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.

The Mom Forum Podcast Mixing with IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

The Mom Forum Podcast Mixing with IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

The Mom Forum Podcast Mixing with IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

Separation Stories

In the Field with Ellie McNeil – Mixing The Mom Forum Podcast with IDC

The IDC plug-in offers fast and easy dialogue cleanup with the turn of a knob. Engineer for Enhanced Media and Audionamix Product Manager Ellie McNeil writes of her experience using the IDC on The Mom Forum podcast.

Elisha Beach is a birth mom of 3, adoptive mom of 1 and a stepmom of 4. With 8 kids and a dog, life does not slow down when the record button is on. In each episode of The Mom Forum podcast, Elisha and her portable recording system (featuring the Yeti microphone) travel to various locations to meet with moms from all walks of life to discuss their personal journeys through motherhood. Their diverse experiences are matched by diverse recording environments and sonic challenges. In order to deliver the weekly podcasts on schedule, my task was to find a solution to quickly solve these audio challenges without requiring a lot of time-consuming cleanup. As the Product Manager for Audionamix I was excited to see how our latest tool, the IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner plug-in, would perform!

 

Elisha and her guest would often sound distant and their voices would reverberate through the room so much that it would distract from the stories they were telling. This is a normal consequence of recording in a large, untreated audio space without close miking all sources, and it’s a common challenge that accompanies a traveling podcast such as The Mom Forum. I was absolutely blown away by how IDC handled this challenge, and I wound up using the plug-in on every single interview recording to quickly reduce the room ambience and draw attention back to the dialogue. The fact that I could keep the same settings for IDC even as the interviews, background noise, and room ambience would change from episode to episode was a refreshing change from more complicated denoisers that require first learning and removing noise profiles. I found that a simple turn of the main IDC background knob down between -6 and -12dB worked best to eliminate excess room and refocus on the storytelling.

Another unique aspect of The Mom Forum podcast is how it gracefully integrates interruptions from kiddos, whether cries in the background, questions from the door, or a little one playing with a toy. These are all perfectly normal parts of motherhood, and their inclusion only enhances the relatability of the podcast. During the mix, the challenge was to minimize any of these sounds that would detract or distract from the intimate one-on-one conversations between Elisha and her guests. Oftentimes a bumping of a table or cooing in the background might get so loud that it would break the attention of the listener. I found the IDC plug-in to be an essential tool in managing these complex, varying noises and in delivering a polished and professional finished product that still sounded natural.

With every audio project there are unique challenges, and unique solutions. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to use our own IDC in the field on The Mom Forum with such positive results. I recommend IDC for podcasters and all those looking to quickly and easily tackle complex audio problems including removing room ambience and inconsistent, varying noises like bumps, knocks, wind, and traffic noise.

The Mom Forum Podcast launched In July 2018 and features intimate mom-to-mom conversations sharing the journey to and through motherhood. These stories show the diversity of mothers while still sharing the common experiences that come with motherhood.

Listen on iTunes / Spotify / Google / Stitcher

About the Products Mentioned in the Blog

IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner

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

Audionamix Professional Services Assist Remastered Baywatch Release

Audionamix Professional Services Assist Remastered Baywatch Release

Audionamix Professional Services Assist Remastered Baywatch Release

Separation Stories: ADX Technology in Action for Remastered Baywatch Release

Audionamix Services Specialist Stephen Oliver recounts his experience removing music from the blockbuster TV series’ worldwide HD rerelease.

With its water rescue action and eye-popping scenery, the smash hit show Baywatch has been broadcast in over 200 different countries, and watched by over a billion people worldwide. Its success spawned the star-studded 2017 feature film by the same name, and the original story and characters still have a dedicated fan base across the globe.

It’s no surprise then, that in 2018 the company behind Baywatch, Fremantle, started the process of creating a fully remastered HD version of Baywatch for worldwide distribution, including popular streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video. The original series was shot on 35mm film, making it possible to digitize and clean the negatives for conversion to high-definition digital picture. This involved painstaking work by many talented people, and the end result looks fantastic.

On the audio side, the project presented another challenge: due to the popularity of Baywatch, many of the songs used in the original series have since become very expensive to license due to their commercial success. Licensing these songs for the remastered version would make the entire project cost-prohibitive.

To make the re-release possible, it was decided to replace over 350 songs with new, more affordable music, which allowed the project to get off the ground. This wasn’t a problem for the English version of the show, as the separate music, effects, and dialogue stems were archived and available, so the music stem could be easily be muted and replaced.

Stems for dialogue music, and effects. Each element is on its own track.

With stems available, the original music track can be muted and replaced.

For the foreign versions of the show, however, these separate stems were no longer available. The only audio available was the full master track with music, effects and dialogue elements combined into one, making it seemingly impossible to remove and replace just the music.

This full composite mix includes dialogue, music, and effects elements all combined on a single stereo track. There’s no way to independently control or mute the separate elements.

