Digital Media Insider Podcast 17: Secrets of the Demo Gods
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Editing and Assembly

Jim Aikin

Jim Aikin is best known for his 25-plus years at Keyboard magazine, but he also gigs on this five-string electric cello. (photo: Christine Thompson)


Mark Nelson

Mark Nelson is one of the top slack-key guitarists in Oregon. He has recorded several acclaimed solo CDs.

Call Recorder produces a strange QuickTime file with a mono track for the caller's voice and a dual-mono track for the recipient's. Using QuickTime Pro, I panned my voice left and disabled the left output on the interviewee's track (panning it right), and then exported the recording as a stereo AIFF file.

I imported the file into Peak to chop out the chitchat and remove false starts, "ums," and Skype clicks. This time I used a new technique to pan the two sides of the conversation to the center so I could listen on headphones without getting dizzy.

After cleanup, I exported the two sides of the conversation as mono WAV files and imported them and the voiceover into Ableton Live 6. I then arranged them around the music examples and the theme music. I enhanced the voices with Izotope Ozone and (for the Skype tracks) BIAS SoundSoap.

Finally, I rendered the mix to an AIFF file and converted it to an MP3 in iTunes using a drag-and-drop AppleScript from Doug Adams. (I found that iTunes was much faster at encoding MP3s than Peak, with no significant quality difference—at least at 128kbps, the rate we use for Digital Media Insider.)

The Digital Media Insider theme music came together in Live as well. The opening sound effect is a compressed mouth noise spliced onto a tone cluster I generated in Native Instruments Reaktor. The main groove is from Steinberg Xphraze. (Jim Aikin turned me on to both virtual instruments in his article "My Five Favorite Soft Synths.") The piano is from the Garritan Personal Orchestra, which I discovered when we interviewed Gary Garritan.

The theme also features a few percussion samples dredged from my hard drive. Altogether, it took just six tracks. Effects processing was courtesy of Live's default plugins and Freeverb.

Related O’Reilly Articles and Blogs

Articles by Jim Aikin

Aikin covers arpeggiators, FM synthesis, Propellerhead Reason, software synthesizers, FL Studio, MIDI, and much more in these deep yet clear tutorials.

Articles by Mark Nelson

Nelson's series of digital recorder reviews are top-10 Google hits, but he's also plumbed high-tech guitar and MIDI gear for O’Reilly. Check out our previous podcast as well.

The Secret Life of a Product Reviewer

What do musical instrument reviewers really do? Read my exposé and another music journalist's follow-up.

David Battino is the audio editor for O’Reilly’s Digital Media site, the co-author of The Art of Digital Music, and on the steering committee for the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IASIG). He also writes, publishes, and performs Japanese kamishibai storycards.


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