360 Degree Music Video

directed by Julien Widmer song is “LOSER” by Merlot

And good on him for his answer to all the inevitable what lens/software/etc did you use questions…

“I’ve passed a long time to experiment and build the System. I can’t reveal this magic trick. 🙂
Experiment by yourself, DIY!!”

Echo Dek Circuit Diagram

Further to a comment/request on an older post about me picking up an Echo Dek tape delay, below are a few photos of my one including at the bottom a closeup of the circuit diagram which is glued to the inside of the case…. Hope its helpful Thom! I’ve zipped & linked to a high rez photo too, see below…

echo dek


echo dek


echo dek


echo dek


link to: high rez JPG of circuit


This is where we live

from vimeo page: “Welcome to our city – to our world – of books. This is where we live.
A film for 4th Estate Publishers’ 25th Anniversary. Produced by Apt Studio and Asylum Films.
The film was produced in stop-motion over 3 weeks in Autumn 2008. Each scene was shot on a home-made dolly by an insane bunch of animators; you can see time-lapse films of each sequence being prepared and shot in our other films.”

Detritus 25

> Sonic levitation? via


> Become an idea collector


> Two different collections of thoughts on the role the internet plays, one by Brian Eno,
the other by Jaron Lanier


> Seems to be lots of speculation about Apples new product release next week, but these two articles (here & here) seem to hint towards products & services beyond the tablet… Although of course there is an actual leaked release photo of Apples tablet


>Interested in the intersection of art & science? Heres an epic list of practitioners
(via Marc disquiet)


> What holds people back from doing what they want? Are you committed?


> Banksy at Sundance!?! (thanks Chris!)


> DIY bass traps – get rid of that murky low end!


> Like listening to numbers stations but find them a little abstract? How about a real time russian air traffic control feed – there’s even an iPhone app for it!


> Theres life above 20kHz? Damn right! “At least one member of each instrument family (strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion) produces energy to 40 kHz or above, and the spectra of some instruments reach this work’s measurement limit of 102.4 kHz”


Lusine – two dots

I’ve been listening to Lusine for what feels like a decade or more, but only just came across this video for a song off his latest album


When I was in Auckland last weekend I went for a walk around the waterfront & there was a massive cruise ship parked at the wharf, and by massive I mean the size of an entire inner city apartment block. The area was swarming with tourists and the people who facilitate their visit and I didn’t think too much about it… But the following day I read about a similar cruise ship, which irrespective of the recent & ongoing disaster is scheduled to park at a private beach, reasonably close to the centre of the Haiti epicentre. And there its passengers can have a BBQ, drink cocktails and frolic, protected from the inconvenient disaster victims by a large wire fence with armed guards… The mental image this scenario forms in my head is enough to make me feel sick, but it is too easy to sit back & judge. Am I actually doing any more to help than those tourists?

monome haiti

In response to the Haiti disaster the monome community banded together & created a compilation album featuring 27 artists – go have a listen here and buy a copy (for as much as you can afford to donate, minimum $1) – 100% of the proceeds go to the Médecins Sans Frontières. Quoting from MSF: “It is like working in a war situation,” said Rosa Crestani, MSF medical coordinator for Choscal Hospital. “We don’t have any more morphine to manage pain for our patients. We cannot accept that planes carrying lifesaving medical supplies and equipment continue to be turned away while our patients die. Priority must be given to medical supplies entering the country.”

…and not tourists…

haiti waveform


haiti aftershocks


New Tascam Multitrack Recorder

I’ve been chomping at the bit for a portable multitrack recorder, but the main issue has been one of cost. I am totally happy with my Sound Devices 722 2 track recorder – it has great mic preamps, is small & yet very well built…. If I had unlimited funds I would probably go buy the Sound Devices 788 but the cost is prohibitive – to spend us$6000 on anything really means that the device would need to be generating funds to justify its existence… And especially when you consider that this specific area of technology is still on a rapidly evolving trajectory, almost similarly to the digital SLR cameras that can shoot HD video – skip forward 2-5 years and practically all SLR cameras will be able to do it!

But amongst all the hype associated with the recent NAMM 2010 tradeshow was an announcement that intrigued me. While NAMM seems to be primarily about music gear, Tascam released three new portable recorders the top one of which, the DR680 is an 8 track recorder with six mic preamps built in, plus a SPDIF digital i/o. It records to SD cards 24 bit audio at up to 96kHz when in multitrack mode or 192kHz when in stereo mode. So far so good, and the price? US$995. Now that makes it affordable but it also then creates another issue – what compromises have been made to reach that price point? There are four XLR mic inputs while two are TRS 1/4″ but that feels more of a space/convenience decision… But the primary issue is going to be the quality of the mic preamps – my first portable recorder was a Tascam DAP-1 dat machine (remember tape?) and while it was functionally good, its mic preamps left a lot to be desired, especially when cranking gain to record quiet sound sources. And that is the most important feature of this new device to verify! So I’ll contact the local Tascam distributor and see if I can get my hands on a test model. They apparently aren’t available until March but I’ll pursue it as I am in the market for such a device, sooner or later…



Heres a SonicState video from NAMM showing the three recorders (& you might want to mute your audio until it actually starts to avoid the ads & those godawful power chords in the intro!)

Out of interest, Tascam do also make a “professional” 8 track portable recorder, the HS-P82 and interestingly BHPhoto list it as very close in price to the Sound Devices 788, so it would seem this is currently the price point for professional portable 8 track recorders… ie Tascam PH82 US$5,500 and Sound Devices 788 US$5,995

Visiting Lens Spirit

Len Lye Exhibition

One of my aims of 2010 is to have other people pay for my travel, and so last Friday I found myself in Auckland for 24 hours for an intensive mix of 60 seconds of audio (aka a commercial) and then some free time in a city I love.

And my ulterior motive for being in Auckland, apart from catching up with dear friends for a BBQ and a few drinks, was the knowledge of an exhibition of a few of Len Lyes works at the Gus Fisher Gallery which is now a part of Auckland University & is housed in a building which anyone with some local knowledge will instantly recognise as the old Shortland Street TVNZ studios, an iconic building I’ve visited many times before…

So we wandered in there after lunch on Saturday & after a look around discovered we had timed our visit to coincide with a lecture by experimental filmmaker & lecturer Miriam Harris, who was obviously very interested in relating Len Lyes work to the crossroads of poetry & motion graphics… And fascinating as it was (and I must seek out some of the brilliant examples/references she played) I kept thinking about the sculpture in the lobby… And how while this lecture was going on it would be deserted…. So I quietly got up & wandered off, to ask permission to shoot some photos of it… Usually if there is a no-photo policy it is writ large & I hadn’t seen any signs, so I meekly asked & was given permission…. And set about shooting the following….

While I didn’t have a sound recording kit on me, this particular sculpture was actually very quiet, but the light from the dome window overhead was totally exquisite…. And Auckland being Auckland, the light varied intensely over the five minutes it took me to rotate slowly around the sculpture, shooting as I moved…. So after stabilising the shots as much as I could be bothered in Photoshop, what you see is what I saw… And I sincerely hope the soundtrack I made is not offensive to Lens spirit….

If you live in Auckland, you have until Feb 13th to go and experience the exhibition for yourself and while it is a relatively small scale exhibition compared with what I have seen & heard at the Govett Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth, it is still a very beautiful experience that should not be missed.

Len Lye Exhibition

ps don’t you love that vimeo happily allows me to make & publish a video in such completely a non-standard aspect ratio! I don’t care how wide-screen your big TV is, its not going to do justice to that little film! Methink youtube is a variation on crappy mass media television, whereas vimeo is far more open minded & creative…

Sound for 3D Films

Along with the hyperbolic (& in my opinion somewhat dubious) promotion of 3D films as “game changing” an aspect that seems to be late to the conversation is the use of sound in such films. In some ways I guess this is partly due to the fact that with the implementation of surround sound many decades ago, bringing sound “off the screen” has been a part of the vocabulary of every film mixer since the 1970s; the concept of 3D sound is not new in that respect.
But the re-launch of 3D films in the form of huge budget blockbusters such as Avatar raises the issue again, since for such a film to cost many hundreds of millions of dollars to make means there must also be vast funds available to develop & present an appropriately “game changing” soundtrack. Accordingly there can be no doubt that a need has been created, but is it being fulfilled?
For those of you who have seen Avatar, did you think the soundtrack presented any new innovations in terms of physical depth and/or use of surround sound? But of course, accompanying that question is the philosophical issue of whether it actually should do and if so, how?

These questions were partly prompted by a thread on the Gearslutz Post forum where a lone voice asked why is there no envelopment in film soundtracks?

The three most obvious & important answers are:
1. The soundtrack must work for every audience member, whether they are sitting at the front or rear of the theatre
2. the soundtrack must work in every screening theatre, from the premiere through to a run down theatre in a small town
3. Does the film require and/or motivate use of surrounds/envelopment?

The most common use of surrounds in 5.1 tends to be diffuse and/or momentary, due to the three reasons above. While the two surround channels of 5.1 are discrete channels in terms of mixing & playback, when it comes to actual theatre playback the discrete surround Left and surround Right signals are usually each fed to an array of speakers, some of which are on rear side walls & some on the rear wall thereby making point location of sounds difficult.
With 7.1 discrete channels are provided for left and right side speakers, plus a discrete signal for diffuse rear speakers so it is possible to seperately control elements being presented diffusely in the rear, or discretely.

In terms of the creative motivation to use surround sound, it’s interesting to read comments from Chris Boyes, FX mixer on Avatar. Quoting from a Mix Online article about sound for Avatar: “I never felt we had to make radical adjustments [for the 3-D] and I also felt it was very important to just choose certain details to highlight and not get gimmicky because there’s a tremendous amount of information to take in, and if we give them too much sonic information at the same time, it will detract from the experience. Jim’s edict to me was: Clarity is king. He was always looking for a focus and clarity to the sound. It was important to him — and to me — that any sound that went into the film really had to have a reason behind it and be driving the story forward or really selling an environment, but not overselling it.”

While more complex delivery formats have been developed, such as 10.2 and 22.2, the issue then becomes one of viable implementation. What use is a superior format if no one uses it? I do not mean this in any derogatory way, I am trying to be purely practical: is the future of 3D film sound more closely aligned to the model of theme parks than movies?

22.2 sound

I would love to experience the 22.2 surround sound system detailed in the diagram above, but “coming to a theatre near you, anytime soon?” I have my doubts…. Especially when many theatres struggle to present even 5.1 in decent fidelity… But again, back to the theme park model; 3D films are not ‘normal’ films. This is a point of difference in their marketing and in a way it makes them a boutique experience, so is 7.1 sound their future?

A company by the name of Iosono have another solution which is based on wavefield synthesis and according to StudioDaily magazine, CSS Studios (part of Todd-AO Burbank) has recently become the first sound facility in the U.S. to aquire the ability to mix feature films in the Iosono 3D immersive format. Quoting from the article: Iosono’s algorithm and large speaker array “create sound waves in free space that audiences perceive as sounds originating from anywhere within the 3D sound space.”

On Stage 2, Todd-AO Burbank was outfitted with an array of 672 speakers, reproducing 224 audio channels and delivering 44,000 watts of amplification. Iosono also added four render PCs and an Iosono Spatial Audio Workstation (SAW), the authoring tool that enables a mixer to create all this aural magic. “The SAW is designed to be easy to understand for any mixer who has used a multi-channel panner,” said Slack, who showed a visual on the screen that represented the “listening area,” with 32 focus sources that could be placed and moved anywhere in the room.

