Gig Express. The streaming era.

•November 18, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In relation with the changes on the music industry and how people consume music and multimedia products, two artists have recently made use of the internet to spread their music. This is an example on how artists adapt to the new technologies and consumer needs.

On Sunday 25 of October U2 gig at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in California was streamed via Youtube for fans in 16 different countries. Youtube placed adverts in the usual way plus offer viewers the ability to chat to one another using Twitter, or to give money to Bono’s RED charity while they watch the show. After the show the clips where available, as well, on the site.

Here is the youtubeU2 blog where you can watch the clips and have a read about the concert:

The other artist who has recently done use of streaming is Rihanna. One of her gigs in a secret location in London has been streamed by Nokia through mobiles phones adding the possibility for viewers to share their thought using social networking applications, such as twitter and facebook.

Altough live streaming poses bigger technical issues than offering pre-recorded content, and issues over music rights may prevent this experiments to become quickly popular. This gigs have been an example on how the music industry can join forces with the internet instead of fighting and making laws against internet uses.

Mark Mulligan, a specialist music analyst has declared the following to The Times “We are in a period where the balance of power is shifting. Record labels are becoming a weaker part of the value chain. Recorded music is declining but live is still strong, publishing is still strong, so artists and their managers are by default becoming slightly stronger players.”


Introduction on Audio Compression!

•November 11, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As any kind of audio signal processing, compression can be applied in many different ways and different purposes in mind. Compressors appear to control the dynamics. This is to have control over the parts that are sounding much louder than the more quite ones, so you can achieve a more even sound in volume.  As an example you can imagine how useful this could be applied to the sound of a snare drum when the take you have recorded has more than one hit on the snare far to loud.

Example of a sound to be compressed:
Threshold: is the level which once is exceeded the compressor begins to work.

Ratio: serves to control the amount of compression applied.  As an example 2:1 Ratio means every 2 dB the signal exceeds the threshold it would be reduced to 1 dB.

Attack: is the  lapse of time between the signal begins and the compressor starts to work.

Release: is the opposite. The time it takes from the compressed signal to go back to the regular signal.

Knee: this control is to regulate the transition between the regular signal to the compressed, so you can get the compressor attenuate faster or slower, making the compression more harsh or smooth.

Output or makeup gain: as the signal level has been reduced this is many times compensated by raising the gain of the track.

Achieving a good compression is not an easy job, as the ideal compression need to be as transparent as possible (unless being used with creative purposes). When a sound is over compressed it is deformed and we could describe it as sounding dull. This is the effect: [AUDIO

The goal is to get a natural sound with no massive diferences in level. Another effect compressors is to accent the attack of a sound, making it more punchy. The next example ilustrates a proper better compression, more transparent: [AUDIO]

Hopefully this post has made you understand how compressors work and which is the goal, so now is time for you to start work!!

P.D: examples of your work are very welcome!

Exercise on Film Scoring. Post Production of Audio.

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

During a module on Audio Post Production I had to complete a film scoring project where I was given a clip from a Hitchcock movie. The idea was to watch the clip and analyze where we wanted to place music to emphasize the action going on. We were given around twenty tracks from the compositor who had worked on all Hitchcock’s movies (This tracks were actually from other movies) and once chosen they had to be placed and edited to the movie with Pro Tools.

The process I carried out was, once I had watch the clip several times, decided where to  place the music and create a “spot” list with the in’s and out’s, each of them with a short description or some adjectives of the feeling or emotion the music should give in that moment. This description included an approximate tempo, a preferable frequency range (dominance of bass or treble sounds), and in some cases a preference on instruments.

With all this in mind I had several listens to the tacks given and match them with the parts selected to had music on them. Once then, I began to import the tracks into Pro Tools and began to figure out how could they work better with the action, and this was the result:




Net pirates to be disconnected!!

•November 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Trying to find a solution to piracy, governments are, mainly, focusing on file-sharers and working on laws against them. UK is now one of the countries joining this line of action and Lord Mandelson has announced his idea of disconnecting from the network those users who repeatedly are cached illegally sharing copyrighted content.


Although sharing copyrighted content is illegal I find this is, by far, not the best solution. Firstly, it must be considered that doing so will definitely began other kind of illegal actions to carry on with multimedia piracy. As an exaple ISP Talk Talk had said this would encourage more wi-fi and PC hi-jacking and expose more innocent people to being penalized.

Secondly, it is a measure which I believe can be called dictatorial and attempt to basic rights as it means to deprive someone from any use of the internet, which is obviously unfair and excessive. Just imagine if this person works for himself and needs internet as the main tool to find work.

Thirdly, the internet providers are in the other side of the balance as they would loose customers and their business would be affected negatively.  For this reason they have already pronounced themselves against this solution.

To me the best solution for the music industry is to adapt to the changes they are going through, offering new ways of multimedia consumption and distribution combined with a change as well on the content( as they have tried with extra content o DVD, etc).

I’m quite agree with the words of streaming service we7 who believes government has missed the point, and said:

“Piracy is a reaction to an unsustainable situation, where reasonable, legitimate access to music has struggled to match demand,” said chief executive Steve Purdham.

