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Final Fantasy 8 'The Extreme'


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Hi all -- I've been working on this remix for 3 months now. I think it's where I want it, but I'm not in the most objective position to judge that. I haven't done the EQing or reverb on it yet, but let me know what you think. It's a beast (8 minutes long).

Many thanks,

-Colin

******************* EDIT: This link should work now. *******************

http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut.mp3

http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut2.mp3

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Reviewing as I go.

Starting: Sounds more like Vincent's theme from FFVII and little like The Extreme from VIII -- although it could just be a mix of use of the guitar and my memory.

Wow, this song takes a while to get started. Are we starting yet? No, still building. There we go. Now it sounds more like it.

3 : 05: A little repetitive. Nothing's happening.

3 : 49: Interesting approach with the piano. I like it.

4 : 40: The main theme is now engraved in my memory. Too much use of it.

4 : 36: Realized that my media player, Zoom Player, has screwed up the times and the times I've listed may not be accurate. It says the total length is 6:12, but you said 8 minutes before. Anyway, this guitar synth (or horn synth) I'm hearing at whatever time I'm really at sounds a little cheap. But, this is to be expected of a guitar synth (or horn synth).

? : ??: The end is alright, although the class might be a bit loud. It didn't hurt my ears, though, so I wouldn't worry about it unless someone concurs.

Retrospective:

It would be a pretty good song were it not for two kisses of death: Repeating the same melody through the WHOLE FRIKEN SONG and it's slow. It just doesn't go anywhere fast.

Other than that, it's a pretty good song.

EDIT

I actually listened to The Extreme again, and I'll note that it does sound a lot more like The Extreme in the beginning than I gave credit.

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Haha, at first I thought this was my thread being revived. In other words, I am all to familiar with the source track by now. I really like the way you've handled it here, but as SplinterOfChaos said it does feel a bit repetitive at length. There are more lead tracks to fetch themes from in the original, aren't there?

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You got my comments in #ocrwip. Just be careful about repetition, especially harmonically. You're relying a lot of texture, instrumentation, tempo, and counterpoint for variation--which are all great things to use. I'd like to hear some original melodies and chord progressions--especially chord progressions. And while you're taking the rock approach, how bout a solo?

Also, you may want to consider shortening the amount of layering you do to save on the length of the mix. Just an idea though.

Your ideas are solid, instrumentation is fantastic, it shows a lot of musicality. Post an update and I'll give you a checklist review ;) Nice work so far, this has some great potential.

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First post here, so you can take this with a grain of salt I suppose

The primary melody is repeated far too much as others have already said. Give the poor thing s break now and then, and vary it more.

I also feel the melody is a bit penetrating at times. In the quieter sections, it slices though everything else (Which may be intentional, but the repetition of said melody kills it). Dropping it down to a lower octave might help it blend in better in certain spots.

The guitar work is a bit sketchy, better samples might help. Conversely, the violin work is fantastic.

Overall it has a nice feel to it, though it overstays it's welcome after around 5 minutes. Try to shorten some of the more "dead" sections. Original work is well done, and it identifies with the original very well.

I'm looking forward to your revision of this :)

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OK, a few people have mentioned that "the melody" is over-repetitive. Are you guys referring to the acoustic guitar part, that opens the piece? Or the melody that plays first with a flute at 1:20, then with a guitar at 3:02 (and a few times later as well)? Or are you referring to both?

Thanks.

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I'm definitely not referring to the guitar part, that part is killer. I guess it would be the flute thing? It's not as much that the melody is repetitive as it is the chord progression/harmonic rhythm.

Actually, now that I'm listening to it again, I do hear that opening ostinato a LOT... tell you what, when I get a chance I'll go through this timestamp by timestamp and let you know what's going through my head.

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Meh. I think it could be a little shortened, or hint at the piano melody earlier, but no, it's OK.

BTW: Until things pick up a little more, you might have the piano be more centered and not so loud on the high notes. (It was too sharp just now when I listened on a high volume--to appreciate the song better.)

The thing is I really dig this song, but a song must be dynamic on both sound scape (where you're good) AND melody. After the first two minutes, though, nothing changes. Eventually, even the best songs sound like a Puddle of Mud. But, not mixing up the melody FORCES you to play more with sound scape, and not even that is sufficient.

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OK, here's an updated version that addresses some of the common concerns. The major differences are a shorter beginning and end, some different chord progressions and counter-melodies (see 1:52-3:06 and 4:20-4:42 in particular), and some variations to the main melody. As with the last version, the production values are currently non-existent, and the volumes are a bit out of whack at times ... but these are relatively minor issues right now, as I'm more concerned with bigger picture stuff. Such as:

--are the variations to the main melody too varied now? The basic melody is played at 1:05 and at 4:20, while the varied versions are at 2:44 and 5:10. Are the similarities too subtle? Do they seem like variations, or just entirely new melodies?

