Introduction to Digital Cinematography

I took this class mainly to fulfill an elective requirement for the “Music Composition for Film, TV, and Games Degree” program, but really enjoyed what we learned about. The instructor, Hana Kitasei, was super professional and often provided insightful feedback and direction.

Thanks to my wife, Rachel, for being my collaborator as some of the assignments required human subjects and her help was invaluable either in front of or behind the camera.

Here’s the clip that I put together for my final assignment.

And here is what we covered during the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Introduction to Visual Storytelling – Jan 9th – Jan 13th
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Visual Storytelling, Photography, Exposure Times, Photography as Art, Cinema, Workshop: Images as Communication, Discussion 1.1: How Do Images Communicate Something to Us?, The Power of the Image, Messages Hidden in Images, Communicating Your Message, Discussion 1.2: What Images Do You Want to Create?, The Frame, Aspect Ratio, Determining an Aspect Ratio, Workshop: Framing, Assignment 1: Visual Storytelling, Recap

Week 2 – “A Technical Introduction to the Camera” – Jan 14th – Jan 20th
Introduction, How is an Image Created?, Camera Obscura, Creating a Permanent Photograph, Modern Camera Sensors, Creative Use of Exposure Time, Camera Components, Camera Functions, Exposing an Image, How a Digital Sensor Determines Brightness, Exposure and Shutter Speed, Using Slow Shutter Speed on a Video Camera, Quiz 2.1: Camera and Exposure, Controlling Exposure, Three Exposure Controls, Aperture Effects, Exposure and Aperture, The Sensor, Adjusting Sensitivity, Noise, Workshop: Exposure, Video and Still Cameras, Discussion 2.1: Your Camera, Assignment 2: Creative Exposure, Recap

Week 3 – “The Lens” – Jan 21st – Jan 27th
Introduction, What is a Lens?, Lensless Photography, Convergence, Lens Speed, Field of View, Sharpness, Distortion, Guidelines for Choosing a Lens, The Main Functions of a Photographic Lens, Exercise: The Creation of a Lens, Consumer Cameras, What Lens Do I Need?, Choose a Lens, Choosing a Lens, The Normal Lens, Workshop: Lens Types, Exercise: Lens Selections, Perspective and Depth, The Illusion of Depth, Depth, Perspective, and Lenses, Discussion 3.1: Lenses, Quiz 3.1: Lenses, Assignment 3: Creative Use of Lenses, Recap

Week 4 – “Camera Placement” – Jan 28th – Feb 3rd
Introduction, Examining a Shot, Shot Types, Extreme Long Shot, Long Shot, Medium Long Shot, Medium Shot, Medium Close Up and Close Up, Extreme Close Up, Shot Size and Lenses, Using the Medium Close Up and the Close Up, Over the Shoulder Shot, Two Shot, Camera Height, Eye Level Height, High Angle, Low Angle, The “Hero” Shot, Quiz 4.1: Camera Placement, Objective and Subjective Camera Work, Audience Viewpoint, Viewpoint in Movies, First Person Viewpoint, Third-Person Restricted Viewpoint, Omniscient Viewpoint, Point-of-View Shot, Analyzing “Vertigo”, Discussion 4.1: Camera Placement, Assignment 4: The Subjective Camera, Recap

Week 5 – “Camera Movement” – Feb 4th – Feb 10th
Introduction, When Was the Camera Moved First?, The History of Camera Movement, Camera Movement Types, Motivated Camera Movement, The Panning Shot, The Tilt Shot, The Tracking Shot, The Circular Move, The Push-In Shot, The Pull-Out Shot, The Crane Shot, The Handheld Shot, The Steadicam Shot, The Aerial Shot, Moving the Camera Successfully, Static Shots, Significant Camera Movement, Quiz 5.1: Camera Movement, Discussion 5.1: Rocky, Assignment 5: Camera Movement, Recap

Week 6 – “Lighting Tools” – Feb 11th – Feb 17th
Introduction, What Can Light Do for Us?, Illumination, Depth and Shape, Texture, Mood, Telling a Story, Lighting Function Summary, Discussion 6.1: Lighting, Properties of Light, Angle, Color, Diffusion, Lighting Properties Summary, Quiz 6.1: Lighting, Professional Lighting Tools, Safety, Light Meters, Sekonic’s Online Classroom, Improvised Lighting Tools, Assignment 6: Lighting Tools, Recap

Week 7, Creative Lighting, Feb 18th – Feb 24th
Introduction, Three-Point Lighting, The Key Light, The Fill Light, The Back Light, Effective Use of Three-Point Lighting, Practical Lighting Applications, Lighting Analysis, Lighting the Face, Visual Intensity, Evaluating Visual Intensity, Contrast and Affinity, Evaluating Contrast and Affinity, Contrast in Color, Evaluating Color Contrast, How Does Light Help Tell a Story?, Quiz 7.1: Creative Lighting, Discussion 7.1: Creative Lighting, Assignment 7: Creative Lighting, Recap

