Jingle project Summary

 

The Jingle All The Way assessment this trimester was really eye opening for this trimester. In our work in CIU last trimester, we discussed sourcing income from a few different places, and Jingles are something that can pay, but I’ve also really enjoyed. Parts of Jingles are very creative, but they also need to work within a set of guidelines such as visuals or a space that the sounds need to exist in. I can see myself doing some jingle work to supplement mixing and recording in the future. The struggle with the jingle was getting music to sync with visuals and using ProTools to process and lock to a grid for a video rather than for music to work with itself or other tracks in the song/s. The spaces I had to create to make the foley and visuals work together was a challenge, but the guidelines I discussed also helped with this. Copyright was and is a really big part of our jingles, as we’re using existing ads and video to create our assignments. The most interesting part of the project is uploading and embedding the videos to YouTube and just crossing my fingers that they stay up until they’re assessed.

I’ve become fairly proficient in ProTools, however changing the grid lines to frames instead of samples or seconds was a challenge. However, I’m in the habit of recording at 48k to make sure importing and exporting of videos and audio is easier for bands who might want todo videos with music I’ve recorded, and it’ll sync better with 24.97fps. I started my main jingle by creating  tempo map for some parts in the video that I wanted to line up with the music, regardless of foley. Not surprisingly, after the whole video sync’d really well, so the original video was clearly worked on with the music in mind (if not worked completely parallel to each other). Keeping the advertisement interesting was difficult, as the outcome could easily have been music and foley playing in parallel, rather than visuals and sounds that interact with one another. I tried to make music that was complete within itself but also matched what was happening visually. Two aspects that display this are the drum fill when gauges and glass smash, and the dive-bomb as an ember sails across the room and mixes with the Tennessee Whiskey. It was important that the focus of the audio shifted to keep the audience engaged.
Another big challenge I faced was the idea of space in a jingle. I discussed this in class in Week 11, and was curious of the music/soundtrack should exist in the same ‘space’ as the foley should. My main jingle was set in a big industrial factory, which I mimicked with a lot of reverbs and not much bottom end to imitate sounds hating hard, brick walls. A few parts pf the jingle are inside a tunnel, so I rolled off the highs and extended the bottom end of the reverb to give it a tunnel like sound as the whiskey in the ad roared through lot. In hindsight, it’s obvious that the music can’t be changing to fit these spaces all the time, but I’m glad I asked. One aspect I’m particularly proud of, albeit cheesy and that it only exists for a moment is when the Jack Daniel’s bottle is plunged into the water to cool off, the entire mix is automated to sound like it’s underwater with some EQ and and phasey modulation effects. The hissing sound of the label on the bottle changing after it re-emerges from the water is just the hiss of the hot bottle hitting the water played in reverse, however it gives the great effect of the change in label rippling and bubbling across the entire bottle. I also used to automation to give the lava-like whiskey some intensity as it flows through pipes, moving left to right and forwards to back.
The timbre and mix of the foley and music itself was difficult as they were processed quite differently but still had to sound coherent. A lot of the foley sounds were very processed and sound-designed so they didn’t sound too similar to what they were originally (metal rulers hitting a metal bin and the floor, a single glass smashing (my housemates would only let me sacrifice one) and a hot pan being plunged into water, etc.) , whereas with the music itself I really made an effort to capture good sounds so it didn’t require as much mixing. A lot of the foley came out quite metallic, so I made the drums particularly click and snappy, and the guitars had a lot of gains attack without being harsh. I cut a lot of the high end from the bass so it really just fills out the guitar. I automated the music in an out so all of the foley would fit as this is more of the focus than the music. I used two reverb sends for the foley, a ‘CloseFX’ and a ‘FarFX’ and sent most of them at about 0dBFS to keep it solid and ‘real’ sounding. The music was sent to its own sends, but the audio as a whole still sounds coherent. I used master bus EQ and compression across all audio.
In conclusion, the jingle project really was a lot of fun. I learned a lot about space and mixing to matched other sounds processed in different ways so it still sounds cohesive. This is a really important skill to have as as a hopeful mixing engineer, I might received raw or processed tracks from different engineers and studios that all need to be mixed coherently into a song or album. I can see jingles being a great way to network, pay some bills and keep myself creative in new ways, and hopefully working with material without as much copyright risk. This could lead to sound for TV or movies, or other areas I haven’t even thought about. I really enjoyed the composition within constraints as it really helped me dial something in fast that suited the video. Processing the sounds themselves was a lot of fun, and this was probably the most complicated ProTools session I’ve ever created, as far as sends, automation, effects and different processing goes. As stated earlier,a lot of the foley really needed some work to stop it sounding like foley recorded in a small garage. I believe I delivered a coherent advertisement that invokes a mood that suits the product.
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In conclusion: 16T2 AUD210

