Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Yeah, I know… but…

May 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Happy May Day! I’m trying to post more, so I thought this warranted a few words…

I’m not a fan of contradicting myself, especially publicly, and in writing, but I’m breaking my own self imposed moratorium on plugin purchases. Yes, I continue to live and exercise my “keep it simple” mantra, but hell, a sale is a sale.

Slate Digital dropped the price of their Virtual Buss Compressor to an obscenely low level – one that even I, Mr. “I don’t need any new plugins-high-horse-guy”, couldn’t avoid. After about a minute of justification, I hit the “Buy Now” button. After all, I got that mixing gig I posted about recently, so I have a legitimate reason.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway…

Wow, is this plug-in stunning? (that was rhetorical). For the last few years, my buss compression mainstay has been Cytomic’s The Glue, but this thing is in a different league. Don’t get me wrong, The Glue is awesome for it’s price and capabilities (and it will continue to be, for those reasons), but the Slate stuff just has THAT sound. It’s a premium plug.


I put it on the “audition mix” I just did, and yeah… Smile inducing, smooth, tight and round, yet simultaniously open are all words I’d use. Even though my buyers remorse is running wild, this was a good decision, and it’s never a bad decision if it’s used for paid work. At $99 bucks, this will pay for itself many times over.

Ok. I’m done. No more plug-ins. That’s it. I can do this…

until the next sale…


Decisions, Decisions…

May 3, 2011 2 comments

I’ve been conducting my own personal digital audio workstation shootout for months, and I have to say that there is no clear cut winner. Logic, Pro Tools, REAPER and Live all bring something unique to the table – making it hard to pick just one app to work in exclusively.

Amongst the four, I find Ableton Live to be the “utility” player. I would never mix a song in it (sorry Ableton junkies), but it’s unique session view layout and workflow make it a good songwriting app. If you’re suffering from writers block, it’s hard not to get the juices flowing in Live. It shines when paired with Logic, Pro Tools or REAPER via rewire – if your into that.


Logic has been my main app since 1999 (after leaving Sonar) and what can I say? I love it. It was difficult to learn, and after all these years, I only truly know about 60% of the program. I’m constantly learning new ways to work in it, and am amazed when I do. As I’ve said before, it’s the most bang for the buck out there – with it’s sample library, quality effects, scoring and mixing, it’s the full monty. Are the built-in effects Waves quality? Nope. Would anyone other than a qualified mix engineer be able to tell? Nope. Can you make a high quality out of the box recording in Logic? Yep – if you know what you’re doing.


Pro Tools…. Ah, the de-facto industry standard. I would guess that 10 out of 10 songs you hear on the radio were mixed in it. I didn’t say recorded – as any program can be used for that, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that it was FINISHED in Tools. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you do not own it, or have a firm grasp of how to use it. I love it for editing. There’s nothing better. I even like mixing with it – not as much as Logic (which I find more intuitive), but Tools is hard to beat. That’s why it’s the Gold standard.

Midi composition is where it falls short, and while version 9 has made incredible strides in this area, it’s still a bit cumbersome. Again, Logic wins here. Another strike against PT in my world is stability. I get loads of errors when I run the hardware buffer lower than 256 samples, and the RTAS engine can be flaky with some plugins. PT can sometimes have a mind of it’s own. One day I can record a song from start to finish with 40+ tracks, and the very next day, it struggles to play back 3 tracks without errors.


After all of that, I will say that REAPER has really stirred something in me. I have that same love/hate that I had with Logic back in ’99. Let’s be frank – it’s a convoluted, overly techie, laborious, monster of a program. There’s probably a key-command to defrost a pot roast, bake it at 350, and serve you on odd Sunday’s of each 3rd year after a quarter rotation around the Sun. It’s that deep. However, it’s the most bloat free, quality piece of music code that I’ve ever seen. Weighing in at only 36.6 MB (OSX version) installed, it’s footprint is so small that you can run it from a SD card or thumb drive. That’s crazy. Logic is 6 DVD’s worth of data, and can take 2 to 3 hours to install (depending on your computer). Heck, a typical Pro-Tools install download is 5 Gig (zipped).

REAPER doesn’t include samples or loop libraries, scoring features or a ton of effect presets. It’s not a suite per se, but it is a very capable no-nonsense DAW who’s rapid development is driven by it’s loyal user base. It’s not uncommon to submit a feature request (or bug report) today, and see it implemented/fixed days (even hours) later.

If I had to describe the app in only a few words, I’d say: kludgy, clunky, immense, customizable and powerful. The fan boys will tell you that the customization is the key. You can make REAPER behave the way you want it to. Don’t like the menu structure? Change it. Mixer layouts? Yep. Track and Project Templates? For sure. I spent an hour customizing and creating templates, and can go from launch to recording in 2 mouse clicks. The other hosts don’t come anywhere close to that. REAPER is also skinable, and a huge array of user created themes are available – even one that makes REAPER look just like Pro-Tools. I’m currently using the REACTION v4 alpha theme, which is similar to the Logic experience. Maybe that’s why I’ve been “getting” the program in recent weeks. I’ve also made good use of the Groove3 training videos by Kenny Gioia. They were instrumental in explaining the quirks and more esoteric features of the app.

So what does it all mean?

If I got a paid songwriting gig tomorrow – I’d reach for Logic. It’s what I know, and there’s not much I can’t do with it. Experience with the program counts.

