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Everything posted by crypto_magnum

  1. Taxes are a wickedly complex subject. Just know that you are going to be 1099'd by your employer if you make $600 or more as an individual contractor, or if you make $10 or more in royalties. In order to properly identify you for the 1099, the company doing the deal with you should ask for forms I-9 and W-4.
  2. Good advice all around, in this topic. Realistically, if this is your first gig of this scale and you are an unproven entity, then I think you'll be better positioned to stick the landing on this job by not pushing too hard on the contract negotiation. You are making an investment in yourself, building a professional portfolio, while they (the company producing the game) are taking a risk on you and probably expect to pay you accordingly. That said, here are some general guidelines for making sure you don't get screwed: 1. If the pay is very low, you should keep ownership of the music. The contract should still grant the company (them) rights to use your work in connection with the game in all forms, its promotion, etc, forever and everywhere at no additional charge. You may even allow them to use your music in sequels, spin-offs, prequels, and so on... although that's a little bit sketchy, in my opinion, yet not unheard of. Along with ownership, you ought to have exclusive rights to produce a soundtrack album or release singles (music only) if you want. 2. Be clear on what your fee covers. The trend is for these offers to come as a "package deal," meaning that the composer is responsible for paying for all or most of the costs of music production up to the point of delivery, directly out of his or her own package payment. In all honesty, it's not uncommon for starting composers to spend the entirety of the package on the music as they try to establish themselves, but your creative and financial needs will help determine how you spend your budget. Alternatively-- but not likely-- they may cover all music production costs and pay you a creative fee, which is either pure profit for you, or split between you and a mixing engineer. Again though, a package deal is far more probable for a low-budget project. Point is, you need to know this going in. As an aside to this, also be clear on how many minutes of music they're expecting, approximately. Pay should reflect this. 3. Be clear on when you get paid, especially if any kind of live recording is involved. If you're going to be paying musicians or engineers for intermediate expenses, then you need to have a cash flow plan in place. You might propose a payment schedule such as the following: 1/3rd upon the latter of the signing of the contract or the first "creative meeting" to determine what it is they want out of the score, 1/3rd due upon commencement of recording, and the final 1/3rd due on delivery of the final masters (just for example). 4. Don't plan on seeing any income from any kind of "percentage share" scheme. It's a great clause to have so that if the project explodes, everyone gets a share of it, but don't count on it or plan your future around it, because it's rare for these kinds of projects to take off. Also, it should not be your only source of payment on a project unless you're doing this for a close friend and are spending nothing but your time. There's a lot of other legal language that can go into these deals as they grow larger and deal with more money, but the above four points are good things to nail down no matter the what the size of the project is, imo. Please do keep in mind, however, that this is just my opinion and I am not a lawyer. =) Good luck out there!
  3. I just got around to watching part 2. Man, that was depressing to see 25 minutes worth of examples of violence against women. I was hoping for a more... I suppose, "insightful" approach. Once again, I don't feel like I really learned anything new. But maybe I'm not really the primary intended audience, and that's okay. One of the big problems surrounding the issue of harmful female representation in gaming is that a lot of people are still denying it. A lot of dudes (and some dudettes such as KiteTales) think this stuff is no big deal, or that it can be solved with an attitude change in the gamer. A positive attitude is great, but there's a big difference between facing stereotypes with thick skin, versus dodging them by sticking one's head under the sand. Perhaps this is the audience which is in most need of being reached. And what better way to raise consciousness on the issue than to bombard viewers with example after vivid example for nearly half an hour? It's brutal, but hopefully effective.
  4. There's so much I love about this song, I can't possibly list it all here. So crisp and groovy. "Augment" might have fit nicely between "No Regret" and "The End" on the Identity Sequence album, imo, but it also definitely stands on its own as one heck of a single. I certainly wouldn't object to hearing more in this style.
