SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Results, Winners announced

Thematic Songwriting Competition - recurrence: monthly
User avatar
Mister Fox
Site Admin
Posts: 1348
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:15 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting until 01-11-2017 11:59pm GMT+1/CET

Post by Mister Fox » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:09 am

Alright - here is my feedback - I will announce the results in a later follow up post (they're more clear now).

I also added some technical details at the end of each report, after analyzing the WAV files (in fact, I only listened to the WAVs). You don't need to do that. I just want to give you a small overview of where to look out for in the future maybe. And I sadly had to retrospectively disqualify an entry. More about that further down below.




:arrow: Fix in the Mix - Spooky Level

This track definitely feels like as if it was out of a video game or some sorts. Did anyone of you ever play "Grabbed by the Ghoulies"? Or maybe the funny indie game "Chook and Sosig". Yeah, this would fit right in there. Maybe even an old point and click game of the early 90ies (however, the more funny ones).

I quite like the mix of the instruments - and from all entries, it's the most bright mixed one as well. Then again, it overall felt a bit... narrow... the upright bass was also pushed a bit too far back to my taste, while the harpsichord was too loud. Then again, the harpsichord was the driving element of the song. You could have also played a bit more with the panning of the pizzicato instruments. Especially on the melody runs, giving a bit more sense of space and confusion. I definitely like the throw in of Bach's "Toccata and Fuge" with the pipe organ later in the song. And I like the Theremin-ish synth at the end. Overall, very 60ies spooky cartoon and video games.

I quite enjoyed it.


TECHNICAL BONUS INFO:
- production was in 48kHz 24bit
- Loudness was -12LUFS ILk (okay IMO), -8,7LUFS SLk max
- track was limited to -0,2dBFS max, but showed +0,02dBTP, it therefore clipped
- mixdown had a DC Offset of about -78dB




:arrow: OctopusOnFire - Mecha Spider Queen Skillfully Spins her web

Very interesting intro rhyhtm... At first I was like "is this going to get more mechanical?" - and I sure shouldn't be disappointed. Tape stop effect, beat change (which actually was a bit offputting first, but the bpm value is the same), and then the track went into in a dulled out industrial type hard rock production, that heavily reminded me of a dark, gritty carnival. I also liked the change of instrumentation. The harpsichord ever so often gives this track a whole different feel. I definitely love the glitched effects for the mechanical clock.

Though I didn't quite like the overall mix. It was a bit too dull for my taste. Maybe because of the aimed-at lo-fi sounding production, which in turn resulted in such low loudness readouts, since you didn't want to overload the RMS meter (too many low frequencies).

I did understand the route you went for (think huge drum with a soft mallet as kick, though I wish the whole set would have been a tad more clear in the higher frequencies), but the guitar was IMO not - how shall I put it - "screeching" enough (lack of upper mids, maybe a different amp would have worked better), the staccato voice samples drowned a bit in the rest of the production as well.

Overall, very interesting song. I could still fix the overall tone (sadly, no in-depth issues) with proper EQ and delicate stereo field manipulation. IMO, still room for "fairy dust". (drop me a PM, if you want to get a screenshot to see what I did to lift "the veil")


TECHNICAL BONUS INFO:
- production was in 44kHz 24bit
- Loudness was -21LUFS ILk (the lowest of all entries), -19,1LUFS SLk max - so fairly dense mixed
- track was peaking to -4,73dBTP max
- mixdown had a DC Offset of about -inf dB (no offset)




:arrow: erictracks - Killer Trucker

I often enjoy Eric's vintage style productions (he's been a Mix Challenge client a couple of months back, and I know of his previous work). Same in this case. It has that 70ies feeling with a very mellow drum set (albeit, it being a bit dull - is that one of the Abbey Road Drums again?), and slap-back delayed vocals. Great balance of instrumentation, good sense of stereo field. The occasional dissonance to throw you off guard (especially at the beginning). And man, I just love your guitar tone (is that an amp sim? Would love to know which). Vocals are indeed a bit of a "sh*t-show" as you'd call it. But it fits well to the deranged feel of this "Trucker".

I did have the impression though, that you cut off the transients in some sort of manner. Usually, vintage mixes like this would show more transients on the waveform (and the production therefore peak higher on the Digital Meter). But no tin this case... It's not a mistake or anything. It just feels... unusual with these types of mixes.

Either way... This track definitely gave me that "horror" feel that I've got to know from games like Silent Hill, and various bad horror movies. Definitely nice work!