Week 8 – “Color” – Feb 25th – Mar 3rd
Introduction, What is Color?, The Relativity of Color, The Human Eye, After Images, Primary Colors, Complementary Colors, Complementary Colors in Art, Color Interpretation, Shades of Red, Color Interpretation in Cinema, The Meaning of Color, Discussion 8.1: Color, Quiz 8.1: Color, Color and Images, Color in Film, Drive, Discussion 8.2: Emotion, Assignment 8: Color, Recap

Week 9 – “The Story” – Mar 4th – Mar 10th
Introduction, Story Basics, Exercise: The Scorpion and the Frog, The Rabbit and the Turtle, Exercise: Narrative Film, Conflict, Protagonist, and Antagonist, Exercise: Conflict, Three-Act Structure, The Screenplay, Using a Screenplay, Live Concert Video, Music Video, The Script, Discussion 9.1: The Script, Script Breakdown, Exercise: Script Breakdown, Visual Guidelines, Creative Inspiration, Visual References, Discussion 9.2: Visual References, The Shot List, Exercise: American Beauty, Storyboards, Assignment 9: From Story to Shot, Recap

Week 10 – “The Long Take” – Mar 11th – Mar 17th
Introduction, To Cut or Not, Exercise: Battleship Potemkin, Shooting Sufficient Material, Exercise: Zodiac, The Long Take, Discussion 10.1: Long Takes, Fictional Time, Real Time, Pace and Rhythm, Other Long Takes, Challenges, Background, Camera Movement, Lighting, Goodfellas, Performance, Designing a Long Take, Shadow Man Battle Scene, Careful Planning, Behind-the-Scenes Photos, A Story Within a Long Take, Discussion 10.2: Four Short Films, Assignment 10: Long Take, Recap

Week 11 – “Continuity” – Mar 18th – Mar 24th
Introduction, Exercise: The Edited Scene, Analysis and Structure in the Scene, Editing in the Scene, Editing and the Cinematographer, Types of Continuity, Continuity of Time, Present, Past, Continuity Example, Future, Conditional Time, Continuity of Space, Content Continuity, Lighting Continuity, Flexibility, Directional Continuity, The 180 Line, Discussion 11.1: Continuity, Crossing the Line, Cutting, The 20/30 Rules, The Content Cut, The Action Cut, The POV Cut, The Conceptual Cut, The Jump Cut, Assignment 11: Continuity, Recap

Week 12 – “Collaboration” – Mar 25th – Mar 31st
Introduction, The Creative Team, The Creative Team: The Producer, The Creative Team: The Director, The Creative Team: The Screenwriter, The Creative Team: The Cinematographer, The Creative Team: The Production Designer, The Creative Team: The Editor, The Movie Set, The Movie Set: Assistant Director, The Movie Set: Script Supervisor, The Movie Set: Costume Designer, The Movie Set: Makeup Artist, The Movie Set: Assistant Cameraman, The Movie Set: Sound Mixer, The Movie Set: Electric Department, The Movie Set: Grip Department, Discussion 12.1: Collaboration, Shooting and Camera Procedures, Building a Winning Team, Finding Fellow Filmmakers, Quiz 12.1: Collaboration, Resources, Assignment 12: Digital Cinematography, Recap


A few months back I got some plug-ins from Universal Audio and man, they are something. Sonically and visually, just fantastic. And now that they have native versions through their Spark platform that don’t require specialized hardware to run, things just got even better.

I’m still getting familiar with each plug-in’s feature set so as to find the right settings for the right situation, but I love what I’m already able to do with them. To help things out, UA has some fantastic tutorials on their YouTube channel, I particularly like their quick tips series.

Thanks, UA!

Art of Mixing

I took this class thinking that it would be a nice refresher to the Mixing and Mastering for the Electronic Musician course that I took during my second term with Berklee Online. It ended up being more of a headache than anything else, largely due to the instructor. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say this class didn’t appear to be a high priority for him.

As for the course itself, it could use a good refresh on the content as a lot of it is pretty dated. That being said, the information covered was really useful and well done. I particularly enjoyed the explanations about working with a large format console like an SSL.

Here’s what we went over during the twelve weeks.

Week 1 – “Overview of Mixing Music”, Sep 27 – Oct 1
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Quiz 1.1: DAW and Basic Recording and Mixing Knowledge, Overview and History of Mixing, Mixing is Balance, Level and Loudness, Level Adjustment, Panning, Panning Strategies, Discussion 1.1: Panning Perspective, Reply, Exercise: Build Your Reference Library, Muting Techniques, Building a Mix, Dynamic Mix, Assignment 1: Mix “I Hate” by Jessica Oh, Recap

Week 2 – “Mix Setup: Organization, Ergonomics, and Phase Relationships”, Oct 2nd – Oct 8th Introduction,Recommendations from the Music Industry,Create One Master Project/Session,Label Audio Tracks and Use Comments,Label Appropriately and Set the Date and Time(Page 4), File Format, Sample Rate, and Bit Depth,Use Tempo Map and Timeline Markers,The Clean-Up Process,Keep Tracks Organized,Essential Plug-Ins,Exercise 2.1: Mix Organization,Automation,Data Management, Storage, and Transfer,Quiz 2.1: Mix Setup: Organization, Ergonomics, and Phase Relationships ,Compatibility Between DAWs,Exercise 2.2: Build Your Reference Library, The Importance of Metering,Exercise: Metering,The Importance of Gain Staging,Simple Mix,Mixing Levels and Delivery Standards, Dynamic Range,Standard Operating Level (SOL),Standard Operating Level (SOL),TV and Instrumental Mix, Phase, Phase Relationships Between Tracks, Exercise: Phase Relationships, Exporting the Mix,Discussion 2.1: Exporting a Mix,Assignment 2: “Till the Morning Comes” by Idun Forfang, Recap