In AUD210 this trimester, I’ve learned more about working as a professional in the industry than technical knowledge such as miking techniques or compression than I expected. While I’ve learnt a LOT about critically listening for compression artefacts, identifying test tones and EQ changes, the time we spent with real artists in the Sound-Alike project speaks volumes for the expectations of a professional audio engineer or producer. We watched a professional engineer handle a tracking session, in Trinski, and learnt that miking and pre-tape processing should be second nature, because encouraging and inspiring an artist to perform at their best is the ingredient to a great sounding and inspiring recording. I think we successfully achieved our own expectations for a recording that sounds similar in timbre, space and performance to the mastered original. The EMP unit was a lot more beneficial than I was (admittedly) expecting, and using software like Live really opened my eyes to how some great sounding records have been made. I learnt a lot of about manipulating and sound design, and creating whole new sounds from scratch. The outcome of the EMP unit was to successfully use Live to create a remix using techniques and sounds we’d learned to use and manipulate throughout the trimester. Finally this trimester, the jingle project really drove home the room to improve in my time management skills. Real life will always happen, but if I believe I can get something finished, I can, and procrastination only makes it more difficult.
The first assessment this trimester was to create a successful Sound-Alike, and our group chose ‘Hoops’ by the Rubens. While on the surface the song is quite typical, simple and catchy, analysing the mix taught me a lot about the depth in a professional mix, as well as how much the hands/feel of a player really affect a recording. A player can have similar or identical gear, but the performance makes or breaks a sound. An experienced player can attenuate the bad parts and create dynamics on their own. I learnt a lot about critically analysing sound, capturing sounds I hear in a room onto tape and appreciating how much of a ‘sound’ is in a performance. Being a part of sessions that Trinski pushed to emulate a real, professional session was a huge eye-opener, with. particular reference to the speed and efficiency that we need to be working at and the commitments we need to make to produce a professional product in a comfortable working scenario. We recorded drums with someone outside of our class, and Trinski explained that despite working closely with an artist, the levels, phase and pre-tape processing should be behind-the scenes and shouldn’t hinder a player while we choose compressors or fumble for a high-pass filter or patch in whatever we’re using. In (kind of) one fell swoop, we’d got heathy levels to ProTools while checking and re-checking the phase of our drum mics. We were ready to go, and a solid drummer meant the session was rolling very quickly. In processing and mixing Hoops, it really helped to have had to access to the critical listening exercises so that we could execute the sounds that were lacking in our recordings, or that needed to be attenuated to match the original, mastered version of Hoops. We did a lot of subtractive EQ to start, and could hear that the parts of the song were starting to fit around each other. Hoops is an oddly dense song, but with a very sparse feel to it, which I think is really interesting. We made everything fit EQ-wise, then used some outboard compressors to push and pull some instruments forward and back in the mix. We used some in-the-box reverbs to give instruments space, particularly the vocal, which in the original recording has borderline too much reverb to my ears, but in being on the edge it’s also the perfect amount. It really gives the vocal feel. Critically listening to and mixing Hoops really helped my critical listening, as it helped to put a ‘face to the name’ of the artefacts I was listening for, whereas critical listening exercises can help us hear identify these sounds in the recordings we’re being tested on, but not in other recordings of our own, at least in my experience.
Another big learning curve this trimester was using Ableton Live, a software that I’d never used before. I can now understand why Live is the go-to for electronic and remix artists, due the warping and synthesis capabilities. I’d never used Live, but I learned a lot about synths and how they can be used to apply depth and space to recordings, or alternatively as a feature instrument. I learned about learned about loops and warping sound to create remixes, and the ‘Simpler’ plugin to manipulate audio into whole new sounds. These kind of skills can be used to create new sounds to re-enforce recordings of my own. Another steep learning curve was processing film and video in ProTools, and using ProTools to sync audio to a video and creating a mood to target an audience. I have experience creating space in a recording, but creating space for foley was a different skill I had to master. Reverbs and space in musical recordings are more creative and open to interpretation, however I felt I had to more critically analyse the spaces I was trying to create in the Jingle projects. The walls and floor in the visuals and the way sounds would play off these. I had to be more critical of processing my reverbs, such as EQ before and after and some (or none) grit to give the feeling of the foley existing in (in my case) a factory.
