Archive for the ‘ Scoring To Picture ’ Category

The Perfect Audio Production Home Studio



…or rather; One Type of Perfect Home Studio for Independent Electronic Musicians, DJ’s and Soundtrack / Underscore Composers.

But that would have been a really long post title and I differed to the shorter version.

Throughout this post I will provide many links to words / phrases I think might be unfamiliar to newcomers. These links will define or explain in greater detail the idea / products being discussed. It saves space and time going over information that is plentiful and readily available.

You Should Click The LinksI think they all will be very helpful and informative.

In this post I hope to help any musicians out there seeking a quality music production set up at a modest cost . A lot easier to do in 2009!

Remember: This post is geared towards a niche group of musicians – Musicians wishing to primarily make Electronic Music for dance floors, head phones, soundtracks, video games and such.

When I decided to begin making music once again – I searched the Internet for hours researching what I thought would give me the most use for the money. Unfortunately for me, I decided to get back in to it about a year to early (2006).

In the time between 2006 and present, my current D.A.W. (which I will discuss later) had it’s features upgraded while simultaneously cutting it’s price tag in Half! Bonus for the people coming in on it today.

I found many helpful sites, but I thought – just maybe I could compile some options here in one place. Just an example of the base Needs of a home based Electronic Musician. Then list some optional gear for DJ’s, Remix Producers and Soundtrack Composers.

The key words in the previous paragraph were: “Home Based”. I don’t want any aspiring composers to think that the proposed configurations are adequate for all facets of the business.

This is NOT for the “Traditional Musician” playing a guitar, drums, bass, etc. etc. – Needing to run a Pro Tools recording studio. You will not be treating your entire room with acoustic sound dampening tiles and such.

(Though it would not hurt you to do some strategic acoustic tiling in your chosen space.)

This is more for the musician who lives at home raising a family and has a spare room and some excess money in hand. I will make sure to put a link to some power options regarding the computer as well as additional software and plug ins.

(Those options can certainly increase your cost, sometimes  by drastic amounts.)

I won’t bother with breaking down my current rig because it is almost three years old (minus the DAW upgrade).

I will use “On The Shelf” hardware and software – So you know you should be able to walk into a store (or hop online) and buy these things as soon as you finish reading this if you like. So here goes:

The Computer

Apple iMac

Apple iMac

Yep, that is an Apple iMac. I am not saying you can not do this with a Windows PC (although the DAW I will suggest is Apple specific) – What I am saying is that in the almost three years I have owned my Apple computer…I have yet to have it crash.

Even running the DAW – (unfortunately most DAW’s are infamous for crashes…I suppose that is a testament to my preferred DAW too)!

The iMac is the entry level machine for making music with a computer. Yes, you could skimp even more and maybe have a Mac Mini run the rig. But for a little more money you can almost triple your head room.

If you click on the link above (or here) you can read the various specs for the iMac. Below I will list the minimum specs I think you should be shooting for. Remember: This is the minimum that I think you need – You may decide differently?

Minimum iMac Specs:

The rest of the specs are really not important save for other applications. The lowest 128 MB video card they offer is just fine even for graphics programs like the Adobe Creative Suite.

I will give more robust Mac suggestions at the end of the post. For now I will keep things under the $4,000.00 US budget range.

The Peripherals

  • MIDI Controller (I use a 61 key MIDI piano – they come in 49,61,72,88 keys)
  • Audio Interface – Fire Wire (my choice) or USB device for connecting audio lines IN / OUT
  • Studio Reference Monitors – I use a particular brand but there are many, many choices
  • If you can’t swing the monitors – try Studio Reference Headphones

The studio reference monitors are especially important! You must get Studio Reference MonitorsNOT JUST SPEAKERS – They are called (“Studio Reference Monitors” for a very good reason).

You need the sound coming out of your monitors to be as “True” as possible. Normal stereo speakers “color” the sound with or without an EQ to help taint the True sound.

The links to each of those things should help you find your way to pricing too…But let me point out why I did not dwell on those items:

Each of those items is especially user preference choices – The prices vary slightly, but the general same “class” of peripheral as the ones linked to, would be in similar price ranges. Each one being quite affordable for the person with limited funds who is serious about building a home studio.

I will give a simple, comprehensive list of all the base items at the end of the post – So you can have a quick list to reference.

The Digital Audio Workstation

(or, The Software That Has All The Sounds and Functions You Will Need To Make Electronic Music)

Apple Logic Studio Audio Suite

Apple Logic Studio Audio Suite

Yep, that is the Apple specific audio software suite that will only run on a Mac. But I think once you click the following link (Logic Studio) you will see all that this amazing software suite has to offer.

I can honestly say – and I have seen it written many places too – that Logic Pro has all the features an aspiring Electronic Musician / Composer needs…All in ONE BOXAll for $500.00 US plus tax! (Yeah, really – Logic 7 was $1,000.00 US! “Studio” is Logic 8.)

