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Contents:

  1. 12/03/18 – 26/03/18 (changes to the track, from feedback on demo)
  2. Tuesday 27/03/18 – Recording Session #1 (Unsuccessful)
  3. Wednesday 11/04/18 – Recording Session #2 (Successful)
  4. Friday 13/04/18 – Performance on the IW
  5. Monday 16/04/18 – Starting to edit and mix
  6. Wednesday 18/04/18 – tweaking the track instruments (ex. vox and drums)
  7. Friday 20/04/18 – focusing on the drum stems
  8. Tuesday 24/04/18 – additional reverb!!
  9. Friday 27/04/18 – More alterations to the track
  10. *** ***From 27/04/18 to 09/05/18 – update*** ***
  11. Week Beginning Tuesday 08/05/18 – Research
  12. Friday 11/05/18 – Feedback on *original* final pre-master file / Adam Pain
  13. Friday 18/05/18 – Risk Assessment
  14. Sunday 20/05/18 *MORNING* – Finishing touches to audio
  15. Sunday 20/05/18 *AFTERNOON & EVENING* – Beginning of filming
  16. Tuesday 22/05/18 to Friday 25/05/18 – Booking the filming space, gathering materials, prep for the session
  17. Saturday 26/05/18 – SHOOT DAY / Part 1
  18. Saturday 26/05/18 – SHOOT DAY / Part 2
  19. ***update***
  20. Thursday 07/06/18 – Feedback on updated Before Our Time (post-master) / Tim Charlton
  21. Tuesday 12/06/18 – Test Clips for Survey and Market Research
  22. Editing video footage

12/03/18 – 26/03/18 (changes to the track, from feedback on demo)

Before I could record drums and vocals for Before Our Time, I made some changes to the track itself. Due to popular demand, and working from the feedback from my initial demo, I extended the breakdown section and added some tribal drums, which Lloyd picked up very quickly in one rehearsal. I also has a eureka moment and made the ‘middle 8’ section much longer, extending the buildup and adding more tension too. I used a bell/xylophone sound, that reinforced the innocent and childlike nature of the baby in the womb. I then juxtaposed this with a haunting, jointy vocal line above it. I didn’t spend too long on the production of these two sections, as this could be done later during the mixing stage. However I did perfect them enough for Lloyd to be able to record them and understand the full sound.

I’m really pleased with the changes I made, because I feel they enhance the atmosphere and desperation of the track greatly.



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Tuesday 27/03/18 – Recording Session #1 (Unsuccessful)

I booked a recording session with our studio engineer, Bradley Livesley in the Rodboro Teaching Control studio to record drums and vocals, but unfortunately our session didn’t go as planned. There were a lot of problems with the studio, including there being no outer drum head on the kick drum (we had to put a coat over it, but the sound was still far lower quality than expected.)


There was also quite a lot of audible spill from the corridors, which compromised the recording. The desk also had a few issues meaning we couldn’t assign the channels correctly, nor receive a signal from some of the mics. In addition, we had to make do alternative microphones to those we had chosen, as the equipment that would give the sound I was looking for was limited. 

I had the studio booked from 6:30-10:30, but due to the constraints previously mentioned, 3 out of the 4 hours booked were taken by setting up the kit, tuning drums, assigning channels, fixing the desk, swapping mics, and system overloads during soundcheck. We only began recording at 9:30, leaving an hour to achieve our goal of recording drums and vocals for 1 song. We managed about 6 takes on drums, but it wasn’t possible to fit vocals in too.

Targets:

  1. For future sessions in this studio, visit the area ahead of time to assess any problems that may occur, try and think of ways to resolve these beforehand. A lot of these problems were out of our control, however the drum situation could have been sorted by asking permission to use another drum kit in the studio in advance. 
  2. Begin editing the drum tracks into the BOT Logic file.
  3. Book another session to record vocals. 

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Wednesday 11/04/18 – Recording Session #2 (Successful!)

The drum takes from the original session were not suitable for how I wanted to use them in the track – the kick clipped often, and the drums didn’t have a pleasing or clear tone. I decided to re-record, as I wanted all of the ‘real instrument’ takes to be as good as possible.

I managed to book a session in the new live studio in Rodboro to re-record drums, and to get some vocal takes, but Bradley wasn’t available to record, so I asked for last minute references from Kaya Carney, and she recommended Giles Stelfox to help us with the session.

Giles has already seen me live so understood my music and the kind of drum sound I was going for. I sent him my demo of Before Our Time in advance so he knew the structure, where the drums were present, and the atmosphere that I required in the studio version.

Unlike the previous session, we were able to use all of our chosen microphones and this, in conjunction with the incredible acoustics that the room provided, gave a really well-rounded sound. The desk worked straight away and we only had very few minor issues throughout the session.

We recorded each section of the song separately, going over each verse or chorus until it we had a perfect take for each. This will eventually make it much easier for me to edit the takes.

I helped Lloyd in setting up the drum kit (although he tweaks things afterwards), and I helped Giles in setting up the drum and vocal mics, which I have made a list of below *and detailed the uses in my research*. 

Kick In – Shure Beta 52a

Kick Out – Neumann TLM103

Snare – Shure SM57

Rack – Sennheiser MD421

Floor – Sennheiser MD421

Hi-Hats – Shure SM81

Overheads – Beyer Ribbons 

Room mics – AKG C414XL

Mono room – Sontronics Sigma

Vocals – AKG C414XL

We got the drums recorded in about 1.5 of the 4 hours, and only used about 30 minutes for recording vocals, which we did in 3 takes!! It was a hustle, but we went through everything thoroughly to make sure it was all perfect. I insisted that after each vocal and drum take, we listen back to the recording before going again, or carrying on to the next point on the list of to-do’s, so I was able to assess, myself, if each take was good enough for my intentions when mixing the track.

Giles added some compression to the kick drum through the desk, which really made it more punchy and present, and he added some slight reverb on the vocals so we could listen back to the takes perspectively. (I would add these back on at a later stage and to my liking).

