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AES 138 Meet the Winners: Cat 3 Fei Yu

AES 138 Meet the Winners: Cat 3 Fei Yu

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? What audio field are you in? What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?

My name is Fei Yu, from China, graduated from McGill University, sound recording department. Before I went to Canada in 2013. I worked in China Film Group as a music editor for almost three years. 

When I was 16, I had to submit a recording of my performing as part of a piano competition-entrance application. My teacher took me to the studio of the Central Conservatory of Music , where I discovered the work of an recording engineer was so cool. The engineer covered up my mistakes and I founded that how he placed the microphone totally changed the sound. The process was like a reproduction of music, which I was really interested to learn. Thus, when I graduated from high school, I applied to attend the Department of Music Recording and Film Scoring of Beijing Film Academy in 2006.  That’s how I started my career.

Are you a musician yourself? What instruments do you play and in what musical context?

Yes! I started learning the piano when I was about 8 and won several top awards at piano competitions. 

Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What was it inspired by? How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry? 

The project that I submitted is called The End, I see it as a gift for myself to celebrate my graduation. That’s why it’s called the end.  The music itself is adapted by a Chinese traditional love story, and my biggest challenge is how to blend Chinese traditional instrument into big orchestra. 

Before this big session, I started to read the score, get the basic idea that where I want to put the musicians, where I want to put the microphone to make it sounds more balanced. I produced a chart with all of the details of the session like how much time I will spend on each piece, which piece to record first to allow the musicians to warm up. The details for the orchestration, which piece need to overdub, etc.

Regarding the recording technology, Blumlein is still my first choice since I want the precise image. For the final mix, the big orchestra part, I used mostly the main pair, outriggers, room microphone with tiny bit of spot mics and adding Lexicon medium random hall as artificial reverb.

What was your most significant/funny/inspiring experience as an audio engineer? 

Quit my job, go to McGill University totally change my world. Spending all of my times in studio with my amazing classmate and our professor is definitely unforgettable experience.

What’s your advice for engineers who are just starting out?

Stay hungry, stay foolish

Tech talk: What are your favourite pieces of equipment (microphones, outboard, plugins), and why?

MDWEQ5 Parametric EQ , it’s my professor George Massenburg who invented this   amazing tools. It’s accurate, clean with no distortion. Mixing is like cooking, we choose our ingredients, use our tools to mix it and cook it.  

Can you name one or multiple of your favourite recordings or productions and tell us why you like them/what you like about them?

I am super lucky that could be involved with an amazing project with my professor Richard King who won several Grammy awards. We recorded two albums in Beijing in 2014 summer with a traditional Inner Mongolia band called “ Anda Union”. That’s definitely one of my favourite recordings.  It’s always amazing experience that spending times with a group of musicians and throat singers, see how they approach the music with all of cool ideas. The recording sounds super natural and with all of the details. The album will be released this year. Hope everybody could buy it and love our traditional music.

What do you like about the AES? How does it help you to become a better and more successful audio engineer? 

AES is definitely a good platform for all of the audio engineer sharing our ideas , getting more updated tech news, meeting with people in our field. 

Tell us about your favourite experiences at the 138th AES Convention in Warsaw!

I really enjoyed all of the moment in Warsaw.  Meeting and talking with all of the talented audio people really make me learned a lot. 

What is your favourite frequency?

Really don’t have something specific, I guess I like the full spectrum of frequency.

What do you do when you’re not in the studio or doing anything music related?

Spending time with my friends and my family, go to the concert hall , movie theatre . Shopping, cooking, etc.  You know, girls. HAHA

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Somewhere over the rainbow, haha .  Hopefully still in audio field, and still eager to learn everything and do what I really like to do. 

Could you provide us with some closing comments?

Do what you really like, stay hungry, stay foolish.


Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

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AES 138 Meet the Winners: Cat 3 Will Shaw

AES 138 Meet the Winners: Cat 3 Will Shaw

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? What audio field are you in? What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?

I study Music Technology Systems at the University of York, UK; the course is essentially Electronic Engineering with a focus on the design of technology for use in the music industry. I've always loved writing music, my desire to improve the quality of my music led me to become more interested in music technology. I have quite a mathematical background which sparked my interest in the engineering side of music technology.

