In the same activity we took time to go through the course module going through all the requirements needed to succeed in completing . Guy Cooper ran through the module showing us what is expected in the next 12 weeks. The subject is a continuation from the last tri and so we go ahead with our funk EP project that Roy and I are creating.
The most significant things I got from this activity are
- Progress on the funk EP project feedback
- Transferrable skills refresher that will count on my resume for potential jobs.
- New ways on reflecting our work through learning journals
- Attending Zoom Classes
- Class schedule
Our funk EP project is so far going on well as we continue tracking drums and guitars. It is definitely challenging trying to balance home and school at the same time but I am pleased that I am progressing. The biggest challenge for me is tracking drums to a click track that has guitars already on particularly the timing on the guitars 🎸. Instead of going back and forth we just decided to continue tracking then either edit as we go along or do the process when all the tracking is done. I am currently using midi drums although I prefer live acoustic drum and I do not have the necessary reflectors, bass traps for a proper studio setting.
The exchange of files through Google drive has been very efficient allowing us to go on with the project. I believe we are running ahead of schedule and Roy and I communicate on a daily basis making sure that our well being first is all good. I do have confidence that our project will be complete by the end the tri, but as for now we keep pressing on.
In this activity Guy spent more time discussing the importance of establishing a business as audio engineer and the requirements such as obtaining an ABN and a business name. Once a business is established there is need to declare tax to the government as that is also a requirement. Guy ran through his business and I saw how he is well organised from projects that he has created, business structure and his daily schedule.
The most significant things I got out of this activity are
- Establishing a business, obtaining an ABN
- Tax declaration
- Hourly charge of a project
As soon we finished the Zoom class I went on to register my business name and reapplied my ABN which had since been deactivated. It took me just less than an hour to have all done and my business is fully registered. I have since established the website, instagram and facebook page where I will be have all my business and projects showcased. I have seen the importance of this Zoom class with Guy as it has encouraged me to step up my game and the only way this business will grow is only when I put in my 100% towards it.
Paying tax to the Government is a must now that I have a business. The most important thing I learnt was that I am able to pay less tax if I show the expenses that I have cost my business. This also was enabled by me registering the business just before the end of the financial year. However it is more important to get an accountant to do the tax for the business so that I avoid any penalties from tax eversions. Guy recommend HR Block Accountants and I am glad that they are just 5 minutes away from me.
Another important aspect Guy shared was the hourly charge on a project for a client. Since I have just started the business it is wise to have a spreadsheet that shows my workflow helping myself and the business in terms of being organised. I do think that the more my business is organised I get to explore and understand it better on a daily basis and even my reputation and respect is well earned.
This week’s activity is meeting up with our Tutor catching up on the progress of our Funk EP project and so far we have we have come past halfway through the production. The feedback we received helped much to reshape the way we track our instruments. The way I recorded drums with midi and stereo was quite a challenge as I had to follow the guitars that were guiding the song and timing was challenging.
I have learnt on balancing the click track and the main guitar together to be able to track drums on all the 5 tracks. My preference would be a live drum recording but due to noise I chose to use midi drums. With midi the challenged I face was the triggering of the hi hat in particular which played a different note like a rim shot especially using EZ Drummer 2 plugin. Therefore I resort to using Kontakt plugin. It was much better but still the Hi hat triggered differently playing some notes and others would not play. I can fix that later on by re-tracking it only.
The process of creating 5 tracks for an EP does really require a lot of time and commitment. I am glad that we have reached this far with the project still need to remain focused as we still have keys, vocals, mixing and mastering to get through. Time management is important and still remains a challenge as I try to manage family and uni at the same time. The kids school holidays did have a major impact on my workflow but just have to work with what I have making sure that at least I put 60% work on uni on a daily basis. The 60 % does include the practical side and the academic side and that has a lot to take on. It looks easy but it truly an uphill task but I am so far handling well.
The week started with catching up with Guy on the continued progress on our Funk EP project. I managed to share the issues that I faced with midi drums export to audio files in Kontakt plugin. I am familiar with EZ Drummer but Guy showed me a very unique way of doing it.
The above image does show how the drum midi files converted into stereo without recording them the way I had been used to doing. Instead the new ways are much effective and easier surprisingly. I feel that my workflow has much improved since that new introduction of midi to stereo audio conversion. The process also allows me to control the velocity of each track and this can also be done on any instrument plugin.
I have started tracking keys and yes I think how the guitar is the main rhythm just makes it quite challenging to play keys. I do at times get a mind block when I listen to a track done by guitar and that just takes more of my time. What I am thinking of doing is to have vocals done first then I can track keys as that might be an option. I will still chip in any keys so that I do not wait for the vocals, it is rather better I just play along what I think will work then edit it as we go along.
I do still feel the temptation of tracking the live drums I just have to weigh my options because of noise. I think I will give it a try and then will assess after the tracking.