A lot of the processes I/we followed in our group and solo assignments were because of the learning curves we faced in this trimesters. The assessments this tri were more analytical and required all of my experience and then some. I struggled to trust my own ears in the critical listening and Sound-Alike and found myself hearing things, understanding the different layers of sound and processing, but assuming I was incorrect because of my inexperience. I experienced similar issues in the Jingle project, finding myself asking questions that I knew the answers to. I struggled to trust my ears and experience this trimester. For the Sound-Alike, Hoops, we had access to the stems Analysed stems + recordings and attempted to re-create them in the recording sessions. I could hear from the recording that the guitar had been an old amp, as there was a lot of hum and an obvious cooling fan in the recording. The guitar parts sound particularly Telecaster-esque so I chose a guitar that could have a similar pickup arrangement to a Telecaster as a part of my process for preparing for the recording. In the EMP project, I chose an industrial style for the remix that was quite reminiscent of the metal style of the original recording. I used my knowledge of reverbs and delays to create space and some darkness with EQ, which seem to be more ProTools-esque techniques tan Ableton Live (e.g. a lot of the loops were used already sounded great, whereas ProTools tracks mightn’t). I applied some things I’d learned that are closer to how I would use Live in the real world, e.g. re-enforcing and retaining acoustic recordings.
Overall I’m happy with the things I learned and the quality of my output this trimester. Overall, I’m happy with a few of the epiphanies I’ve had relating to my future work in the industry, such as dealing with artists and inspiring great performances. While my quality of work was good, could always be better with better time management, however I felt myself being more prepared and organised for some of my freehand work with friends’ bands. I’m proud of the high quality of our Hoops Sound-Alike, and how similar we managed to get our version sounding, even against a mastered version of the song. I think our focus on capturing great sounds at the source ultimately led to a great mix, because the sounds were there in the first place. My biggest concern was that we were trying to match an EQ’d and processed recording, without knowledge of how the original recordings sounded. My EMP remix could be better with some practice in Ableton, as I’m still not as confident as I’d like to have been using the software. I can use it, however referencing my notes and Googling controls etc. really disrupted my workflow and reminded me that I was being assessed. While this isn’t a bad thing, the project was ultimately creative and I deviated from that, and would’ve liked to create something more musical. I was proud of my main Jingle for a Jack Daniel’s ad that I replaced with a heavy metal soundtrack and more factory-like foley, as well as the short musical loop I created for my Charlie Chaplain film.
On top of my assignments this trimester, I worked with a few bands. Unfortunately, all three managed to organise themselves at the end of the trimester, but I’ll have ongoing work for the holidays. I did pre-production for a band that has no name yet, and we ran through all the songs on the demo they wanted me to record. Unfortunately, my recordings were the first recordings the band had heard of the songs, so they wanted to work on the structure more before settling on recordings. I also did some DI tracking for a band called, Colossvs, who are releasing a single from a forthcoming album. They have an engineer lined up in Perth to mix and master, who had programmed drums for the track and it was my job to record DIs for guitar and bass, as well as vocals. I completed these tracks to great success over a few months of sessions at my house and SAE. The tracks were delivered to the mix engineer, and in the following weeks I had to deliver my own mixed version of the songs with marker at the beginning for the band to record a video to. It felt good to network and lease with the photographer and videographer. Finally, I’ve just started a short demo that has a friend written for his baby daughter’s first birthday. We’ve done pre-production and the songs are already sounding great. I’ve explained my proposed timeline and that seems to work for him, to make sure the songs are recorded and mixed, ready for her birthday in October.
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My work across this trimester can be heard at ravenshallrecordings.wordpress.com, or in the embedded YouTube videos.  Our jingle projects can be viewed at lpjcommercialsounddesign.wordpress.com, subject to the YouTube’s copyright laws and Australia’s Fair Dealing Policy that we’ve discussed across this trimeter aswell.