You can read more about the technology behind Ionsono here and check here for a list of installations where you can actually experience it… Apart from film theatres & theme parks one notable installation is the infamous Tresor Nightclub in Berlin, Germany!


The Finches

Quoting from YT: “French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates works by drawing on the rhythms of daily life to produce sound in unexpected ways. For his installation in The Curve, Boursier-Mougenot creates a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other musical instruments. As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape.”

A commission for the The Curve, Barbican, London: 27 February 2010 – 23 May 2010
Free admission, times: Open daily 11am-8pm, open late every Thu until 10pm

Locked Grooves

While the best things to ever arrive at my P.O.Box are modules for my synth, second best has to be vinyl. As I’ve been away on holiday the last few weeks I haven’t gotten into town to clear my mail but I knew there was some gems waiting for me…. And so this morning I raced in & did a drive by…. Apart from two 12″ bought locally secondhand (remixes of classic Luscious Jackson track Lady Fingers and a sublime Echospace track by Intrusion – Angel, voiced by Paul St Hiliare) there was also two copies of a record I came across online of 1,000 locked grooves. Yes, you read that right: 50 musicians submitted 20 loops each & it was released by RRRecords with 500 locked grooves on each side!

If you own two turntables & haven’t played with locked grooves then its really something you should try. I think the first one I came across was on the Sonic Youth album Evol who’s track ‘Expressway to yr skull’ has a duration listed as infinite.

When I was in Berlin a few years ago I picked up two copies of a clear vinyl 10″ of locked grooves by Alva Noto. One side is full of about a dozen of his staticy textures, the other side is clicky rhythmic loops. If you put both texture sides on & play the same groove on both decks the phasing & stereo movement you can play with are fantastic!

locked groove

Possibly the latest release of locked grooves is via the 20th anniversary box set from Warp Records, which includes two 10″ locked groove albums, each containing 20 locked grooves.

Coincidentally I went & saw the new Coen Brothers film A Serious Man yesterday and right about the 75 minute mark when the character Larry gets stoned with his next door neighbour, the film soundtrack lapses into a great locked groove. Admittedly it is not a music loop per se, but a song on the hifi ends and a typical ‘end of side one’ locked groove slowly becomes a dreamy rhythm track to which slightly effected natural sounds (eg ice in his glass) slowly add, taking you inside his blunted mind…

Its funny, locked grooves can catch you out in a great perceptual way eg in this thread: “I just realised that the Two Lone Swordsmen song I’ve been listening to for the past 20 minutes is actually a locked groove at the end of the record.”

According to wikipedia: Probably the first track to utilize this technique was The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), featuring a multi-layered collage of randomized chatter in its run-off loop. The Who responded by putting a mock advertisement for their label, Track Records, in their The Who Sell Out LP. On The Format’s album Dog Problems, the feedback at the end of “If Work Permits” continues into the lock-groove, which repeats. Early copies of Pink Floyd’s album “Atom Heart Mother”, Peter Gabriel’s second album (also known as Scratch), The Boomtown Rats’s album “The Fine Art Of Surfacing” and The Dead Kennedys album “Plastic Surgery Disasters” also utilize this. Another example of locked groove record is Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s debut album F#A#∞ (pronounced F-sharp, A-sharp, Infinity). At the end of the song “Bleak, Uncertain, Beautiful…” there is a string phrase recorded on the locked groove. The title’s “infinity” refers to this phrase. The Stereolab album Transient Random Noise Bursts With Announcements ends with the song ‘Lock Groove Lullaby’ which, as the name suggests, extends into the locked groove. Nail by Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel (1985) features a lock groove on the final song (“Anything”) which results in the final note of the album slowly repeating itself. Portugal. The Man’s 2008 album Censored Colors contains a locked groove at the end of the first disc repeating the words “turn me over”.
Locked grooves can also be added part way through a side. The Gorillaz debut album, like the CD release, features the remix of “Clint Eastwood” as a bonus track but the LP has a locked groove after what is meant to be the final track of the album so the needle has to be physically lifted and moved to play the bonus track. This concept has been extended to the production of records consisting entirely of circular “locked grooves” to provide collections of infinite loop sound samples of duration limited to one revolution of the disc. Notable examples of this are the releases from RRRecords of the 7″ RRR-100 (with 100 locked grooves) and the 12″ RRR-500 (with 500 locked grooves) and RRR-1000 (with 1000 locked grooves). Canada’s Legion Of Green Men took the art further creating several records and remixes containing what they called Eternal Opuscules, rhythmic tunes and songs which would play seamlessly to a locked groove at the end of a side. There are also many techno records featuring loops as locked grooves, which, when recorded at 133⅓ bpm and are replayed at 33⅓ rpm, will continuously repeat the beats and musical phrases, which can then be utilized by a DJ. More info on locked grooves here too.

UPDATE: you can listen/download the rrr locked grooves here


“I drift, half awake, half asleep. Moving through the city I recall but have never been to.”

This film was made using a digital stills camera to create a stop motion animation.
by Mustard Cuffins

The Best TED Talk yet!

Herbie Hancock, Marcus Willer & Harvey Mason have one of the best conversations I’ve heard yet in a TED talk… hang out for a version of Watermelon Man@14.10

Favorite Field Recordist Sites

We like living vicariously, especially when it involves a favorite sense, so here are some of my favorite field recordists blogs. And while I appreciate all of their work I’m going to highlight one recording from each which I think you should cue up, close your eyes & enjoy.
And I am totally obliged to say I appreciate the fact that all of these artists place their work online for us all to enjoy, be enlightened & transported by. I suspect it may prove to be the ultimate sign of digital immaturity when people attempt to assign zero value to things they can “get for free” – art is created by those who provide a context for their work and whether its created via a brush, a camera lens or a microphone the experience is everything! Keep up the great work!


Andreas Bick’s Silent Listening – listen to: Dispersion of sound waves in ice sheets

Field recordist 01


Michael Raphael’s Sepulchra blog – listen to: Plaster City Rockets

Field recordist 02


Local, Grant Finlays Nature Sounds of New Zealand – listen to: Tawharanui rain

Field recordist 03


Listen to Africa is Huw Williams and Rebecca Sumners two year 24,000km cycle powered field recording expedition across Africa – listen to: Life in the mangroves

Field recordist 04


Lastly, of specific relevance: Field Notes is a PDF magazine “concerned with the phenomenon of sound from the most varied perspectives: artists, scientists and sound researchers” – check out the first two issues

And please feel free to reccomend other good field sound blogs – I’m all ears!

Chuck Russom’s blog
Noise Jockey
Quiet American’s collection
A Quiet Reverie
Soundwalk Blog
Touch Radio
Domestic Soundscape
CSW Blog

Detritus 24

M4L plugs

> Robert Henke aka Monolake has released some of his MaxforLIVE plugs for free (thanks!) including Circular Doppler: “Two virtual microphones rotate around a single sound source. Doppler delays, distance dependent amplitude modulation and filtering included. Movement of source and microphones synced to song position. This allows 100% reproducible effects.”


> This is a map of your brain on music (not!)


> I started a little meme on twitter the other day about #overused_Lib_FX
Heres a copy of the list everyone posted:
– the BBC SFX ‘crying baby’
– Creaking metal door sound
– Feedback anytime someone approaches a microphone
– “Well, basically all of these… http://filmsound.org/cliche/
– Red-tailed hawk
– The opening of a DOOM door
– Crow caws
– Sword being drawn
– The same magpies every time
– The Wilhelm
– Bell trees for any xmas related graphics
– Bullet impact into metal
– Gun chamber cocking
– Whispy wind through wires
– Children playing in the park
– Single spark zapping
– Fireball whoosh
– Hawk screech
– Metal hatch squeak
– Dog next door
– Doppler truck horn

I think half the problem with these #overused_library_FX is people use the exact same version EVERY time… Methink someone should release a library of “Alternates to the most #overused_library_FX” with ten different doppler truck horns & 20 dogs next door etc….


> Why screenwriters & film makers fail


> Protools running slow? here are MIx Mags top 5 ProTools cripplers & how to fix them – I’ve been using the little free app that they mention for years & its invaluable at trashing corrupt DAE/DigiSetup files, get yourself a copy here



My Tokyo by Alary Romain
Music: Wasabi Shot – Interlope’s sushit Remix

Shortcuts II: Using a Second USB Keyboard

I’ve ranted before about how important learning shortcuts is for sound editors (SD101: shortcuts) & I’ve also posted about a nifty USB device which enables you to assign shortcuts to dedicated keys in any layout you like (the Ergodex) but recently I found out about a means of adding dedicated physical keys that must be the most cost effective yet: simply plug in a second USB Mac keyboard!
Now like me you probably thought of this long ago & discovered it wasn’t possible. I had dreams of using gaffer tape to permanently hold down eg the control & command keys on a second keyboard & thereby have a whole new set of 100+ keys to assign shortcuts to. But I soon discovered that to hold down the command key on one keyboard equated to holding it down on both keyboards, so I wrote off the idea as fundamentally flawed, and so I bought my Ergodex (which I like, but I don’t use it as much as I imagined I might)
And then Quickeys version 4 was released and all that changed!

Quickeys devices setup

In Quickeys 4 there is a menu item for DEVICES, which lists all the USB devices connected and by choosing “Use this device exclusively with Quickeys” you can preclude it from having any effect on anything else on your Mac, other than as a means of triggering Quickeys! Brilliant! (And thanks to Emile for pointing out this new feature!)

two USB keyboards

Also of potential interest, Quickeys 4 supports the iPod Touch/iPhone, so you can trigger Quickeys shortcuts or scripts via wifi – check the iTunes App Store for more info…. but thats not all, check this:

Quickeys MIDI triggers

So any time I play a tritone it can dim the lights? Handy….

A small sidenote: Quickeys 4 requires OSX 10.5+ which I have finally made the leap to… So I’m also now on ProTools 8, which I am still getting used to…. and after migrating all my plugins and applications, guess which was the only company that required me to completely reinstall the plugins AND the libraries & then totally reauthorise? Native Instruments… FFS! I’ve only updated my home Mac & PT LE – I still have to go through the same painful process for my studio PT HD… Grrrrrrrr! Native Instruments get my vote as having the worst authorisation process!

The End of the Road

I’m not sure if this twitter account is actually his but it makes for some pretty amusing reading:

end of the road?

And what a long & twisted road it appears to have been!

Articles were published making all sorts of claims:

“It was Brice Carrington who gave King Kong his roar, the T-Rex and other dinosaurs their menacing sound in the movie Jurassic Park, put the hiss in Snakes on a Plane, the swoosh in Superman’s flight and the swirling sound in Spiderman’s web-shooting. Carrington is the man behind the pops, bangs, booms and blasts of the firepower in Miami Vice, True Lies, The Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, etc.”


“Carrington received 3 commemorative Oscars for “King Kong,” “Ghost and the Darkness,” and “Jurassic Park.”

But then retracted:

BRICE CARRINGTON RETRACTION: ‘Hollywood Sound Man’ Now Admits he Lied to ‘People of Note’ Columnist.
“I am Brice Carrington. I am writing this note to address comments made about me and to state some facts about my work. All the statements made that say directly that I have NEVER worked on a film or have won an academy award for sound is absolutely true. I have never worked on a motion picture nor have I ever won an academy award. The fact is, I am a sound designer, and I make recreations of sounds found in films and sell them to the public through a brand called Ultimate FX.”

