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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year 2012!

Happy new year folks! I wish one and all a very blessed new year ahead. 

I pray all of you get to move towards your goals and do the things you've always wanted to do. 

Thank you all for the 257 visits since July this year. It has been an amazing journey so far, I hope it will only get better.

God bless you all! 

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Round-Robin and the Elevators Scheduling at my Block

Talking about round-robin, I am reminded of the elevators at the block of flats where I live.

I've been frustrated at the elevators before. Sometimes when I call for the elevator, I can tell that 2 of the lifts are in transit (going somewhere, with or without passangers).

Sometimes only 1 out of 3 is in transit.

When I call the lifts, I expect one of the lifts that are parked to be mobilised. Instead, the logic that drives the lifts assignment lets that lift go in the opposite direction, then come to a rest, (either to drop off some passenger or park itself), then wakes itself again, to come to my level. There are many other cases of combination of the lifts doing different things mid-way, and reacted in a very inefficient manner, resulting in my having to wait a huge amount of time before a lift picks me up. Now I realise this has totally got to do with the concept of round-robin (or the lack of) assignment.

They may be using another set of rules to guide the scheduling algorithm on which lifts to activate for all I know. Maybe I should go and read up a bit of elevator scheduling just to clear my doubts. :)

Round-Robin's Definition and EastWest's Play Engine

In the course of reading the manuals of EastWest virtual instruments plug-ins, I keep coming across the term "round-robin".

What Round-Robin Means

At first it seemed to be a recording technique, or some kind of microphone set-up. I searched google.com for "round-robin mic techniques", and found nothing. Closest results relevant to audio processing was a a "round-robin" setting in protools configuration that allows Protools to be configured to read/write audio data from an array of hard-disks to ensure stability of glitch-less recording. 

After I watched the videos from Youtube (from the previous blog entry), they used the term to describe the way samples are triggered.

Here's what I found on Answers.com:

and from wikipedia.org

The original meaning is to describe the signing of a petition in a way that signatures are passed around in a circle to make it impossible to know was which signature belongs to whom.

In sports terms, it is the matching of every contestant against every other contestant.

In programming terms, it is the simplest scheduling algorithm that for every time a resource is needed for a task, the round-robin algorithm selects which supplier to pull a certain resource from, out of a list of resource suppliers. This ensures that every resource provider is used the same number of times over a given period. This means that if there are 4 resource providers, each will be taxed equally over a period of time.

As I am re-phrasing this definition, I am imagining 4 missile barrels triggered by software, controlling which barrel to fire each time. If there is a need to continuously fire off 50 missiles, we could use the round-robin method to assign which barrel to fire each missile off.

An extreme case of imbalanced load assignment would be to fire all 50 rounds from tube 1. That would leave the other 3 tubes totally idle. Therefore an example of round-robin style assignment would be to fire off tubes in the sequence of tube numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc... There could be a more complex assignment based on random values, like 1, 4, 2, 3, 2, 4, 1, 3, etc... It could even be based on rules. If each tube takes a slightly different time to reload, our algorithm would have to query which tube is available and loaded, then assign that tube to be the next to fire.

The aim is to balance the load on each of the resource provider (this is called load-balancing). Therefore at the end of a fixed duration, the number of times each resource (or tube) is being used, would be about the same. (This duration could be at the end of the hour, or at the end of 50 rounds of firing, or at the end of a day, etc).

I think the sports and programming terminology for round-robin is quite similar. It ensures every request (or sportsman) is matched with every other resource (or opponents, in sports) in the same number of times of events that calls for the resource (or matches, in sports).

So how does that apply to the virtual instrument plugin situation?

Round Robin in EastWest's "Play" Engine

It seems that EastWest is employing this round robin kind of task-versus-resource assignment to allocate which samples to trigger when you issue a MIDI note event (ie, when you hit a key on the MIDI controller). 

This is one of the EastWest videos showing the Fab Four virtual instruments library and its instruments in great detail. This is part 2 of 3.

Watch the video at 2mins 27secs, when round-robin is mentioned. It is used to trigger the samples from alternate takes of the same note to play, when you repeatedly play on the same note on the virtual instrument.

At 1min 09secs, the hi-hats from the drumkit when played, will automatically trigger off left- and right-handed sampled hi-hat hits to play when you play that midi note repeatedly.

That is one of the many supported features of the EastWest play engine. Its really simple and intuitive, but yet it has all the features you'll ever need from a virtual instrument.

Skanner (from Native Instruments) is Now Free

I received an email notification about December offerings and promotions from Native Instruments. 

One of the things that caught my eye, they are giving away a free synthesizer that runs on Reaktor. It's called Skanner.
The image attached in the email
Skanner is a synthesizer with a unique architecture, offering a unique blend between sampling and synthesis. With this refreshing new method of synthesis, we can generate unlimited variations of new sounds, from our own supplied samples. Sounds like clean sine waves to raw, dirty and grimy sounds are all possible with Skanner. 

