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On Friday I finished editing and mixing a continuing documentary "Divided Britain" with producer Sally Chesworth for BBC News & Current Affairs to be transmitted on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 31st August at 8pm and repeated on Sunday Sept 6th at 5pm or find it here on the iPlayer. In 2006, Radio 4 was given access to a ground breaking education scheme in East Lancashire which aimed to improve GCSE results and break down divisions in an area where white and Asian families live separate, parallel lives. Following the disturbances in Burnley in the summer of 2001, schools were identified as having a crucial role in promoting community cohesion. Lancashire County Council was given the go ahead to close 11 schools and reopen them as 8 new community colleges each with the aim of being a hub for the neighbourhood, where Asian and white families would come together and get to know each other. The last of those £25 million buildings are due to open in September. Marsden Heights Community College in Nelson moved into its new facilities after Easter. Head teacher Mike Tull is excited by the opportunities that the building brings and hopes it will help engage parents in the area. But what are the challenges he faces in breaking down cultural barriers in the former mill towns of Brierfield and Nelson? Since the scheme began his school has gone from being 60% Asian students to nearly 80% and he says many white parents choose other schools for their children because of prejudice not standards of education. Locals already describe Marsden Heights as "the Asian school". And now a charity is looking to open an Islamic girls school nearby which many say threatens to further segregate young people. Can these new "superschools" make a difference or are racial divisions becoming more entrenched? Some interesting quotes from the programme, one teacher saying "she grew up in a council house with no phone and no car". In one generation a mobile phone is now considered a necessity, not a luxury. Also the stories of bullying are horrific. This is well worth a listen.
As promised in my previous post here are the details of the 4th programme of the current series of The Choice on BBC Radio 4... On The Choice this week Michael Buerk talks to Frank Evans, a butchers boy from Salford who dreamt of becoming a bullfighter after a holiday in Spain. The decision to become a matador meant he had to fight his way into the most dangerous and controversial sports in the world. It brought him ridicule and condemnation along with injuries in the ring and death threats out of it. But it was a choice he kept making despite a fearful wife and family and eventually despite ailing health. A very interesting story about a guy determined to follow his dream.
Ceri Thomas has posted two really useful posts on his blog about conforming, what it is and what to use. He says... Sound post production is a confusing field at the best of times with the pull-up and pull-downs, sample and frame rates and all other sort of things that have their own names. Then over the years someone decided that calling two entirely different processes by the same name was the best idea since the NLE. So what do these two terms mean and what tools are around to help with these processes? Well to get the answer go on over to Ceri's blog. He covers this issue in two parts. Part 1 - Assembly and part 2 - Reconform.
As I blogged back on 16th July that I had finished working on this year's series of The Choice for Radio 4, where Michael Buerk (OCF) in conversation with people who have faced a life-changing choice. They are now going out so I can now tell you more about them. The first programme went out on 12th August whilst I was away so I am afraid it isn't available on iPlayer anymore Michael talked to Heather Pratten about her decisions to help her terminally ill sons in very different ways. This was an emotional programme to make and to listen to were a mother had to decide how to help her terminally ill sons die. Programe 2 went out on August 19th so you can listen to it on iPlayer for another 3 days. On The Choice this week, Micahel Buerk talks to Romy Tiongco. He spent a lifetime fighting poverty - first as a Catholic priest, then as a Christian Aid worker. Where he comes from - the Philippines - poverty is made worse by violence and corruption. He'd taken it on as a young man, before moving to this country with his wife. When he decided to return to the Philippines he did not realise it would draw him back into a dangerous and murky world and present him with the most difficult choice of his life. After his best friend was killed, the people called on him to challenge corruption by standing for political office - a choice that would put his own life on the line. A excellent story of a 'little guy' standing up to strongholds at great personal cost. Programme 3 goes out on this Thursday at 9am and again at 9:30pm On The Choice this week Michael Buerk talk to Elissa Wall who was born into the strange, narrow world of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints - an American sect that had broken away from the Mormon church. It was a group that believed in religious devotion, hard work, female subservience, the virtues and the clothes of the prairie puritans - and polygamy. Elissa was married off at 14 to a 19-year-old cousin - a relationship she hated. After several miscarriages, and a stillbirth, she faced the toughest choice of her young life - to stay with the community and the church, which was all she knew, or to leave. That would mean, not only separation from her mother and sisters, maybe for ever, but taking on the man who had ruled her life, the cult leader Warren Jeffs. This is a story of power and control as well as abuse that you wouldn't expect to hear about in western culture. Programme 4 is the final one in the current series but the BBC have not released any information about it. When they do I will post it here.