Deadline for this week was to finish drum and vocal recordings – this deadline was met.

Targets:

  1. Analyse vocal and drum stems to make sure they possess the desired quality and clarity for the track recording.
  2. Begin editing the stems, taking particular care with tone and frequency.

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Friday 13/04/18 – Performance on the IW

Throughout my busy schedule of gigs, my show supporting Blackheart Orchestra on the Isle of Wight coincided well with my project, giving me a chance to perform the updated version of Before Our Time in front of an audience and see how it presented itself live.

Regrettably, I didn’t have time after the recording session on the 11th to begin mixing and editing the track for master, so the backing track wasn’t perfected, but it was up to a high standard nevertheless. I still had a little time to take a look at the files and make sure they were all clear and clean, with no clipping, and that the vocals and drums had the right tone for the track – they were all perfect! So this will make editing a lot easier.

Lloyd (my drummer) performed very confidently, and had picked up the slight changes to his part quickly. After recording vocals I now had a clear idea of what my lead line was doing, so this made it easier to perform than in rehearsals.

Everyone in the crowd was very enthusiastic about the set and really enjoyed it, and many asked if I had any physical copies of my music (which I will soon!)

It was great to get some initial field feedback on the rejuvenated version of BOT, and to see how live crowds reacted. As most of the crowd on the island were of the older generations, I will endeavour to collect data on BOT (live) from a wider age range of people for continuity, and to eliminate bias.

Targets:

  1. Begin editing the drums and vocals into the track.
  2. Perfect the backing track for live performance.
  3. Aim to receive feedback from a wider group of people. 

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Monday 16/04/18 – Starting to edit and mix

On Friday and Saturday (13/14) I had gigs on both days, and needed a rest to preserve my wellbeing on Sunday, so I waited until Monday to begin mixing and editing. 

After the last recording session  with Giles I had transferred the logic file containing the vox/drum takes onto my hard drive, and from here I created new channels and copied the takes into the BOT file containing all of the synths and instruments in the track (causing a lot of system overloads!). 

To edit the vocal takes, I chose the 2nd and 3rd one we recorded and chopped them up into sections for the verses. Then, with the chorus takes, I removed the silent sections (I started to hear strange shuffling noises, only to find out it was myself in the vocal booth) to leave only the parts where the vox are present. 

Below you can see the three lead vocal channels, one for backing vocals, and the automation I created for them. I prefer to hand-automate all of my instruments to make sure there are no slip-ups or errors from copying and pasting. 

I added plug-in effects both directly onto the vocals and via a bus, (5), wherein I added reverb to achieve the sound I wanted. 


Direct vox channel effects:

  • a channel EQ, removing the low undertones and vocal ‘pops’ (plosive sounds such as ‘b’ and ‘p’) and increasing the high mids to achieve a crisper, more present vocal sound, with a slight dip in the high treble frequencies to remove unwanted ‘t’ and ‘c’ sounds that can compromise the clarity of the lead line.
  • a customised vocal compressor:

  • a DeEsser, to reduce sibilance in the ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ch’ and ‘t’ sounds in the vocal (this can sometimes remove ones focus from the track as a whole, if all they can hear is the ‘s’ sound!)

  • a short tape delay, adding a slight hissing, echoing sound to the vocals, as if sung in a cave:

These ^^^ effects were okay to have directly on the channel as they are meant to change the overall sound of the dry vocal. 

The bus, however, was used to add reverb without compromising the clarity of the lead. See below.

Bus 5:

  • Space Designer, a very customisable reverb, I used 02.6s Vocal Plate, set the dry signal to zero so I was only getting the pure reverb. 

  • Silver Verb, my favourite reverb plug-in, with more low signal than high, reflectivity almost to it’s maximum potential, to provide a long reverb trail.

I also added EQ to the bus, to take away some of the higher frequencies in the verb, to create a subtle, angelic undertone to the vocal line.

After adding these effects I felt the vocals fitted with the track and the effects enhanced the atmosphere of the song as a whole. 

Targets:

  1. Make a start on editing the drum stems, and the rest of the track. 

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Wednesday 18/04/18 – tweaking the track instruments (ex. vox and drums)

Before I started manipulating the drum stems, I wanted to focus on the track without the vocals or drums (I muted all of the channels I didn’t need), and how it performed on it’s own.

In the original demo of Before Our Time, I included water droplet sound effects in the intro, recorded by me. I wanted to included this still in the final studio version, however, the original take had a slight background hum as, when I recorded it, I didn’t use the same standard of equipment that I do now. I had wanted to re-record this during our session in the new Rodboro studio, but this wasn’t possible due to time constraints (not to mention the impending doom that would come from bringing water into ACM’s newly equipped, barely used, incredibly expensive studio). At least, recording at my home studio, I would be the only one liable if I broke my own equipment, and the only one affected. I attempted to re-record the water but unfortunately I couldn’t get the drops to flow correctly, and the same technique I used to create the sound in the original take wasn’t seeming to work. The droplets were making the mic clip, so I used a pop-shield, which sorted that problem, but despite using my small recording booth to block out most of the background sound, there was still prominent hum and ambient noise (and not good ambient noise). I decided, perhaps I would incorporate droplets into the final video only, instead of on the mastered track (that will be on the EP), as I had to send the track off for mastering. There were other options, such as using royalty free fx from the internet, but something about using somebody else’s recordings, and not my own, made me nervous and reluctant to do it. In the end I decided I would keep the track as-is for now. 

I took a look at the main bell-chord sound that I was using as the basis for the track, and found that they actually were showing a rather strange frequency which slightly hurt my ears (I don’t know how I didn’t notice this earlier, but it had always been fine when performing live, in the past). I used the EQ Analyser on Logic and found it was some of those painful mid frequencies, so turned those down slightly, and I turned the high-mid frequencies up a little to give a bit more of that lovely ringing sound. 


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Friday 20/04/18 – focusing on the drum stems

Drums. Alright, here we go.

