All posts by Shawn Thorpe

About Shawn Thorpe

Shawn is a freelance media technician and podcast consultant living in San Luis Obispo, CA. | Blog | Twitter

iZotope’s Spire is a Multitrack Music Production App



Spire logoIt’s easier than ever to create multitrack music productions. Devices like portable recorders, smartphones, and tablets allow musicians to do everything from capture song ideas to produce full multitrack compositions almost anywhere.

It seems only logical that an established music-production software company like iZotope would take advantage of this modern portable recording landscape. And the company has done just that with the recent release of its multitrack music-production app, Spire.

iZotope’s Spire app allows users to record up to eight tracks with “professional polish.” Spire also allows users to edit tracks to tighten up productions and create seamless loops. Spire users can then mix those tracks by adjusting individual track volume and pan settings. Users can also choose between mono or stereo playback. And finally, multitrack creations made within Spire can be exported to other audio-production apps for enhanced processing, or they can be uploaded to external services for further sharing and storage options.

iZotope’s Spire app may sound impressive enough just based on its features alone. But the most remarkable thing about Spire might be its price, as Spire is completely free! No in-app purchases. No weird registration requirements. Just download the app, and get to work producing your next musical masterpiece.


Fishman TriplePlay Software 1.4 is Now Available



TriplePlay LogoElectric guitars can produce a wide range of tones and sounds right out of the box. An electric guitar’s sonic capability can be greatly extended thru the use of effects pedals and processors. But even with all of the possibilities available in the modern guitar world, it can still be a challenge to make a guitar properly reproduce the sounds of other instruments. Thanks to digital samples and MIDI, keyboard players have had access to a countless number of instrument and synthesizer sounds for decades. And while guitar synthesizers have been around for some time, they’ve only recently become truly useful for most guitarists.

One big advance in guitar-synth technology is the Fishman TriplePlay system. TriplePlay uses a special guitar pickup that translates guitar notes into MIDI and wirelessly transmits that data to a host device which can use that data to trigger digital samples in the same way as a keyboard or digital piano.

Fishman recently announced an update to its TriplePlay software. The company provided details for the update in an e-mail blast:

  • New library folders in the patches window
  • MIDI thru to all plugins and external hardware
  • Multi channel Mono and Single channel Poly modes can be chosen on a pre patch basis
  • Increased patch load speed
  • New graphic interface
  • Improved patch creation and patch editing features
  • Improved plugin stability
  • Improved DAW functionality

The Fishman TriplePlay software update can be downloaded here.


HOFA’s Produktions and Song Check Contest Returns



HOFA SongCheck LogoGerman audio-production software company HOFA has launched its second Produktions and Song Check Contest. The contest asks songwriters and producers to submit one original song in exchange for a chance to win different prizes:

The PSC is a competition especially for songwriters and producers. Our declared goal is the provision of a common platform and the promotion of outstanding talents.

Who can join in?
Any solo artist, team, band etc. can join in with a song of their own (!). Each participant can submit ONE track; remixes and coversongs are excluded. Send us your song if you believe it‘s a brillant piece of songwriting and production. The participation is free!

HOFA’s contest allows producers to submit songs in these main genres:

  • Pop
  • Electronic Music
  • Hip-Hop/R&B/Soul
  • World Music
  • Rock/Heavy Metal
  • Traditional Music

Each main genre has attendant sub-genres that allow participants to select the category that works best for their songs.

Winners of the song contest will be eligible to receive prizes from a number of different audio-production companies:

  • 500 € Main Prizes for each category
  • 100 € vouchers for HOFA plugins
  • 1 pair of KSD-C5 audio monitors
  • 1 Shure KSM-42 microphone
  • 4 software prizes from Steinberg
  • 1 pair of Adam F5 audio monitors
  • 500 € voucher for Thomann

HOFA’s song contest runs until July 31st and is open to anyone submitting original music. Click any of the links above to learn more about the contest.


Live 6 Having Flash Sale on Modeling Packs



Line 6 LogoMusical instrument and equipment manufacturer Line 6 announced it is holding a flash sale on software modeling packs. The sale will expire at 11:59PM (Pacific Time) on Monday, June 12th. The sale features different modeling packs for some of Line 6’s effects processors.