Ah so! Recreations… Hmmmm…. A visit to his website is similarly entertaining – listen to his sounds for films such as Batman & Jurassic Park except please notice the fine print! And by fine I mean in the smallest legible font size: “These sounds are recreations of sound effects used in feature films. They are original works created by Brice Carrington and no claims are expressed or implied to the original works by the authors of the films.”

Now at this stage you might think it’s all just a great big misunderstanding. Here is this poor guy struggling to make ends meet, running a fledgling company that recreates sounds from famous movies… Sadly it seems the truth is another matter again.
As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle: “A Pleasanton man who falsely claimed he was a three-time Oscar-winning sound designer was sentenced Friday to four years in federal prison for defrauding investors of nearly $4 million in an investment scheme.”

“Carrington admitted that he had lured investors by spinning a series of yarns. He told people he had won three Oscars, had an extensive background in sound design and had ties to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Carrington admitted that he had received $3.6 million by victimizing 13 people. Almost none of the money went to designing sound effects; most went for such expenses as the mortgage on his $2.6 million Pleasanton home and fancy cars.”

Wow – ok the guy definitely isn’t slumming it then! But it gets even weirder:

“In 2006, Carrington paid $52,000 to Walnut Creek jeweler Davidson & Licht to create three fake Oscar statuettes, according to a civil suit that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences filed, claiming copyright infringement. He displayed at least one of the fake Oscars at his home, authorities said.”

Now I’m sure Brice probably still thinks its all a big misunderstanding, but 4 million dollars is a lot of other peoples money to be playing with. Either the guy is pretty damn convincing, or those investors simply did not practice due diligence when parting with their money…

brice the twit?

brice the twit?

brice the twit?

brice the twit?

Life is so much easier when you tell the truth. Imagine the energy involved in maintaining this masquerade?

end of the road?

Synaesthesia 003

Defocused Rose Garden

What do you hear when you look at this photo?


Check the comments for upload info…

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY003/sy003martin.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 003]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY003/SYN03_MichalFojcik.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 003]

Tim Prebble:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY003/Sy003TP.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 003]

Brendan Hogan:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY003/SY003_BrendanHogan.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 003]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY003/sy003ccu(newneedle3).mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 003]

Playable Youtube Piano

Interesting – this technique potentially lends itself to other, more abstract material… hmmmm…

Detritus 23

> Bono recently announced that in his opinion the way to stop music piracy is to employ some combination of the great firewall of China and/or the methods used to stop child prOn – both of which seem odd company for the music “industry” to keep. But his other argument is that ISPs should be taxed because they are the ones getting rich from all the file sharing. As plenty of commenters state, there doesn’t seem to be any actual data to support this theory – because if there was it would be trotted out in the same sentence… is there any data to support this theory?
What’s even odder from my point of view is that I have heard the same argument (tax the ISPs) from U2s manager, and from the local performing rights & royalty collection agency, APRA who quoted & have then assumed this theory as part of their strategy. They state: “The perception that music is free is wrong and currently music represents a vast amount of what ISP’s and telecommunication companies receive, in the form of data charges from their customers. Copyright owners should share in this economy.” For that statement to be correct, surely it should say “The perception that ALL music is free is wrong…” – because there IS plenty of legitimate, free music available online but its the rest I am interested in: “music represents a vast amount of what ISP’s and telecommunication companies receive” – really? Here are the two sources of Bonos comments: boing boing and sonic state.


> Watch the ball:


> How to make a living playing music


> My favorite new visual blog: Black and WTF
Every photo posted there must have a fascinating back story!
Black and WTF?


> 21 Great Free Thinkers of Indie Film


> James Cameron: crack/VFX Addict


> Avatar in 5 panels


> I actually tried to go see Avatar in 3D the other day but turned out its booked up 4 days in advance, so I’ll leave it for a month – I don’t like sitting in a packed picture theatre. But since it was a sunny day I jumped on a boat to Somes Island & wow! The 3D effects were fantastic! It was like really being there!


> Shift magazines DOT MOV short film festival is currently touring Japan, but you can watch the selected shorts online here, while my favorite of their selection LoopLoop is already on vimeo (& has been posted here before)


> Ah Joe – he’s the kind of drummer who can adjust his glasses mid mind-blowing solo…. Such a melodic drummer!

The White Rabbit

Great campaign for the SyFy “Alice” miniseries

Quoting from the description at vimeo:

“Awesome project we worked on with our new friends at Fallon.com

This is footage from our two part campaign.

There was the mobile unit….Fun part about this aspect was we had the rabbit doing different things set up on triggers. This way the projectionist could not only aim the projector out the side of the moving vehicle, but also, time jumps, starts and stops according to the movement of the van.

Than there were the three different façades in NYC… Fashion Institute of Technology, old Virgin Megastore Union Square, and the Maritime Hotel.

All were mapped and content was animated based on the architecture.

The response was great. I mean, really, how many people take pictures and point and call people about a billboard??”

via Urban Projection

NZ Sound Art on The Gravy

Despite it being in its fourth series I only just discovered a great NZ TV series on local art & artists called The Gravy, which screens on TVNZ channel 7 but is also streamable from their website. The series takes a theme for each episode and episode 2 of series 4 is focused on sound art – go watch it here

the gravy

The three sound artists featured are the incredibly inspiring Phil Dadson, field recordist & composer Sam Hamilton & Greg Locke with his robot band The Trons

the trons

Phil Dadson is very well known for his unique instrument building dating back to the hugely influential performance group From Scratch in the 1980s (captured in the hypnotic short film/performance Drum/Sing by director Gregor Nicholas- YT: 01 02 03)

But this episode of The Gravy also explores his work on large scale ‘playable’ sculptures – the first three of which were commissioned & are located at the BRICKBAY vineyard and sculpture park, an hour north of Auckland… I have to go to Auckland at the end of January to record ambiences & some vehicle FX for my next film so will definitely make time to go check then out. But even more intriguing is the news that some of Dadsons sculptures which will be installed a bit closer to home; literally 5 minutes from my apartment!

wind scultpures

wind scultpures

As Dadson explains, these wind driven kinetic sculptures are to be installed in the Evans Bay waterfront, where the Wellington Sculpture Trust has already commissioned a series of wind driven public art works including Phil Price’s iconic Zephyrometer, Kon Dimopoulos’s Pacific Grass, Andrew Drummonds Tower of Light and Leon Van Den Eijkel and Allan Browns Urban Forest. I think public art contributes so much to the character of a city and Wellington is very fortunate to have such great works – I can’t wait to see & hear Dadsons work!

wind scultpures

Two other local public artworks that I have not experienced are Andrew Drummonds Listening & Viewing Device and Len Lyes Water Whirler which was under repair last time I tried to visit it. Which begs the question of kinetic art – who maintains it? Sure having wind powered devices is an admirable feature for such a wind blown city as Wellington but as the excellent ‘Over the Net and On the Table’ blog explains: “Kinetic sculptures are the bane of public art museums with their I-won’t-start engines and is-that-metal-fatigue-I–see-before-me? fractures. Install one of these ADHD sculptures outdoors and you are talking repair to the power of ten. In Wellington – where we pitch sculptors up against winds that are world famous – there is a predictable ongoing repair cost for a bourgeoning family of outdoor works. The proposed amount to keep things spinning, turning and swaying on cue for 2007-08 was $50,000 (but that was the estimate made in 2003, the last time the Wellington City Council updated its Asset Management Plan for outdoor public sculpture).”

Well, all I can say is its money well spent compared with the funding black hole otherwise known as the 2011 Rugby World Cup, with a projected $10 billion deficit… TEN.BILLION.DOLLAR.DEFICIT! It better not be my taxes paying for it!!!

more art! less sport!


So 2009 is almost history & while some people consider the idea of New Years resolutions to be a lame concept I tend to think any kind of forward planning is valuable… and if syncing it to the start of a New Year helps then so be it! Apart from thinking about where you’re headed, its also important to write down plans which was why I made all the virtual intern applicants answer the question: Where do you want to be in 5 years? That timeframe is large enough to dream about, but anyone who did send in an answer to that question should go re-read their answer & see if you feel you are closer to reaching your goals, because six months have passed… And here is the brutal reality: if you haven’t taken a lot of small steps heading in the direction of your dreams, then you simply won’t ever reach them. There may well be a million steps, but the single most important step is the next one.


A few links worth a read/listen:

– New Year Resolutions for Designers

– 10 critical things to consider

– Getting started

– What matters now: a free PDF ebook

UPDATE: Another worth a read: An Alternative to New Year Resolutions

Detritus 22

> Ever wondered what Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast” would sound like recompressed as an MP3 666 times?


> Wow! Fantastic urban exploration



> The beastly cult of perfection – casualties of the beauty myth? Tragic..


> Puremagnetic have announced their first release for Max for LIVE


> Darwinian music:


> Impulse Responses for Altiverb from the echo chamber in Frank Zappas studio


> Graham (808 State) Massey: synth addict?


> Music software of the future? Hah! Love the Excellentiser


> Non-newtonian fluid on a speaker cone at 30Hz


> What is a classical composer? (someone who strokes their chin?)


> Sniff glue, worship satan? Embroidery gone bad..


Synaesthesia 002

Bali Temple

What do you hear when you look at this photo?


This photo was taken at Tanah Lot, Bali during my visit for Nyepi March 2007 – some field recordings are here – check the comments for upload info…

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY002/SY002Martin-thehiddenlobby.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 002]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY002/SY002 uav.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 002]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY002/sy002ccu.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 002]

Lee Rosevere:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY002/SY002LeeRosevere.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 002]


Gone is the old dark blog theme! Its summer & almost the start of a new year so out with the old and in with the new! But let me know if anything doesn’t work correctly – I’ve been testing it a bit but until its in use its hard to know, which is partly my motive for this post… Testing 1 2 3! I’ve also switched the RSS feed over to Feedburner, so hello RSS subscribers!


I also realised that the holidays might well be a time when people have some free time and/or need an excuse to have a break from family ie to go make music, so I’ll post the next Synaesthesia photo… Its visually related to the first one, although different mood, location, context…. Merry Xmas!

ps great to hear some new contributions to Synaesthesia 001 – go have a listen


Phwoah! This is it, the last post for 2009. Like most people you are probably tired of top ten lists – of the year and/or decade – so this isn’t one of those. This is just me giving thanks for all the wonderful, inspiring people who have made 2009 such a great year!


I have been incredibly happy to make creative contributions to three great New Zealand feature films this year. First was Under The Mountain by Jonathan King, which opened in NZ theatres about a week ago. Then came Home By Christmas by Gaylene Preston and tomorrow we’re print mastering Boy by Taika Waititi, which has just been accepted into both the Sundance & the Berlin Film Festivals.

Apart from their local cultural identity the greatest joy has been working on projects that are so personal to the filmmaker and it is readily apparent to me all three of these films are not ‘this years films’ – these three directors have been working on their films their entire lives, and it is an honor to help realise their visions.

Its also been great to work with the numerous composers, sound editors, foley team & mixers this year making each of these films. Nothing beats having history with the people you work with, so that you can easily share common reference points but also appreciate the differences that makes each person unique.