Before doing anything to the channels, I simply deleted any sections where the drums were not playing, so there wouldn’t be any background noise left in. The way we recorded in the session, there was very little of this anyway, as we did separate takes for each section, but I just trimmed down the stems a little to rule out any unwanted shuffling anyway (you can never be too careful).

The first point at which the drums come in is the second half of the 2nd** chorus (see bottom of page), and this is the kick only. 

With the Kick In, I added EQ, SubBass and a Compressor onto the main channel, to change the sound and balance of the raw signal. See below:

  • EQ: First, I added a High Cut Filter to take out any “pfft” (technical term) type noises. I played around with some of the mids, making some slight dips around 4k and 1k, to round out the sound, I just wanted it to be more of a walking-like thud, than a kick with lots of attack. I also took the low tones up just a little, I want people to be able to feel the kick in their heart, and for it to really be the driving element of the track when the second chorus comes around. 
  • To enhance the “thud” like idea, I added a Kick Warmer SubBass effect. This pushes those sub frequencies further and creates this beautiful booming sound like a giant’s footsteps. 
  • I stuck to the compressor Giles had used in the session, Type U Tight Kit, squeezing the signal so the sound is the same each time the kick is hit. Giles has an expansive knowledge of studio production and definitely made the right choice, the compressor gave that slight “punch” to the kick, without it taking over, rendering the EQ useless. 

  • I then used a new aux, Bus 8, to add some low rumbly reverb onto the kick. I used 04.4s Big Plate, as recommended by Giles (he used a bit of this on the kick during our studio session, and it sounded so perfect I added it back on when editing the drum stems). This just added a little trail to the kick, holding the sound for a bit longer, which really matched well with the ambient flow of the track. 

For the Kick Out, I just EQ-ed the channel to remove all high and mid frequencies, leaving only the very low frequencies to work with. This added a bit of a push to the overall kick sound. 


Snare and Hihat

I only used EQ on the Snare channel, increasing the high frequencies a little to make each hit more crisp, and i reduced the low-mid frequencies to eliminate any dullness in the recording. The snare only comes in at the end, surrounded by lots of other low parts of the kit such as toms and the kick, so it was important that the snare stand out in the mix. 


Before we recorded, I actually forgot that there was no hihat in the track, so we miced it up anyway!! The hihat takes only included spill from the rest of the kit. Although I could have easily removed this, it gave a nice bit of a high-end crispiness to the drums, and rounded out the snare sound, since the hat and snare were so close to each other. 

I increased the high toned frequencies and removed 90% of the lows, creating a small dip in the mids. This meant that the small amount of tom and kick that the mic picked up would still sound nice and low, while also giving the snare an extra bit of punch. 


Floor Tom, Rack Toms

On the toms, I only affected the Floor Tom, as it was the most important piece of the kit for this track, and the only one that would stand out terribly if the sound was off. The floor is usually the most prominent percussion element in most of my tracks, as it sounds so tribal. 

I used the EQ Analyser to remove any rogue frequencies (low cut frequency added), and took a sharp dip in the mids where the recording was showing an uncomfortable resonant tone. Then I focused on manipulating the signal to create the sound I desired – I increased the low-mids to provide a more tribal drum, and the very high frequencies very slightly to allow the tom to break through the mix. 

I added the same bus I used on the Kick In to add that low bass rumble. 

The rack tom wasn’t used as much as the tom and is nowhere near as prominent in the track as the floor, and the sound that the raw channel had was perfect for the track already, so I left it alone. 


Overheads, Room Right/Room Left, Mono Room

We added overheads to catch the cymbal parts, and the room mics to round out the sound, catch the balanced kit and to add more substance to the recording. 

The overheads provided the perfect cymbal tone already, so I didn’t mess around with these very much, except for finding their correct volume in the mix. 

I chose not to add any effects, EQ or compression to the room mics as, they just gave a perfect balance of the rest of the kit – they were turned down quite low in the mix anyway, so they were there only to serve as the glue between each individual part of the kit, reinforcing each element and making it sound like one instrument. 


Below: all the drum (blue) and lead vocal (pink) channels in the Logic file of Before Our Time.


By editing the drums using the methods listed above, I have created the perfect sound for my track, a mix between tribal and ambient. Inspired by the drum sounds used in Kate Bush and Aurora’s tracks, and using my knowledge of mixing, I feel the drums merge really well with the rest of the elements in the song, enhancing the general feel and emotion.

Deadline for the end of this week was to complete the mixing and editing of the track. This deadline was not met, as I was not happy with the finished edit by this time. I will continue next week.

Targets:

  1. Listen carefully to the track with the vocals and drums mixed – analyse what needs to be added or taken away within the electronic elements to finalise the track.
  2. Take a careful look at frequencies to make sure the track will be broadcast safe.

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Tuesday 24/04/18 – additional reverb!!

After adding all the extra components and altering the mix of the track gradually, it revealed little openings for tweaks and finishing touches that would complete the serene atmosphere I was aiming for. One of these finishing touches was some MORE REVERB. I already spoke about adding some Space Designer and Silver Verb onto Bus 5, but I thought it couldn’t hurt to add another bus with a subtle low-toned verb underneath this. Introducing, Bus 9.

Bus 9:

  • Another Silver Verb, this time with a high-cut EQ that highlighted the low frequencies, so there would be a low bass rumble of a reverb under the vocal line. The track is very spacious, so I wanted to give a chance to the vocals and make them reverberate around the space. 
  • I also added an AutoFilter affect onto this bus, to make the reverb seem ‘swallowed’, create a slight hum. 