TECHNICAL BONUS INFO:
- production was in 44kHz 16bit
- Loudness was -16,4LUFS ILk, -13,1LUFS SLk max
- track felt like it was limited to -6dBFS max - at least from looking at the waveform. I miss the transients of the snare.
- mixdown had a DC Offset of about -90,3dB




:arrow: Beeble - Devils and Angels

Okay, this one completely caught me off guard. I already know what some of your are capable off within a short time span (after listening to the tracks from SWC01), but I did not expect half a radio play, going into a chaotic rage mode with punk/metal parts in between, including an interesting intermission. Being German myself, I would have loved to hear what has been said by the devil (and maybe even other characters), but sadly, it got drowned out in the effects and mix.

Speaking of the mix... this track is fairly "hot". In fact, the loudest production of all the entries. And not perfect either.

The "radio play" section for example is too loud compared to the music. I also wanted to know where the sound snippets came from - I had a feeling that I've heard these samples before. So I did some quick Google-Fu and found out that they are sadly copied 1:1 from "Queensryche - I remember now" (from the "Operation: Mindcrime" album), which is actually a knock-out criteria as this is not "original content", but previously released copyrighted one (which could cause a lot of issues in turn!). So technically, that is a rule violation!

Let me quote the Rules and Guidelines:
  • Please no cover version / rearrangement / remix from somebody else (like a popular chart release). If in doubt, contact the Mix Challenge staff
  • Please only use tools you are legally entitled to use
The music production itself is fitting the chaotic theme that you got from this sort of mental asylum. But the mix could have been better in terms of instrument balance. It did feel like a bad mix of early "Devil May Cry" (again, a video game) tracks - which were washed out at best. The drums could have definitely been louder for sure, so could have been the vocals. The effect additions (devil and sound FX) were overpowering the rest. This rips you out out of the immersion, unless you're half asleep and let your mind wander. If you aimed to go for that bad mixed 80ies metal sound, it's could work. But it still throws you off IMO.

A quite interesting production music wise, with an interesting story (which fit quite nicely to this month's theme) that kept me excited due to the radio play element... until I found out where the "radio play" section came from. Pity...


TECHNICAL BONUS INFO:
- production was in 44kHz 16bit
- Loudness was -10,2LUFS ILk, -4,3LUFS SLk max (that is a bit hot!)
- track was limited to -0,3dBFS max, but showed +0,67dBTP, it therefore clipped
- mixdown had a DC Offset of about -88,9dB




:arrow: nige - A Devonian Nightmare

I quite like the instrumental production for this track. It's a nice blend of 90ies Alternative Metal and Prog-Rock. I definitely enjoyed the guitar tones with this one (well balanced). The bass, not so much to be honest. And even though I really like what you can do with Slate Digital Drums - as with all other productions in this competition that use these samples, it doesn't quite fit (or at least not perfectly). In this case, it's once more the kick drum, which is also clashing frequency wise with the bass. Not so much on studio headphones, but definitely on full-range speakers (8" woofers, bass reflex).

The story would definitely fit this month's theme, and heavily reminds me of those bad horror dime novel's with crappy 60ies artwork. But the vocals destroy the immersion for me. They're not only mixed a tad low for my taste (which is quite typical for 90ies grunge), but they're also clashing with each other. At some points in this production, they just drown themselves out and it's hard to follow what's going on. Even with headphones. So adding the text was a huge help. You should definitely keep an eye on that with your future productions.


TECHNICAL BONUS INFO:
- production was in 44kHz 16bit
- Loudness was -16,7LUFS ILk (okay IMO), -13,5LUFS SLk max
- track was limited to -0,95dBFS max/ -0,94dBTP
- mixdown had a DC Offset of about -68,2dB




:arrow: Tbase2000 - Halloween

Well, this is actually almost the same production as Beeble's entry. Including the same cut from the Queensryche album. However the main difference here, is that the production is way more quiet and quite squashed as well (which the waveform shows, and also the LUFS readouts - so it was "mastered", and then loudness adjusted). Due to this, the vocals are a bit more in front, so are the drums. Which is better than Beeble's mix, but that's about it. Still so much room for more. Also in terms of "mastering".

I'm also quite glad that we didn't see 2-3 versions of the same production this month.


TECHNICAL BONUS INFO:
- Track was not names properly, track was withdrawn (therefore, participant was disqualified)
- production was in 44kHz 15bit
- Loudness was -16,7LUFS ILk (okay IMO), -15,5LUFS SLk max (not a lot of movement)
- track was limited to -7,00dBFS max/ -6,81dBTP
- mixdown had a DC Offset of about -88,9dB





:!: SUMMARY:

Some interesting productions for this month. Though there are some tracks that could have seen some extra work for sure (IMO and all that, speaking from the viewpoint of an Audio Engineer, I'm not a Songwriter). Maybe I did expect more screaming sounds, oldschool theremins and the likes. But it was an "open genre" game - so it's fine.

