A Happy Audio ( video ) Guy!

AUDIO TIPS FOR VIDEO

Shooting in Cambodia at Angkor Wat, Siem Reap - Photographer: Dustin Holliday. This pic links to my other blog with a few of my Cambodia videos.

A couple years ago I jumped on the Canon  5D band wagon. Prior to that I was shooting with a Sony A1U.

Most of the video production I do takes me to countries like India, Cambodia, China, Jordan and Egypt. I work with and through organizations like: Life Mission International, Entermission, Mission India, The Rhema Project, The Bible League and AWANA who are engaged in church planting and holistic community development among other humanitarian activities in these countries.

One of the most important things I need to be concerned about is getting good audio in the field. Re-takes are hard to do when they are 9 thousand miles away. My background in media for the last 30 years has been mostly focused on music for production ( custom and library ), commercial production, recording services, live concert mixing and audio post. Expanding my tool set into video production was a somewhat natural progression for me having been on many shoots as ” the audio guy” and audio production mixer for live and taped broadcast television.

Immediately as I began shooting video myself I realized just how deficient the on-camera audio was. I really was shocked. Main stream camera companies who have pro audio devisions seemed to ignore what I thought were the basic audio tools needed to get predicable good audio. Enough ( rant ) about that..

Even before I  purchased the 5D I was aware of the audio related deficiencies. A little research led me to a great company with a specialized product line. Beachtek.  I like the way they think. They look for very current problems and create innovative solutions !

The product that made the 5D a workable videocamera option for me was the  DXA 5D which would let me connect my high end mics via xlr.  They included a nifty AGC ( automatic gain control )  disabling feature to eliminate the “pumping” associated  with the on camera audio limiter system. Super helpful. It was obvious to me by the omission of any kind of headphone jack on the camera for monitoring the audio that Canon did not have any idea how popular this camera would be for video production. The only way for me to have any confidence in the audio I was recording was to pop out the SD card, stick it in a reader, connect it to my lap top, drag a test file into final cut and play it ! That’s insane ! But the rest of the time.. you work half blind. You can only monitor the input signal via headphones on the DXA 5D. Not any playback !

Well I am happy to report that Beachtek created a new product addressing that issue among others.

The DXA SLR. This device has the ability to switch between input sources. You can choose between two sets of input signal paths. RCA and XLR.  XLR’s for the mic path and RCA which can be connect to the camera’s AV outputs and routed back into the DXA SLR and Viola’ you can monitor the audio off camera ! I’m a happy audio guy..

So in a few words.. I am thrilled with the DXA SLR. There were two other changes that meant a lot to me. One, the metering.  There are now two little LED lights indicating the input levels.. they obey the international color code:   green is good..  red is bad. Not being the trusting sort of guy when it comes to levels, I needed to see for myself. Canon added this view in a firmware update which lets you choose input levels and actually see them..  how novel..  The DXA SLR also has very nice mic pre’s that lets me use a broader selection mics in my arsenal. They sound great and the lights don’t lie.

By the way, this device is not limited in it’s use to just Canon 5D’s.

You can get one through B&H.

Photographer: Gene Ort with his trusty iPhone

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good music bed. Keeping a nice, energetic ( but not hyper ) underscore going under your corporate biz or industrial video is crucial. Without it, everybody takes a nap. But just a quick tempo percussion or techno loop is not enough.  If the music keeps yammering along without any definable changes, you can still end up snoozing. There is a reason why pop music radio mixes are always around the 3:30 mark. We loose focus and the next thing you know your day dreaming or changing the channel. Add to the problem the voice over is detailing the fine points of a highly technical and complicated device or procedure.

Every now and then, someone will ask me for a 10 minute track they can drop into their industrial video. I know immediately what they are wanting to do. They are going to drop in this one piece of music and fade it out when they get to the end of the video. Without a doubt, that sounds efficient, but boring beyond words. Their clients might not know the difference either. They have key understanding of their own product and a vested interest in the video and inspiration or information they hope it conveys but usually very little knowledge about what will keep people interested long enough to absorb it.

So what is a good rule of thumb about music for industrials?

I think 2:30, give or take.. is enough of one particular track, but within the track the music needs to change. I am using the first track from GM 430 Energy Realized as a good example. It has a 2.5 second intro beat, gets quickly into the first section ( in song vocabulary, it might be referred to as verse 1 ) has a quick break around 19 seconds, goes back into verse 2, has a quick break after 19 more seconds and then goes into a bridge ( that has a decidedly different feel than the verse ) that lasts 19 seconds. After that it repeats and ends on purpose. Every one of those changes are great edit points and keeps you from going into a musical comma.

Many of our GMP MUSIC industrial oriented CDs are themed based. That means it will be easy to put several of these tracks back to back in the video and retain a consistent energy and continuity.

Coming Soon… Editing music in Final Cut Pro and Digital Performer.

CBS used two cues from the RESERVE MUSIC library for On AIR PROMOS

RM 5012 Track 8 – EXPOSED

Link to CD:   http://www.reservemusic.com/album/?volume_number=RM_5012&save=

Direct link to track:  http://www.reservemusic.com/songs/?style=&mood=&tempo=&instrumental=&author=&title=Exposed&save=

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RM 5048 track 8 – Break and Enter

Link to CD:   http://www.reservemusic.com/album/?volume_number=RM_5048&save=

Direct link to track:   http://www.reservemusic.com/songs/?style=&mood=&tempo=&instrumental=&author=&title=Break+And+Enter&save=

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The Good Wife, recipient  of three Golden Globe Nominations and

two SAG Nominations uses three cues for the GMP MUSIC library.