All of that and much more for $500.00 US. Yes, there are many other DAW’s out there that are comparable to Logic Studio – But I say you would be hard pressed to find one as stable as Logic running on a Mac.

Stability and security in your rig is second only to creativity for the Electronic Musician. Again I am only telling you from my experience. I have many friends who use PC and Sonar or CuBase with Reason (all of which can be used on a Mac too).

The problem with PC’s is that most folks have them bogged down with tons of personal stuff as well as professional. My experience has been that most Mac users have one machine they use for production and another for personal use.

PC’s can be allocated this way to – But, well – They just crash a lot. Sorry, they just do. (Love them for games though! And I admit to having a Dell in the living room – But it is only out of the lack of being able to get another Mac!)

Three years – No crash. Enough said.

So here is the comprehensive list for the base home studio on a budget:

  1. Apple iMac ($1,400.00)
  2. Apple Logic Studio ($500.00)
  3. Fire Wire or USB Audio Interface ($350.00)
  4. MIDI Keyboard / Controller ($325.00)
  5. Studio Reference Monitors ($400 to $800.00 US)
  6. Misc. Cables and Adapters ($80.00 to $500.00 depending on quality and the distance between each piece of gear)

Studio Reference is what you need to look for, not just speakers!) or Ref. Headphones ($80 to $120.00)

That is the Short List for the beginning Electronic Musician who is serious about getting started on a modest budget (under $5,000.00 US)

You may also find yourself in need of microphones and all the things that go with vocal recording – But that is a separate discussion within itself.

Just Below is a link to the computer that will give you the most power, flexibility and upgrade ability:

This Is The Big Daddy Computer To Shoot For – But it will cost you!

Additional Software Considerations For the Electronic Musician / DJ

  • Abelton Live – I have yet to use it but I know many DJ’s and Producers who swear by it.
  • Kontakt – This is another I do not own but have used. It is a great DJ Interface mixing software.
  • Serato Scatch Live – The choice for most DJ’s I know, but requires you own turntables.
  • Reason – The preferred plug in choice for additional software synth sounds
  • Vienna Symphonic – A world class symphony software instrument. You pay for what you get and you will need to beef up your rig!

Now there are countless others out there too – Sample libraries, samplers, tube pre’s, etc. etc.. These above were just examples of some of the most prominent applications in there field.

Each artist will surely come to their own decisions about what they really need and what works for them. The amount of funds available will have a lot to do with their decisions too.

I have found that a Mac and Logic out of the box has not left me wanting too much else. I certainly don’t need more – There is SO MUCH to learn about in Logic! The software instruments are very customizable and the whole program is fairly user friendly considering the depth and quality.

I would guess that the absolute beginner might do well to go with Logic Express and upgrade if they are comfortable with the program and it’s learning curve.

I would strongly suggest finding Online Tutorials over trying to tackle the several bibles that Apple calls User Manuals packaged in Logic. They can be very, very, very intimidating upon first glance. After you are familiar with the program I am confident the manuals will read much easier for you.

Here is a short list of Very Helpful web resources about Home Studios

There are many, many, many other sites that can help you – Those are just some of the most helpful I have found – Also, once you decide on your gear make sure you frequent gear specific forums! They are immeasurably helpful in trouble shooting.

Well, this post was not as informative as it could have been but it is late and this is long already! I will post again soon with more comprehensive information about a Mac and Logic Studio as a affordable and content / application piled audio software suite.

(I did not even mention Quick Time Pro and Soundtrack 2 that are bundled in there too!)

So as you can imagine – There is much more to say about Logic Studio Suite.

More later. Thanks!


A Fine Example of Scoring to Picture

The video above is the intro to a movie made by Girl Skateboard Company. I happen to have been a very active skateboarder for over twenty years so there is some bias in play here.

Despite my possible bias – this intro piece to their movie is a very fine example of scoring to picture. Based on the resulting work I would guess that it was a more – “Edit the video to fit the existing dope track” type of process. But don’t let that take away from the quality of the music and the tone it sets in support of the stunning images.

**Note: The music in this video is NOT me – I just thought this was a very fine example of the visuals and the audio (incl. FX) working very complimentary of each other.

The stunning images are a very well filmed, visual dissection of the almost unrealistic physics behind the mechanics of skateboarders overlooked dexterity and coordination requirements.

I have often said that you could take just about any skateboarder off his board and throw him any number of popular athletic apparatus; Football, Soccer ball, Baseball, etc. etc. – and for all intents the skater would at the very least manage to throw, kick, swing. hit or run at least enough to stay in the game a little while.

However, on the other end I can’t think of to many “popular sports” athletes that could stand on a skateboard for more than five minutes without shooting it out from under themselves as they flop on to the ground. Sorry traditional “Jocks“, it’s just a fact.

The music, that’s why we come here isn’t it? Sorry – old skater in me is quick to latch on to nostalgia!

Listen to the tune again as your eyes feast upon every nuance of motion in sync with the percussion’s and rhythms. Good stuff.