Archive for February, 2009

Are you feeling lucky? DataSlap it.

relaxWe all know how sketchy email can be, especially if the file must get there. Sending data by email has a well-known pitfall – You don’t know if your recipients ever received it!. Was the file too big, was their mailbox full or did it get caught in their spam filter?

If you’re responsible for delivering large files here is a method that can help take away some stress from the task. Know exactly when your file was received for a cost that is negligible. DataSlap.com is the solution that delivers files and gives you an accurate confirmation report.

Let’s say you are an advertising agency and you purchased some radio time. After you produce your radio commercial don’t email it to your radio stations; DataSlap it. Just create a new account and upload your radio commercial for shipment. Then add your contacts for the file delivery and DataSlap does the rest. Each radio station is notified to pick up their commercial and DataSlap.com logs the date, time, call letters and person that received the commercial. Both the agency and advertiser can get an up to the minute delivery report to confirm the file was delivered before the scheduled run time. Plus it learns your work patterns and if future deliveries are to be made the same group of recipients they are easily reused and the file does not need to be reloaded should it need to be reshipped.

dataslapDataSlap.com rates are low – most likely they are 50% to 300% less than your present shipping method. You may use full-service or self-serve and save even more when you do it yourself.

DataSlap.com has successfully shipped files worldwide. This is a great way to ship any file that “has to be there.”

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February 26, 2009 at 7:34 pm Leave a comment

Little used tip for Blackberry

If you use a Blackberry, here’s a little secret that you might find useful …

“Run Programs in the Background”

backberrypair1Some applications have a “HIDE” option in their menu that allows you to “background” the application then go to the home screen and move to another program. Some applications support background operations, but may not have a HIDE menu option. For example, if you need to use Email and a Web Browser to quickly send info to a client, holding the ALT key while pressing the Escape key (back arrow) will bring up a menu of open applications that you can select with the scroll wheel. Use this to quickly switch to a web page, copy some info, and paste it into an email to send your client. This simple little secret makes a routine task tremendously easier.

Now here’s another best kept secret.

“Sound Works doesn’t do JUST the big jobs”

Sound Works has always had a reputation for doing the “Big” projects like ADR for Film and TV as well as Sound Design of Video and Internet Training for some of Houston’s largest firms.  The truth IS while these are certainly prestigious projects, MOST of our work is NOT big in time or budget. Many times you’ll find our estimates and abilities to work within budget less expensive than our competitors. And we’re not talking about trimmed-down “cheap” versions, but a full creative effort on our part to match your needs. Our goal has always been to be your business partner rather than just a supplier. Thats why many jobs are quoted rather than being charged for by the hour. Let us help with new business pitches, animatics and fun stuff for your client to keep them happy. swlogowcircleCall us to discover the ease, efficiency and effectiveness of working with Sound Works, Houston’s premier audio production house.

Oh, and one more secret, we have some of the best coffee in town.

February 26, 2009 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

What a wicked soundtrack!

In the same sense of not needing to know the chemical makeup of the ink to use a fountain pen, this article offers some important considerations in audio post production that can make the difference in your product sounding The directorprofessional or amateur. One of the most common requests made of sound editors is to “clean up” the dialogue. The process used to accomplish this depends on what issues the soundtrack has to overcome. While the removal of clicks and pops may be relatively easy, the more complex removal of background hum, noise and ambience may be required.

Location Sound


sennheiser-mkh-416On location, TV and film projects utilize a shotgun microphone on a boom for long shots, while many close up shots use a microphone hidden on the subject. Both recording methods bring challenges to audio post production. The difference in sound quality between the close up shots and long shots must be matched as well as the varying backgrounds, unless the sound is recorded in a “controlled environment” like a sound stage. But even if the dialogue to be matched is from two different close up angles (like over the shoulder shots for a conversation), the general ambience differences may still be extreme. Hum, mouth noises and background noise should be removed or reduced.

ADR & Dialogue Replacement

ADR process described by Director Peter Masterson and Actor Gene Hackman during dialogue replacement for “Full Moon Over Blue Water” ~ 1988.  Although the process has not changed the technology is now all digital. Sound Works has been doing ADR since the mid 80’s.

 

Sometimes the location sound is distorted so badly that the director may be tempted to start over and re-shoot the entire scene from scratch. Given the cost of a production crew, location costs and rentals, this may not be the most cost-effective solution. ADR can be an effective solution for replacing individual lines. It requires the skill of the actors and ADR engineer to match the performance and sync. The engineer has a number of tools to assist with ADR. For example, Sound Works has software that will lock-step the sync of the new performance to the original recording allowing the actor to concentrate on expressing the line properly. In post production, the qualities of the performances can be matched in tonal quality and proximity to the camera. The voice “tone” is adjusted to make the voice more “up-front” for the close up reads.

