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E3 2012: Console Updates, New Features for Wii U, Xbox

Welcome to Day 3 of E3 2012, the biggest tradeshow dedicated to the art and business of video games. In yesterday’s Day 2 report we showcased ten of the most anticipated video games of 2012 being shown this week at the L.A. Convention Center. Today let’s look at the console side of things—particularly newly announced features for two game platforms: Nintendo’s Wii U and Microsoft’s Xbox.


For Nintendo, this year’s E3 show was all about the Wii U.

Wii U: Still Connecting the Dots
For Nintendo, this E3 has been all about the Wii U, the game giant’s next-generation handheld game console. The device is built around a touchscreen controller (as with the Nintendo DS) and it supports the same motion-sensitive gaming that Nintendo’s Wii remote used to transform family dens everywhere into arm-waving, foot-pounding game salons. In addition, Wii U will enable streaming media from content providers like Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and Amazon Video. And in a nod to the social-media revolution, Nintendo has pledged that Wii U will deliver features that enhance the experience of connected gaming.

There have been changes to the Wii U controller GamePad that was shown at last year’s E3, although most of the alterations involve tweaks to make the unit more ergonomic and functional (a pro gamer controller—which looks more like an Xbox controller that was also announced). The big selling point for Wii U is the console’s second screen, which can be used to activate different game controls, trigger alternate camera views and switch perspectives. For example, during certain games, players will be able to hold the controller pad up to their television screen and scan for enemies. Similarly, a new karaoke game will utilize the second screen as a teleprompter for displaying song lyrics.


The Wii U will ship with “NintendoLand,” a mini-game sampler with a theme-park feel. 

Despite not delivering more information about the Wii U (such as its price point and its exact release date, although Nintendo assured attendees that the device will be released in time for holiday shopping), Nintendo was able to point to an initial batch of Wii U games—nearly two dozen of them—that will be ready to instantly support the new machine. Nintendo also unveiled a mini-game sampler called “NintendoLand,” which will ship with the Wii U.

Xbox: Ruling the Roost
E3 attendees hoping to get an early look at Microsoft’s much-rumored Xbox 720 (which sources say will arrive sometime during 2013) were disappointed by this year’s show, but Microsoft had plenty of news to keep gamers satisfied. Besides, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is still currently winning the “console wars.” And that’s for a couple of reasons—one is the games, the other is Xbox Live being a superior online service. To that extent, a large majority of Microsoft’s announcements were focused around updates to the Xbox Live services:


Microsoft brought famed 49ers quarterback Joe Montana out of retirement. He was on hand to promote “Madden 13″ —while R&B star Usher opened the Microsoft press event showing off “Dance Central 3.”

  • Microsoft announced that the Xbox’s streaming media capabilities will be enhanced by the addition of new broadcast networks, such as ESPN and all of the major pro sports leagues in the U.S. Likewise, new media apps from entertainment providers (like Paramount Movies, Nickelodeon and Univision) will find a home on the console.
  • Featuring a reported 30 million tracks, Microsoft’s retooled music service will simply be called “Music” (as opposed to “Zune,” its former title). In addition to Windows 8, Music will be brought to the Xbox.
  • Possibly in response to the intense popularity of rival Nintendo’s “Wii Fit” exercise program, Microsoft announced a partnership with Nike to bring the sports company’s Nike+ training platform to Xbox Kinect. With it, users will be put through their exercise paces by a virtual trainer and will be able to receive helpful fitness reminders directly on their smartphones.
  • Microsoft also unveiled its plans for Xbox SmartGlass, a new application that will let users bridge their different electronic devices (e.g., Xbox, smartphone, tablets and TVs) and enjoy the same content across all of them. For example, via SmartGlass a user could start out watching a movie on their tablet computer, then pick up where they left off by resuming watching on their phone or Xbox.


Microsoft wowed the crowds with the eagerly awaited “Halo 4.”

See Ya Next Time!
E3 2012 will be wrapping up soon, but the news coming out of the show will be rocking gamers for months (and years) to come. Whether you’re a gamer or someone interested in learning how to design video games, check back here for more video games news.

