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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas to All!

Here' greetings and well wishes for the season, to all of you fantastic people who have been following my blog and the random posts :)

I pray peace and joy to one and all, and all your families and friends.

This has been a year of change for me, and a big change at that. I moved from involving myself in training and full 3D animated episodic to doing full-time TV commercial production and local Singapore films. This is something I have never done.

The hours are something that I'm still trying to get used it. I have always respected people who have worked on TV commercials. now I have even more respect for them. They toil day and night and many times putting in many over-time hours to get their content out on time, and meeting high standards of expectation in terms of quality, and meeting client's requirements, all at the same time.

However working in a post-production facility also sharpens my "hacking" skills like never before. We constantly need to think on our feet and re-invent our workflows to get around obstacles, sometimes using different software working together, or sometimes using software in unconventional ways.

In the same period I was challenged to pick up Unity3D (I also took up coding in C#, that came with learning Unity). The company has also entrusted me with the responsibility of working with unconventional input devices and testing sensors to work with Unity too.

In the music side, I registered a company with a partner, with a focus on creating more music (instrumentals for now) and trying to create our own brand for it. I hope to do more with the company in the new year, and I will update about the company when I can.

I also had the chance to collaborate with a vocalist Marlie from Soundcloud.com. It was a refreshing experience working with fellow musicians, and I look forward to more collaborations.

All in all I was stretched but I felt that I have accomplished a lot in many directions all at once.

I thank God for giving me an eventful year.

Here's to a better new year filled with meaning, and love for our fellow men. Lets make this world a better place, one smile at a time.

I pray God's peace and favour be with you.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

Softube Saturation Knob - Free to All

On 17 Dec 2014, Softube announced (see article) that their Saturation Knob audio plugin would become a free download.

Being previously available only to Protools and Presonus One users. However the Saturation Knob plugin is now available to every DAW that supports the VST, AAX or Audio Units plugin format.

Propellerheads Reason users can get it from the Propellerheads store.

For me I had access to the Saturation Knob through Cakewalk Sonar, as one of the components available in her ProChannel strip.

It is great to see this plugin become available when I work off other DAWs like FL Studio and recently, Reaper.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Grown Up Christmas List

Hey everyone, I hope you had a good year in 2014. Let us be thankful for what we have and spread the love with our fellow man, make this world a better place this season of peace, love and grace.

As God gives His only Son unreservedly, let us be just a little bit more caring to the next person, and strive to be better people in the coming year.

God bless you guys, have a great holiday, and Merry Christmas.

About this track:
This is a beautiful song (one of my favourite Christmas songs) by Mr David Foster, who happens to be one of my favourite composers.

Arcellia sang and recorded her voice for the track, and I did the music and mixing. This is the first time I am collaborating with a fellow musician over the Internet, and it is a refreshing way of working, opening doors to greater creativity and synergy in the collaboration.

I hope you like it.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Strings Articulations on Wikipedia and Youtube (Mostly Violins)

I was reading up on strings articulations (8Dio Adagio Violins has a "Loure" articulation which I wanted to read up on)

Wikipedia has a page Violin talking about playing techniques.

In one of the links there is a link to The Violin Site, that has a page that has detailed instructions on how to execute quite a few articulations.

Finally I went to YouTube and found some instruction videos for Violin playing techniques, where the very patient Fiddlerman shows how he achieves various playing techniques on the violin.

Its great reference to see people showing how they play various articulations.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Cover Version of Dick Lee's Rasa Sayang, for the Japanese Association

History of this job:

About a month ago I completed a job doing a cover version of Dick Lee's Rasa Sayang. The client was the Japanese Association. There was going to be a cultural exchange program where a Singaporean team of children would perform a music piece at their event in Japan.

The parents had wanted to do a multi-cultural piece. Dick Lee's Rasa Sayang was the ideal candidate for that piece. As they did not have access to Dick Lee's instrumental version (after they consulted him via email), they decided to engage me to create the instrumental track, with permission from Dick Lee.

After the instrumental was created and approved, The client went on to record the children's vocals, and also produced a music video featuring the children. So here's my track in the music video. :)

Details about the music track:

I programmed all the arrangement, (except for the guitars). 4:23 onwards, I created a mix of instruments emulating a mix of ethnic Indian, Chinese and Malay feel to the track, to respectively represent a mix of the main cultures in Singapore.

Electric guitar performances are by my talented and highly skilled  partner, Glenn Fong.

