Over the holiday break I had a bit of spare time so took the opportunity to make a new Eve related music track. I decided to make it a bit of an old school EDM number to reflect the age of the game. I borrowed a few Aura clips naturally. I called it the Learning Cliff so I guess in a way the music represents that journey. Anyway, it was good to be able to get the chance to make this. Time is such a short commodity right now. If you have the time you can give it a listen if you want :-)
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
Well I did say I recorded it in my last post. My second ever game video that documents my complete ineptitude at POS building (and making videos). I threw a quick soundtrack in for good measure. Anyway, enjoy.. or not :)
And the soundtrack can be found here:
Monday, 10 August 2015
The Making of "Scout"
After finishing the Nova Haven project, Scout posed very different challenges. The hard part of Nova Haven was finding the right inspiration. Once I get the idea that works, the execution is pretty straightforward. Not so with Scout. Because it is a parody of an existing well known song, it will always be measured against that. The vocals have to be clear because it is a parody and the backing music needs to be a credible representation of the original. What could possibly go wrong?
This all started when Mynxee (CEO of Signal Cartel) got bullied into singing "Shout" by Tears for Fears on mumble. In a frankly uncredo like fashion this was recorded and put into the public domain. I put a musical backing to her dulcet tones and sent it back her. Surprisingly, she liked it so the idea was born to do a parody version of Shout - Scout. Mynxee wrote some excellent lyrics and I had to come up with a guide track for her victims to sing against.
The first decision was identify which version of Shout to work with. The Bristish release was nearly 6 minutes long, the German/Japanese releases are 5 minutes long and it was 4 minutes in the US. I opted to work with the UK version but cut two sections of instrumental bridge mainly because I never liked those parts anyway.
The second decision was to consider whether to use the original track and doctor it or construct my own version. I opted for the latter. The original track was recorded around 1984 onto tape. The quality is actually quite poor. If you listen to beginning of the original on YouTube, there is a lot of his and noise and the mix is quite muddy. Nostalgia gives us a clarity that never really existed. Most of my vinyl records (showing age here) were scratched. But I don't remember the jumps and scratches - just the songs. Unfortunately we are no so tolerant now in the digital age.
The original song was also mixed aggressively resulting in a very powerful sound. This worked well because the singers had strong voices, belting out the vocals with gusto and could compete with the powerful backing. The capsuleers of Signal Cartel however don't have time to train Music and Singing to Level V. So it was evident that more control on the backing would be needed so that their voices would not be overwhelmed. In the end, the only part of the original song I used was the opening triangle and detuned bottle percussion loop at the beginning and this runs all through the song as it does in the original.
Constructing the backing track from scratch was a bit of a detective story in itself but I think I managed to capture most of it. The percussion track was the most interesting. The original starts with a drum machine which is later augmented with a real drummer playing on top. So essentially I had to try and make it sound less like a human in the beginning and more like a human in the end, but not overwhelm the vocals as the original would have done (and was intended to do as part of the climax) Stuff like this messes with your head.
The vocals were always going to be challenging. Each were recorded locally on Audacity by the singers concerned. From a technical and sound quality perspective, people obviously use different quality microphones and had different background acoustics (including a barking dog!). Then came the musical interpretation. This included different phrasing, tuning, tempo and lyrics. So I spent a bit of time editing these to blend them together. What I must say is that everyone's contribution was invaluable and added to the overall sound. So well done for having the guts to sing (or bark)!
When bringing the music and the vocals together, you tend to know already what is and isn't working. Novices tend to boost something they like to fix a problem. While that might work, more often I use a subtractive approach. If you can't hear something clearly the it is likely that some other sound frequency is clashing with it. The power chords on the guitars where the biggest offenders in that regard and had to be toned down (but kept the same volume). The vocals needed to be beefed up using a mixture of compression, reverb, delay and a light unison effect.
Similar to mixing but takes the viewpoint of the to device or format the final mix is going to be listened on. What might sound great on my earbuds my sound terrible on someone elses headphones. And Mp3 format degrades the sound as part of the compression. It is my weakest area to be honest. I don't have a set of neutral sounding monitors and I suffer from tinnitus in one ear anyway. So I compromise. I do have a set of really cheap and bad earbuds so I use them as a reference set. If it sounds half decent on those it usually sounds pretty good on more reasonable speakers.
As I have said before, the software I use is Reason 8.3. It's an acquired taste but I have always found it flexible and allows you to concentrate on the music rather than worrying about how to make something work . The main difficulty I experienced was with my laptop dying (motherboard failure) and the drama around getting it fixed which took about three weeks.
Anyway, I am really pleased with the result and hopefully Signal Cartel are too. It could not have been done without them and they deserve all the credit because at the end of the day, it was their performance and ideas that made it what it is. Well done.
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Music has been taking up most of my Eve time recently. I have been working on a couple of projects. For one of them, I was flattered to be approached by the awesome guys at Nova Haven and The Neocom to do something for them. This is the result:
Firstly, I was delighted to accept the offer. Nova Haven is one of those entities in Eve that gives more than it takes. It is a young PVP corp led by KiraTsukimoto for newbros. It offers training and has a smattering of seasoned vets to show you the ropes. Additionally the Neocom, which helped spawn Nova Haven is a great show that doesn't shower you with complexity but does capture essence of what is going on in Eve. I love the chemistry between the presenters. They have also be very generous in their comments about me so of course I wanted to do something for them. But what to do?
