A First Time For Everything

The following post was written by Bennett Northcutt. He is one of our 2015 summer interns learning about business and finance in video production and marketing. Welcome aboard Bennett!

View post on imgur.com

 

 

Earlier this week, I began my internship here at Blueforest Studios. Not knowing what to expect, I walked into the office Monday morning to find an intrinsic group of people dedicated to what they do, and boy, do they do it well. Blueforest offers an array of avenues for companies to increase local awareness. One way Blueforest does this is by offering an annual competition for one lucky nonprofit in the Triangle area to receive a free video called Blueforest Givesback. Nonprofits submit applications as to why they deserve the video and Blueforest selects one company which they feel has the most compelling story. How awesome is that? Then Blueforest creates a free video worth $5,000 to $10,000 for the nonprofit. This year CASA was the lucky winner of the Blueforest Givesback competition. The other interns and I were tasked with brainstorming a radio spot to advertise the screening of the winning video Blueforest created for CASA. CASA is different from any other organization I’ve worked with in the past. CASA’s mission is to provide affordable housing to those who are homeless and disabled in the Triangle. With over 300 apartments in the Triangle and constant need, CASA cannot continue to thrive and house those in need without your help. Visit http://www.casanc.org/ and help make a change today.
The radio spot we created can be heard here:

 

Music Plagiarism and The Art of Sound Alikes

View post on imgur.com

“A good composer does not imitate: he steals.”

-Igor Stravinsky

 

Usually when someone like Stravinsky, a man of immense talent and knowledge in the field of music, gives you advice you want to take it and apply it to your own work. Unfortunately, in this case, stealing ideas from songs/compositions will get you into some serious legal trouble (especially today).

 

Take for example this recent event: Tom Petty has been awarded songwriting royalties for Sam Smith’s hit “Stay With Me.” Apparently people started to sing along to this song with lyrics from Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and realized they were eerily similar. It seems Tom Petty thought so too. Have a listen to this mash up and you’ll hear similarities in the chorus melody.

 

 

This isn’t nearly the first case of plagiarism in recent memory of popular hits. Remember the Coldplay song “Viva La Vida?” I’m sure Joe Satriani does…

 

What is the one common factor that has allowed these artists to have a case against another artist? The melody! Within music copyright laws you can not sue for someone using the same chord progression. If that were the case no one would be able to write a song destined for radio airplay (which is a whole other soapbox moment I may get into at a later date).

But what are you to do if you want something similar to your favorite song but can not pay to afford the fees to license that specific track? It’s obvious many people like specific genres for a reason. With the way the music business is working currently there is bound to be an attitude of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” There just may be a formula to produce an instant hit…

 

The reason I bring this up is because in the world of marketing it is understandable that people will want a big hit song for their video. They might even want a number one hit for their on hold messages! With the cost of licensing fees and the consequences of not paying those fees if you use the track what is a smart alternative? A sound alike!

 

Yes it is possible to have a song that sounds similar to the hit song you want but will avoid copyright infringements. Remember, the copying of melodic content is what will get you into hot water with copyright law. This does not apply to using similar instrumentation, gestures, tempo/song speed, or chords. The idea of a sound alike track isn’t new either. It has been used frequently in many mediums for quite a while. One of my personal favorite examples is the classic Animaniacs cartoon “West Side Pigeons.” Besides the title alluding to the great “West Side Story” you can hear how similar the music is to the work of Leonard Bernstein.

 

 

 

The same ideas can be applied to any genre of music: pop, rock, indie, hip hop, etc. I will always try to advocate for creating original content BUT if you are in desperate need of something that sounds like the latest radio hit, yet can’t afford the song itself, a sound alike could be the answer for you.

 

Do you prefer an original composition for your marketing content or do you think a sound alike track would bring in more attention and suit a production better? Let me know in the comments!

 

– Dustin

 

Audio Restoration: A Powerful Tool In An Evolving Field

Most days of the week, while working on sound design or composing music, I will have a moment when I reflect on how much the world of audio and music production has changed so quickly in the relatively short amount of time I have been in this profession. I remember upgrading from my old Gateway PC to a 2008 Mac Pro tower the summer before my junior year at Western Carolina. The prior year I had become friends with Jonathan Churchill, Co-Founder at Embertone virtual instruments here in Raleigh. When Jon first showed me his compositional works for video games the semester before I felt a switch going off in my head changing my desired course of future employment from band director to composer. My mind was boggled by the fact you could make such great sounding music from one computer! Growing up I always imagined everything had to come from a professional studio with millions of dollars of gear in it. Seeing Jon produce music from a Mac I told myself “I have to get one of those.” Seven years ago I also recall hearing the audio samples he was using and thinking “Wow, that sounds like a real orchestra!” Of course in that short seven years the quality of virtual instruments, analog modeled plug-ins, digital audio workstations, and everything in between has increased exponentially. And it’s only going to do so even more in the years to come.