Enter the Audionamix Professional Services team, a group of audio experts working with proprietary artificial intelligence technology that aims to find and extract specific elements in a mix without processing or destroying the rest of the information within.

Using a patented process known as “Music Dissociation”, we were able to separate only the music from each scene, leaving the dialogue and effects intact. Music Dissociation works by teaching the AI the sonic fingerprint of the song, or source, in this case provided to us by Warner Bros. The AI then analyzes the full audio file and separates it into two elements, the learned music and the remaining dialogue and effects.

Armed with this technology, our team worked on over 400 clips from the show’s nine seasons, allowing for the replacement of music in the French, Spanish Neutral, Spanish Castilian, Italian, and German versions of the show.

In a perfect world one would perpetually have access to all of the elements that create a full mix, whether it be a movie or a song. But this world is complicated, unexpected challenges arise, and archives are often lost over the years. I’ve been honored to assist clients through these worst case scenarios to help them realize their visions for beloved shows, movies, and songs.

Turns out sometimes even the Hoff needs a helping hand.

Separation Stories: Steve Wilk – How to use XTRAX STEMS in Recording Covers

Separation Stories: Steve Wilk – How to use XTRAX STEMS in Recording Covers

Separation Stories: Steve Wilk – How to use XTRAX STEMS in Recording Covers

Separation Stories Part 2: Covers

In the Field with Steve Wilk – XTRAX STEMS

Producers and audio engineers around the world use Audionamix software every day to separate, remix, and create. Producer and Playback Engineer Steve Wilk writes of his experience using XTRAX STEMS in his creative process:

While working on our initial EP for A-List Records, we were asked to record some covers. Traditionally we would brainstorm some songs, pick one and start working on it. First we would need to learn the song, and then we would put it in the right key for our vocalist, and only then begin to experiment with the idea we had.  Obviously, this all becomes quite time consuming, and definitely slows down the creative process!

When I started working as a beta tester for Audionamix’s vocal extractor software, XTRAX STEMS, I thought it would be a great opportunity to combine this software with the process of recording covers.

What I discovered was how much of a time saver XTRAX STEMS is. I could hear a song, say in a cafe, or on a playlist, in a movie, etc. Once I had an idea, I could come back to my computer, get the original song, drop it into XTRAX STEMS and let the software perform the vocal extraction.  Within minutes I would be importing files into my session and working on the idea.

With the first song I tried out I had a new version with drums, a new loop of harmony material, and the separated vocals were muted. Ironically, the singer I was working with listened to the cover and liked the music so much, she wrote a new song on top of it. She didn’t realize it was a cover at all!

This ability to keep in the creative mind is so important today. So often we get bogged down with other time-consuming tasks, only to realize that the idea we had may not work, which can be heartbreaking. XTRAX STEMS has made the process of trying an idea with a cover song both seamless and efficient, allowing me to find out quickly what will work and what won’t.

Steve Wilk with Hannah & The Engineers

Steve Wilk with Hannah & The Engineers

Using XTRAX STEMS has also led me to some interesting musical discoveries, as it can give you a breakdown of recorded music that you normally would never get just listening to a full mix. You can listen to the drum track alone, separate from the bass, which lets you hear more nuance and production techniques.

Listening to the music stem, minus the drums and vocal, really opens up the song and is a great learning tool either for instruments or for production and mixing techniques.

This is really a great way to analyze and hear what is going on inside your favorite tracks, whether you are a musician, producer, or engineer. It can be quite surprising to discover some of the elements that become obvious when the track is separated. For example, degrees of swing, mixing of sounds, and production techniques that aren’t obviously audible in the full mix.

Every time I split apart a track with XTRAX STEMS, I truly am surprised at what I find, as I discover something new each time.

-Steve Wilk

About Steve

Steve Wilk is a Producer/Engineer. He currently works with artist/actress Kat Graham, with Musical Director Michael “Nomad” Ripoll (Babyface). Other clients include Keyshia Cole, Hannah and the Engineers, and various show programming for tours.

Separation Stories: Steve Wilk – In the field with Audionamix software

Separation Stories: Steve Wilk – In the field with Audionamix software

Separation Stories: Steve Wilk – In the field with Audionamix software

Separation Stories

In the Field with Steve Wilk – Playback with TRAX Pro 3 and XTRAX STEMS

Producers and audio engineers around the world use Audionamix software every day to separate, remix, and create. Producer and Playback Engineer Steve Wilk writes of his experience using Audionamix software in the field:

Working in the playback world can get really hectic. It means long days of rehearsals, and after these rehearsals when most people head off, I am usually still at the studio working on the show, editing, cleaning up and preparing for the next rehearsal. Besides building the show with the stems, we also do sound design, which requires us to have a sound library on hand. Although we usually have the necessary audio materials, every now and then we get some curve balls and impossible tasks.Steve Wilk_Working

I am often tasked with finding acappellaonly files of songs to put into the show, or to figure out how to split a single wav file or mp3 into stems for my session. I was once at rehearsals and received a list of possible songs the MD wanted me to find acappella versions of to use in the show. The list also included multiple tracks for every song…just in case they wanted to go in that direction. Finding these acappellas can be challenging, signing up to weird websites, and always facing the possibility of some malware, not to mention it being so time-consuming only to find at the end somebody’s soundalike instead of the original artist.