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posted by Phill Powell in Featured and have No Comments

Careers in Music, Film, and Digital Media: Music Producer.

Let’s look at the role and responsibilities of the Music Producer within the music industry. A music producer can wear many hats. I will try to cover them all here, but do know that depending on the project a producer may wear all of the hats or perhaps just one.

Let’s check out some of the hats the music producer wears:

1) The Idea Hat

It can be the music producer’s job to gather ideas for the project. This may seem vague, and it is, that is why artist hire a music producer. When all is said and done with the production of an album you essentially have a CD that has on record 12 – 15 “ideas”. It is the music producer’s job to steer this idea harvesting.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is an example of a “concept” album. On this album the Beatles worked with their producer George Martin to collect and shape their ideas of an album recorded by “Sgt. Pepper” and his band.

2) The Golden Ear Hat

Once the idea of the album is agreed upon the music producer can put on his Golden Ear Hat. While wearing this hat the producer will be responsible for making the decisions of song selection and musician selection. Lot’s of times a band will go into the studio with the general idea of an album and perhaps more songs than can fit on one album.

The producer will help select which songs should be put on the album by determining which songs best support the overall concept and idea of the album.

Often to bring the songs to their full potential additional musicians need to be brought in. Perhaps, the chorus of a song would benefit from a horn section, but none of the band members play any horn instruments. Or sometimes, the band members themselves need to be replaced for the best sound on record. The producer is responsible for making these tough decisions that can ultimately make or break the album.

3) The Coaching Hat
Once the musicians and songs are selected the producer then becomes the coach in the studio. The producer is now responsible to coach the artist and the studio musicians to come together and create the most accurate record of their ideas at hand. Perhaps this is helping the drummer find the groove or discuss different approaches with the guitarist for the solo. Sometimes it can also be much more psychological than musical. Maybe it’s making the vocalist feel confident so they give the best vocal performance.

4) The Schedule Hat
It is very important to not only have a schedule but have one that allows for your artist to provide their best performances. It is the producers responsibility to keep the production on schedule in terms of finances and release date, but also in terms of morale and fatigue. What is the point of having the record released on time if you exerted your vocalist too much during the production and his vocals are the best? This balance of schedule is very important and requires the producer to juggle the demands of many different people in the process.

5) The Follow Through Hat
Once the production involving the artist is done they are able to go back on tour or go home and relax, but the record itself is still far from being done. The producer is responsible to oversee the Mixing and Mastering process. The mixing process is where a mixing engineer mixes together all of the audio files gathered in the recording process into one sonically beautiful stereo track. The mastering process involves a mastering engineer that ensures that each individual track on the album matches the sonic qualities of the other tracks on the album. Again it is the music producer’s responsibility to oversee these processes and ensure quality control.

These are examples of the hats that a music producer would wear in the record making process. The term “Producer” in some genres such as hip-hop, pop, dance, and electronica, is the actual producer of the music. These producers are the ones responsible for the production of the music track, or the “beat”.

Hopefully this shows you a little into the many hats of the music producer.

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posted by Seamus Harte in News Blog and have No Comments

Digital Audio & Music Production for Teens @ Digital Media Academy Summercamp 2010!

That’s right, this summer The Digital Media Academy is holding digital audio & music production courses for teens! The class covers all you need to know about digital music production. Learn to record, use loops, sample, mix, master and output to make professional music right on you desktop computer or laptop! You’ll get a sense of how to work with a variety of techniques to produce outstanding digital audio under the supervision of an industry pro who will help you bring your audio ideas to life. In addition, you’ll get your hands on the latest digital audio production equipment and musical instruments. Each student will be provided their own top of the line computer equipped Logic Pro 9 and will be guided step by step in the creation of their own music and audio productions.

This summer course is tailored for all skill levels and is 5 days of non-stop fun and learning. If you are new to creating music, have some experience, or want to know how to make music that sounds like your favorite artists, this summercamp is for you!