Er-Hu lines at the end are phrases performed by a client's son. At the time of recording, his playing speed is 1.5 times faster than the tempo of this track. I slowed down and re-timed portions of his playing to achieve the final version in this track.

The a capella portion in front was from the original recording.
I do not claim rights to any of the replicated arrangement
All rights from the song and original recordings belong to their respective owners.

Original Track here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs1lab0X8LI

Groove3 Releases Training Videos for Eventide UltraChannel


On 1 July 2014 I published a blog post about Eventide giving away their UltraChannel plugin for free, as a introductory time limited offer.

Now, Groove3 the training videos provider for audio and music software, has released a 2-hour long training video series just for Eventide's UltraChannel.

The tutorials and training are written and presented by Multi-Platinum Producer / Engineer Kenny Gioia. Here are the other training videos on Groove3 developed by Kenny.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Eventide Ultra Channel FREE until 8 July 2014


Eventide is giving away a great audio plugin as a promotion! This is good through July 8 2014. After this period the Ultra Channel will retail for $249.

UltraChannel™ is Eventide's new 64-bit native channel strip plug-in for AU, VST, and AAX64 for Mac and PC featuring micro pitch functionality from our flagship H8000, stereo delays with variable feedback paths, plus two stages of compression, gating, and five bands of parametric EQ.

Here are some videos to see and hear for yourselves. :)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Using Zampler to create a PitchFall Sound Design Patch

I have recently installed Zampler, the absolutely free plugin from PluginBoutique.com. Having watched the introduction video I was pleasantly surprised. Besides being a sfz player, there is a host of features that can spice and freshen up our old and dusty sfz collections.

These include fully automatable parameters like filters, ADSR and envelope controls, and effects like reverb, chorus, distortion, delay, and phasers. We can choose to make the instrument polyphonic or monophonic too. On top of that, we can also configure note gliding resulting in portamento.

The three main things that seal the deal and truly sets this virtual sampler apart, are:
LFO section(!) - 3 LFOs with 4 selectable waveforms can be used to modulate parameters. These are host tempo aware too!

Arpeggiator - An arpeggiator has been added with controls for pitch and velocity per note value. This would truly transform those

Mod Matrix - As if the earlier 2 features were not enough This third major feature alone makes it worth the while to incorporate Zampler into your workflow. This is a mapping section or virtual patch-bay to hook up almost any parameter's output (note pitch, note velocity, LFOs, mod wheel, pitch wheel, expression pedal, arpeggiator velocity(!), arpeggiator note pitch(!), or any randomly generated value) to any other parameter's output (volume, pan, pitch, ADSR, Filter Params, LFO rates, FX dry/wet levels, etc)

In my obsession with creating more pitch drop sound design patches, I decided to test Zampler out, and within minutes I have successfully used LFOs to modulate my pitch, and using my modwheel I could further affect the pitch in a playable manner. by using a second filter I could create a gating effect on top of the pitch drop. With automation I could automate the rate of the LFOs over time.

Watch the video and try this beast of a sampler out for yourselves!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Creating a Sound-Design Patch with Cakewalk Zeta in Sonar

In this video I show 3 methods to set up a patch that has a falling and rising pitch effect. I use Cakewalk Zeta 2 in Sonar X3, but this technique should be implementable in many other synthesizers.

I show 3 methods of how to achieve the result of constantly varying pitch in your patch.

The first method involves setting up the pitch bend range. In the second method, I make use of the portamento settings to achieve a rising and falling pitch.

Finally, in the last and most involved method, I use one of the four available LFOs in the synth to drive the pitch of one of the six available oscillators.

I then proceed to enhance the patch with sound-shaping tools found in the oscillator generation controls, and making use of the audio processing effects.

 Leave a note after the video if you find this useful :)

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

The United East Jazz Quintet - Teemo's Journey

The United East Jazz Quintet - Teemo's Journey from DeSant Productions on Vimeo.

Here's a video of an amazing group of jazz musicians. Love the musicianship, the sound they create, and the presence and fidelity of the recording.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Setting up Sonivox Vocalizer (Pro) in Cakewalk Sonar X3

I finally found the time to do up a video showing how I set up Vocalizer Pro in Cakewalk Sonar X3. I believe this would work with Vocalizer 1.0 as well as with Cakewalk Sonar X1 and above.

Vocalizer Pro takes a stream of audio data, and a stream of MIDI data, one of each. The audio data will get processed and played back only when there is MIDI data present at the same time.

