SoundWorks Collection

The goal for the SoundWorks Collection is simple; we are dedicated to profiling the greatest and upcoming sound minds from around the world and highlight their contributions. The SoundWorks Collection is produced by Director Michael Coleman of Colemanfilm Media Group in a partnership with MIX Magazine, several audio focused college schools and programs, and the support of the online sound community worldwide.

The SoundWorks Collection takes you behind the scenes and straight to the dub stage for a look into audio post-production feature films, video game sound design, and original soundtrack scoring. This exclusive and intimate video series focuses on individuals and teams behind-the-scenes bringing to life some of the worlds most exciting projects.

SoundWorks Collection Promo from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.


Apple Magic Mouse - Good for sound editors

Apple have recently updated some of their products including a new iMac, MacBook and a new mouse - the Magic Mouse. With the new iMac sporting cheaper pricing than their predecessors, what grabbed my interested was in fact the new mouse. At first I thought it just to be a new gimmick, however after viewing the Apple video demonstration, I soon saw a potential use for sound editors.

As a sound editor myself, I loath using the conventional computer mouse and as a result use a Kensington trackball. My problem with the mouse is that continually scrolling across a desk all day long brings on shoulder and back pain. Using the trackball eliminates this problem with an added bonus of giving me specific function buttons which I can set up shortcuts on.

The Magic Mouse seems (from the video) to allow the user to scroll both horizontally and vertically without having to physically scroll the mouse itself across your desk. The top shell of the mouse is an entire multi touch sensor. Thus working similar to an iphone/ipod touch touch screen. This will allow the user in ProTools (or any app for that matter) to easily screen scroll.


Chris Watson visiting regional NSW

From 11-19th October The Wired Lab <http://wiredlab.ning.com/> will be hosting UK artist Chris Watson as artist in residence. Watson is a founding member of the influential experimental music group 'Cabaret Voltaire', and since the 1980's has worked as a sound recordist specialising in nature and the natural world around us. He records wildlife, the sounds of animals and habitats from around the globe.

Watson has recorded and produced the sound for a number of acclaimed documentary series such as David Attenborough's "The Life of Birds and The Life of Mammals" films, "The Big Cat Diary" and Bill Oddie's "Wildside" bird watching series. He is a renown BBC sound recordist and artist working all over the world. He has worked extensively throughout Central & South America which habitates over half of the planets wildlife.
On Saturday 17th October Watson will give a performance at the Cootamundra Creative Arts and Cultural Centre (CCACC). This will be your opportunity to hear Watson provide two live surround sound mixes from his 'Midnight at the Oasis', a 20 minute time compression from sunset to sunrise in South Africa's Kalahari desert. Along with; 'Oceanus pacificus' recorded on location around the Galapagos Islands 1000Km off the coast of Ecuador, and 10m below the sea surface.

The performance is open to all ages. Come along and be sonically transported to two of the worlds most extreme and complex environments.

WHAT: Chris Watson & The Wired Lab concert
WHERE: Cootamundra Creative Arts and Cultural Centre <http://www.ccacc.org.au/>
16-20 Wallendoon Street, Cootamundra
TIME: 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start
COST: $5-10 door fee, with proceeds to the CCACC, a volunteer run facility.


Keep your Apple 3rd Party Apps up to date

Here is a Mac widget which will allow you to keep your 3rd party apps up to date. It supports Apple’s software directory, MacUpdate and Version Tracker. It will present you with a tidy link list of all the updates found, enabling you to read release-notes and download the the updates quickly and painlessly.

Amongst the key features are automatic update checks once per day or week, Growl notifications, powerful configuration possibilities, support for Apple’s download pages, MacUpdate and VersionTracker and an extensive documentation built right into the widget (but you can also read the documentation in your browser).


Line6 Pod Farm for free!

Limited time! Line 6 is giving away POD Farm™, the premium tone plug-in – a $99 value! Get the tones you need for pro-sounding recordings. For FREE!


Pro Tools 8 Keyboard Shortcuts

What is Qwikn?
Qwikn - an app that
lets you effortlessly search and store keyboard shortcuts.


