Freelance Setup for TV, Film and Video Game Music+++
OVERNIGHT
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#1
22nd November 2005
Old 22nd November 2005
  #1
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Freelance Setup for TV, Film and Video Game Music+++

In addition to fronting my own bands for years and playing as a side guitar player, bass player & keyboard player in everything from Rock to Punk to Funk to Alt Country and even Dub, I've been a session singer and player for a number of years doing music for commercials, TV shows, films and video games. I've been in the studio plenty over the years and this past year I, for the first time, did a full scale record where I engineered, produced and mixed everything. Before this I had always split duties with a better engineer. It turned out great and I absolutely loved the process. It was a great exercise in making the most of what you've got as I have a pretty modest set up.

I'd like to get into writing/composing and producing music for TV, Film, Video Games etc and have been doing a fair amount of research. I've been around it for a while but until this past record I didn't have the confidence that I could be good enough at the recording end it. I've always had confindence in my abilities to compose, arrange and perform. So I've started some dialog with a number of my contacts about what I need to do, how to go about getting work and developing leads with the different music houses and producers in my area etc etc etc and what it comes down to is that if I'm serious, I've got to have a serious, airtight freelance setup first.... which is where y'all come in.

I know a number of you are composers and producers as well as engineers and some of you have experience with putting sound to picture. I need a little guidance with the setup. Obviously the needs are different than a studio set up to record bands and artists exclusively for creating cd's and such. I WOULD like to have that flexability as well but it wouldn't be the initial primary focus.


_________________________________________________
My thinking goes like this (includes some currently owned equipment):

G5 Dual 2.0 running either Logic or Nuendo (industry standards)
2 Gigs RAM
Dual 20" monitors
Reason
Stylus RMX or FXPansion BFD(though I would like the option to use authentic drums as much as is practicle)
AUD-1 Producer Card
Midi Controller for Programs on main DAW

RME Fireface
1/2 dozen or so worthy and varied Mics
1/2 dozen or so worthy and varied Pre Channels
Mackie HR824 Monitors (I know, I know but they're industry standards and the prices are coming down fast for used)
Yorkville YMP1 Monitors
Radio Shack TV speakers
Sennheiser HD650 Headphones (mixing reference)
Sony MD-7506 Headphones (for tracking)

Seperate PC with Gigastudio, probably light pipe to main DAW
RME 9652 Card
Midi Controller with weighted keys for Gigastudio
_______________________________________________


I don't want to get into a brand pimping conversation, rather, I'd like to talk more generally about the set-up and the specifics of 'Sound to Picture'. Unless something jumps out at you as being totally wrongheaded or is missing, I don't want to get into the merits of RME vs. MOTU vs. Apogee etc etc etc.

Some Questions...
-Do I need a clock with the Gigastudio PC in the mix?

-Are there special considerations I need to account for with the Giga PC being Windows and the Main DAW being MAC if using light pipe? How do you guys handle this?

-Do any of you guys run a seperate video monitor or even an external synced video hardware setup? I don't think I'm going to have to worry about dealing with Digibetas for a while but do any of you have advice about handling various video formats? Like I said, I've been around it for a while but is there a reference book or online course you recommend specifically for handeling the tech aspects of sound to picture?

-Are there any critical pieces of software I don't have listed?

-Are there any particular pitfalls, equipment wise or business wise, you've fallen into that you might want to warn a brother about?

-What does your set-up look like and what set-up advice would you have if you we're just getting a system together now?

I'm looking to keep it between 15K & 20K with much equipment coming from used. And yea, I've accounted for sound treatment, cables, stands etc.

I know it's a Novel but hey, you don't get the answers you need unless you ask the people that know. Thanks in Advance!!!!
#2
22nd November 2005
Old 22nd November 2005
  #2
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I don't do video game scoring myself, but AFAIK, you would want to be able to work in 5.1.

Anyone confirm or deny this?

Just thought I'd mention it.
#3
22nd November 2005
Old 22nd November 2005
  #3
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mesh boogie's Avatar
 

yeah, 5.1 would be a good idea.

you might want to get a DV->firewire->composite video card. there is one called the canopus, look that one up. it basically lets you play quicktime videos out of the firewire port. i am assuming logic and nuendo have the ability to play quicktimes, and then offer the option to play out the firewire port. thats how it works in PT at least.

then you just have the video editor kick you a quicktime and BAM, who needs a dbeta? you send them a 2track back and they lay it down to tape. thats what we do at least.
OVERNIGHT
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#4
22nd November 2005
Old 22nd November 2005
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Thread Starter
Both Nuendo and Logic allow you to play the video back within the programs them selves, either layed out in track form like a story board or in a streaming window. What you're saying I might need the card for is so that I'd be able to play the video on it's own monitor/screen or off a seperate drive? I'm a little confused.