  5. I listened to the source first and wondered how the heck you were going to turn it into a full-length remix without pulling in an additional source. (Well, as it turns out, you did quote the main LoZ fanfare just a little bit, but still, nice job on a limited, tricky source). Stepping through it in real-time... 0:15-0:50, I feel, isn't evolving fast enough. Maybe I'm just impatient and this is a quality of the genre. I hear you added some percussive elements, but it's pretty subtle-- maybe too subtle. Similarly, 1:00-1:30 could use more variation in the third and fourth passes of the source loop, I think. The break-down is pretty sweet though. 1:30-2:00 is so very nice. Most impressive part of the remix, in my opinion. You really changed up the source and infused it with something original and interesting. But again, with the third and fourth pass of the source from 1:30-2:00, not much new happening in relation to the first two passes. 2:00-2:30 seems kind of flat to me (as a measure of "excitement," not tuning). The song kind of loses some energy there, because some instruments have exited, but nothing has come in to replace them. The percussion is still going as if we're still in the climax of the song, but with the subtraction of instruments in this section, it feels like we're sort of half-way ramping down rather than ramping up. From there it kind of fizzles away with the fade-out. I think there's an opportunity there to write a more interesting concluding section. Over all, I think that the instruments work well together. The mix is crisp and clear. The concept is solid. My concerns are a lack of source usage in the first 50 seconds, the dynamic curve towards the end of the song, and a lack of variation within each group of four repeating phrases. All of that said, I enjoyed listening-- very appealing mixture of sounds. =)
  6. The key issue for me is that the instrument/sample choices sound sort of "default" and, for lack of a better word, "midi-ish." I guess what I really mean by that is... the brass, drums and piano sound like older/synthy/fake versions of acoustic instruments, and they sound very mechanical (little to no variation in timing or dynamics). At the same time, as Melodious Punk pointed out, I think you could naturally evolve this remix into something more in the "9-bit" or "fake-bit" genre. But if you go that route, you gotta' commit-- no "half-way decent" samples, or it'll sound like midi. I imagine it's not easy to evoke that retro feeling without it sounding... "old." Not to pick favorites, but halc (I speak of the posted remixer) might be the ideal study if you plan to take the 9-bit route. halc's sound is strongly nostalgic, yet every instrument is pristine and meticulously programmed, and the production impeccable. Now, some things I liked: first, the ornamental turns on the high wind-ish/synth instrument in the introduction (and throughout) are nice. Those are actually what kind of reminded me of halc's work, a little bit. Second, there are lots of nice harmonies in the strings, brass and vibraphone. You handle the dissonances, passing tones and resolutions well. I love me some 7ths! So, I think you've got a pretty good handle on the harmonic side of things. What I would focus on, moving forward, is the instrument/sample choice, followed by programming/automation (if going the 9-bit route), or performance/humanization (if going for a realistic acoustic sound), or both if you want to do a hybrid style. Thanks for sharing!
  7. Thank you all soooo much! This is a ton of great info to go on. I think I've listened so many times with various elements soloed or muted, that I've kind of gotten used to hearing everything that's supposed to be there... so when I listen back with all of the tracks armed and enabled, my brain fills things in by memory when in fact my ears aren't really hearing them through the muddy mix. One of the many reasons that peer review is very helpful! 'Going to move this back to "work-in-progress" for a while, while I work on each of these issues and try out the suggestions.
  8. Wow... that post was eye-opening for me. This is the first truly thoughtful and persuasive criticism of Anita's work that I've come across (disclaimer: I haven't read most of this thread yet, so I'm not implying anything about the quality of the criticism contained within it thus far). I think that, because I'm part of the "choir" she's preaching to, most of these problematic phrases you dissected slipped right past me on my first viewing of Anita's video. When you already agree with the conclusions, it can be easy to overlook flaws or fill in the missing logical steps with your own outside knowledge, without even realizing you're doing it. I'm definitely guilty of that, in this case. And it stinks to have to admit that, because I think that Anita's message is an important one, and I agree emphatically with much of it. I'm still impressed with and appreciative of what Anita has been able to do with her campaign so far. There's a lot of value to be had from that first video. I think it's powerful from an illustrative standpoint; while parts of the rhetoric and logic may be lacking, the onslaught of visual examples left a lasting impression on me. And I also think that the video is accomplishing a lot from an informative standpoint as well-- it's raising consciousness on these issues, as is evidenced by the large volume of posts being generated on OCRemix and other sites. Not that anyone is necessarily arguing otherwise, but I'd affirm that Anita is doing a positive thing. I think she's doing the best she can (she's certainly taking her time with the videos, which indicates to me that she's trying to be careful and thoughtful), and it's a heck of a lot better than I could do. The only point I might challenge you on, then, is your skepticism as to whether Anita is the "right" person for the job. I'd put forth that she is the right person for the job, simply because she's the one who had the guts, motivation, and technical savvy to put together the first campaign of this scale surrounding this issue, which had previously been left alone (relatively) for decades. She's not the most studied, most articulate, most-anything... but she had the right combination of qualities and the right timing to get this ball rolling. Until someone better steps up to claim the torch and carry it forward, Anita is the right person for the job, because she's the only person. I hope that with so many episodes left to write, some of the intelligent criticism such as DJP's will reach Anita and inspire her to make adjustments to her rhetoric, moving forward. We're just scratching the surface with this first video, so there's plenty of time for course correction.