Are you a musician yourself? What instruments do you play and in what musical context?

Yes! I started learning the piano when I was about 8 and still continue to play it to this day. My sight reading's always been pretty bad, so I mostly just improvise - which is more fun anyway! Pretty much all of the music production that I'm involved in is stuff that I've written and more often than not, I begin the writing process on the piano.

Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What was it inspired by? How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry? 

'Dancing on Our Own' is a track that my friend and I wrote and recorded around a year ago. I recorded the vocals in my attic, since that was the most suitable location I had available, with a Rode NT1-A that I bought off eBay for £50. I didn't have a microphone stand or even a pop-shield (we made one out of an old pair of tights!) - so I had to make the best of a very amateur recording setup!

I didn't really have a clear idea about how it should sound at the time, so I went through several different versions before creating the final version, which is just a combination of the better parts from the previous versions. 

Accidents happen: What was your biggest mistake in a production and what did you do to redeem the situation?

I was once recording some vocals using an AKG C-414, I'd never used one before and was very pushed for time. I played it back through the studio's speakers and thought the high and low end were lacking slightly, but I wasn't too worried as it sounded okay.

When I got home and listened to it through my reference headphones, I realised I had recorded the entire song with the microphone the wrong way round! I didn't have time to get the vocalist in to re-record the song, so I just used loads of EQ to correct it. The song was actually a piece of coursework and the marker didn't pick up on it - so I guess I got away with it!

 What’s your advice for engineers who are just starting out?

My best advice is to know your tools; read the manuals, experiment with them. This will enable you to work much more quickly; it's far better to have 3 or 4 plug-ins that you know like the back of your hand and use on every track of a mix than to have 30 plugins that you ... Of course it's nice to have a good selection of plugins anyway, for when you need something a bit special/different. 

Tech talk: What are your favourite pieces of equipment (microphones, outboard, plugins), and why?

The plugin I use most is Wave Arts' Trackplug, it's a channel strip comprising of an EQ, a gate and a couple of compressors and while it's not particularly ground-breaking or anything, it covers most of my basic mixing needs. More importantly, I've used it for long enough to know exactly how it works so I usually know what I've got to do to get a good sound from a given input, which speeds up my workflow.

Although it's a bit of an obvious choice, one of my favourite synths is the Minimoog. I've only played with one a few times, but I always come away from it feeling inspired. I think that it being monophonic forces me to come up with some great ideas, that I'd never have had if I was using something polyphonic.

Can you name one or multiple of your favourite recordings or productions and tell us why you like them/what you like about them?

Okay, here are a few tracks that I've been listening to recently that I think have great production:

Owl City - I Found Love: Owl City is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, but putting that aside, I love how clean the production is on this track. The electric piano, electric guitar and drum sounds just sound perfect together.

Hunter Hayes - Tattoo: The high end is the thing that impresses me most about this track, I'm not sure what it is but everything in high end sounds tight and combines together perfectly.

What do you like about the AES? How does it help you to become a better and more successful audio engineer? 

I always come away from an AES lecture with new ideas and a greater insight about a subject, which leaves me feeling inspired. It's one thing to know how to use your tools, but it's another thing to know exactly how they work, their limitations, and the thought behind their design. It's also great to experience all of this among a community of other like-minded people.

What is your favourite frequency?

I've been thinking about this all day! I'm going to say 41.203Hz in the hope that no one else has! For anyone who's sad enough to look it up (like me) that's the frequency of E1, which is (in my opinion) the note to use if you want to create an earth-shaking sub-bass that most decent speaker systems can actually reproduce.

What do you do when you’re not in the studio or doing anything music related?

When I'm not doing music I'm either eating, watching TV, socialising or doing some sort of exercise (as I can't seem to sit still for more than an hour!).

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Hopefully I'll be making some sort of living from music production, but who knows!

Could you provide us with some closing comments?

