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OCR01752 - *YES* Final Fantasy 6 'Searching the Woods'

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The following link leads to my submission to OverClocked ReMix, entitled "Searching the Woods".

CONTACT INFORMATION

Remixer name: Olarin

Real name: Bradley Mellen

Email address: olarin42@yahoo.com

Website: http://bradleymellen.com

OCR forum userid: 23257

SUBMISSION INFORMATION

Game name: Final Fantasy 6

Song name: The Phantom Forest

Composer: Nobuo Uematsu

I've been meaning to put together a submission to OCRemix for a long time; recent purchase of a brand new iMac with Logic Studio made it much easier to make recordings, and the recent SquareSound competition gave me an arbitrary deadline to go ahead and get something together for.

Everything in the arrangement was recorded by myself on double bass, violoncello, and guitar.

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http://snesmusic.org/v2/download.php?spcNow=ff6 - "The Phantom Forest" (ff6-115.spc)

From my comments back when I judged this for SquareSound's Nobuo Uematsu tribute competition:

Cool, a live ensemble recording. The balance between the parts was a little shaky, and the lower strings felt a little off on the first listen. The way the parts worked together felt too loose and unpracticed though. If this was actually multitracked, then it's not terrible, but it's also not great. Definitely some personal tilt for performing this.

Now that I know it's multitracked, I feel even better about my comments. Could have been tighter, and the instruments sounded a bit distant, but overall this was good. Very personalized, interpretive take on the source tune.

As I mentioned, some parts of the performance felt a little too loose; the harmonization from :40-:44 (and 1:33-1:36 in the background) fell a bit flat IMO. Some moments in the comping felt odd, but everything resolved well.

Overall, pretty solid. My score didn't necessarily belie that (the competition was fierce), but this was one of the standouts of a packed contest. Hopefully the other Js feel this is good enough as well. Certainly hope we hear more from you, Bradley!

YES

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This one is tricky - there are some elements of it I really like. It's sleepy, yet playful and inventive, and it really sounds like something you'd hear in a coffeeshop. The take is very personalized and I think clearly a lot of effort went into this.

But on the other hand. The rhythm is really off, especially in the beginning. You can't tell how (even if) it's supposed to swing. I think eventually it starts to find a groove but it takes a good minute to get there. The instruments sound pretty distant too, and with such a small combination of instruments, you expect more intimacy and clarity. That's pretty minor next to the rhythm though.

I hate having to give a NO to songs only for performance, because I realize what a bitch it is to redo. But I think the rhythm problems really hamper this. I would definitely encourage you to resubmit after tightening up the playing, because I think that's basically the only thing holding this back.

NO (resubmit)

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The volume level here is rather low. When I loaded up the waveform I saw there was really only one peak that actually hit 0.0db, and few other ones... most of the audio has a good 6db of headroom, easily. I suggest putting a brickwall limiter on the master track (such as George Yohng's W1 Limiter, a free VST) and then boosting the overall volume by at least 4db.

I agree that the recording setup here did not sound ideal... the way things were miced sounds sort of weird to me in terms of the reverb and stereo spread, but it's not a big deal, in the end. The arrangement is creative and interesting with a sensible flow. Some great writing overall. Production is pretty good aside from the volume, though the guitar could be boosted. So that leaves the performance, which I do agree could be tighter. I've listened to this a bunch of times now and though I can hear how the rhythms are not 100% tight at times, I just don't feel it really takes away from the piece as a whole. The arrangement is good enough to make up for it, and the playing never seems.. "sloppy", just loose.

However, I'm giving this a conditional YES - I would like the volume to be raised first.

YES (conditional)

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The way this was recorded sounds very interesting, it gives it a unique character. I'm not sure how intentional it was, but I think it sounds great. The arrangement is great, lots of improv especially on the cello. The rhythm when this starts is a little off, however that is my only issue and not a big enough one for me to reject it. I hope this one passes, it's good to have some acoustic mixes like this one to give the site even more variety in terms of music styles.

YES

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I'm a little thrown by the panning. It's very rare that having the bass anywhere but the middle works. Here you have several basses. Some of which are drenched in reverb. The balance between the bass and cellos isn't great, you could bring out the bass. The performance is a bit iffy, but I feel like it might be passable if you take care of the production issues. Subtler panning and better balances. The bass feels thin. bring out the lows, and take out a bit of the lows from the cellos. The problem is there's a lot of range overlap. See what you can do.