Modeling packs include:

  • HD Metal
  • HD Vintage
  • HD Bass
  • HD Fully Loaded Bundle
  • Bass Expansion Pack
  • Power Pack
  • FX Junkie Pack
  • Collector Classics Pack
  • Metal Shop Pack
  • Triple Pack Bundle

These Line 6 model packs focus heavily on electric guitar and electric bass processing. But these packs could be used for a wide range of applications, including processing of acoustic instruments and vocals.

The descriptions for each model pack indicates which Line 6 products are compatible with the packs. A quick survey shows that most packs are compatible with older Line 6 product lines like POD HD (all models), Guitarport, PodXt (all models), Pod Studio (all models), and TonePort (all models), Unfortunately, there isn’t anything here for newer Line 6 products like the Helix or Firehawk lines.

These model packs from Line 6 range in price from $29.99 to $99.99. All model packs can be purchased and downloaded directly from the Line 6 website. Most model packs can then be installed and authorized using the appropriate management software from Line 6.


Pond5 Stock Video Comes to Adobe Creative Cloud



Pond5 LogoIt’s not always possible to gather all of the footage yourself for a video project. Or, maybe you just need a cool bit of video to spruce up that latest video package. Having access to stock footage in these cases can be a real lifesaver for busy video producers. But it can be a challenge to find good stock footage, and when you do find it, you may have to clear multiple levels of licensing, which can be a real hassle.

Adobe recently partnered with stock video company Pond5 to make it easier for Adobe Creative Cloud users to get access to Pond5 content:

…we are excited to announce our partnership with Pond5 to further expand our video offering. Pond5 offers a diverse library of videos, motion-graphics and more, sourced from an international community of artists. The collection spans across a mix of modern, highly sought after content themes such as lifestyle, recreation, sports, cinematic, and aerial footage.

And:

Our partnership will bring a large and growing segment of high-quality footage clips from Pond5’s collection. Our customers will have access to this wide range of video and motion graphics content at their fingertips, thanks to Adobe Stock’s native integrations into Creative Cloud applications.

Adobe goes on to note that this partnership will also be beneficial to Pond5 contributors, as their creations will now be easier to access for Creative Cloud users.


Apple Wants You to Be a Better iPhoneographer



Apple logoPhone-based photography is really becoming an accepted way to take everything from snapshots to professional-grade photos. It wasn’t all that long ago that camera phones were shunned for their poor image quality and lack of features. But most people don’t even own point-and-shoot cameras anymore because the cameras on their smartphones are good enough to be the only cameras they need.

Apple made a serious step up in its own camera phone technology with last year’s release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The cameras built into these phones contain the most advanced imaging hardware ever made by Apple (and some have argued, ever made for smartphones). I’m not sure if Apple is so thrilled with these cameras that they really want to make sure people know how to use them, or if they’re attempting some clever marketing to clear out old stock ahead of the release of a new iPhone later this year. Regardless, the company has released a series of short videos on YouTube to help iPhoneographers get the most out of their hardware.

This tutorial series is called How to Shoot on iPhone 7 and it contains five parts:

  • How to shoot a great portrait on iPhone 7 Plus
  • How to shoot a close-up on iPhone 7
  • How to shoot a vertical Pano on iPhone 7
  • How to shoot without a flash on iPhone 7
  • How to shoot action on iPhone 7

You can watch the entire playlist in under three minutes. These videos are quick and to the point. But they still contain plenty of that somehow-casual-but-still-well-produced vibe Apple is good at.

If you’d like to expand your skills with your iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus’s camera, this is a good place to start.


Facebook Debuts Open-Source 360-Degree Video Camera



Facebook Surround 360 CameraWhen you think cutting-edge video, Facebook isn’t usually the first name that comes to mind. But the ever-growing, ever-present social-media behemoth is trying its hardest to push into new territories when it comes to video. Facebook has gotten a lot of attention recently (for better or for worse) over its live-streaming video service. And the company isn’t stopping there.

At last month’s F8 developer conference, Facebook showed off its new Surround 360-degree camera, and announced that the software developer kit for the camera would be open source. Facebook is obviously hoping that the open-source approach will lead to quick adoption of the camera’s features, allowing Facebook app developers to implement the camera in intriguing ways.