It wasn't much more than "do some of your magic Luobote". So no pressure there then :/ I lurked on their channel to see what they liked. Musically, it should be guitar based and not Trance was the sense of what I got. Now the first band I ever saw live was Kraftwerk which might give you a sense of my musical comfort zone. So I am worried. Guitars also don't translate well in a digital environment and can sound really mechanical and false. At which point I started getting a migraine...
Whatever I chose to do had to be unique to Nova Haven. Something that would identify them and they could identify with. In my mind it should be something that could be used to support one of their videos as a minimum but also stand up in its own right. It must have changes in feel and edit points for action shots but also tell a story.
My start point was to scrape some samples off the Neocom show with the idea being to get a snapshot of the banter, the character and the purpose of Nova Haven. I don't know whether the NEVAH say Never is really their call sign but it should be. I decided to run that particular sample through a Vocoder to make it more robotic. Another "Nova Haven" sample caught my attention because it sounded like a PA announcement in a shopping mall. That germinated the idea of confused and nervous Newbro entering the Captain's Quarters, hearing the PA Announcement to join Nova Haven and to go into action.
I added elevator music, crowd noise, footsteps and a couple of door slams along with some tense breathing to try and relay that mental scene. I decided the guitars had to sound raw and slightly mistimed with each other because well newbros. I used synths to emphasise that we are flying spaceships in space and there is always an ethereal nature to that. Balancing synths with guitars is never easy. Both demand the limelight so I tried to give them different complementary roles during the course of the song.
The guitars themselves evolve from standard American style power chords in the beginning to British Pete Townsend style wind-milling at the end as the synths get more dense. The synth themselves also evolve adopting a number of different European styles along the way. In a way this is meant to represent the diversity of Nova Haven but fundamentally it was about getting the sounds to work together that seemed to work in my head at least for each phase of the song.
I played an early version to Kira and Proto who were positive and had some good feeback. Proto liked the point where the guitars drop for the lead synth to enter (as do I!). So I twisted the knife a bit more and made it more pronounced by muting the back track and teased a bit with the later drops. Sorry Proto :)
Anyway it was a blast making it and the guys seem to like it so its a result. Now to finish working on the other project...
Monday, 6 July 2015
Busy, busy, busy. I've got lots to say but no time to say it. Again, I have barely logged into Eve but this is entirely due to doing Eve things out of game. I did manage to catch the end of the Sarum Prime Drifter Incursion. Well done CCP for doing that. My Vigil Lore ambulance chaser was ideal for the job so pleased about that.
The out of game activities revolve around a couple of music projects I somehow got involved in. Both are quite challenging for different reasons. One is a very specific piece and it imposes quite a lot of creative constraints. This is not a bad thing. You have a target to aim at and an expectation to meet. So while you don't have to worry about developing an idea you do have to be disciplined in its execution.
The other piece is completely different. Essentially a blank sheet. A sort of "Go ahead and do something Luobote". So the struggle here is getting an idea to run with. This is always hard and inevitably a few attempts get binned after the good night's sleep test. The killer vibe can turn into a "What the hell were you thinking!" in the cold light of day. Once I get something that seems viable the rest tends to follow quite naturally. I think I have reached that point now with this piece (but it is a bit left-field so we shall see). In theory it is now just a matter of filling in the spaces.
Its quite good skipping between the two and it has consumed most of my spare time. Quite what the clients will think of them I am not sure. But if they think they are half decent then likely you will get a chance to listen to them too. I really enjoy doing this regardless of the outcome. Attempting to be creative in a game of destruction just appeals. But I also get to meet people across the game who I wouldn't necessarily come across.
I have been asked a couple of times about the equipment I use. Hardware is just a Window's laptop with some medium priced ear-buds that seem to have a fairly flat response. I wish I had a man cave but domestic erm.. pressures ensure that is never going to be a realistic possibility. The software I use primarily is Reason 8. It's not the go to choice for a lot of musicians but I really like the workflow. I used to work in an 8 track reel to reel studio a long time ago. Anyone who has done that will get why I use Reason. For vocals I sometimes use Melodyn. I am not entirely happy with Melodyn but I haven't come across something that is as quick and easy to use that doesn't involve a mortgage.
Anyway once I have got those pieces done I will hopefully be clambering back into my spaceships in what will then be a post FozzieSov world
Sunday, 24 May 2015
The problem with my plans are firstly, they are in my head. This means they only ever make sense within the confines of my skull. Secondly, they are more of a vision than real plan. The detail is always something that can be worked out later and consequently irritatingly vague to most sane observers. Explaining the master plan right now isn't going to help anyone. So I won't. But I will talk about a little step on the way.
A few weeks back I embarked on a Interceptor training spree. I don't usually go into Null much. I prefer Wormholes. The Russian roulette aspect is more appealing than the relative safety of Null to an extent. But the travel time was also a factor. The Astero is an agile craft but bouncing around bubbles is a pain. Interceptors seemed to be an answer and you can just about equip them to scan and hack. Today was the day of the great launch and maiden flight of my new Ares. I'm not sure if the Ares will be the final racial hull I will settle on but I just happened to be trained up in that first. I made a flight from Hek to B-R5RB in homage to the hilarious roam that didn't get there I happened to participate in last week. About 33 Jumps. It took me 20 minutes. You can see the flight below:
Its the first video I have ever recorded so i apologize about the quality. Objective achieved though. I will play with it over the next few days. Other parts of my convoluted thinking will emerge as soon as I figure out how to make it human readable.
Finally, big thanks to the guys over at Crossing Zebras for letting me loose on their site.