Monday, August 11, 2014

When the day comes [video]

Because I know you couldn't dream of anything better than starting your week with one of my awesome music videos. This one is for you, who you just missed another deadline, and for you who you still haven't done what you said you would, and for you, yes you, who you still haven't sent title and abstract.


I'm getting somewhat frustrated with the reverb tails, I think I have to make something less complicated. The background choir is really hard to get in the right place without creating a mush. And as always the video making was quite frustrating. I can't get the cuts in the video being properly in synch with the audio, mainly because I can't see the audio in my video editor. I'm using the Corel Videostudio Pro X, can anybody recommend a software better suited to the task?

27 comments:

Giotis said...

Excellent!

You’ve begun to establish your own exquisite artistic style Sabine.

I’m sure fans will apotheosize you!

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Hi Giotis,

Thanks for the encouragement, much appreciated as I was getting a little frustrated there. I actually feel like I'm repeating myself (quite literally as with the background echo), I should try something different next time.

Theophanes Raptis said...

Interesting choice and a bit apocalyptic that "womb" environment in the background. Speaking of choirs, it is said that the simpler the means, the more powerful the consonance..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQSgZuNAQtA

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Theophanes,

Yes, I am trying to keep it simple... (there isn't actually much going on in this song instrument-wise and as with special effects and the like). Thing is though, maybe oddly, I don't like prominent solo-singers. I prefer pieces with the voice in the back or choirs (choir-like arrangements) think ABBA, or this timeless piece which is basically my idea of a perfect song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kcmwXUdDCE

Now if only I could figure out how to get my voice into the back without it being completely inaudible. Well, I'm working on it. At least it's getting better, so I have the feeling I am making progress.

Best,

B.

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

PS: And it's not a womb, it's supposed to be a cave. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any image of the inside of a cave that would have been close enough to a wall. Apparently nobody takes pictures of people sitting in front of walls in caves. This thing actually has a tunnel below my back.

L. Edgar Otto said...

Birth perhaps, beginnings, certainly not the inflation in the womb. I mean sometimes a wormhole is just a wormhole. My first impression was she was siting in a cave, Plato like in the archetype.

One summer on the streets of Madison thru the night I came upon some hippies in the park. They were drumming on Five gallon buckets. My rhythm was no where near theirs (or Sabine's) so I just beat out some curse words in Morse code and they all loved it as we played until morning.

Timo said...

Hi Sabine,

one way to push the voice towards the back and get an esoteric sound, without making it quiet or (too) muddy, is to overbdub your vocals a _large_ number of times with the exact same melody, at least 10 separate takes and 20 or 30 isn't an exaggeration. Enya is well known for this production technique, and she is said to do even a hundred takes. Of course, you'll need to be quite precise with your singing then, so that the vocals line up.

Also, you can to some extent control the amount of mud that the reverb causes by eq'ing the reverb return, typically by using a hi-pass filter to remove all bass, and a reasonably wide parametric band to further cut the low-mids (anything between 150Hz to 1kHz, although most often the cut ends up around the 200-400Hz region).

You said in some post that you'd read a book about audio mixing, so I've assumed that the technical terms above are understood?

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Timo:

The book didn't say much about treating vocals. I use two vocal tracks (different recordings, not copies) that go into the same bus where I have a chorus and reverb on it. I could try more tracks certainly... It's somewhat cumbersome because of the noise in my apartment, but not actually difficult to do. It seems like a good advice, I will try that next time, thanks :)

I've tried filtering the reverb, but it's not working very well, which is to say it sounds crappy and I don't know why. I've been looking for a vst plugin that works better to that end than the default - if you have a recommendation, let me know. I've also tried to duck the reverb with the dry vocals to avoid a blurring, but I'm using a slimmed down (read: inexpensive) software that doesn't allow me to use the output of one insert as input for another. For the same reason I cannot eq only the reverb. What I've done instead is first export the reverb only (without the dry signal) on a different track and then filter this track. I've used that for the long reverb in this song (the one on 'will you recall what you said' at 1:57) and it works okay-ish I think (most of the blur is gone), but it is terribly cumbersome and generates its own problems. Eg, it's hard to get the reverb timed correctly because it doesn't have a clear onset and with the reverb pre-delay messed up it's not only mushy but plainly disorienting.