“A variety of reasonable and sustainable models for providing music to consumers is key to ending rampant piracy. This is the approach that should be taken by the government rather than criminalising consumers and driving pirates further into the undergrowth,”

Basic Tips on Web Design.

•October 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

On all areas of multimedia, web design is the one where I have less knowledge. Basically, I am just getting into it. Therefore, lets go little by little.

This post is based on some reading I have been doing this last week on recommendable and not recommendable practices while building a site or page. Is all basic stuff but very handy for beginners or even in the case you have already been doing sites, as you might not have spot some of this recommendations.

Here you have some ideas:

Categorize and prioritize the information: basically put similar content together.  You can create a drop down menu under a category with similar content.

Limit the number of subcategories: you will avoid people getting lost on your web by not using more than 2 subcategories.

Use little more than 5 navigation buttons: again, to keep your web a safe navigation. Use a maximum of seven categories on each set of navigation buttons. Although more than one set can be displayed on the page, for example, a 5 set on the top horizontally and a 7 secondary set on the left vertically is a common structure used.

Consider web page size and monitors ratio: many people have small computer monitors. This means that placing your navigation tabs, for example, in a bottom corner will need of users to scroll the screen down, which is something you obviously don’t want to happen.

Differentiate clearly between clickable and non-clickable things: creating icons or links which are not clearly clickable difficult the users navigation. Interactive elements should look so. For it you should use strategies as positioning, change element appearance when the mouse is positioned  on top (color, animate it, trigger an audio clip, etc).

Maintain consistency between pages: by this I mean keep the same look of the icons and placement of them, as well as the general layout. This helps to set a visual language and helps the users navigation.  As an exception the home page is the only one which can be varied.

Maximize space: being smart with the use of space in your web can make a real difference.  Some techniques to do so could be:

  • Give more information when the mouse rolls over a ¡n icon.
  • Use drop-down menus in buttons.
  • Content expending when mouse rollover.

Color coding: have a think on which colors suit best the content of the page and will enhance the impression you want to give. Also, use colors that work well together sharing similar lightness and darkness.

Watch icon use: many times small illustrations are used instead of buttons. Be careful with the association you want to use, as is quite easy to confuse the user. The best idea is to use icons with a label to let users know what they do.

Divide the page on visually clear areas: simply display the information on different areas (sections) separated by blank space, color fields,  or rule lines.

Give visual priority: the different areas on the page must be displayed in a hierarchy giving more space to ones than others.  This visual priority not only helps the users navigation but enhance the look of the web. On the other hand if all the information blocks have the same size they compete for the users attention what will tire him quickly.

One font for a different character: choose a font that matches the feeling you want to cause in the reader.  As an example Serif fonts give feelings of security and professionalism.

Mix fonts smartly: rather than using only one type of font, using different ones such s for the header, body or captions, enriches the look and clarity of the site.

On music’s industry today revolution (P2P file share, etc)

•October 29, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I believe the best way to fairly judge something is to have gone over it, experiece it for yourself. Therefore it won’t be as easy or fair for many of us to really have a word on this taking in consideration the effects on all of the parts involved. What I mean is that we could prefer the situation as it is nowadays but it will obviously won´t be ideal for others and have affect them negatively (apparently, for new artists).

Different famous artist have  had a word with very different opinions.  Recently, UK artist Lilly Allen opinion has been heard quite a lot when she expressed herself against the FAC´s (Featured Artist Coalition) condemn on british legal project, which would leave without internet those customers who interchange music without permission.  Her reason to be against file-sharing is that with such phenomenon going on it is very hard for new artists to make a professional career in music.

On the other hand, other artist see a positive effect describing it as a “democratization” of music, in the words of Shakira. Both Norah Jones and Nelly Furtado have neither nothing against, and like the fact that their music can get more easily and spread to anyone.

From the point of view of a customer I believe is a great thing for music lovers. Not in terms of having something free(which it is as well, obviously, even more when you earn the basic pay rate…), but in terms of how it can enrich your passion. The easy access to such amount and variety of music opens up many doors to listen to different music styles, and music from other cultures and time periods.

At the same time, is also an advantage for all the the people who like making music as they can have an infinite source of material or inspiration.

At the end of the day, is the way how technology has evolved and affected the industry and I believe is more practical to adapt to this new way music is consumed than trying to stop what seems unstoppable, even more, by doing such stupid things as sending people to jail (as apparently has already happen).

If you guys can give more ideas on benefits or disadvantages of this evolution on the music industry GO AHEAD!!


Digital Identity

•October 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

During a lecture at uni on Multimedia we had a chat about this term and I thought it would be good for a first post. The reason is obvious, this Blog will be an important part of my digital identity.

I guess you already make yourself an idea of what the term refers to. Basically, it could be described as the information about someone that can be gathered by the use he/she does of digital technologies. The predominant technology on digital identities is the ineternet. Through iternet you can possibly find a decent amount of information on almost anyone even if you don’t know him. Just by doing a web search with his name.

This of course has advantages and also disadvantages. This is specially true for your career. As examples: if you’re self-employed you can be consious of your digital identity and make it work for you enhancing your work and services. On the other hand, you can be unconscious of it and employers find out information that can dimiss you as a possible employee.

So, being the case of us being people interested in multimedia I believe is a good idea to have a think on what we can do to improve it and make it work for us.