One of my favorite types of audio software to really come to light the last few years has been software geared towards audio restoration and repair. Now, there have been methods of reducing noise and crackle and various little messes here and there for a long time. Those are certainly all helpful and vital in achieving great audio for any medium of media. Within the last few years software such as iZotope’s RX line have given us ways to dive into audio from a spectral standpoint and remove just about anything you don’t want in your audio recordings.

Anyone who has recorded audio on set for a film of any form will tell you there is quite a process to capturing the purest audio from the shoot. Being outside of a controlled environment there is a good chance that your microphones will pick up anything from car noises, to AC units, to wind, to chatter in the corner, and the list could go on and on. Luckily for us if those sounds creep into our recordings we can remove them and deliver the audio your video deserves!

This tutorial video of iZotope’s RX software is a great demonstration of the difference even the slightest cleaning up of audio can do. Watch as the audio engineer is able to remove the noisy clicks from a wedding photographer’s camera during the vows of the ceremony.

 

But what about the restoration of audio? Some clips may be too loud and distort during the recording process. While it is still in best practice to record at appropriate levels there also could be sounds a client would want to use that they have on hand that need to be repaired.  Those types of recordings or sound effects can be worked with and polished too!

 

Finally, in case you are saying “Dustin, that’s great but have you used anything like this before?”, here is a clip from a project I worked on earlier last year. This comes from a series of recordings done in the New York City metro system. Singer Pavlina Horakova and pianist Drew Spradlin came up with the idea to take a piano to the subway system in New York City and record different movements from operatic works of the past. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you a subway system, let alone the one in NYC, is filled with noise stacked upon noise with a little more noise on top of that. With a lot of determination, and several cups of coffee, I was able to not only clean up this recording of several extraneous sounds but was also able to repair several instances of distortion and clipping to hopefully bring you into the beautiful music these two performed.

 

I hope all of you reading this have found it informative! Feel free to comment and let’s talk about the great things happening in audio and video production.

 

-Dustin

 

Hello From The New Audio Guy! (read: amazing composer)

Hello to all of you out there reading this on your computer screens, phones, tablets, and all forms of electronic devices! My name is Dustin Painter and I’m the new audio producer at Blueforest Studios here in Raleigh, North Carolina. The higher ups wanted me to write a blog post to introduce myself so here it goes!

I started workiIMG_0715ng here in November teaming up with our insanely talented lead audio producer Donald Best. Together we work on tracking and editing voiceovers, audio mixing, and audio production for clients that come to us for video production. We also produce any kind of audio production that you can imagine.

We take pride in producing excellent quality audio work for our video production team here at Blueforest Studios. Have you ever watched a video online, maybe even on TV, and thought to yourself “something doesn’t seem quite right here…?” The production value of the video looks great, the acting is superb, and the story the company is trying to convey is being told in a solid manner, so what is it? It’s probably because the audio has been thrown on the back burner during the production process and simply placed in. I can tell you one thing: that does not happen here!

The purpose of audio is so much more than just you hearing what someone is talking about in a marketing campaign. Nobody wants low quality audio in their videos. Even when you watch TV how many times are you actually watching? It’s easy for us to flip the tube on and go about working on different tasks. Maybe you’re cleaning the house, or cooking, or even just have it on for background noise. Why is it so easy to still enjoy TV even if you aren’t watching it? Perfect audio is why! Audio, even without the visual aspect, can bring you into whatever medium you are exposing your attention to. Audio is a vital part of storytelling and very well may be the most immersive part. What else in the audio realm is important for videos? Music! This is where I hope to come in and and to help you out personally here at Blueforest Studios: original music designed specifically to YOUR needs.

Outside of my work here at Blueforest Studios I work as a freelance composer and sound designer for film, TV, videos games, and any form of media possible. I studied “Commercial and Electronic Music” at Western Carolina University here in the mountains of NC and was lucky enough to do graduate studies at the University of Southern California in the “Scoring For Film and Television” program. During my time in Los Angeles I had the chance to study with some pretty incredible composers such as Christopher Young (Spider-Man 3, The Rum Diary, Sinister), Bruce Broughton (Silverado, Tiny Toon Adventures, Lost In Space), and Garry Schyman (Bioshock Series, Dante’s Inferno, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor) among many others.

As a composer my purpose is to bring you into the heart of the story. Music should help to propel the piece of media forward into a part of your brain that will make you remember what you just saw. It is all about making a personal connection to the viewer! Once again, how many times have you had something on in the background while working and have known exactly what is on because of the music that’s playing? Music not only works directly on viewers but can access a subconscious level of the brain to tell them how to feel, what is happening, and can engrain itself into the memory without you even knowing it’s there.

With all of that said I want to help bring your story, your product, your ideas, or anything you want to tell to the forefront of people online and everywhere! I feel very lucky not only to make music and sound as a career but to also have the chance to do it here at Blueforest Studios with some of the most talented, creative, and kind people you’ll find in the business of marketing and video production.

Of course there are some times when trying to create that right piece of music feels like this:

Then an idea comes along and it feels like this:

Finally a music track that fits just right is made and both I and the client I’m working for can sit back and know their video is ready for everyone to see!