And admittedly it is the end of a decade, and somehow I seem to have personal significance with years ending in zero. In 1970 I started primary school….. and hated it! I was sold a lie; I visited primary school once when I was 4, but it was during playtime & no one said anything about going inside & doing work!

Twenty years later, having been through university & learned a lot about life, but not so much about my intended & then aborted degree… I went to Film School in 1990, which rapidly became a great, formative year!

In 2000, after mostly living in Auckland since Film School I made the move to Wellington, rented space for my own studio & started my own company, Substation. Coincidentally as 2000 ticked over I somehow managed to fall off a small verandah & spiral fracture the tibia in my leg, thereby learning the most valuable of all life’s lessons: I am not immortal!

So next was three years in central Wellington with my studio in Jessie St, eventually evicted when greedy developers bought the building & proceeded to turn my studio & second edit room into four tiny apartments…. Six years in Ropa Lane, Maupuia, again evicted when greedy developers bought the building… And rather than suffer the same fate again, by the time 2008 had ended I had finally bought an apartment & rented a much smaller studio space across the road from Park Road Post… And this scenario is the best setup yet!


This year I also was forced to shift my blog & websites from a friends server to ‘proper’ hosting at hostgator, and its been an excellent, entirely essential learning curve. As I learned via being evicted by capitalist mofos its important in the face of adversity to say FCK OFF! And set to turning the initial negative hassle into something far, far grander & more positive than they who instigated the hassles could ever imagine. And in hindsight the worst thing that could have happened in both instances is for the status quo to be maintained. Life is constant change and when major changes are forced on you, never fear the outcome – meet then head on & redefine the situation on your own terms… Inevitably you learn incredibly valuable skills in the process.


So what does 2010 hold? Well, one film is confirmed & a second is 90% there. But the gaps in work excite me as much as the large scale projects – and currently the year starts with a two month gap! 2009 has also been a solidly developmental year for me with my regards to my personal projects, and 2010 is going to see the outcome of these projects finally see the light of day. And that is hugely exciting; partly to experience the completion of projects but also developing & learning as the projects find their place in the world. 2009 has been a great year but 2010 for me is unprecedented. And while I would normally keep posting here throughout the holidays I simply need some time out to both relax & refuel. Finishing a film is exhausting…. & finishing the year is exhausting…. Doing both at the same time is exponentially tiring! I’m so looking forward to sleeping & spending time in the outdoors & also creatively focusing on the serious fun in store for 2010 – scheming, planning & dreaming.


Have a great holiday, thanks to everyone who has participated here. See you next year! And in order of my google analytics: Thanks, Dankë, Merci, Tack, Dziekuje, Grazie, Dank u, Obrigado, Efcharisto, Go raibh maith ‘ad, Arigato, Mange tak, Shukriya, Takk, Pöjö, Spasibo, Mersi, Kiitos, Hvala, M goi, Ghu long khu me-ah, Juspajaraña, Dankschen, Hvala…

Detritus 21


> 10 Greatest Synths of all time


> Poor old James Horner is in fear of being relegated to the lowly ranks of sound effects – oh the shame!


> Two years ago I posted about the Kobe Biennale & their brilliant competition of art installations inside shipping containers…. And being a biennale means the 2009 festival has just finished and the winners have been announced While the overall winner looks brilliantly conceived, my eye & ear went to one of the special prize winners: Soundscape Harmony: Kobe by PioRyo aka Hajime Shimoyama “By transforming the tones and rhythms from a variety of scenes in Kobe into a circle of resounding light, I have created a new soundscape for the city. Inside the container, the viewer experiences the endless expanse of this ‘Forest of Harmony.'”


> Teux Deux is a lovely minimalist online To Do app


> Whats with the global pitch drop of blue whales?


> melody “is a capitalist plot to sell pianos.” – untitled, the movie


> The Mathematics of Electronic Music – love the fourier engine!


> Really great synth graffitti (love the Keith Haring-ish one)


> A collection of dodgy looking Santas


> If you’re a fan of Olafur Arnalds then check out this little documentary


> The coolest hat ever?


Synaesthesia 001


What do you hear when you look at this photo?


Upload your music/sound to my ftp server & then add a comment below so that I know its up… I’ll then embed it in an MP3 player in this post… If you could start the filename with SY001 & your name that would make life easier too… Heres the upload details (you will need to use an ftp program like Cyberduck OSX or Filezilla PC)
Server: ftp.musicofsound.co.nz
Login: anonymous@musicofsound.co.nz
No password (just hit enter when it asks for one)
Upload to the ‘incoming’ folder
Feel free to download the image so you can have it open while working….
Here’s the first few uploaded:

Rhian Sheehan:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001_water textures Rhian Sheehan.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001_Makara_Beach-Michal_Fojcik.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

escalation746: wavefront makara – hue blue linear
[soundcloud url=”http://soundcloud.com/escalation746/wavefront-makara-hue-blue-linear” params=”auto_play=false&player_type=tiny&font=Arial&color=000000″ width=”300″ height=”18″ ]

Daniel Powell:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001DanielPowell.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001 uav.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Stefan Smulovitz:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001StefanSmulovitz.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Tim Prebble: Swim with the fishes
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001TPswimming with the fishes.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

James Thompson:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001JThompsonSoniccouture.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

aart uunivers:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/sy001_aart-uunivers.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Michael Maroussas:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001_Michael Maroussas.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Tohm Judson:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001TohmJudson.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Stephen Gallagher:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001_The Edmonds.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

David Vranken:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001 David Vranken.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Brendan Hogan: Refuge
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001_BrendanHogan_Refuge.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Christian Conrad:
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/SY001 Christian Conrad.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Joel Anscombe Smith: Sand People
[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/Sy001_JoelAnscombeSmith_SandPeople.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/SY001/sy001ccu.mp3 |titles=Synaesthesia 001]

Detritus 20

> Photoshop fridge magnets? Someone should make an ableton LIVE set

photoshop fridge magnets


> Stretta has released his set of Monome MaxforLive plugins, check them out here


> “The future does not fit in the containers of the past.”


> A great infographic of the evolution of storage
(click image for larger version)


> The fees of digital music distributors compared


> Another film I can’t wait to see in 2010: Anh Hung Tran is making a film adaptation of Haruki Murikamis Norwegian Wood! And the score will be by Ryuichi Sakamoto! Fantastic!!!


> Apple just bought music streaming company Lala, expect a major iTunes update soonish….


> The Year’s Most Amazing Scientific Images – especially check #1 if you ever wondered what your inner ear hair cells actually look like!


> A cymatic project for the holidays? How to build chladni plate


> This is possibly the most trippy thing I’ve seen in a website… click in the vortex!

A Collective Project for 2010?

I was randomly looking through my photos the other day and with that rather lengthy post about finishing projects in mind, I started thinking about a project for 2010 that could be both creative fun & good practice at the art of completion. I’ll outline it below & post an example, but its not a project I am interested in doing on my own. See I know an awful lot of the people who read this blog are musicians, sound editors/recordists/designers etc & the one thing we all have in common is we make music and/or sound. And while I will happily carry on writing posts here about what interests me, I’m also seriously interested in what music/sound you make. And so, the project…
It was prompted by this photo I took in Makara (a beach half an hour from Wellington)


What do you hear when you look at this photo?


Well…. that’s it – that’s the project. I want to know what you hear when you look at a photo, but I don’t want you to tell me – I want to hear it. Its a project I will only initiate if there is a show of hands & more than a few people are interested in participating, so post a ‘me too’ comment below if you are keen…. But first I’ll explain a little more of the general idea. I would be completely open to whatever form of music or sound you want to post – maybe its a field recording, maybe its a drone, maybe its improv on an instrument you don’t normally play, maybe its a complete piece of music, maybe its a burst of filtered noise, maybes its an intricate piece of sound design, maybe it is the image itself played though Metasynth or Photosounder – there are no constraints on style, duration or anything. It would be a project with a fairly relaxed timeframe eg maybe once every two weeks or something? But the aim is to evoke in music or sound whatever it is you hear when you look at the photo. Of course whatever you post in response needs to be your own work, but I think it could be creative fun individually, very interesting & inspiring collectively and for those who join in it could be a way of starting the regular practice of completing a project – not your life’s work, but something personal & shared. I can easily provide hosting if its needed, but what do you think?

Water drop sequencer

“The Water drop sequencer is an interactive sound installation. It creates sound by water drops falling on suspended iron bars with piezo elements attached. The viewer or performer can control which tones will be played by placing water bottles upside down in holes that are centred over the iron bars. It is also possible to control the speed of the dripping.”

by Mårten Bergkvist

How to Finish 3/3 – Completion

I am somewhat embarrassed as to how long it has taken me to finish this post, especially given the subject matter! For the record (and I guess as required reading) this trilogy of posts started back in April 2008 with How to Finish 1/3 – Inspiration, the essence of which could be summed up by Aristotle as “Well begun is half done.” A month later I followed up with How to Finish 2/3 – Development. And then some time passed. And some more… It wasn’t that I was procrastinating exactly, more putting thoughts into action & trying to establish what is actually going to work for me with regards to my own personal projects. As I’ve said before, I love deadlines – every film I work on is full of deadlines; big & small, and always with the one HUGE deadline at the end. But with my personal projects it seems they are all endless work in progress, and that’s something I have been seriously working to change, in fact if I was to sum up 2009 I would say a lot of my ‘spare’ energy this year has gone into establishing a modus operandi by which 2010 will be a prolific year of finishing things….. And so here is my research into the MOST crucial stage – in many ways the ONLY stage that matters; completion.

Goethe quote

When you stop & think about daily life, most of it is work in progress – we all spend our weeks working & living, doing lots of stuff but only ever actually finishing projects occasionally. So the first step is stating the obvious: the scale of the project has an obvious bearing on how & when it is completed. For example with a feature film, my work as sound designer may well start & end within a three or four month period, whereas for the director it may be more like four or five years… But the common element to both scenarios is that completion is not a singularity; its made up of hundreds of endings. Renovating your house or whatever is the same; lots of little deadlines leading to the large scale project completion.
So recognising & then fulfilling these many individual deadlines is essential – a simple example: say an element of a mix is good but it needs an edit pass to tighten it up. While you may have only mentally noted the need, if it hasn’t actually been done then the project will simply never be finished. This is obvious, but it’s still oddly common to hear people say “I’ll worry about that later” which actually means it thereby becomes something they WILL have to worry about later AND it will remain a BLOCK to finishing until it is dealt with.

So along with identifying & dealing with all the little parts of the process it is also important to celebrate each of the little deadlines along the way; to acknowledge they are done & also thereby prompt thoughts of any other little curve balls waiting in the wings… When we finish the predub for each element of a film soundtrack (ambiences/foley/FX etc) I definitely insure we celebrate (1800 Tequila is my choice) as much to acknowledge the act of meeting a deadline (& the end of a contributors work) as the deadline itself… and if its a deadline met, but there’s a list of six fixes to do, then those are also celebrated, and another tiny deadline assigned…. And methink the larger the scale of the project, the more important the acknowledgment of the individual deadlines that lead up to its successful completion.


