Saturday, July 19, 2014

2014, a dark year for Malaysian aviation.

Call it shocking, label it butchery. Flight MH17 tragically ended near the Ukraine-Russia border in the most undignified manner I can imagine. And just 4 months ago, the strangest aviation mystery of the decade struck home, MH370 still lingering in the back of our heads.

Nearing midnight of 17th of July that fateful Thursday, news of the crash began emerging on my social media feed, each passing minute added details more disturbing than the previous... Ultimately by midnight, it seemed clear to most everyone. MH17 was shot down with very likely no survivors.

How did I took the news? 1st thing I did was to check if one of my friend and senior (a pilot working in MAS) was okay. Turns out he had just checked in Maldives 6 hours ago, so I assumed he wasn't assigned to that flight thankfully. The rest of the night was just me contemplating the news and checking out different news portals on the latest information as to who fired the shot.

I write this now just so that I might relieve some of my frustrations... It greatly troubles me, aviation accidents always troubled me. Fact is that once you're up in the air, the only thing that's keeping you there is a few engines and 2 pilots. Any one of these fail, and you're that much closer to kingdom come. But being shot down? That adds the unprecedented wild-card. That fact had me disturbed the most since hearing the news. I guess I feel that way because it seems like the passengers and crew weren't given a chance, not even a grain of dignified chance to fight for their survival, to hope and cling to the possibility that the pilots can pull off an emergency landing, to use all those years and training in pilot academy to pull off that meagre possibility of a miracle. No, not at all, because it was shot down. Forced to ground without a chance to fight back. Blasted out of the sky if you will. Why am I infuriated? Because they were civilians, and war should never have involved them. This kind of brutality at least, the kind without any hint that it might hit you, it scares me to the core.

I guess the only consolation is that most of the passengers hopefully experienced an unexpected quick death, the kind that they never had anticipated, the one which leaves no room for suffering. I can only hope.

In memory of the victims, here's an article detailing some of them by The Star. Do read them if you have the time, honour their memory by staying strong as a nation and family. It saddens me greatly, and the vividness in all their description just adds a little more to lament for. But they all deserve some peace after this horror, and I do pray for that.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Studio Chronicles 2

Written by Zongxu, 15th of Feb 2014

This week in recording class, we continued our exploration on different stereo miking, this time we tried it on percussions and strings. During Wednesday, we did recording for percussion, applying the XY stereo miking positions, both coincidental pair and near coincidental pair. I played for the rest of the class to record, doing some rhythms on the congas and tambourine. We quickly learned that stereo miking generally does not work well with moving instruments, such as the tambourine. After several takes, we tried to do overdubs to see if it works for percussions. The end result is a track that simulated a percussion group, an interesting effect that I feel has a potential to be applied in my future projects.

As for Friday, we had a chance to try and record a string duet consisting of violin and cello, played by our fellow course mates Eugene Yeo and Darshan respectively. This time we tried the AB miking technique. After several takes of "Canon in D" trying out with different distance between the players and the mics. The end result of the overdub simulated that of a medium sized string ensemble. The interesting part was when we tried doing close-miking on the players individually going through the Neve mic pre-amp. As told by our lecturer, the resulting track had a different tonal quality, that of a more prominent brightness compared to the Safire pre-amp while retaining the warm mids and lows of the violin and cello. This made me realise the role of a pre-amp beyond just amplification.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Studio Chronicles.

Written by Zongxu, 6th of Feb 2014

Coming back from the 5th week of our Studio Recording Techniques classes, we were told by our lecturer to begin doing regular reflections on previous topics covered in class.

To begin with, it is the 1st time I contemplate the signal flow pattern in out college's own studio, and how this reflects the industry's probable similarities. 2 weeks ago, me and 2 of my classmates booked the college studio to attempt setting up a Pro-Tools session from scratch without any supervision form our lecturer. The objective was to a 3 channel drum mix into session, 1 on the kick drum, 1 on the snare and a mono overhead. We spent 1 hour troubleshooting and understanding how the studio's patch bay worked, and recording 2 of the same take, one through the saffire audio interface pre-amp, and one through the analogue mixing board pre-amp. We all took back a copy of the session to compare the difference.

Last week, we learnt multiple ways to mic and record an acoustic guitar, and how listening from different positions will give us a preview of how it'll sound like in the recording if we placed the mic in that position. We also learnt that simple overdubbing and compression can change the the tone of the performance.

Just yesterday morning, we recorded 3 vocalist using a coincident pair stereo miking technique, doing multiple takes with the vocalist singing similar parts but in different distance from the mic. The final combination of all the tracks created a wide stereo like spread with audio implications of something that of a choir rather than just 3 people. For me, this was rather interesting, as it also seems possible for instruments such as strings and wind instrument, instruments usually found in larger ensembles, can be recorded with lesser people while achieving a recording similar to recording an actual full ensemble.