Started off the week with the process from previous week of converting midi into stereo. All the drums for the tracks I have managed to have them completed and uploaded on google drive to share with Roy. The project so far is going well and the feedback from Guy was great so keeps us pushing ourselves.
The project Coroda which we are outsourcing is going on alright, Roy managed to meet up with the animation students whom we are collaborating with to just make sure that we are all on the same page. We had initially agreed to meet up earlier at 11:45am but they cancelled last minute and proposed for 5pm which I could not attend as I had an existing booked recording. The workflow for both parties are different, and what makes it challenging is that as an audio student I work well having the animation video in Pro tools then I can align the audio making it sync together. But the workflow for the animation team is that they check the audio individually without adding it to the clip and I find the judgement to be a tough one to make.
I have started tracking keyboards for our major project and I hope to finish them by the end of the week. I would have done them all by today but I feel that we need if not all the vocals in the session so that I know where to add keys without overriding the song. I will also add my vocals too I just have to wait for Roy to send me the lyrics and the parts that I am allocated to add. We will be mixing and editing as we go along as that takes a long time to do and it is not wise to leave it to the end as the pressure mounts up. Time management skills are being put to test here and keeping with it is very essential as that is a requirement in all workflows. I learnt a very powerful statement that even if you have hard skills ( Pro tools knowledge and navigation) and you do not possess any soft skills ( time management) chances of not getting a job are near to none. That is a very serious thing that I do pay attention to a lot.
I am happy with the learning progress and writing weekly journals just helps keep my work on track. Surely this is learning in progress.
The week started with a mastering session with Guy as a preparation for our funk EP project with a study of improving the mixing technique through mastering and developing a deeper understanding of how a proper mix sounds and feels.
Before I thought mastering was mainly learning on how to use the tools but however as the trimesters continued I learnt that its more leaning towards critical listening skills. It requires more listening back to the raw mix and forth so that you make a good judgement whether to make it sound better or messing it up. Reference tracks also make the workflow better as you have to listen so you can duplicate the styles or ways its done taking notes on what you may feel needs fixing be it top end or low end.
As I prepare myself to master our project I put into consideration that the genre is specific which is funk and therefore that will be the specific context that I will keep in mind. The loudness of other funk EP or albums would be a guide for me as songs are different and quite competitive in their loudness. Therefore the use of great sounding reference tracks will absolutely provide me with how a finished song sounds whilst using frequency spectrums to match. I will use Both studio monitors & headphones so that I can have comparisons.
The first two plugins I feel I should spend more time on are an EQ and Limiter/ Maximizer. I still am building my confidence in working with a compressor but as for now I will just stick to the two plugins. I have witnessed different engineers workflows were they EQ before the compressor which does change the level and frequency content of the audio that smashes the compressor. EQ is normally used when trying to fix problems with frequency balance of the song.
It’s all practising that will determine the outcome. I will continue researching and getting my confidence up towards the mastering skills.
The weeks go ticking by as I come to the end of the trimester getting our final project organised. So far we have managed to stick to our Gant chart and we are one schedule.
On my part I have just completed all the keyboard work and have been communicating with my project partner to make sure that the song keys and chords are jellying well. I did get a note that I needed to fix some chords on one particular song which I played notes which clashed with the chorus. The guitar and vocal played a major chord whilst I was playing a minor which sounded a bit off. Thankfully it did not take me more than half and hour to fix. I am always on standby to make sure that all the stuff is working great.
I have not managed to catch up much on our zoom meetings as I had internships scheduled at the same time but I am so far happy with progress of our project. A few challenges here and there about my health particular my left shoulder which I sustained from a car accident in 2019 which at times deter me from reaching my maximum potential when seating down and doing my projects. So I tend to take a couple of breaks to have the shoulder relax a bit so that it does not affect my back too. I do have an appointment next Monday with my GP so that we can workout solutions on how to heal the shoulder.
Lastly I have been highly motivated my Guy Cooper’s activities such as making documentaries for the Gold Coast council. This showed me that I can collaborate with filmmakers and I will do the editing in either Adobe Premier pro and also work with DaVinci which is another editing and colour correction software. I am so excited that I have included on my website about video production as another added service that I provide.
The time is really not anyone’s friend and I got to understand that knowledge as I progress with my funk EP final project how far and where we have come from. Indeed this week was more challenging as I was quite ill which took me a bit backwards.
I was scheduled to start recording my vocals this week unfortunately I suffered a cold which later on turned into a series of coughs which were pretty uncomfortable. Therefore having spoke to my colleague on my situation we resort to listening to the songs how he had mixed and mastered them. Infact he did a lot of work and some of the songs particularly 2 of them sounded great. They were well mixed and neat in how they compliment each other. I think also the fact that they are inline with more blues makes them stand out even though it is a funk style project.