I am however not fine with using preexisting, copyrighted audio material. It was a creative attempt, definitely no doubt about that - and it did catch my attention. But ultimately, we can't do that - and it's a bit of a cheap cop out.

I'm also disappointed that the documentation (again, part of the rule set) came a bit short for half of the entries. So please take note of that for the future.



:arrow: My votes are therefore (first and second place is interchangeable for me):

10pts - erictracks
9pts - OctopusOnFire
8pts - FixInTheMix
7pts - nige

0 pts - Beeble (an A for creativity, disqualified for uncleared use of copyrighted material)
0 pts - Tbase2000 (disqualified due to withdrawn content, but the use of copyrighted material would have done the same)



See you in Songwriting Competition 03

kc23
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2017 11:03 pm

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting until 01-11-2017 11:59pm GMT+1/CET

Post by kc23 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:59 am

Hi Mr Fox

Nice feedback! Hope we can have you around more often.

Too sad to hear about the not original ("inspired by"?) material. This month I didn´t had the time to join in, and was eventually gonna listen to the submissions out of curiosity. Just listened to the first part of the track you mention and the whole first minute its been taken right out of the album.

Operation Mindcrime is one of my favorite albums, having listened to it hundreds if not thousands of times. So much so, that I´m pretty sure that for the most part the segment in question has been made out of stock post production and foley sound libraries, as I have recognized the woman´s voice over the loudspeaker calling for Dr. Blayer and Dr. J. Hamilton on at least a couple of movies and tv shows as part of the background noise.

In fact, I rushed to take a listen to the track thinking I could defend it... but...

Anyway, hope I have the time to join in this months competition, as the brief seems interesting. So far, I just downloaded the tracks for the mixing challenge and hopefully tomorrow I´ll get something done!


bye.

Tbase2000
Banned user
Banned user
Posts: 119
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:38 am

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting until 01-11-2017 11:59pm GMT+1/CET

Post by Tbase2000 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:29 am

I had that feeling too about the intro but I wasn't sure where he got it. (another reason I had no problem pulling my track...but I'm so over that drama) No problems with your decisions here. Excellent feedback as well. I'm sure he will answer in time as to what he did and where he got the sounds so don't be to rough on him. Take it as a learning experience.

OctopusOnFire
Posts: 150
Joined: Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:28 pm

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting until 01-11-2017 11:59pm GMT+1/CET

Post by OctopusOnFire » Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:31 pm

Now that's some feedback :tu: !

Luckily this wasn't a mixing contest, but I definitely need to learn to mix while adding stuff to the production.
In any case, this month was particularly bad at work so I'm happy with what I could do in such little time. At the end of the day, thanks to these contests, having a deadline and a clear objective, I'm steadily producing stuff even in these circumstances. Hope I can keep it up (things gonna get even worse :bang: )

I definitely want to take a peek at that screenshot, btw!

erictracks
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun May 14, 2017 3:52 am

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting until 01-11-2017 11:59pm GMT+1/CET

Post by erictracks » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:22 pm

Mr. Fox, thanks for the enlightening feedback. Apologies for not specifying documentation, as a lame excuse I wrote and recorded this in a few days, and was sick of listening to it, and couldn't decide if I wanted to scrap it or submit (thus the shitshow comment).

I think the snare transients were affected by using the Addictive Drums 'dry' set with aggressive compressing (I was going for a particular ominous sound with a bit of slap, but admittedly it turned out dull), and yes, -6 db limiting in Barricade on the mixdown. Probably a bit too much.

Guitars were done in S-Gear 2, with the Jackal amp, with some additional saturation and eq in the mix. On the rhythm I used my tele on the middle pickup selector position if I remember correctly.
OctopusOnFire wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:31 pm
At the end of the day, thanks to these contests, having a deadline and a clear objective, I'm steadily producing stuff even in these circumstances.
Agreed. This is truth.

User avatar
Mister Fox
Site Admin
Posts: 1348
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:15 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting process has ended

Post by Mister Fox » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:17 pm

I'll post the results later tonight.


Just to comment on some things real quick:


@kc23:
I can't promise anything regarding "being around more often" and comment on productions. This voting took me about 4,5 hours, and I wrote it late at night (you don't want to know how often I overhauled the text, since I wrote plain gibberish in some cases). Now imagine me commenting on 10+ mixes, in minute detail.