Well, I can't pass up the opportunity for some free promotion! You can listen to my entry on my website: http://www.willshaw.net/ 

 

Find out more about Will at http://www.willshaw.net/ 

Links to his cometition work can be found here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGAloLulo7g

https://soundcloud.com/willshawmusic/dancing-on-our-own-feat-lizzie-white

 

 


Posted: Friday, July 24, 2015

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AES 138 Meet the Winners: Cat 2 Sondre Forselv

AES 138 Meet the Winners: Cat 2 Sondre Forselv

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where and what do you study? What audio field are you in?What initiated your passion for audio? When did it start?

I am 23 years old, from Narvik, a small town north of the arctic cirlce in Norway. I grew up playing guitar and piano in various rock bands. I also played the trumpet and baritone horn in the local marching band. At high school I studied music which taught me a lot about music theory, history and developing musical style and portraying emotions through music.

My field in audio is music production as technician and producer. I do most genres of music, but I have still yet to be involved in a hip-hop/rap-session. The important thing for me is that the music speaks to me and has an emotional impact, not necessarily the genre.

I recently finished an undergrad degree at Westerdals Oslo ACT in music production. This fall I am starting grad school in Trondheim at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology where I will study for a degree in music technology.

I was introduced to music production in 2011 when I studied at a one-year boarding school. This is where I learned to use ProTools and I immediately fell in love with the software. This is where I learned that creating music is not always linear or chronological, and you can actually take parts of the song you are recording and edit or duplicate these onto other parts of the song. For me this was like magic.

Are you a musician yourself? What instruments do you play and in what musical context?

Since I started studying music production I have not played in any bands. There have not been much time for anything but hanging in the studio either recording or mixing. I still play the guitar and piano at home when I have the time. I like to play anything from progressive rock/metal to musicals.

Tell us about the production of your submission. What is the story behind it? What was it inspired by? How long did you work on it? Was it your first entry?

My entry to the competition, Paper Bird by Dim Gray was a pretty long production. We recorded a whole album this session so we have probably spent about a month recording in the studio overall.

This was my first entry to the competition, as well as my first time at any international AES event.

The song is about an origami bird that's throwin into a river. Because this bird is made out of paper, the odds of it surviving is kind of small. The song depicts the struggle this bird has with the stream of the river, and the stones in the river crushing the paper bones of this bird.

The lyrics were inspired by japanese haiku poetry.?We played a lot with tempo changes before recording the song, because I wanted to make the tempo a part of the song dynamics. In the mixing process I wanted to stretch and exaggerate the dynamics even more so that the song is constantly evolving. Because the dynamics change with the tempo, it is hard to hear the tempo changes, even though the tempo increases drastically over time when the band kicks in.?I think I spent about 30 hours editing and mixing the song. The editing is what took the longest time.

What was your most significant/funny/inspiring experience as an audio engineer?

Last year I was touring through europe with a band and they played at a festival outside Sarajevo in Bosnia and Hercegovina. I did not have a lot of experience as a live technician at this point and this was a pretty big outdoor stage. On all the other venues we played, the drums would be really loud on stage and we would sometimes have to dampen the cymbals with duct tape and paper.?After setting the monitoring for the band they played on of the songs, and the drummer had to stop to tell me that he could not hear his cymbals well enough and that he needed some overheads into his monitor. This was kind of funny. I would never expect to hear such a thing, but I guess with hardly any reflections on an outdoor stage with humid air the cymbals aren't that loud anymore.

Accidents happen: What was your biggest mistake in a production and what did you do to redeem the situation?

I think my brain has repressed my worst mistakes, but remember recording a simple acoustic song with Dim Gray during the same session as Paper Bird. This was the last song we recorded and we were all tired after 2 weeks of 10-14 hours in the studio. While listening to the playback of the guitar I had the click track running in the control room, and did not notice that some of the click track bled into the mikes from the guitarists headset. This was discovered when we recorded the vocals some weeks later. To remedy this I used a longer reverb on the guitar and vocals in an attempt to drown the click track, as well as some EQ-notching. It did not turn out great, but close enough.

What’s your advice for engineers who are just starting out?

Be patient. It takes many hours of trial and error to become a skilled technician. Every project is different and the people you work with will react to different things.?I don't like to change my plans or setup during the production, but if I have to, I will always go back to a setup I've done before because I know it works. The best thing is to evaluate yourself after the project is done, identify why/what went wrong and make it right on the next production.