But an aspect I have come to believe is a pre-requisite to completing a project is the existence of a delivery vehicle, ie the means by which it will be presented to the world or the intended audience, even if that audience is just a blurry unknown number of downloaders….
Working on films, that isn’t directly my problem: sure the age of the target audience can sometimes dictate the extremities of the content, but usually with film the initial funding is dependent on having distribution in place. So when the post supervisor tells me the schedule, with all its delivery deadlines, it is because the director, producer & distributors of the film have already targeted film festivals, market places & public release dates for the film. Accordingly we inherit our own, directly related/back-timed post deadlines. So what at first seems arbitrary & immovable dates are actually based on the reality of the finished project reaching its optimum audience, in a very carefully strategised manner… The existence & timing of those screenings are fundamental to everything that drives the completion schedule. Sure budget plays its part – no one can afford to continue mixing for months on end – but having the final product in its full resolution, fully mastered/graded glory is the critical criteria that drives the most ultimate act of completion… And so acknowledging & developing the means of distribution has been fundamental to me planning how (& why) to complete my own projects, because otherwise why finish them at all? I could happily never finish any of my own projects, and whats the difference? The difference is absolutely fckng HUGE!


So how do we reach a point where we can commit to delivery of a project, such that we are happy? Some people like to quote the saying that ‘art is never finished, it is abandoned’ but really that saying does not sound like the words of a happy, fulfilled artist to me. I don’t want to go to sleep at night thinking; ‘Wahoo! Today I abandoned another work of art” – that already sounds full of regret. I want a process that allows me to feel I have finished a project, to the best of my abilities…. And by abilities I mean two things: first, the best of my technical means. Second, to the fulfillment of my aesthetic goals. I don’t want to finish something knowing its ok, but an aspect isn’t what I already know to be right. I want to make creative decisions & live by them.
Maybe when you are young & naive you might think that your art exists outside time & aesthetic development, but wait a few years & you soon realise that age and/or maturity also brings a constantly evolving shift in what you consider ‘your art’ to be. In a sense we are all the sum of our experiences & the older you get the more experiences you accumulate, and accordingly the deeper your appreciation becomes for what it is you strive to do. Prove me wrong: create your masterwork, wait ten years & then check it out & tell me its exactly what you would create now. Sorry to sound cliched, but I think completing a work is like puting a marker in the endless stream of time, saying ‘this is the very best I can do now’ and acknowledging it as that, rather than the unattainable ‘this is the best work of all time’


So how do we recognise it as the best that we can do now? I’m going to propose two means, you can choose what order they occur. First is showing the work to yourself, second is showing it to others. But surely you do the first all the time? Maybe, but there is listening & then there is listening – are you listening while mixed up in the flow of creating, or are you listening, hands (& screens) off, being objective? Borrowing a quote from Gian Lorenz Bernini:

“There are two devices which can help the sculptor to judge his work: one is not to see it for a while – the other – whenever he has not the leisure for the former – is to look at his work through spectacles which will change its color and magnify or diminish it, so as to disguise it somehow to his eye, and make it look as though it were the work of another, removing by this means the delusions caused by amour-prope (self-love)”

While its common practice to check mixes on other speaker systems (eg in the car, on a laptop, ipod, radio etc) than what its been mixed on, to check that the mix translates to less than ideal playback, it can also facilitate the objectivity of pretending it isn’t yours. There is also an important shift in perception when it is in a form where it cannot be adjusted. With film, we have double head screenings in a different theatre than where the mix occurs & this process is motivated equally by the aforementioned process of checking the mix translates, but also psychologically by leaving the place associated with continually altering the content…

The second process, of showing the work to others, is more complex in terms of interpreting the response. A friend & I were talking about this very subject recently and we both were at a complete loss to explain the sudden clarity provided by having an audience of even one. Why is that as soon as just one person sits down beside you, that suddenly you notice things about the work that were completely oblivious before? WHY? And I don’t mean that the visitor pointed some things out, I mean before they even react, as soon as you hit play. It seems to me that perceptually we can fool ourselves (or delude ourselves as Bernini describes) or ignore aspects UNTIL the presence of another psyche and/or potential critic rationalises our own awareness.

How do you choose who to show the work to? This is going to depend on how close to completion you think you are. For example with film, often mid way through post when the picture cut is close to being locked another trusted editor or writer is invited to a screening to see what their first impressions are, particularly with regards to story & character arcs. If there are existing doubts about any aspects needing further work, then having someone who understands the process & what state the project is at can be hugely beneficial. Equally some films require test screenings with random members of the target audience, but the important thing in both scenarios is that before any reaction is heard you need to be clear what are the main issues you are testing for & how much significance the response should play. If its any help, screenwriter John August has posted a list of some general questions for test screenings as well as a PDF of an actual questionaire for a film project. I’m not suggesting you actually use these when testing a mix on someone necessarily, but they do maybe make you think about what it is you want to learn from a test playback.


Ok so having played your mix to some trusted people, the next stage is making the final revisions. When working on film sound design, I always set aside specific time (usually 2-3 days) to do my final pass. This happens just prior to taking all the material we’ve spent months working on, to the mix stage for premixing. And for me this is vital; I am basically playing each element (eg vehicle FX, or ambiences, or footsteps) from the start of the film to the end, checking it in a real time playback & signing off on it. Its an important psychological shift from all the previous passes I have done because this is the final version I am presenting to the mixers, and you may be sure if there is an element in the tracks that is weak or doesn’t work, then you can count on it being SOLO’ed, sooner or later, and revealed to everyone in the room. And as supervisor I have to own it, because I did the final pass on it & approved it. So I am applying a brutal, pragmatic decision-making process whereby its either 100% good, or there’s a problem which I have to fix then & there. This is instinct based, not intellectualised and it is rare that there is a problem I can’t solve at this stage, not because I am some genius or anything but because by this point the material has been evolved & checked a number of times over many weeks & months. But the important concept to realise is that this most important revision is the final reality check. From here we move on & we no longer doubt the source elements as being able to be completed.


So having completed the final revisions, what are your criteria for completion? Does the final composite version affect you, moment by moment? Overall do you feel it? Is it entertaining? Emotionally engaging? Characterful? Thought provoking? Are all technical flaws solved? or absolved? And is it uniquely you?
If you are happy & resolved that the project is completed then the next step is for the deliveries to be done, such as outputing & sending the media for mastering…. But having completed the epic creative phase, there are some other important aspects to consider. In fact if you zoom out a bit & consider the role this work is playing in your ongoing life as an artist, what is your criteria for success AFTER completion?


I was ranting with an old friend a while ago & he was essentially beating himself up about the possible negative reception of a project he had laboured long & hard on. In fact he had laboured on it for so long that he had begun to resent it. But I stopped him in his tracks by asking him how would he know when his project had succeeded? He had obviously put a lot of negative thought into what the worst case scenarios were, so what was the actual successful outcome for the project. He wasn’t sure, he’d have to think about it. I’m sorry but WTF? If you don’t have a goal, how on earth are you ever going to get to enjoy the satisfaction of celebrating the fact that the project achieved ‘success?’ And self-defined success is an important part of progression.

So if you’ve made it all the way through this lengthy rant, you obviously have a project in mind: define its success. Now. Success may actually just mean finishing it and everything beyond that is icing on the cake. And if so, acknowledge & celebrate that. But also be aware that larger goals have a way of coming true, if the belief is resolute & you are prepared to do all the work involved in making them come true. So confession time, I have three discrete projects I have been working on all year. And the more clearly I have come to define each project the more I have had to learn. Each project has a very different outcome & I am setting a basic level of success for each such that they are definitely achievable. But for each project, the sky is the limit. And I expect to learn a LOT as I discern between the prerequisite for basic success & the goals of my dreams.


So a step further along the path of completion, you will inevitably receive feedback. Do not underestimate its effect. I think it is a basic human characteristic to do more of what one is encouraged to do, and accordingly whenever I come across work that I love online I do send a spontaneous email saying “I love your work – please do more!”. Maybe this comes from childhood eg DO NOT draw on the walls with crayons, DO draw on the paper….’
Who’s criticism do you listen to? And really how can you honestly accept accolades while ignoring criticism? But the creative/psychological concern is: what has more impact: good reviews or bad ones? The quandry of ‘success’ as described by Picasso to Teriade in 1932: “Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility”
But on a more immediate level, if you think of a film you like, go check it out on Metacritic – if I search eg 30 Days of Night, which end of the spectrum is most useful? The critic who voted 80% or the one who voted 25%? The only answer is both. If I had any doubt or concerns about an aspect of it, then chances are so did someone else & reading the 25% review will help clarify it…. Patting oneself on the back about the sense of achievement of completing the project & it finding an audience is also important, but the primary goal is to get better with each project, not more conceited…. And so you must take the good with the bad, and learn from both. But never let either rule you. I am going to finish this rant with two quotes:

“There is nothing ugly in art, except that which is without character, that is to say, without inner or outer truth”
Auguste Rodin

“If your work of art is good, if it is true, it will find its echo and make its place – in six months, in six years, or after you are gone. What is the difference?”
Gustave Flaubert


UPDATE: if this was useful/relevant have a look at part 1 and part 2


Kawaii = Cute in Japanese…. love the ending

State of my Modular

I spent half the weekend rearranging my music studio as I found the way I had my modular synth racked up was giving me sore arms & a sore back from leaning over it all the time, see it used to be like this in an angled rack:

mod synth old layout

When I bought the racks I noticed that I could rotate the angled rack part over so it was facing backwards, so I set to & inverted the Doepfer G6 cases in the rack, and turned the whole rack around & it is SO MUCH BETTER!!! Also being vertical meant I can stand the G6 case on top, rather than lieing on its back & having to use all my long patch cords to connect the two…. So heres it now (click image for bigger version)

I also finally got my monome 64 set up so its sending MIDI via the Analogue Solutions MT16 to trigger the AS drum modules (thats what the nest of yellow patch cables is) which was my intent from the outset…. so I ended up staying up until 2am this morning jamming beats on it & patching the drum modules through all sorts of filters etc… The BD88 kick module is pretty boomy (its a circuit clone of the TR808 kick) but I found a way to make an even more subby kick! I have the Analogue Systems EMS Synthi Filter module and I discovered with the resonance cranked up it self-resonates beautifully! But how to trigger it with the kick? Well I sent an extra trigger out of the Monome via the MT16 and patched that trigger into both the A140 envelope generator and to the A132-3 D-VCA… So every time the kick fires on the Monome, it also sends a trigger to the VCA, which opens & lets the subby oscillating Synthi Filter through using the CV shape provided by the ADSR module. As I discovered this, of course it made sense – this is synth programming 101! But it was so beautiful to be able to fill out the decay of the 808 with a differently tuned sub & have complete control of the envelope of the sub decay….

Heres a closer vertical view:

mod synth new layout

My Top 9 Films of 2009


In no particular order; AntiChrist + Moon + Mother + Ponyo + Synecdoche, New York + The Limits of Control + Thirst + Tokyo! + Tokyo Sonata

What would yours be? If your memory needs prompting there’s a database of 2009 releases here

And 9 films I can’t wait to see next year:


A Serious Man + Chloe + Fantastic Mr. Fox + Map of the Sounds of Tokyo + Micmacs a tigre-larigot + My son, my son what have ye done + Symbol + The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus + Where the Wild Things Are

YOUR BIG BREAK: come to NZ & make a Film!

Big Break

Tourism New Zealand is sponsoring a fantastic opportunity for five film makers to come to New Zealand and shoot and post a 3 minute short film, and as the image above illustrates they have Barry Osbourne onboard as a producer, and all of the entries will be judged by Peter Jackson to select one ultimate winner… Apart from racing around NZ shooting, the lucky five will also get to post their projects at Park Road Post!
To get a copy of the brief for the project go to the Big Break site. And if you need some inspiration for the locations available, go watch some footage on the Big Break youtube channel here.

