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  • Writer's pictureHarriet

MD6353 - The Production Project

For the module MD6353, I was tasked to produce a project: I decided to create a sample instrument set that would be used in conjunction with each other to be able to score intimate cinematic/drama music. This document is a documentation and evaluation of this process.

The original concept for this project was the “Harriet Ford Media Toolkit", an instrument library similar to Spitfire Audio’s British Drama Toolkit, Originals Media Toolkit or Orchestral Tools’ Creative Soundpacks. It would be a library created around the University of Gloucestershire’s Yamaha B4 Upright piano along with extra instruments such as a tongue drum, an electric guitar, and found sound percussion. It would be used by music composers to create intimate scores suitable for TV dramas.

The final product - called “Park Piano” - was substantially minimized to both regulate production problems and maintain the focus of the project. It contains a single piano instrument consisting of 160+ samples (3 dynamic layers, 4 round robins + release triggers and an atmos pad). The large cut of content was mostly done to focus on the quality of the piano: A jack of trades is a master of none. Although some of these instruments like the percussion were already recorded and ready, they have been excluded from the final product but are available in the “Production Assets and Builds” folder in the assignment submission.

Production started in October and finished towards the end of April. The piano recordings were made in October and were done in one recording session. The microphones used were a duo pair of KM184 and AKG C414s, with the KM184s positioned above the player and the AKGs positioned at the side of the piano. A full mix was provided to avoid time constraints. There were plans to make a felt version using the piano’s natural cotton felt pedal and a cloth of microfibre but these were scrapped - a sketch instrument consisting of 20 samples can be found in the folder “Park Piano Double Felt Sketch”. For the percussion section, these were recorded in October at the Francis Close Hall library hall using a Tascam PCM recorder.

This project’s outcome is not the best it could be. My mental health over the last year has been slowly creeping up on my work, leading to the cancelling of studio bookings and stalling deadlines. There were a number of problems with the recordings such as the gain of the microphones being too low, increasing the sound of the noise floor in the library. Even with post-processing using iZotope RX Advanced, this was difficult to properly mitigate. I am not a piano player so playing at a consistent volume in the recordings made it difficult to balance timbre changes in the programming - this proved to be more of a problem when balancing the velocity response without a properly weighted keyboard.

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