FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Composer Mitsuto Suzuki and XTRAX STEMS

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Composer Mitsuto Suzuki and XTRAX STEMS

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE: Composer Mitsuto Suzuki and XTRAX STEMS

While excellent for DJs and remixers, XTRAX STEMS can also be a powerful tool for composers and sound designers looking to isolate audio elements for creative reuse. Recently XTRAX STEMS was used by the composer of the FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. 

“FINAL FANTASY VII” has been a legendary video game since its release in 1997. It’s now been entirely remade and was released in Spring 2020 as “FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE”. While the game offers a new experience for users with updated graphics and gameplay, its music has also evolved by leaps and bounds due to Mitsuto Suzuki, the game’s composer.

Mitsuto used Audionamix’s XTRAX STEMS to separate audio elements for the ‘Honeybee Inn’ scene in the game, and spoke about the project in an exclusive interview with Sonicwire.

Mitsuto states, “This is a tool & software that can separate a two-mix into separate stems and export them. I used it to extract the material for the story when I incorporated the vocal material of ‘Honeybee Inn’. I can easily adjust the spectral balance of vocals, music and drums that I wanted to extract. For example, when you want to extract the rhythms only for breakbeats, it is fun to use and see how easily those materials are extracted using the tool. It’s super convenient!”  

Read the full interview with Mitsuto Suzuki on Sonicwire.

XTRAX STEMS Remix Challenge Winner: Steve Fulton

XTRAX STEMS Remix Challenge Winner: Steve Fulton

In April, we launched the first ever XTRAX STEMS Remix Challenge. Participants were sent the song “You and Your Ways” by The Beautiful Fragile with instructions to separate the track using XTRAX STEMS, and use the resulting stems as part of an original remix. After listening to dozens of great submissions, we crowned the winner, Steve Fulton, who won a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 Audio Interface. We caught up with Steve to learn how his remix came to fruition and about his creative process in the studio.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your musical background?

I have been an active performing musician for almost 4 decades now YIKES! haha, and I have owned an operated a commercial recording studio for 28 years. I write, produce and engineer music on a daily basis.

How long have you been using XTRAX STEMS?

I starting using XTRAX v1 in late 2018.

How did you use XTRAX STEMS for the Remix Challenge?

I imported the stereo mix you sent into XTRAX and extracted it into three stems: Music, Percussion and Vocals. Then I imported those tracks into my first DAW.

How do you use XTRAX STEMS in your creative process?

I have now used XTRAX about a dozen times on some stereo tracks where there were no attainable multitracks. Usually it’s an older archived recording that I then ‘remix’ and augment to get a much better balance in presence.

How did you create the drums?  

I used the existing drums to create MIDI notes to augment in DAW #1 and also added an additional drummer groove over the top of the existing drums to drive the song along a little. Then I exported everything out in individual audio tracks into my 2nd DAW.

Which DAWs did you use?

I imported the original XTRAX STEMS into Logic Pro X first, then I exported all the multitrack audio from Logic to Pro Tools 10 HD and overdubbed the real instruments and synth and then mixed. I used Gavin Lurssen’s Mastering plug-in and iZotope Ozone 9 for mastering.

How did you create the guitar?

I played an Epiphone Casino for the ambient guitar part and ambient synth part (I think it was just an Xpand synth) and an electric bass part.

Did you use any samples?

No samples, just software instruments.

Do you have specific artists or genres that inspire you?

I truly love almost all music; if it is done with conviction, I am into it. Genre really doesn’t drive me. I have the music I write and perform and that is all over the map, and all the different genres and styles I produce…all over the map again.

What is Audio Lab Boise?

Audio Lab Boise my studio. I have owned and operated this studio for 28 years.

Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you?

Along with being a singer songwriter, I am a producer / engineer. You can check out my work on the studio site as far as music I have produced. I am also an advocate for young aspiring artists and like to do whatever I can to help the next generation of artists.

Where can listeners find your music? 

My personal music is found on all digital platforms that you find links to from my music site, www.stevefultonmusic.com

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A big thank you to Steve Fulton for chatting with us and all of the other participants in the XTRAX STEMS Remix Challenge. We love to hear how you separate to create! Keep an eye out for future opportunities on the XTRAX STEMS community page.