The first cue used was a sound design element: “Impact”  348_08

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The second cue used was retro 60′s / jazzy / quirky: Lounge Lizard Love  347_23 & 347_20

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The third cue used was also retro 60′s / novelty / quirky: Hot Cha Cha

from the same CD  AV 347.

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GreenLockers Video by BX Media Group

The video, produced by Ben Sanders of BX MEDIA GROUP  uses several cues from the GMP MUSIC library.

http://new.bxmediagroup.com/

The video is a promotional piece aimed at a very unique and positive humanitarian project that is good for schools, students and the world in general.

To learn more about greenlockers visit:   http://www.greenlockers.org/how-it-works/

Video from Gospel for Asia

This video, produced by Gospel for Asia uses several cues from the RESERVE MUSIC library.

http://www.reservemusic.com/cd_detail.php?volume_number=RM_5109

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http://www.reservemusic.com/cd_detail.php?volume_number=RM_5111

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http://www.reservemusic.com/cd_detail.php?volume_number=RM_5010

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A cue from RESERVE MUSIC library was used in the motion picture trailer for “THE LAST AIRBENDER”.

RM 5029

http://www.reservemusic.com/cd_detail.php?search=true&cd_volume_number_id=30

Title:  DANGEROUS ESCAPE, Composer: John Nixon

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Terrafugia Flying Car Oshkosh Promo

Terrafugia Flying Car Oshkosh Promo

Music in this spot from GMP MUSIC CD: GM 377

Title: Speed Bag        Composer : Gene Ort

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HARD DRIVE DELIVERY PROGRAM


GMP announces the addition of HARD DRIVE DELIVERY to the line up of ways you can access both the GMP and RESERVE MUSIC libraries.

This is the fastest, easiest, most complete and convenient access to music on your desktop and across your network.

SOME HIGHLIGHTS:

Easily holds our 400 CD music libraries and is about the size of an iPhone

Take it with you anywhere

Works equally well with MACs and PCS and connects with USB 2

Installation is super easy, change a couple preferences in iTunes and one “drag and drop” does it

Searches are easy using the iTunes

Project Management is a breeze with iTunes using playlists and folders

Drag and Drop music right into your editing software

Format Choice: AIF / 48k   or   MP3 / 320kbps

WHAT ABOUT UPDATES:

We release new music every week. Thats how we stay current and relevant. You will be able to easily FTP download and drop the new music right on the drive for instant access. It’s incredibly easy ! No CDs, DVD or shipping required.

LICENSE OPTIONS:

We do it all.. needle drop, blanket, lease or buy out sync. We can configure your license exactly the way you need it. You will need to talk to a rep to determine what’s best for you.

A SAMPLE  iTUNES  SET UP:

We have a PDF with instructions to set up iTunes to work the way you want. You can leave the music on the drive or add it to your own drive by importing it into the iTunes on your computer.

Our sales staff will be glad to help you configure it.

Here is a peak at how a complex iTunes production music and project management solution would look.

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CDs… We don’t need no stinking CDs !  OK.. that’s not exactly true, but it is getting closer to reality.  Can you say: Audio Cassette, Eight track, Vinyl records….

The complete elimination of CDs is a ways  off  and you might still need or like CDs for any number of reasons. But… the future, or should I say current platform is FTP, File Transfer Protocol. FTP enables us to deliver large files ( multiple CDs worth ) over the internet with relative ease and speed right to your computer desktop.

I love food metaphors.. heres one.

Music delivery web sites are kinda like fast food drive through restaurants. It’s a great place to quickly search for one meal at a time, but not many of us pull up to the drive through window and order 21 meals to last a week. You can see the effects of what that can do in a movie titled “Super Size Me”.  There is another kind of food source thats better designed for that. It’s called a grocery store. Grocery stores are better equipped and stocked for large scale food acquisition.

iTunes-window

For the past 25 years or so, GMP MUSIC has assisted media professionals with both types of music purchases. Our web site is quick and easy for the search, grab and download crowd and offers the ability to make bigger purchases if desired. But like any tool that is great for one job, it becomes limited for other tasks. It’s just not a great place to make final decisions on multiple projects using a lot of different types of music.

There is only one way to make the best decision about music in a media production. You put the music in.. then watch and listen. When it works.. it works, when it doesn’t.. it doesn’t.

We have been sending out CDs ( think grocery store for production music ) on a no risk preview policy for all of the last 25 years. It’s a great tool and we have no intentions of stopping but we are now going to introduce our next big option.

FTP Delivery Preview. All of the normal No Risk Preview features, just no CDs.

No CDs, No boxes, No packing, No shipping, No inserting CDs into your computer. No extracting the CD tracks. No returning the CDs with the shipping hassles, No cleaning and re-stocking.. et cetera ad nauseam.

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Speed: There is nothing faster!  Moments after you talk with your sales rep at GMP you will receive a link to clic and the music will just start to flow right to your computer. Minutes later you drag the file right to your iTunes program and seconds later your searching and locating the music you need. It’s just awesome. We still believe the best way to make a three minute music decision is with three minutes of music. Why wait three days for the CDs to arrive ?

Email or call your sales rep today and try out the FTP Preview. info@gmpmusic.com  or go old school .. call 800-955-0619   BFF  LOL…