Copyright, right?

 

Copyright is an interesting subject, particularly when studying at a financial institution with every intention of building a portfolio to build a business outside of SAE. Legally, I can’t use a lot of the ‘work’ I’m doing at SAE as a part of my portfolio because I’m mixing stems of songs I haven’t played, played by bands that I haven’t recorded. Alternatively, this trimester we’ve remixed songs (admittedly with permission from writers/bands but also sampled and ‘Simpled’ the tracks using Ableton Live. Our Jingle projects have used advertisements from some pretty major companies, and we’re operating on the premise that because we’re students and it’s being used for education, we’re exempt from copyright law – is this really the case? Overall, these exercises are to help us work on original projects outside of SAE, where copyright law applies but because we’re creating (hopefully) original work, we’re within the blurred guidelines. I’ll start with discussing my Sound-Alike project, Hoops, which won the Triple J Hottest 100 competition in 2015.

 
A Sound-Alike is a term used to describe a sound or recording that purposely lends itself to sounding like another song or recording, without breaching copyright. This has come about because of the expense in licensing songs, as well as the ultimate discretion of the use of the recording being up to the owner of the copyright. SO where do we draw the line? If we draw the line at performance and recording, one could ‘play’ a song exactly as it was recorded and be free from copyright, because it’s physically impossible to recreate an exact performance, even with the same musicians in the same room with the same equipment, right? We also need to discuss why an advertiser (for argument’s sake) would choose one song over another, and this leads us to the emotion invoked from a song or recording. In this sense, if a Sound-Alike is employed to recreate an emotional cue in an audience, this is a much bigger grey area.
 
Belinda Willis discuss this issue in AdelaideNow, stating that “opting for a similar tune to evoke an emotional response may (sic) might breach copyright infringement” (Willis, 2014). Clearly a song is chosen for a reason, so shouldn’t the artists have some say in a recording that employees emotions and memories from their music be entitled to some royalties? Belinda sites Kelly & Co partner Peter Campbell, who discusses the emotional implications of a recording, in saying a Sound-Alike is “a balancing act” (Campbell, 2014) where sound-alike are used to borrow feelings or emotions invoked from a particular piece of music, too big a change can affect the way the audiences hears the sounds, and not enough change can land the sound-alike in breach of copyright. If all I’m discussing is true, then our ‘Sound-Alikes’ aren’t really Sound-Alikes at all. They’re exercises in critically listening to and analysing a professional recording, as well as being a part of a recording with real deadlines and artists. While we’ve discussed there’s no direct profit from the projects per say, but what if a potential employer hears my work at SAE, which features copyrighted material, and seeks to source some of my original work? Arguably, I’ve used copyrighted material for personal gain, and although it would be difficult for the Rubens to claim royalties based on my personal gain, it’s no more difficult than an artist making claims on a Sound-Alike.
 
The grey areas extended even further when we started our unit on Electronic Music that closed with an EMP Remix created in Ableton Live. We learned about sampling, but we also learned about sampling to create entirely new sounds using the Simpler plugin. Arguably, the sounds can become completely unrecognisable so hypothetically there should be no copyright issue if we don’t tell anyone. If the sounds are manipulated beyond recognition, there’s no emotional connection or relation to the original track. Arguably, we’re using some frequency information to create a synthesised sound, so all the artist can claim is that originally, the sounds were created were created using a part of a recording of theirs despite there being no resemblance or reference to their art (which isn’t out of the question in the current financial state of the music industry, they’ve got bills to pay too).  I used stems from a song recorded by a friend, and had full permission to do so, however I also sampled some sounds from FreeSound.org, assuming the recordings on FreeSound are completely original and free from copyright. In this sense, am I completely free to use synths created in Ableton? Multiple forums discuss this and the conversation goes in circles. Arguably, VSTs and plugins also emulate a piece of hardware to invoke an emotional response in the user, so would this be covered by the same copyright as Sound-Alikes? Are they covered at all. I’ve investigated EzDrummer sounds, a program I use to create MIDI drums for demos and to sample drums sound to re-enforce acoustic recordings. When you purchase a copy of EZDrummer, you also purchase the license to make recording with the samples built in to the program.
 