The other songs I felt like the drums were tempered with and they pretty much sound different from the way I recorded them whilst I played. I do prefer a vocal guide than a guitar guide as I feel that some songs needed it. I have shared my thoughts on the drums and I hope we come to an agreement as they surely sound terrible and not catchy at all.
We are catching up again more often over slack and zoom just to make sure we are on track with our project. I will be more vocal once again on the drum issue for other songs so that we fix it before it is a bit late. As for now we keep mixing and mastering as we go.
The starting of week 9 is a reminder once again that time waits for nobody. I feel a great sense of managing my time towards the final project and blog writing which I find quite challenging but interesting at the same time.
I took time to have a zoom chat with Guy and Roy just catching up on the progress our final project. We are doing pretty well as a team working towards that one goal of having our project finished before next week’s presentation in class. A very good tip that Guy shared was to use our reference tracks when we do our mixing. For some reason that was a light bulb as I had totally forgot such workflows I had learnt in the past trimesters. By the time I started listening to each reference track I saw the signinficance. So now we are putting more focus on critical listening on each reference track so that we try to emulate.
I am still not able to record vocals on my part and it is such a let down due to the cold. Therefore I just suggested to work with what we have at the moment then we can add vocals on when I am ready. Working with Roy has been such an amazing journey as we are on the same level of understanding and maturity and this build that camaradere which I foresee it to be a long term. I hope that our project is just the beginning of new things which are yet to be birthed and explored. It has been a long journey from working as a group with 5 individuals and that was challenging, painful, stressful but we conquered in the end. Therefore we decided to just work as a team just the two of us.
A brand new day it is with 3 more weeks towards the end of studies and the pressure is mounting on a daily basis. Balancing both studies and family has taken a new shape and it is up to me whether I succumb to the pressure or the pressure succumbs to my ability to control.
Today we had the opportunity to present our 5 track EP in class with our peers and giving each other feedback on every project. It was very enlightening to listen to other projects which ranged from desert rock, rock, metal and funk. I paid more attention to the mix and the mastering that was done and I would say the guys did an exceptional job well done, sounding professional. I got challenged by the mixes and mastering that I would like to take on board towards my mastering skills. I received feedback on our funk EP and it was great feedback that I would look it and will do my best to make improvements.
I do like the idea that Guy gave to us to just not listen to our mixes for a week and then by Wednesday next week we have listen again whilst taking notes on what to improve. That would very much help me to just do other things so that by the time I listen again I will find more stuff to work on and improve. I find mastering to be a creative process and crafty and so I do require to practise a lot more with plugins as there are some high end mastering plugins that are very expensive. I do practise with the stock standard plugins but I find them to not really strike the deal.
I will also do my best to invest in same mastering plugins during sales like black Friday, taking advantage of price drops as I find that to be worth investing in.
One more week to go towards completion of my study period and I can say there are mixed feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time. I have really been challenged by this subject particularly with exchange of files between Roy and I.
The thing I would like to discuss today is about signal flow for both audio and visual. I had a situation at home in my studio that has been bothering me for a few weeks with panning during mixing. I then had to have a look at the way I had connected my sub and monitor speakers after I had a brief discussion with Guy. Removing the sub made a major difference as I had audio come out of the mixer straight to the sub through jack to rca cables, then output rca from sub with xlr to input in monitors. I still am wondering why I pulled this stunt as it is pretty much ridiculous but it is all part of learning.
I disconnected all connections then rewired from mixer left and right xlr cables to my Yamaha HS8 monitors. By the time I started mixing there was a huge turn around as panning become so easy to work with. I have left the sub alone and pretty much do not use it. The Yamahas do the job perfectly and it is more exciting. Next I need to invest into waves mastering plugins such as L1, REQ6, CLA76, L3 multi as per advice. I am yet to get my head around mastering using my sound craft analog desk and will do my research well before I attempt. I feel like I can have two way of mastering, analog way and in the box way.
The day has arrived, the final day of my class and surely I have mixed feelings of both happiness and sadness at the same time. It was indeed a 12 week project challenge which I can say has brought the more confidence out of me.
I have a couple of closing thoughts towards the progress that I have made on our project. The first is the ability to collaborate with Roy for the funk EP project was a great thing being able to at least record, edit, mix and master together virtually. I did not find this to be easy at first but amazingly we pulled it through despite the effects of Covid. Through the crashing of health, softwares, laptops and internet I am very glad that my transferrable skills were put to test and I conquered.
The Lecturer I had is such an amazing Guy and every process of our project from editing, mixing and mastering he gave us some excellent nuggets and feedback which helped in shaping our project. Guy also helped me in understand more on the business side of things sharing how he runs projects and more over his life struggles which catapulted him to success stories which he continues to swim in. Guy is my source of inspiration and I do endeavour to aspire his skills.
In closing I do so much appreciate all the academic, wisdom and technical skills that I am very happy to say I have gained this trimester. I do want to continue to practise my skills on a daily basis sharpening in detail everything that I have learnt in this class.