Music makes the world go round.
Admit it. You thought it was money all along didn’t you?
It’s taken a decade for me to realize this when Rob Hoogkamer gave me a call a day before Tom’s performance.
Phone rings Friday night at about 9:30pm +2GMT Dutch time. It’s Rob. He always have personal news to tell or ask me. Like the time when he hosted a BBQ in his place, but didn’t have gas to actually light up the Weber. He gave me a call for help. We work our blunders out together well somehow.
“Wassup Hasan! What you doing?” He asked.
I lowered down the TV volume.. Sounded like he’s calling from a very crowded room. Not out of gas again I hope. We were watching Texas Storage War or something brainless on tele. The family cosy together on a weekend night. Pretty rare that I’m seated here with ’em instead of editing or creating something in studio upstairs. But he caught me.
“Just lazin out with the ladies sir. Yourself? What you up to?” I replied.
“Well I’m in JJ Music House watching Tom Browne. Are you coming?” There was excitement in his voice. He should be.
Rob is Artist and Repertoire guy for Jazz Festival Delft. He made the pilgrimage back to NYC with George Onkiehong who spearheads the event. I saw pictures posted on Facebook and Twitter but didn’t realize it was the father of funk they’re after. But now its clear and everyone is excited to have Tom Browne as the event headliner. In the back of my head, I went “Duh!! I should have been there!”
It’s been a while that I met Barry and Aad van Jole, owners of JJ Music House here in Zoetermeer. Last I met them was during the crowd petition to keep JJ Music running due to the Hockey Club expansion into their grounds. That’s a year passed. I have not had the opportunity to see the new venue. Maybe its time I do. But as much as I want to go there right now, I kinda treasure this times doing nothing with the family. Sometimes this nothingness is all that is needed for family time. Anyway I already have my head set for tomorrow’s act in Delft. Thought I’d go there by myself and enjoy some good music with people I’m bound to meet.. but the next thing Rob was about to tell me changed where I would stand on the festival ground.
“I remember you asking about doing the 360 footage for the festival. I think we have enough people doing pictures for the festival.” Now that didn’t sound too good I thought. But he adds, “Would you however be interested to shoot video for the event?”
My head went on a swirl. The reason why I started 360fotoshoot was to get away from the hassle of post production when working with video. For 360 panorama all I need was a Fisheye Lens, a Tripod and Field Recorder with Surround Mic. But video, you need to come prepared with premonitions for the unexpected most of the time. There’s tons of gears that you need to take for a shoot. And it is so easy fuck up and make mistakes both pre-production / on the spot / post. It may sound cool if the tasks were delegated amongst few people; but I work alone most times. If any mistakes were to happen, there’s no one else to blame but myself. Thus I dread to answer the question. But yet I love the challenge and the opportunity with such an event. And c’mon its the funk with Tom Browne! The legend who brought us Funkin’ for Jamaica back in the 80’s. Most importantly, I trust Rob’s instinct for a party. Music experiences with him have always been exceptionally good. It is also with him that I got to meet and know artists like Marcus Miller and Richard Bona. We go way back into NYC days when walking around Bleecker Street and jazz bars was the thing to do on late night weekends.
He paused for a while waiting for my answer. I think he sensed me thinking. Rob knows that I can shoot Live Events from his last project with this band. Then went on to explain, “We asked some people to do it. But they all asked crazy amount for the fee.” Which I’m not surprised about.. “So if you want to do this, it’s open for you to get all access backstage and tap the audio from the PA.”
I imagine myself flying around the event. Me alone. Which remotely is not possible. I need extra hands to take care of audio and a 2nd camera or maybe a 3rd. To cover the event I need at least two person, an additional camera guy and somebody to take care of audio and logistics. And Rob somehow know I wouldn’t say no.
I have 2 people in mind to help get this done. Rang up my trustable work buds Kenneth for 2nd camera work and Davin to help with logistics. We’re working together on some other projects so I really hope they’d wanna come and have fun with this one. Pro bono. I’ve less than 24 hours to plan this. Not sure about the scale of things; thus we’re working blind. But acknowledging that it’s the headline act, Tom’s bound to be on a big stage in the middle of the square in Delft known as Markt. Thanks to Google Maps and Wikipedia!
As sudden as that phone call, we gathered and met on site the next day. With my perception proven right, the crowd and the response to the whole event made it even more exciting than what I’ve thought it to be. Understanding that our main purpose was to cover an interview; and granted access on stage means its a no brainer to cover the main act itself. And so we did.