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Friday 27/04/18 – More alterations to the track

After editing the reverb, drums, vocals, almost constantly since the 16th (see above), the track was now almost finished, but there was something about it that still seemed slightly off. I listened to it at a lower speaker volume (perhaps it was my ears getting tired). This helped a little but I still had to move a few things around. I altered some of the frequencies used on the kick drum and floor tom, making the floor tom more ‘woofy’ and ‘clicky’ (more high frequencies) and to give the kick a bit more attack. I took another hard look at the frequencies of other parts of the track, too, including reducing the low-end of the bass bv, and the balance between all of the bv parts (after looking at them in comparison to each other, I turned them down quite a lot as a group during the ‘hum’ chord parts, to make them more subtle). I listened to some of my favourite ambient tracks by other artists, taking note of the level of the backing vocals in each. I found that artists like Sigrid, Aurora, and Eivør’s backing vocals are actually very quiet in comparison to the lead, but as the listener only, we hear them because our ear is naturally drawn to it. As the artist, it’s easy to believe “this lead vocal/backing vocal is too loud in the mix, but if it is turned down any more, people won’t be able to clearly hear what I’m saying” – the answer to this is: yes, they can. It’s surprising that, especially in Ariana Grande’s songs, for example, her vocals are actually far lower in the mix than expected, but we understand practically everything she says because we want to understand, our ear digs through the instrumentation to find the lyrics, and this is what I needed to keep in mind for my own tracks.

I added an extra bass line with my favourite Logic synth ‘Deep Sub Bass’. The original bass I had used wasn’t giving a lot of the low-end frequency that I needed later on in the track. I balanced ‘Deep Sub’ with the original bass, and made sure they weren’t causing conflict in the track. I also made some small changes to the bell sounds I added earlier, that play above the final double chorus.

I had planned to begin the filming stage by the end of this week, however this was not possible due to continued editing of the track.

Targets:

  1. Finalise Before Our Time, listen intently for any small discrepancies, and fix if needed.
  2. Get others’ feedback on the mix and overall sound of the track, make any changes accordingly, (still having the final say as the artist.)
  3. Research into filming location.

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*** ***From 27/04/18  to 09/05/18 – update*** ***

Over the course of the following week and a half, I continued to slightly tweak the track, while also making adjustments to my Unit 12 coursework with consideration given to the feedback I received. I wanted to have my master track received by now, but editing was not completed.

I love doing every aspect of my music myself, it gives me and incredibly amount of creative freedom and control. However, knowing everything that has been done to a track, and how it all works is often my downfall as I constantly see or hear discrepancies, small problems, that aren’t there, or at least would not be noticed at all by anyone else (I have showed certain “problems” with tracks to other industry professionals in the past, and they never see the problems I do.)

So naturally, with this “doubt” in my mind at all times, I kept seeing small issues with the track, each time I thought it was perfect, I would hear something else and have to scour through the track yet again. Over this course of time I created many, many, MANY “final and ready for master” copies, that all ended up being rendered useless as I would then edit the track once again.

Finally I settled on an export which I deemed up to my high standards. The only thing that I wanted to change now was the bass frequency during the first transition section., but I wanted to wait to get feedback on this, in case others thought the frequency was fine.

My editing deadline was missed by over two weeks because I was not happy with the finished sound and continued to edit.



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Week Beginning Tuesday 08/05/18 – Research

{My research has been an ongoing process since the week commencing 09/04/18. This is an explanation of what I have achieved in this area to date}

I spent a lot of time researching into the historical context of music videos to begin with, to find out where it all started. This was really interesting, to find out different conflicting opinions referring to the question: ‘What was the first music video?’. I found a really insightful article about illustrated songs, and an idea that The Little Lost Child could have been the original piece of music to moving picture. There was also evidence to suggest that Video Killed The Radio star was the original m/v, however there were already many ‘music video channels’ on television before this, MTV, however, was the first well-known m/v channel.

It was really fun to look into some of my favourite music videos by artists such as Sigrid and Aurora, and I decided to focus on the lighting used, and a particular ‘pushing through material’ idea which I had had for Before Our Time. I never realised there was so much depth to light tone! But as I looked beyond just the appearance of the video it was also so clear. And really exciting to research! I found this amazing scientific study too, that backed up my writing about light tone, which was definitely a leap in the right direction.

From watching my mother complete her degree in graphic design I knew it would be a really important idea to look into colour theory and how different colours affect people’s emotions – I chose red and blue to study, as those are the main colours I plan to use within my video. I also did a bit of research into the colour white, in addition to the clarity I provided on white light during the ‘music video analysis’ section.

I split my research into two large sections – one for looking at imagery, subliminal messaging, metaphors and symbolism in music videos, colour and tone, etc, all about the aesthetic of the video. Then I created another for the technical and practical side. I haven’t added a lot of the things I want to talk about in this section yet, but I started by talking about filming location, and the different options that are available. I came to the conclusion that Victoria Hall in Hartley Wintney was the best way to go, as it is far cheaper than many other locations and nearer to us too.

I still hadn’t started filming due to ongoing delays with editing and working on my research, in addition to getting feedback on the pre-master file from tutors. I am confident that I can still complete everything within the time.

Targets:

  1. Continue with research and build up my Harvard Bibliography
  2. Complete a Risk Assessment for my filming location.
  3. Focus in on how to make the music video.

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Friday 11/05/18 – Feedback on *original* final pre-master file / Adam Pain

I asked for Adam Pain’s feedback and advice on the mix of the track, the arrangement and composition, after showing him my final pre-master copy of Before Our Time. I was particularly wondering about the drums, as it has been my first time mixing an acoustic drum kit into my tracks. I was confident that the sound I had created during mixing and editing was up to my standards, and pleased with the outcome, however, I wanted to ask about these in particular from a producer.

I transcribed Adam’s verbal comments below:

‘For me, I like it, I think it’s very filmic. You use a lot of space and width in the mix- really, you know…quite successfully. The tuned percussion elements, which are somewhere between organic sounds and synthetic sample based or synth based sounds, they really work because you can’t quite place them, without them sounding fake, which is interesting.