A concept that comes up a lot is the idea of ‘fair use’ (legally called ‘Fair Dealing’ in Australia), which proposes to allow creatives to use certain material in certain circumstances, mostly to “… to allow uses that we all agree are socially beneficial.” (‘Jess’, 2016) and usually without financial gain. We could argue that our work at SAE is covered under Fair Dealing, because we’re using it for educational purposes, or research or study. Arguably, our jingle projects could be ‘satire or parody’ because of the comical way some of us have changed the soundtracks and audio to the advertisements or clips we’ve submitted for the assignment. All of these are covered under the Fair Dealing policy, however it’s still a big grey area. It’s a big call to abolish the idea of Fair Dealing, but potentially a bigger deal to allow it completely. I used completely original recordings made in my garage or bedroom, besides a ‘drip’ sound made with the ProTools MinGrand VST.
 
In conclusion, a lot of copyright can be risky, detrimental to the original artist/s and can land you in a lot of trouble. It’s important to stay respectful and aware that original artists who produce recordings are producing them for the same reason you’re sampling or imitating (in the case of a Sound-Alike), and that Fair Dealing isn’t a complete security blanket that covers everything. For argument’s sake, we should assume it covers nothing, and act in ways we see as honest and without risk of breaching the law. A lot of our work at SAE would breach copyright in the real world, but as long as we’re not using it for direct financial gain, we’re covered. Instead, we should take the things we’ve learned at SAE and apply them to real-world projects where we’re creating work from scratch with artists. We’re safest to use samples we’ve created ourselves, but if we need to use an external sample, to make sure we know who made it and that it’s free from any risk. Understanding copyright is as much about understanding the holes in it than the laws themselves, as it’s all a little unclear.
 
REFERENCES
 
Fair Use Week: Why do we want fair use in Australia? | Australian Digital Alliance. (2016). Digital.org.au. Retrieved 23 August 2016, from http://digital.org.au/content/fair-use-week-why-do-we-want-fair-use-australia
 
Willis, B. (2014). Legal challenges grow as more advertisements use sound-alike songs. AdelaideNow. Retrieved 23 August 2016, from http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/business/legal-challenges-grow-as-more-advertisements-use-soundalike-songs/story-fni6uma6-1226793933928

Freelance work over the last ten weeks

In addition to my class work in AUD210 over the last 10 weeks, I’ve endeavoured to record as much as I can outside of uni. I was contacted by two metal band, both with different projects and expectations. The first project is an unnamed band, who contacted me to record a short demo for them. The second is a band called COLOSSVS, who are releasing a single ahead of their sophomore album.

