interacting with the future
The automation of creation
Modern music production is a right old Jericho - the walls are tumbling down. Mixed Media highlights products and developments which are changing our lives, as digital techniques fuse sound and picture, creator and user, entertainment and communication. Keep in touch...
The film industry is the latest area of the entertainment business facing the inevitable quantum leap into computerisation. Just as publishing, music, graphics, and video have seen production techniques revolutionised by desktop systems of one kind or another, the movies are now being digitised, too.
In only a few years, an American company called Avid have produced key products which have begun to transform Hollywood. Now, they've established a European HQ at Pinewood Studios - ironically once the centre of a thriving British film industry and a name which conjures up memories of James Bond, Norman Wisdom, and the Carry On team.
It's many of the time-honoured post-production techniques, which seemed such an organic part of the business of making films, that Avid's products - and others like them - will replace.
Suddenly, cutting film becomes obsolete, just as tape splicing became obsolete with the advent of sampling and direct-to-disk recording. Sync dailies are replaced by inputting the sound and pictures directly into Avid's Media Recorder, a digitising station which in one portable configuration makes this possible actually on location. ADR, foley, and mixing can be completed on a single digital workstation called AudioVision. Even some of the paperwork is reduced by text files which can be maintained throughout the film flow, detailing script alterations and other documentations as part of a given film's multimedia file.
The heart of this transformation is a program called Film Composer, which is the first digital, non-linear editing system to bring to the movies benefits well-known in the world of video and TV. Real-time editing is offered at 24 frames-per-second, a resolution to match film itself.
Musicians and audio engineers should view these developments with particular joy. The processes of synchronising sound to picture are greatly enhanced, as the entire soundtrack becomes part of a digital audio-visual palette. Nagra, the industry standard location recording machines, are now available in DAT format, to be used alongside the cameras. A DAT-mastered score can therefore be loaded into Avid's AudioVision along with all the dialogue and location sound effects, which have not left the digital domain since they were first recorded.
It all sounds wonderful, and it is. But why the picture of Leslie Nielsen and Priscilla Presley in Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult? Well, the whole film was edited on computer, using Film Composer...
For more information, contact Lynne Gardiner, Avid Technology Europe, (Contact Details).
You might be waiting for recordable CDs to become as common as the humble cassette. You might have Gigabytes of earthquaking music raring to go straight onto everybody's favourite medium (well, most people's - Ed). But are you ready with the video footage?
Well, now Surrey company CD Revolution have launched a CD-R MPEG PC system. Let's go through the acronyms in turn. CD-R, obviously, means recordable CD. PC... well, it doesn't mean saving whales in this context. But the MPEG bit is crucial, since it stands for Motion Pictures Expert Group, the worldwide standard for digitally encoding and decoding audio and video.
The system enables you to record just over an hour of audio-visual material direct to disc, with unprecedented flexibility. OK, to buy one costs nearly 25 grand. But you can hire the facility at CD Revolution for £250 an hour, and the company expects many clients from the music business as it responds to the new demands of multimedia and interactivity.
The availability of video CD is set to widen in the next couple of years. OmniMedia is one company that has already launched titles combining digital audio and VHS-quality video on one disc.
So far, playback systems are limited to the main computer platforms. But as domestic systems become available, a new challenge to the VHS video format will be mounted.
And you never know. It might not be long before re:mix contains video promos, filmed demonstrations, and archive footage of yours truly playing guitar in a band called Jane Goes Shopping.
For more information, contact CD Revolution at (Contact Details)
"Corporations may run the world but they don't run CyberNoise..." So says Graham Needham. That's because CyberNoise is an independent electronic music magazine. No, an electronic music magazine - a music magazine that's electronic.
It comes on a TDK MF-2DD double-sided, double-density floppy disk. It does, as it happens, concentrate on electronic music, too, but the medium is a neat way of bypassing production costs and adding an air of renegade chic to the enterprise. It also gives rise to a true epithet for the '90s: 'digizine'.
Version 4.0 (not Issue 4, or anything like that) of CyberNoise is now available to slot into your disk drive (it's Mac format, by the way), and supplies a blend of discographies, features, and interviews relating to The Human League, Kraftwerk, Clock DVA and many more. There's also a huge directory of contacts for the earnest electronic / industrial / atmospheric / ambient / techno / dark wave / cold wave / experimental / techno-pop / electro / EBM devotee, including artists, magazines, fanzines, fan clubs, record labels, clubs, distributors and shops.
For two quid you can just shove it in, double-click on the disk icon, and cybersurf your way around. For more details contact Graham Needham at (Contact Details).
If anyone needed further evidence of a genuine demand for post-Nintendo interactive and musical entertainment combined, consider that Video Creator, a video editing package by software house Almathera, is breaking records in pre-sales of titles available for the Amiga CD32.
By combining the appeal of both computer games and music, Video Creator seems designed to appeal to both sides of the youth market equation. It comes with over 1,000 images, special effects and a full manual, and works in sync with the music of your choice.
If you have video CD capability, you can add the effects to the existing footage. Otherwise, create your pictures to suit the music and download them to a standard VHS tape. There's even a 'random rave' feature which will trigger from your chosen audio track, albeit with hardly any interactivity at all.
For less than £40, the package should gauge the mass appeal of music multimedia with an accuracy long overdue.
More information is available from Almathera at (Contact Details).
News by Phil Ward
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