Category Archives: BOA

Isadora Experiments – Triggering and manipulating audio from live video

Recently I’ve had the chance to experiment with Isadora by Troikatronix in using live video to trigger and manipulate audio for use in performing arts performance for triggering multiple sounds from multiple cameras. The intenton is to either use dancers or simply members of the public in the exhibition to trigger audio from their movements.

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch

The following patch you can see takes use of several “actors” available in Isadora to route a single camera signal (video in watcher) and analyse it (eyes).

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch Part 1

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch Part 1

Of the many parameters you can watch using eyes the main ones I’ve used include “hit column” and “hit row” for simply tracking a the main object of any given frame of live streamed video. Corelating these to a grid gives a numbered intersection I’ve been able to use to trigger other sounds.

However smoothening this every changing series of digits is essential as to not give off hug he fluctuations in values and subsequently triggered audio.

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch Part 2

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch Part 2

Passing after this section the final state involves setting several “inside range” actors to watch for separate bandwidths of values at different ranges. Thus enabling me to trigger sounds for objects generally high. low, left or right of live streamed shot. This passes each of these ranges through to separate audio file triggers which are enabled when the value reaches that between the values set by the actor “inside range”.

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch Part 3

Isadora Audio Trigger From Stream Patch Part 3

Further exploration of manipulation can be seen with using “obj size” in eyes to manipulate the volume of the triggered sounds via the size of the object tracked on screen. Like wise the objects vertical position has been used to govern the speed at which the triggered audio is played.

All in all this has led to some very experimental soundscapes to be utilised live during a performing arts event here in Birmingham. See below for a video of one of the first experiments in using an in built webcam to provide the streaming video content to trigger the samples. More developments soon!


Birmingham Town Hall – Tony Christie

I’ve been privileged enough the past few weeks to attend two or Birmingham’s greatest and most renowned venues. Town Hall and Symphony Hall.

Please see below for photos of the Town Hall photos of Tony Christie’s sound checking using the Soundcraft Vi1 console. What a privilege.

Pro Tools 310i at Alchemea with Justin Fraser

The Pro Tools 310i

Wow! What a 3 days it’s been attending the Avid Pro Tools 310i course @alchemeacollege London.

I’ve been so privileged to learn advanced icon techniques from Justin Fraser whose worked with such artists as: Seal, Art of noise, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Charlotte Church, The Frames and Tracy Bonham for whom he received a grammy nomination in 2002. His live portfolio also includes such as established acts such as Christina Aguilera and U2 to name only a few.

To say the least I’m now fully mind blown as to the capabilities of the icon setup and can now hopefully pass on this knowledge on to students at BOA and into our mixes.

Here is some snaps from alchemea:

Pro Tools D Control

Pro Tools D Control

Pro Tools D Control room Alchemea 2

Pro Tools D Control room Alchemea 2

How to record electric guitar: Microphone and DI combo!

Guitar sounding flat and boring? Not enough direct sound making into your recordings?

Been recording some electric guitar with a student in the studio today and thought a lot of what we were doing could help people out there recording at home.

Firstly start with a good amp and realistic expectations of what your instrument can achieve. Cheap guitars, strings and amps sound just like that but that can be a good thing!

Recording Electric Guitar 2

Secondly make sure amplifier is placed away from any large surfaces that can reflect sound. Moving it away from the walls is a great start! Many people with combo amps take the decision to raise them up on a stand or piece of furniture to help reduce bass heavy reflections from the floor entering the microphone.

The two methods of placing microphones on a guitar cab/amp involve the terms:

“On axis” – To place the microphone directly in line with the speaker cone

“Off axis” – To place the microphone away from the central “on axis” position wilst still point at the cone.

“Ambient Mic’ing” – To place the microphone at a sufficient distance away from the guitar amp to be primarily recording room reflections. The mic can either be directional or omnidirectional and can placed anywhere within the reverberant field.

As you can see from the picture using a Sennheiser e606 (formally e609) off axis and a Shure SM57 on axis gave good results.

Recording Electric Guitar 1

Using a DI box is a great idea for recording mic’d guitars as it means a “dry” DI (Direct Injection) signal can also be recorded for virtual amp re-enforcement.

This is achieved by plugging the guitar directly into the DI box and using the link channel to take a copy of this signal into the guitar amp whilst another connection (XLR) takes the DI signal away for recording seperatly.

Recording Electric Guitar 3
Recording Electric Guitar 4

Finally nothing beats using headphones whilst setting up guitar mics to help you directly hear the implementation of the small microphone movements you have to make to achieve a better sound. Experiment with placing mics 3 – 6 inches away but beware to observe extra bass when getting too close thanks to the proximity effect.

Don’t be afraid to combine more than one microphone sound when mixing and remember it’s always possible to delete things you don’t like later if you have the courage!

Happy recording.

BOA Big write #BOAwrite “SinderHella”: World book day

BOA Big Write Lawrence Harvey

BOA Big Write Lawrence Harvey

To celebrate world book day we decided to use twitter to help write a story across BOA. Using account @BOA_Lit tweeting stories with #BOAwrite to collate tweets and display a finished story via @BOA_Lit and on the BOA Blog.

The project involved projections of twitterfall and of a movie inspired by books that have been made into films! The event was a great success with an in depth blog viewable here. It turned out to be a dark Cinderella style tale we named “Sinderhella”.

I even got in the post pic by complete accident!

Do they know it’s Christmas cover: Pro Tools HD

Before the Christmas break I was lucky enough to record, mix and master a cover of Band Aid: Do they know it’s Christmas using a pro Tools HD 3 rig and D Command 40 fader console!

