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Million Photo Memoir mastering, thurs 11 march 2010

The first episodes of this ambitious photographic slideshow include $30,000 worth of 4000 professional 50mb scans by Metro Imaging London (£4= ($8) per scan x 4000 scans=£16,000+ 17.5% vat tax = $30,000) produced & financed over 3 years. There were several setbacks. Many negative scans looked foggy and faded, 3 got lost, some had digital artifacts.. I had to verify everything & go back several times for corrections but Simon & John were most helpful.
Several hundred photos of my father’s diplomatic archive were scanned cheaper at approx. £1+ per scan by 3 Snappy Snaps domestic consumer scanner photo labs: wardour street, covent garden, hertford street. Scott at hertford street was nice at first, but his employee Tom mixed up all my photos to avoid verifcation that none were “lost” even after agreeing to keep all in order and also failed to return 60 slides & prints; his signature on the receipt proves it. Luckily I sensed a less professional vibe there and gave them old flea market stuff, not trusting them with family archives. Unsurprisingly Tom doesn’t work there anymore but just another lesson to get everything & everyone on photo/ video & receipt as proof. And DO NOT TRUST SNAPPY SNAPS HERTFORD STREET.

As curator, it’s the only way to save old vintage photos from further deterioration. The cost was so great because in 2007 London there was no other option, even Snappy Snapps wouldn’t do it cheaper until 2009. Just as hollywood blows their horn bragging about how much films cost as a promotions & marketting strategy (pubic-licity stunt) so too would this be a conversation piece increasing value Nobuyoshi Araki style.

The Million Photo soundtrack is a variety of personally created chillout lounge relaxation atmospheric, easy listening, new age film scores. Mostlty drumless, instrumental, & vocal / phone call samples including the all time classic “Up the Creek” acapellas & dance groove recorded in high school and college. It features my adoptive mom, the ambassador’s wife, verbally abusing me braying that i’ve accomplished nothing, am going nowhere and am worthless because of average grades,3rd rate’ college admissions & unpaid recording studio internships. Little did she know, she and others of her ilk would be unwitting co-stars & muses in the most ambitious multimedia art projects of their kind.

Production notes & Info:
-Audio compression rates Bunt recommends a ratio no more than 3, compared to the final cut editor who told me to squash it to 10 in soundtrack pro. Gain 5, lim-1 is ok. Threshold is what db it starts.
-1 mono signal copied to the other channel & panned remains monophonic and cancellation never completely occurs, just sucks out the bottom end. (that’s what she said).
-No explanation on why sountrack pro software causes distortion & crackle.
-Final cut pro only goes +12 db because it’s semi professional limits.
-The 2 inch rackmount compressor used by bunk junk genius studios years ago is only ideal for constant loud dance music or rock but not other music with dynamics high n lows.
-If the levels are over zero in the red but sound okay than its okay!
Protools adds noise n occasional clicking pops n artifacts if you don’t use word clock special sync.

Mistakes made & conclusions:
-Put usb stick copies of audio files in correct coat, check physically before leaving.
Bring 8 pin firewire cables for solid state drive.
-If locked to picture you cannot do audio editing cuts due to frame inaccuracy & timing. Although I line up & stack 2 recordings on top of each other in final cut and manually drag them over each other till they are in sync & proceed to edit from that although they can lag after a few seconds and have to be re aligned as I did with my olypus LS10 audio files..
-Next ‘challenge’ is the chronological order of 100s of 1000s of photos as camera clock time n dates are often incorrect inaccurtate or don’t match.. Spent many days putting the first 4000 in order in iphoto, should’ve done it before scanning. And then iphoto corrupted & crashed, I.T guy rebuilt most the library with 3rd party software, but the first 4000 remained disordered. Luckily i had ‘drag n dropped’ them from the chronological yet corrupt crashing iphoto library into fcp, but they still need more organizing for animation continuity.
-take more video & leica photo w/ micro & minitripods especially when granted permission

My I.T. colleague went to florida today with 7 friends n family and I should join them but better go fast coz theyre back in a week although there may be another trip but not all of them. spring break man!

Update: typically endless obstacles. Found out today march 12 2010 that the mastered recording has a resonant ringing noise on it absent on the original. contacted Bunt as follows:

dear Bunt, there’s a high pitched resonance ringing sound on the mastered recording which is absent on the original. It starts from the beginning synth pad and onto several other parts with synth sounds. Please remove it. I heard it when I was there and should have asked. May be travelling and will email or call you next week. thank you for your time,  Sincerely george godley.

Saturday 13 march 2010: some of his reply:

I do not think there is any “resonance or “ringing” that was not already present on the original.
I added a little eq at upper mid and very high frequencies to bring some clarity to what was, in my opinion, a rather flat and dull sounding track. Inevitably this will enhance the higher frequencies in the audio, advantageously, to my ears.
However If you would prefer the mastered version to be flat (by that I mean without any eq) I will do another version with just compression and limiting. Although all processing will to some degree colour the sound of any audio track, it will be as close to the original as is possible.
This is best achieved by using a file exchange program such as USendIt or Send Space to email me the file.

I replied “message received, thank you, will get back to you next week, sincerely.. My thoughts: The flat mix sounds much better because there is no loud sustained cricket chirping noises ruining it. The master is unlistenable, sounds like a supersonic dog whistle and a million crickets chirping in unison, a dentist’s drill. Can’t believe he can’t EQ without adding this horrible noise. Excessive noise & flat are the only 2 options he offers. He should be able to EQ mildly.. I’ll post both versions online for comparison.
other disapointments:
-one vocal is way too loud, like screaming loud, 20db louder than the other vocal sample. very unpleasant, uncomfortable, unlistenable. Even cheap finalizing software brings all levels nice and even.
-he couldnt cut the audio up without losing frames, giving 2 choices: or limited level manipulation where you can’t bring things up or down, or losing the sync to picture. Even cheap final cut software lines up your cuts evenly on top of each other so you don’t lose a frame. Clearly sadie software isn’ t up to the job or he didnt know to stack one waveform on top of the other to synchronise them even though i told him how. Actually they can stray: even in final cut, it starts accurate and after a few seconds it starts lagging and therefore maybe its not doable, which it should be at this level of professional service.

Please link to indie film production, soundtrack film score prodcution, youtube, facebook blogs etc.

51 comments to Million Photo Memoir mastering, thurs 11 march 2010

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