I’m glad to say that we’ve reached the end of this tri here at SAE. Although, this trimester was very exhausting with a lot of work to do, it also offered some exciting new grounds to cover. I’m very happy to have been able to finish everything on time. Below is a reflection of how I’ve been these past three months.
I did a remix of the song “Temptations” by The Smirks. I chose this song because I really like how the guitars sounded and the stems were also easily available as it had been produced by my fellow students for their AUD 115 assignment. The song itself is very catchy and as soon as I heard it, I had ideas coming up in my mind about how I could recreate it into something different. I wanted to chop up the guitars into MIDI slices and then create a new melody out of it. This was achieved easily using Ableton. The rest of the production process was smooth as well, thanks to the techniques we learned in class with Nick. I used all the production techniques that were taught to us and outlined them in the Remix brief.
As this was my first time using Ableton Live, I did run into some problems initially. My workflow for this project was not optimum and I feel that I didn’t use Ableton to its full potential. I was still in the early stages of learning how to use Ableton and I believe that if I had more time to play around with it, my remix could’ve been even better. Nonetheless, I’m still very happy with the remix and so is the producer from whom I got the stems. Creatively and mix-wise, I think I did a very good job as I was able to transform the original into something new yet catchy. This project also made me fall in love with this amazing DAW. With all its capabilities, I’m confident that my future projects will be great.
Listen to the remix here
Original track by The Smirks
For the soundalike project, my group did the “Betty Wright - Old Songs” song. We as a group, chose this song because it’s groovy, catchy and we felt that the instrumentation was achievable with our resources in mind. At first, I was a bit hesitant on this song selection. This was not because I didn’t like the song; my only concern was that this song had no official music video or any live performance video on the internet. I felt that it would be very difficult later on to comp a video out of thin air as we were required to present the soundalike as a music video. Other than this, I was thinking how cool it would be to see a song you produced play along and sync perfectly with a video. Nevertheless, I was assured by my groupmates that it would be fine.
But my fears came out to be true as when the day for the final presentation of the soundalike project came near, nobody was showing any interest in doing the video. Eventually, It was me who had to spend almost 8 hours the night before the presentation, sourcing videos from the vast world of the internet and then painstakingly compiling them in Final Cut Pro, trying to make everything sit together in rhythm. The 5-minute length of the song didn’t help either.
Moving on to the audio, the recording and production sessions went very smoothly; all thanks to my fellow group members and Darren. We were aiming to achieve a sound as close as possible to the original and I think we did pretty well as a team. Having years of experience in audio, I personally wanted to contribute as much as possible to the project and at the same time I also wanted to learn as much as I can from my fellow students and teachers.
As this was my first experience working in the Large Audient studio, I was a bit sloppy at first (detailed in the soundalike session blogs), but after a few practice runs with Darren, I was able to catch up quickly. Going through the different audio production stages; from recording to editing and then mixing; I learnt a lot about the studio and would feel very confident going back in there.
Another thing that I wanted to do was to be a great team member. All these years as a music producer, I’ve always preferred to work alone. This was due to the fact that I find it extremely difficult to connect with someone creatively and technically. I knew that this was a wrong attitude to have and to be successful in this industry, one should be able to work efficiently in a team. So I wanted to change this and I believe that I’ve done very well so far. I was always on time for the sessions, stayed late if needed, listened to others more and spoke only when needed. There were times when I was struggling to explain something that I wanted or felt but this was only because I’m new to having conversations in english. I thank the group members for being extremely patient at such times as this made the whole project experience great for me.
One thing that we disagreed on was towards the end of the project during the mixing session. I was not happy with the final mix. I didn’t like how the backing vocals sounded. I wanted more compression on them as they were sounding way too dynamic and were at times coming in too hot and abruptly and then would later dip down only to be lost in the music. The majority of the group thought otherwise. Eventually, I had to give in because we all had agreed not to use any ‘in the box’ plugins and as it was almost 5 pm and we were in the final minutes of our session, no one wanted to do another “Print” take.
Overall, I’m satisfied with the group’s and my own contributions and achievements. I’m happy with the end-result and glad that we were able to get so close to the original and finish the project within the given time-frame.
The Jingles project was comparatively easier to do as we had freedom to do it in the comfort of our homes using any DAW of our choice. While doing this project, I had to take some creative and technical decisions whilst keeping in mind my circumstances, the given time-frame, resources available to me and my own technical and creative skills. There were some decisions that worked well for me and on the other hand, there were some which did not work as good as I hoped. Below is a discussion of many of such situations -
I used Steinberg Cubase and Logic Pro for my jingles as I found their video playback engine a lot smoother than Ableton. Moreover, I’ve been using these two for many years now so I know everything about them inside out. Given the time-frame and all the other work that I had to finish, I wanted to do this project efficiently and to the best of my knowledge and expertise.
While choosing my jingles, I was trying to avoid voice-overs as much as I could. This was because my english accent would’ve only made my ad jingles sound funny and would’ve taken the viewer’s focus away from the actual product the ad was intended for. In addition to this, It was not ideal for me to ask someone to help me with the voiceovers because I didn’t want to depend on anyone as the final due date was coming near and all of my fellow students were equally busy with their own assignments.