I have tried to set up a working instance of Vocalizer Pro and Vocalizer in a couple of occasions, with no success. Vocalizer comes with video instructions for setting up in a few DAWs. Unfortunately for Sonar users, the video for Sonar shows a version of Sonar that was before Sonar X1, where the set up for signal routing and the interface was slightly different from the current versions.

In this tutorial I covered two scenarios:
- we use the output of a virtual instrument as the audio input to Vocalizer Pro, and then use MIDI input from a separate channel to feed into Vocalizer Pro.
- using an audio file (or live audio input) to feed into Vocalizer Pro and then using MIDI input from a separate channel to connect to Vocalizer Pro also.

The most important part of the set up is to understand signal flow, and what kinds of data we're passing into each section of Sonar / Vocalizer Pro. Whether it's MIDI data, or audio.

I hope this is of some help to those trying to get Vocalizer to work with Sonar. And also to understand the types of signals and data needed to get it working.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Facing the Horde - 20140507_v01_03

Once again, I attempt the 'epic' genre.
This time I try to incorporate little bits of sound-design elements to give it something unique.

I hope you all like it!

Start-end Dates: 20140507 - 20140509
DAW: Cakewalk Sonar
Virtual Instruments Used:
- 8dio requiem Pro
- Heavyocity DAMAGE
- Spitfire Albion1 and Albion3 (brass, woodwinds)
- EastWest Symphonic Orchestra (fr horns)
- Output REV

With epic tracks with full orchestration and blasting percussion tracks, I find that I always have problem with instruments becoming muddy and losing definition in the mix.

From articles on mixing tips, this is known as frequency masking. So this time round I set up high-pass and low-pass filters to roll off top and bottom frequencies that may contribute to frequencies that are vital to other instruments.

I feel that technique helped me to get rid of the typical muddiness that plagued my previous mixes.

As I built my instruments and patches for this piece, I had to make a decision on the size of the instruments used. In the end I used a lot of ensemble and "section" patches. That means "low strings in a patch" and "low brass in a patch", or "6 french horns" in the same patch.

I figured that the goal in an epic track, is to minimalistic, to be on the safe side. The percussion would be the main driving force, and there would be lots of ostinato rhythm patterns going on in the melodic section to drive and weave into the percussive rhythm.

This time round, my goal is to to achieve the feel of epic-ness. I did not feel I was able to get it until this track was done. Therefore when I attempted this, I wanted to keep the rhythmic drive the main thing, and to stay on a safe path, just to achieve that epic feel.

Thus the safe thing to do is to limit the number of distinct and concurrent musical lines going on, so the main melody is reinforced with by it being played in unison, in different octaves.

In the future I may want to try to have more complex arrangement and textures,

Another interesting observation for me, on this piece, is an unforeseen perception of the quality of my virtual instruments.

For those who have been using patches on yester-era synths will remember (fondly or not!) that a common technique in early synthesisers to simulate brass sounds, is to use the saw-tooth waveform to modulate the sampled attack of a brass instrument. Sometimes the sawtooth waveform IS the brass patch.

In the beginning of this track, in my attempt to incorporate sound design elements into the track, I included a sound-design patch that has some kind of rounded percussive attack, and then sustains the note with a sustaining tone that sounds like a saw-tooth wave. This patch was played low, layering and moving on top of the swelling and ebbing brass parts, which also happened to be low in pitch.

The surprising observation from some of my listeners were that the brass sounded electronic / fake or sounded "midi" (this expression is one of my pet peeves, incidentally. I'll write about this in another entry some day).

This was from the president of one of the music libraries that I was submitting to. I figured I shouldn't ask too much without going back to investigate how valid and accurate his observations are.

One of the possible reasons for his perception that the brass sounded synthetic was because of that saw-tooth sounding patch.

If you have any other insights on the quality and realism of the brass samples, please feel free to drop a comment.

Thank you for reading!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

New Track - ZouZaiHongTanNaYiTian V01 008 - 20140319

Listen on SoundCloud.com

Here's an instrumental of a Taiwanese pop ballad done for a contact for their wedding day. The pitch has been transposed from the original. 

Live guitar performed and recorded by glenn_fong

Original MV on YouTube here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhbvQPQjraY

All rights belong to their rightful legal owners. I do not claim ownership to anything directly related to the original melody, tune and chord progressions.

All rights of the photo of Julia Peng Jia Hui is belong to their respective owners.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Producer Spot - Free Downloads! - J3T Drum Tracks Loops Pack

Producer Spot Free downloads!: Fans can get exclusive downloads from Producer Spot. Come and get yours!