As I blogged back in the beginning of July that I was working on the new series of What's The Point Of..." for Radio 4, how it is going out I can tell you what the programmes in this series is all about. This is what the BBC is saying on their site... Quentin Letts returns with another series offering a witty and thought-provoking look at some of Britain's cherished insitutions. Over the next four weeks he casts a quizzical eye over Marylebone cricket club, the public library, the Kennel Club - and the RAF. Programme 1 on the RAF went out last week and so you have only a few hours to listen to it on iPlayer. All over the country, events are being held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, when the bravery of the Few saved these islands from a Nazi invasion. Even if some historians have had the temerity to suggest it was actually the navy wot done it, it's an opportune moment for the RAF to remind us of their historic contribution, and why we need them in the future. Which is why exactly? Britain was the first country in the world to have an independent air force. To get rid of it is unthinkable, isn't it? Defence secretary Liam Fox has promised that the Governments strategic defence review will be ruthless and unsentimental - will he listen to the RAF's critics? They claim that a bloated higher command structure in Whitehall argues for fast jets we cant afford for a war we wont be fighting. Oh - and its uniforms are horrible and they can't march properly. Historian Max Hastings, War correspondent Sam Kiley, former defence secretary Geoff Hoon and retired Colonel Tim Collins are among those who join Quentin to ask the question, What is the point of the RAF? In the current climate of cuts and savings this is a very timely look at what the RAF actually does for us. Programme 2 is on the MCC - Marylebone Cricket Club and goes out today at 9am and tonight at 9:30pm The celebrated historian George Trevelyan once wrote that if the French nobility had only played cricket with their servants they wouldn't have had their chateaux burnt. Today, with the revolution taking place within the game itself, Quentin Letts casts a quizzical eye over Marylebone cricket club, the English institution responsible for maintaining its laws and upholding its spirit. It's not easy for MCC to shake off the weight of history. It resisted the demands of sexual equality almost into the present century, and it is still berated for its exclusiveness. The programme hears from Rachael Heyhoe-Flint who captained the first English women's team allowed onto the Lord's pitch, and to another former Captain, Mike Gatting, who berates MCC members for a display of very ungentlemanly manners to fellow cricketer, Ian Botham. The powerhouse of cricket is now in India, the governing body is in Dubai and the focus of the game is shifting from test match to twenty-twenty But this private members club, the owner of the most famous sports ground in the world , still seeks a place at the table. Quentin talks to MCC chief executive Keith Bradshaw about what it's doing there - resisting the economic and global forces of modernity or leading the charge of change? Cricket fans watch out!! Programme 3 on Public Libraries goes out next Tuesday August 31st Question: Where can you go to reduce your fear of crime, have a massage, ring a church bell, get some information about council tax, and engage in some heavy petting without being told off? Quentin Letts is surprised and sometimes disheartened by the answer; a library. Of course, you can borrow a book as well, but campaigners argue that - with some authorities spending less than ten per cent of their library budgets on books -something has gone very wrong with the way the service is being managed. Public Libraries have come a long way since Manchester opened the first in the 1850s. But where is the service going? Gleaming new buildings have opened in Newcastle, Whitechapel and Brighton - but more than 80 other libraries have been closed in the last five years; an age of public spending cuts surely means more. Former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, campaigner Tim Coates and Arts minister Edward Vaizey join Quentin Letts as he asks, what's the point of the public library? If you heard the debate on Today on Radio 4 today you will want to listen to this programme. The final programme in the series is scheduled to go out on Tuesday 7th September and is on The Kennel Club and I finish working on it on Thursday. Once there is some more info on it I will let you know.
These tutorials are so simple but very effective to show how to use these new plug-ins. Tutorial 4 shows how how to change the age and gender of a spoken voice using the Voice Forger in IRCAM Tools TRAX Transformer. Tutorial 5 shows how to make a normal spoken voice sound like it's whispering, using the 'Breathy' function of the Voice Forger in IRCAM Tools TRAX Transformer. Tutorial 6 shows how to transform the voice of a singing woman using the Voice Forger; Young/Old, Male/Female, Transpose and Formant controls. Tutorial 7 shows how to Transform the age of a singing woman using the Voice Forger and the Transpose (Pitch) Modulator in IRCAM Tools Trax Transformer. Tutorial 8 shows how to adjust the expression and tuning of a singing voice using the built in tuning modes in the voice forger in IRCAM Tools Trax Transformer. Tutorial 9 demonstrates how the pitch change on a polyphonic instrument is done in order to achieve the best possible result. Tutorial 10 shows how to pitch and remix a loop and change the characteristics of it completely. Tutorial 11 shows how to use the Spectral Envelope in TRAX Transformer to create a special effects sound from an instrument sound loop. and tutorial 12 shows how to transform an ordinary acoustic guitar into a twelve string guitar with a little chorus effect on, using Transpose and Modulation in the Trax Transformer.