  9. I'm hoping to get some feedback before I flag this for mod review. Anything helps, even if it's just "it didn't really grab me, it was kinda' flat," if you took a quick listen and hit the back button on your browser. I could use some fresh ears on this-- any and all feedback is appreciated!
  10. Totally digging Y&R's "Nadie Tema." It's so fresh, young, and restless.
  11. I've had Zircon's "Identity Sequence" living in my car's CD player since last December, and I can hear the subtle influence. I'm getting a "The End" vibe from your remix, yet you've done plenty of your own thing with the remix and it sounds pretty darn original to me. I've definitely not heard "Lava Reef" done quite this way before either, so props for taking a relatively popular source and doing something new with it. The guitar intro is sweet. Nice ducking under the strings. No complaints on the strings. There's a good amount of complexity here, yet the mix is perfectly clear and not muddy at all. The drums could maybe punch through a little better as the song gets busier, and the lead is a little loud, in my opinion (more on that in a second), but over all the mix is very clean. Very nicely done. I do find myself turning the volume down because my ears can't take the high volume and frequency of the lead synth. I think that the volume could come down on that, consider dropping parts of it 8vb, or maybe try a softer "falsetto" kind of effect on those high notes (play with filters and/or harmonics). Right now, the lead is sort of "piercing" to me at times, and when I turn it down to a comfortable volume, I can't hear the rest of the arrangement as much as I'd like. Also, the lead could be more dynamic. There are many sustained notes which hold the same pitch statically, where you could add some vibrato or swells in volume (but be careful, as noted above) to make the lead sound more alive. A common technique for sustained notes at the end of a phrase is to hit them fortepiano and then crescendo, gradually increasing the speed and intensity of the vibrato at the same time. For a synthetic instrument, you can create vibrato by modulating pitch subtly with an lfo, and varying the degree to which the lfo is applied to the synth, as well as the speed of the oscillator. The remix might be a little light on source usage until the 1:00 mark. That could be a concern in terms of meeting OCR's "50%" rule. The chords are there, but I'd recommend tying your remix to the source sooner and a bit more overtly. Maybe try playing some fragments of the source melody with some light ethereal bells with a healthy amount of delay (just for example). You don't have to totally break up that nice slow build you're doing, but I would recommend sneaking in some source early on, even if it's just a faint echo. If you wait too long to quote the source, the listener might forget what exactly they're listening to. In terms of over all structure, the dynamic curve doesn't move a whole lot. The first minute builds nicely, but there's not a lot of variation in over all dynamics after that until the end. There's a little shift in action when the lead drops lower at 1:22, but otherwise the dynamic curve is fairly flat from 1:00 to the end. Maybe considering substituting instruments in and out (more dramatically than you already do), maybe include a quick breakdown and then build back up, or anything that could break up the action a bit more. And on a related note, if you plan to flesh out this remix some more, I think it could use a more definite ending. My motto (which I didn't invent, but rather picked up from someone on OCR so long ago I forget who it was who originally said it) is "fade out = cop out," which is perhaps a harsh way of stating that I simply am not a fan of fade-outs. To me, it's like when you're having a group conversation and someone tries to sneak out of the circle by backing away slowly, still facing the group... it's kind of awkward, like a sentence that runs on without a punctuation mark. Okay, now I'm really going off the rails. Point is, end strong. "Strong" doesn't necessarily mean "big, mean, nasty and loud," but "with confidence" and a definite statement or purpose. The instruments you've chosen sound great together. And everything sits very well together in the mix. Whether that's due to your initial sound selection or whether you EQ'd and panned the heck out of them to make it work, you've done a great job. Nice counter-melodies with the other synth at 1:02 and with the piano at 1:46. I really like that there's so much originality in this piece, and it's especially impressive considering the popularity of the source. I've nitpicked a lot of tiny details in this post, but I enjoyed listening and your remix has a lot of good things going for it. My over all impression is that this is good work. Thanks for sharing!
  12. Oh nice, the track I was interested in auditioning on is still open. I'll finally be able to start on it next week, once work dies down a bit. I've been doing some brainstorming and sample-hunting in the meantime, and I think I've got a concept for the parade song. And I don't say that as any kind of claim or pseudo-claim, of course, but I figured it would be good to restate my intention only so that I don't come across as a flake after my last post. =)
  13. Great advice. I played percussion in the local youth orchestra, growing up, and it really did wonders for my musical education. It also made me very good at counting measures for tens of minutes while I waited for my one bass drum note to come up, but that is beside the point. I highly recommend that you buy miniature score books for the songs that your orchestra is playing, and follow along while you're waiting to play. As for a favorite orchestral piece... well, my favorite piece when I was younger was Ravel's "Pictures at an Exhibition." To any ambitious pianists out there: I recommend learning the original Mussorgsky version on piano first, then compare to Ravel's orchestration and be ready to have your mind blown.