Background Sounds

Location sound engineers should always record background ambience to allow the audio post people more options when matching dialogue. For example, if ADR is to istock_000001786036mediumbe used, the re-recorded line will have little or no ambience compared to the replaced location line. But the previously-recorded location ambience can be added to the ADR sections resulting in a seamless-sounding dialogue track.

But let’s say the shot is at sundown and the volume level of crickets in the background is changing every 30 seconds. It is possible to sample the undesired crickets and peel them out of the sound track leaving the desired dialogue unaffected. At Sound Works, we have several processes to remove or reduce background noise. This is the same process used in our forensic audio service. Removing undesired background noise could eliminate the need for ADR or reshooting the entire scene. And THAT makes the sound editor’s job one less headache!

February 24, 2009 at 12:08 am Leave a comment

Just made it to Alltop.com

Featured in Alltop

Alltop.com is an aggregation of “all the top” posts and news on the web. You will find them organized in major and minor topics.

Take our MediaSlap blog we are all about Marketing, Legal and Media with an emphasis on Tech. If you go to http://tech.alltop.com and scroll you will find the articles listed under the various feeds. MediaSlap Blog is located near the bottom of the list because we are new to their listing and AllTop knows we need to be humble.

If you have not been to AllTop.com browse the stories like a newspaper – you will love it, I do.

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February 20, 2009 at 8:42 pm Leave a comment

Hold the noise – give me a double serving of that voice

Yesterday, Sound Works had to dig into its forensic audio tool kit to help restore two recordings for two different cases.  Recordings that need enhancement are rarely the same.  Depending on the location, equipment and recording process, each recording pretty much mandates a different restoration solution.

2-way Radio
police-radioThis enhancement challenge was to remove noise and increase intelligibility of a police officer’s two-way radio recording. Although taken from a digital logger, the noise at the scene had to be analyzed. We applied several restoration processes and were able to “scoop” the conversation away from the noise.  The end result was a more intelligible recording.  Our work was then prepared as a trial exhibit by indexing the critical points on a compact disc for easy access. In sum, all the work produced a professional, presentable product for judge and jury.

 

Phone Recording
suction-micThe second job was a recorded phone conversation for a civil case.  The phone conversation was recorded with a common suction cup telephone pickup attached to a digital recorder. Unfortunately, the pickup barely recorded the distant side of the conversation while the local side of the conversation was fine.

We were able to segment the two voices and process the audio of each side of the conversation differently.  The distant voice required the volume to be raised 80db – the equivalent to the volume of a very noisy office.  And just a couple of db improvement can make a big difference….

Perception of db changes in Sound

Level change (dB)

Perception

Result

3

Barely perceptible

2 × as loud

5

Clearly perceptible

3 × as loud

10

Twice as loud

10 × as loud

 

As you can imagine, increasing the volume to this extent raised the general ambient noise level.  One of our applications has the amazing ability to differentiate the noise from the voice allowing layers of noise to be reduced. Once the distant voice was improved, it was then merged back with the normal voice.  Our work, again, was supplied to the client in a trial-ready presentation form.

Note that each of these projects were recorded with digital devices – THAT fact alone does not insure a good-quality recording. The recorder can only capture only what it “hears”.

If you found this interesting also see “Shhh … I’m listening”, “But it’s a digital recording” and  It seemed impossible to pick out the voice buried amongst the restaurant bedlam on the recording.”

By Dwight Cook

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February 19, 2009 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

The new Angry Whopper helps you vent

Send an Angry Gram

Send an Angry Gram

I thought it was interesting when Burger King called their new spicy whopper “Angry”. I had never equated spicy with angry but it did sort of make sense.  But today when introduced to their new Angry campaign – I thought it was brilliant.  They have a new flash marketing site that allows you to vent to someone that made you angry.  Now if you are too timid to speak your mind to the offender, let the “Angry Whopper” do it.  How many alter egos will bite?

Are you angry? 

 

 

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February 18, 2009 at 4:12 pm Leave a comment

Houston Creative, Creative Houston

oihoustonHouston has always been home to great creative. I feel that OiH, www.onlyinhouston.org can help make 2009 a banner year for the fourth largest city in the US. My advice is to build community, network and send business to other area creative’s when you need to outsource. Help get the message out about the great creative resources available. Get involved by publishing articles and listing events to Only In Houston. Then use email and your social marketing contacts to help spread the Buzz. Post the OiH logo on your web site and link your directory to your email signature.

Embrace others
“There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother.” -Theodore Roosevelt
OiH is reaching out to support other three and four letter organizations like AAF, AIGA, AWRT, HPMA, IABC and others. Consider doing the same with your business by reaching out to other business and professional contacts. Let’s work together and build community! 

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By Dwight Cook

February 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm Leave a comment

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