PS: the submission deadline is 15th January

Detritus 19

> Kandinskys dub teachings


> 12 track mix by Taylour Deupree 12k on Fluid radio


> Want a $30 discount on SonicCharges drum machine MicroTonic or synth Synplant? If so leave a comment, I only have one to give away so you better be sure!


> I’ve been reading a book called ‘Younger Than Jesus’ which is a directory of up & coming artists under the age of 33 & via it have just discovered the art of Joel Holmberg, who has a domain name involving ‘o’ 53 times:
Amongst other things he asks funny metaphorical questions on Yahoo Answers.. And I love one of the answers, as it pertains to sounds witnessed but not recorded:

no camera


> Also via the book I’ve been checking out the sound art of Italian artist Alberto Taidiello:


> I also love the work of Joe Winter, artist in residence at Eyebeam NYC, who take tape loops to an extreme


> Lastly Lyota Yagi, who amongst other things makes intriguing records out of ice:


The ANS Optical Synth & Tarkovsky Scores

It might be hard to believe but one of the most complex synths ever made was created in Russia in the 1940s. The ANS synth employed similar optical technology as was used in printing sound on 35mm film, except instead of a single mono track, the synth generated sound by having sine waves printed onto 5 glass discs, each disc having 144 individual tracks which equates to 720 microtones!


According to wikipedia, “The tracks are arranged vertically from low frequencies at the bottom to high frequencies at the top. The convolved light is then projected onto the back of the synthesizer’s interface. This consists of a glass plate covered in opaque black “mastic” which constitutes a drawing surface upon which the user makes marks by scratching through the mastic, and therefore allowing light to pass through at that point. In front of the glass plate sits a vertical bank of photocells which send signals to band-pass amplifiers, each with dB trim switches. The glass plate can then be scanned left or right in front of the photocell bank in order to transcribe the drawing directly into pitches. In other words, it plays what you draw.”


From the Theremin archive: “The most curious properties of this synthesizer are its graphic method of coding sounds on the operating field, or score and the possibility of hearing the result immediately. For traditional composing, the operating field has a pitch scale similar to a piano keyboard, with a special coder for setting pitch, duration, volume and timbre. To obtain a more precise coding of the pitch, every semitone on the pitch scale can be divided into six parts.”


The ANS was used by Stanislav Kreichi, Alfred Schnittke, Edison Denisov, Sofia Gubaidulina and other Soviet composers but Edward Artemiev is one of the most well known exponenets. He was a graduate of the Moscow Conservatory, wrote his first composition in 1967 on the ANS and went on to become a prolific film composer, scoring over 100 films, but it was his work on the films of Andrei Tarkovsky that he became the most well known for.

There is a great article about Artmeiecvs collaboration with Tarkovsky on the enigmatically named blog ‘The Whole Goddam Mutha’s Gonna Blow’ (which ceased updates back in 2008) and it is fascinating reading (in fact you must go read the whole article) but I will quote a few parts:

“Practically having no temperation,’ wrote Artemiev, ‘the ANS exceeded most commercial synthesizer of that time (for example, Moog modular synthesisers) by its unlimited polyphony, and possibility of strictly scientific synthesis (knowing spectral composition of the timbre, it could be exactly reproduced on the keyboard of the device).” He has also commented: “A composer, working on the score of the synthesizer, is like a painter; he paints, retouches, erases and deposits code pictures, immediately carrying out an auditory control of the result. The sounds, being completely unusual by their spectra on the glass of the score. The device, which has a memory system, can remember these elaborations, so that to use them later. Having no limitations in the timbres and their changes, the ANS made it possible to use artificial voices and noises of various constructive processes.”

In 1970, he met Tarkovsky, who handed him the script of Solaris. It was to be the start of a curious relationship in which the two men rarely met, but when they did, it was generally at moments of common artistic inspiration of the highest order.

Artemiev: “Interestingly, that in the course of work on Solaris Andrei told me a lot about his vision on the role of the composer in his cinema. In the composer he sought not the author of music, but the organiser of audio space of the film. And what is more, he needed the composer for supporting with music some scenes which emotionally he could not manage or did not manage so far to bring to the audiences using the language of cinema.


And this is where the article gets even more interesting:

It is also interesting to note that in the late ’70s, when Stalker was made – a time, conversely, when post-production sound in Hollywood was becoming increasingly departmcntalizcd and fragmented – Artemiev was eradicating the boundaries between music and sound with his work on this film: many of Stalker’s otherworldly effects, which give the impression of subtly manipulated production sound, were actually created by him on the synthesizer, and therefore serve as both extension and counterpoint to the purely musical ideas.

“Tarkovsky often said to me that, for him, it was more important for the composer to create an overall conceptual idea for all the sound used in a film, rather than to simply write themes or melodies that accompany the images. In Mirror, for example, I had to create orchestral textures which were added to the natural, non-musical elements of the soundtrack, in order to give them a certain spiritual dimension that he wanted. The orchestra’s purpose here was to play the role of “living water” – a term in Russian folklore having to do with spiritual regeneration and renewal – in the entire picture there is only one actual music cue, in the usual sense of that term and even then I used variations on only a single chord- E-minor – with constantly changing instrumentation-and this sequence is ten minutes long!”

Here are two excerpts from Solaris, where you can hear the microtonal ANS at work:

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/zstashedbits/Solaris02.mp3|titles=Solaris score excerpt] [audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/zstashedbits/Solaris14.mp3|titles=Solaris score excerpt]

There are a few CDs (& a few very collectable LPs) available of works composed with the ANS. SoundOhm in Italy have a CD (with 3 audition streaming tracks) available called: VVAA Electroacoustic Music (IV) Archive Tapes, Synthesizer ANS 1964-1

And in 2004 the band Coil also composed & recorded an album CoilANS using it, releasing it as a box set

Detritus 18

> Phew! Another busy week: finished ambience premix Thursday/Friday last week, Foley premix Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday and now into FX premixes.. So are are getting closer to where the magic happens i.e. starting the final mix next week….



> Two great music documentaries that I only just got around to watching on youtube:
Synth Britannica and Kraut Rock – want to watch them offline? Try this


> Websites as drugs – the comparison between these two is spot on!


Hmmmm that about perfectly describes my experiences with tequila!


> Dancing about Architecture – the best sound installations of 2009


> The BBC want to document & save the sounds that surround us. You can help by contributing to an interactive sound map of the world!


> The Dutch classical ensemble Lunapark reinterprets some Aphex Twin tracks…
via resident advisor


> Buying yourself xmas presents already? D16 are having a half price sale, I’m picking up a copy of Toraverb, their lovely dreamy reverb


> In some down time I had a good listen through some field recordings by Michael Raphael on his Sepulchra blog & wow! For a starter have a listen to a frozen lake groaning or steam pipes clanking or these very strange sounding Ostrich chicks…. And speaking of frozen lakes, have a listen to Marc Namblards recordings here and Andreas Bicks ice hydrophone recordings here – what an amazing beautiful world of sound we live in!


> An infrasonic sound installation



> Think I might try the earplug exercise from Clean You Ears (perceptually, not literally)


> “My main reason for working, composing music is not to create pieces all the time but to remain ready when I can. One has to be ready for the moments when all conditions are perfect, when one is in harmony with the powers and then uses it in the most efficient way. One has to be awake and aware. Nearly all the problems existing in our society today are self-inflicted and the reason for them comes from the feeling of unreality of our lives that most people have. The remedy is simple, just wake up. Chance favors those who are prepared.”

From The method is science, the aim is religion by Zbigniew Karkowski

MaxforLive is Go!

I don’t usually post too many software announcements – there are plenty of other great sites for such things (eg KVR/ProTooler/CDM etc) but this one is too big to not comment on! My copy just finished downloading (Live 8.1 incl MaxforLIVe = 650MB download) so I will have a play tonight, but in the meantime there’s a great introductory article on the cycling 74 site; the edit button has been pressed which draws attention to many of the projects & applications already underway….


Purple wizards aside, the immediate good news for Pluggo owners is that 40 of the existing plugs have been updated & ported to ship with MaxforLIVE – fingers crossed that includes some of my favorite granular plugins! A couple of years ago I made some seriously gnarly electricity sounds for a film by processing arc welder zaps through the Wheat pluggo… Have a listen:

[audio:http://www.musicofsound.co.nz/zstashedbits/zappyTP.mp3|titles=zaps through wheat pluggo]

As an entirely passive user of MaxforLIVE you will be getting access to a rapidly growing number of new devices, but as the title of that cycling 74 article suggests the power of that simple little EDIT button is where the revolution begins. Robert Henke sums it up eloquently in this interview: “..people will come up with ideas which totally exceed what any one of us ever imagined people would do” and THAT is whats exciting: the immediate benefits are great, but just imagine how much the landscape will have changed 12 months from now…

For anyone who has never used Max/MSP it is deep, but one of the best aspects about learning it is the inline help, eg say you want to use a grid module in LIVE, you select it from the library & get info on it. You are then presented with a display of its attributes, which you can edit…. The same goes for a working Max patch, switch to edit mode & you can dissect and/or modify any element of the patch, again using inline help when you strike something you do not understand. Its not a dissimilar situation to tweaking eg a WordPress theme using CSS – I don’t know enough CSS to create a website, but I can find the elements I want to tweak & if necessary learn about their use & parameters before experimenting with them via trial & error…


And a rumour via twitter “I hear there is to be a Max for Live runtime soon, from what little I know, this could be very important.” – agreed! A whole new community will develop & inevitably (as with Pluggo) some plugins won’t be free, so a runtime version will open that community to people who have no interest in the edit button…

Papercraft Short

A Film for NZ Book Council, produced by Colenso BBDO & animated by Andersen M Studio – shame theres no credits… the processing on the voice is interesting, but to the total detriment of intelligibility in places….

update: answered on youtube:

Design and Animation:
Line Andersen / Andersen M Studio

Photography and Lighting:
Martin Andersen / Andersen M Studio

Sound Design:
Mikkel H. Eriksen / Instrument Studio

My Favorite Haiku

(click image for larger version)

Relatedly, there is a lovely series of photos here taken on what is referred to as Basho’s Trail, a path the poet walked while writing his “masterpiece, Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Far North), a travel narrative combining haiku with descriptions of the places and people he meets on a 1,200-mile journey through northern Honshu in 1689.”

Detritus 17

> This is brilliant:


> Analysis: Vinyl, Digital Sales Hit New High Marks


> Recording underwater ambiences


> 10 Music Industry Trends & Questions For 2009


>Multi-touch sound visualisation


> Love these retro looking Norra Norr headphones… but I’d still rather have a pair of Grados


At last! An interview with Dave Whitehead, sound designer on District 9


> We get enough earthquakes here to not need this, but someone has developed a ‘seismic reflector’ so you can remotely experience earthquakes from anywhere on the planet!
Make your own here



Hand Drawn Sounds

Norman McLaren via

SUI: Sound User Interface in Web Design

I’m kind of interested in the idea of user interface design from a sound perspective, as it is so rare to come across a website where it is used, sucessfully. So I’ll list a few sites that I think do make interesting use of sound but I would be very interested if there are any that you’ve come across in your travels?