I had a great time shooting the event. Quite a bit of a rush here and there setting things up based on instinct
on what’s to come. Thus I think we did a pretty good job. We had enough resources to capture both the gigs that Tom Browne played in. One with the Dutch Music Conservatorium students and the other with an incredible band which is cheekily called What The Fonk which energy fits perfectly for Tom’s performance. There’s a lot of work to be done but the interview got a quick release before the final edit. The other clip is a teaser on raw footage captured from on stage. I think it’ll give you a good idea what the final edit would look like. The finale was incredible I thought. Heck it literally blew my ears off on stage! But you’ll have to decide on that for yourself with the exclusive shoots we did on and off stage. So mark this page for the final output!
I’d like to say thanks to Rob Hoogkamer for giving this opportunity to meet and work with such a legend. To partners of Jazz Fest Delft Mirjan and George Ongkiehong who organized this amazing event, I tip off my hat to them both for the success. I had a good oportunty interacting with old friends that was there supporting local music industry. Hope we’ll have the opportunity to work together again in future events. FYI Clint Marana (drummer from WTF) and me go almost a decade back since my SAE Amsterdam days. Met him via Rob after I came to Netherlands.
So why did I start this blog saying that Music makes the world go round? Only coz it literally did here. You see, Tom have a friend that he hasn’t seen from Queens for half their lifetime. And of all places, we learn that she now lives in Zoetermeer. Which happen to be at one of the music venue he’s due to play named JJ Music House. What’s the chance you’d bump into an American friend in Sweet Lake City you’d say… in our case, I’d say very likely. Rob and myself met in NYC back in 2000 and it’s due to this friendship and music did I end up in Zoetermeer too. Thus its no surprise, but a vicious circle that hangs between Zoetermeer and NYC for some bizarre reason. But its a beautiful one none the less.
Complete video edit of John Browne’s performance would be posted on Vimeo on rastAsia’s channel soon. Give us a couple more days to surprise you. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook to keep up with our next postings. Thanks for visiting my blog! Keep jazzin’ it up people!!
I’ll leave you with the featurette from Dutch website about Tom Browne.
From Delft Jazz Fest website itself (in Dutch) :
17 augustus 22:00 uur
Locatie: De MARKT
FUNKIN’ FOR JAMAICA! Jazz en funklegende Tom Browne laat oude tijden herleven! Met een unieke crowdfunding-actie van JazzFestival Delft hebben de fans van het festival zelf hun JazzDream laten uitkomen.
Tom Browne (Queens, 30 oktober 1954) is een jazztrompettist die bekendheid verwierf door zijn vroege werk met Sonny Fortune en zijn twee grote hits in 1980 en 1981, “Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.)” en “Thighs High (Grip Your Hips and Move)”.
Browne speelde oorspronkelijk alleen piano, waarop hij al vanaf 11-jarige leeftijd lessen volgde. Later leerde hij ook omgaan met de trompet. Op 21-jarige leeftijd speelde Browne zijn eerste officiële concert, van de Amerikaanse componist Weldon Irvine. Rond die tijd leerde hij Sonny Fortune en Lonnie Smith kennen, waar hij mee ging samenspelen. Later ontmoette hij Dave Grusin en Larry Rosen bij GRP Records. Via Arista Records werd Browne gecontracteerd bij GRP Records door Grusin en Rosen en in 1979 bracht hij zijn instrumentale jazzalbum uit, “Browne Sugar”. Zijn echte doorbraak kwam echter twee jaar later met zijn zelfgeschreven nummer “Funkin’ for Jamaica (N.Y.)”, dat verscheen op zijn tweede album, “Love Approach”. De single stond vier weken lang op nummer 1 bij de Billboard-lijst en was ook een hit in het Verenigd Koninkrijk. Brownes volgende album, “Yours Truly”, verscheen in 1981, nog steeds in samenwerking met Grusin en Rosen. Hierna verscheen al snel, in hetzelfde jaar, zijn volgende album genaamd “Magic”. Dit album bevatte het nummer “Thighs High (Grip Your Hips And Move)”, dat #4 bij Billboard bereikte. Met zijn volgende album ging Browne iets verder en maakte hij een nummer in electro-jazzstijl, “Rockin’ Radio”. Dit (gelijknamige) album bevatte tevens het laatste nummer dat Browne zou maken in samenwerking met GRP Records. In 1984 maakte hij het laatste album in samenwerking met Arista Records, “Tommy Gun”, waarbij Siedah Garrett optrad als leadzangeres. Ook nam hij met Fuse One, een band met jazzmusici, het album “Ice” op.
Besides the Mackie 1402-VLZ Pro mixer that we occasionally use for quick drum mix in the studio, Marantz’ CDR-630 is probably another studio hardware that’s been with me since the hay day.