An App to help reset PT Prefs on Mac

Here is a link to a user friendly GUI (Pro Tools Prefs and Database Helper) for resetting you Digidesign prefs and databases when things are not going well.


How some basic electronics can save you some $$$

I wanted to write about how some basic electronic repairs has saved me in excess of $100.

Firstly, I have had a Jim Dunlop Cry Baby guitar "wah" pedal since being a teenager (yes... quite some time). Anyway due to a lack of use, living by the sea and collecting dust my attempt to use the pedal recently was quite futile. The pot inside which creates the iconic "wah" sound had inherited a nasty cheese grating crunch noise, every time I pressed on the pedal! After a quick diagnosis it was apparent that it was just a dirty pot, but a dead pot. Looking around Ebay the replacement genuine Hoy Potz pot was going to cost around $50 AUD. Thinking that this was a bit steep for a part which gets used once a year I decided to test a "non genuine" pot instead. Going to Tandy and ordering a $2.75 part with the same specs had me feeling quite confident. After installing this new pot, my confidence had soared as the sound was identical to the Hot Potz in it's glory days. The only change I had to make was that the nut on the pot has to be tightened as much as possible, as it a slightly smaller fit that the original. But hey, for $2.75 - you can' tell the difference. If you want to know the part I used, it was a 100K ohm linear flat shaft pot.

Whilst feeling confident in this repair, I also had an apple laptop with an external power supply which had frayed cables where the plug inserts into the laptop. Having a second power supply allowed me to simply chop off one cable and splice on another cable (in almost new condition). This doner cable had come from the original power supply. However the power supply decided to internally combust one day after being plugged in for 12 hrs. Many people would simply have thrown these power supplys out and bought another one, however for 10 minutes work I have saved another $50 or so.


Cheap HD TV recording option. And very Good!

With the introduction of digital television into Australia, I have been been procrastinating in my purchase of a video recorder or the like. NOt having even a VHS recorder to my name, I have seen the advertisements in catalogues showing the new DVD recorders, and Hard Drive recorders for sale. What has deterred my from making a purchase is that I didn't want to spend $1000 on a Hard Drive/ DVD/ HD recording device - as I wanted all of these options... not just one or two.

Having an old G4 laptop (circa 2002) in my posession, I wanted to put it to some use without having to retire it to the top of a cupboard. I was ecstatic to read the box of the Elgato EyeTv DDT
which I recently saw perched upon the shelf at my local Apple store. The box mentioned that the USB digital tuner/ recorder (the size of a USB thumbdrive) was compatible with G4 Power Pc's (at SD quality). I don't know about you but this is good enough for me, and at only $130 delivered it beats any $1000 dedicated device!!! Owning an Intel MacBook, I am able to record at HD quality should I wish.
After purchasing the EyeTv over 2 weeks ago I have thoroughly tested the device on both G4 and Intel computers. I can report that my old G4 1Ghz, 768 meg ram runs without a hiccup at SD. I have also set up an external self powered 40 Gb hard drive which I have targeted. Having Roxio Toast installed, I am able to record, edit and burn straight to DVD with only minimal mouse clicks. So if you are wanting a hard drive/dvd recorder and have an old Mac lying around I highly recommend that you check out the Elgato EyeTV.


Share links using Zotero

Last post I mentioned the use of Zotero as a great resource for the sharing of research articles and links. I have set up a public group for those of you who wish to join.

Please feel free to contribute to this group by adding your own favorite resources!


A few FREE Mac Apps worth mentioning

It has been quite a while since my last post. What I wanted to share today are a couple more small applications which have made my workflow much easier- especially in regards to online collaborations.

Firstly I wanted to mention a Mozilla Firefox extension called Zotero. Zotero is a web based research tool which allows you to manage, collect and cite research sources. Although this is not necessary for the average sound professional, what makes this fantastic is the ability to sync web sources. This is is extremely useful for users with multiple computers, or for workplaces who want to share "common sites". I have used del.icio.us for this same purpose before, however Zotero is far quicker, due to links living locally after sync.