The vocal arrangement is subtle, but it works and, for me, the thing that I got from that is that the shape of the song is…if you’re prepared for it, it takes quite a long time to develop as a texture, but by the time you get to about 3/4 of the way through the track you start to hear the payoff. Quite risky, as a mix. So, I very much like it, my only concern would be, ‘is there another edit there?’, as a radio edit, if you want to get this played on radio for instance. Because it feels like it’s quite a long arrangement? So that would be the only thing I could really pick on in terms of the mix, in terms of it’s commercial appropriateness. It’s more…it’s kind of like an album track, as opposed to a single.

But it has, it has enough hooks, and a strong enough theme, to have commercial appeal. Hence the fact I’m saying maybe a single edit might be quite a good thing to explore.

(On the drum mix)

I love the drums! What are you worried about? The drums are great! I mean the last few bars with that slightly ambient-y, almost tribal drum thing, it really works well. It reminds me of a Kate Bush record I know, called Hounds of Love, it’s got that same kind of- same kind of ambience to it. It’s really cool! It’s like a modern Kate Bush-meets-Lorde thing for me, from my perspective.’

So, overall Adam had a lot of good feedback to give, and it was great to hear lots of positive remarks on the studio version of the track for the first time. 

I absolutely agree with Adam’s point about creating a studio version – a lot of radio stations will prefer to play songs that are approx. 3 minutes or under due to the duration of their radio show and the royalties owed to the artist for their track getting airplay. For this reason, if they receive a track longer than this they will either not play it, or they will only play a section of the song. It is a very good idea to make a radio edit as the artist then has control over which section/s of the song are played and which sections aren’t, instead of the station making this decision, and having a shorter running time makes the song appear more attractive to the presenter. 

On the topic of the long buildup, I expected that it was going to be brought up at some point during the song’s lifetime, and it was good to hear that Adam thought the payoff was worthwhile. I created the track’s structure and arrangement with the intention that it would be a seemingly slow, melancholy song, for ambient listening, and the song would gradually escalate to an emotional, passionate ending. The buildup has to be slow in my opinion, to set the mood, and tell the story carefully. As the listener understands more of what the narrator is telling them, they resonate with the child, they begin to develop an emotional connection to the subject to, and by this point, the breakdown begins and the song grabs onto the sorrow and anger from the beginning and runs with it, finally giving the listener that release in the chorus. The song was created in this manner to reflect the thought process of the child becoming more and more frightened and aggravated until it has to profess it’s emotions fully. 

Targets:

  1. Receive feedback from at least 1 other producer in the industry.

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Friday 18/05/18 – Risk Assessment

I decided it would be beneficial to create a risk assessment of Jubilee Hall, my shooting location, so rule out any risks or issues with the hall ahead of time, and to think about how we will resolve these problems. 

I found that were no dangers associated with the building itself, as it is a modern build and doesn’t have any exposed wires, unstable walls, etc, and has obviously previously been risk assessed to make sure it’s fit for use by the public. 

View my Risk Assessment below:


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Sunday 20/05/18 *MORNING* – Finishing touches to audio

In the morning I decided I would push myself to fix the bass frequencies and alter a few of the synths in the end section so I could finally send it off to Tim for mastering.

I installed Logic onto my mum’s desktop Mac (as on my laptop I was having troubles with plug-ins) and this allowed me to make these changes quickly and effectively, and to bounce the track in one go (I had also been having difficulties with system overloads on my Macbook when trying to export files). 

I sent the file off to Tim *for the last time* and so we were ready to begin filming the video!

Targets:

  1. Begin filming scenes for the video, mainly the scenes that can be executed at home, so I can:
  2. –begin editing these small bits of footage into a teaser for the music video, and to further my Final Cut Pro skills.
  3. Continue with my research section, looking into tips and tricks for music videos.

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Sunday 20/05/18 *AFTERNOON & EVENING* – Beginning of filming

Later in the day (see previous entry to details) I filmed some scenes for the BOT video with Clare Nordbruch. We focused on the ‘pushing material’ scenes. We did this in our living room using a large piece of nude lycra material which we held down at the corners with bricks (ingenuity, right?)

From the footage we took, and with a little push from my mum, I began editing it into the intro of Before Our Time, to test the feel of the images set to the music. Below is the sample video:

We used normal room lights and lamps, and one studio lamp, directed from the right (symbolising purity and good, with the left in shadow, symbolising darkness and evil). This didn’t show incredibly well in the video once the scenes were lightened, but I may add this in when I incorporate the rest of the footage. In fact, I quite like it with completely light scenes. But, for the sake of the viewer’s understanding it would be good to add some darkness as a bit of contrast. 

I found editing really fun, and I think the sample video turned out very well for a first attempt. I find that the Final Cut Pro software that I used has a very similar user interface to Logic Pro X, which I use to create my original music, which aided in me picking up the software quickly. 

Looking back at my mood board, I feel this short clip really captures the ideas of pushing material and skin that I previously displayed, and resembles an image included in my Pre-Production section:

I’m glad that I began the filming process and achieved my deadline of submitting my Pre-Production and Project Proposal (Action Plan).

Targets:

  1. Develop my Final Cut Pro editing skills over the next week.
  2. Improve my transitions so they are exactly on cue.
  3. Gather resources for the rest of the shoot.

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Tuesday 22/05/18 to Friday 25/05/18 – Booking the filming space, gathering materials, prep for the session

Throughout Monday and Tuesday I began gathering my resources for the shoot. Between us, my mother and I bought 2 different shades of blue faux flower petals (we got 500 of one and 1000 of the other). We purchased a new roll of white backdrop paper (as our last one was a bit crumpled from excessive use). We also bought some fake – but very realistic – barbed wire from the internet, to do some constrasting dark scenes where I would be wrapped in the wire, trying to escape. We put a little bit of silver paint onto the wire to make it look more rusty and worn. We had some lemongrass tea (that we got for free) which we’re going to use in conjunction with the petals to form the “flower altar/shrine” idea. We also had previously bought some white chiffon and white gauze fabric for the video, the scenes where I would be wrapped in fabric in the centre of the circles.

We decided, since half term was coming, it would be a great idea to film the rest of the video this weekend to get it done early, then have a good few weeks to edit the footage. 

