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Thereddevil

a question for somebody good with cubase

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hello there people. Im at university studying games design and i have a piece of coursework in for next week. The work is to attach music to a clip of half life 2, along with sound effects. I'm pretty much nearly there, but i was wondering if any one out there who has done this before could advise me with some decent techniques i may be able to use. In this event i could make my piece of work even more quality. Thanks, any advice will be taken in to consideration :)

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What exactly are you looking for when you say techniques? Are you looking for advice on how to sync audio and video together in Cubase? Do you want tips on how to make sound effects and/or the music for your clip? I've worked with Cubase a fair bit and might be able to help you out, but as it stands right now, your question is a bit vague and not necessarily Cubase-related at the moment. What exactly are you going after and how much have you done/where are you currently at in terms of completing the project?

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Hi there romer. Thanks for the reply. Im nearly finished with the music and sound effects (although I am having some trouble finding some sound effects I need). What I'm looking for is some techniques that will help me sync the audio and video together nicely. In addition I'd like to know any techniques that can finish off my project and make it sound professional and clean. Ive been using cubase for a few months now and since picking it up ive been playing around with my own songs and adding drum beats etc, however, I cant always seem to get the quality I need. I am going to need to buy a new microphone and earphones sometime soon, but for now im jus looking for tecnhiques that can make my work sound alot more professional and that gives that feel of completion. Thanks again.

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I'm not sure exactly what you're asking for. There isn't an easy way of making things sound better. It is dependant on the source material and what it is you're trying to achieve. Without knowing this or seeing what you have already done no-one can give you any meaningful advice. Audio is very complicated and takes years to become good at, if it were a case of simple, universal techniques that could be passed on via a forum then many of us would be out of a job :)

Sorry, that isn't very helpful to you. But asking "how can i make stuff better" without posting any other info doesn't really allow people to help.

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A note on sound effects is to borrow ideas from Foley artists. You can make a lot of convincing effects by just taking some rather plain and simple objects, then pitching them, EQing them, and/or adding a judicious amount of reverb. Of course, this necessitates having at least one decent microphone on hand, but what I like to do depends on whether I'm recording ambient effects or hard (one-hit) effects. For ambient stuff, I like setting up two condensers in stereo using a variety of stereo techniques, then picking the ones I like best once I get back to my DAW. The techniques I end up using the most are XY and MS coincident setups, but I also like trying some near coincident and spaced pair (AB) techniques.

For hard effects, I do some combination of close and far miking techniques, again with two condensers. I do this so I can capture a bit of the environment's ambience and reverberations. If I can secure a quiet enough area (I'm a university student studying computer science doing this stuff as a hobby, so I don't exactly have access to fancy recording studios and high end equipment =b), I like doing the recordings in omni, partly because this eliminates the proximity effect on the close mic would have if it were some directional mic, and it really helps capture a natural sounding reverb on the far mic. I then can import these two tracks into Cubase and mix appropriate levels of the close and far signals until I have a good balanced sound. A lot of times I'll EQ them to clean them up a bit or if I'm going for a specific effect, and sometimes I may compress the sound and add a subtle amount of reverb if I want a little extra punch and ambience.

You said you're thinking of getting another microphone soon. I don't know what you have, but if your budget is tight, I'd take a look at getting the MXL 604 small diaphragm condenser. I'm a poor college student always looking for the best bang for the buck, and I think overall this is a good sounding microphone. It also comes with an omni capsule, so it allows you to do omni recordings if you want that more open sound. A pair of these will run you only $200 (I'd assume it's comparably priced in the UK), which I think is a steal, but also keep in mind you'll need a preamp that supplies phantom power, so if you don't have that already, you'll need to shell out some more money.

As for video, I know it isn't one of SX3's strong points (nor is it mine, I don't work a whole lot in video), but first and foremost, you may just want to spend some time doing some searches on the Cubase user forums. I've found a wealth of information on there when looking up something Cubase specific. Also some other tips you may or may not know: you can use the Divide Track List feature (the button is in the top right hand corner of your track list pane, right next to the timeline) to get a split view in your project's track view. The top view you can have your video track displayed, then in the bottom view all your audio tracks so that you can always see where you are in your video timeline. Also the Time Warp tool (search the PDF operations manual for more info) may be helpful in syncing up certain events in audio with certain events in video.

As for adding polish to your work, remember to master your audio. Mastering applies much more to finished pieces of music as opposed to individual sound effects, but when you start mixing it all together (as is done a lot in different genres of electro-acoustic music, like musique concrete), the same process still applies. Mastering is basically adding that final gloss to your piece and getting it ready to be rendered to its final media (file, DVD, CD, etc.). A good master, however, always begins with a good mix. Mixing is a big subject on its own and could take a whole other thread to discuss, so I won't go into it, but if you're interested in it, do some searches on Google, or browse through the article sections on either Electronic Musician or Sound on Sound's websites. They have a lot of good info you can pick from.

As for the actual mastering process, assuming you have a good mix to start from, it's just a matter of adding subtle signal processing effects to tighten up the sound. In Cubase you can setup an ad hoc mastering channel by going into your Mixer view, right clicking anywhere in the view and select Window->Show Extended View, then on the left hand side of the top portion, click the "Show All Inserts" button. On the far right hand side is your output bus, and whatever comes out of that will be rendered when you do an audio mixdown. There you can add insert mastering effects that process the mix signal before it gets sent to the speakers. Typical mastering effects will be EQ, a multiband compressor, reverb, limiter, and possibly a ditherer (if you're going from a high precision audio format to a low one). Like mixing, the finer points of mastering could spawn a whole new thread of discussion.

Hopefully that gives you some ideas that you can use now or will find helpful someday later. Like VectorWarrior said though, it's hard to give any sort of specific advice without knowing what you need to do at this point (we may be able to give you ideas for your final sound effect), or better yet, if you can host your audio somewhere for others to download and listen to, then others can give you ideas on how to improve that.

Here's some links you may be interested in:

- A site that gives ideas for creating common (and not so common) sound effects
- Art of Foley
- A fairly good overview of various stereo miking techniques
- Electronic Musician
- Sound on Sound
- Cubase users forums
- Sticky in this forum that gives some good advice on tightening up your sound and touches on mastering
- Digital Domain, a site with some good info on mastering

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