Archive for category ableton live

new paradigms

Part of working at anything, of being a craftsperson, is the constant search for new techniques that either aid you on your process or add something new to your process, making you better in the process.

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard about a number of rigging techniques that sounded counter-intuive at first, but the more I think about them the more interesting they become.

The one I’m most interested in trying out will be arriving soon as a very expensive DVD: the Mastering Maya: Developing Modular Rigging Systems with Python. The autorig itself is almost identical to something I’ve worked on in my spare time, but what’s crazy about it is that the autorigger works by layering on top of referenced FK skeletons in shot files.

I’ve never built a rig that was feature limited, or where an animator asked for something that I thought wouldn’t benefit everyone. (I do only IK limbs in my own work, but that’s a different story.) But before, the rig would be modified and the change would move downstream as part of the referencing system. The idea that you’d want to not reference characters as a whole, and allow animators to pick and choose their favorite controls, seemed ludicrous on first listen.

The pros are very compelling. You can always strip out the control rigs and put the keys on the FK rig; pure FK rigs are very compatible across all programs. Not to mention, feature-level control schemes could be applied to game characters as well (and moving forwards, I fully expect more and more projects in this industry to target all “three screens”). There’s also the ease of fixing issues on a single animator basis: once a fix is in the autorig, they can bake their keys down to the FK rig, remove the old controller, them reapply the rig in the scene with no need for the TD to come over and swap things around.

But what of multiple scenes? Does a script run on scene load and alert animators to updates controls as they become available? How are major changes propagated to all shots throughout the pipeline?

Right now the answer I’m coming up with is: the animators apply changes on their own. If they want the new rig with fixes, then they opt in by baking their keys to the base FK rig and blowing away the broken contol rig, replacing it with the fixed version. I can’t wait to see if that’s how the 3DBuzz tutorial solves this problem.

It also gets around a nasty issue: because broken rigs live in scene files, you don’t have to have multiple copies of fixed rigs that travel downstream for shots that used the respective broken rig iterations.

Then there’s the idea that this makes character referencing less important– in software that doesn’t support animated references like Lightwave and Cinema4D, you get the benefts of a tool that gets around the issues of rig updates. You still need to force tool updates on all artist machines, but that’s less of an problem for me.

Anyway, it’s been over a week and I’m still waiting on my purchase, so all I can do is speculate and look forward to what’s in store.

On the music front, I finally got something out of Live that did not suck. In fact, I just might like the drum beat. The weird part is that while nothing I have in my head comes out when I sit down to write music, what does come– however different it may be– still makes me happy.

good news everyone

I’ve been meaning to post what’s below for about a week. I suppose it’s only going up now because at this moment I’m in the waiting room at the doctor’s office; took a bad spill down some stairs yesterday and everyone keeps telling me to go in and get checked out.

I don’t quote Dr. Farnsworth just any day: Mac users will be pleased to note that Snow Leopard 10.6.2 fixes almost all compatibility issues with Maya. And the graph editor no longer corrupts! So if you were waiting on Maya before upgrading, your wait is over. I haven’t tried 2010 (haven’t upgraded since there’s nothing new in it) but 2009 now works better than it did under Leopard. I think Dimos tried 2010, though, and dubbed it good.

But today I want to talk about music. Specifically: I finally bought an Axiom 49.

I bought one of M-Audio’s Oxygen 25-key keyboards years back. It was a solid piece of hardware despite being the entry-level unit, and traveled with me to and from Japan. I recently gave it to a friend who wants to start producing her own music with Garage Band. I’d like to say it was for wholly selfless reasons, but the truth is I wanted an excuse to get a keyboard with more octaves.

The Axiom 49 doesn’t disappoint. It’s not a keyboard you want to lug to a gig; it’s heavy as sin. However, it’s well-constructed and sturdy. I feel like I could fight off a zombie with it and still play a round of lounge jazz afterwards. Also, I dig how the drum pads feel and control. They’re pressure sensitive like the piano keys, and they’re lovely for hammering out tom hits or even for a quick lead pattern.

The best part is that it came with Ableton Live Lite 6, which was upgradeable to Live Lite 8 for free with their current ten-year promotion. I’d been thinking of getting the recently-released Intro version of Live 8, but this was close enough to help me decide if I needed the full version or not, saving me a hundred bucks.

I think that a lot of people out there would be fine with Live Lite. The one feature that I found a dealbreaker is that a single song can only have up to 6 effects in total across all instruments. (In Live Intro it’s 12.) The way I design my sounds, I hit that limit playing around on a single loop a few nights ago. It wouldn’t be a problem if I could freeze tracks or if the limit were for simultaneous effects in use, but even effects on tracks currently producing no sound count.

So I’ll be picking up the full version of Live pretty soon. I had a look at the Studio package but I’m dithering on whether pay the extra cost for a lot of samples I might not need at the moment, and I’m only interested in two of their custom software instruments.

The bonus of using Live: PureMagnetik has really cheap sample packs, and their guitar rig kits sound fricken’ awesome. I also can’t wait to use Sampler to make kits from sounds around town.

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