Week 3 – “Equalization Techniques”, Oct 9th – Oct 15th
Introduction, Equalizers: Theory, Equalizers: History and Application, EQ Parameters, Q Factor, Slope, EQ Types: Graphic Equalizers, EQ Types: Shelving Equalizers, EQ Types: Parametric Equalizers, Filters, Discussion 3.1: EQ Options, DUE OCT 12, Plug-ins vs. Analog Hardware EQ, What Are Those Advantages?, Why Do We Still Use Analog EQ?, Listening Exercise, Exercise 3.1: Build Your Reference Library, DUE OCT 13, Exercise 3.2: Corrective vs. Creative EQ, DUE OCT 14, Creative Equalization Techniques, Subharmonic Enhancers & Aural Exciters, Classic Analog EQ: SSL, Listening Exercise: SSL, Neve 1084, Neve 1073, Listening Exercise: Neve, API 550, Listening Exercise: API 550, API 560, Listening Exercise: API 560, Pultec, What Makes Pultec EQ Different?, Listening Exercise: Pultec, GML, Listening Exercise: GML, Manley, Listening Exercise: Manley, EQ with Plugins, Exercise 3.3: Masking Correction, Assignment 3: Mix “I Know What You’re Doin’ Tonight” by Daphne Khoo, Recap

Week 4 – “Reverb and Delays”, Oct 16th – Oct 22nd
Introduction, Reverb as an Acoustical Phenomenon, Delay as an Acoustical Phenomenon, Reverb and Delay: History and Application, Reverbs, Reverb Parameters, Chamber Reverb, Spring Reverb, Plate Reverb, Halls and Room Reverb, Exercise 4.1: Build Your Reference Library, Reply, Delays, Delay Parameters, Tape Delay, Ping Pong Delay, ADT Delays, Exercise 4.2: Setting Up an ADT and Slapback Delay Effect, Reply, Setting Up a Short Delay in a Mix, Analog vs. Digital, Plug-in vs. Hardware, Historical Perspective, Plug-ins, Quiz 4.1: Reverb Critical Listening, Recap, Assignment 4: Mix “What Will Tomorrow Dream” by Federico Aubelo

Week 5 – “Automation Techniques”, Oct 23rd – Oct 29th
Introduction, Automated Mixing Overview and Historical Perspective, Winds of Change in the ’70s, Full Automation and Digital Consoles in ’80 – ’90, Predicting the Future?, Discussion 5.1: Where is Automation Headed?, Main Physical Automation Systems, VCA (Voltage-Controlled Amplifier), Flying or Moving Faders, Total Recall, Automation in Analog Consoles, Automation in Digital Consoles and DAWs, Digital Consoles vs. DAWs, Exercise 5.1: Build Your Reference Library, Modes of Operation for Automated Mixes, Write, Read, Update, Setting for Automation Systems, Hands-on Options: Real Time, Off-Line or Snapshot Automation, Real Time Automation Techniques, Off-Line or Playlist Automation, Snapshot Automation, Quiz 5.1: Automation Techniques, Assignment 5: Mix “Sinking Sands” by Violette, Recap

Week 6 – “Dynamics Processing Part 1”, Oct 30th – Nov 5th
Introduction, What is the Purpose of Compression?, Compression Controls and Functionality: Threshold, Compression Controls and Functionality: Ratio, Compression Controls and Functionality: Attack, Compression Controls and Functionality: Release Time, Output or Make-Up, Discussion 6.1: Differences in Sound, Quiz 6.1: Dynamic Processing, Practical Applications for Compression in Mixing, A Step-by-Step Approach, Exercise 6.1: Compression, The Difference Between Compression and Limiting, Ratio-Based Definition of Limiting, Brickwall-Based Definition of Limiting, Exercise 6.2: LUFS Streaming Targets and Peak Limiting, Exercise 6.3: Build Your Reference Library, The Anatomy of a Mix, Assignment 6: Mix “Silent Waters”, Recap

Week 7 – “Dynamics Processing Part 2”, Nov 6th – Nov 12th
Introduction, Bus Compression, Drum Bus Compression, Multiple Bus Compression, Stereo Bus Compression, Side-Chain Triggered Compression Effects, Side-Chain Triggered Drum Bus Compression, Side-Chain Triggered Stereo Bus Compression, Pumped Compression of the Bass Triggered by the Kick, Miscellaneous Compression FX, Multi-Band Compression, Hardware Compressor Demonstration, Plugin Compressor Demonstration, Discussion 7.1: Use of Side-Chain Triggered Compression Effects, Quiz 7.1: More Advanced Dynamic Processing, Noise Gates/Expanders, Noise Gate Controls and Functionality, Noise gating: a Step-by-Step Approach, Keyed Noise Gating, Exercise 7.1: Build Your Reference Library, Practice Exercise 7.2: Using Multiple Audio Subgroups, Assignment 7: Mix “I Don’t Care” by Corneal, Produced by JM Ferreiras, Recap