The main recording setup labelled “Group vocal recording” shows the utilisation of two AKG c414 XLS’s in a spaced pair for close micing and a pair of AKG C451b’s in a Coincident-XY position to add ambience to the small ensemble recordings. The aim was to record vocals of as many students as possible to contribute to the Christmas project and ended up using 97 audio tracks, 3 auxiliary tracks, a click track and a master fader.

Standard “solo” arrangements for the song shown in “Double tracking eq compression” made use of Waves C1 compression and 4/7 band EQ to control the vocals tonally. The D Commands central control section allowed for easy and quick maipulation of these controls as displayed in picture “D Command EQ and Compression controls”. The rotary encoders for EQ and compression and subsequent paging controls allowed for full control of the plugins and easy adaptation to individual channels.

The solo sections we’re typically double tracked to add depth to the vocal sound often utalising extra send attenuation via D Command flip controls to parallel compression and reverb buses. The picture entitled “Pro Tools HD Edit Window” displays the use of multiple takes via the room mics (Stereo XY AKG C451b’s) to give the vocals that large choir effect towards the end of the song.

Photos :Submaster Reverb and Para Comp Auxs”, “Pro Tools HD Plugins 2” , “Bus setup window” display the extensive use of auxilary effect processing in the track. Using the D Command flip control the channel sends could be adjusted from the main fader controls to allow quick assignment of channel levels into parallel compression and reverb sends. Avid/Digidesign’s Impact bus compression plugin was used for parallel compression to the vocals and in particular to double tracked elements to allow great control of the effect in the whole mix. Similarly “Revibe” was used for the reverb send with detail representations of a warm church utilised to add a more live feel and blend the performance of seperatly recorded takes together in natural sounding and controllable ambience.

Finally “Pro Tools HD System Useage” and “Pro Tools HD Plugins 1” show the massive amount of TDM’s used to create the mix and was even such a high usage as to not allow HEAT (Avid’s Neve channel emulation) to be added to the mix in the mastering stage. Reel Tape Saturation and Waves V Comp we’re used to add additional analogue realism and light control of the mix and to take strain off the Waves L3LL Ultramaximiser to bring the levels up to a steady K12 mastering volume. Air stereo width was added while monitoring the Phasescope to allow for a full stereo field. Blue Cat FreqAnalyst was used for frequency analysis, Waves C4 Multiband for multiband compression and Blue Cat Peak Meter to allow the mix to be monitored to a K12 volume (-12dBfs RMS average).

To conclude the project was a great success and was even filmed whilst being produced! Please see below for some audio snippets. The plan is to utilise the recording/video in BOA marketing!

Christmas shows

Its been a busy Christmas period music wise. I’ve been privileged enough to do the live sound for BOA’s Christmas music concert held in their lovely new theatre.

The full show included use of:

Roland FP7s digital piano (DI),

acoustic guitars (2 x Shure SM57s and DI),

electric guitars (2 x Shure SM57s)

and vocals (5 x Shure SM58s)

2 x Kustom KPC12M 12″ Monitor Speaker Cabinets

2 x Roland Cube 20-XLs

A total of over 30 seperate performances with various performers in different combinations made an extensive sound check essential. As you can see however using the Soundcraft LX7 allowed an ample amount of channels to make it happen and allow foldback monitoring using 2 of the 6 auxilary sends.

Routing CD, ipod and laptop backing tracks through the Tascam CD200i’s auxiliary insert allowed each of these unbalanced sources to appear as two mono channels on the LX7. A stereo dbx 231s was used to control monitor mix feedback frequencies obtained by a brief ringing out of the fold back system.

I’m glad to say the evening went off without a hitch. Please see the pictures and bring on the next live challenge!

P.s. Performed again with Lauren Wright this time at the River Rooms in Stourbridge! More gigs soon.

This weeks recording sessions

Recording every day this week for the BOA charity cover of do they know its christmas.

I’m using a spaced pair of C414 XLS’s set to cardioid and a coincident pair (XY) arrangement of AKG c451b’s. Getting some really good recordings so far and should hopefully have some audio next week!

Another 4 recording sessions on top. 1 jazz singer, 1 R&B and 1 Pop original performances in the bag and sounding great!

Lastly a recording session at Kidderminster college last night recording acoustic guitar with Stuart Eaves for Lauren Wright. Using a coincident pair of Rode NT1A’s arranged on top of each other with a single Shure 57Beta for added clarity around the 12th fret.

See below for pictures. More audio coming soon!

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BOA: Jessie J and John Craig visit

What a week it’s been. As many local TV, Radio and websites have reported Jessie J made a surprise appearance to officially open the Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA) recording studio with BRIT Trust Chairman John Craig OBE.

These are just some of the pictures from throughout the day!

ITV: Jessie J Visits BOA

BBC: Jessie J jams with Birmingham’s Ormiston Academy pupils

Birmingham Mail: Jessie J visits Birmingham’s new £25 million fame academy

Birmingham Mail: Jessie J choices two BOA students to sing with her on stage live at the 02 Academy Birmingham! – I’m in the background of the photo!

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BOA: Recording studio construction day 2

Day 2 of recording studio construction and the D Command desk has been constructed and placed in its permanent furniture housing.

The Pro Tools HD 3 system has been set up along with Genelic monitors giving us sound for the first time!

No audio inputs yet from the live room but we’re getting there, another week or two of hard work to come to get the live room up to scratch but right now we’re all happy to play be using Pro Tools 9 HD3 via Mac Pro and D Command desk.

Stay tunned for more developments.

BOA Recording studio - D command installed

BOA Recording studio - D command installed

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