Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why do you run around and break everything?

What is the deal lately with software companies wanting to break everything. First we had Vista which was as the kids say an epic fail. That seemed to open the door for PC side companies to release buggy software. Most recently Sonar 8.

For full transparency, I was recently (right before 8's launch) turned down for a job with Cakewalk/Roland. I do not hold any grudge and probably would have turned down the job based on relocation problems. Also I received both my copies of Sonar 8 for free. I won a contest and also got another through PR ties.

Unfortunately, Sonar 8 sucks balls.

This is the first time I've had to consistently go back to a previous version to guarantee I would not look like a fool in front of clients. I've been a loyal customer since Pro Audio 2 or something (at the age of 8) and his is the first time I am genuinely upset about the company being to capricious.

After two patches (8.0.2) I am still experiencing terrible issues that could embarras me horribly in front of a client. Most horrifically, moving of regions based on the tempo grid are often not correctly snapped.

Cakewalk, who told you to break your software? Was it Roland?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Favorite Obama Vid So Far

If you watch it watch it until 2:20. Otherwise don't bother

As funny as this video is I could not have a more profound connection to the underlying message.


Monday, October 6, 2008

A Bit of Free Association

Take it for what you will.

One rule in media that I have learned and am constantly relearning is that there are three tenets to production; fast, cheap, and good. You must choose two. My posit is that what is going on today is that "fast" is faultily being replaced with "volume" and that is making all things to suck when all of a sudden it appears you can grab all three. My goal is to grab none of those but instead reach for three different tenets; unique, rhythmic, important. Perhaps those three would be better described as; not spam, consistant, and not spam. And let me just say I have a much broader definition of spam than most other digital media professionals.

In an end note, the internet introduced a bit of the old "unpredictable" into commerce. Business hates the unpredictable worse than worker's rights. This is because it directly correlates to no known metric.

As the "Y" generations take over the markets in whole we will be confronted by the inherited thoughts of business, even from our peers. Our claim as the "generation that conquered social media" will not stand up to history, in the same way our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents cannot claim any revolution. What we might accomplish is the elevation of social media to a useful platform. Many "twits" believe its already gotten there, but those people are nerds.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

New Blog Focus

Obviously it has been a while since I have posted on this little blog. In that time many changes have taken place in my life and career and I feel it is important for my voice's new direction to get a little bit of explanation. I am still working in the technical and creative world of sound on a daily basis but, as with many of my ilk currently and in previous times of financial troubles, am needing to branch out a bit. So, in short, I had to get a day job.

To my suprise, I am finding my new line of work suprisingly interesting. The best way I could describe the current position is as filling in the communication gaps for a small firm. This includes writing informational and technical literature, "media" outreach, and advertising research. Technical writing is fairly simple thanks to my experience at my old old job.

As for "media" outreach I have done a ridiculous amount of research on the subject. There are quite a number of tasty nuggets I have found in the blogosphere. Probably the most straightforward one recently has been Max Gladwell's post on PR 3.0 which addresses the problem of keeping my job directly. As for convincing management about such ideas, that's a different story. I find it easiest to repeat that the essence of public relations is relationships with those that have an audience.

Take a clue from Karl Rove and Winston Churchill. Keep repeating your message. The stiffs will get it after about a thousand times.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The BLUE Ball and Some Angst

Me? I go way back with the BLUE Ball. I was still in school when it first came out in 2003. I had read reviews on it in all the shitty magazines (EM, EQ, same same) trying to figure out what I would use it for. All they had to offer was that "it sounds good on snare but you can't fit it in there so pfff." Other than that it was just the same gawking at the fact that it's a dynamic mic that needs phantom power.

So I tried it on snare and I instantly hated it. I can't tell you how many times this same exact thing had happened and it bummed me out. Try it on what the magazine says its nice on and realize these reviewers are completely deaf just like the rest of the music industry. Or they are just some drummer with a studio.

So anyway, eventually I get to trying it out on electric guitar and there you have it. pretty much the only reason I was worth anything as an engineer in school. The Ball did something I've never heard a mic do. It made the guitar sound like how it should sound without any eq or weird parlor tricks. I bought a second one as soon as I saved up another hundo (about one year later).

Now, I only bring this part up because it came up at the studio that a band I play guitar in was recording in last week. We were trying to get guitar tones the first day and I was just a little circumspect about my tone. I was in sort of a weird place seeing as I've never been recorded seriously by someone else. I mentioned that I usually used the BLUE Ball as the basis for my guitar tone and John one of the engineers said I should bring it in the next day.

The conversation went on about how I had discovered that the BLUE Ball really tackled the problem of a flat sounding guitar. Then I got into my little diatribe about how I was the first to seed this tightly kept secret of the sound world. Of course I don't think it should be kept a secret but I do contest I was the first (probably).

Back in the time when the Ball was nothing more than an oddity of transduction with a colorful name I would see a friend of mine at a couple of different bars around Chicago. This friend of mine was doing on and off tours with a pretty popular band as their soundman. Of course when two dudes with a common interest get to talkin in a bar new shit comes to light and this guy shared a lot of awesome stuff with me. They one tip I gave him was try out the ball. Low and behold next time I see him he bought two and the band is using them on tour for every show. Of course he said he liked to augment them with a 57 but I also had become accustomed to using a different mic along with the ball. But no matter what, always the Ball!