This was an exception - and to show how I (usually) approach things as Audio Engineer. The participants wanted feedback, here it is. I will keep my promise with SWC01 still, and I might comment on SWC03. But this is eating a lot of time on my already limited time frames.



@Tbase2000:
I'm not being too rough on him. The rules are clear on that behalf. As I said, I was filled with joy that somebody went that "radio play" route (you folks might get the chance to do that again in the future). Pity that it was taken 1:1 from a released album from 1988.



@OctopusOnFire:
You got a PM with the screenshot and some additional explanation. Other than that, for the limited time you had, you created an interesting production for sure. It's just the mixing side of things you might need to address in the future.



@erictracks:
Totally did not expect Addictive Drums. And you used S-Gear 2 with the Jackal (IIRC, Soldano), definitely nice work.

Regarding the "Limiting"... at this loudness (-16LUFS ILk), you shouldn't have the need to do that (this is why Loudness Normalization is such a huge topic these days... pulling down the loudness, while keeping the transients alive). Just keep Barricade at -1dBTP as clipping safety net, and let the production "breathe".




I'll post again later tonight

User avatar
Beeble
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:07 am
Location: Düsseldorf, Germany

use of copyrighted material

Post by Beeble » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:17 pm

Yes, the rule says clearly that this is a copyright violation! It is regardless of the rule.
The hospital sounds are from a sample CD and are used for decades and often heard in different TV and music productions.
The other samples I only heard on Operation Mindcrime and may be certainly produced for this album only.
All these samples are part of my huge collection and where used without worrying,
that could be no excuse for I had to know about copyright issues. :uhuhuh:
Even the use of samples from freesounds.org could have usage conditions. :educate:

The production was allready doomed before. As I said earlier, I had 4 hours to do overdubs on an allready premixed stereo track with no access
to the individal stems. I thougt this could work, but realised after submission that it don´t. It never will (Muphy´s rule #4 for last minute submission)
Beside that sample thing, it was a great lesson to not do a last minute work at all costs! Tbase knew it
But it was was fun nevertheless.

ps: @Fox: the french and german devil can be heard by just listen to the left and right channel, they are hard panned.
all the gear, no idea.

User avatar
Mister Fox
Site Admin
Posts: 1348
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:15 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Voting process has ended

Post by Mister Fox » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:50 pm

I'll take a listen to the panning again.

Still, it's not about the sample use per see (Freesounds is fine, so is Black/Blue Box from BestService, or BBC Sound Repository, etc), content you create new content with(!). It's the radio play snippet (the voice over) that I have concerns with. This whole part is nearly 1:1 from "Operation: Mindcrime", and that is copyrighted material (Label: EMI Manhattan Records).


I didn't want to disqualify you - but I have to draw a line somewhere. If you plan to do another radio play in the future (I already made hints that this might happen!), I'd definitely love to see own created VO, mixed with stock ambience. Then giving proper credits only substantiates your work.

User avatar
Mister Fox
Site Admin
Posts: 1348
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2017 4:15 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Results, Winners announced

Post by Mister Fox » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:36 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, here are the results of Songwriting Competition 02

:arrow: The winners podium consists of:
  1. OctopusOnFire
  2. Nige
  3. erictracks
Everyone voted, however there were several ties which had to be broken with an independent vote (staff)
We have two disqualifications. One because of a withdrawn mix, one because of using non-cleared, copyrighted material


Here are the results as chart in image form:
Image

Important:
  • the vote by Tbase2000 has been listed, but is calculated out of the participant summary
  • the Staff vote is without the Tbase2000 vote as well
  • orange(-ish) marked values means "disqualification"


Thank you so much for your participation. :clap:



:arrow: License selection:

We'll now perform with the usual as it is the case with the Mix(ing) Challenge. The top three spots can select from the available price pool. First place has the first pick, then second place from what is left, then the third place. Selecting licenses is handled in public, please. After that, please get in touch with me (via PM) with your contact data. In case of the "Bjulin Waves" sponsorship - the winners podium can additionally select one "Inspire Me" package on top of the license selection (please mention that in the PM).

As usual - you're not forced to pick up anything. You can pass and therefore offer more to select for the next person in line. Just let all participants/winners/the staff know in a timely manner.



Feedback about the "Songwriting Competition" is welcome (please do so here).

See you in in the next Challenge!

Nige
Posts: 55
Joined: Sun Aug 20, 2017 7:10 am

Re: SONGWRITING COMPETITION - SWC02 October 2017 - Results, Winners announced

Post by Nige » Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:12 am

Congrats to the winners and thanks to Mr Fox and all participants for taking the time to drop some feedback.
I'll take a pass on the prize this time around, cheers.

Post Reply