The 5.1 suggestion is a good one though some I've talked to have said it's not critical when starting out and it's really something you have to spend time to learn. I'm not adverse to spending that time if it puts me a leg up. Wondering, how, other than the monitor setup is it different. Knowing that both Nuendo and Logic support 5.1, would I be able to run the monitoring out of a basic fireface D/A or would I need some additional D/A Card? My monitor router would have to be made to handle it, right. I realize some of these are 101 questions but your help is really appreciated.

Thanks!!!
#5
22nd November 2005
Old 22nd November 2005
  #5
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mesh boogie's Avatar
 

yeah, the play out the firewire thing is for a separate video monitor to watch. those little quicktimes will start to bug you for awhile, they bug me at least.
OVERNIGHT
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#6
22nd November 2005
Old 22nd November 2005
  #6
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Thread Starter
If film work is not what I'm likely to get work in initially is it smart to invest in 5.1 monitoring early or wait?

Do you run off of a personal work station? What's you're configuration if you don't mind me asking?
#7
23rd November 2005
Old 23rd November 2005
  #7
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Albert's Avatar
 

Just for the record, most (if not all) post production places use ProTools, at least here in LA. You mention industry standards, and nothing is more industry standard than PT right now. For reference, I've never once seen Nuendo in a post house or on a dubbing stage--never.

I'd say start with a good stereo monitoring setup and expand to 5.1 when you need to. Mackie HR824's are very common in the post production world. So chances are your work will translate well if you use them yourself. I personally like them better for scoring work than for album work, they translate well for scoring in my experience.

I don't mind the little quicktime window myself, but having a big window for the director/producers to look at would be a good thing.

I don't know that you need the Radio Shack TV speakers. I use KRK V4's for my small set of speakers and I am very happy with them. I also don't think you need three sets of speakers as two should do fine, a big pair and a small pair.

For scoring I've found Digital performer to be an excellent sequencer/DAW. I use both MOTU and Digi interfaces (not at the same time!).

Gigastudio is also a good thing, probably the most commonly used right now, although a lot of good libraries/virtual instruments have been developed for the Native Instrument format. Stylus RMX is a must, as is Atmosphere. Great scoring tools.
OVERNIGHT
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#8
23rd November 2005
Old 23rd November 2005
  #8
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Thread Starter
Great feedback, I appreciate that. I know logic is pretty common also in addition to protools. DP I have no experience with but I know it has plenty of followers in the industry. I happen to know a few indi guys that are running nuendo and it is pretty well perfectly set up for video and post work. I'm suprised more people don't use it.

I have to say that the one thing that hangs me with protools is that really, If I go HD, I'm going to blow my budget and I fear LE's 32 track count is going to pinch me. I know, I know, 32 should be enough but I can't say that for sure and I can't say what work I will and won't be doing in a couple of years. It just pisses me off that they just set up this arbtrary barrier to compel folks to spend big bucks. My partener was coming up with all kinds of potential work-arounds but goddamn, I shouldn't have to. I have utter confidence that I'd be able to opperate just as effectively in protools, I just hate submitting to LE. Oh well. Boo hoo.

Thanks again! Anyone else?
OVERNIGHT
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#9
23rd November 2005
Old 23rd November 2005
  #9
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Thread Starter
Oh, and am I wrong in thinking Digi 002 is a toy? Converters? Pre's?
OVERNIGHT
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#10
25th November 2005
Old 25th November 2005
  #10
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bump
#11
25th November 2005
Old 25th November 2005
  #11
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Tibbon's Avatar
I'm using a Digi002R right now for student film projects and my own stuff, and truthfully it isn't so bad. No it's not perfect, but it does the trick. I use logic pro, but i keep it around for opening protools sessions. I think using PT and Logic together is pretty sweet at times, but can get confusing and most of the time just one or the other is fine.

To a degree it depends on what type of stuff you are doing. I see that orignal sound design can be important a good bit too, but if you are mainly doing music it looks like a decent setup to me.

Overall, just make sure that the setup is comfortable and works for YOU. For me, workflow is almost more important than physical sound quality at times. That's the reason that i'd rather have a real ARP 2600 than the software one. Truthfully the software one will probably sound more like the 'orignal' did before years of wear and tear, but the workflow is awesome on the real thing.

Oh, and get a Sidstation. You'll thank me later if you are doing video game music.
#12
13th November 2006
Old 13th November 2006
  #12
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JohnRodd's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by OVERNIGHT View Post
(snip).....
I'd like to get into writing/composing and producing music for TV, Film, Video Games etc and have been doing a fair amount of research.... (snip) ....
My short list of advice would be:

yes - use a Canopus box to play quicktime DV files out to an ordinary tv or monitor.... (the files have to be quicktime DV) You will need to use Quicktime Pro ($30) to convert existing files from Quicktime to Quicktime DV 720x480 if you use the Canopus box. The ADVC-110 costs approximately $225 plus an extra charge for the optional power supply.