Week 8 – “Miscellaneous Unusual FX and Secret Techniques”, Nov 13th – Nov 19th
Introduction, Time-Based Special Effects: Chorusing, Flanging, and Phasing, Effects Processors Parameters, Chorusing, Flanging, Phasing, Amplitude-Based Effects: Tremolo, Wah, Leslie Cabinet, Tremolo, Wah, Leslie Cabinet, Exercise 8.1: Build Your Reference Library, Image Widening or Stereo Enhancing, Exercise 8.2: Image Widening, Distortion, Reamping and Amp Simulation, Exercise 8.3: Saturation and Distortion, Exciters and Sub-Harmonic Enhancers, Reverse Processing, Tape Emulation, Exercise 8.4: Tape Emulation, Vocoder and Talk-Box, Noise Reduction, Exercise 8.5: Showcase Your Favorite Special Fx Plug-In, Assignment 8: Mix “Honey Up” by Vanessa Collier, recorded by Mark Wessel, Recap

Week 9 – “Vocal Mixing Techniques”, Nov 20th – Nov 26th,
Introduction, Preparing Vocals for the Mix: Vocal Editing, Tuning, and Time Correcting, Vocal Comping, Timing Editing, Pitch Correction, Additional Vocal Editing, Exercise 9.1: Build Your Reference Library, Vocal EQ, Dynamic, Gain Setting, Leveling, Vocal EQ, Dynamic Control and Leveling of the Vocal Tracks, Vocal De-essing, Gain Setting, Exercise 9.2: Build Your Own De-Esser, FX Processing, Discussion 9.1: Vocal Treatment, Assignment 9: “You Don’t Remind Me” by Sam Mordecai, Recap

Week 10 – “Drum Mixing Techniques”, Nov 27th – Dec 3rd
Introduction, Preparing Drums for the Mix, Phase Relationship between Drum Tracks, Drums Editing: Time Corrections, Grouping Drum Tracks, Stereo Processing, Parallel Processing, Exercise 10.1: Post an Example of Parallel Compression, Drum Sound Replacement, Mixing MIDI Sequenced Drums and/or Loops vs. Acoustic Drums, Mixing Acoustic Drums, Mixing Sequenced Drums and Loops, Exercise 10.2: Build Your Reference Library, Assignment 10: Mix “The King and All His Horses”, Recap

Week 11 – Instrumental Mixing Techniques, Dec 4th – Dec 10th
Introduction, Mixing Bass: Acoustic, Electric, and/or Synthesized, Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass, Synthesized Bass, Mixing Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Mixing Electric Guitars, Mixing Acoustic Guitars, Mixing Horns and Strings, Both Real and Synthesized, Strings, Horns, Exercise 11.1: Build Your Reference Library, Mixing Less Common Instruments, Deconstructing a Mix In-a-Box, Assignment 11: Mix “All We Had”, Recap

Week 12 – “Specialized Mix Directions and Techniques”, Dec 11th – Dec 17th
Introduction, An Overview to Mixing Pop, Common Pop Trends, Mix Analysis of Pop, Exercise 12.1: Analyze a Pop Mix, Exercise 12.2: Ozone 9 Match EQ, An Overview to Mixing Rock, Common Rock Trends, Mix Analysis of Rock, Exercise 12.3: Analyze a Rock Mix, An Overview to Mixing Hip-Hop and R&B, Mix Analysis of Hip-Hop and R&B, Exercise 12.4: Analyze a Hip-Hop, Rap or R&B Mix, An Overview to Mixing Jazz, Mix Analysis of Jazz, Exercise 12.5: The Izotope Tonal Balance Control 2, Assignment 12: Mix “I Keep Falling” by Mike Soto, Produced by Peter Wang, Recap


I was working on putting together a new orchestral template last night and realized that I was maxing out my system’s CPU and RAM. This file was bringing my entire system to a crawl. It was late so I decided to go to sleep and come back to it the next day.

After waking up, I still felt a bit defeated and bummed out that I wouldn’t be able to use all the cool things that I put into this new template. I started to think of how I could salvage the work I had done in the way of alternative workflows. I enlisted my wife in an impromptu brainstorming session and she started asking me questions about the need for this type of template and what it would provide. I then described the time it would save and how I might consider having different versions of the template for different phases of production (e.g. a version with ensemble patches for general writing, fuller version with individual instrument parts & limited articulations and another version for mixing).

Then something that I had completely forgot about occurred to me: Freeze Tracks. I wasn’t sure if my plug-in supported this functionality so I rushed to my computer and opened the massive file to find out. To my relief and astonishment, it worked!

I’m so stoked as this will most likely be my go-to file for the next year or more. Should be a huge time saver, allowing me to get right to work on ideas, not having to build a project file up every time that I want to do something with orchestral instrumentation in it.

Thanks for being awesome (again), Logic/Apple!