All of which says, I guess, that reading a book is one thing, but converting it into practice another thing :) Best,

B.

Uncle Al said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBXJaFblNRw
Layered sound without mud occurs with frequency shift

or with Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Acts 2 and 4 climax with seven- and eight-voice tutti. "...synthesis of accelerating complexity and symmetrical resolution" suggests SUSY flailing way to MSSM, and then hoping maybe antilog(3) curve-fitting parameters will do it. Vocal heteroskedasticity?

Quantum gravitation has fuzz boxes. Loud score, ponderous libretto, crappy concerti throughout. A weak founding postulate is failing. Something loud willo break the spin ice into unification,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtHaFEbUNr8

Timo said...

Sabine:

I'm not quite sure if you were asking about an eq plugin or a reverb plugin, but I'd say that a much bigger difference lies between different reverbs rather than between eq's (although eq's differ too). As you're using an inexpensive version of the software, I'm assuming that you're not interested in shelling out wads of cash for plugins, so I'll try to mention some free or cheap options for improving your mixing tools:

One of the best plugin reverbs I've tried (and use almost exclusively) is ValhallaRoom, http://www.valhalladsp.com/valhallaroom and is relatively cheap at 50$. There are also quite workable free alternatives, although I haven't really used any of them enough to confidently recommend one over the multitude of options. I'm sure there are comparisons and recommendations to be found in the forums I've listed below.

A different breed of reverbs are convolution reverbs, which use the (approximate) linearity of the reverberation process to record the reverb of a real space and then impose it on the audio by convolution. In this case the specific plug-in you use does not matter too much, but rather the recordings (called impulses) you use (these can be found from the web, both as paid libraries and for free). For example, one free convolution plug-in is http://www.knufinke.de/sir/sir1.php

A very nice chorus effect, which is also free, is:
http://kunz.corrupt.ch/products/tal-chorus-lx

In terms of DAW software, there is an excellent option on the cheap, only 60$ (and you can try it for free): Reaper, http://www.reaper.fm/ . It's nearly as powerful as the big professional software packages such as Cubase or Logic, and will certainly allow you to route and bus everything to your heart's content. The downside is that there is a bit of a learning curve, although there are also good tutorials to be found from the web.

You are absolutely correct in that reading a book about audio mixing is not quite the same as learning to mix :) as in many other things, practice is the key, but there are also a number of websites, forums etc which can be very helpful in terms of specific questions. To list, quite randomly, a few:
http://www.soundonsound.com/ (an audio recording magazine, articles older than 6 months are freely available, and people on the forum are quite helpful)
http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/
http://www.gearslutz.com/board/ (nothing indecent here regardless of the name, mostly about audio gear, occasionally a bit unfriendly toward newbies, but there are even professional mix engineers posting here so worth trying)

There are a million other things to discuss on this subject, but I'm afraid this post is already long enough as it is :)

Best,

Timo

Andrei Kirilyuk said...

I have an impression that real life gradually becomes more interesting than abstract spaces, at least through music. Good news. Although at the time of California Dreaming all of it was much more hopeful (even theoretical physics)...

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Hi Timo,

Thanks. I knew the SOS website, found some very useful advice there, but didn't know the other two, I will check this out. I'm trying not to spend too much money on software and hardware. Thing is that as long as I'm not really sure what I'm doing anyway, I don't think it's going to help.

I'm using Cubase Elements and, yeah, the learning curve was pretty steep, starting from perfectly zero. I'm presently not really in the mood to switch to something else and start all over again, so I'll still with this at least for now. Best,

Sabine

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

typo: still -> stick

Timo said...

Hi Sabine,

of course, it's always a pain to switch DAW's. I took a look at the comparison sheet for the Cubase family (I use the full version of Cubase myself), and it says that Elements does have group channels. So you should be able to make a group (not FX) channel, insert the reverb there (set to full wet of course), followed by an eq plugin (the cubase channel eq is also present in group channels if you prefer that, at least in the full version), and then use the send control on your voice channel to route some of it to the group channel with the eq'd reverb?

I also agree that there's no point in putting too much money into music tech until you start to know the ropes. Some really great stuff has been done on a shoestring, and serious crap has been done in million dollar studios :)

Best,

Timo

JimV said...

