Guest Contribution from Steven Smith
In some ways it seems quite strange to find myself authoring a post on synthesis that has as its main topic: “Not everyone needs to be a synthesist”. But from another angle of practicality, it makes a great deal of sense. Many of us already have found ourselves naturally diving into certain areas of synthesis from within the field and somewhat skating around others. So… If you are not a synthesis geek, this article is for you.
‘Why would it be helpful to explore this area?’ you may be wondering. Even though today’s virtual instruments commonly ship with hundreds or even thousands of presets, many users will still find themselves passing over sounds that are not quite right. Yet with some fundamental knowledge and strategies I feel most non-synthesist could quickly address some of these sound’s shortcomings and reshape them close enough to quickly put them in service.
This is precisely my goal. I hope to address some fundamental strategies and principles relating to synthesis and synthesizers in order to facilitate what I like to think of as quick fixes. Even though these strategies will not work 100% of the time, you should find them coming to the rescue quite often.
From the onset it will be my intention to populate this article with images from multiple synths. This is a small attempt to expose you to as many different views as possible. Given that each synth designer has its own GUI strategies (in addition to its own sound design strategies), I hope this will further help the usefulness of the material presented.
There is also a body of knowledge that we must have to enable us to find sounds, change them, and then Save these changes. Let’s jump in…
Guest Contribution by Rob Warren.
One of the most important aspects of audio production is the workflow.
No matter which DAW you use, workflow is critical to creating smooth and fast production. Setting up and accessing pre-made templates is easily one of the most effective ways to save time and effort, which in business, is money.
Workflow can be described as the fastest, most fluid means of getting from point A to point B. I have several different types of workflow that I use when I’m working, and I use different DAWs, depending on the job at hand. For example, if I’m composing music, I typically use Logic Pro, and I have probably 30 or so pre-designed templates based on what type of music I’ll be writing (orchestral, rock, electronic etc). The tracks within the templates are generally organized by instrument or instrument types, and then placed in Track Stacks (Logic’s term for bus groups). These group tracks act as busses, so any effects are added to the group and used as needed. I also have a “near” and “far” reverb on separate aux busses, to use for giving a distinct sense of depth to various instruments, which helps to “position” them into a simulated live orchestral setting, or just to create a choice of “space” for any production (see fig. 1).
Ben Allen has written up a fantastically detailed and informative post on Logic Pro for Film & TV Mixing. I personally use Logic Pro all the time and take great joy in seeing stuff like this floating around. Ben has even provided a download link to the full project so you can muck around in his mix and absorb some of his power, Ravenous-style. I recommend Logic users and non-users alike taking a look. A bit about transitioning from Soundtrack Pro:
Having worked in radio briefly before getting into the camera department at a TV station, I’ve always retained an affection for sound and mixing in particular. Until Soundtrack Pro came bundled with Final Cut Studio, there was a big gap between mixing as best you could in your editing application and handing the files over to a traditional sound studio.
In many ways, my experiences with sound studios over the years has been similar to my relationship with colour grading suites. I’ve always felt privileged to have a front row seat when watching a great mixer or colorist in full flight, and yet I always wanted more time, more freedom and a more direct connection to the material.
And here is a bit about compression:
In most sound mixing Equalisation & Compression are vital tools and no less so in Film & TV mixing. One of the things I like about Logic Pro 9 is that any Channel on the Mixer that has the Channel EQ as an Insert Effect (plugins applied directly to the Mixer Channel) displays the EQ curve on a display at the top of the Channel Strip.
The thing that’s great about this if you’re coming from years with Soundtrack Pro is that one of the most common things you do in a mix is apply and tweak the EQ and here it’s a simple matter off double-clicking that graph to add or adjust the EQ. It also means that a quick skim across the mixer reveals very clearly, which Channels have EQ applied and an overview of what it’s doing.
In this mix we tended to avoid too much compression, which is a little unusual for a commercial, but not at all for drama. I tried adding some Compression to the Output Channel but we even found that this was taking some of the air and drama out of the mix.
Full Post here.