In the centre of the interface we can see a huge dial with numbers. This is the Preset Morpher, the heart creative possibilities which this plugin is based on. NI calls it Morphological Synthesis. This allows us to load up multiple presets and morph the sound from one preset to the other. The speed of morphing can be controlled. This makes it a really powerful and versatile synthesizer, capable of creating really out-of-this world sounds that other synths cannot.

The image above shows the simple 'A' interface that controls the most commonly used features. However, there is also a second 'B' interface that shows more complex and detailed controls for those who need it.
Skanner will install with 136 presents / sounds, falling under the categories of pads, soundscapes, leads, bass, keys and sfx.

I do not know if this is being given away as a time-limited offer, so don't hesitate! Go over to Native Instrument's website and listen to the demo tracks to get a taste of the kinds of awesome sounds this plug-in can create! Moreover, its FREE. Read up more about this free Reaktor-powered synthesizer at the Skanner product page

Monday, 19 December 2011

Working While Listening to East West Videos

I am at work doing my job and listening to the EastWest Quantum Leap SoundsOnline Tutorials channel on Youtube.com.

There are lots of tutorials there and demonstration of their different sample libraries.

So whether you alread own the products or just wanting to have a listen to some of the sounds, or just looking for a deeper understanding of the kind of work that's put into creating instruments, this is definitely a place worth checking out.

I've been having some fun with the instruments and laying down some sketch tracks with EastWest Complete Composer's Collection at home, so I am looking for resources so I can learn how to use it better, and to its fullest potential.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

iLok Dongle Arrived!

Today my iLok dongle for my EastWest Complete Composers Collection arrived!
Finally I can authorise and run EastWest software!

(I am writing this post sometime in January. I have written another post on my thoughts about the iLok dongle. You can read it here: http://journeyintomusic.blogspot.com/2012/01/pace-ilok2-review.html)

Saturday, 10 December 2011

It Has Arrived! - EastWest Complete Composers Collection

My EastWest Complete Composers Collection has finally arrived today! It arrived in the afternoon at my workplace.

When I went home I immediately unboxed it.
To my surprise and dismay, the hard-disk that shipped was actually an internal harddisk!

I had a few external hard-disks that were encased in external casings (these require an external power supply to work). To save me from spending on another external hard disk case, I removed one of my hard-disks and put in my EastWest hard disk instead.

That took me the whole night. Finally, I got to the stage where I could install the software. However, I could not use it because my iLok dongle had not arrived. Thus I had to wait. That's fine, because work has been busy for the past weeks, and will continue to be busy for the remaining of the year.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Orders Shipping Have Initiated

I've received emails that my orders for EastWest Composers Collection and the iLok dongle have been initiated!

Sorry if this looks like spam. Its more for documenting for myself. hahaha :)

Working with Sonivox Vocalizer

After work tonight I had some time to play with the Vocalizer a little bit.

The installation came with a collection of videos that show how to set up Vocalizer for use in various plug-in hosts that it can be used with. 

Sonivox Vocalizer is a bit tricky to use in terms of setting up the signal flow into the plug-in. To function, it needs 2 inputs: one stream of audio signal, and another is a MIDI signal input. 

Audio signal is the main input signal that is going to get modified by Vocalizer. The MIDI signal provides Vocalizer with frequency/pitch information. Based on this pitch information, Vocalizer can use it to manipulate, modulate, extract the audio information, thereby generating a whole new sound.

In other words, it is applied as an insert effect rather than an instrument in FL Studio. The installation actually comes with videos showing how to set-up and use the plug-in when used under various hosts (Logic, Cubase, Protools, Sonar, FL Studio). There is also a Acrobat PDF file explaining exactly the same thing as the video tutorials, in diagrams and screenshots with arrows and break-out labels explaining the process under various hosts.

Presently, I have mostly used FL Studio for sequencing and processing instruments output. However, I have never recorded audio in FL Studio. Looks like it is time for me to properly get acquainted with FL Studio's audio recording and waveform editing tools.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Vocalizer Has Arrived!

This morning I walked into work, and to my delight I found a box at my table. It is the arrival of my order of Sonivox's Vocalizer! It was a big box but it was unbelievably light!

 Back at home when I opened up the big box. 

I found only 3 things inside. A CD jacket with a DVD inside (which contains the software installation), a card that contains the authorisation code for the software, and a piece of A4 paper that contains the invoice for the order.

Installation was a breeze. Within minutes I had already authorised the software online and loaded up the plug-in inside of FL Studio. I have not done any audio recording in FL Studio before, so I have to spend some time figuring out the workflow.