NO

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This certainly is personal. First and foremost the arrangement is superb, especially interesting to see it written for such an unusual trio.. The performance isn't a problem for me. It's very loose and personal but it works for this kind of arrangement and sounds intentional once you get past the intro. The writing is excellent, the harmonies at 0.57-1.10 are just great. The solo is superb too and it certainly gives the track an edge.

Some EQ could've helped to really separate the instruments, boosting the frequencies where the 'sound' of the instrument is and lowering the same on the other instruments just a bit. The guitar is almost inaudible, many times you can only hear the slide between chords. I think it should've been given a small boost in volume. The main bassline could've been much "closer" in the mix to help establish the groove. The panning did help a lot to separate the different instruments though, even though it was unorthodox. Another thing is what zircon pointed out about how quiet it is, and I agree. If you're unsure how to fix these issues I would be happy to take a look at it, I use Logic Studio myself.

Right now there are too many issues with the production and to me they keep the track from being what it could be. While I probably could YES this solely based on the arrangement and just not give a crap about the production, it just wouldn't feel right. This arrangement is both interesting, challenging and good so it deserves the best treatment before we release it onto the eager crowd. Now go fix that so we can post this bad boy :)

NO (Please Resubmit, and soon!)

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Agreed with Andy. Arrangement is fantastic, but this is really quiet. I love the cello stuff, but I have to turn up my volume just to appreciate it. :(

Conditional YES - Fix volume please.

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Great timbres on the recording, very old school. Intonation issues on the string instruments, which sound quite exposed due to the panning. Loving the free arrangement; Jazzy improv going on for all instruments. Feeling the pizz bass one in particular. Lots of close harmony in the lower registers is jarring, but suddenly the panning makes sense, because they don't interfere too much.

The intonation, recording quality and the loose playing could be seen as downers, but in this case I agree with Malcos, in that they add character to the piece. The volume and tuning are probably my main two issues, but I can overlook the tuning, its not atrocious or anything.

YES On condition that you fix the volume.

Optional: Re-recording with a tighter performance. Imo it would be worth it.

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nothing like a nice tricky one to kick things off again...

i take great pleasure in tackling the difficult deadlock ones when the tiebreakers land in my lap.

that said, this one cannot go on the way it is. at the very least, the volume has to be bumped up a bit... the listener should not have to tweak the volume everytime they come to this piece... that's like Directv's annoying commercials that are twice as loud as everything else going on TV. a limiter could definitely help here - just watch your levels a little closer... if you have questions on the particulars of that, our forums are littered with places to find that out including our WIP forum

i don't have as much a problem with the timing as a couple of the other judges. like anso pointed out, the timing forces the piece into the audience's personal space... it is very intimate... very cafe-like and i'm all about that.

the orchestration is certainly fantastic. i've long been a huge fan of acoustic guitars, upright basses and cellos as a unit... i think so much can be accomplished and expressed with it. the arrangement is solid, too... it effectively visits the theme, builds upon it with variation then heads into a solo section and then ends with a culmination of sorts.

the only real drawback outside of the mastering is that the performance is a little sloppy at points. i'm not one to talk but it does make it hard to follow at points... the bassline being so far in the back and detached keeps the listener from getting into a groove which may be what is bringing light to the "timing" which otherwise is very relaxed and lazy(the good kind)

really, this is pretty close so my vote is definitely a conditional one. the changes needed are very minor. the substance is legit and ready to go.

YES (cond.)

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Ug. Well, the arrangement is nice, and it's cool to get a live performance, but ouch, the rhythm and timing in certain places made me outright cringe. That being said, I suppose it adds to the character of the track. It also is a little strange to have that bass panned left like it is. That to me doesn't necessarily merit a fatal strike, but it is unusual. Again, I suppose it only adds to the character here.

Ultimately, I'm withholding my reservations about the somewhat sloppy performance for the expressiveness of the piece altogether. Palpable is right though, there are times where you can't tell if it's supposed to be swing or straight. At any rate, it's a good interpretation so I'm gonna vote borderline conditional YES on account of the volume/compression. The only reason that bothers me is because it's annoying to me and other listeners to have to turn up our volume up in order to hear it properly, only to have our speakers and eardrums blown when the next song in our playlist begins.

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