Don't be afraid to share your experiences or tips with other people. It will only make you better, and you might get something in return as well.

Can you name one or multiple of your favourite recordings or productions and tell us why you like them/what you like about them?

I recently recorded a Norwegian folk/pop artist called Valborg. She has a great voice and brilliant musicians in her band. One of the songs we recorded is called «Husk på meg» (Remember me) and is a song about death. It is expressed in an optimistic, almost naive way. It's a short song, less than three minutes. For me it is very interesting to work with simple songs like this because I actually feel it gives more room for creativity. Maybe most importantly, it's easy on the ear for the listener and easier for the listener to relate to the message of the song.?(Spotify-link to the song: https://open.spotify.com/track/0D4I55Pf6IRwpA4ccYuW8T )

Another recent production I did is two songs from an EP by a band called City in Stripes.?This is a more modern rock type of production. The vocalist in this production is also very talented The songs, «Let's do it Again» and «Moving on» both have the same tight, punchy expression.?I like how the band has a beautiful way of combining their rough sound with an almost childish playfulness. For me, these are the types of songs that make you want to quit your job and play in a rock band.?(Spotify-link to the songs:?«Let's Do it Again»: https://open.spotify.com/track/4JcId7ulgEUKBrf8xwDrUP?«Moving on: https://open.spotify.com/track/4NT3JVo2qafo07wKVqU93o )

Tech talk: What are your favourite pieces of equipment (microphones, outboard, plugins), and why?

I really like the AKG c451b microphone. I can use it on everything: vocals, guitars, toms, overheads, under the snare, even bass racks. It sounds crisp and tight, but still natural. For me it's a very predictable microphone.?I mostly use the same plugins on every project, Slate VBC for the mixbuss and drumbuss. It adds nice clarity and punch to the mix while smoothing out the rough edges. Waves Vcomp for vocals. This is my favorite vocal compressor, it has a nice, tight sound and is easy to use. My sweet spot for this compressor is about 9-12 dB gain reduction at a 3 or 4:1 ratio.?I wouldn't compress this hard on any other compressor, but I've found it works like a charm on this plugin. Exponential Audio R2 reverb on anything that needs reverberation. It sounds just like what I imagine a reverb to sound like. You can make it sound natural or polished depending on what you need.

What do you like about the AES? How does it help you to become a better and more successful audio engineer?

As a student, the most important thing is the community. Connecting with other students, sharing experience and making friends is what I like the most. I also get to be updated on the latest trends in pro audio business, even outside the music industry which I find very intersting as well. All of this is very inspiring for me which I guess helps me to improve.

Tell us about your favourite experiences at the 138th AES Convention in Warsaw!

I went to a really interesting lecture on audio forensics. I knew nothing of the subject and was completely blown away. Did you know you can actually date a recording based on reading the 50Hz-frequency?

What is your favourite frequency?

I've always been a sucker for the 76Hz....

What do you do when you’re not in the studio or doing anything music related?

When I'm not hanging out with friends I like to play computer games. Espescially MoBAs like Dota 2 and Heroes of Newerth.?I am also quite interested in astronomy. Growing up watching the northern lights every winter has probably contributed to this. My favorite constellation is the pleiades, also known as the seven sisters. You really need a dark place to see them properly.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope to make a living by recording/mixing/mastering bands, creating better music and productions, expanding my network and still having fun with audio.

Could you provide us with some closing comments?

Thanks for reading this. If anyone would like to share their experiences with me or have a chat feel free to make contact.

Contact Sondre at sondreforselv@hotmail.com, to listen to some work done by Sondre follow the links below

Link to Valborgs single:
https://open.spotify.com/track/0D4I55Pf6IRwpA4ccYuW8T

Links to City in Stripes' two tracks: 
https://open.spotify.com/track/4JcId7ulgEUKBrf8xwDrUP
https://open.spotify.com/track/4NT3JVo2qafo07wKVqU93o

Link to submission for the AES competition:
https://open.spotify.com/track/4zDAMjifg4lJ3QRJt1ouPI

 

 

 


Posted: Friday, July 17, 2015

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