Now that I’ve talked your ears off, or I suppose typed your eyes out, feel free to check out this playlist of some various work I’ve done on projects!

I hope you enjoyed what you’ve heard. Thanks for a few moments of your time and I hope to work with you all very soon!

Cheers,

Dustin

(blue)Boost Your Resume

Update January 5, 2017: Thanks for your interest, folks! All our positions are currently full, please check back in a few months to see if there are any new availabilities.

Does working in the video production or marketing industry interest you? Are you wondering what sort of jobs exist in these fields or what local companies have to offer? We’re often approached with inquiries about what kind of jobs exist at Blueforest Studios, and while we aren’t hiring any full-time employees at the moment, we wanted to take a moment to let anyone who’s interested know about what kind of opportunities exist in this market.

Types of Careerstop_internships

Creative Director – This is a vital role in the product development process. Creative directors must have a creative vision and the ability to lead their team of artists. They must also have a head for business and be able to direct activities of the company to maintain a standard of creative excellency, timeliness, and profitability while meeting the clients’ needs.

Video Producer – This person coordinates all the different aspects of a video’s production. A video producer works with both clients and the production staff. He or she plans and executes video shoots as well as post-production tasks and sometimes makes key editorial decisions.

Audio Producer – An audio producer must be familiar with the technology and equipment needed to record, mix, and produce sound on videos. This may include adding sound effects, voiceovers, or background music. They may also be responsible for operating audio equipment on shoots.

Illustrator / Animator – This person uses their creative visual skills to communicate a story, message or idea. This could include producing drawings, diagrams, or other images that help make a client’s message more attractive or easier to understand.

Account Executive – An account executive serves as the direct link between a company and its clients. This person builds sales by prospecting for new clients and generates future profits by nurturing existing customer relationships.

Interning at Blueforest Studios

helpWe are not currently accepting additional interns, check back in summer 2017.  These individuals would have the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of working in the respected positions for a video production company.

Sales and Marketing interns would assist in the creation and distribution of marketing materials, perform analysis of marketing and sales data, and provide support to social media efforts. This person should have excellent written and verbal communication skills and knowledge of the Web and social media. We are looking for applicants who are willing to commit to a minimum of 3 months.

A video intern would assist with the daily operations of video production and work alongside our experienced video producers. Ideally, this person would have some familiarity with basic video practices such as editing. Additionally, they should be able to take direction well and learn new tools quickly.

 

Blueforest’s ‘Best’ Hits

It’s been about a year and a half since The Amazing Donald Best zoomed into the Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 12.29.17 PMBlueforest Studios office, wowing us with his powers of audio production. A little background story on this melodic superhero – it was the late, great Micheal Jackson who inspired Donald’s love of music at the ripe age of five. Though he couldn’t utter a word of English, the little producer-to-be could belt out all the words to Thriller.  This passion led Donald to pursue an Associate’s degree in Recording Arts and a Bachelor’s in Music Business at Full Sail University in Orlando, FL. These days, when he isn’t hard at work at Blueforest or vanquishing villains, Donald puts his skills to use composing his own original music. Donald recently sat down with me to give me insider info on some of his recent achievements and the future of his music career.

AR: So tell me how you got into this business.

DB: Well I used to be in a band and that’s when I began recording music, because I wanted to be able to record my own band. From there, I decided to go to college for Recording because I learned that it was something I enjoyed and wanted to know more about.

AR: You’ve been working on your own compositions recently, what do you plan to do with them?

DB: Basically I want to build a portfolio of original music, kind of like Audio Jungle, so that I have demos for future corporate video projects. It’s been a different experience from what I’m used to because  in the past my music has revolved around my own interests and the band I was in, but lately I’ve been focusing more on music that would appeal to clients. I want to add to my corporate audio portfolio.

AR: One of your original pieces got picked up for a radio spot, that must be exciting!

DB: [Laughs] That was completely unintentional. I was going through music options with a client and they weren’t liking anything. So I played them one of my pieces as an example of the type of music we should go for, and they actually liked it and wanted to use it.

AR: What are the other songs on your demo like? Do you go for a specific genre or feel to your music?

DB: No, they’re all pretty different. Since none of them are intended to actually be used in a project, they’re pretty generic just to showcase what I can do. I want to be able to make music specifically tailored to the project. So after talking to the client, getting a feel for what they want, and watching the video, I have a better idea about what the piece needs.

AR: Do you have any other side projects or work you do outside of Blueforest Studios?

DB: Megan, [my girlfriend], and I recently played at Lincoln Theater downtown for the Raleigh Chamber Arts Forum. That was a lot of fun. We always talk about playing together but rarely get time or an opportunity. I also have my own studio where I record and produce other bands’ music.

AR: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the future?

DB: I’m always looking for new opportunities. I like taking on projects that are different from anything I’ve done before and learning new crafts. There’s a girl recording in my studio and her music is being produced in California. We use Skype so the producer can see me and listen to her as we’re recording to basically produce from his house in L.A. In this day in age, technology can make a lot of dreams possible. Who knows where my career could take me?

Listen to Donald’s original music here.