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About JoshCzoski

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  1. Original composition - five hours' work

    So, when I've been working with midi controls, the "expression" layer, or cc11, seems to be the most direct control on the volume. I did see a main volume control at cc7 but it didn't do anything when I've tried it. So when you're talking abotu "volume automation" I might not be familiar with what that is. After googling this briefly it looks like I just have some learning to do with DAW software, so that gives me something to look into. Thanks!
  2. Original composition - five hours' work

    Hey Nate, Thanks for your input and those are some great ideas. I'm not sure I understand the #3 comment (just from a technical standpoint) about doubling a "synth layer." (my technical lingo may be lacking here) Does that mean something like simply duplicating an instrument? For the dynamics in general, the oboe is generally a single dynamic marking and the volume changes are really subtle (the midi line for volume looks like small ripples if that makes the picture), so maybe you're saying the that might still get more pronounced? For the strings - volume-wise - there's a bit more dynamic contrast and they're identical in shape except the double-bass is toned down quite a bit from the others, so it sounds like you'd rather hear more double-bass to avoid the top-heaviness - just my interpretation. One question I have for you, if I may, is in the interest of my understanding timeframes of work, how does five hours sound for coming up with this sort of work? I mean, just for what it is and the kinds of work/micromanaging I did with this track at this point. Thanks again. And the input has been valuable and appreciated. Josh
  3. So in my efforts to see if I can produce something speedily, I spent about five hours this afternoon working on this piece from scratch. It's about 53 seconds and loops once in this track (to demonstrate that it loops seamlessly). It's a slow piece (obviously) that uses a grand total of 9 instrument patches, which is a really low number compared to the last one I posted here (the "Adventure Theme" had some 70+). The solo oboe has 3, with a harp, and one for each string section. I think about 3 hours were spent on the composition itself altogether. I did a LOT of micromanaging the modulation (cc1) and expression midi controls on all the parts, but since the strings are all together, I only needed to do that once for the section, and then a lot of work on those controls and velocities on the oboe part. Beyond that are details like balancing and timing (string patches can be wonky with timing). How does that sound? I think of a track like this looping during a tragic scene in a game. I imagined the venerable Yasunori Mitsuda's somber piece "Tears of the Stars Hearts of the People" in Xenogears and this track serving a similar purpose.
  4. Nate: Wonderful, thank you so much! I feel like I may have very nearly as much in the way of tips to feel confident for getting started. (I was just remembering a tip you made earlier about putting a "watermark" over a track). Your methods sound very reasonable to me. I kind of envisioned doing something like that, like getting a feel for what a client wants and then coming up with a price per project. I had noticed on your YouTube page that you were doing music and overall sound design for some anime trailers. I appreciate that last example also - looks like a great package, and it's making me consider doing some personal exercises like give myself a limited amount of time to come up with something for that sort of need. I've seen some composers write their work over existing movies as demonstrations too. Thanks for the compliment! At the moment I'm a bit in a playground with composing, with very very limited experience writing for occasions so far, so your work on the trailer is also particularly interesting to me - no sound design experience beyond music, however. Cheers, Josh
  5. nsmadsen, Ah perfect, thank you! That's very very helpful information! (just the kind I was looking for) And thanks for sharing those tracks. It's making me think that I may need to work on getting a BIT faster but it seems in the realm of doable - a lot of my slowness comes from running into technical problems working with the DAW, as well as some general inexperience with it (trying to figure out exactly what's bugging me about something in my composition). Right now I'm in a very big project in large part for my learning/practices. Since we're on the same page about that, is it possible that I could ask for your thoughts about how to do rates? I mean, maybe I should first concern myself with making sure I have a stable workflow and making a portfolio, but if I were to jump in, I do wonder what would be reasonable to charge by hour of work or minute of music from my current position. I haven't worked with a client in this field before (just did a little music at a start-up very briefly). Thanks again!
  6. Oh, to further clarify, I might get an answer like "well you may have to prioritize if you're under the gun with your arrangements" and "sometimes you might run out of time for micromanaging velocities and some midi controls as that takes extra time," OR, you just plain have to practice and get faster if you're not able to do a work like that faster than "x" amount of time when the situation truly calls for it. These are just thoughts that I toss around. You mentioned a deadline of 3-4 hours, for example. I couldn't write the theme I posted here in that short amount of time - not even close to being able to do that, but I can write what I personally find to be less complicated approaches in timeframes like that (just depending on what it is or needs to be). So, the practicality of writing music certain ways and/or just working on my speed is what I'm considering. Thanks!