I strongly suggest buying the optional power supply, as powering the unit from the rear firewire buss on the unit can damage your computer. DO NOT use the rear firewire port on a Canopus ADVC-110 - it is an uncommon 'DV spec' that carries higher than usual voltages that can destroy the firewire port on your computer. Use only the supplied 4 -> 6 pin firewire cable, the optional power adaptor and the front firewire port. (The front 4 pin Firewire port on the Canopus doesn't carry potentially damaging voltages.)

Do not chain the Canopus box after a firewire drive - ideally it should be on it on it's own firewire port. Consider buying an inexpensive PCI to firewire card for the Canopus (as little as $15-$40). In ProTools, set the video offset to 22 quarter frames (5.5 frames total). Check DP and Logic to see if the offset is done for you in the software version that you use.

In my opinion.... generally I don’t think most composers should spend money on a 5.1 mixing setup - as to do it right is very costly. I always encourage my composer clients to have delivery requirements clearly specified in their contracts - if delivery will be stereo or 5.1 mixes - and to have them make clear to producers that 5.1 mixing needs specialized equipment and a very experienced mixer! (read - extra money to pay for these things)

and on that note - I might suggest that you hire me to do any 5.1 mixing for you in the future......



I have a 5.1 mixing studio and all the right hardware and experience to do it right. In the video game world I recently mixed the 5.1 score for BladeStorm - a game that will be a PlayStation 3 launch title in the next few weeks. It was a huge orchestral and synth score - with a real orchestra - and it turned out GREAT. (as usual my client Jamie Christopherson wrote an awesome score.)

best regards

John
#13
13th November 2006
Old 13th November 2006
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by OVERNIGHT View Post
Great feedback, I appreciate that. I know logic is pretty common also in addition to protools. DP I have no experience with but I know it has plenty of followers in the industry. I happen to know a few indi guys that are running nuendo and it is pretty well perfectly set up for video and post work. I'm suprised more people don't use it.

I have to say that the one thing that hangs me with protools is that really, If I go HD, I'm going to blow my budget and I fear LE's 32 track count is going to pinch me. I know, I know, 32 should be enough but I can't say that for sure and I can't say what work I will and won't be doing in a couple of years. It just pisses me off that they just set up this arbtrary barrier to compel folks to spend big bucks. My partener was coming up with all kinds of potential work-arounds but goddamn, I shouldn't have to. I have utter confidence that I'd be able to opperate just as effectively in protools, I just hate submitting to LE. Oh well. Boo hoo.

Thanks again! Anyone else?
I think PT is found in more mix rooms and dub stages, but composers who work independently generally use whatever the hell they want. Personally, I use LE for scoring work - I picked up the DV Toolkit 2, though, which, while expensive, also gives you 48 tracks (and proper timecode, which you may or may not be able to do without, depending on how clever you are converting m:s to smpte in your head).

The 002R is pretty much a big 2U dongle... I picked up some DAV preamps which I use instead of the inbuilt ones when I need to track anything. I'm going to start looking at new conversion options in the new year, but I'm sort of waiting on that in case a 003 comes out. It's not great, but it's usable. The Black Lion mod looks worthwhile, but I'm in the UK so it's a bit of a pain for me.

No 5.1 yet in LE though, bear that in mind. Rumours abound it might be coming, and knowing Digi in the form of an expensive Toolkit option, but you never know.
#14
13th November 2006
Old 13th November 2006
  #14
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TEMAS's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by terminal3 View Post
I think PT is found in more mix rooms and dub stages, but composers who work independently generally use whatever the hell they want.
thumbsup

In fact, a lot of the mix and dub studios I go to don't even use PT. My clients rarely inquire about what equiptment I use, let alone which brand of DAW software. Its even more rare for a client to visit my studio, so I wouldn't bother with cozy sofas and big Plasma screens.

I personally would never use a seperate PC for Gigastudio. I like to have one computer that does everything, where I can see every track on one screen. Putting 16GB in a MacPro should do the trick!

You may have 10 jobs on the go at once, so recalling and setting things up quickly is crucial.

Sample CDs - get a whole load - especially ones which cover areas which you can't create yourself (for me thats Brass, Strings, Drums, etc)

The same goes for plug-ins.

Know your library and have loads of patches of your favourite sounds and samples organised so you know where they are and are ready to go.

No two jobs are the same. One day its Opera, the next Drum and Bass. You have to embrace it all and love it all and be passionate about it even if its the cheesiest crap.