The camera itself is round and is equipped with 24 individual cameras that cover the Surround 360-degree spectrum. The camera’s circular design will allow it to be mounted on a pole or stand that’ll keep it from taking video of itself (none of the cameras will be able to “see” each other), creating a pure 360-degree video experience. Presumably, Facebook apps will allow users to turn, pan, and tilt 360-degree videos, similar to how Facebook’s current panoramic photo feature works.

No word yet on when the Surround 360 camera will be available for purchase, or how much it’ll cost. But if the camera hits the market with a hefty price tag (which seems pretty likely), it’s doubtful 360-degree video will take off as fast as Facebook would like.


Tether Tools Has New Mounts and Stands for Monitors and iMacs



Tether Tools logoModern computer displays are amazing things. In most cases, they’re thin, light, and relatively portable right out of the box. That makes it easy to install them in all kinds of different locations. But most monitors only come with simple desk-based stands in the box. Thanks to the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) standards for monitors and TVs, it’s easier than ever to use most digital displays (and even Apple iMac computers) with all kinds of mounts and stands that make it possible to use those displays almost anywhere.

Tether Tools, a leading manufacturer of many popular adaptive stands for tablets, phones, and displays, recently announced a collection of new products to help creators use their monitors in new ways. Here’s a rundown of these new items from Tether Tools:

  • Rock Solid VESA Monitor Mounts: From Tether Tools: “These three VESA Monitor Mounts are an integral part of mounting a monitor to a stand or tripod. All three require a monitor that is VESA compliant with a 75×75 or 100x100mm configuration or a monitor that is outfitted with a VESA adapter.”
  • Rock Solid iMac Adapters: From Tether Tools: “The VESA iMac Stand Adapter employs a unique adapter ring system, and a heavy-duty steel construction will keep your iMac safe and secure. The brushed aluminum finish matches the look of an iMac, giving you a setup that is both attractive and functional. Pair a Rock Solid VESA Monitor Mount (sold separately) with a Rock Solid VESA iMac/Cinema Display Direct Adapter to mount your iMac to a stand or tripod.”
  • Rock Solid iMac Direct Adapter: For use with iMacs that have a VESA adapter already connected.
  • Rock Solid VESA Adapter Plates and Extensions: From Tether Tools: “Certain monitors have a VESA configuration larger than 100x100mm, that’s where our three adapter plates come in. These plates convert 200×200, 400x200mm, and larger VESA configurations to the standard VESA pattern of 100x100mm to make your monitor compatible with mounts such as the Rock Solid VESA Monitor Mounts (mentioned earlier).”
  • Rock Solid VESA Monitor Quick Release System: This system makes it easy to install or remove a display onto a stand or mount. Ideal for situations where you need to move a display between locations.
  • Rock Solid Non-VESA Monitor Mount Adapter Arms: From Tether Tools: “The Rock Solid Non-VESA Monitor Mount Adapter Arms will fit most LCD or LED monitors with a bezel height from 10.5″ to 16.25″ and overall thickness from 1″ to 2.75″, or generally, most widescreen monitors from 17″ to 27″ (fits square 13″ screens). The adapter is designed to fit any VESA monitor mount with 75x75mm or 100x100mm mounting holes, and includes all required screws and other hardware for assembly.”

All products above range in price and can be purchased thru the Tether Tools store.


SID is an Augmented Reality Live Streaming 3-D Camera



SID CameraMost video producers are still trying to figure out how to get over the 4K hump. But video technology waits for no one, and the true cutting edge these days may not be in just adding more pixels to a high-definition image, but instead, taking viewers to potentially new realities and dimensions. That’s exactly what the new SID camera is looking to achieve:

At last, shake-free 3D content creation that’s easy and affordable for EVERYONE!  Weeview’s SID offers the BEST immersive and stereoscopic viewing experience. Don’t just record the special memories, start re-living the experience in unbelievable life-like 3D format.