The Real Plug & Play
Does Exactly What It Says On Box
Unsurprisingly though, it’s still a worthwhile investment today considering it’s now more than 12 years old. (And still running great!) Comes handy in a recording studio for both quick demo mixdown, mastering and duplicating. If you don’t have time to boot your PC or can’t afford for it to hang while recording “on the fly”, simply switch on the CDR-630, put in a CD-R/W audio disk, select your input option and press record. No waiting for a window to open, no egg timer, no colored beach ball – just press a couple of buttons and you’re off!
Works awesome for duplicating CD demo or transferring DAT / MidiDisc audio with the CD Sync function from the built-in optical input with selected digital player. Multiple of these units can be “Daisy Chained” optically if you need to produce large numbers of demos. All in all, a good investment for the amateur recording musician or professional alike.
Now go hunt for one on eBay quick! Best be generous on your bid. There’s still some folks who adore this old tech. Especially after reading this blog. 😉
It’s been a great month of getting new toys in this September. After a quick projection on the work in progress, we’ve acquired a list of mics needed in the studio to get the field job done. And you’ve read it – all of them happen to be from Sennheiser.
Sennheiser EW122p G3
We started our month with the Sennheiser wireless lavaliere EW122p G3 series. The frustration from not being able to mic up an interview clearly due to the fact that that last project was in a crowded space helped us make this decision to pick up a wireless lav. The main difference with the EW122p is that it comes packaged with a cardioid ME4 mic. Some folks reckon it might be a hassle to use a directional mic on a lavalier system, but I want to be able to direct the capsule to the talent in a controlled space. If I know that I will be capturing audio from the talent in the open but not in a sit-down-interview situation, then the ME2 mic (an omni) would do best. We got in the T+R packs along with spare BA 2015 batteries and the optional L2015 Dock Charger that should enable us to transmit continuously.
Sennheiser MKH 416 p48
This one is the industry standard. The go to mic that Hollywood or ADR studios would use to make overdubs. It’s a phantom powered hyper cardioid shotgun mic thats been used for over 2 decades and trusted by many ENG works.
I’ve heard so much about it and in fact never planned to buy this mic. Never thought I’d be able to afford one really.. But I got really lucky and found somebody here in Holland that was selling it at a pretty affordable price after giving up an old hobby of sound collecting.. Pretty strange I thought that he used the MKH416 which is mostly best suited for collecting dialogue for TV. No rules in audio they say..
I tested the mic thoroughly when I was there to collect it. I had my Roland R-26 close to be sure that it is able to power the 416.. This way I’d also be sure that my R-26’s circuitry works fine with the mic. It’s the only way that this mic can be powered. Interestingly the guy selling it had a Fostex FR-2LE CF Field Recorder, so we’re happily comparing gears over microphones and tea.. yes microphones.
One conversation led to another, so I asked I asked since he was into ENG and EFP, what else does he have in his collection. At this point he was reluctant, but he finally said he has this vintage shotgun that he is actually didn’t intend to sell. Didn’t intend to sell?? What does that mean.. What was it he had? A pristine 20+ year old combo still-in-box Sennheiser ME80+ME40 with a working K3U preamp.
Sennheiser K3U pre with ME80 + ME40 Capsule
Wait. Isn’t that the original electret that’s replaced with the new ME66+K6 module?? Yep. That’s the holy grail… I’ve actually read about these. I didn’t know I’d stumble into one.. while purchasing the MKH 416.. what luck. But was he planning to sell it or not was the better question.
Since it was there, I asked his permission to test both mics (or 3 mics considering that there’s the ME40 cardioid capsule there too). And I loved them both!! Instantly with the ME80 you could tell that its got a long throw of pick up. Not as warm as the MKH416 but its clear, crispier in its higher end peaking at 8KHz thus giving it that brighter response. But if you’ve seen the difference in this mic to the newer ME66, that’s where it gets interesting.
With the ME66 you need to use it in close proximity or the mic is not going to pick up frequencies from 2Khz and above. But that’s not the case with this ME80 which has an even response throughout the 10dB difference. SO which one is better you think? Well depends.. If you need sound rejection from the rest in the crowd, keeping this mic close to the voice will keep it isolated while rejecting the background noise further away from the mic. But for Field Recording, the ME80 will give you a gorgeous response in all registers.
