All microphones have proximity effect. This means that the closer your mouth is to the mic, the more bass frequencies it captures. If you move away from a mic, the bass diminishes. Professionals know how to use the proximity effect to their advantage. It’s almost a way of “tuning” a microphone.
For instance, if you naturally have a thin voice like I do, you might want to stand closer to the mic to add bass. If you already have a bassy voice, too much proximity effect will create a muddy sound.
It’s important to note that the further you are from the mic, the more ambient or room noise will be recorded. So it’s important to find a happy medium. If you need to get really close to the mic in order to defeat room noise, you might want to invest in a mic that has a bass roll-off switch. This allows you to cut out the extremely low bass frequencies that would be enhanced by the proximity effect while still working close to the mic.
Different mics have different amounts of proximity effect so experiment with various mics to see which ones work for you.
For more information on podcasting, visit my site podcastingtricks.com.
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I just stumbled on two very nice Lightroom tutorials by George Mann that you may want read. The first one, Basic Color White Balance Corrections, shows you examples of “cloudy,” “daylight,” “shade,” etc. applied to an image. Great way to see the differences among the various settings.
The second one, Presets Browser, illustrates some of the interesting effects, such as grayscale, that are built into Lightroom.
Nothing tells the story like pictures. Nice work George!
I went to see “The New Cars” in concert a couple of nights ago; Todd Rundgren has replaced Ric Ocasek as lead vocalist and frontman. (Disclaimer: having been Todd’s business partner for many years, I’m probably a wee bit biased). Having been a fan of the original Cars line-up, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The show was fantastic; note perfect — if you closed your eyes, you’d have sworn it was Ric singing. In fact, I’ve seen a few concerts where this has been the case. Steve Augeri has replaced Steve Perry as lead vocalist for Journey (I dare anyone to close their eyes and see if you can tell the difference!). Likewise, Sammy Hagar stepped in for David Lee Roth as replacement lead vocalist for Van Halen; seems they were more popular than ever when he did. And Styx has carried on just fine without Dennis de Young. Some would argue this is sacrilege; they don’t want their memories tampered with. Sometimes it can be a disappointment, but many times it’s their loss when in fact the new combination works out.
You might wonder how this applies to digital music. A related example is when the surviving Beatles completed two half-finished John Lennon tunes for their Anthology project and “reunion” in 1995. “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love” featured Lennon’s vocals backed up by the others, and enabled by state-of-the-art production technologies. The result was two new Beatles tracks even after Lennon’s death; for many Beatles fans (myself included) it was pure magic. Same thing when Natalie Cole re-recorded her dad Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable” with her deceased dad’s vocal tracks backing her up (goosebumps!). Digital technologies will enable more projects such as these to come to fruition — whether recorded or “live”, and whether all of the original members are living, speaking with one another, or some have been replaced.
Never having seen the original “Cars” in concert, this was going to be my only opportunity; I went with an open mind, and enjoyed it to the hilt. As I did when I saw all the other artists referenced above in concert in new line-ups. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences related to this topic.
It surprised me to learn it, but one of my most-cited posts has been 10 Journalism Tips For Bloggers, Podcasters & Other E-Writers. It turns out there’s a lot of interest in using the web not just for sounding off, but for practicing real journalism. And as in so many areas–music, video, politics, etc–the amateurs are crashing the gates that formerly protected the pro’s.
The One Laptop Per Child program has posted pictures of the first working laptop model. Interesting!
BBC News recently ran a wonderful article on the tritone, beginning, “A new film about the history of heavy metal highlights the so-called Devil’s Interval, a musical phenomenon suppressed by the Church in the Middle Ages.”
A tritone, as you probably know, is the interval from C to F#, which spans three whole tones. Subjectively, it has an unresolved quality, propelling a piece forward. Think of the first two notes in “Maria” from West Side Story or the Simpsons theme. (Dang! Now I’ll never be able to hear West Side Story without thinking of yellow cartoon characters.) Wikipedia lists more popular tritone songs on its tritone page.
So what does this have to do with digital media? I got an e-mail today urging me to create an “earcon,” or audible logo, to brand my business. And that made me think about one of the most enduring audible logos, the Macintosh startup sound. Engineer Jim Reekes recently noted that part of his motivation in designing the sound was that:
I was sick of the tritone “twaang” made by the Mac II. I’m not kidding—it was a mathematically perfectly tuned tritone chord, for gawd’s sake! It felt like a dentist’s drill—adding more injury to the insult [of having to reboot after a crash].