Still, I did end up doing a jingle for Cadbury which has a very short voiceover towards the end. Initially, I recorded the voiceover myself but as I said earlier, it did not suit the production. Therefore, I asked Miguel Artugue to help me out and he did. He recorded the voiceover at home and emailed me a wav which I then added to the project, replacing the old voiceover.
Coming back to the production, the first thing that I did with all the jingles was to match the tempo of the original audio to my project. I had to do this because I needed my music to sync perfectly with the video. The videos were edited and customised according to the original audio intended for them so that they were visually in-sync. Re-editing the video was not an option for me so I had to stick with the original tempo to make my jingle remake attempt feel synchronous and believable.
For the”Ford Mustang” ad jingle, I used an old and unreleased rap/hip-hop piece of music that I created a couple of years ago. I took this creative decision because I wanted to add a hip-hop/trap vibe to the jingle. I love cars and my mind always associates nice cars with loud and bass-heavy hip-hop music.
As I was trying to create a beat from scratch, I suddenly realised that I already have one such music which would be a perfect fit for this jingle. So I opened this old project of mine, tweaked it a little (changed the tempo and added some new elements) and then added the export to the jingle project.
Other than this, I downloaded some V8 engine sounds from www.freesound.org and Youtube and added an automated frequency filter, cutting the highs and boosting the mids to simulate the sound as you would hear from inside and outside of a car.
I would say that these creative and technical decisions worked really well for this particular ad jingle and I feel really satisfied with the end-result.
For the rest of the jingles, I played around with the piano to find a perfect chord progression and melody for each jingle and then added the drums and other instrumentation and elements later to suit the style that the video demanded.
One of the main challenges that I faced doing this project was to accurately portray the mood of the jingle. Thankfully, I’m familiar with a lot of different styles of music and know what elements portray a particular genre and mood. Thus, by doing some research and giving some thought to the instrumentation to be used before the production stage really helped me get through with this project easily.
Another challenge for me was to get a nice mix of my jingles. Unfortunately, I do not own a pair of good monitors at home and my headphones do not give a very accurate image of the low frequencies. This issue was also pointed out by Nick Wilson in his feedback for this project.
I think I could have tackled this issue better by using the SAE studios but, to be honest, I was being lazy and I just wanted to get over with this assignment quickly. I didn’t give much priority to the mix quality of my jingles as the submission due date was coming near and I still had other assignments and freelance work to finish. I feel that if I had some more time with this project, I would have done much better in terms of mixing. At the same time, I believe that it is entirely my fault that I wasn’t able to manage my time for this project efficiently.
To summarise, I would like to say that if I ever get a chance to do any similar project in the future, firstly, I would make sure that I have all the necessary equipment and resources available. No matter how great my creative ideas and decisions are, if I don’t have the right tools and equipment to realise them, I’m afraid I won’t be able to do a good job. I would make sure that I have a good pair of monitors and headphones available to mix-master my productions. I would also make sure to plan beforehand that I have the right people available to help me with the voiceovers or any instrument playing, etc.
Another thing that I could do better next time is to manage the time-frame given to me to finish a project more efficiently. I would plan out beforehand what I’m going to do when and how I’m going to achieve it. I would divide my time appropriately for each stage of the project namely; from gathering resources, recording, foley, etc. to production, editing and then mixing- mastering.
In addition to the school projects, I’ve also been busy freelancing for a lot of people. My work extends from producing music for punjabi artists, mix-mastering and/or recording services for other producers, shooting and editing video advertisements for business and audio-visual services for social media celebs.
Currently, I’ve been commissioned to record, produce and mix-master two tracks for/by a Melbourne-based Punjabi singer/songwriter Soni Dhillon (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1416954811945892&ref=br_rs)
I’m finished with one of the tracks, which is awaiting release in the Punjabi Music Industry. I will also be the director and editor of the music video. The song is called “Bebe” and it features flute and sitar (an Indian classical instrument) recorded by me during a February trip to India.
Here’s an unofficial link of the song
Me and flutist Gurdip Singh at a recording studio in Punjab, India.
Follow these Google drive links to see the recording session videos
I have also been freelancing for two very popular Punjabi Social Media Celebs, comedians-
Vegemite Singh https://www.facebook.com/vegemitesinghofficial/ and
Some popular videos done by me
I've been editing a lot of their videos using Final Cut Pro and have also been helping them with dialog dubbings, mixing and audio FX.
I'm also producing a track for Naz. I'm finished with the music production and the final vocals will be recorded in the study break following this trimester.
Recently, I shot and edited an advertisement for a Tax Accountant in Dandenong on a Canon 70d camera.
I recently did a remix of a popular Bollywood song. My version is gaining popularity on Youtube.
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uILl_zgu9vs
Summarising, I would like to write that I’m very happy with how this trimester turned out for me. Personally, I think I improved a lot compared to me in the past two trimesters. My class attendance has been great, I submitted all the assessments on time and am very happy with the overall end-result. I’m looking forward to do even better for the rest of this course.
Here’s the link to our Jingles company website