DropBox is another app which I am tending to use more and more. DropBox is a cross platform + web based file sharing system. For free you are granted 2Gb of fully sync-able data! I have a folder set up on all of my computers and any documents or files which I always need access to are only a click away. DropBox also keeps a backup of your data on the web incase of any accidental deleting. This works just like any other folder in your finder.... except it can be shared and synced to anyone you wish - or kept private. Some uses I have had are: contact lists, app udates, picture updates, or just sending audio! This is truly one cool app!

Remote Pad an app for the iPhone and a computer which allows you to use your iPhone/ iPod touch as a remote touch mouse over a wifi network. Great for presentations!

What is great about the mentioned applications is the fact that they are all free!


Cheap stereo location recording

Lately I have been doing a lot of sound effects and atmosphere recording in country NSW. The locations are quiet, free from traffic and abundant in birds. 

Over the years I have generally borrowed high end microphones and location mixers from colleagues whenever I have needed to record in stereo in the field. Not wanting to spend big money or always depend on borrowing high end schoep microphones off friends, I generally use my Rode NT5 matched pair. These are setup on a T-Bar and allow for the recording of stereo atmospheres. The problem with the NT5's is that wind is very difficult to control due to the mic set up and the lack of any windshields (except for my home made stereo pair wind socks). 

- Lately I have been on a bit of a mission to find a good quality and economic outdoor field recording solution.

With much testing, my new low cost combination of choice is to use the Rode NT4 stereo mic inside the new Rode blimps. With this combination connected to a good field mixer and recorder, the audio quality is excellent!  ... no more wind buffets and quite affordable. 

However one downside is that you can't change the stereo spread of the microphone, but the portability and wind rejection qualities make up for this downfall.


Mac OSX 10.5.7 update

Be very careful if updating to the new Mac OS X 10.5.7 update.... as the following bugs are just some of the problems starting to emerge.

MacFixIt Bugs


Playback MPEG and Vob files with audio!

"The MPEG-2 Playback Component does not support audio playback for MPEG-2 files containing PCM, DTS or AC3 audio."

There are a couple of workarounds though.. .and this may even save you a few $$$. The option I use is to download  the Squared 5 MPEG Streamer converter

This is a standalone application which will playback the audio! It also allows you to edit, (unlike QTime Pro with Vob files) and export to many other common file types. Not only that- but it can also playback full screen! So if you haven't purchased QT Pro, you can play back any format QuickTime can handle using this application, and the best news is... it is FREE!!! The only catch is that this application will need the you to have purchased the Apple Mpeg2 component plug-in. Talk about false advertising... you need to buy the Apple plug in in order to play VOB files, however the plug in won't playback audio so you need to download a free 3rd part application which actually works and does what the original plug in should do anyway... weird....
Since I am on the topic of Quicktime plug ins and codecs, I have mentioned this before but if you haven't already done so download Perian - The Swiss Army Knife of Quicktime Codecs.


Recording Cave Convolutions

After being bitten by the "convolution" recording bug, I wanted to set a new challenge. My mission was to record the convolution of a cave! After all this sounds like fun.., doesn't it? Well yes in theory... One of the most difficult parts of convolution recording is the powering of the speaker(s) for playback of the frequency sweep. In the case of this cave another challenge loomed as there was also quite a walk into the caves. Being by myself this meant the carrying of quite a lot of gear- and at times in confined squishy spaces. Admittedly I was primarily there to record cave atmospheres, however since I made this an entire day trip I decided to take the extra gear and capture some convolutions whilst had the permission, time and opportunity.

My convolution recording set up included a pre made ProTools session (sine wave sweeps and record tracks labelled and spaced) running off a MacBook with an MBox mini. This allowed me to be able to have playback as well as a recording device all in one- with headphone monitoring. I then placed a powered speaker inside a large chamber in the cave. Because I had ProTools set up before hand, I set up my session to playback along the timeline with the sweep every 30 seconds. This allowed me with my handheld stereo field mics (plugged into the MBox) to walk around the cave and record many perspectives without having to stop and start. The cave was cold and very damp so I didn't want to take any longer than necessary.

The picture above shows my basic laptop set up with the speaker set up behind in the top left hand corner. The mics as mentioned were hand held as I walked around the space. I had a Rode NT4 mounted into a Rycote blimp.