Which makes me wonder: Are there any famous tritone earcons out there?
Hey look! It’s another tag cloud. This is a map of my interests for the past few weeks, based on the bookmarks I have been saving to my del.icio.us account.
Del.icio.us will make tag clouds for you, but sometimes you just have to roll your own. So I wrote an article about how to make these amorphous wonders in Perl and PHP. More importantly, it shows you how to use them effectively, and it contains the word “pie.”
Poking about on a Japanese gadget site, I came across an illuminated, motorized, fish-shaped speaker called the iFish. The description was intriguing: “5 kinds of LED lights flash in many different patterns when music is played through iFish. iFish is capable of changing its feelings from happy to angry by waving its body side to side and by changing the color of the LED lights.”
Reviews are mixed. The Gadgeteer thought that all that blinking and wiggling was hardly worth $65, whereas IGN enjoyed the novelty.
But I started to think that there might be more to this happiness-metering concept. After all, analyzing a song by graphing its frequency, phase, and level is pretty abstract. Today’s audio software is really designed for engineers rather than musicians. Wouldn’t it be more useful to have an emotion meter?
Many of us have had the experience of playing a new song for a pet or a young child and seeing them either dash out of the room or start dancing. Perhaps there’s a way to codify that visceral reaction into a small robot or computer program.
Pearl Jam has a new album out, and has just opted to release its first video in over eight years, “Life is Wasted”, over Creative Commons. The video, which premiered on VH1 last Friday, can be downloaded for free from pearljam.com and video.google.com through May 24th. After that, the video will be positioned for sale through paid distribution channels.
Pearl Jam has never been afraid to blaze their own trail. Their past challenge with Ticketmaster is perhaps the most prominent example. Still, allowing fans to freely distribute the video carries minimal risk, as music videos remain more of a promotional tool than a revenue generator — and the act of doing so engenders fan loyalty. The bigger story here is the coup scored by Creative Commons by drawing such a major name act to their cause. That will add credibility to the licensing scheme, and could pave the way for other big-name acts in the future. I expect many artists believe in the model and will follow along.
What are your thoughts on the Creative Commons licensing model? Will it see mass adoption?
By default, Lightroom frames your viewing area with two side panels, a top module picker, and a filmstrip on the bottom. This is a good starting place to work because you have all of your tools readily accessible. But as you begin to drill down in your workflow, you may want more working area during specific tasks. This could be particularly important to laptop users.
Fortunately, Lightroom enables you to control your working environment. Go to Window > Panels to see the various commands to control the appearance of your working area. You can also use the triangle-shaped icons positioned on all four sides to hide/reveal the panels.
My favorite view is to turn off the left side panel and the bottom filmstrip. This still leaves me with the top module picker and the right side tools panel. If I need to get to the other tools, they’re only a triangle-click away.
Okay, I’ll admit it: Even though I learned (and loved) electronic music production
on patchcord synthesizers, I never got deeply into Reason,
Propellerhead Software’s pioneering studio-on-a-screen. There was just something
about its snarled cords and infinitely tall rack of modules that looked forbidding.
Then I bumped into Reason virtuoso Kurt "Peff"
Kurasaki at a party and learned he was hosting an intensive two-day Reason workshop.
Day 1 was for basics, and Day 2 was for advanced students. Unfortunately, I
was busy on the first day, so I hesitantly signed up for the advanced session,
hoping I wouldn’t embarrass myself too badly.
Here I’m contemplating the Oberlin Conservatory’s crackly Moog 55, circa
1987. Back then, the school’s electronic
music program was like a museum of hands-on analog synthesizers, including
a Putney VCS-3, Buchla 200, and ARP 2600.
Adobe Lightroom allows you to work faster. One of the speed gains I’ve realized lately is the ability to rate and crop my photos at the same time. In the past, this had been a two-part process.
After I have a shoot loaded into Lightroom, I hop over to the Develop module and view an enlarged version of each image to help me rate it. I like to collapse the left column to provide me with a bigger viewing area (just click on the triangle on the left edge). I then click on the Crop button to display the “crop overlay.”
As I move from one image to the next (using the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard), I rate the photo by pressing one of the 1-5 number keys on the keyboard. Before moving to the next image, I drag one of the handles on the crop overlay frame to precisely crop the image. If you want to see how the printed result will look, uncheck the “Show crop overlay” box in the right side tools column. You can activate the overlay again by simply pressing the “R” key.