So, during one of my late night multiple hour searches after a rehearsal I found TRAX Pro 3, Audionamix’s software solution that allows you to isolate extract vocals from a song.  I tried it out on an mp3 and it worked GREAT! I could split a track into vocal and music only. It was amazing to see the musicians and MD all wondering how the hell I got a hold of these vocal only versions and instrumentals!  How did I unmix a song?!

Steve-Wilk_StudioThe other way TRAX Pro 3 has been useful is when we are deep into rehearsals, and waiting for stems to be sent from producers and engineers. Instead of sitting around waiting, we could rehearse to just the mp3. But because we use multiple outputs for the playback mix, dropping a full track with Vocals and Music into (e.g.) the drum outputs would mess up everyone’s mixes. Or it could cause us to create a entirely new mix just for that one song, which only creates more potential problems. Now, if I break down the track using the new XTRAX STEMS I can get a drum, music, and vox stem that keeps the in-ear mixes as they are, and saves a lot of frustration, time-wasting, and unhappy folks. Later whenever I do get the stems (just before showtime) I can edit them accordingly and drop them in.

TRAX Pro and XTRAX STEMS have been extremely beneficial to me in my work. Thank you to Audionamix for creating such great products!

– Steve Wilk


About Steve

Steve Wilk is a Producer/Engineer. He currently works with artist/actress Kat Graham, with Musical Director Michael “Nomad” Ripoll (Babyface). Other clients include Keyshia Cole, Hannah and the Engineers, and various show programming for tours.

Separation Stories: Jay Graydon and Bill Evans talk TRAX Pro and remastering “Airplay”

Separation Stories: Jay Graydon and Bill Evans talk TRAX Pro and remastering “Airplay”

Separation Stories

Jay Graydon and Bill Evans talk TRAX Pro and remastering Airplay

 

Musicians and audio engineers around the world use Audionamix software every day to create, remix, and restore. Recently, Grammy-winner Jay Graydon and engineer extraordinaire Bill Evans used TRAX Pro to help in the remastering of a classic album.

Jay Graydon laying down tracks in the studio

Jay Graydon on how TRAX Pro helped solve a remastering challenge:

David Foster and I are Airplay, and recorded an album by the same name in 1979. It went Gold in Japan and continues to sell well around the world. The record company recently asked that I remaster the mixes for an upcoming re-release, but there was a problem: the vocals needed remixing…and the multi-tracks weren’t accessible.

The song, “Stranded” needed the most help. On the stereo mix, I’d added major EQ in the low frequency area (120 shelf) as well as rolling out EQ at 2.5 k area. But this left the vocals too low! So, I asked Bill if it would be possible to extract the vocals from the mix.

Tom [Price] and Bill worked on it, and I received the finished audio of the instrument track along with three vocal tracks. When playing the music and the vocal tracks together, it matched perfectly with the original. BUT then it was time to hear what happens when bringing up the vocal level…I brought up the vocal level between 1 to 3 dB using automation in Pro Tools and I WAS AMAZED…IT SOUNDED PERFECT, MEANING NO ARTIFACTS WERE HEARD!!!!

 

The full story of the re-mastering of Airplay (with audio examples of the before and after for the song “Stranded”) will be posted on my website (www.jaygraydon.com), as well as where to get the re-mastered version of Airplay [to be released by SONY].

— Jay Graydon

Bill Evans and Tom Price in the studio with TRAX Pro

Bill Evans on using TRAX Pro for creating the vocal separation tracks:

When Jay asked me about doing this, I was intrigued and a little nervous—Jay is renowned for having some of the best ears in the business. Not to mention David Foster. And I had no idea how to separate multiple vocal tracks to the degree he needed…no one I spoke to had heard of it being done. But I figured if anything could handle the heavy lifting, it was Audionamix tech.

I spoke to Steve Oliver at Audionamix, who was kind enough to discuss their technical approach to the problem. I was hooked, and we dove in. Jay created MIDI guide files for the vocal melodies, and my assistant Tom used TRAX Pro to produce the three separate vocal separation tracks, as well as the instrumental tracks. He (and TRAX Pro) did an amazing job, and TRAX’s post-processing tools helped further improve the results (particularly in removing high-end drum bleed that coincided with vocal consonants).

If there was only one vocal track, we’d have been finished. But the three vocal tracks still needed to reassemble, simultaneously, without frequency cancellation. So Tom used a spectral editor (SpectraLayers) for post-processing on the frequency overlaps, and the project was complete.

It was a privilege to work with Jay Graydon, and I look forward to working with him (and TRAX Pro) in the future!

— Bill Evans