Just found this great blog on recording, mixing and mastering: Ian Shepherd’s Production Advice. Shepherd covers all aspects of achieving great-sounding mixes, from getting the best sounds at source, mixing them effectively, and making the end result loud and punchy so it competes with commercial mixes. I stumbled onto the site a mere 24 hours ago and I already feel like I’ve spent a month in engineering school (in a good way).
Being a professional mastering engineer, Shepherd tends to focus on that end of the chain. But I also feel like that’s more misunderstood than recording and mixing anyway, so it’s a welcome addition to my trove of resources. Witness his discussion of dithering, an esoteric and confusing subject if ever there was one. Shepherd maintains that one should dither whenever you bounce, whether it be to 16 or 24 bit. This goes against conventional wisdom, at least the conventional wisdom I’ve read, but it does make sense when he explains it. Continue reading →
Here’s a great site offering (as the title so obviously implies) daily bits of film scoring wisdom. The posts are written by Dresden-based composer Robin Hoffmann, who heroically crafts a paragraph for his blog nearly every day. Robin covers all sides of film scoring, from composition itself to orchestration, marketing and delivery of final cues. The pieces, although short, are almost always useful. Here’s a recent example:
“When you write a cue, make sure to sustain a ‘musical language’ throughout the piece. It will feel very strange if you use simple triads all the way through and suddenly use one very complex chord. Also, melodic and rhythmic complexity should stay in a certain range throughout a piece. This might seem simpler than it actually is and often one idea might not really fit together with each other or you might stumble across a chord that you like on its own but which doesn’t fit into the rest. So when finding ideas, it is not only a decision whether it is a good idea but also whether it fits to the rest of your music.”
Here’s a great post from SCOREcast Online on the benefits of the Soundcloud online audio platform. I’ve been using Soundcloud for a couple of years and I still learned plenty. Whether you’re interested in using Soundcloud to get more work, track your online listeners or network and collaborate with other composers, the article is full of great tips. Author Oliver Sadie shares his own Soundcloud story and offers ideas from other users on how to maximize your presence, get more comments and likes, and even attract the attention of potential clients.
As Sadie says, “SoundCloud is a versatile and effective platform for composers and sound content creators of all kinds. It is arguably the next big thing in online audio….”
I assume many of you out there use either Finale or Sibelius for your notation needs. If you’re not aware of fellow Seattleite Robert Puff’s blog, Of Note, you should be. It’s a treasure trove of tips and tutorials for both programs.
Recent posts include quickly deleting unison notes in Finale, two methods for creating Grand Pauses in Sibelius, and techniques for creating both boxed and free-floating aleatoric notation in Finale. If you’re like me, mastering your notation program can be a difficult path. Robert is a tremendous resource for anyone needing more out of their software!
In researching the best scores of 2011, I’ve been doing a lot of rooting around on the internet. One of the sites I’ve spent a lot of time on recently is Filmtracks.com.
Filmtracks, produced by Christian Clemmensen, is a rather gargantuan and impressive undertaking for a single person. Clemmensen has allegedly written over 1.3 million words of soundtrack commentary in the site’s 16 years of operation. Filmtracks generally reviews more recent movies, especially top box-office draws. It does cover some older scores, but per their guidelines, rarely anything before 1975.
Clemmensen is clearly a lover of great film music, and is well-versed in it’s language and traditions. He can be harsh at times, but personally I appreciate a more stringent reviewing style as long as the reviewer has done their homework and uses consistent standards. As close as I can tell, Clemmensen does just that. He’s tough, but fair, and definitely does his research. He reviews the scores both in relationship to the film and standing on its own (a valid approach, since in my mind great film music must work both ways). In some cases, such as the Lord of the Rings scores, he even reviews the various editions of score CDs available—helpful if you’re looking for the best version of the soundtrack to buy.
All in all, I greatly appreciate the work that Filmtracks does, and I often consult the site before or after seeing a film to find out if their experience matches my own. I usually learn something in the process.
We’ve all experienced it, struggling to sit through the uneven, incomprehensible film offerings of our compatriots. To quote local film maker Geets Romo, “If that was a fight, they would have stopped it.” But there is so much good stuff coming out of the Seattle indie film scene it’s clear that indie film does not have to be lame.
I’m in the middle of redesigning my website. In the process, I’ve been looking around at other composer and musician websites to get some ideas and inspiration. And I noticed something interesting: film composer’s websites are, by and large, far less impressive and less engaging than those of bands and performing artists. Even those of famous, world-renowned composers look as though they were designed 10 years ago by a graphic design student or they have big “Coming Soon” notices on the home page. In this post I’ll show you some affordable options for improving your own website or creating a new one so it stands out from the crowd and hopefully gets you more work. (Filmmakers, this post focuses on composer websites, but much of the advice will work just as well for your sites.)
Here’s a cool website to check out: SoundWorksCollection.com. The site is mainly geared towards sound designers and not composers, but there are still a decent number of videos about music alone (or more often, sound and music).
Of particular note, there have been excellent videos recently on the music of Cars 2, The Fighter and 127 Hours, as well as the video games Angry Birds and Halo Reach. One quibble: clicking on Videos > Original Soundtracks doesn’t bring up a complete list of music-based videos, so you’ll need to search through the archives a bit to find the videos on film music.