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Posts Tagged sound

Error-too many record tracks!

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

For those of you who are running cubase on a HP laptop and wondering why you are getting this message come up, even when you’re only recording one track, I think I might have the answer you are looking for.

A while ago, me and my brother (Joe!) were filming a pilot episode, for a series that we want to do, called ‘The Jayme G Show’.
Seeing as we didn’t have any money to fund it, we couldn’t afford to buy the proper equipment for the job, so we had to be creative with what the equipment we already had. Luckily ‘Joe!’ recently got given a boom mic for his camera, as a birthday present. But we still needed something to record the audio on to, and plugging it into the camera’s mic input means that your boom-mic guy is tied to the camera man.
So, seeing as I already had a portable audio interface (the one that we did the video about) ‘The Session I/O‘, we decided to use my laptop.
Here is my setup:
camera microphone
As you can see I have two bags; One with the audio interface in and the other one with my laptop in.
I would set up a project in Cubase, using the ‘Session I/O‘ as the audio device, then press record, shut the laptop and put it in the bag.
The first time I tested this setup, I ran in to a little problem…
After doing a short test recording, I opened up the laptop to see how it went. I then saw an error message in Cubase; (I can’t remember exactly, but it was something like..) ‘Error-too many record tracks’.
What does that mean?
It means that too much information is trying to be recorded at one time for your hard drive to handle.
Now, when doing multi-track recordings it’s understandable for this to happen because if you have a lot of tracks, recording at a high bit rate and sample rate, it can be too much information for the hard drive to handle. (depending on the speed of the hard drive)
But this seemed crazy, I was only recording one 24 bit mono audio track @ 44,100 Hz! That’s nothing!!! How slow must my hard drive be!?
So I started looking for information on the hard drive that I have in my laptop, to see if it was actually this ridiculously slow or if it was something else…

It was something else.

Upon reading up on my hp hard drive I found out that it has a built in:
HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive Protection
This little thing does this:
“Built-in HP ProtectSmart detects if your laptop has been dropped, and during that split-second journey to the floor, it automatically locks your fragile hard drive. This safety mechanism helps prevent the loss of your files and media library from damage caused by the fall.”
Which is great if you’re a cluts with an expensive piece of equipment, but not so great if you’re trying to record audio with the laptop in a bag that keeps setting off the damn ‘HP ProtectSmart‘ because of the movement!
So that was it! Cubase must have thought that the hard drive wasn’t recording fast enough, because when the hp protection thing was triggered, the hard drive wasn’t spinning at all! So it must have assumed that it was because of too many tracks being recorded at once!

All I had to do then, was go to; start menu, control panel, Hp 3D Drive Guard and then disable it! (And also be extra careful not to bump or knock the laptop much, while it was disabled!)

Hope someone finds this useful.. :)

Behind The Scenes; Soundtrack. 2

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | 2 Comments »

So the next scene would be Jayme and Joe! in the pet-shop. The music starts off again in the previous scene, which ends with another gag. But this time, instead of the drums complementing the joke, I went for a short guitar lick.
The music then stays the same until Jayme and Joe! are inside the pet-shop where the music then cross-fades into the background shop radio.
The handy thing about the pet-shop that we filmed in was that it had no animals in it!
They sell pet food, dog collars, e.t.c, and also wash dogs.
Having no animals meant no noise pollution! So we didn’t have to worry about cuts! You see, when you’re only filming with one camera, you can’t record all of the camera angles in one take. So you have to record it in bits and then put it all together in the editing.
But the problem with having background audio over the actors voices is that when you cut to a different shot the audio in the background also changes (because it was recorded at a different time), so when filming this way, it’s best to have just the actors audio and put the background sounds in after, in the editing.

I would just like to take the time to say thanks to ‘Paco’, the real pet-shop owner, who very kindly let us record in his pet-shop (Snoopy Mascota, in Jaén) and came in extra early to open up for us. Thanks Paco!!!