SMULE and the Leaf Trombone

If you haven't yet seen the preview for the upcoming Apple iPhone 3.0 software, then you may be unaware of a very cool application for the iphone/ipod. Smule proudly introduces Leaf Trombone World Stage, the world's first Massively-Multiplayer Musical Game. BLOW into your iPhone and slide your finger to create beautiful melodies. Or use TOUCH mode on your iPod Touch to play without wind. It's easy to compose and share your musical inspirations with the world using Smule's new online Leaf Trombone Composer. Not only will you be a composer, but you can also judge other users works with the use of emoticons.

See it in action!


My first convolution reverb recording...

A while ago I started experimenting with convolution reverbs. Convolution reverbs are reverbs which "sample" the reverb of a given space. This is amazing technology as you are able to sample any physical space or even any old outboard equipment and replicate the reverb characteristics within your audio software.

Owning several convolution reverb plug-ins, I wanted to experiment with recording my own spaces. My first recorded convolution was recorded using the Waves IR1. Starting with baby steps, my first recording was of course a bathroom. I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was, and how realistic it was!

From the photo you can see an omni direction mic set up at the far end of the bathroom, and a speaker on the left hand side. From my studio I generated a frequency sweep which played through the speaker - and was captured using this microphone and recorded in Pro Tools. This new file of the recorded sweep was then loaded and analysed by Waves IR1. Within a few seconds of analysing, IR1 created a new convolution pre-set of the bathroom! After running some dialogue through this setting I couldn't believe just how well IR1 cloned the bathroom reverb!

I can now see myself recording many, many rooms and old reverb units as this is simply amazing!


Some of my thoughts on the new MacBook

After having acquired a new Aluminium 2.4GHz MacBook I thought that I would write about some of it's features and flaws as they relate to a sound person.
Firstly as noted in may of the forums, there are no longer any firewire ports (unless you opt for the cheaper "white model"). This limits the user to only 2 x USB ports. Normally this would be OK, as after all this is a laptop. However my problem with this is that that the USB ports are too close together! So if you want to plug 2 peripherals in ie. an interface and a hard drive, than you may come across the problem of only being able to plug one in at a time. Sure you can fix this with a hub, but then you need to carry a hub with you at all times... Having no Firewire opens up quite a few problems for many as many people I know own firewire drives. Another obvious problem is that if you have a Firewire interface... An advantage of most of the firewire drives was that you could daisy chain several together, the problem with USB drives (well all the ones that I own - or have seen advertised) is that they only have 1 x USB port. ie You can't daisy chain them.
On to a positive note about the new MacBooks... One cool feature which is now standard is the illuminated keyboard. This makes working in the studio very easy now as all of the keys are backlit. Another cool feature is the new designed trackpad. This is not only larger, but it supports multi touch gestures. this includes scrolling, rotating and best of all zooming!!! The zooming is great especially when reading text in Word or on the web.
Overall I am happy with this laptop as the performance for the cost is quite amazing. Luckily I do have several ProTools interfaces and many hard drive configurations so the USB issue isn't too much of a deal... well at least not now that I have shuffled my files around accordingly.


Speak and Read glitch recording

Here is a sample of my newly tweaked "Speak and Read"

Click here to listen!


Sound Electronics

A few months ago... OK maybe about a year ago I started looking back at a hobby I had as a kid growing up - Electronics. Thanks to Dick Smith and his "Fun Way to Electronics" books I spent many available hours working on small electronic projects.... some of which included small stereo amps and even a beer powered radio!!! Fast forward a couple of decades and I have had the urge to try my hand at electronics once again. This time however, I am wanting to be a bit more ambitious and build projects which I will use for my sound design work/ music experimentations. My initial goal was to build a x0xb0x TB-303 clone synth. With a waiting list of a couple of years to buy this in kit form, I decided to source the parts myself in order to start the build whilst I still have the bug. After my initial purchase of parts which I could source within Australia I soon realised that I needed to source some rare (and expensive) parts from OS. In hindsight I should have bit the bullet and forked out the cash late last year when I first decided to go down this route... as now the Aussie dollar is so bad, that my project has already gone up 35% in costs!!! With this in mind I have decided to "slowly" acquire these rare parts should I find them at a bargain price on Ebay or the like.
With no set date to start the x0xb0x I decided to continue my quest into electronics by starting some circuit bending projects. After a scrounge around the local tip's 2nd hand section I found myself spending a total of $5 on a drum machine, a "Tickle me Elmo" and 2 x kids keyboards - enough to start tinkering with. Firstly I started on one of the keyboards. Although successful, I wasn't completely satisfied. What I wanted was a Texas Instruments "Speak and Spell". After several months of placing free classifieds I finally sourced a Speak and Read a couple of weeks ago! Although not being the Speak and Spell, it is just as good. So after a couple of weeks of wiring and testing, here are some photos of my new toy - albeit with some brain surgery! Sound files to follow soon...