Sign up today for a great summer computer camp experience @ prestigious Universities across the United States.

http://bit.ly/9rZi7Q

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posted by Tyler Winick in News Blog and have No Comments

Music-Making with Logic Pro

Hi, I’m Ben Jaffe, one of DMA’s instructors. In our Music & Video Production course, we’ll be composing and recording an original song, mixing and mastering it, and creating a music video and dvd to accompany the music. We’ll be using the best software tools for the job. I’d like to talk a bit about mixing music in “Logic Studio,” the audio software we’ll be using.

logic-interface

Logic Studio is one of the industry standard audio software packages used in recording studios. I believe Logic is easier to learn than many of the others, but it is just as versatile and powerful.

There are several steps to recording a song. First, you write the song, and decide what instruments play which parts. Then, you record the parts, and input the parts for the software instruments. After that, you mix and master the song. I’ll be talking about those last steps in this blog entry.

Mixing is mainly just setting the volume levels of different instruments so they sound good together. When you go to a concert, the engineer standing in front of that huge board somewhere in the back-center of the audience is the sound mixer. In that case, the mixer only gets one shot at mixing it right, since they are mixing a live show. Recording studios are great because we have plenty of time to get the song to sound exactly the way we want it to sound. And if something sounds entirely wrong, we can just re-record it!

mixer

We can also use automation to simulate live mixing. If we have a guitar solo, we can push the guitar’s volume slider up to make it louder, and pull it back down after the solo is over. Automation lets us do this automatically exactly the same every time we play our song.

There are other tricks we can use. When we record an artist playing or singing a part, we call that a take. We usually record several takes so we can get the best one. If none of them are perfect, we can actually stitch multiple takes together and use the best parts from each take. For example, if the guitarist botched one chord, but the rest of the take was perfect, we can substitute in a chord from another take to fix it. Logic makes splicing clips together very easy. In the project pictured below, I had two substandard takes, so I used different parts of each take to create a better one. (You can hear the song at the bottom of this post).

logic-multiple-take-edit

We can also add “Equalization” to a track. “EQ” lets us change the volume of specific ranges of frequencies. In other words, if the vocalist’s track sounds muddy, we can boost the higher frequencies and take down the lower ones to increase the clarity of their voice. If we have a high-pitched whine in the background, we can take out just the offending frequency.

Here are some examples of the kinds of problems we can fix by mixing the song. I recorded this song with my friend Misha Byrne a few months ago. For all three examples, I’ll play the unmixed version before the mixed version, so you can compare them.

In the first clip, listen to the volume levels. The vocals get a bit quiet on “Maybe I’ll never see…”
In the second clip, you may notice the high pitched noise in the background. Also, the ‘t’ in “heart” gets lost in the unmixed clip.
In the third clip, notice the error in the guitar on the last chord. In the mixed version, I spliced in another recording of Misha playing that chord correctly to make it sound better.

I’ve only mentioned a few of the tools recording engineers and mixers use to arrange and mix songs. We cover them all in our Music and Video Production Class, plus we cover the video side of things as well. We’re all very excited for this class. There is so much to learn, and this class will give every student the knowledge they need to get started in both audio and video.

Here’s the full song. Misha Byrne is a singer, guitarist, and songwriter in Queensland, Australia.

I hope to see you all this summer. This course will be a blast!

-Ben

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posted by Ben in News Blog and have No Comments

Make Music Videos like the Pros

Written by Tyler Winick of the John Lennon Tour Bus

If you know anything about the John Lennon bus you’ll know that we travel the country 10 months out of the year making music and video projects with students around the country. We’ve recently teamed up with the Digital Media Academy to bring week long, hands on music video production courses to campuses across the nation this summer. The course is called “Come Together” and will offer in depth instruction on the creation of music videos all the way from droppin’ beats like a clumsy farmer to editing like Spielberg, that’s Mr. Spielberg to you buddy.

I’ll be co-instructing the Music Video course with an experienced member of the DMA team, Travis Schlaffman, who has led teen summer camps from DMA now for six years and has a lot to teach and some pretty cool tattoos!! I’m looking forward to it and It should be a great collision of Bus style projects fused with DMA’s critical hands on learning. For more info visit:digitalmediaacademy.org. See you this summer!

View the Music Video Course page here.

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posted by Philip Harding in News Blog and have Comment (1)