I love my helmet hair in this picture!! XD That’s Paco, on the far right.
The following piece of music had to have a bit more thought put in to it…
Seeing as the next scene is a flashback, with a joke between the boss and a car mechanic, I decided that the music should resolve in that same scene. So when the boss is coming up to the punchline, the music is also coming to the last bar. I think that it wraps up the scene nicely.
So, in order to write a piece of music so that it has 4 bars and finishes exactly where you need it to, it’s just a case of doing a simple sum…
Here’s an example, working with a time signature of 4/4 (4 beats to each bar):

Length of the scene = 13 seconds
4 beats x 4 bars = 16 beats
So, we go…
13 ÷ 16 = 0.8125 seconds (that’s how long each beat needs to be, to fit 16 beats into 13 seconds)

So now what we have to do is work out how many beats there are in 60 seconds, to get the bpm (beats per minute):

60 ÷ 0.8125 = 73.846 bpm

Now that I have the bpm, I can start writing a piece of music that fits perfectly!!
There are lots of other ways to fit music perfectly to a scene, you don’t always have to do it in 4 bars, but for this particular piece that’s what I wanted.
I also ended the music on the penultimate beat, to give 1 beat of empty space (simulating an awkward silence, between the boss and the mechanic).

After that it’s back to the pet-shop radio and then to a bit of dramatic score.
“Don’t feed the exotic animals!!!”. This scene needed to give of a feeling of urgency so I decided to use drums, starting off slow and then gradually getting faster and faster as Joe! get’s nearer to the cage, simulating a ticking bomb, making you feel like you’re running out of time. But just using drums wasn’t enough, it needed more instruments to feel more busy.
So I put in some discordant strings that detune upwards, to make it feel like something scary was about to happen if he didn’t get the the cage in time.
The next bit (where you see the chimp eating something) needed some suspense, because Joe! failed to get there in time, so now we’re waiting and wondering what’s going to happen… That’s fairly strait forward; just some slightly discordant sustained strings.

In the next part, where Joe! feeds a monkey for the first time, I put together a short snippet of radio where I am the DJ, saying; “…that, but anyway, it’s one thirty and you’re listening to radio, one, derr” and then I play a record (which is the same song used for the montage, later on).
When the boss also says “DON’T FEED THE EXOTIC ANIMALS!!!” Joe! was shocked. So I used a lot of really discordant strings and drums, making it sound messy and horrible to be there.
After the flashback Joe!’s looking at the cadge and something is starting to happen the the chimp, so rising strings and more drums seemed to give the impression of something growing, or starting to happen…

Behind The Scenes; Soundtrack. 1

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

The music makes all the difference.
Ever watched a video with no sound? It’s has nowhere near the same impact as one with sound. Just think of the cinema, how dramatic is that!!?? (I like to stay until the very end, to be able to listen to the soundtrack in an acoustically treated room with a good sound system!) ;)

Most people hardly notice the background music at all (or at least what it’s doing), and that’s what you want to do. You want to put the emotion into the scene but without it sounding out of place. And when you do it right, people won’t notice you’ve done anything at all! So that’s why it’s so important to spend a lot of time getting it right.
It’s only when you do it wrong that it notices!

The soundtrack took quite a long time to do.
Before I could even start writing anything, I had to spend a long time just watching and thinking. I found it helpful to ask myself questions like; “What’s the mood of the characters in this scene?”, or “When and how should the music start and end?”
I think that that creativity comes from solving problems. So I like to see problems as a chance to be creative, by finding ways around them.
So I found that the more questions I asked about each scene, the easier it became to understand what to do.
And when I finally got it right, I’d listen to it and think; “of course, that’s so obvious! How come I didn’t think of doing it like that in the first place?”

The first piece of music that I wrote was a very simple sinister sounding atmosphere, for the first scene (the one with the monks in it). Then the monk pushes play on the tape recorder and soon after, the second track starts. Then the atmospheric music fades out, as the music on the tape starts changing from a radio sound into the live sound of Jayme and Joe! playing in the classroom.This wasn’t hard at all because it was just simply a matter of following what was going on in the visual.

Then it goes straight to the bar scene, with Joe! (years later) and the music starts the scene off. There the music is used as if it were playing in the bar.

After we finish playing, the next track starts at the end of the scene. I think that it really ties the scenes together and gives the whole thing more continuity, plus it complements the “9 o’clock on a Saturday morning” joke. It also gives off the feeling that something else is about to start, i.e. the next scene.
This track was the first one I worked on and it was very hard. I ended up having to dump the first song I wrote for it and write a new one because the flavour was all wrong. Getting the right flavour is so important!