From using the hall before we knew the fee was around a reasonably £11p/h, so we enquired about 5 hours of hire. However, it turned out that they raise their prices quite a lot on weekends or bank holidays (of which this weekend is both), to £32 per hour. Currently myself and my mum are trying to cut back on things to save money, but this was a valuable investment to be able to get great footage in what seemed like a very professional environment. So, we decided on 3 hours instead of 5, and we would have to get everything done as quickly, yet as thoroughly, as we could in the time possible. 

Targets:

  1. Prepare ALL materials for the video shoot at least one day in advance, have them ready to go on the day so there is no time wasted. 
  2. Plan a schedule of my half term to conserve time and energy, so my time can be spent more productively.

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26/05/18 – SHOOT DAY / Part 1

Finally, shoot day! I was so anxious to have my ideas materialised. We had received all of the props and costume parts in time, and prepared all of the film equipment such as lighting, cameras, extension plugs, tape, backdrop, anything we could possibly need in the session.

We got to Victoria Hall early so we could start setting up as soon as possible. We packed 4 bulbs (for the photographic lighting), even though we only had the capability to use two at a time, incase a bulb broke – and this is exactly what happened! It was trial and error to see which of the bulbs were working and which weren’t, and one bulb in particular flashed as soon as we turned it on, and obviously had blown a fuse. But, we still had 2 working bulbs, and brought some extra lamps for the perfect homemade lighting setup. The room lights were also very powerful, and the skylight gave a really nice natural tone to the shooting space. 


As mentioned before, there was more than enough white wall space to be working with, so we rolled the white backdrop paper out on the floor in front of the wall to create a flawless filming area – this was exactly what I wanted. There were some places where the space between the backdrop and the wall were visible, but these would be edited out later regardless. 

Image

We filmed some free movement shots first, and some of me sitting, wrapped in white fabric, singing the lyrics. Regrettably, I hadn’t rehearsed any particular choreography, so it took me a few takes to fully decide on and get a hang of what I was doing.

This was my first time shooting a music video with someone looking down the camera lens all the time, so that had me a little intimidated, as I still have a bit of anxiety about fully performing and acting in front of my mum as the cameraperson (this doesn’t happen onstage). I am working on this, and had already loosened up by about halfway through the shoot. Despite this, it was still a bit tricky for me at the beginning.

We did a lot of takes just in the white, (free movement and sat down, speaking to camera), before we started setting up the flower petals for the ‘circle’ scene. This didn’t take as long as I had expected, as we emptied all of the petals into a bag the night before, so they were all separated and ready to go (they come stuck together and are quite fiddly to detach from one another.)

We used some dried lemongrass to create the outer ring. With the dark and light petals creating the inner two rings. Then I curled up in the centre and my mum helped to wrap the white fabric round me. We made sure to leave some hair/limbs visible and out of the fabric, so it was discernible as a human being. 

As well as some straight-on shots of the circle scene, we also did some slow panning shots where mum carefully moved the tripod and camera, while still keeping the shot steady. This, we could slow down to create a zoom effect, or use the raw footage as a nice contrast to the still shots. If done correctly, moving shots can look very professional and high-budget.

Mum was checking the footage after each take, and I trust her to make sure that each shot is usable, and, if not, that she will let me know so we can run it again. We did this throughout the session, re-filming dodgy takes to make sure we had at least a few decent shots of each scene. I also checked a lot of the footage myself, but there was not enough enough time for me to personally check all of it, so I left this up to mum.

After the clean circle scene shots were done, we did some for the end of the video, where I would mess up the circle, throwing the petals and generally making a big mess. This worked really well with the emotional end to the track, and I really channeled this fury and sorrow into my acting and movements. We did multiples takes of this in slow motion (music sped up, so we could slow it down in the editing stage) and in real time.

After this, we had wanted to do some dark shots, of the evil figure contrasting with the white (this is why we bought the barbed wire), but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time. So, instead we made sure we packed away everything and left the room as we found it – it took a lot of work to clear all of the petals and lemongrass away, luckily most of it was on the backdrop which made it a little easier.

We were careful to pack all the bulbs and lighting equipment correctly so there wouldn’t be any damage when we transported it home. We also took particular care when packing the backdrop, not to get any lemongrass stuck inside, as this would cause stains the next time we wished to use it.

Nothing went wrong with the camera during the session, as we had prepared extra batteries and SD cards for any eventuality. The tripod we used had a grip top to prevent the camera from slipping off at any point, so the equipment was kept safe at all times. We had also packed extra batteries for the LED studio lights, although we didn’t need to use these at any point during the session.

The one thing that would have been better about the session was if I could have planned all of my movements within the video, therefore leading to slightly better performance when shooting. I also should have considered borrowing a portable speaker system from my uncle so I could hear the track better, but we made do once we got to the building, and the results were just as accurate.

After we left Victoria Hall, we made our way back home to shoot the dark-themed scene – see next post, SHOOT DAY / Part 2.


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26/05/18 – SHOOT DAY / Part 2

Once home, Mum put up the black backdrop while I changed into the dark outfit – we chose a very contrasting outfit, makeup and hair style as a striking juxtaposition with the bright and pure appearance of the scenes we shot in the hall. We covered my entire face in black lines and dashes, to symbolise every hardship, horror and sadness the child will endure during their lifetime. The dark figure resembles everything untoward that the world has to offer. We combined this look with the barbed wire across my face and body, to give a particularly sinister look (it reminded me of something out of a Marilyn Manson video), and to represent the darkness trying to break out from its containment, as well as how the child will feel at points in their life, wanting to escape from a horrifying situation or circumstance.

We used two studio lamps again, situated on opposite sides, facing down in front of the backdrop, and one LED light in the centre, angled upwards. With the black background this gave a very haunting and contrasting look, especially with the shadow behind the figure (me).

We shot from directly in front, and directly above, to get some different and interesting angles – these shots would eventually be interspersed with the light footage throughout the video, often flashing between scenes as a type of subliminal messaging tactic.