New Macs released

Apple has just announced new release versions of the Mac Mini, iMac and Mac Pro.

The Mac Mini claims to be the most green desktop computer with speeds of 2.0GHz or 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processors. Further details can be found here.

The iMac is now NVIDIA based and is capable of up to 8Gb of Ram. Processor speeds are 2.66GHz, 2.93GHz, or 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

The Mac Pro is now based on Intel's Nehalem architecture. This new architecture apparently will not suffer from the current memory bottlenecks. Processor Speeds are as follows:
8-core: Two 2.26GHz, 2.66GHz, or 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 5500 series processors
Quad-core: One 2.66GHz or 2.93GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon 3500 series processor

Ram is up to 32Gb.
8-core: Eight memory slots (four per processor) supporting up to 32GB of main memory using 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB DIMMs
Quad-core: Four memory slots supporting up to 8GB of main memory using 1GB or 2GB DIMMs


Spectrasonics releases Stylus RMX 1.7

Spectrasonics has just released an update to the loop based virtual instrument Stylus RMX. Being a user of this plug, I find it compltetely brilliant and am excited to know that it now does "realtime" time signature changes on the fly, something Spectrasonics claims to be a world first!!! After watching the video, I am sure you will agree that this is a very cool new feature for those who work with loops.

Create beats on iPhone using Beatmaker

Henny makes beat on iPhone 3G using Beatmaker!!! from THA BIZNESS on Vimeo.

Pro Tools 8cs2 release - all platforms

Digidesign has release PT 8cs2 for all platforms. Click here for downloads.


Safari 4 (public beta)

Apple has released the Safari Version 4 in public beta form. This is a public beta, which allows anybody to download and test the software ahead of an official release.

Some of the new features include:
Cover Flow - Cover Flow presents full-page previews of sites in your site history and bookmarks. Flip through them as you do albums in iTunes to find the site you’re looking for.

Top Sites - Top Sites lets you see all your favorite websites at a glance. One click opens a favorite site. And you can drag site thumbnails to customize your Top Sites page.

History View - Take a closer look at your browsing history in the History view. Search for previously visited sites, drag web pages to your bookmarks, and clear individual items. Safari displays your history using Cover Flow, so you can flip through your search results as easily as you flip through iTunes album art.

With over 150 new features, the list is far too extensive to list here. Click here to visit the official Safari features web page.


Multiple Calendars on iPod touch/ iPhone

If you own an iPhone or iPod touch and you are using it as your primary PDA/ diary etc, you are probably aware of some of the limitations in regards to the calendar. One of the most frustrating limitations being that it can only sync up to one calendar. ie iCal or Outlook or Google Calendar. There is however a workaround... a bit of work to set up but a workaround none the less. The basic concept is to have all of your calendars to sync into iCal - and then this iCal calendar will be the calendar which will sync to your iPod/ iPhone.

If your office computer is a PC and you are using Outlook, the easiest way to get Outlook to sync with iCal is to go through Google Calendar. Firstly, you will need to download the Google Calendar Sync software. Once installed on your PC you will then need to sync Outlook with your primary google calendar. You can select whether to sync one way or 2-way and the time interval for sync updates. The great thing with Outlook/ Google Calendar is the fact that it is a 2 way sync, unlike iCal and Google! Once your google Calendar is in sync you then subscribe to it within iCal. The subscription address can be found under your Google Calendar settings.