The crop overlay frame will remain present as you move from one image to the next. I find it amazing how fast I can rate and crop an entire shoot using this method.
The Photoshop Cook-Off 2006 is looking for your best manipulated images. O’Reilly is organizing this event where you take up to three of your own photos and spice them up with Adobe Photoshop, using recipes from any of the five O’Reilly Photoshop Cookbooks (the books are listed on the official contest page). Sample recipes are available.
The judges are professionals from all over the country — so your work will be seen by these well-respected photography experts. Winners will be honored (and receive their prizes) at PhotoPlus Expo in New York on November 2.
Speaking of prizes, take a look at the event sponsors: Adobe, Creative Pro, Flickr, Graphics.com, Gretag Macbeth, iView Multimedia, Imaginginfo.com, Imaging Resource, iStock Photo, Lensbabies, Lowepro, Lynda.com, Nik Software, “Outdoor Photographer,” Pantone, “PC Photo,” Pexagon Technology, Photos.com, Photoshopsupport.com, “Professional Photographer,” “Rangefinder,” Shutterstock, Software Cinema, Total Training, Wetzel & Company. Their links are listed on the contest page, so you might want to see what they all have to offer.
If the thrill of photography is seeing what you can do with your images in Photoshop, this contest is for you.
The Where 2.0 conference is all about the geospatial realm - tools for finding things, developer interfaces, slick new technologies and, perhaps most important of all, networking with those who are making it all happen.
One group that is helping advance mapping and geospatial tools is the Open Source Geospatial Foundation - OSGeo.org. If you are going to be at Where 2.0, I encourage you to check them out. This non-profit organisation is breaking new ground in both the geospatial domain and the open source world.
Recently I stumbled across an interesting survey of music blog readers (roughly 700 respondents and about 30 questions); check it out at Music Blogs Reader Survey. Among the findings there were stats you might expect like that 73% of respondents were male, and most of the readers were either in arts and entertainment, in technology (or both), and/or are students. Those stats are predictable. Some of the more interesting insights were how few of these readers listen to podcasts (62% say they never do), and 44% said that they felt blogs were “going to fill the hole left when traditional publishers fold.” 97% of respondents said they listen to music many times based on the recommendation of a blogger, and over 88% said that friends rely on them (respondents) for music recommendations. Over 37% of respondents said that they started blogging in 2005 & 2006, so overall we’re just getting started. Anyway, some fun stats here worthy of a quick review if you’re interested.
If you’re ready to start playing with Lightroom, you can tap your iPhoto library to provide the source material. It’s really simple, and you have plenty of options along the way.
Open Lightroom and click on the Library module. Go to the File menu and choose Import… You’ll be greeted with a dialog box that lets you navigate to your iPhoto library, where all of your images are stored. I recommend that you go down another level, to your Originals folder, so you can grab the images as they were recorded by your camera.
If you have an extensive iPhoto library, you might not want to import all of the pictures at once. An option is to import by year, starting with the one that has the fewest images. As you get confidence with the process, you can add subsequent years.
Once you’ve indicated while folder you want to import. Lightroom will present you with another dialog box where you have a major decision to make: how are you going to handle those iPhoto files? Your options in the “File Handling” popup menu are:
- Reference files in existing location - here, Lightroom will simply refer to the pictures in your iPhoto Originals library, but store any changes you make in its own library structure.
- Copy files to Lightroom Library - Lightroom will do exactly what it says here… make copies of all those pictures and store them in its own library. You’ll now have the same shots in two locations on your hard drive.
- Move files to Lightroom Library - Stay away from this one! Never, under any circumstance, move pictures out of your iPhoto Library.
- Copy photos as Digital Negative (DNG) - I would only consider this option if the originals you’re importing are RAW files, otherwise, I’d leave Jpegs as Jpegs.
You have other options in this menu, such as if you want the imported folders labeled by date or iPhoto roll number, and you can add IPTC data too. If you care to add keywords, Lightroom enables that in the Keywords field.
No matter which choices you make, you can start using Lightroom today, with images you already have stored in iPhoto.
One of my favorite blogs is Chris Randall’s Analog Industries, where topics range from “Hard-Core Gear Porn Friday” to “Four Measures of Fury.”
Today, though, I read an entry that provoked me to sign up and post a reply. Chris had blogged about getting great coverage for his company’s effect plug-ins in Future’s Computer Music magazine. Readers then opined about the apparent link between buying an ad and getting a good review. So I decided to chime in from the editor’s and reviewer’s perspective. Here’s what I wrote…
I dearly love my MythTV system. I travel a lot, and it enables me to take TV with me to 35,000 feet. What I love best is that it’s growing with me. I recently added an Air2PC HD5000 card, so I now have a three-tuner box. (I hope to write an article on the new tuner in the near future.)