> Autoplay Music
I’ve always hated websites that autoplay music at you, even if its a site for a band I’m interested in. Its interesting to read how myspace has removed autoplay due to the cost (up to $10 million a month) of streaming, but I personally consider the greater cost of autoplay to be that if I open a site and it autoplays, then if I cant mute it in under a second I will simply exit the site & not return. There are a number of reasons for this, first would be that I am usually already listening to music so autoplay causes a mashup of the worst kind. Second I usually have multiple sites open in tabs & may well open eg ten sites so they can load in the background while I read the first one. So if one starts autoplaying in the background & I have to go through looking for it, it becomes VERY irritating. So as far as I’m concerned Autoplay = FAIL. But a site that seems less irritating in tis use of autoplay is for the band Chew Lips. By using a SoundCloud embed to autoplay at least the source of the music is instantly apparent & identifiable, & therefore easy to stop. Theres no hunting around the site looking for where the designer has chosen to place a mute or volume control.
But does autoplay annoy you? Have you ever used it on a site? And if you have used autoplay, what did you set playback volume at? Considering most music is mastered within a dB of maximum level, having a song come blaring out at full volume seems to me to be a potentially bad idea… Ok so go check the Chew Lips site & see if (a) autoplay annoys you and (b) do you find the mute/playback control easily? Comment – I’m interested to know…


> Autoplay Ambience
The only reason to have autoplay of music on a site is to try to ‘push’ the music to you, so that hopefully you realise you like it & will leave it playing, but what other uses of Autoplay is there? Well this site for Nokia N96 cellphone uses a lovely track of night crickets as ambience and combined thematically with beautiful video footage & motion graphic design, sparse music, great sound effects & foley this is one example of autoplay ambiences that totally works for me. Check it out here


> Button & Mouseover Sounds
We’ve all seen Star Trek etc and are used to the idea of ‘high tech’ machines beeping, whether to alert us or simply as user feedback devices when activated. Similarly many cellphones default to beeping on user actions eg entering txt etc. But it is rare to see it used on a website, not that anyone wants to be ‘beeping’ on every click, but there is the potential to add to the character & feel of a site via use of sound… I can’t think of a site I’ve been to that literally uses beeps but I have noticed a number of Japanese sites that use tiny clicks on mouse clicks & I quite like the effect. A good example site of this technique is the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art – go give it a try. The advantage of such short percussive sounds is they are small in file size (ie load quickly) and being percussive they don’t annoy by clashing with music that you may already be listening to…


Another, more complex example site would be this one: Life Meter – its an impressive project, you enter your birth date in the form of YEAR, MONTH, DAY and it then calculates a number of statistics based on your life. The use of the ticking clock works for the concept, as does the backwards music, but if you choose eg Nutrition and move your cursor down over the rotating menu, every mouseover produces a resonant bleep which is nicely pitched to harmonise with the music… But also note that from the first instance of sound, there is a clearly defined SOUND: OFF option at the bottom right of the screen.


While there are plenty of bad examples of autoplay music on sites, its more difficult to find good examples so please feel free to comment with a link to any site that you think does use sound effectively. Theres also a relevant article here, titled ‘Why is that thing beeping?’ and via the comments in that article heres a few more sites worth visiting…

– ICAD – International Community of Auditory Display
– Sound in Product Design
– Sonic Interaction

Detritus 16

> Quick! The free TC Electronic Reverb Plugin offer expires soon!


> A trip to the Rycote Factory with a handy tip: when storing your fluffy for travel, turn it inside out!


> A chat with Vladislav Delay


> This research paper examined the web presence and sales data for 99 independent Australian artists distributed by Musicadium to identify whether any of the documented online activity corresponded with proportionally higher royalty returns to artists. via


> the first singing computer? “Daisy Bell” was composed by Harry Dacre in 1892. In 1961, the IBM 7094 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and the accompaniment was programmed by Max Mathews. This performance was the inspiration for a similar scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.


> Free doesn’t mean devalued


> Transformative vs Incremental change in the music industry: “Don’t be taken in by a dead industry that doesn’t care about your music”


> I love the look of this Vintage 70s PAIA mini organ synth thing – hope it goes to a good home



> When does nostalgia kick in? The ‘best of decade’ lists have already started!


> I love these animated 3D stereoviews of life in Meiji-period Japan



>Think: a handy OSX app to hide all the other apps & crap on your desktop from distracting you


>10 best practices of online promotion


What if Alfred Hitchcock had access to surround sound?


> Next time you’re hiring & checking peoples CVs, watch out for four legged applicants with a degree – I love the names of some of these ‘graduates’ eg Kitty O’Malley aka Spanky, Chester Ludlow, Colby Nolan, Tobias F. Schaeffer



> Five things that were on our minds when we first dreamt up The Auteurs
#1: Why can’t you watch In the Mood for Love in a café in Tokyo on your laptop?
#2: Why is it so hard to meet people who share the same love for Antonioni?
#3: Wouldn’t it be great to instantly send Tati’s Playtime to a friend if you think they needed it? (There’s nothing like film therapy!)
#4: Why do films on the internet just look awful?
#5: Why are we talking as if we were John Cusack in High Fidelity?
And that was that. We simply couldn’t resist the idea of everyone having their own film library… Your own little cinema, anytime, anywhere.
After all, not everyone can make it to the Cannes Film Festival—especially if you are a school teacher or you live in Winnipeg (or both)—but that doesn’t mean you can’t recite all of Kubrick’s films in reverse chronological order, or that you are not desperate to watch the latest Kitano film that’s definitely not going to be released in your local multiplex.
And that’s our point: Popular doesn’t always mean good. (By the way, we’ve worked hard on the quality of the streaming and we are very proud of it)

Check the Auteurs site out here and you can watch one of my favourite films (& scores by Ryuichi Sakamoto) Tony Takitani for US$3
The Auteurs site also has a good forum – I ahd a good chuckle at such topics as What do you think is on Werner Herzogs Ipod? and noted a few films to see/hear which have no score
What a great project! It deserves your support….

Music Machines – this Saturday!!

moog knob

This Saturday 21st at Galatos in Auckland is the first ever Music Machines: “This is your chance to come and play some of these rare vintage and modern synths, meet some of the collectors and learn about the history of electronic music machines in New Zealand” and what a collection!!!! Check here for an updated kit list, but it will also be fascinating to see/hear some of NZs synth luminaries performing including Tom Ludvigson (Trip to the Moon), Nigel Russell (Car Crash Set), Nathan Haines, Lewis McCallum, Tim William MPC Free-Jam & Stress Cadet plus the “Analog Allstars” live techno jam! Also checkout some of the videos on the Facebook page.
The event is being produced by Jason Fishwick (twitter) from Bluevibe Collective with the support of synth-heads from all over New Zealand. I wish I could be there but hopefully there will be lots of video & photos shot to document such a unique local event!

photo credit

Sound Continuum 2009

Sound Continuum is a conference for field recording & sound design being held in Tokyo November 21 – 23 and looks like an excellent line up of participants…


More info & registration here – I wish I could attend as I would love to hear the Kiyoshi Kurosawa talk! Hmmm maybe next year…. I wonder if there is any chance of a webcast?


21st / November / 2009 : DAY1

@Yokohama Bashamichi Campus 1F Hall,
Graduate School of Film and New Media Tokyo University of the Arts

13:00 – 14:00 Larry Sider 『Sound Changes the Image』

14:15 – 15:15 [Keynote Speech] Richard Ranft 『Sound Archives and Field Recordings』

15:30 – 16:30 Keiko Torigoe

16:45 – 17:45 [Interview Session] Seigen Ono x Junichi Konuma『How the sound should be recorded』

22nd / November / 2009 : DAY2

@Yokohama Bashamichi Campus 1F Hall,
Graduate School of Film and New Media Tokyo University of the Arts

13:00 – 14:00 Minoru Hatanaka 『Field Recording and Sound Observation』

14:15 – 15:15 [Keynote Speech] Michel Chion 『AUDIO-VISION AND SOUND』

15:30 – 16:30 Ho Tzu Nyen 『Some Notes on Sound and Being Here』

16:45 – 17:45 [Interview Session]Kiyoshi Kurosawa x Takefumi Tsutsui

23rd / November / 2009 : DAY3

@Shinko Pia(International festival for Arts and Media CREAM)

15:30 -16:15 Michel Chion : 『WITHOUT PROJECT』/ 『SAMBA FOR RAINY DAY』

16:15 -17:00 Ho Tzu Nyen+Yasuhiro Morinaga+Stefano Pilia : Japan Premiere 『EARTH』

17:00 -17:40 Hiroyuki Nagashima 『Magic Memo』

17:45 -18:30 Tomomi Adachi 『Voice, Electronics, LIve-Video, Performance on Futurismo sound poem』

(thanks for tip Matteo!)

Music from the Fog

That’s a beautiful metaphor and again I have cinema to thank for first making me aware of a composers work – for me, Philp Glass will always make me think of where I first encountered him: Koyannasqatsi. I also stumbled across this video, which is quite unintentionally funny: You too can play like Philip Glass!?

And while on the Philip Glass tip, I can reccomend this link to Glassbreaks: a mash up album of Philip Glass and hip hop by DJ BC. And it is a lot better than that description!
I’m not sure who said it, but I remember ages ago an artist saying how they liked to attend concerts by minimalist composers, not because they liked the music particularly but because they got really really bored… And they found it hugely inspiring because a lot of their best ideas came to them while they were bored. Its an interesting subject in this world of instant-gratification; the joy of boredom

Detritus 15

> Phew what a busy week… I finally finished 3 months work & output all the ambiences & effects for the premix of Taika Waititis film BOY starting next week. My monster ProTools session saved self-contained is 43.5GB, not counting the Quicktimes!! I thankfully have a fibre connection to the mix stage at Park Road Post & it only took 20 minutes to transfer 55GB across the network! Gotta love technology – that would have taken days a few years ago! So next week is dialogue predub in one theatre & atmos predub in the other… Following week is foley & FX predubs, week 3 is final mix, week 4 is screening, fixes & print master… And then its pretty close to Xmas and the end of another year! So dont be surprised if my posting gets a bit erratic as my free time becomes a scarce commodity… But mixing? Serious fun!!!!


>Surprising results in the New Digital Music Software Popularity Ranking – ProTools number 1, ableton LIVE number 6!


> A handy battery life comparison between 16 portable/handheld recorders



> Waves released LoAir; a subharmonic synth plugin (Native US$100, TDM US$130) Once I get some free time in the studio I will do a direct comparison between a real DBX Subharmonic Synth 120XP, the LowEnder plugin and Waves LoAir… LowEnder coincidentally just released freestanding native versions for Mac VST/AU and Windows VST – check it out here, or my review of it here


> Whats after the credits? A handy site to check if there are extra scenes after the credits…


> Three reasons why people fail (hint: passion, faith & learning nail them)



> Funny artwork from LP covers



> I’m buying a lottery ticket this weekend and when I win I am buying a Synthi from this Veima Auction although if I win the top prize I might get this Synthi 100 as well (starting bid US$45,000) My other picks would be the Quantec QRS Reverb (I have a few lovely IRs from one) and somewhat more afforable; this very cool Tim Kaiser Circuit Bent Delay


> MaxforLIVE is now in public beta & already we’re seeing some excellent applications ported, for examples Strettas Obo as well as StepFilter and Polygome. I fully appreciate open source projects, but I also really hope he and the many others who will undoubtedly develop & evolve creative MaxforLIVE plugins receive the rewards they deserve!
Also worth bookmarking/subscribing to is Nick Rothwells MaxforLIVE site which is to become “an online library of free Max for Live Devices” – excellent! These are very exciting times for ableton LIVE users!