For anyone interested, here’s the template file that I put together:

Music Video Editing with Final Cut Pro

This was one of two classes that I took during the 2021 Winter Term at Berklee Online. Overall I really enjoyed this class and got a lot out of it. The teacher, Mehdi Hassine, was also the creator of the course and I feel he did a great job in making this a really enjoyable and informative class.

Perhaps the most helpful thing I got from this class was practice doing straight cut editing of footage that wasn’t my own, which was super useful. Also, I really enjoyed the watching the teacher’s workflow and work style during his weekly live class. It was great seeing a professional do the work quickly and efficiently.

Here’s what we covered during the twelve week term:

Week 1: Basic layout of FCP and it’s interface; getting set up to use with FCP; working with and organizing source material; working within the browser; creating a program and working with the timeline.

Week 2: This week was all about “Video Editing Essentials”. We covered insert/append/overwrite/insert edits, three-point editing, four-point editing, modifying positions of /deleting/replacing clips in the timeline and editing to music and promo narration.

Week 3: Focus this week was mainly on the various types of trim editing that are possible in FCP: Single & Double-Roll Trimming, trimming via numeric input, J & L cuts, using the Trim Edit window, slipping and sliding clips via the Slip & Slide Tools. Other topics included: Flipping video clips, changing the speed of clips, freeze frames (via the “Hold” in the Retime Editor), reversing clips, Speed Ramps (to/from 0%), Instant Replay, Rewind, Video Quality & Preserving Pitch on retiming of clips, as well as basic aesthetics to consider when making transitions.

Week 4: This was the “Capturing and Transferring Footage” week. Topics included: “Preparing for Capture Footage”, “FCPX Supported Cameras/Devices and Hardware Setup”, “Transcoding Preferences”, “Capturing Footage From Tape”, “Importing from a Supported Camera”, “Organizing Tape Footage”, “Rating Selections”, “Transferring Media”, “Transferring Media into Final Cut Pro X”, “Workshop: Capturing and Transferring Techniques and Workflows” and “Assignment 4: Scripted Short”.

Week 5: We focused on transition effects during this week. “Selecting and Applying a Transition Effect”, “Transition Preferences”, “Audio Transitions”, “Modifying and Saving Transition Effects”, “The Inspector Window”, “Copying and Deleting Transitions”, “Rendering Effects”, “Rendering Preferences”, “Background Tasks”, “Clearing Unused Render Files”, “Workshop: Real-Time Settings and Effects Rendering”, “Assignment 5: B-Roll Editing and Transitions” were the topics we covered.

Week 6: This week we went over “Editing with Multiple Tracks and Camera Angles”. Main topics for this week were: “Synchronizing Camera Angles”, “Synchronization Techniques”, “Discussion 6.1: Multiple Angles and Synchronisation”, “Multi-Camera Editing with Multicam Clips”, “Creating Multicam Clips”, “Using Multicam Clips”, “Editing Across Multiple Connected Storylines”, “Connected Storylines”, “Compound Clips”, “Auditions”, “Synchronizing in Final Cut Pro X”, “Troubleshooting and Fixing Sync”, “Workshop: Fixing Sync”, “Discussion 6.2: Multi-Angle Music Video Examples” and “Assignment 6: Multi-Camera Music Performance”.

Week 7: This was “Video Effects” week. We went over: “Choosing, Applying, and Modifying Effects”, “Previewing Effects”, “Applying Effects”, “Modifying and Customizing Effects”, “Bypassing and Deleting Effects”, “Built-In Effects”, “Transform”, “Crop”, “Distort”, “Stabilization and Rolling Shutter”, “Spatial Conform”, “Compositing”, “Keyframing”, “Applying Keyframes”, “Adding Additional Keyframes”, “Deleting Keyframes”, “In-between Frames”, “The Video Animation Editor”, “Managing Effects”, “Advanced Rendering”, “Discussion 7.1: Video Effects”, and “Assignment 7: Student Choice”.

Week 8: This week was all about “Titles and Graphics”. Topics included: “Title Safe and Action Safe Areas”, “Titles”, “Customizing Titles”, “Title Tab”, “Text Tab”, “Themes”, “Video Formats”, “Frame Sizes and Screen Resolutions”, “Progressive vs. Interlaced Video Frames”, “Frame Rates”, “Aspect Ratios”, “Workshop: Video Formats”, “Graphics”, “Generators”, “Importing Graphics”, “Discussion 8.1: Titles and Graphics” and “Assignment 8: Credit Sequence with Music”.

Week 9: “Audio” week. We covered: “Audio Levels and Pans”, “Adjusting Audio Levels”, “Audio Meters”, “Clipping”, “Mixing Strategies”, “Setting Audio Levels”, “Panning”, “Soloing Clips”, “Resetting Levels and Pans”, “Audio Fades and Automation”, “Audio Level Automation”, “Pan Automation”, “Audio Fades”, “Fade Shapes and Modifications”, “Audio Enhancements and Effects”, “Audio Enhancements”, “Equalization”, “Channel Configuration”, “Audio Effects”, “Workshop: Audio Editing and Processing”, “Discussion 9.1: A History of the Title Sequence” and “Assignment 9: Music Video with Sound Effects”.

