo or 5.1) real time support – no longer needed to create separated mono files, duplicate media

     

    • ICON D-Command now supporting 2 Pro Tools machines in Multi-Mode. Opimal for a small dubbing room with a source machine and a stem recorder machine.

     

    • Satellites expanded from 5 total to 10 total. This is great for big feature film dubbing.

     

     

    Here’s a video of the demo we did at the IBC trade show which spoke to and showed some of the enhanced Media Composer to Pro Tools functionality.

     

     

     

    At the time, both versions weren’t fully locked down and weren’t shipping, so hence the disclaimer about ‘a technology preview’.

     

    Until next time, wishing you a very happy holidays.

     

    Tom

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