Grab the free Multi-track drum loops by J3T Drum Tracks!

This free Multi-Track Drum Loops pack, includes 4 ending sessions, 5 fills and 5 grooves sessions featuring 167 loops in Wav format and 167 Aiff files. From hi-hats, toms, cymbals to live kicks, snares and percussion this free loops are recorded at 120 BPM. Total size, after unzip the .rar file is 378 MB. To extract the files use WinRar on Windows and UnrarX on MAC.

You can use this drum samples and loops in your productions as royalty free, without extra costs.

Here's a sample track of the free Loops pack in action!

For more information about J3T Drum Tracks do check out their online drums sessions services here.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Ten Minute Master – Sample Streaming

This article from MusicTech is such a great read. 

Samples have come a long way, and we owe it to the great guys who continually push the technological boundaries so we can come ever closer to realism with our music.

The article talks about how it was in the days of sampling which, with unimaginably low resources (RAM only) allocated for samples, managed to squeeze only couple of seconds of samples for use in audio/music production.

Then came the revolutionary technology that broke the resource limitations of RAM capacity - the innovation of hard drive streaming, where sample data is streamed from hard disks to RAM.

It then talks about which types of harddrives are available and what aspects of hard-disk performance matters most when it comes to making music and getting the most when working with samplers. It also suggests some nice tips on how to spec-out your workstation to get the best performance for sampling based applications.

We are also reminded of the trend of greater efficiency with data, and continual improvements in technology, that music and virtual instruments in the future will sound ever closer to the realism that we dream of.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My Entry to MSF Music Competition - The Power Of Small

Here is my original entry to a music contest hosted by MSF, Doctors Without Borders, a charity pledging to help needy countries all over the world.

Please like the YouTube video to vote for the piece, if you like what you hear.

My soundtrack aims to be uplifting, with rising and falling dynamics matching to the timing and cue of the visual material.

It starts small, with a single piano, then builds up to a full band (a drum kit, bass, guitar, and some voices). At the end it goes back to a quieter and reflective tone, that urges the viewer to consider the implication of how a small giving can enable and empower MSF to reach out and help the needy.

You can check out the original competition site here: http://www.msf.org.uk/power-small-music-competition

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

How to Create Width, Height and Depth in a Mix

The Pro Audio Files


This is a  great article about how to manipulate your audio content to create the perception of depth, width and height in a mix. This article is written by Matthew Weiss, a mixing and recording specialist based in New York and Philadelphia

I like the way Matthew breaks down width, depth and height and tells us how each of these are perceived. Once we know what governs our perception, he then tells us what we can do to accentuate or even exaggerate it in our mixes if we so choose to.

I enjoyed reading this and I hope you pick up a thing or two also.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Behind the Scenes of Disney's Frozen

Great to be able to witness part of the workflow, and amazing team of many people working in collaboration to make this movie happen.

The featurette begins with the voice actors recording their lines,
then at 7:00 we see some kind of dailies for the visuals.
At 8:15 we see 3D artists actually working with the poses and rigs in Maya.
At 10:13 we are shown the choir recording their parts.
At 11:58 we finally see the orchestra recording the cues.

This is really good stuff!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Grey Moments - Co_02c_FilmScore_TheViolin_V001_003

Here's a moody piece for a rainy day. This is for one of my online assignments, where I attempt to write expressively for just the string section, using a solo violin as the lead instrument.

The brief included words like, 'beautiful', 'haunting', 'world war 2 era', 'hopes', 'dreams'. I hope I managed to capture some of those in my track :)

Written in 3 days, programmed in Sonar X3. Since I read up on the assignment, I began to think about how the track would sound, in my mind, maybe about 3 days before. Therefore the song could have taken about 6 days. Along the way, I had 2 earlier ideas which I abandoned as the piece progressed.

On this piece, once I came up with the beginning of the melody, the track sort of shaped itself. It was coming up with that initial line that was hard.

The key of the song changed from F# Minor to B Minor almost without me noticing. I would be quite concerned over changing of keys in the past, because back then I felt like a key change would have to be intentional, with good reason. I feel I am going at it from a different angle now. We'll see where that takes me.

The time signature is set in 6/8 time. There are two places in the music where retard of tempo takes place. I still don't know how to handle that, whether to slip in a bar of 3/8 or to keep to 6/8 with a slowed down timing. I chose to go with the latter. Still do not know if it is the best way to do this. :)

I hope you like this piece. Do give me your feedback :)