The accompanying data sheet (published in 1987) reports the following specifications:
Electrical impedance: approx. 130 ohms
Frequency response: 50 – 15 000 Hz
Sensitivity at 1 kHz: 5 mV / Pa +-2.5 dB
S/N ratio according to DIN 45 405 and CCIR 468-2: >67 dB
The most important difference between the K3/ME80 and the K6/ME66 is the much higher sensitivity of the ME66 (50 mV/Pa vs. 5 mV/Pa). Thus, the ME80 would require a quieter preamplifier. The equivalent self-noise level of the K3/ME80 is about 6 dB higher than the K6/ME66. The specified S/N ratio of 67 dB corresponds to an equivalent (CCIR
468-3 weighted) noise level of 27 dB (which would be about 16 dBA)
Why yes, you guessed it. I ended up coming home with a bunch of mics. I have to thank Han for trusting me to take over his precious collections. I’m sure he had more in there but I wouldn’t be ready for Schoeps CMIT 5 U. This is bad enough for now.
I’m looking to see if we should enable customers to rent out this mics.. But if you really do need them while in Holland for your shoots, do drop us a note about it.
Next blog will be about our new upgrade for a friendly mixer for both Audio and Video – Avids MC Control v2, the Artist Series
I finally backed on something I liked on kickstarter last Christmas. Since I’m always in search of a good mini speaker(s) to lug around when I travel, I figured there’d be something in there that could improve the way we listen to audio coming from our smartphones apart from being attached to cords of headphones and such. Notice how I said audio and not just music? You see, music this days are primarily still mixed in stereo (and I say so coz music engineers rarely do Mono testing compatibility this days) and if your hardware only supports Mono, chances is that you’re only listening to the Left channel of the audio mix. I sure hope that’s not the case with the product we’re gonna be talking about here..
Hidden Radio & Bluetooth Speaker
I’ve been using Singapore-produced X-Mini Max II where ever I roam; to the beach, the park, in Bali, on the boat or just right in the living room with an iPad to listen to webcasts. But last Christmas, when I saw the design from John and Vitor… I thought it’s about time I try something untethered, and a pretty looking one to boot.
What John van Den Nieuwenhuizen said about their design made me want to try their speaker out.
“Radios and speakers are often large and obtrusive, we created the HiddenRadio + BT Speaker using simple, unassuming, intuitive design so it can be loved in any home.”
This is true.. The thing that never got emphasized though is that this radio is an FM based receiver. So I don’t know if it’d receive all stations when you bring it with you across different hemispheres. In Europe the stations are spaced at 9kHz intervals, and in the US they use 10kHz spacing. Most modern radios won’t let you tune between these spacings. Since there is no AM then no problem. Smartly enough, the unit uses simple 2-button Up/Down Scan function to lock on to any good FM transmission available. You’d have to guess what station you’re listening to as there’s no LCD indicator on the frequency you’re on.Thus the name is true, there is a ‘Hidden Radio’ built into the Bluetooth speaker. Something to add about the FM radio, you’d have to plug in an external FM antennae for better reception. Curious why they didn’t use the knob itself as a brushless antennae.
THE LOUDNESS WAR AND IT LOOKS METALLICA
The Bluetooth Speaker would crank audio up til just over 80dB . Pretty loud claim for something its size. There’s a video comparison on the audio quality compared against well known Jawbone speaker. But seeking deep into HRBS site, there’s no where in tech specs that they mention the speaker’s range for Frequency Response. Proprietary 360° sound diffuser.. that’s all that’s written under Audio Specs.
No buttons, just one giant knob to lift and turn. The higher you lift the cover, the louder it gets. That simple? Not so.. Two things..
I’m curious how the mechanism is designed for this to work smoothly. They claim that it should be effortless to lift the lid without having to hold the base. There’s gotta be some sort of gummy rubber placed on the base to create friction from the base to spin as you turn the top cap. And if I’m right, then you’d need a little practise to actually do the twist-to-turn-on-and-raise-up-the-volume functionality. Eitherwise it’d be a grab and turn like what I saw on SlashGear’s video review. And notice how the lid is twitsted clockwise to lift? Its counter intuitive on how we always twist anti-clockwise to open a lid.
Its a gimmick I think. If you don’t turn that knob all the way up, the sound is bound to be muffled. Looking at the picture again, you see that the speaker grills sit all around under the knob casing. You don’t adjust the volume of a speaker by blocking the face of the tweeter or cones do you? Even when you lower down the volume, that speaker cone needs to be free and unblocked to continue reproducing the full frequency range of audio that you’re listening to. So I’m curious how they’d overcome that issue based on their design. I believe you just have to keep it wide open to get the full range and adjust audio from the playback device. If this falls true, then there’s a huge design flaw against the aesthetic idea. Well even I fell for it!
With AirPlay enabled on the iOS device and paired via bluetooth, HiddenRadio will now appear as one of your external audio device. Switching speakers is effortless.