  7. Yikes I think you completely misunderstood what I was saying, and I really hope you might my reconsider your interpretation, though I also hope you'll pardon me for the way I came across. I can't understate how much I COMPLETELY agree with what you're saying about games either having very wonderfully-done virtual orchestras OR other styles like chiptunes or any other electronic sounds all across the spectrum OR just generally more basic orchestral sounds than something like EWQL and they are all valid. Also, I'm a HUGE fan of game music that is not at all orchestral, from 8-bit to 16-bit and I absolutely love the styles as well as how they compliment the games they go with - can't understate my lifelong enthusiasm for that, so I think that was very misunderstood. I often listen to SNES Knights of the Round while working lately; somehow I just love it and find that one a bit underrated and forgotten. The only thing I seem to be having a very, very hard time conveying when I'm asking questions about timeframe is that I find it rather inescapable that some kinds of work takes a lot longer than others to do - I have simply had a very, very hard time getting answers for it. I've written pretty quick works that I'll totally stand behind - as well as works of others too, as I hope goes without saying - that I would consider (and see no harm or offense in saying) were a lot simpler to put together and therefore MUCH faster to get ready than - for example - the musical piece that I put up. So part of my question - if you'll excuse me for repeating myself - is, what's considered reasonable for putting together something like what I posted here? It was not quick for me. And definitely not as quick as some of my own works that I'd consider "simpler" to put together - however it's considered proper (and not "rude") for me to put it, a work like the one I posted definitely has a lot more to it and (for me) therefore takes more time to complete. So I'm considering, how concerned should I be about trying to get "faster" at it and weigh the need for considering timing - a real concern. Or maybe I need a different approach, etc. The point of my question had to do with my competence for getting something ready in a reasonable timeframe. I'm actually still rather new to composing with all of the features between VSTS and just DAWs in general and I still struggle for getting used to it. I mean no disrespect. Thank you for the answers you gave, though. I hope that clarifies my intentions a bit better as I seem to struggle to successfully ask clearly what I thought to be a very important question without coming across as rude (apparently not succeeding in both counts) in some way, so maybe you can help me with that if I managed to make myself clear this time. Does my question make better sense? Again, please pardon me as I've struggled to get an answer. I suppose what I should have done is go on the EWQL forums as they work with this exact software all the time, but I thought I should ask people who are actually in the business.
  8. Very interesting ambient stuff. I really like Electro-orchestral Trailer, maybe the most. I think my instinct, even for a background-ish, ambient track might be just to do even more creative experimenting even more with sounds you have. Like in Electro-orchestral trailer, introducing the choir and the strings at certain points were great and very appropriately understated, for evoking mood. I might consider tightening the dynamic range on that track, as that might make it more (appropriately) unobtrusive to a gaming experience. Very nice. I can see this work complimenting the right kind of game nicely.
  9. One question I have for this track that is whether it sounds like it loops in a good place - it may be a bit jarring and need a better segue. The arrangement (like most of my work) can be kind of nuanced, so balance in harmonies can be something that can have me spending time considering - I wonder about the dynamic contrast a little. Note: I DID read the sticky posts like the one about whether a track is appropriate for a game. I'm considering it, but may have some useful general questions (not necessarily about this track per se). I wrote a couple of compositions (where I've squeezed in the time) for portfolio purposes. This one was written as a demonstration of music for overworld exploration. I turned on the old Ocarina of Time and galloped around Hyrule field a bit to this track and I thought it sounded all right with it. That's basically what I was aiming for. One question I have - using this track as an example - is, realistically, how fast might I be expected to write a track like this? Quite frankly, I can tell that a lot of composers for games (and this is not particularly a criticism), especially for smaller projects, use pretty simple orchestrations and are not taking the time to do some careful work with the midi controls, basically everything that's entailed in making a nuanced/realistic performance out of virtual instruments. Again I'm sure that's fine for many purposes as I think it comes across as a style of its own sometimes, kind of "video gamey." So my concern is just practical here. I spent a lot of time thinking about rates and asked on another forum and got a TON of lectures like "they're not paying you for your time but for your musicianship," basically saying that (apparently) it's industry standard to charge per minute of music. I'm also a programmer, in which it IS industry standard, from all that I've heard, to charge per the amount of time the programmer actually spends on a project (I'm doing freelance with that and that's how I charge). My own (albeit limited) experience with composing is that a minute of music can vary WILDLY depending on what sort of arrangement is going on. To that end I can also see something like this being a bit out of place on (say) some game made for mobile . I've been in the realm of virtual orchestras for a while and learning all that's entailed in putting those projects together and done a lot of learning. In general I'm trying to ascertain my "readiness" for going into business. What sort of portfolio should be prepared as a game composer? I wrote a menu theme for a game before, I wrote another town theme (hadn't had one before that), and there's this, and I have some other work that is/was background music for other game experiences. Most of what I write is very, very melodic and very very "present." I THINK it can have a place as background music - not unheard of for the kind of music that grabs attention also to be background music, with Michael Giacchino's "Medal of Honor" soundtracks coming to mind - but maybe I need some more background-ish music too, works that sound more out of the way. What do you think? Hopefully my explanation gives the gist of what I'm trying to figure out, which basically amounts to understanding what's between me and being ready to put myself out there for whatever game gig I might be fortunate enough to work on and where I should think of heading from here. Thanks!
  10. Well that sounds good - I'll go ahead and do that, then. Thanks! :)
  11. "A Formidable Enemy", my first song in EWQLSO.