Waves have added another de-noising application but this one so simple and is inspired on the CAT 43 card that many post houses used to reduce background noise on audio tracks. This from their web site... Ambient noise: Hiss. Hum. Traffic. Wind. Air conditioning. They can all wreak havoc on dialog tracks. With Waves W43, they’re a thing of the past. Inspired by the renowned CAT43, the W43 noise reduction plugin builds upon the legacy of the popular unit that’s been a post production favorite for decades. With four fixed frequency bands, the W43 is an affordable, easy-to-use plugin which delivers high quality, minimal artifact noise reduction like the original hardware, while adding all the advantages of software. I look forward to trying this one and seeing if it works well all be it simple to use.
Wow, whilst I am away the Pro Tools world takes a lerch forward!! New Software version Pro Tools HD version 8.1 announced. This is only for HD users, I guess LE and M Powered users will have to wait a bit. Pro Tools HD 8.1 is a free update for Pro Tools HD 8.0-8.0.4 owners. Pro Tools 8.1 Details — Avid is pleased to announce the availability of Pro Tools® HD 8.1, a free update for Pro Tools HD 8.0-8.0.4 owners. This latest update offers performance enhancements and fixes, plus new support for the Pro Tools HD Series interfaces—HD I/O, HD OMNI, and HD MADI. It also adds software support for HEAT (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology), a new Pro Tools HD software add-on for adding analog warmth and color to your mix. This is what Brent Heber has to say about the new version.. Now, you may think, 8.1 is a point release, probably some bug fixes and support for the NEW INTERFACES ( back to those in a tic) but in actuality, 8.1 sees the release of a massive, amazing, brilliant new feature set that will save serious mixers potentially hours and hours of their life. No, its not HEAT, the new tube/analogue warmth buss flavour feature….it’s the I/O setup. Yes, the I/O setup! New in 8.1, the I/O setup has been totally overhauled to make moving sessions between rooms a much, much easier process! Avid audio listened to the gripes about moving large projects between rooms, endlessly moving those little squares around to just get audio out your speakers. Taken from the I/O Setup primer: “In Pro Tools 8.1, changes to the I/O Setup have been made in order to solve session interchange issues (such as maintaining studio settings on different Pro Tools systems) and to provide better overall workflows for session interchange. In lower versions of Pro Tools, I/O settings are recalled from the Pro Tools session document, so studio settings corresponding to your hardware could potentially change each time a session is opened. This can result in a temporary loss of monitor paths. In Pro Tools 8.1, I/O settings can be recalled from the system. This means that your studio settings can be maintained when opening sessions created on other Pro Tools systems” So, THAT is cool! Cant wait to play with it and put it through its paces. I completely agree Brent, Although there is no way I would have predicted this as the feature Avid would choose to add at this point but it will be so useful for those of us who move sessions around differently configured systems. Pro Tools 8.1 Downloads Please see these individual pages for downloads, installation instructions, and additional information: Pro Tools HD 8.1 Updates — August 17, 2010 Pro Tools HD 8.1 Update for Mac OS X Pro Tools HD 8.1 Update for Windows More about the new Pro Tools HD Series interfaces: Pro Tools|HD Product Section Compatibility Summary Pro Tools HD 8.1 supports the following operating systems: Mac OS X 10.6.2, 10.6.3, and 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard) Windows XP Service Pack 3 (Home or Professional, 32-bit) Although not officially supported, Pro Tools HD 8.1 can be used on Windows 7 (32 and 64-bit) continuing the public beta program for HD systems. Please Note: Pro Tools HD 8.1 software will be the last version of Pro Tools HD to support the Windows XP operating system Pro Tools 8.0.4 was the last version of Pro Tools to support Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and Windows Vista operating systems Please read the EOSS (End of Software Support) Announcements for more information. Not Compatible Pro Tools 8.0.3 software and higher does not support some retired products, including: Expansion|HD Chassis Macintosh PowerPC Computers Please read the EOSS (End of Software Support) Announcements for more information. New interfaces HD OMNI Pristine audio clarity and ultra low latency through state-of-the-art A/D and D/A conversion High-quality, low-noise analog I/O: 2 premium, digitally-controlled mic/DI preamps 4 line inputs 8 line outputs, with true analog gain Versatile digital I/O, with sample rate conversion: 8 channels of ADAT I/O (supports S/MUX II and IV) 2x8 channels of AES/EBU I/O 2 channels of S/PDIF I/O Completely integrates with Pro Tools|HD for full routing, mixing, and monitoring control HD I/O Pristine audio clarity and ultra low latency through state-of-the-art A/D and D/A conversion, premium analog circuitry, and meticulous attention to design Adapt the interface for your needs—choose from three configurations: Get a balance of analog and digital I/O with HD I/O 8x8x8 Maximize your analog I/O with HD I/O 16x16 Analog Go all digital with HD I/O 16x16 Digital Versatile digital I/O on all interfaces, with built-in sample rate conversion Completely integrates with Pro Tools|HD for full input, output, and routing control HD MADI Send and receive up to 64 audio streams between Pro Tools|HD and other MADI devices Maintain maximum audio fidelity, with up to 24-bit, 192 kHz sample rate support Gain connection and routing flexibility through optical and coaxial connections: 2 MADI inputs (optical and coaxial) 2 MADI outputs (simultaneous optical and coaxial) Forget having to match sample rates, thanks to built-in SRC on all I/O channels Sync to an external clock through dedicated BNC Word Clock and XLR AES/EBU connections when using SRC on output Completely integrates with Pro Tools|HD for full input, output, and routing control Compact 1U rack-mountable design overcomes space limitations I have to say my favourite of these is the HD OMNI It has the perfect combination of I/O. 8 analog outs for monitoring, cans feeds etc, 2 mic pres for basic tracking, some line inputs for other bits and a raft of 8 way digital inputs so I can add my Focus rite Octopre's and away I go when I need to multi-track on location and all in a 1U unit. The only downside is currently my interface is in my computer cupboard so to take advantage of the monitoring section I would need to remote the interface from my computer and I would need to see how long the interface cable can be. Heat This is what Avid have to say on their web site about this new plug-in HEAT that isn't a plug-in... Add some HEAT to your mix. Get the warmth and sonic character of analog “in the box” with HEAT (Harmonically Enhanced Algorithm Technology), an easy-to-use Pro Tools|HD software add-on that gives you the euphonic characteristics of prized analog gear without the expense or added bulk. Whether you’re mixing music or sound for picture, you’ll get the unmistakable sonic characteristics of a vintage analog console or outboard gear to “gel” your mixes together—right in Pro Tools. Try it free for 30 days. Now there is a demo for you to listen too.. Take a Listen This song*, “Ninja” by Nimble Tailors, features interchanging mixes done completely “in the box” with Pro Tools|HD and with two different settings in HEAT. Download the video (right click to save file) and take a listen through your best headphones or speakers to hear how HEAT shapes the mix. Well to my ears it is subtle but I do like the idea of adding more even harmonics, it is of course at the root of the whole analog, valve, tape sound and to have it on every track is an interesting feature to add, again as in the 8.1 update, not the one I would have thought of first. Now I will have to update to Apple's Snow Leopard software before I can try any of these things out and I have resisted it so far.
There will be a 2 week break in posts whilst we take our much needed summer holiday. See you all after that. Mike.