These shots all looked perfect, so we shot some extra footage for slow motion editing too.

After this we packed up all the equipment again and put the footage from the SD card onto my iMac, to make sure it didn’t get lost.

I fell that my performance during the second half of the shoot at home was far better than the first half in Victoria Hall, as I had had time to settle into the studio environment (this usually happens with each music video I film). Soon I endeavour to do more music videos, and more regularly, so this will no longer become a problem.

As hoped, despite earlier delays, I still achieved successful filming of all my footage by the end of this week and I am quite pleased with the results.


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***update***

I planned out my half term, with each day’s tasks written on a different sheet of paper. This really helped me to look at exactly what I needed to do each day so I could keep on track.

Due to also having to prepare my next release, CROWN. over half term, some of my tasks took longer than expected and at points I fell behind. However I focused myself on getting everything done within the limited time frame, to save me more time to edit the video before the hand-in on the 15th June.

I finished 95% percent of my research section, which really freed up my time to focus more on the video once scheduled lectures started back up again.

As mentioned as some of my targets in previous diary entries, I researched into the making of music videos, some tips and tricks for beginners, and different camera options. Even though I am not a beginner at making music videos (I have created 2 in the past), I thought it would be good to, as I say in my research section, ‘go back to basics’ in terms of where to start. Despite using the same videography camera each time, I researched into a wider array of options to make sure this was the best I could use within my budget and according to my needs.

I looked into my social media and music platform statistics and analytics, and did a bit of analysis on my target audience, and the ways in which I can market myself to them – this doesn’t impact my video at all, as I don’t want to compromise my artistic integrity and creativity by playing to someone’s likes or dislikes, but it was interesting to look into nonetheless.

The week ending the 3rd of June, I had planned to have all footage filmed and re-filmed if necessary to be edited, but this wasn’t possible due to time constraints. On the 4th June, we had a short filming session wherein we re-shot some footage in a different outfit. This would add more interest to the video, as I sung the lyrics as well as showing the emotion of the song. You can read more about this in the post entitled ‘Editing the Video Footage’.


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Thursday 07/06/18 – Feedback on updated Before Our Time (post-master) / Tim Charlton

In reference to my target of receiving feedback on my track from one other producer, I asked my mastering engineer, Tim Charlton, if he could say a few words about the track after mastering it. Tim understands my music and knows a lot about the way I work, having been my mastering engineer for my two previous releases. Although he is very busy with his own work, he very kindly agreed to give me some feedback on Before Our Time. 

See Tim’s comments below:

A few comments about Christie’s mixing of her track ‘Before Our Time’:- It’s really difficult to write comments on Christie’s mixing, because she’s the full package crossing over between mixing and production and also has that unorthodox edge to her, similar to people like Bjork and Kate Bush where the mixing is all part of her production and may not be done in more standard ways.

In this track she uses the full sonic spectrum and great use of the stereo field, with clever eq-ing and no noticeable nasty frequencies. Plus the vocal is slightly buried making me feel like I was on a journey through all of the instruments and effects to make me listen more closely to her vocals and great harmonies. It made me feel like I noticed everything in the track more. I personally feel like it’s amazing, original, possibly innovative work.

From reading Tim’s comments, it immediately puts me at ease. Tim has a very expansive knowledge of production, mixing and mastering, and also used to be a performing musician himself, so has a lot of valuable experience in areas of the music industry. I trust his judgement and expertise when analysing my mixing and how I have balanced the track, as in the past, he has always told me if there is a rogue frequency, vocals too loud, or too much of a difference in volume in sections of the track. This time, he didn’t have to contact me after I sent him the track for master, or ask me to change anything before he mastered it. Through Tim’s previous advice and guidance on my production, I have been able to develop massively as a producer and mixing engineer, understanding how to recognise discrepancies in a mix, how to make sure all sections are balanced, that nothing clips or distorts. I’ve learnt how to pick out areas where the mix isn’t as strong. And most, importantly, I have begun to understand how I need to mix my tracks, the BRUCH way. Tim mentioned I don’t edit and mix my tracks in the conventional method, and I have had to develop my own process over the course of a year, through trial and error with previous singles. Now I know what works and what doesn’t, and am able to be fully self-sufficient in my creative process. 

By the week ending 10th June, I had wanted to receive feedback on some video clips from my focus group, but I will push this to next week due to the ongoing delays which were caused by track mixing and delay in filming.


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Tuesday 12/06/18 – Test Clips for Survey and Market Research

Throughout Monday and Tuesday myself and my mum had edited most of the video – there were 4 distinct sections which we were really happy with, and the main challenge was to find the perfect pieces of footage to fill the gaps where the video was feeling unstable.

We formed small test clips out of these 4 sections, which I uploaded to YouTube. I embedded these into a survey with specific questions for each clip – this would provide me with valuable market research that could influence the last edits to the video. I could make these edits quickly with the help of my mum, in accordance with the survey responses. See the test clips below:


Sample Clip 1


Sample Clip 2


Sample Clip 3


Sample Clip 4

The four sections were chosen as they were the strongest in the video, and they would likely stay the same in the official end product.


By the week ending 17th June, I had achieved my deadline of completing music video editing, according to the responses to my survey. I also received feedback from 2 industry professionals on the track (with regards to the final mix/mastering) via personal interview, as hoped in my Action Plan, and a wealth of feedback on the video via my survey, including responses from tutors at ACM, as well as other recording artists. I had hoped to get feedback on my mastered track from more professionals. But after emailing several tutors, none were able to respond. Therefore, I am content I made every effort to achieve my target of three commentaries on the final mix, even though it was not physically achieved.

You can view my survey responses by clicking here

Read about my editing process in the following entry, entitled ‘Editing the Video Footage‘. 