🔊Listen: The Beautiful Fragile – You and Your Ways (Steve Fulton Remix)

Q & A with Fenix – Social Distancing for DJs

Q & A with Fenix – Social Distancing for DJs

Q & A with Fenix – Social Distancing for DJs

The music industry has been especially impacted by the coronavirus, causing postponed and cancelled events across the globe including Ultra Music, Tomorrowland, and countless others. Artists cannot tour, instead opting to live stream performances and create new music. With this change comes an opportunity to take a step back from the crazy touring schedule that DJs are so often accustomed to, and spend this time creating at home in the studio. We spoke with Russian artist Fenix about his thoughts on the situation, and how he maintains his life as an artist during this uncertain time.

Q:The COVID-19 situation is unprecedented in its global impact. What does this moment mean to you personally and as a DJ? Where are you and what does your day-to-day look like?

I agree with you that the situation is out of the ordinary, and really everything that happens now affects absolutely everything. 

For me personally, this is a significant break in my performances. I had to cancel absolutely all shows before the end of April, and the Winter Music Conference in Miami and the International Music Summit in Ibiza were canceled as well, so I had to get tickets refunded and remove all reservations. I also had to quickly transfer my entire team to remote work, and now all of our processes are happening online. 

Right now I am at home in Moscow. I just passed self-isolation, 14 days after my tour in Europe. Now my day begins with sports, then breakfast and after that I work in the studio until the evening. Then there is a dinner with family and after we watch TV shows and films. I haven’t done this for a long time. And I’ll tell you honestly, now my day is just perfect.

In spite of everything that is happening, I’m even a little glad that I have to spend all this time at home and in my studio. You can’t imagine how many tracks will appear in the near future from me. 

Q: What tips do you have for managing your time and work/life boundaries when home and studio life intertwine?

Now I work at the studio on a schedule like an office worker – I go to the studio in the morning, take a lunch break and then continue until the end of the working day. It is optimal and very productive. During this time (from 10 AM to 6 PM) I manage to do a lot, and I have time for myself and my personal life. It is also very important to plan your day, I do it in the evening. We also use cloud services for organized work on projects, this helps to move towards our goals.

Q:What kind of setup do you have at home to keep you creating?

In addition to the main studio, I always had a studio at home, this is a large space for working with music and also for working with a project for organizational work. I have the following setup for working with music at home: 

iMac Pro with Logic Pro X

Focal Solo Be6 monitors

Analog synthesizers

Moog Sub Phatty

Roland Juno Di

Yamaha MOX8

Access Virus TI2 Desktop

AKG C214 & BLUE SPARK microphones

I also have a couple vintage synths from USSR and A LOT OF VST’s, and of course Audionamix XTRAX STEMS as a main tool for my Remixes. 

 Q; For producers and DJs who previously relied on shared workspaces and studios to create, what would you say are minimum requirements to begin creating at home?  

It is enough to have a laptop and headphones to make some kind of demo at home, or as the musicians say “on their knees”. For vocalists, some kind of simple microphone, although many people manage to record on their phone. This is music, just enough to do what you like and that’s it. As I am an Apple user, Logic Pro X or Ableton software, or even easier, Garage Band will be more than enough at home. For example, Logic Pro X already has both VST tools and VST plugins. Therefore, the list is not large.

1) Laptop

2) DAW

3) MIDI keyboard

4) Good internet

Q: Since most gigs have been postponed or canceled, how do you maintain a substantive relationship with your fans?

Here, in fact, everything was simple and practically nothing was crushed, live broadcasts on Instagram and Facebook. Shared broadcasts with musician friends are also interesting to followers. Since productivity is now at a high level, announcing new music will lead to continued interest and support from fans.

Q: There are many artists hosting live sets and performances online and earning a living through tips – do you recommend any platforms?

Frankly, it’s difficult for me to recommend something specific, since now a lot of things appear on the Internet. Personally, I would spend my time on training and master classes from professionals.

Q: Have you participated in any “virtual parties”? What are your thoughts on the concept?

This direction for me now looks the most interesting and has great potential. In fact, a lot of people are faced with the fact that they cannot physically attend an event for various reasons, and this technology allows them to quickly find themselves in the epicenter of an event without leaving home. Indeed, I participate in such projects very actively. I would like to draw your attention to the new platform Sensorium. This is one of those examples where the quality of the product and the scale of the project are implemented at a very high level. Clearly, the future belongs to similar projects.

Q: What do you think about the future of these trends in the long term?