--is the section from 5:37-6:10 long enough? I feel like it should be repeated (with variation and increased intensity) once, maybe even twice ... but the piece is pretty long already and I'm reluctant to add anything.

--in general, is this piece trying to do too much? While I am going for some sort of crazy orchestral rock epic, I'm wondering if there's just too much going on, and if the whole thing would be better pared down.

Anyway, here's the link. Listen away!

http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut2.mp3

And the old version, for comparison:

http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut.mp3

Thanks in advance.

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alright lets do it!

PRODUCTION

[x] Too loud

[x] Low-quality samples

[x] Drums have no energy

STRUCTURE

[x] Too repetitive

PERSONAL COMMENTS (positive feedback, specifics on checklist criticisms, any other thoughts)

[write here]

So your arrangement, albeit a bit long is pretty balls to the wall awesome. At 2:45, the way the guitar changed chords without changing the accompaniment was actually pretty awesome in my book, although I'm sure there are people who'll be put off by that. As far as arrangement goes, I hear a lot of the same things coming from the piano. I would go ahead and try to give that some variation--make up some original ostinati, you've used the source ostinato enough that you can put more variation there.

Sampling is an issue with this one, specifically with the violin. Some of the guitar samples sounded a TAD fake, but the violin is the only sample that really stands out as fake. You need to get yourself either a real violinist, a killer sample, or put a new instrument there all together.

As for the drums, they strike me in general as being a bit too quiet compared to everything else--and everything else is so loud, I think it'll be a combination of bringing the drums up in their level as well as backing everything else down a bit. The snare sample isn't that great to me, snare and kick are both lacking a good punch. Eq the highs of your snare up a bit, and the lows of your kick as well, run a compressor over both of them and hopefully those parts will have a bit more umph to them. Also make sure that you vary up your velocity levels a lot, in all elements of the set--but especially the snare, which will be the most exposed. Cymbals too, actually.

I'm worried this might be a bit too long... if it is, you might be okay with cutting it off around 6-6:30... though I can def tell why you want that extra minute ;).

Changes you made are fantastic, I think it's largely production issues that you have left to deal with this piece of work here. Great job!!!!

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  • 2 months later...

Even with your changes (which definitely helped, a lot), it still takes considerably too long to build.

The guitar doesn't have enough presence early on.

The drums sound very hollow, it sounds like better samples are needed.

The ending is weak, it lacks the power that the rest of the piece sets up. There isn't as much payoff for listening to the song for that long as you've made the rest of it promise the listener.

I tend to agree with everyone else that's a cool piece, but it doesn't feel like it's been mastered beyond some velocities and mild reverb.

It is not OCR quality yet, or at least it doesn't feel like it. It's got the potential, but not enough umph yet.

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I agree, the drums are a little hollow. But it's nothing a little EQing can't fix :D Here's an update:

http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut6.3.9full9.mp3

Regarding the other comments -- yeah, it's a slow start. But that was intentional. Have you heard the original? It doesn't get going till 1:39 (mine takes off at 1:51). The best part of the original is that slow build-up -- the adding of layers and textures, the intertwining of melodies and rhythms. I guess people are either going to hate that or love it, but it's part of the piece and it's there to stay.

Interesting comment about the ending. Personally, I really like the end, but I might be biased :D An earlier version (http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut2.mp3) had a 18-second-long power chord at the end (6:10), which was perhaps more epic than what I've got now -- but I wanted to end with the solo acoustic guitar, and having that sustained chord in there just dragged the ending out too much. Anyone else have an issue with the ending?

Not sure what it's lacking in terms of production -- could you be more specific? I've already done a shitload on production -- reverb and velocity edits, like you mentioned, but also EQing on all the instruments, compression/distortion on the drums, ADSR envelope adjustments on most instruments (most obsessively with the violin solo at 3:48 ), tweaking of every guitar strum in the piece, a lot of minor humanizing tempo adjustments (notably with the acoustic guitar at the end), layering of samples (the intro acoustic guitar? it's actually four samples at once), smoothing out all the transitions between sections, and just getting so many different styles of music and combinations of instruments to come together into something cohesive. This piece has nearly killed me. But anyway, if anyone's got any specific suggestions, that would be great.

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I agree, the drums are a little hollow. But it's nothing a little EQing can't fix :D Here's an update:

http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut6.3.9full9.mp3

Regarding the other comments -- yeah, it's a slow start. But that was intentional. Have you heard the original? It doesn't get going till 1:39 (mine takes off at 1:51). The best part of the original is that slow build-up -- the adding of layers and textures, the intertwining of melodies and rhythms. I guess people are either going to hate that or love it, but it's part of the piece and it's there to stay.