In case you want feedback: I enjoyed the video; I thought it was interesting and well-done.

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Timo,

Sorry, you lost me at "use the send control on your voice channel to route some of it to the group channel"...

Yes, I can do group channels in Elements, I used one for the vocals and one for the bass. Yes, I can put a reverb as insert there and it has an extra channel eq that I can use, or I also have a few other eqs that I could add to the inserts. You want me to route the output back into the vocal-group channel? I plainly don't know which control you're referring to.

In that case too I'd have to first make a copy of the original audio track, which is basically what I'm presently doing anyway - why route it through another group channel? See the problem in this case is that every time I make an oh-so tiny change to the original track, I have to copy the thing again. Of course that's possible, but it's quite annoying. Best,

B.

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Jim,

Yes, thanks. Feeback, both positive and negative, is certainly appreciated :) Best,

B.

Timo said...

B.,

the sends are what allow you to route a track or a group channel to other destinations in addition to it's main routing, for example to an effects channel (which can be technically a group channel also), so you don't have to copy your tracks. Group channels can further be sent to other group or FX channels and so on, so you can make pretty complicated routings. In Cubase, at least in version 6, the sends are visible in the mixer channel editor (that is, the editor which shows the settings for a single channel, including the eq graph) on the right side, from where you can choose the destination and set the volume with which the audio is sent. Alternatively, on the main mixer screen, the controls on the left side of the mixer allow you to make all the sends for all channels visible above the main channel faders at once.

I can try to find a tutorial to point you to, or take a screen shot of the relevant controls when I have time, although that won't probably be until tomorrow evening. Do you have version 6 or 7 of Cubase Elements (the GUI seems to have changed quite a lot since 7 came out, I'm still on 6 myself)?

Best,

Timo

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Timo:

I have version 6. Right, the FX channels are on the mixer, but not sure what to do with them. I basically haven't touched those. (I didn't set them up either, I used the ones that were in the template.) I don't see how I can set the destination for the sends in the mixer channel editor. Yes, a tutorial would be good.

What I was looking for at some point is what's explained in this tutorial:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/may09/articles/cubasetech_0509.htm

Now have a look at the first image there. This exact button, the "activate side chain" button, doesn't exist in the Elements version. (You find that confirmed on some other website that it really doesn't exist and I'm not just too dumb to find it.) But I'm not exactly sure now if you're talking about the same thing.

Best,

B.

Timo said...

B.:

side-chaining, which the picture in the SOS article refers to, is a bit different, and a slightly more advanced technique, and indeed isn't available in Elements. Sends, however are, to the best of my knowledge. The specific controls are the ones operated at 2:45 in this tutorial video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OVsQhX17_o

See how he first chooses a destination to send to, from the drop down menu? That can be any group or FX channel or audio output. Then he turns up the volume to determine how much audio is sent there. In your case the destination should be a group or FX channel with the reverb on the insert, and then eq'd to your liking.

I'm sure there are better tutorials, but something I found very quickly on SOS is the one below. It's for a different software, but if you just ignore the details on where to click etc, all the principles are just the same in any DAW:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/feb11/articles/dp-workshop-0211.htm

A few other related links you might want to check out:
http://hiltaudio.wordpress.com/2011/11/10/daw-techniques-signal-routing-sends-and-busses/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aux-send

Best,

Timo

Timo said...

Here's one more pretty detailed one:
http://bwestproductions.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/cubase-5-how-to-set-up-a-reverb-send-effect/

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Timo:

Awesome, I will check this out, thanks so much :) You'll notice with the next video if I understood this or not ;) Best,

B.

Timo said...

B.:

No probs! In return I'll ask you when I have a problem in QG :P I'm a physicist too, and will be starting as a postdoc with Larus Thorlacius in Reykjavik next month :)

Best,

Timo

Bar said...

You would be writing too many papers if they interfered with your musical art. It is very compelling.

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Timo: Ha. Small world :) I'm flying to Reykjavik on the weekend. Are you around or only arriving later? Best,

B.

Timo said...

B.:

small world indeed, I'll be giving a talk at the holography conference, so I will be around :)

Best,

Timo

Sabine Hossenfelder said...

Ok, see you then. I promise I'll not sing ;) Best,

B.