If I had to edit/mix a huge project – I’d reach for Tools. Compatibilty is the name of the game, and the project will transfer to any studio in the world – just bring a hard drive with your files. A caveat: The HD version is 1000 times more stable than the native version. If I could afford the HD option, PT would be my DAW of choice.

If I had writers block or was hired to do live tour support – I’d reach for Live. Period.

For every other scenario, there’s REAPER. I’m learning it, and having a blast. The first few months caused me to pull my hair out, but now that I’ve streamlined the app, it’s fast becoming my go to. Who knows how I’m going to feel 6 months from now. There are grumblings that Logic 10 could be just around the corner.

As I stated at the top, there is no clear winner here. Each has their place, and I’m glad I have them all. At the end of the day, they’re all just tools.

Now, it’s time to go make some music….

Here’s vid of a potential bug in the v4.0alpha that I submitted to the dev team:

Score to Picture…

June 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s days like these that I’m in awe of the current state of technology. The toys we have at our disposal are nothing short of amazing. I’ve been shooting a great deal of pictures and video with the T2i, and have stumbled onto a workflow (I know… I know…) that makes my jaw drop.

I’ll detail my workflow later – as that deserves an entry of it’s own. Today, I’m chuckling to myself because I’ve tapped the ‘Score to Picture’ features of Logic Pro. I’m editing a video of test shots from the camera, and wanted to add music to it. The obvious approach would be to scour my iTunes library for a song and drag it to my timeline. But wait… I play a musician on TV… Shouldn’t I make my own?

I exported a reference movie from FCP, and imported it into Logic Pro. I say this a lot, but Holy Crap!!! I was aware of, but truly had no idea of the scoring features in Logic. It took no time to import and lock the audio from the video clip, and after using ‘Detect Cuts’, Logic placed markers on all of the edits. Ten minutes later, I had a nice automated mix of the footage audio, and was scoring away to the images (with a smile on my face)


When I’m done with the music, I’ll export the complete mix from Logic and lock to picture – or – push out the stems, and mix those elements in FCP. I could also do the whole thing in 5.1, but I need to read up on mixing for that.

As I said, I knew Logic was capable, but never knew how easy it was to actually do. If you have the ability to score your videos, do so…

Gravity – the wrap up…

April 5, 2010 Leave a comment

The “Gravity” music video was completed and posted to YouTube in the early morning hours of March 5th.

There was a great deal of discussion between Dan and I about the final cut, and after several emails and text messages, I’d like to think we reached a compromise that everyone could live with. After I cut the performance footage, I decided that another visual element was needed. This element (or “texture” as I began calling it), was derived from shooting a bunch of abstract stuff (close ups of roads, center lines, and the sky) and blending these images with the performance footage.

Everyone loved the idea, and it worked out great. The ensuing conversation focused on the amount of texture to be added. I believe that one can have too much of a good thing, and was hesitant (no, adamant) about over using the effect.

This is where one must divorce themselves from the process, and build a bridge to compromise. I’ll admit that I’m still learning to do this, but I’m very passionate about my work.

In any event, it got done, and the shoot was one of the best that I’ve ever run – smooth, relaxed and efficient. The best part – I was able to help out a friend, and the end product has been well received.

Thanks Dan, Bryan and  Derek…

Since Dan is a musical beast and his output is considerable, check out:

Gravity Video Pics…

February 18, 2010 1 comment

We shot at Arctic Studios in Uptown. The studio is home to the same mixing board that was once owned by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis at the original Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis. Janet Jackson’s “Control” (as well as many other hits) were recorded and mixed on it.

Makeup for the band was done by Tara, co-owner of Spa Simple in Saint Paul. She’s a beast. If you want to do a video – cool. If you want to look good while doing it – call Tara.

I hit the iris hard, creating a blown out effect that the band really liked. It can be a gamble burning in while shooting, as the same effect can be done in post, but I prefer doing it on set. I achieved the look I wanted in camera, so there’s no point in wasting valuable editing time waiting for an effect to render. I’ll be doing several layers of color correction anyway.

Categories: Video Tags: , , ,

The Progressive End…

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment

A draft version of Mystical stylings… I’m still playing with it, and this is the 3rd version, but it’s the one I like listening to the most…

“The Progressive End” – by Misty Erickson
©2009 Misty Erickson/©2010 NC-13 Music (ASCAP)
Words: Misty / Everything Else: Terry
Produced by Terry Gray
Recorded & Mixed @ Area 303, Maplewood MN

Is It That Bad…?

January 31, 2010 Leave a comment

I was running errands on Friday and stopped by everyone’s favorite superstore. While looking for crazy glue, I saw the above and wasn’t at all surprised. I’ve been watching Lotus Flower’s slow slide in price for months and it looks like we’ve found the bottom.

Soon after it’s release last March, it was apparent that Target had way too many copies. Someone believed it was going to do better than it did. Lotus Flower was a “Target exclusive”, and according to Wikipedia, the set ultimately went on to sell over 400,000 copies, but now a fire sale on the excess inventory is well underway.

I’ll be honest, LF didn’t grab me when it was released. I liked some of MPLSound, but lets face it, the Brie Valente disc was a huge disappointment and I abandoned the entire set weeks after buying it. I rediscovered LF a few months ago, and have been listening to it a great deal. It’s a good guitar oriented album and it has really grown on me overtime. I put it in the same category as Sting’s “Soul Cages” – I was like, “for real?” when it came out, but it went on to become one of my favorite cd’s.

So, it’s not great, but it’s that bad either – not $4.99 bad… Come on, damn…

Oh yeah, I got my super glue…

Categories: Music, Random Tags: , , ,