The biggest drawback is one of my own making, which is that my my Myth system only holds about 20 hours of high definition programming. Fortunately, I had used the logical volume manager to create the place where all recordings are stored. I finally had time to install the disk today, so I should find it much less frustrating in the future.
In a new-to-me post on his Ventureblog (OK, it as way back in Dec/05), venture capitalist David Hornik explains why the real money in Long Tail businesses goes to the companies that aggregate and/or filter content- and not to the content creators. This is the point I’ve been exploring in talking about the economics of digital distribution and the Fallacy Of Composition (an advantage for everyone is an advantage for no one). But Hornik brings the perspective of someone who vets business models all day, looking for good investment risks:
I continue to hear funding pitches that talk about the Long Tail as a powerful enabler for content creators… The fact that increasingly the likes of Amazon and iTunes make it possible for Long Tail authors or bands to sell a few books or records through legitimate, recognized channels is touted as the revolution of the artist. Far from it…
I have come to the conclusion that there are essentially two general classes of technology the will benefit economically from the Long Tail — aggregators and filterers. And while both aggregators and filterers rely upon the increasing volume and diversity of content to assure their value in the ecosystem, that growth of content will not have a material impact upon the value of any one piece of content floating somewhere in the Tail.
As of Public Beta 2, you can add music to your Lightroom slideshows. It’s not the most intuitive process ever designed, so I’ll whisk you through it right now.
Once you set up the images for your slideshow, go to Playback Settings and check the Play Music box. Then click on the somewhat obscure “downward pointing triangle” to the right of the Play Music box to reveal a popup menu with all of your iTunes music playlists. This is the interesting part. The popup menu shows Library and playlists only, not individual songs. If you choose a particular playlist, Lightroom will add the first song in that playlist to your slideshow.
But what if you want to play the fifth song in the playlist? Here’s the workaround. Go back to iTunes and create a new playlist. Call it “Lightroom Music” for example. Then put just one song in it. Now, go back to Lightroom, and choose “Refresh playlist from iTunes” at the top of the popup menu. The new playlist you created should appear. Choose it to accompany your slideshow. Your preferred song will now play as the pictures roll by…
Fun software at http://www.faceresearch.com/ allows you to age or youth-ify your face, turn it into an El Greco painting, or morph it into a Manga hero.
I had a go.
During the past year, digital photographers have watched new options emerge for their photo workflow. For the longest time, they had to cobble together applications to move their images through the phases of uploading, organizing, processing, output, and archiving, especially if they were Raw shooters who favored using Adobe’s Camera Raw as their converter.
When Adobe announced Lightroom, photographers finally had an end-to-end solution that was designed specifically for them, and it included Camera Raw. No more hopping around from Bridge, Camera Raw to Photoshop. Everything now is organized within a beautifully designed package. Lightroom is in beta right now and will be evolving further before its final release later this year. What that means for us, is that there’s lots to talk about and explore between now and then.
O’Reilly’s Inside Lightroom site will help you learn the ins and outs of this breakthrough photo workflow application — all through the beta phase… and beyond. You can start exploring right now by listening to an audio interview with published author Julianne Kost as she discusses Lightroom’s positive impact for photographers.
Then, once you’re ready to start working with the software itself, go the the Adobe Labs page and download the latest version of the public beta. To help you get comfortable quickly, also download our free 22-page “getting started” PDF by O’Reilly author, Ken Milburn, titled From Darkroom to Lightroom.
The Inside Lightroom web site will also feature a steady flow of blog posts by Lightroom experts and articles exploring all of its powerful features. We have a few surprises in store for you too.
Lightroom is going to change the way you work. And for many of us, it’s about time.
Today is the release date for the new Red Hot Chili Peppers CD, “Stadium Arcadium”. About a week ago, the album was leaked onto the Internet — which angered the band no end. In a rambling open letter, the band’s bass player Flea said he and his colleagues would be heartbroken if fans downloaded the album beforehand. “I cannot put into words how much this record, ‘Stadium Arcadium,’ means to us, how sacred the sound of it is to us, and how many sleepless nights and hardworking days we all had thinking about how to make it be the best sounding thing we could and now, for someone to take it and put it out there with this poor sound quality it is a painful pill for us to swallow,” he added. So is the concern that the leak will impact sales on today’s official release. I worked with RHCP some twenty years ago when I was at EMI and they were then on the label (they are now a Warner act). I feel their pain and can appreciate their concerns.
