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.
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.
For six years in a row, Mix Magazine has organized Hollywood’s premier event for the audio industry to celebrate the art of sound for motion pictures and television. Held at the world-famous Sony Pictures Studio lot in Culver City, this year’s Sound For Film & TV proved yet again to be an essential event for those wanting to learn from and network with the top sound editors, composers, mixers, and recordists working today.
As a proud sponsor of the event, Audionamix presented the latest breakthroughs in AI source separation technology. We shared the bustling entrance hall with our friends from Sound Particles, Krotos, Avid, Genelec and more to offer hands-on demos of new and exciting developments in the sound space. At our table, Scott Esterson and Brian Code prepared to give demos of IDC Instant Dialogue Cleaner to show how one can easily and quickly reduce noise in a problematic audio recording.
As attendees arrived and grabbed their swag bags, they were treated to breakfast treats to fuel the day. Wylie Statemen, supervising sound editor for “Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood”, delivered the keynote address, kicking off an exciting day full of panels, discussions, and presentations focusing on audio for film and television.
Panels covered a wide variety of topics including production sound, immersive audio, and creative mixing techniques. Sound editors from blockbusters “Ford v. Ferrari” and “Spiderman: Far From Home” shared their processes for mixing big budget features and the challenges that come along with tackling such large projects with many moving parts.
After a quick and tasty lunch, we held a special presentation about audio AI and its implications for the future of audio source separation. Ellie McNeil set the stage with a brief background of AI and machine learning, which provided insight into how Audionamix technology can distinguish and isolate elements from a full mix. Stephen Oliver then showed examples of how our Professional Services team utilizes this technology, with clips illustrating dialogue isolation, dialogue removal, and music removal.
We were thrilled by the turnout and response to the presentation, and the enthusiastic questions that followed. Attendees were excited to learn how to access previously unattainable audio assets, by “unbaking the cake” and reverse engineering audio. Isolating elements from a composite mix introduces a wide array of possibilities for content owners including upmixing, remonetization, and restoration. Thank you to all the attendees of our presentation, who walked away with free Audionamix mugs and USB flash drives!
Ending the night was the red carpet walk to the open bar and Sound Reel Showcase in the Cary Grant theater, where editors presented eight minute clips of films of the year’s best film sequences in glorious Dolby Atmos. There couldn’t be a better place to experience a film in immersive audio! Amazon’s upcoming theatrical release “The Aeronauts” was the big surprise of the night, featuring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in one of the most acrophobic scenes in recent memory.
See you next year! Thank you to Sony and Mix Magazine!
The 2020 TEC Award Nominees for DJ Production Technology
Much to our excitement Audionamix has the great honor of being nominated alongside legendary brands Roland, KORG, Numark, Denon DJ, and Audio-Technica for the 2020 DJ Production Technology award! This year XTRAX STEMS 2, the automatic stem-separation application by Audionamix, stands as the only software solution nominated in this category. In this blog we take a look at the history of the TEC awards and our fellow DJ Production Technology nominees!
Founded by Mix Magazine in 1985, the Technical Excellence and Creativity (TEC) Award honors innovative professionals and products in the field of audio and sound production. The category of DJ Production technology aims to recognize cutting edge products and tools specifically tailored to the DJ community. Nominees in this category have mostly been traditional DJ tools such as turntables and mixers over the years but recently the category has expanded to include audio software as well.Also nominated in the DJ Production technology are these great products.
“This fully manual professional DJ turntable features a high-torque direct-drive motor and anti-resonant, mass-damped, die-cast aluminum platter to ensure stable, on-axis rotation at 33-1/3, 45, and 78 RPM. It is equipped with an S-shaped tonearm with height adjustment, adjustable tracking force (counterweight) and adjustable dynamic anti-skate control.”
“The ‘M’ (for Motorized) is, at its core, an SC5000 Prime DJ media player, already a (DJ Mag) multi-Tech Award winning unit, but now headlined with a 7″, real vinyl and adjustable torque, motorized platter.”
“In addition to emphasizing real analog sound and joy of controlling an electronic musical instrument , the minilogue xd newly adds a digital multi-engine, effects, a powered-up sequencer, and micro tuning functionality, further expanding the possibilities for sound design and performance potential.”
“Numark Scratch is a 24-bit two-channel mixer that redefines what you can do with an affordable 2-channel scratch mixer. With Scratch, you’ll be able to create and perform at a higher level than you ever thought was possible—especially with a mixer in the affordable price category.”
“The Serato x Roland TR-SYNC update brings the power of Roland’s iconic drum machines to your DJ setup. Simply connect your Roland TR drum machine to Serato DJ Pro and they’ll sync to the same BPM. Now you can easily add your own drum loops with the same drum sounds.”
The NAMM Show has always been one of our favorite times of year and in 2020 we look forward to it with added thrill of participating in this great event. Please join us there for the 35th Annual TEC Awards on January 18th, 2020.
Audionamix’s Professional Services Provides Unique Tech for Re-monetization of Older Catalogs
Artificial Intelligence Algorithms Allow Film, Television and Music Companies to Revitalize Older Catalogs When the Original Multitracks and Stems are No Longer Available
Audionamix’s Professional Services Division, comprised of uniquely qualified audio engineers, functions as an extension to its clients’ post departments by directly delivering separated audio elements when the original multi-tracks or stems are no longer available. These specialized engineers utilize proprietary audio extraction technologies in order to provide advanced separations that are not easily accomplished using commercially available software. This has enabled Audionamix to help bring a number of unique projects to fruition, and its clients include the biggest content owners, creatives and technicians in the professional music, film and broadcast industries.
Audionamix’s Professional Services offerings include the following:
which can remove music from a scene
which can isolate or remove dialogue from a scene
which can isolate a vocal performance
which can remove vocals from a song
Audionamix has provided its Music Dissociation service to several classic films so that they could be viewed alongside a live orchestra performing the score. Television series such as Baywatch were able to use the Music Dissociation service to remove previously licensed music in order to re-release original episodes. Vocal Extraction allows for the creation of virtual duets, as heard in Barry Manilow’s GRAMMY® nominated My Dream Duets album. Dialogue Isolation has allowed previously released feature films to be upmixed to 5.1 surround sound, even though the sessions were no longer available.
“In a perfect world, a client would perpetually have access to all the elements to create a full mix, whether it be a TV show, movie, album or individual song,” says Stephen Oliver, senior engineer and coordinator of Professional Services at Audionamix. “But unexpected challenges arise, and archives are often lost over the years. Our team is able to extract content from a mixed audio source using our various extraction technologies. This can include vocals, dialogue, soundtrack and other musical elements.”
For Oliver and his team, there is a hands-on approach to the way they work with each client, based on the unique needs of every project. Ultimately, the Audionamix Professional Services team is able to save its clients both time and money – such as by eliminating re-licensing music content costs – which is often essential in getting expensive projects off the ground. “Every client needs something different from us to complete their project,” continues Oliver. “We take the time to figure out how to use Audionamix’s artificial intelligence (AI)-based audio technology to best accomplish their goals.”
On a personal level, Oliver says it is especially rewarding taking something old and making it new again. “It’s like taking a part of history and bringing it back to life through new and remastered recordings and video productions,” he adds.
Audionamix is continually developing more advanced algorithms to tackle any audio isolation project. Visit audionamix.com to learn more about its Professional Services Division as well as commercially available versions of its music (XTRAX STEMS 2) and speech separation (IDC: Instant Dialogue Cleaner) software solutions.