Tag Archives: Final Cut Studio

Music Mess


It’s that time of year again– Finals week!

Of course, with the screwy classes that I take, this usually means that there’s a lot more project-oriented work going on, and a lot less test-taking, compared to others. Last year, I had three studio/production classes, and the studio time almost killed me. I vowed never to let that happen again.

This year, I again have three studio/production classes, but with the added pressure of the Lisagor video project (now passed, of course). I don’t learn my lessons. I don’t have any more studio time, though– it’s all video production at this point.

I really like audio/video production. Usually I’m not a very nitpicky person, but I just can’t get enough of the little annoying things that make such production work a time-consuming mess, especially in audio, but that’s just because I’m better at that side of the puzzle. While I can edit a video well enough to present, I’m not great. I have no formal training whatsoever, and I just know there are things I could do in Final Cut to make my stuff better.

One of the things I enjoy most about audio (and audio to video) is scoring. The simple addition of music can turn a piece completely around– and therein lies the problem. The rule is that music is supposed to support the mood, not drive it. If you listen to the bare version of a piece and compare it to a scored version and the two are radically different, there’s a problem. Often, however, this is done as a cover-up for bad writing.

Poynter has a good article in its “Ethics” section about this. They even offer several videos to illustrate the difference a simple scoring decision can make:

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Another contributing factor to this issue is the problem of licensing. If your piece is going to be shown publically or gains significant popularity, you’re going to need ASCAP licensed music. And most people can’t afford that. Even some broadcast stations can’t afford that. Under Fair Use, you can get away with about 30 seconds of audio before the goonies from the record labels start coming after you. At that point, you’re in trouble. Shuffling though music 30 seconds at a time makes for pretty obnoxious video, though, and can run into this same mood-problem. Tricky stuff.

Of course, you can get by all of this by not using music (or writing your own), but that’s not as fun.

Speaking of music, here’s a little bit for all of you out there.

When I need to wake up after a late night, I used to blast the Fatboy Slim song in this first track, which is one of my favorites in recent memory.

Of course, either of the songs in this second track would get me up just as quickly.

I’ve never heard Marley and Eminem mashed together like they are in this final track.

PS– In eleven days, I’m going to be camping by myself at Camp Chick. That may or may not mean nothing to you.


Digital Rescue


Technology saved me, today. Last night I was out collecting audio for a story I had to write for my Convergence Journalism class, and I made a fatal mistake:  I didn’t monitor my recordings. It’s a rookie mistake, and though I’d like to say I have no idea how it happened, I do. I was cocky. I assumed all my connections were good, my levels were high, and my mic placement perfect.

I don’t know if it was a lesson inflicted upon me by the gods who were tired of my arrogance, but over half of my recordings were either (almost) indecipherable or they didn’t record at all. It’s a tricky balance– in an interview, I find that people are more often at ease when my headphones are off, but wearing them at the time of the recording is the only way to guarantee that I’ve captured the audio on tape. In two cases, I left them off because I was overly confident, and in the other, because the woman looked nervous.

My audio equipment, though capable of producing great sound, is a little funny. I use a video camera as the tape deck, and a hand-held or shotgun mic , which is plugged into it. Since DV (the digital video format) records audio at 1511 kbps, it’s even better quality than CDs, so the recordings sound absolutely fantastic… When it works. (By comparison, most mp3 files come in around 128 kbps, so the quality is more than ten times higher.)

The converter cables I have to use to hook up the shotgun mic to the camera make for a tight fit, since the camera is rather compact and doesn’t have very secure connections. Therefore, if I don’t make sure the cable is really squeezed in there, it can come loose, and the audio won’t record. That’s what happened in two of my interviews, and the result was that the captured audio sounded like this:

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As you can tell, it’s garbage. Even if you crank the volume, you can hardly hear anything.Luckily, due to the magic that is digital audio processing, I was able to recover most of the audio. It sounds a little like it was on AM radio, but it’s at least reasonably understandable now:

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If I spent more time on it, I’m sure I could make it even better. Isn’t technology grand? The other recording was completely un-salvagable– I’d forgotten to press record. Even Soundtrack can’t fix that stupid of an error.

Speaking of digital audio, here’s some of a more melodic variety.

This first track features a familiar vocal track, but with a fun twist to the accompaniment.

Continuing the fun theme is this second track. It’s a pretty straight A vs. B, but it stays fresh throughout.

This final track is a fun one too. The chorus may raise an eyebrow, but that usually happens with this style of mash-up.