Week 10: This was the week I was looking forward to the most as it was about “Color Correction and Project Finalizing”. It’s a deep subject that I’ve spent some time learning about in the past but feel that I could use a lot more work understanding and doing better. Topics included: “Color Correction within Final Cut Pro”, “Automatic Color Balance”, “Match Color”, “Manual Color Correction”, “Color Tab”, “Saturation Tab”, “Exposure Tab”, “Using Color Correction Presets”, “Secondary Color Correction: Color and Shape Masks”, “Managing Color Corrections”, “Markers”, “Finalizing the Edit and Rendering”, “Video Scopes”, “Waveform Monitor”, “Histogram”, “Vectorscope”, “Troubleshooting Video Level Issues”, “Color Bars and Tone”, “Workshop: Color Correction and Project Finalizing”, “Discussion 10.1: Color Correction Techniques” and “Assignment 10: Music Video”.

Week 11: This week was “Outputting and Encoding”. We went over: “Outputting a Final Master Movie File”, “Video Encoding Essentials”, “Export Using Compressor Settings”, “Workshop: Video Encoding”, “Encoding Video with Compressor”, “Compressor User Interface”, “Compressor Workflow”, “Discussion 11.1: Video Compression and Quality” and “Assignment 11: Student Choice”.

Week 12: Our final week of the course was about “Creating DVD and Blu-Ray Discs”. Topics included: “Uploading Video for Internet Streaming”, “Method 1: Uploading Straight from FCPX”, “Uploading to YouTube”, “Uploading to Facebook”, “Uploading to Vimeo”, “Method 2: Converting in Compressor”, “Uploading via the YouTube Compressor Template”, “Uploading to YouTube”, “Uploading to Facebook and Vimeo”, “DVD and Blu-ray Authoring”, “DVD Authoring in FCPX”, “Blu-ray Authoring in FCPX” and “Exercise 12.1: Authoring a DVD or Blu-ray with Final Cut Pro X”.

Mixing and Mastering for the Electronic Musician

As mentioned in an earlier post, “Mixing and Mastering for the Electronic Musician” was my favorite class of Term 2. The course material was perfect for someone like me, a solo musician/composer/songwriter wanting to make their work sound a bit more polished and professional.

While the course material was very well thought out and presented I think the thing that I loved most about this class was the immediacy of being able to apply what I learned to my own music. Just what I learned about EQ, compression and limiting made a huge difference in the clarity and power of my mixes.

Other subjects that I found really helpuful were: “Developing Relationships in a Mix” via external keying and side-chaining (particularly helpful for dynamically ducking tracks under other tracks); Direction Mixer plugin on stereo tracks; using Distortion to color and shape EQ of tracks like hi-hats and vocals; using Noise Gates to shape output of audio tracks; using Side-chain/External Keying on Reverb and Delays to dynamically control output; Reshaping Transients (a bit like synthesis on audio tracks); Dotted 1/8 & 1/4 note delays; Ping Pong Delays; Pre-Fader Metering (to help control gain staging); Subgrouping; Parallel Compression (on individual tracks, subgroups and global tracks); Flex-Pitch; Auto-Filter (to help tracks stand out); using Sample Delays to pan; VCAs (to control volumes of subgroups); and how Mastering really is all about making small, subtle changes in EQ, Compression and Limiting.

As usual with a number of Berklee Online classes I’ve taken already, there was a lot of ground covered in 12 weeks. Here are the subjects, by week.

Week 1 – Getting Ready to Mix
Logic Pro Skills & Preferences, Plug-In Latency & Track Meters, Logic Pro X Interface, Screensets, Mixing and the Electronic Musician, Composing & Mixing Simultaneously, Working with Software Instrument Tracks, Rendering Software Instruments to Audio Tracks, Mixing Workspace Ergonomics and You, Monitors & Walls, The Mix Position, Monitor Loudness Levels, Using Reference Material, Getting Ready to Mix, Organizing Tracks & Assets, Setting Up a Listening Mix, Gain Structure & Digital Meters, Mixing Balance & Panning, Panning Stereo Tracks, Panning & the Direction Mixer, Working with Automation, Volume Automation & the Dynamic Mix, Real Time Automation, Automation Modes, Automation and Sculpting the Mix, Discussion 1.3: Automated Mix Example, Why We’re Starting Here, Assignment 1: Levels, Panning and Automation Mix

Week 2 – Shaping Your Sounds: EQ and Compression
Prepping the Mix Project, Working with Logic Pro X Markers, Introduction to EQ, EQ Bands, Shelving EQ, Filters, A Word About Q-Couple, EQ in Mixing, Kick Drum EQ, Snare Drum EQ, Bass and Vocals EQ, EQ in a Sample Project, Doing More with EQ, EQ Means Endless Tweaking, EQ Tips, Boosting vs. Cutting, Controlling the Low End of Your Mix, Bracketing Sounds with Filters, EQing in Solo Mode, Plugin Presets, Introduction to Dynamics Processors, Dynamics Processor Block Diagram, Working with Compressors, Compression Curves and the Transfer Function, The Logic Pro Compressor, The Logic Pro Compressor Setup, Using Compression, Compression Gain and Make Up Gain, Classic Uses of Compression, Mix Analysis: Compression, Limiters in mixing, Using the Limiter in the Logic Pro X Compressor, The Logic Pro Limiter, Assignment 2: Begin the Mix Project