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Editing the Video Footage

(Starting from the post entitled ‘Beginning of filming’ – Wednesday 13th June, when editing was finished)

I edited the video in conjunction with my mum, who advised me while using Final Cut Pro, and who also contributed to the timeline, cuts and effects used in the video. We worked together to make the video look as professional as possible. After spending time going through the footage we had taken, I discarded those I felt were not of high quality or were not effective. Some were not well performed, or the lighting was not correct, as I moved an arm in front of the light beam which casted shadows on my face. Occasionally, my lip synchronisation was not perfectly matched. We had tried some footage at double speed so we could slow it down and get an ethereal feel. But miming to the track at this pace was extremely difficult, so much of the footage could not be used. The footage of my hands and face pushing through lycra was effective but difficult to film successfully – some shots were blurred as the flesh coloured fabric was difficult for the camera  to focus on. Earlier test shots of this to a small audience showed that hands were most effective. Feet were not really recognisable and using my face gave a scary image, which I did not want to give my video. Therefore, I used only one scene from this footage which showed a  hand pushing slowly outwards. I think this gives a glimpse of the unborn child, as they often push against the mother’s skin. It worked well with the slow section at the start of the video.

Mum showed me how we could use colour correction throughout the video to make it brighter and colder in tone to suit the video’s theme, as the lighting alone was not enough to achieve the bright effect I wanted. As advised by Adam Pain a few weeks prior, we added a ‘Broadcast Safe’ preset to reduce the consequences of super-whites and super-blacks in the image (these can sometimes compromise the quality and presentation of a music video if broadcasted on tv, etc).

My mother helped me in creating the flashing dark images between the lighter scenes, which took a long time due to the precise detail needed in timing, and cutting and pasting the footage – this was done by overlaying a section fo the film above the other, moving each one to the sides fo the screen, adding a gradient mask so they bled into each other, and then cutting the top cottage into tiny sections and disabling each alternate one. I really love how this turned out in the video, it was exactly as I had envisioned it – really quick flashes of dark that make the viewer want to find out more. On some of these shots, I wanted the evil footage to move, as if quivering with fear, so we added an ‘earthquake’ effect filter, which jiggled the frame to make it distorted, and this really enhanced the dramatic effect of the shot.

Because some of the original footage was not as good as hoped, during the week beginning the 4th June, we filmed some extra footage of myself singing and acting to the lyrics of the track, just so we had a bit more variation in the footage, and so I would have a chance to improve the way I performed in the footage. This was also commented on in the survey by some, who suggested more visible singing would enhance the finished product. I pushed myself to get these shots right, so no more would have to be done, and I’m really glad we chose to do this. We chose a different white outfit which added intrigue and maintained interest, as well as only doing close up head-and-shoulders shots, which we hadn’t thought of in the previous filming session. I think it’s really valuable to have parts of a music video where the lyrics are sung, as they often convey the meaning and emotion of the song more effectively than artistic shots, as well as helping the viewer to have a deeper understanding of the lyrical content. I believe I achieved this well in the second round of footage, due to my increased confidence. One of these clips was also used at the end of the video, where the close up of my face singing the final lines was shot from above, hand held and then panned down to directly in front of my head as I gazed into the camera.

We chose to open the video with the circle scene (petals), as I thought this was a particularly strong image, and catches people’s eyes on first glance due to it’s unique style and perspective.

Some the scenes with me sat centrally expressing large arm movements looked very effective, but I felt they would look better if they’d been shot in a much larger studio, which I didn’t have the budget for. In the unedited footage, the edge of the white paper backdrop could be seen either side of me. Mum showed me how we could reduce the footage in size within the frame and then bleed the edges to white (a blank white image was placed behind) and this gave the appearance of me performing in a much larger empty, white space. With the colour adjustments, the scene almost looks as if there could be dry ice on the floor, surrounding me.

I wanted to bring back the shot of me sat within the petal circle and found it was possible to flash this image in at sections, showing the calm of the child in its protected shrine. We were able to edit enough of the petal throwing scenes, some with song lyrics, and use them in slow motion later in the video, to show the frustration fo the unborn child at its fear of having to soon go out into the world. I had been advised to increase the frame rate when recording so reducing the speed later on would still provide smooth footage. Lowering to 50% worked well, and some sections were lowered to 40% speed. Any lower than this reduced the quality of the footage. Mum showed me how some sections could work effectively in reverse and we tried out a few clips as a trial. The disruption of the petal shrine echoes the child’s thoughts. The video seemed to work well with tiny sections of each scene filmed mixed together – I didn’t want there to be any lingering shots which could cause the viewer to become disinterested.

I added a red black over a few areas of footage to represent the warmth of the womb – this was then given a transparency blend which allowed the footage beneath to show through whilst taking on the red colour.

It was tricky to get the transitions between scenes to change exactly with the music, but trial and error, and zooming in closely on the timeline meant everything eventually landed int he right place. I really wanted them to change with the music, on the beat, at the important part of the phrase as I think this gives the change more impact.

Some of the feedback from the survey was used to improve the final product. However, some comments I felt were not relevant for my artistic interpretation and would therefore detract from the video. More details on this will be explained in my evaluation.


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18/06/18 – 24/06/18

This week was all about catching up and making sure that everything was up to standard. I submitted my Unit 13 work for feedback, discussed this with a tutor and made changes and improvements where advised. Comments on the music video were very complementary on it’s professionalism and high standard. I achieved my deadline this week.


25/06/18 – 01/07/18 –

I spoke to 5 industry professionals and my original focus group for their comments on my final product, which was all extremely positive, commenting on the professional and high standard of my music video, acting within the video and the balance of music against the visuals. I will include their comments in my evaluation.


02/07/18 –

Final hand in date 03/06, all work was successfully completed by this date and handed in on the 2nd.


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See the final Product on the ‘Performance/Product’ tab at the top of the page, or click here.


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**The 1st chorus technically comes in after ‘I know my time will come, come’, but it doesn’t have any lyrics. Where “2nd chorus” is mentioned, this refers to the section after the second verse, where the lyrics say ‘Oh body, hold me tight, and sway me gently to moonlight’. 


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