  14. I should add, I'm listening on really poor headphones at the moment, so the Midna's Lament piano may indeed be bright as Cosmic Sounds suggested. If so, I think that's a curious choice (given my limited knowledge, of course).
  15. I'm far from an expert on this, but I have some suggestions you could try. First, not all pianos and piano samples are created equal. Some are naturally "brighter" than others. It's hard to explain what that means precisely, but certain pianos have a little extra "sparkle" in the upper registers. One characteristic of a brighter tone is that the piano in question will be especially rich in the higher frequency range. Similarly, if you're adding your own reverb, that can also configured to be brighter, versus warmer/darker. "Bright" is what you want to avoid when going for a nighttime-ish, darker, forlorn tone. It helps to find a piano (real or sampled) that naturally posses this quality, but you can also cheat your way there somewhat by EQing down those higher frequencies that are responsible for sparkly sounds, and by choosing a deep, dark, warm reverb (a lot of reverb plugins literally have a settings labeled "warm" and "bright"). The amount of reverb you can get away with depends on what else is happening in your mix. In Midna's Lament, there's almost nothing else going on, so they cranked the reverb way up, and you get this distant, lonely piano sound. A couple more tricks are detuning and delay effects (both are used in Midna's Lament, if I'm not mistaken). There's something about a slightly detuned (down) piano that sounds sad to me. Maybe because it sounds like it's been neglected? I don't know, but it's effective. The delay effect used in Midna's Lament (where notes echo more fully, in a different way than reverb), adds to "lonely" aspect of the sound, I'd say. Most important, however, is the writing. If you're going for "sad," there are certain chords, voicings, passing tones, etc, that can help you convey that.
  16. Are non-posted remixers free to submit an audition for an open track? This project looks amazing!
  17. I'm really digging this! Great source from a great indie game. Could just be my headphones, but I'm not hearing much low-end after the first minute or so. Lots of mids and highs, and not a lot of bass outside of the kick (which is cutting through crisply and beautifully, by the way). I feel like the hit at 1:13 could benefit from some more resonance and reverberation. There's enough space around it to really make it shine and fill up the soundscape. The attack is a bit punchy, and the release perhaps too abrupt. The hit at 1:51 is much fuller, though I do like that the 1:13 hit is deeper and more subdued. Just an aesthetic suggestion. The dynamic range is superb in the first 2 minutes, but from 2:12 - 4:55, there's sort of a "wall of sound" effect going on. There's a shift in filtering from 3:17 - 3:38, but I feel you could do something more pronounced, like a shift in dynamics, tone, instrumentation, etc. The more you play with that kind of duality, the more impact each section has. When you give your listener's ears a brief rest, they have a greater appreciation for your more energetic/intense sections when you ramp back up into them. It sounds like a lot of care went into humanizing everything. The piano in particular emotes well as it crescendos in all the right places. Lots of nice filtering work going on throughout. Beautiful string voicing from 1:15 - 1:51. If you were going for "uplifting" (as the name would indicate), you nailed it. Thanks for sharing!
  18. Thanks for that excellent packing advice, Brad! I've run into problems with cards unseating themselves during a rough transit too. If you carefully deliver your computers personally, you can virtually guarantee that they'll arrive in good shape, but I realize that this isn't feasible for some of you who might have larger areas of business or friends living across the country. I find it's best to be proactive and generous about tech support. I mean, obviously there have to be boundaries to that, and ideally there shouldn't be a need for it, but issues do come up which are outside of everyone's control. Problems can happen in shipping, new parts can fail well before they should, and so on. It's a good idea to insure your shipping and keep track of your orders for potential RMAs so that neither you nor your customers have to eat costs you shouldn't have to.
  19. The FF6 flood continues! This was another recent entry in the second installment of the Final Fantasy 6: Balance and Ruin remix contest. I've tweaked the mix a little bit since the competition concluded, and I think it's ready for some peer review. My major concerns are the mix and production values in general, which is where I feel I have the most room for growth. All comments and critique are welcome and appreciated though-- please don't hold anything back! =) Original Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd0fnITPGPE Remix: https://soundcloud.com/crypto_magnum/chill-cryptid-v1-2 Thanks!