Great Chorus!

silly fun! via

Detritus 14

> Ambiences through 15,000 speakers? Sounds like more fun than the Disneyland that you think you know… & interesting use of white noise to seperate locations & their soundtracks…


> myspace falling traffic = 100 million less from advertising? Ouch! I’ve seen brand new TV series pulled from primetime for far, far less than that…..


> Speaking of ads – if you want to watch a youtube video without all the ads & links, try this


> Album stamps for the UK – nice one! I look forward to seeing Tall Dwarf stamps in NZ


> iPhone apps for Film/TV industry, including timecode calculators, action logging & sun position!


> A youtube video that breaks your browser? You have to go there to see it…


> Business cards are so old school nowadays, but I think it pays to have one – especially if attending conferences, workshops or travelling…. And how could you not love this one for a piano store? No doubt the synthi version is on its way…


>I still haven’t done the PT8 upgrade (its on my list for downtime in January) but heres a handy list of the 3 most annoying ProTools 8 bugs…. eg Performing any of the following tasks WILL ERASE YOUR UNDO HISTORY…. WTF???


> Ever felt like time travelling back to the 1950s so you could play in an electroacoustic studio? Now you virtually can with Berna! Check the review at Waveformless blog, & check out the demo:


> I really like the concept of the Buddha Machine – I own two of the first gen ones… But, why is there not a solid state version? One that I can upload my own loops to? Its just a tiny MP3 looper, amp & speaker, surely? Well, in the meantime you can always try the virtual wall of Buddha Machines or the iPhone app


> John Cage performs Water Walk on TV in 1960 (skip to 05.43 if you are the impatient sort)


> Best 100 jazz albums?


> Listen to lightning with a Tesla Radio aka crystal radio (& make your own)


> Tonewheel optical synthesis – a history….

Soundworks: Profiling the Sound Oscar Contenders

The Soundworks Collection is a new site dedicated to profiling the Oscar contenders for Sound Editing & Sound Mixing via video interviews & mini-documentaries. Check out the site here or follow them on twitter for updates…

The 2010 Academy Award nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 and the actual Academy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 7.


Extreme Turntablism: Otomo Yoshihide

Otomo Yoshihide is a legend in the Japanese noise scene, but should he ever come to NZ he sure isn’t borrowing my turntables for a gig!

I picked up a copy of his DVD ‘Multiple Otomo” when I was last in Tokyo and while some of his experimental turntablism is fairly demanding to listen to (ever seen someone ‘shred’ on turntables?) this particular piece ‘Plucks’ just astounded me for its beautiful minimalism:

While on the other extreme….

The Sound of Courtship (Spiders that is!)

This is kinda fascinating, for the combination of ritual & technology, including an accelerometer capable of recording spider footsteps – if you are really impatient, skip to 4’00” but the setup & back story is worth it… And for my money I think the robot female spider would be more into it if the male did some filter sweeps on those great sounds!
Perfect for a Friday afternoon – thanks for the tip Leyton!

And another (thanks Richard!)

Proposed new Scoring Stage for Wellington

In the paper today: “A $20 million digital centre, where the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will record musical scores for films, is planned for Wellington.”

scoring stage

This is exciting news, I had a meeting with them a few months back when they were doing a lot of industry consulting & apart from total enthusiasm for the project the one proviso I had was that it must not be elitist & given the right support a young composer scoring a short film should ideally be able to access it… So its great to read: “An internship programme and finishing school will be part of the development, on the corner of Taranaki and Abel Smith streets, and is to be completed by 2011.”

Currently when film scores are recorded in NZ, the Michael Fowler centre (a public performance venue) is used & a temporary control room has to be installed every time, as was done for Under The Mountain recently recording Victoria Kellys score and similarly last year recording Havier Navarrettes score for Laundry Warrior.




Trustee Elizabeth Kerr said it was dedicated to creating a facility that could help New Zealand be seen as a total solution for film production, right through to musical scoring. “At the moment we are constrained by not having a state-of-the-art facility,” Ms Kerr said.

I think an important aspect of this development will be the idea of the NZ Symphony Orchestra rehearsing & recording in the same space – it would be permanently rigged for recording, so every rehearsal could be a potential recording session which is ideal for training the interns…

It is so great to see a city get behind & support its creative industries. Sadly in New Zealand it seems sport is the predominant art-form (& religion) and the vast sums being spent on the Thugby World Cup makes this seem even more important i.e. a permanent addition to the cultural & creative landscape – god speed!


Mike Patton and Luciano Chessa test out the reconstructed futurist noise machines for the “Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners” concert held recently at the Novellus Theater in Yerba Buena Center for the Arts…

More info on the originals here

noise intoners

thanks for the tip Simon!

The Vintner’s Luck – Score

I’m looking forward to seeing The Vintner’s Luck, a new NZ film by Niki Caro based on the book by Elizabeth Knox… A local arts website, The Big Idea had an interview with the director recently & as a competition to win tickets to see the film they provided the opportunity to ask her about the film. So of course I asked her about the score!

TP: “I hear the film has a beautiful, subtle score – who was the composer & what was their initial brief?”

NZ: “Hi Tim. The composer is Antonio Pinto from Brazil. I had admired his work for Walter Salles (‘Behind the Sun’)and Fernando Meirelles (City of God). The initial brief was to create a score that was very human. To do this we concentrated on instruments that were plucked or blown, that subtly expressed the human body at work. Our budget was very small, so the score is created by very few musicians, rather than an orchestra. It’s not a big Hollywood orchestral score, which would have been inappropriate as it’s not a big Hollywood movie. Neither is it a period drama in the BBC style. Antonio’s approach was very passionate, very sensual and very inventive. The first musical notes you hear in the film, for instance, are very haunting and it’s hard to determine what instrument it is. This is because the notes were created by Antonio running a finger around a wine glass. These notes were sampled and the motif is used in key moments throughout the score.”

Heres the trailer:

MaxforLIVE pricing & release dates..

The Ableton site now has release dates & pricing up for MaxforLIVE here – releases November 23 and is US$300 to buy or US$99 if you already own Max 5, which I do so WAHOOO!!!! If you dont want to wait you can download the public beta here


I think this is the most important new feature ever added to LIVE, solely because it makes the software open to developmental experimentation. A long time ago I bought both Max/MSP & Jitter as well as Pluggo and I even managed to make a functioning pluggo which wasn’t too disimilar to the one above in concept – basically a DDL with a LPF in the feedback path… And it worked! And I learned lots in the process of making it but also came to realise you need to be committed to learning MaxMSP to really achieve complex tasks with it. Oh how I wish I was 18 years old, had just got my first laptop & MaxforLIVE! Well almost…

Relatedly I had a revelation about MaxMSP, when I was in Berlin for the Berlinale Talent Campus. One day I left early & went to the photography museum where there was an excellent installation by a well known photographer (I can’t remember his name – i’ll update this when I do) and while the photos were beautiful the installation was just fantastic! It was in a space the size of a tennis court & the photos were projected onto huge canvases, freely hanging from the ceiling. They were arranged in a big slow spiral so you sort of entered this enclosed space… There was an accompanying drone-esque soundtrack but I suddenly noticed that if you went up close to the canvases the soundtrack would change: there were sensors tracking the viewers position!!!

On the way leaving the exhibition I picked up a copy of the brochure about the exhibition & there in the credits was someone tagged as Max/MSP/Jitter developer!!! AHAR!!!!! Until then I had been astonished that a photographer had invested the time & energy to learn & implement such technology, but reading that catalog made me realise it was a collaborative art…. By the time I got back to NZ I was determined to find an experienced MaxMSP programmer to help me develop some ideas I had. I had used MaxMSP enough to know I needed to go away for 3 years & learn it properly to do what I wanted, and 3 spare years I simply do not have. So I put ads in the local online arts forums but sadly it was 12 months before anyone replied & that was from a person living in Amsterdam & while I like the idea of working remotely, there simply is no substitute for talking & brain storming in person, in real time so I didn’t pursue it with them….

Three more years pass & I get an email from a young guy who has just graduated in Design & who lives in Wanganui (a town about 3 hours from me) & who’s final year project was a MaxMSP audio application! And this is total serendipity, he was coming to Wellington that weekend to go to the same concert I was going to (Rhythm & Sound) – perfect! So we met up, I explained my ideas & now six months later we are close to having a finished application! Its been a great experience working on a custom piece of software and especially challenging shifting from the ‘i have a dream’ mode to the necessity of specifying features & implementation… I’ve happily funded Joe, the developers, time although we have probably both learned a lot about realistic time frames; its an evolutionary process.
And no its not an audio progam! But thats about all I’ll say, other than it also will never be realeased – its sole purpose is to enable a way of working for me on an art project that currently is either impossible or incredibly, painstakingly labour intensive, to the point of psychological RSI! You wont ever get to use my little program, but you will definitely get to experience the results of it, sooner or later…. But enough about me, here’s a demo of Joe’s graduation project, one little taste of what will be possible with MaxforLIVE… And I will also say this: whoever makes a quad or 5.1 panner for ableton LIVE using MaxforLIVE I am happy to reward however they see fit, within reason!

Joe Salmon, UI/IU

New Libraries: Handbells & Bowed Gamelan

Boulder Sounds have just released a lovely 3 octave hand bell library – check it out here – there are some beautiful demo MP3s there but if there is one piece of music that has inspired me to part with the cash to own this library it comes from the soundtrack to Mathew Barneys film Drawing Restraint composed by his partner Bjork, the piece called Cetacea

[audio:http://musicofsound.co.nz/zstashedbits/cetacea.mp3|titles=Cetacea by Bjork]

Also check out Boulders free sound libraries as there are some interesting freebies for Kontakt, EXS24, Structure etc…

SonicCouture also just released a Bowed Gamelan library too… I hope they next do a Javanese Gamelan library, the softer tonality is hugely contrasting with the Balinese….

Ah such beautiful sounds!

Detritus 13

> I never wear a tie, but if I was to it would have to be one of these made from recycled tape

> Steampunk synth mods

> Take the IMSTA music software piracy survey here

> A memorized backwards/sung forwards project by Tara Bush – check out her blog

> 16 rules to live by

> There are plenty of photo collections on flickr of people showing all the nifty gadgets in their camera bags, and they can be handy eg I bought a tiny spirit level that fits in the hot shoe of my camera (handy for shooting QTVRs & levelling tripod) because i saw it in someoens bag in that photo stream but this one made me laugh out loud!

> A Graphic Look At The Rise Of Digital Music – click image for larger version

Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers – HELP THEM!!!!

Ok I am waiting for approval to embed the high resolution vimeo video of this, in the meantime heres a youtube version:

I know I’ve posted this before, but if you havent seen it you really must! AND even better you can help them make their first feature film; the same team are making Sound of Noise, a musical thriller & by investing even as little as EU10 you can become a “coprod” – more info here! Here is the synopsis for the new film:

Sound of Noise – synopsis by Jim Birmant from touscoprod on Vimeo.

Brilliant! They need to raise EU125,000 to complete post production – so far they’ve raised EU10,695 which is 9% of way there…. Right! Next payday I’m contributing to their cause!