Dr. AIX's POSTS — 04 December 2013

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In addition to audio production, teaching, writing and running, I like doing graphics and video. I guess it’s because I’ve never been able to afford to hire real professionals but I’ve enjoyed learning about subjects that might seem out of my area of expertise. With the arrival of YouTube, there literally nothing you can’t learn to do by watching a tutorial.

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Figure 1 – Mort Drucker at age 84

Actually, I’ve known for a long time that I was a pretty good draftsman and artist. In high school, I would copy character after character from Mad Magazine…especially the caricatures of Mort Drucker, who is unquestionably one of the best of all time. The movies parodies in Mad Magazine were so well drawn that I would spend hours copying images of Al Pacino, Robert Redford and others. Just hand me a felt tip pen and I was content during study hall. It was a case of learning by copying.

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Figure 2 – An example of Mort Drucker’s work from Mad Magazine [Click to enlarge]

In architecture school at the University of Michigan in the early 70s, I had to take more art classes. There were drawing classes as well as 3D art classes. I still have the “feelie” wooden sculpture that I carved all those years ago. When I found myself with a few open hours at CSU Northridge, I enrolled in their art program and actually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 3D dimensional art.

After spending hundreds of hours composing musical scores that very few people would ever hear, it was refreshing to be able to hold up a finished piece of art and enjoy it. Music bring a temporal art requires a willing performer and a performance…things that were very difficult to get when your compositions are post modernist non-tonal works fusing traditional instruments and electronics. Someday perhaps I’ll share a few of these pieces via the FTP site.

So with a background in both static art, motion graphics and video production, I’m more interested than the average person in the latest tools and techniques being employed in music videos and websites. (Two of my children are very gifted artists…so I guess the gene pool flowed down to the next generation).

A couple of days ago, I learned of a new digital plug in for video editors and motion graphics experts that takes wonderfully produced digital video and outputs video that fits a current aesthetic but is actually full of novice type mistakes. This software actually puts in the mistakes that a professional videographer learns over 10,000 hours to avoid. Go figure.

I’m sure you’ve experienced the “cutting edge” videos that I’m talking about. The MTV style, quick cut sequences of sporting events that constantly go in and out of focus leaving the viewer no chance to actually see the sport being shot. It’s a case of style over substance…and now there’s a plug in for your editing system that can ruin a perfectly good sequence of images with the click of a button.

Some of the Film/TV students that presented their final senior projects at the university where I teach must be aware of this school of thought. You shoot a perfectly nice music video and then apply a filter that obliterates the video with noise, scratches and more. I understand that video producers can use these tools to great effect…but when it’s all about the effect, something goes missing.

Can you imagine developing an audio application or plug in that does the same thing? I can see it now…the Blättnerphone “sounds of the past” emulator plug in. Take a great recording and this plug in will transform it into a marginal fidelity, noisy, 30’s era monophonic track. And you know what?… this isn’t a joke!

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About Author

Dr. AIX

Mark Waldrep, aka Dr. AIX, has been producing and engineering music for over 40 years. He learned electronics as a teenager from his HAM radio father while learning to play the guitar. Mark received the first doctorate in music composition from UCLA in 1986 for a "binaural" electronic music composition. Other advanced degrees include an MS in computer science, an MFA/MA in music, BM in music and a BA in art. As an engineer and producer, Mark has worked on projects for the Rolling Stones, 311, Tool, KISS, Blink 182, Blues Traveler, Britney Spears, the San Francisco Symphony, The Dover Quartet, Willie Nelson, Paul Williams, The Allman Brothers, Bad Company and many more. Dr. Waldrep has been an innovator when it comes to multimedia and music. He created the first enhanced CDs in the 90s, the first DVD-Videos released in the U.S., the first web-connected DVD, the first DVD-Audio title, the first music Blu-ray disc and the first 3D Music Album. Additionally, he launched the first High Definition Music Download site in 2007 called iTrax.com. A frequency speaker at audio events, author of numerous articles, Dr. Waldrep is currently writing a book on the production and reproduction of high-end music called, "High-End Audio: A Practical Guide to Production and Playback". The book should be completed in the fall of 2013.

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