Now we all perfectly understand that technologies are pushing the usual formats for us, simplifying and making things previously inaccessible for us, more than affordable. The distance between artists and their fans is shrinking, and now everyone feels involved in a creative or other process that is connected to the formation of an artist. Coronavirus showed everyone an acute shortage of ready-made solutions in this direction, but at the same time confirmed their need.

Q: What is your go-to song or album to lift your mood when cabin fever sets in?

I’ll tell you honestly, as always I don’t change my tastes and when I just want to enjoy the music, I listen to my favorite band AC/DC.

Q: How can people stay connected with you (social media call outs, upcoming events, etc)?

I always control my official website: www.djfenix.com

There you can always find all my music, radio shows, links to social networks and accounts on streaming platforms. By the way, during the quarantine period, all remixes are available ABSOLUTELY FOR FREE. There are upcoming shows in May that have not been canceled yet. So we hope that they will take place. You can find all my upcoming performances on the site in the Tour section.

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Follow Fenix on Social media!

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

 

Audionamix at the Futur.e.s Festival

Audionamix at the Futur.e.s Festival

Audionamix at the Futur.e.s Festival

Audionamix s’est rendu au dernier Festival “Futur.e.s” (#DeepTech4NewMedia) organisé par Cap Digital le 10 mars dernier dans le 10eme arrondissement de Paris, afin de présenter sa technologie de séparation de sources mais également pour présenter la dernière version de son logiciel XTRAX STEMS.

Cap Digital est considéré comme le plus grand collectif d’innovateurs du numérique d’Europe, avec plus de 13 années d’existence, plus de 1000 adhérents (dont Audionamix), plus de 120 évènements créés, ainsi que plus de 1,7 Milliards d’euros d’investissement dans le secteur de la R&D. 

Cette édition du festival “‘Futur.e.s” avait comme thème principal, les technologies de rupture qui vont révolutionner les industries des médias, des computers graphics et de la culture. 

#DeepTech 

Audionamix était donc représenté avec certains des acteurs majeurs de l’innovation dans le domaine des médias associée au Deep learning / Machine learning. À savoir, Actronika, Golaem, INA Signature, DeepAlgo, MocapLab, Art Graphique & Patrimoine, Opscidia, Radio France, Youcheck!

Cette participation a permis à Audionamix de présenter sa technologie à travers ses différents logiciels, mais aussi par le biais de ses prestations de services.

Merci à Cap Digital pour l’invitation, et au public d’avoir fait le déplacement et pour tous les retours positifs concernant notre participation et implication dans le domaine de la création d’outils pour l’industrie musicale et audiovisuelle.  

English: 

Audionamix attended the latest “Futur.e.s” festival  (#DeepTech4NewMedia) organized by Cap Digital on March 10 in the 10th district of Paris, to present our source separation technology and the latest version of XTRAX STEMS.

Cap Digital is considered as the largest collective of digital innovators in Europe, with more than 1000 members (including Audionamix), more than 120 events created, and more than 1.7 billion euros of investment in the R&D sector over its 13 years of existence.

Audionamix was represented with some of the major players in media innovation associated with Deep Learning / Machine learning: Actronika, Golaem, INA Signature, DeepAlgo, MocapLab, Art Graphique & Patrimoine, Opscidia, Radio France, Youcheck!

Our participation allowed Audionamix to present our technology through software as well as our Professional Services.

Thanks to Cap Digital for the invitation, to the public for coming, and for all positive feedback regarding our participation and involvement in creating tools for the music and audiovisual industry. 

Articles from the event: 

https://www.zdnet.fr/actualites/quand-la-deeptech-entre-en-scene-dans-l-industrie-culturelle-39900423.htm

https://www.usine-digitale.fr/article/la-pepite-francaise-audionamix-met-le-deep-learning-au-service-des-dj.N938816

The Sound of an Epic Night

The Sound of an Epic Night

The Sound of an Epic Night

Stephen Oliver and JP Quicquaro recount their experiences creating and mixing the new eko interactive series “Epic Night”

We at Audionamix have been familiar with interactive video company eko for several years. Formerly known as Interlude, eko’s tools helped us to create interactive tutorial videos for our TRAX products. Eko is now focused on creating choice-based series, including the college-age romp, “Epic Night”.

In this interactive rom-com, three friends celebrate their college graduation in a night of house parties, burrito challenges, and eccentric rideshare drivers on their way to the biggest music festival of the season. Stepping into the shoes of the protagonist, Martin, viewers make choices at key moments in the story, leading to twelve completely different outcomes. Although a viewer can navigate through an installment in about 10 minutes, each episode contains nearly 30 minutes of content to cover all of the possible storylines.