This of course isn’t the first time a pre-release leak has occurred; recently Ryan Adams and Janet Jackson have also been victims. And U2’s “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb” was also leaked prior to its release to lots of publicity and vocal tirades by the band; it caused them severe consternation.
Under a provision of the 2005 Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which makes it a separate crime to pirate music and movies before their official release date, these pirates each face up to 11 years in prison if they are tracked down and convicted.
But does this piracy really impact sales of these CDS in a material fashion, or does the publicity that’s generated by these occurrences actually bolster sales for the artist? Is there some kind of alternative that might thwart the impact of these actions — say the artist pre-releasing versions of songs as they are being recorded? Allowing the fans perhaps to vote for the song that should be the single prior to the label making that decision? I wonder if artists couldn’t reverse the impact, if in fact they engaged the fans in pre-release activities — in the process engendering greater fan loyalty, inspiring viral marketing and support by the fans, and greatly mitigating the impact of pre-release piracy activities.
Food for thought…….I’m interested in hearing comments and other perspectives on this scenario.
Despite its lingering stigma from the 100-slide carousel projector days, modern digital slideshows are one of the most powerful tools digital photographers have to present their work. Software such as FotoMagico (Mac), iPhoto 6 (Mac), QuickTime 7 Pro (Mac/Windows), and Photo Story 3 (Windows XP), enable you to author presentations that rival the work that made Ken Burns famous.
During the month of May, The Digital Story will be focusing on how to create compelling slideshows. As part of this effort, you can participate in the FotoMagico Slideshow Showcase where you can share your 1-4 minute masterpiece with the world. To get started, tune in to the podcast, Sensational Slideshows. Then stay tuned for weekly updates on tips and techniques to help you master this beautiful and useful craft.
Yesterday Napster introduced a new free interactive ad-supported version of its digital music service at Napster.com. The site now offers a Web-based cross-platform music player that provides access to its catalog of over two million songs, which users can play for free up to five times. The company also offers ad-free premium subscription versions of its service, ranging from $9.95 to $14.95 per month, and sells the songs in its library for 99 cents each.
Another new Napster.com feature allow users to e-mail or post NapsterLinks to blogs or websites, providing direct links to streaming full-length versions of songs through the Napster music player. NapsterLinks are URLs that link to specific songs, albums or artists in the Napster.com catalog that can be created using a simple, free tool available on the Web site. Music fans can now share legal music across the Web by putting the NapsterLinks they create into any of their electronic communications. Clicking on a NapsterLink anywhere on the Web causes Napster’s Web-based music player to open and begin playing free Napster music. Napster will split advertising revenue from the site with record labels.
Party Like it’s 1999
This new “free” service looks as though it brings Napster full circle from its earliest days as a free online music destination in the late 90’s — but this time around it’s doing it in a ‘legit’ way that’s designed to upsell consumers to subscription packages (whether at home or on the go). And at the same time allow advertisers a slice of the pie, bringing in incremental revenues in tandem. Napster offers advertisers access to millions of music fans & an association with one of the most well-known online music brands.
The question is will this new strategy pay dividends to Napster and help ensure its presence as one of the top online music destinations? In recent months it’s been accused of overspending with its ad campaigns while revenues have been in decline. Napster is a major consumer brand, and I do believe it will succeed both at attracting premium advertisers as well as upselling consumers to subscription packages. It’s a smart strategy to allow listeners to experience a song (or an album) several times prior to making that purchase decision. And if they do it often enough they’ll likely see the benefit in becoming a subscriber. The key is for Napster is to retain (and expand) its loyal user base. I think this is one way to do it so I’m betting this strategy will in fact pay off for them. The NapsterLinks plan is equally compelling and makes a lot of sense in terms of extending the brand and engaging in legal P2P efforts. I’d welcome your thoughts &comments…….do you think these new strategies will have an impact?
During the original Napster days in the late 90s, I had suggested to the management team at the time that they leverage the power of their brand to license it to all manner of consumer goods — including portable MP3 players, clothing, sunglasses, bedding (cat logo), you name it. That’s a strategy this new team has yet to deploy, but could wind up re-igniting the fervor of the brand from days of yore; and of course prove to be a licenzing bonanza resulting in a whole new revenue base for the company. They’re one of the few brands who I believe could get away with something like this…….what do you think??