Now when you connect you iPod/ iPhone your Outlook, Google and iCal calendars will be synchronised!!! Be aware though, that any changes made to your iPhone/ iPod calendar under your Google Calendar sub calendar will not be uploaded to Google as iCal is only 1 way.ie download only (you will need to manually make changes to the Google Calendar using your iPod/iPhone web browser to work around this) . This however is a method for you to keep track of any Outlook, Google and iCal appointments etc...at any one time


Pro Tools 8 Playlists for ADR

After having a bit more of a play on ProTools 8 I wanted to write about the new playlist features.

With PT8, playlists are far more functional than they were to this version. In particular is the ability to list all alternate playlist under the primary track as a collapsable group of tracks. This allows you to view all tracks at once, and not just simply cycle through the playlist tracks one by one. where this is particularly useful is when recording ADR takes. After going to your "preferences" and selecting "Automatically create new playlists when loop recording", Pro tools will create playlists for all of your takes. These takes can then be made visible, showing up lined up directly under the main playlist.
This is excellent for editing dialogues and ADR (and of course music). What you can do is solo through the alternate playlist (alternate takes) select the portion of the track you like and edit it into a "cut track" or "final edit track". Another great feature is that the main playlist will keep the track coloring from the original playlists so that you are always aware visualy where the edit selection came from. An example is below.

The green edits are original from the main playlist.
However as you can see I have taken edits from the other three alternate playlists and simply placed them on the main playlist. An easy method is by using the "separation grabber" This allows all automation to be tied to these tracks making it easier when shifting tracks (with alt playlists) to various sessions.


Pro Tools 8 - What I think so far

Now that I have started to use Pro Tools 8, I wanted to give my thoughts on this upgrade.

To start with, when opening Pro Tools now you are greeted by a splash screen asking if you wish to open from a list of templates or existing session. (This feature can be turned off)

The look of Pro Tools has changed. No longer is the edit window a nice clean bright screen with fine lines and easy to read details, it now has taken a more dark appearance akin to that of Logic 8, with fine lines and text now seeming to be more bold.
A positive to the new look interface though is the addition of a db level range on the mixer.

Once you get over the new look, the fun begins.

Pro tools now ships with many more plug ins. With new virtual instruments including:

Boom drum machine and sequencer
DB-33 tonewheel organ emulator with rotating speaker simulation
Mini Grand acoustic grand piano
Vacuum monophonic vacuum tube synthesizer
Xpand!2 multitimbral synth and sample workstation
Structure Free sample player (RTAS)
FXpansion BFD Lite acoustic drum module

Also included are new reverbs, eq's, delays, frequency shifter and a host of new AIR plugins which more closely resemble a palate of guitar stomp boxes. Some of these new plug ins include:

AIR Chorus
AIR Distortion
AIR Dynamic Delay
AIR Enhancer
AIR Ensemble
AIR Filter Gate
AIR Flanger
AIR Frequency Shifter
AIR FuzzWah
AIR MultiChorus
AIR Multi-Delay
AIR Nonlinear Reverb
AIR Phaser
AIR Reverb
AIR Spring Reverb
AIR StereoWidth
AIR Talkbox
AIR Vintage Filter
BF76 Compressor
BF Essential Clip Remover
BF Essential Correlation Meter
BF Essential Meter Bridge
BF Essential Noise Meter
Celemony Melodyne Essential
Eleven Free
TL AutoPan
TL InTune
TL MasterMeter
TL Metro

A new midi editor now sits below the edit window. (By default this is collapsed) It is very similar the the sequencer to that in Reason, with the advantage to be able to toggle between the midi editor and a score editor.

The top of the screen now houses a new customizable tool bar. This allows you to configure which tools and counters appear at the top of the screen. One handy configuration includes the Universe window.

These new features are only a few hand picked features which exist within this new update. I have been working on music remixes, and thus this initial review is more music related. Over the next few months I hope to write what new features in Pro Tools 8 are more suited to those who work in audio post production.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all!

It has been a while since I have written on this blog due to work commitments and holiday time. I intend to now gear up the blog entries for the coming year. First up will be some initial thoughts on the new Pro Tools 8.