Week 3 – Doing More with Dynamics Processors
Where Are We?, Compressors Continued, Detection Mode, Sidechain Filtering, Distortion and “Color”, Other DAW Compressor Plugins, Pro Tools, Waves, Circuit Types in the Logic Pro X Compressor, Compressor Design, Transfer Functions, Changing Compressor Settings, Introduction to Noise Gates, Why We Use Gates in Mixing, De-Essers, The Logic Pro X De-Esser, Why We Use De-Essers, Exercise: Listening to the Mix So Far, External Keying and “Sidechaining”, Setting Up Sends as Key Signals, Sidechaining and “The Pump”, Developing Relationships in a Mix, Externally Keyed Compressors, Externally Keyed Gates, Ghost Keys, Ghost Tracks, External Keying Vs. Automation, Discussion 3.1: Mix Analysis, Assignment 3: Dynamics Processors

Week 4 – Reverb and Delays in Mixing
Reverberation, Creating Reverb in the Studio, The Reverb Event, Algorithmic Reverbs, PlatinumVerb, Setting Up Reverb Plugins, PlatinumVerb and Reverbs on Individual Tracks, Making Reverb Decisions, Exercise: Reverb, Reverbs in Mixing, Setting Up Reverbs on Aux Tracks, Reverb Modification, Reverbs on Track Inserts, Reverb Tips, “Come to Me” Mix with Reverb, Introduction to Delays, Delay Effects, Introduction to Tape Delay and Stereo Delay, Stereo Delay, Delay Parameters, Delays in Mixing, Slap Delays, Ping-Pong Delay, Processing Delays, Delay Tips, Working With Automation: Sends Automation, Mix Limiters: An Introduction, Final Mix of “Come to Me”, Assignment 4: Finishing Project 2

Week 5 – More with Dynamics and Mixing
Working with a Large-Scale Mix Project, Strategies for Project Organization, Screensets and Markers, Marker Sets, Developing a Vision for the Mix, Discussion 5.1: Developing a Vision for the Mix due Tuesday, Arrangement Editing, Editing vs. Mute Automation, Creating and Working with Track Groups, Track Groups and Workflow, NOW Where Are We?, Reshaping Transients, Upward Expanders and the Logic Pro X Expander Plug-in, Multiband Compression Techniques, Logic Pro X Multipressor, A Sidetrip About Expanders, Noise Gates vs. Downward Expanders, Mixing, Gain Structure, and Headroom, Pre-Fader/Post-Fader Metering, Getting Off the Ground!, Assignment 5: Dynamics and Mixing

Week 6 – Doing More with Mixing
A Starting Point, Creating and Working with Audio Subgroups, Setting Up Audio Subgroups, Deciding When to use Subgroups in a Mix, Vocal Tuning, Fixing Pitch Problems, Going Deeper with Flex Pitch, Flex Pitch in the Track Editor, Tuning Other Instruments, Exercise: Exploring Vocal Tuning, The Big Freeze!, Parallel Compression Techniques, Setting Up Parallel Compression, Parallel Compression for Multiple Tracks, Parallel Compression Guidelines, Exercise: Parallel Compression, Adding Color and Character to the Mix, Filters, AutoFilter, Distortion Effects, Clip Distortion, Re-Amping, Enhancing the Low End, Exercise: Distortion, Assignment 6: Adding Character to the Mix

Week 7 – Working with Delays
Short Delay Effects, Delays and the Stereo Image, Using a Short Delay for Panning, Modulation Delay Effects: Flanging, Hands-On Tweaking, Modulation Delay Effects: Chorusing and Doubling, Chorusing, Ensemble, Exercise: Mix Example, Convolution Reverb and Space Designer, Tweaking Space Designer, Using Convolution Reverbs, Exercise: Mix Analysis, More Mixing Ideas with Delays and Reverbs, More with Processing Effect Sends and Returns, Exercise: Putting it all Together, Assignment 7: Working with Delays

Week 8 – More Mix Techniques Automation 1
Checking Up on Our Mix of “Please Baby”, The Dynamic Mix, Manipulating the Sounds, Splitting Regions to Tracks, Making Sounds Bigger: Stereo Width Ideas, Pitch Effects in Mixing, Discussion 8.1: Pitch Manipulation, Vocal Transformer, SFX, Ear Candy, and Transitions, Delay Designer, Exercise: “Please Baby” Mix, Assignment 8: Mix Techniques

Week 9 – Shaping the Mix Automation 2
Checking Up on Our Mix of “Please Baby”, Where We Are, Global Parallel Compression, VCA Tracks and Mixing, VCA Usage, Mix Bus Compression, More With Mix Automation, Working with Mix Automation, Final Touches: Mix Limiters, Final Touches: Mix Limiters – Mix Fade Out, Bouncing the Mix, Exercise: “Please Baby” Mix, Assignment 9: Automation