We sat down with “Epic Night” producer JP Quicquaro and post-production sound mixer Stephen Oliver to discuss the making, and mixing, of this choice-driven series.

What was the biggest difference working on Epic Night versus non-interactive productions?

JP: Production wise, you’re planning a whole bunch of scenes that the user may not see or experience, so logistically there is a lot more to plan for. You’re not writing a through line, a linear story from point A to point B. You’re getting from point A to point Z and every combination of the alphabet in between. When you have this type of interactive content, it exponentially increases the work on the post side. One of the most difficult things is figuring out how to process sound and handle all the different nodes, and marry all those together and get a seamless integration of audio, video, and performance.

Stephen: In most shows you mix one version of a scene and it’s done. For “Epic Night”, because of the interactive nature, there were often two, three, or four versions of the same scene, depending on what choice you make as the viewer. For example, early on in the show the group splits up and you can choose to go with Lillis, or go with Jess. While that’s a simple choice, it leads to entirely different scenarios in the episode, and even to callbacks to that decision in later episodes. We had to keep close track of each choice and where it led to make sure things were mixed consistently. When you click the button to make your decision, it’s a seamless transition, so you never notice a pause or change in the sound. Since the different possible scenes following a decision weren’t always consistent in length, we had to make sure that the audio happening at the end of a scene, and the audio at the beginning of the next scene were exactly the same across all the choices, so they’ll flow together naturally no matter what you choose. I found my most important tools to be Pro Tools for its quick editing abilities and IDC for fast dialogue denoising.

What were some audio challenges that needed to be solved in post-production?

JP: Often when actors in a movie or show are in a car, they aren’t actually driving, there is something used called a process trailer, which is a low flat bed truck that the car is driven onto. So a truck driver is driving the car on the back of the truck so the actors don’t have to worry about actually driving. You might have 15-20 people on the back of a truck filming the car. You add lights and sound equipment and stuff it in the car and everyone stands on the back of the truck that’s driving while the car just sits there. We used a process trailer for the opening scene. The trailer we had was a bit rattly, and there was road noise and engine noise. That was very challenging and that’s our opening scene so it was really important to make it smooth. Everything sounds really great after the post-production work that Stephen did.

Stephen: With the car scenes there were different engine noise between cuts; sometimes a low drone, but during acceleration it was a rising frequency. Since we are cutting back and forth between the characters in the car, this engine noise would jump back and forth quite noticeably. IDC helped to isolate just the dialogue so that we could build a more consistent car tone underneath.

JP: We had another particularly difficult location where we were filming outside a store on the side of a road, and we were there for a long time to shoot all the different outcomes, we went from early evening to 2 or 3 in the morning. The background sound was completely different because we had a bunch of different levels of traffic. If you have consistent ambient traffic, you can work around it, but we went from half the shots having busy traffic, to it being dead quiet in the middle of the scene and it was a really challenging thing. That’s common across all of film but it was compounded because we were there for so long shooting all these different scenarios.

Stephen: We found that the best solution in that case was to both remove traffic noise from the dialogue and then add consistent traffic background from a sound library, to make everything have the same average level of noise. Again, IDC was instrumental in reducing the traffic noise. I was able to go pretty deep without making the dialogue sound unnaturally thin.

Stephen: In one scene, Martin and Jess are walking together through a park at night. It’s a tender moment where they’re really connecting. To properly light the scene the crew needed a generator running, which unavoidably bled into all the mics.

JP: It was a wide open shot, and we only had a certain amount of cable, so the generator had to be close. The actors were also walking towards the generator so it was getting louder and louder as they approached it.

Stephen: There was a hum at different frequencies but also an underlying pulse and mechanical noise, so hum removal helped, but wasn’t enough. IDC let me significantly reduce the generator noise while keeping the speech clear and free of artifacts.


Epic Night was directed by Andrew Rhymer, executive produced by Benny and Rafi Fine, produced by JP Quicquaro and Lisa Steen, and written by Scarlett Bermingham and Sierra Katow.

About the Products Mentioned in the Blog

Watch the full mini-series now on eko.com or the eko app.

IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

The best tool on the market to address common podcast audio problems including room ambiance, wind, traffic and nature sounds.