It was also very hard deciding what to do with the music once it had started. “Is it O.K to just play it in the background, even though they’re in the street?” Answer; This particular piece of music isn’t in their world, so they can’t hear it! It is simply just part of the soundtrack. “O.K, but is that still O.K to just play over the scene…?”
So I simply tried it with and without the music..
I found that, due to all of the cuts and the way the scene has been filmed, there is quite a few continuity faults. So leaving the music playing over the whole scene helped to gel it all together by giving it more of a timeline and making it more like one long scene, instead of a load of cuts.

More soon…

Home Studio Basics

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | 1 Comment »

Today I thought I’d do quick rundown of the basic things you need to set up a fairly efficient home studio, for those who are interested in setting one up.

-First you’ll need a computer.
Desktops are usually more stable and powerful than laptops, plus you can upgrade parts later on.
Now the dilemma…
P.C or Mac? Well, this is a tough one:
1: Mac= supposedly better than a P.C

…Once you have your P.C, you’ll then need a DAW.
Digital Audio Workstation. This is where all the music is going to be put together. There are lots of diferent ones; Logic, Cubase, Sonar, Ableton Live, Pro-tools, e.t.c..
To me the DAW is like another instrument. It plays a big part in the way I write music, purely because I am able to manipulate whatever I’ve record, until I like the way it sounds!
Moving on…

-Then you’ll need some sample libraries.
Sampled pianos, organs, drums, e.t.c…

-A midi controller. (Keyboard) To trigger the samples.

-A microphone, or microphones.
Essential for recording vocals.
I would definitely recommend at least one condenser microphone for acoustic guitar and vocals because it is more sensitive than a dynamic one, so you’ll get a much clearer sound.

-An audio interface.
This is basically a sound card.
Choosing the right one depends on what you’re going to be doing.
If you need to use microphones for acoustic guitar recordings and more, then you’ll definitely benefit with more than 1 XLR input (a high impedance mic input). If the audio interface has phantom power as well then even better because some microphones, like condenser microphones, need it.
I used to use a mackie onyx 400f, but I don’t think that it’s available anymore. Now I use a Focusrite Liquid Saffire 56.

-Some loudspeakers and amplifier.
For mixing, it’s better to use loudspeakers than headphones.
You’ll also need to treat your room so that you don’t get sound bouncing all over the place and bass collecting in the corners, giving you an inaccurate reading. Bass traps are good for this.

-And finally some headphones.
For recording guitar and vocals, e.t.c.. But don’t expose yourself to loud volumes for long periods of time cos you’ll damage your ears!

How To Write A Song! 12

by Jayme Gutierrez Posted in blogging | No Comments »

Today I’ve been working on some harmonies for ‘Hannah’.
I decided to leave the new song (‘Clean The Fan’) for a day. Sometimes I find myself getting too familiar with a song, and start messing around with it too much that I end up nowhere. So sometimes it’s good to be working on more that one song at a time.

I’ve done one verse and one chorus. The choruses are usually the same, but I like to make each one slightly different. I like to add different harmonies or slightly change the bass line or something like that.
I like to think of it as mixed bag of sweets. Having lots to choose from makes them more interesting, but if it’s filled full of cola bottles or boot laces then it becomes a bit too boring. Also, having too big a bag, i.e. a song longer than 4 minutes, can also make it a bit boring.

Anyway, what I’ve done is:
I’ve made 9 mono audio tracks and panned 3 left, 3 center and 3 right.
Then I’ve listened to the whole song, with the microphone on, ready to record and roughly sung the ideas that came to mind.
Then I went back to the start and slowly proceeded to develop those ideas as I went along.

It’s hard, deciding where the harmonies should come in. I find that it makes it easier if I treat them as three different groups of people, listening in and voicing their opinion when they’ve got something to say or want to emphasize a certain point.
I also like them to say things in the background. But that can sometimes be confusing if you don’t do it right. A good way that I’ve found is to construct the background phrase out of words that the main vocal is singing at that particular time. That way it lessens the amount of different words you have to take in.

So, all I have left to do is the second verse, the break and add a few extra harmonies on the choruses…