Week 10 – Mastering 1
What is Mastering?, The Creative Side of Mastering, Discussion 10.1: Original vs. Mastered Versions, The Technical Side of Mastering, Discussion 10.2: Top Mastering Engineers, Mastering in the Project Studio, Tweaking Your Studio Space, Installing Ozone, Mastering with Logic Pro X: an Overview, Intro to Ozone, Exercise: EQ, Corrective and Creative, The Ozone EQ Module, Exercise: Mastering EQ, Discussion 10.2: Ozone History, Ozone Digital EQ Mode, Exercise: Analog and Digital Mode, The Digital EQ Surgical Mode, Some Tips on EQ and Mastering, Limiting in Mastering, Assignment 10: Project 4

Week 11 – Mastering 2
The Mastering Process, Compression in Mastering, Using the Dynamics Module, Exercise: Compression, Multiband Compression with Ozone, Exercise: Multiband Compression, Multiband Compression Considerations, Discussion 11.1: Multiband Compression, The Dynamic EQ, Mastering, Loudness, and the “Loudness War”, Loudness and CD Mastering, Discussion 11.2: Loudness and CD Mastering, The Ozone Maximizer, Exercise: Ozone’s Maximizer module, Daily Assignment Practice, Assignment 11: Project 5

Week 12 – Mastering 3
Image Manipulation in Mastering, The Ozone Imager Module, Exercise: The Imager Module, Multiband Image Adjustment, Exercise: More With the Imager Module
The Vintage Limiter, Mastering Workflow, Making a Mastering Chain, Workflow Tips, Bouncing Your Mastered Audio, Mastering for Digital Delivery, CD Delivery Masters, Exercise: Truncation vs. Dither, Creating a CD Master, Loudness, Audio CDs, and Streaming Audio, QC = Quality Control!, Discussion 12.1: Project 6

Here are a couple screenshots of an assignment mix that I submitted. Check out the number of tracks and plug-ins. This was a pretty massive project. Took two screenshots to get all the tracks shown!

Here’s a mix that I did using many of the techniques that I learned in this class for my final project in MTC2 (Music Theory & Composition 2).

Fly on the Wall (Film)

My wife, Rachel, found this fantastic video of a live orchestral film scoring session on YouTube. It’s a 2.5 hour film done @ Air Studios in London, England. Very inspiring to see how things are done at this level of professionalism, expertise and excellence.

Thanks to Christian Henson and Spitfire audio for making this available for all of us to see. Very cool, indeed!


Found this really useful formula for determining a song’s total time in the Songwriting Sourcebook by Rikky Rooksby (page 170):

  1. Determine the number of beats per minute (e.g. 96BPM).
  2. Determine the number of measures per minute by dividing the BPM by the number of beats per measure (e.g. 96/4 = 24 measures per minute).
  3. Then take the total number of bars in the song and divide it by the number of measures per minute. E.g. 104 measures/24 measures per minute = 4.5m for the total time of the song.

Thanks Rikky!


Audio mastering is a distinct discipline that I’m still getting acquainted with. While trying to wrap things up for the Equinox album I decided to see what I could do on my own and found this really helpful course on

Here are some of the key points that helped me with this project:

  • Mix and bounce to -10 dB, with plenty of dynamic range available. If this means removing compression/limiting on the master bus then do it.
  • Bring all mixes into a unique mastering session. Place all songs on their own tracks, each with it’s own EQ/Compression/Limiting.
  • Find the right compressor for each song tonally, using a low ratio, somewhere between 1.5:1 to 3:1. Set the threshold high enough so that the compressor kicks in, but not too hard.
  • Adjust the compressor’s attack and release settings so that drum transients are cutting through nicely.
  • Bring up the song’s level by boosting the compressor’s output gain until peaks get close to somewhere around -2 dB.
  • Apply the limiter (L2) so that the peaks are set to -2 dB with the threshold being just lightly triggered.
  • Try to shape the songs in terms of EQ and volume so that they sound “sonically related”. (Ended up cutting quite a bit ~60 Hz and below, due to bass build up.)

Note to future self: don’t use the master EQ to shape each track individually. Seemed like a time saver until I had to do revisions and had no idea what was done with songs mixed before the last bounce. Always use an inline EQ!


I’ve been a Logic Pro X user for a few years now. Previously, I was a sworn Pro Tools devotee for years (in large part due to the amazing time I had working at Digidesign in the late 90’s). While the earlier versions of Logic felt anything but logical to me, I have really come to love the latest versions of Logic Pro X. I feel it’s a fantastic app for writing and production.

I love the layout, signal flow/routing, EQs, compressors, virtual instruments (especially Drummer), arrangement tracks, comp tracks, extensive MIDI and audio editing tools, Flex editing and (for the most part) Smart Tempo.

Now, I still have a few pet peeve’s here and there. One being that Smart Tempo doesn’t always do what you think it should with odd time signatures. Try to get the session time signature of 6/8 onto newly recorded tracks… Smart Tempo defaults to 4/4 and converting & getting everything to sync up can be a chore. Aside from that, most issues I’ve had were easily solved with a quick Google search.

I recently realized how much I enjoy working with Logic Pro X as I was preparing for the 2019 Spring Equinox Concert and album. Thanks Apple!