So apparently the Balls worked out for them because they got bigger and stuff I think but whatever. I kinda lost touch with my friend but I made others. Then one day I see Jack White's "other" band, The Racountuers playing on Austin City Limits one night whilst suffering from insomnia. Wouldn't you know it but there's a Blue Ball on one of Jack White's amps. I thought maybe it was a fluke but I guess that's his touring setup.

Check out 00:10 of this vid unrelated to the Austin City Limits set:

Now I'm not trying to toot my own horn saying I'm responsible for Jack White's stage mic setup but sound guys do talk and there is a good chance I was the seminal link between the mic and the amp. Of course there is also a very good chance that my friend is now the sound guy for the Raconteurs which I would be pleased as punch to hear.

So anyway, back in the studio this past week I brought in the Ball for the second day which was mostly overdubs. The ball ended up getting used on nearly every track (out of 12) but for the other guitarists amp. My sound ended up being mostly a mix between an Electro-Voice RE20 and a Royer 121 but the ball was still in there.

I discussed with the other engineer, Devin, about sound of the ball and he came about as close as anybody has to describing what the ball does. Something like "It sounds like how guitarists think guitar should sound" to which I whole heartedly agree. John's comment was "You sold me" and I don't think he was just being polite.

I think what makes the Ball so consistently good with amps (a quality that can be very elusive among mics) it that is seems to maintain a very uniform sound no matter where you place it with regard to the speaker. You definitely don't want it pointing in a bad spot but if you do it may end up being a not as bad spot. Also, it is less effected by the preamp than normal dynamics thanks to the built-in amplifier which is the reason it needs power. This means you can save your nicest channels for other stuff. Less time tweaking more time rocking.

And so ends the story of the BLUE Ball and myself, at least for now. Bottom line, If you record a lot of electric guitar through amps there is probably not a better $100 you are gonna spend. So go buy one you idiot.

For the record: I was not paid to write this. My dumb ass gives it out for free.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some of my recent activities. . .

Hello all. As you might have noticed my posting came to a bit of a halt for the first part of October. Part of this can be blamed on my post production work on an independent feature film as well as my new interest in animation.

This was done using Sony Vegas Movie Studio and of course Sonar for all the sound. Some sounds are from the YMCK Magical 8-bit plug but most come from a variety of 8-bit style soundfonts available on the web for free.

My other Recent Activities

Another reason for the absence is my contribution to the site I had taken a bit of "a break" from Gearwire but now they are posting my videos once again. Here's a list of current titles that I will keep updated. Click the link to go to the video page:

Submersible Music DrumCore Overview
DrumCore Audio Looping
Using DrumCore's MIDI Capabilities
UAD Neve 88RS EQ Section
Cakewalk SONAR Menu Customization: Sonar 6 Screencast
UAD Plate 140
Using The UAD LA2A On Bass
UAD LA3A Smashes Up Some Drums
UAD LA2A: Using The UAD LA2A On Drums
UAD Neve 88RS EQ Section
Quick Tips On Simplifying Sonar's Metronome
UAD Neve88RS Compression Section In Action
Cakewalk SONAR Producer Tutorial: Match Tempo With Audio Snap
UAD Neve 88RS: The Telephone Effect Using The UAD Neve88RS
UAD Neve88RS In Action

Check 'em out if you's a geek and you's bored.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Excited for Sonar 7

So yeah, it's been a while since I've last posted anything. I've been busy on a few projects and junk. Finally there is actually some good news to write about and I got a little free time.

Sonar 7 was released last Friday and as you might know I've been a loyal Cakewalk user for over a decade. Of course the Sonar forum has been flooded with rhetoric regarding the new release. Some of it is rather creative in fact. The downside is that more time is spent ranting than helping others out. Whatever.

It does look like a nice new set of features will be there. Cakewalk even produced a few videos:

Smart MIDI Tools
Integrated Step Sequencer
CD Ripping

Each of these seem like really useful features but in my opinion the biggest (and longest overdue) upgrade is the side-chaining feature. If you are unfamiliar with the notion of side-chaining it is basically using one audio source as a controller for a device or plug-in that is effecting a different audio source. The most common application is for de-essing an overly sibilant vocal but it is also the basis for many other effects. The most radical effect I can think of which requires side chain support is vocoding.

Of course there are other new toys and if you want to learn more about them you'll want to click on these words right here.

So yeah, I'll be upgrading this puppy as soon as I got the scratch.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I've been parodied

Sent my way via myspace


I don't know why people even got into these videos in the first place. I never liked the whole "out of the box" concept myself but for a while I had a boss who pretty much said I had to do it. When he was out of the picture I stopped doing that part of the video and I started getting emails and posts to forums asking me to do them again. The whole gear fetish thing was always pretty confusing to me. I always just wanted to hear the pedal.

Also, while employed there I would ask my bosses to let someone else host the videos and just let me worry about getting good sound. Now, I'm no slouch on the guitar but what I do best is write, record, and play with other musicians. Playing by yourself and not being completely repetitive is something I never got so good at doing. I was always self-conscious of my playing and admittedly it was pretty sloppy at times. However, I got paid and supported myself by doing these things fast and cheap.

And what about this guy? He tracked me down on myspace and sent me a message with a link to the video he had made. Obviously he's seen a few of the videos and read pretty clearly into the subtext, that being I hated my job. I like the fan blowing and the use of the fuck word. I just wish it somehow could have been a little funnier. He did however get the audio and video to sync up on this one. All I can say to him is keep it up and perhaps he could make something of his talent for parody someday. Also, thanks for giving me something to post.