Built-in battery is claimed to give about 15hrs of play time. Which I hope is made easily replaceable when shelf-life is reached. I can’t even remember what their final decision was.. as to whether a wall plug would be delivered with the product or not.
Looking further into the design itself I think all is good except for two critical items..
ONE: They forgot to add in a microphone. Kinda defeat its purpose if you have to run back to the phone to speak and listen back via HRBS. It should work fine for Skype and FaceTime video chats fine as you’d have to be close to your phone for video framing anyhow, thus using the mic on mobile device is inevitable.
TWO. I wish they had a Call Answer or Call Reject button. Think about it. It’s almost a ‘speakerphone’ but you can’t talk into it or stop the phone from ringing when somebody dials in.
WHAT ABOUT QUALITY AUDIO
Alternatively, if you’re looking for quality speakers that offer wireless bluetooth functionality which focuses on sound quality as well as functionality apart from clean looks, checkout Soundmatters’ foxL v2.2 speakers. Claimed as worlds best bluetooth stereo speaker, which comes with a hands-free microphone that enables better speakerphone / conferencing. And with no surprise, foxL also comes with one-touch answer/reject/end-call button. Batteries lasts only about 8 hours it makes sense as you get full fidelity stereo sound. Shame I only learnt about Soundmatters’ foxL after pledging for HRBS! Aarrghh!!!
Shame that I cannot do any audio comparison of Foxl against the HRBS right now. But come the time, you bet that I will do back-to-back referencing on the audio spectrum from HRBS. I sure hope it stands to its competitors even if its not a stereo speaker.
We’re just days away before receiving our Hidden Radio and Bluetooth Speaker here in Holland.. and with the new announcement of iPhone5 yesterday, audio is triumphantly one of the most focussed enhancements in recent comm tech developments. High Fidelity audio is the way forward. Not just about being wireless. Not just about sitting pretty. For now, we wait, see and listen.
This was crazy I thought.. All done in one take!!
I have never tried making promo video from a LIVE band performance. And I never thought it would be this tricky, but I am glad I took up that challenge. It introduces new challenges, a steep learning curve that requires me to apply all that I have learnt from audio recording and video editing into one project that I am keen to finish.
Preparation before the shoot is vital. Reliable working equipments that would deliver good audio and video is key. A general direction on how the finished video should look like also plays an in important factor. This would determine the gears to bring and the angle of shots you’d need to capture which means possibly less editing in post.
What I think is most important is the ability to communicate with the band on and off stage. To be able to communicate with the band on set, upon your 1st minute of introduction is crucial to let them open up to you later on while they’re on stage, while you’re behind the lens. They are after all the talents that the whole project will showcase. You want them natural in camera, not feel intimidated, or even worse, agitated with your presence around their performance area.
Thank goodness I have a real friendly team of people to work with for this shoot. I have known 2 of the band members for a very long time. Both are very deeply involved in sculpting Dutch pop music, one which I got to know whilst living in NYC, the other at recording studios here in Amsterdam for my graduation project in SAE. Both this gentlemen are well-honored for their work and I have that standard to uphold for this project. I want to make the band look at their best. Nothing more nothing less.
It is no doubt the first LIVE band that I will record and I certainly need extra hands for a 2nd or 3rd angle of view. I remembered instantly a previous edit I did with camera shots collaborated from Dajimstar. He’s fresh into DSLR video, and he shows that same passion with photography and has that creative edge to learn. We shot Gwaan back in spring of 2010. That was a wild party from local party connoisseurs Sized. I simply asked Dajimstar if he wanted to make a copy of his shots to be used as 2nd camera angle in the edit. And there it began.
Unlike Gwaan, this project consists of a 3 set performance for the evening from the band Company Live. Each in a 45 minutes session thus it’s a long evening of trying to catch good moments.
We have over 90 mins of HD footage captured between the three cameras altogether. Now it’s time to narrow it down to highlight the best ones we got and also based on the bands preference. This one is a full length feature on one of the songs they performed that night. Excuse the cheesy floating logo on the screen. It was a quick try out using motion after I made a quick update of the band’s logo. Certainly could use some creative advise on that one. 🙂
So this was put together in a short period. It will be updated once the festive season is off our way. 🙂
Ladies and gentlemen, highlight to the band, Company LIVE.
3 Camera edit in FCP
Nikon D300S with 50mm F1.8 / 17-85mm F4.0
Canon 550D with 24mm F1.4 / 50mm F1.4 / Samyang 8mm F3.5
JVC GZ-HD7 shooting 1080i at 30fps
Røde Stereo Video Mic