Interesting comment about the ending. Personally, I really like the end, but I might be biased :D An earlier version (http://www.campcoop.com/~cstewart/extremismV2roughCut2.mp3) had a 18-second-long power chord at the end (6:10), which was perhaps more epic than what I've got now -- but I wanted to end with the solo acoustic guitar, and having that sustained chord in there just dragged the ending out too much. Anyone else have an issue with the ending?

Not sure what it's lacking in terms of production -- could you be more specific? I've already done a shitload on production -- reverb and velocity edits, like you mentioned, but also EQing on all the instruments, compression/distortion on the drums, ADSR envelope adjustments on most instruments (most obsessively with the violin solo at 3:48 ), tweaking of every guitar strum in the piece, a lot of minor humanizing tempo adjustments (notably with the acoustic guitar at the end), layering of samples (the intro acoustic guitar? it's actually four samples at once), smoothing out all the transitions between sections, and just getting so many different styles of music and combinations of instruments to come together into something cohesive. This piece has nearly killed me. But anyway, if anyone's got any specific suggestions, that would be great.

I just listened to the newer version, which is definitely better as far as the drums go.

For me it's not a matter of the layered textures in the beginning (I'm a big fan of it, personally), it's just how long it takes to do so. As much as I hate referencing other artists, if you look at the way folks like Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold, Coheed and other bands that tend to layer intros before hitting with energy, it seldom goes on for longer than a minute without something drastic going on. It's not that it isn't cool, it just feels too long for me. But that's just one person's tastes, and honestly, the composition is strong enough to look past it once you get past that point.

I like the concept of what you wanted to do with the end, and honestly, you don't need the powerchord there either. It's probably just my adrenaline thirst when I hear rock pieces around this site, I always want to hear the kind of zazz that makes me say "Fuckin' A!" when a song kicks out, especially when it's got a strong midsection.

The production thing was an error on my part, I was too lazy to find my headphones and took a gamble on the comptuer's speakers. It sounds better than I'd remembered from the previous listening.

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You need to clean up the guitar at the opening lol and some how make it start less suddenly. The paino and the rest were brilliant mind, but u should make the melody sound a bit more like the original. Liked the drums.

When the rest kicks in its good but you should have same riff as the original when it gets loud (the one that sounds like the intro the original ff fight themes). You really should try and make it sound more like the original tune lol but otherwise its brilliant

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colin, i'm not sure if I agree with your eqing decisions in the beginning of the piece... I really liked those guitars brighter, as in the earlier version. In fact, everything seems to be a lot muddier now. It sounds too low-fi, too compressed overall. In general try not to compress/eq the whole mix when the issue is really in a specific instrument. I'm sure part of that is probably from having to compress at a low bitrate too. Also, i hear you boosted the lows of the kick but I'm starting to think now it may be a little too much. See if you can find a better balance between the attack of the kick and the resonance of the kick. Still not too crazy about the violin sample, but i think it sounds better now.

Your mix definitely sounds fuller now, but I do think it's overcompressed. Especially in the drums, i'm hearing a lot of volume fluctuations (especially in the cymbals)

I still love your arrangement! unfortunately i don't really remember the source, but I think you've got the right ratio of original and source content. Just widen your sonic pallet, eq the bright instruments and the dark instruments respectively, and don't compress so much. Right now I'm hearing too much low, too much compression.

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It sounds pretty good but I have no idea what the source is, my FFVIII memory is a little fuzzy. Could somebody link me to it?

My one detail I can pick out is that sometimes when when it gets louder the whole thing starts to sound scratchy, I'm not sure if that's a quality problem or if you're just blowing out my headphones. Either way, it could probably use some work.

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Here's the original:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01mxuw31GVs&fmt=18

Thanks for the feedback, Doug. I think it's mostly a problem of the mix being too loud in general, and the limiter just squashing everything down. I'll play around with the volumes and cut down on some of the low instruments till I get it a bit cleaner.

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You've gotten a lot of feedback already, so I won't get too in-depth with this.

Piano is a little rough on the ears, you might want to drop the high frequencies a little. In fact, the soft intro of it might work better with a little lower overall volume.

When the drums come in, the long release of the crashes cover the piano. You might want to move the piano down an octave to make sure it carries through.

Overall, this seems to be mixed with an emphasis on the highs. You'll want to change that. At 2:45 I'm getting tired of the ear abuse.

It's the same thing over and over and over again, in different variations. It gets repetitive after a while. Key changes might help, but I'm more annoyed at the frequency balance than the repetitive nature of the track. I do want to encourage you to cut the piano from parts of the track, as it gets old quickly. You might also want to cut some length, it's at 6 megs and about 120 kbps, so the quality isn't at its highest.

6:00 - my favorite part. My ears can rest a bit. It's still a bit strong on the highs, but not as much as the piano, cymbals, and the rest.

Colin, listeners, please take the time to answer the questions in this post.

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