I arranged to meet the first, unnamed band on the fifteenth of May at Freakshow in Ascot Vale to start pre-production for the demo, as I’d never heard the songs and the band wasn’t complete. Freakshow is a small museum that exhibits oddities, has a tattoo parlour and a rehearsal room and recording studio. The goal of the demo was to generate interest to find band members. At the time, we intended to do MIDI drums and real guitars and bass + vocals, so those final mixes would be my deliverables to the band. I had received some reference tracks in February with no bass or vocals. We recorded scratch guitar parts on the afternoon of the fiftteenth, and worked through each of the five songs, ensuring the band and myself were happy with the arrangements. The following week, I sent the band some rough mixes pf the scratch tracks. Unfortunately, the project has been held up due to my scratch tracks being the first time the band had heard the songs in their entirety and want to re-work them. The band has also had some interest from potential members and they’ve been practising the songs as a band. I’ve been in contact with their progress, and we’ve tentatively organised to catch up the week of May 15th to discuss the future of the project.
The second project I’ve been working on is for a band COLOSSVS. They’re a black/death metal band from Melbourne and planned to release a single with a video + announcing a new frontman. I was contacted to record DI guitars and bass, as well as vocals to be re-amp’d and mixed by another engineer in Perth, Sam Allen. We started by tracking DI guitars on June twelfth at my house:
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The guitar tracks were DI’d + a track through a Mesa Boogie pre-amp so the guitarist could hear a more realistic amp tone. We had some MIDI drums tracks ready from Sam, as the single wouldn’t feature any real, acoustic drums. The following week, we recorded bass DI at Aesthetic Studios in Pascoe Vale, but also recorded an amp because the bass player in COLOSSVS has a signature sound that he wanted to preserve without leaving it totally up to Sam’s re-amping.
I had to invest in an AKGD112 for this as the band couldn’t make it to SAE on such short notice, and I didn’t have a microphone that could capture the frequencies we needed for bass. I’m happy to oblige where new gear is on the table:

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I committed and consolidated all the guitar and bass tracks and sent them to Sam in Perth, which was the first of my deliverables completed. Almost exactly a month later, we recorded vocals in one of the small Audient studios over my rough mix of the Mesa Boogie guitars, drums and bass, as we hadn’t received a mix from Sam yet. The following day, I delivered comp’d vocals to Sam and my role initially agreed in the project was complete. However, a few weeks after I’d delivered the vocals, the band had a video shoot booked, so I delivered my rough mixes with a tone + one second gap to signal the start of the video. Unfortunately the mix from Sam isn’t ready, so the band has announced their new frontman and will release the single and video shortly.
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Jingle Timelines

Having worked on this project for a few weeks without a solid plan has really driven home how important it is to treat every project the same and plan ahead to you’ve got a timeline to stick to, and expectations for yourself. I shouldn’t expect a quality end result without a quality plan.

 

  • Weeks 5-8 – Select ads and begin mapping tempos for music & dialogue.
  • Week 9 – Finalise scores/music and record ‘scratch’ tracks to show in Week 10
  • Week 10 – Show progress in class. Begin to work on ‘brand’ website/Wordpress.
  • Week 11 – Record folly and final takes of music. Mix the tracks and consolidate video & audio into files.
  • Week 12 – Final touches. Upload ads to website with ‘colleagues’, ready for presentation.
  • Week 13 – Present and finish.

Synth Analysis – Crystal Castle’s ‘Crimewave’

 

Crystal Castles are a Canadian electronic music duo who primarily use programmed synths to create their dark, spacious and catchy music. The track I have chosen to analyse particularly is ‘Crimewave’ off of the duo’s self-titled album, and is a collaborative effort with band Health. The song features a constant bassy, synth and different melodic synths, complimented by singer Alice Glass’s sparse, sampled vocals and a simple beat.

Crystal Castles fan pages state that in 2011, Ethan from Crystal Castle’s used a Korg MS2000 synth, which was an upgrade from a MicroKorg previously used. The track has many different synth parts that come and go, so the extra control on the MS2000 make sense, in conjunction with a DAW like Live. There is an 8-bit style synth that plays a little solo a few minutes into the song, complimented by other video-game like effects. The bass in the song is low and constant , which compliments the drums and leaves plenty of room for melody. The tracks closes with the synth dropping out and Alice singing over a distorted, but still audibly acoustic drum beat. Her vocals are still manipulated using a sampler. Because Crystal Castles are somewhat more like pop music than their peers (in that they have hooks) they seem to use synth sounds reminiscent of most people (e.g. video games) with solid drums and beat.
I’m attracted to the punk-esque style that Crystal Castles exhibit in their music. Similar to Justice, the duo often have gritty synth sounds and samples and sections of ‘real’ instruments despite being manipulated, as well as Alice Glass’s (almost) screamed vocals. The techniques used in this would be beneficial for our remix assignment, as they’ve incorporated a lot of gritty and ‘real’ sounds into something inherently electronic that is not exhibited in this song alone.