There is a thread on the Digidesign User Conference about this upgrade that I thought you might find interesting especially as it contains some answers from Cedar's software designer. Mike Aiton (MIKEROPHONICS) posted the announcement... New Cedar DNS ONE software is officially launched enjoy the audiosuite and the ability to use on PPC mac Update is free (take note in Israel) 'tom_lowe' asked... Audiosuite is good, but why on earth effectively downgrade their code and bloat it to make it PPC compatible!? Seems a little backwards to me since this is the time developers are stopping PPC support. Putting PPC code in there along side Intel code means it needs to be Universal binary, not just x86 binary, meaning there is more code. Apple and Adobe and now Avid with PT 8.0.3 dropped PPC support so their code could be leaner and more efficient. You can't optimise code for Intel AND keep PPC support. Supporting both will lead to compromises in the code and the efficiency of it. It's one or the other. CEDAR started with no PPC support, and then added it, which is basically going against the tide of every other developer. 'bad jitter' suggested... Umh... I guess enough customers asked for it? 'tom_lowe' replied... Lots of people wanted Pro Tools 8.0.3 and Apple's Snow Leopard to work on PPC - but they didn't. It's pointless supporting old processors (the last PPCs are now 5+ years old). Want new software? Buy new hardware. 'airon' posted... I suppose enough folks spending big dollars on one plugin made it worth their while. What's the performance like on G5 systems ? MIKEROPHONICS responded to this debate with some answers from the horses mouth... The software designer Dave has emailed me a few answers for you after seeing this post... 1: We have not downgraded our code. The universal binary contains two distinct versions of the DSP code, one for Intel processors, and one for the PPC. The Intel version makes extensive use of its parallel arithmetic instructions (SSE2). This optimisation almost doubles the efficiency of the Intel code. The PPC's parallel instructions (AltiVec) do not support double precision arithmetic, so I couldn't use them. 2: Features: We have only added features, specifically Audiosuite & PPC, but also a couple of helper buttons to set all faders to 0dB and -24dB. We've also improved how touch mode works if you are using a DNS3000. 3: Performance: The DNS One code is actually very compact and efficient, with very little housekeeping waste. It takes about 25 MFLOPS per channel for 44.1kHz audio. We could easily get a hundred channels of DNS One running on a dual core 2.4GHz Pentium machine. Obviously overall speed depends on your CPU and clock speed, but in general the PPC version is going to be about half as efficient as the Intel version running on an equivalent chip. So there you go 'tom_lowe' replied... Thanks for that, Mike. Good to know. I still think PPC support is silly, but that's just my take on things. Will be interesting to see where DNS one goes once they add SSE3 and 4 instructions. Sorry if I made you feel you had to defend the plug-in, I know you love it, and having used it, I know why you love it. MIKEROPHONICS responded... Not defending necessarily, just a conduit of information. PPC is not an issue for me, but it is for many. So I hope the many are very happy. I wouldn't know one slice of code from another - nor do I care to. I just push the shiny levers up and down..... Personally I rave about this company because 1) the quality of their products 2) the way they treat their customers 3) they are very nice people but then I am just a cynical old opinionated dubbing mixer so what do I know? 'Brandonx1' asked... Can you email the developer and ask him to map the new buttons onto controllers like the pro control. This are almost useless without being mapped to a button on a controller. I'm not going to take my hands off the controller ad mouse around for a button. MIKEROPHONICS replied... will do - great idea. I have my pc in alt fader flip to control my cedar faders, and my fader pack for normal fader use 'Brandonx1' added... I do the same thing but I'd like to have a dedicated controller for the cedar. I must spend 2 hours a day flipping my faders back and forth.
This from Cedar's press release... CEDAR Audio has released a major upgrade for the DNS One dialogue noise suppressor plug-in and its associated DNS Control System (which also supports the DNS2000 and DNS3000 dialogue noise suppressors). In response to customers' requests, the Control System now supports PPC-based Macs running OS X 10.4 onward. This means that the DNS One, the DNS2000 and the DNS3000 may all be used with and controlled from appropriate versions of Pro Tools running on these hosts. What's more, AudioSuite capability has been added to the DNS One, which will enable it to fit more productively into the workflow of many post-production engineers and other users. CEDAR DNS family A number of functional improvements to the Control System have also been implemented, most significant of which are new controls that considerably reduce set up time for each job, whether being processed by the DNS One or by DNS2000s and DNS3000s. In addition, enhancements to the control of multiple DNS3000s over Ethernet have been implemented, as well as improvements to the DNS3000's Touch mode and the method of selecting which hardware units are selected and controlled. ... and the price is? The updated versions of the DNS One and DNS Control System are immediately available and the price remains unchanged. Furthermore, the new versions are available FREE OF CHARGE to all existing users of the DNS One, DNS2000 and DNS3000. Looks like very good news especially the AudioSuite support as well as legacy support for the PPC platform. Well done Cedar.
These are simple tutorials that show how to use these clever but at times complex tools to do some very smart tricks. The first set is all about the Transformer plug-in and demonstrates how to change the gender of a speaker as well as some finer adjustments.... Apparently there are more of these in the pipeline so either subscribe to the Flux channel on YouTube of follow them on Twitter.
Our Mike Thornton writes the Pro Tools Notes, Techniques and Workshop articles for Sound on Sound as well as reviewing many of the new Pro Tools related products. Note that you will need to be a subscriber to view the recent articles or you can choose to Click & Buy individual ones. Plug-in Hygiene - Keeping your Pro Tools plug-ins up to date is vital if you want to maintain a reliable system — and now there’s a utility that will do it for you.