    Firstly, as usual, your composition is great! Really likable and catchy! Thanks for sharing! It totally makes me think JRPG (as a lot of your work does).   My general point of view for working with a virtual orchestra is to put yourself in the mindset of the performer of every single instrument. I'm actually a violinist, so that probably helps me a lot (used to performing). One instrument at a time, think of absolutely micromanaging a performance because that's pretty much what you're doing. I think you said you use FL Studio. I use Cubase. I'm thinking you'll want to be doing more with the mod wheel to get more realistic sound - it's really not bad as it is, style-wise. But for realism, an experienced performer is going to do more than simply play a note (and a human *can't* really make a plain, machine-like sound anyway). I think of the mod wheel as "intensity." With a lot of EWQL instruments - I'm thinking strings in particular - that can coincide with intensity of vibrato, for example. Performers will make subtle swells and decrescendos, adjust vibrato intensity, breath/bowstroke, all kinds of things, through the duration of single notes. Someone said to me "your mode wheel line should look like a roller-coaster."  :D   Great start in any case!
  12. So I may be in a position that's *fairly* unique.   At my last job, in a really small start-up, I found myself doing BOTH work as a composer and as a Unity developer, kind of going back and forth.   So, I'm looking at the classifieds saying I need to pick a category, understandable in sort of an "either-or" situation.   I kind of have two questions, I think: specifically, in terms of the classifieds, what if I wanted to post an ad as both a Unity developer and a game composer?   And of course, in step with that, I'm wondering (maybe just "wondering out loud") how or if this is something that I can market myself toward another developer - I'm thinking that would be more appealing to a start-up where people wear multiple hats like we all did, but bigger companies will be more interested in hiring one person for one job.   I mean, the reason I would go back and forth at the start-up is because it could make sense as far as division of labor was concerned - we wouldn't always need me to work on music and other times I could be spared from being absolutely necessary for development. Anyway, it makes me wonder how this can work (if it can work).
  13. n00b question - about to try freelancing

      Try sending audio that has a watermark on it. It could be a recording of your voice saying your company/studio name every 5-10 seconds or so. This way, there's no way the client could use your work without paying for it but can still hear the track and evaluate it. Then tell them you'll send a clean, un-watermarked copy right after payment is sent.    This works better than sending a low-fi version of your track because I've heard stories of clients just using that and not paying for it. Also, are you working with a contract? If not, I strongly recommend you work under contract only and require a deposit upfront. This usually separates out the clients who are serious and trustworthy versus the ones who may be flakey.    Hope that helps!    I didn't think of the watermark - that sounds like a great idea. I'm not *totally* new to freelancing (with other things) so I wonder what protocol clients should expect (iow I'm not demanding something that's unheard of).   So asking for some kind of deposit upfront? Will do.   I have so much to learn, it seems. Thank you!  :)
  14. Okay, n00b question time and I'm probably going to get pointed at a resource. I wrote music for a company before this, and now I have my own software set up and ready to go. I warmed up on a little personal project and now I'm perusing postings seeking freelance composers.   How do you make sure you're not stiffed? Do the websites themselves facilitate payment somehow? (Upwork, PeoplePerHour, etc.) Any quick tips for where to look?   I've done freelancing for other things before, and hopefully people won't mind the question and maybe you'll point me at something to read. I'm still working on someone's resource for breaking into the game industry so maybe there's more in there for questions like this (though I'm not completely limiting this to game music). Thanks!  
  15. Also, yeah OP I'm starting to listen to your SoundCloud and you have some great stylized stuff! :)   I worked at a start-up and started with built-in samples for sounds at first. Then I got EWQL as a really delayed graduation present, actually, and you're exactly right, it takes a LONG time to make a work with that. You're micromanaging pretty much every single note in literally ten or more different ways! O_O Likewise, looking into freelance, I'm wondering what kind of rates I should charge for doing work with that for someone too, and it's one of those things where it's as much work as your ambition level. I mean, there's a huge, HUGE difference for getting someone a minute of music with five instruments versus 20 more with a virtual orchestra software! That's where I think I'd have to have a dialogue with a client - it's not just the amount of time, it's the complexity. After that it might come down to a rate more based on how much time I think it will take - I have an array of samples on my SoundCloud fortunately, some with the virtual orchestra software and some not. Maybe it will be a conversation like, "if you want THAT kind of work, I'm looking at 'x' number of hours so it will be 'y' amount."   Those are my thoughts, being someone just about to try freelancing.