  20. I wonder if anyone has had any luck building a better N64 controller? The joysticks on those things just seem to wear out after 20-30 hours of use, even after my household ban on Mario Party went into effect. So far, the replacement joysticks I've tried are very faithful to the originals in feel, but unfortunately also in durability...
  21. I've been happily married for about 3 years now. We met online, but it turns out that we only lived about 10 minutes away from each other growing up, and we probably crossed paths at band competitions (we both played mallets). We bought our first house together last November and have been busy busy busy fixing it up. No minions yet, but we're preparing. Soon...
  22. I think the difficulty with reapers is that they can kite you to death... well, maybe not to "death." They just feel like they're doing a lot of damage because Zerg can't touch them without ling speed in the early game. They can jump between your basses, and sinking a spine in each mineral line is expensive early on. But they can be defended against... examples can be found in the recent GSTL pre-season. It's sort of like when I have to deal with Swarm Hosts as Protoss... they feel like they're just killing you slowly because the swarmlings are free units... makes me panic every time. But if you can get on top of them or sneak an observer over and siege with Tempests, they die so fast. Likewise, once you catch those reapers, they melt. Defending against any kind of brand-new aggression is hard at first. Like, I'm having the hardest time right now as Protoss, trying to learn how to read the various new Terran aggressions. The drops are just brutal right now... Widow Mines, Hellbats, Marine/Marader... you never know what they're going to drop out of there to ruin your day... until you learn to read the info your scout is giving you. And truly, they can't deny you with a wall-off any more, now that you can just float a mothership core over it. Figuring out the new rules of "standard play" is really most of the fun of having an expansion, imo. It does look like there are some balance issues right now, but they only really affect me as a spectator, not as a player. I'm not that good; I have plenty of room to simply focus on improving myself.
  23. For serious? Nicely done! I love the intro and outro sections. Really ambient, complex yet clear, interesting textures, and so on. The intro especially really drew me in. Those drums are so crisp and just cut through so clearly. The filter at 1:36 is smartly done, and then when the snare rips out of it around 1:47 accompanied by the screaming guitar-- hot damn. I do have to agree with jnWake with regards to not hearing a whole lot of low-end frequencies. The sections that are just rhythm guitar and drums sound a tad thin at times. The most noticeable place is right after that killer transition at 1:47, it felt like we were building up to something bigger... and I mean, the energy is there, but the frequency spectrum feels a bit sparse. Could just be characteristic of the genre, but I'd consider filling it out more, perhaps. Enjoyable song, over all. Great intensity and energy... and most certainly "fierce."
  24. I know what you mean about having no time. Dang, you pulled off a lot in a limited time though. So many great ideas in this thread already... I hate to be a broken record, but they're spot-on, imo. Subtle mining sounds, both percussive and ambient, would be great in the intro. Maybe some light ride cymbal taps (on the bell of the cymbal) could work nicely during the outro, just to subtly color and accent some of the jazzy chords (like you do around 3:30, but maybe brighter and with a bit more pitch separation)... I could almost swear I hear an almost inaudible cymbal tap or two already near the end, but considering making it more pronounced in that case? Speaking of the outro, I'm not sure how I feel about the naked strings there... they're very synthetic, but they do sort of take me back to the source. I don't think they quite meld with the acoustic instruments as well as some of the other synthetic elements, such as your lead. The organ just screams for B3 treatment given the other voicing. The riffing and soloist work is fan-freaking-tastic! Mmm mmm.
  25. Ah, I've been waiting for days to comment on these recent FF6 pieces; I listened to them all immediately after they were posted but things got so busy last week at work... I love the variety in this remix. It's so important with a solo piece, since you're working with a limited spectral range, or timbre. Nice performance all-around-- everything from tempo stretching to complete shifts in character are done well and keep things interesting. One of the things I like about solo piano (or solo anything really) is that it forces you to really make the instrument speak, to draw out expression and personality... and you do a good job of it here. One thing I would suggest revisiting is the EQ or perhaps the sample itself. The lower range of the piano isn't resonating quite how I'm used to hearing it, and I can't quite pinpoint the cause. Actually, a song came on right after yours on soundcloud called "Break Blocks Original Mixtape" by Aivi Tran. No idea where it's from or anything, but it's a good example of the resonance I like to hear in the bass notes of the piano. Careful not to emulate the clipping from that neat little song though! =P Interpretation and originality are strong in your song. And you've clearly got the chops to play it with the character a piece like this needs. So far so good!
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