You are your clients' musical alta-ego and you have to read their minds to make them happy; and making them happy is the only thing that actually matters.
#15
13th November 2006
Old 13th November 2006
  #15
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junior's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnRodd View Post
My short list of advice would be:

yes - use a Canopus box to play quicktime DV files out to an ordinary tv or monitor.... (the files have to be quicktime DV) You will need to use Quicktime Pro ($30) to convert existing files from Quicktime to Quicktime DV 720x480 if you use the Canopus box. The ADVC-110 costs approximately $225 plus an extra charge for the optional power supply.

I strongly suggest buying the optional power supply, as powering the unit from the rear firewire buss on the unit can damage your computer. DO NOT use the rear firewire port on a Canopus ADVC-110 - it is an uncommon 'DV spec' that carries higher than usual voltages that can destroy the firewire port on your computer. Use only the supplied 4 -> 6 pin firewire cable, the optional power adaptor and the front firewire port. (The front 4 pin Firewire port on the Canopus doesn't carry potentially damaging voltages.)

Do not chain the Canopus box after a firewire drive - ideally it should be on it on it's own firewire port. Consider buying an inexpensive PCI to firewire card for the Canopus (as little as $15-$40). In ProTools, set the video offset to 22 quarter frames (5.5 frames total). Check DP and Logic to see if the offset is done for you in the software version that you use.
the canopus is a great box. also, wanted to add a recommendation for the datavideo dac-200. it's terrific and costs a little less than the canopus:

http://www.datavideo.us/fs/products/dac200_fs.htm

#16
13th November 2006
Old 13th November 2006
  #16
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 

A lot of good stuff here. A lot to agree and disagree with!

Your own quote on Nuendo : "I'm suprised more people don't use it." That should say it all. I know nuendo is good. Perhaps better than PT. But PT is the standard. If you are planning on working in the TV and/or Film market (that's my specialty), you had better be prepared to get and send out PT sessions. Even the largest scoring dates are using PT to record and edit on. There will be no time to "convert" them into whatever system you are using. The deadlines because of DAW's like PT and DP are crushing the ever tenuous timetable down to very unreasonable deadlines. Music editors, dub stages, post production companies.....they are all PT users. No one will ever say "I can't load a PT session". You won't get the same result in sending out ANY other DAW format. When starting out, you want to look as pro as possible. Having a non-standardised format, as killer as it may work or sound, will not make you look pro. You want to be focusing on your creative output - not making excuses for your gear and doing conversions.

A little clarification here - I think you can "write" on whatever system you like. But I think production and mixing should be on PT. It is a must IMO.

I think Stylus and Atmosphere are excellent choices as well. I don't know a single film composer without Gigastudio. I'm sure there are some out there....I just don't know them. And I'd never run Giga on my main sequencing/composing computer. Always a second computer. BTW, Atmosphere is a memory/CPU hog. Big time. Why are you looking at a 2.0gig G5. Get the latest greatest that will run whatever software you decide. You may save a few hundred now, but upgrading a computer is like having open heart surgery. Not something you want to undertake while working.

I run two DAW systems. PT and DP. DP for writing. PT for all production and mixing. DP on PT hardware is.........shakey. Sometimes it seems to be OK, at other times (always in the heat of the moment) it crashes consistantly. Consider DP with a firewire interface and a PTHD1 system. You can add as time and money permit.

As far as 5.1. I'm seeing it start to really come into play with music delivery. I would guess that within the next 2 years it will become expected in the film biz and probably soon after for TV. I would suspect that we are already there for games. I would suggest getting at least 3 speakers for your LCR. You can use whatever in the back until you can afford matching speakers. Consider the JBL LSR series. I just remixed a botched up dub on an IMAX film. IMAX uses huge soundsystems, and the JBL's translated fantastic. After referencing on the IMAX theater downtown, I made just a couple of nips and tucks and it was good to go. The dub stages mix sounded like a giant transistor radio. It sucked. The LSR's will give you a good reality check.

BTW, PT implementation and automation for the 5.1 envrionment is superb!

With multiple computers, interfaces, etc. - a stand alone clock like the Big Ben can help with clocking issues.

Personally, if the $$$ is too much, I'd focus it on the writing/mixing side of things. All of this can't be done on a pro level for $15-20k. You can rent mics, rent pres, etc. You will be writing and mixing on your stuff constantly. You will not be stringing up drum mics every day. Focus the money where it will help you the most. Rent the rest as needed. If you're in LA, it's easy to do.

If you want to play with the big boys, you gotta pay with the big boys. Pony up and jump on board - or else figure out a plan that will allow you to gradually step into it.

Good luck,

bp
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