Here are some key features of the SID video camera:

  • Immersive 3-D camera with stereoscopic imaging effect
  • Adjustable parallax setting allows users to get different stereoscopic effects
  • 3-D video can be used for virtual reality presentations
  • 3-D video live streaming capability via connection to smartphone
  • Smart highlight feature provides close ups on certain parts of the video, allowing you to focus on areas that you are interested in without losing the complete shot
  • Auto-follow technology keeps video centered on the main subject of the shot
  • Create shake-free 3-D video with the SID camera kit, also makes it easier to connect the camera to a smartphone for video streaming
  • Create, share, and edit SID videos using the Weeview app for Android and iOS

The SID camera is being launched thru Kickstarter (see the link at the top of this article). The campaign has already reached its funding goal. SID camera packages can be had for a $179 contribution, with upgraded packages available for larger contributions.


Get Free Audio Plugins from Plugin Alliance



Plugin Alliance LogoThe only thing better than new audio production plugins is FREE new audio production plugins. Plugin Alliance currently has six free audio plugins posted on its website, available as free downloads. Here’s a rundown of these plugins:

  • Brainworx bx_cleansweep V2: A plugin that provides hi-pass and lo-pass filtering in one place. From Plugin Alliance: “Brainworx Anti-Crush technology uses analog style filter curves that eliminate common digital sound problems like harshness and aliasing. This advanced filter design is taken from their pro mastering EQ, bx_digital V2. First order filters (6 dB per octave) guarantee an extremely musical-sounding filter set, and a unique joystick interface (taken from the bx_hybrid) gives you fast and intuitive control.”
  • Brainworx bx_subfilter: This plugin helps to deal with low-end frequencies that may be troublesome within a mix. From Plugin Alliance: “Polishing your mix’s low end can be tricky. Bass DI tracks can sound mushy, and kick tracks can lose their ‘pop.’ Sometimes everything below 100Hz can become such an undifferentiated soup of noise that you just don’t know where to start! Start here: The bx_subfilter is just the ticket for adding clarity and definition to tracks that have troublesome low frequencies. There are lots of expensive and complicated EQ plugins out there, but when it comes to shaping your low end, the bx_subfilter is unique for its ease and simplicity. With just a few quick adjustments to its four-knob interface, you can breathe new life into those 808s that have been muddying your mix.”
  • elysia niveau filter: Another plugin that helps with EQ. From Plugin Alliance: “The niveau filter provides two basic controls: EQ gain and EQ frequency. Together, they allow you to change the proportions between high and low frequencies on your tracks. The principle is similar to a pair of scales. The ‘EQ Freq’ knob sets the center frequency. The ‘EQ Gain’ knob controls the amount of EQ applied to your signal. When the EQ Gain knob is at 12 o’clock, there is no EQ applied. When you turn the EQ Gain knob to the right, you boost frequencies above the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies below the center frequency. When you turn the EQ Gain to the left you boost frequencies below the center frequency while simultaneously reducing frequencies above the center frequency.”
  • SPL Free Ranger: This plugin is also EQ-centric. From Plugin Alliance: “The Free Ranger is based upon the Full Ranger-EQ from SPL’s EQ Rangers series. It features four very useful bands: The 16 kHz center frequency band is great for adding very pleasant brilliance; the 1.8kHz center frequency band really brings out lead vocals and guitars or reduces harshness; the 150 Hz center frequency band adds warmth, making tracks fuller & fatter, while the 40 Hz center frequency band adds that sub thump or reduces rumble.”
  • Brainworx bx_rockrack V3 Player: A guitar amp simulation plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “The bx_rockrack V3 Player is your ticket to getting stellar guitar tones for absolutely free! By including the same eight immaculate guitar amp simulations as the fully-featured bx_rockrack V3 implemented across 26 professionally designed presets, bx_rockrack V3 Player gives you access to some of the best tones Brainworx has to offer.”
  • Brainworx bx_solo: A comprehensive soloing and muting plugin. From Plugin Alliance: “bx_solo contains a stepped M/S Stereo Width Control, so you can get a sense of how M/S technology can be used to expand the stereo width of tracks already recorded. Try it out on subgroups, FX returns, keyboards, or any stereo track that you’d like to spread out. A great pro trick is to use M/S processing on a rock guitar subgroup: just set the stereo width to 150% and the guitars will jump out of your speakers!”

These plugins are available for free from Plugin Alliance for anyone with a free Plugin Alliance account.