How to Utilize Artificial Intelligence In The Music Industry

One of the goals of the industrial revolution was to have machines simulate physical tasks to produce outputs more efficiently. Fast forward to the present. The purpose of artificial intelligence, also known as AI, is to simulate any mental task. Machine learning is arguably one of the most important subsets of AI because it effects all other fields within AI. In any industry, you have a pattern or a model that you know to be true, you make a prediction, and then you update your model based on the result. This represents the learning process of machine learning. The introduction of this technology into industries like music, online dating, online publications, video-sharing and sports is becoming vital to each organization’s competitive sustainability.

When you lift your sieve out of the water, you pick up dirt, rocks and a whole bunch of stuff you do not need, but somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data.
When you lift your sieve out of the water, you pick up dirt, rocks and a whole bunch of stuff you do not need, but somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data. Courtney Menard

The more data you have, the better the accuracy of your machine learning algorithm. In the music industry access to information presents a big challenge, but once you have it, the question becomes, how can you use and manipulate it using machine learning?

Let us quickly recap why access to data is such a big challenge in the music industry.

The picture about depicts the challenges around access to streaming data, otherwise known as 'gold.'
The picture about depicts the challenges around access to streaming data, otherwise known as ‘gold.’ Courtney Menard

DATA ACCESS IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

In this metaphor, the “majors” represent Sony Music, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. The “streams” represent streaming companies like, but not exclusive to, Spotify and Apple. The “gold” represents consumer data from streaming platforms. The majors and the streams sit knighted at the roundtable. The streams rule the island of consumption and as a result control access to the gold. The majors are granted access to the gold because they own most of the island of content and a share of land on the island of consumption. The independents own a smaller portion in the land of content, and as a result, they have to get their gold from Robin Hood. Also known as direct-to-fan platforms that provide consumer data to artists such as Pledge Music, Hive or Superphone.

The question is, once you have access to the gold, what do you do with it and how can you maximize its value?

ENGAGEMENT DATA IS GOLD

Have you ever been hunting for gold? How do you go about it? You get a sieve, you dip the pan into the water, and you pull up a whole bunch of dirt, mud, rocks, and stuff that you do not need. However, somewhere in there is your gold, otherwise known as your actionable engagement data. Engagement data can be the “rate of collections,” “follower change,” “plays per user,” or a “save,” otherwise known as a “collection” from a playlist. The term, “collection,” on Spotify, refers to when someone listens to a song, presses the add sign and adds the song to their library. Tapping into engagement metrics increase the likelihood of reaching potential super fans. Focusing on engagement data will allow a label to make more targeted business decisions across all verticals while driving revenue. According to a Goldman Sachs report released earlier this year, streaming will drive over $34 billion dollars worth of total revenue in the music business by 2030. That is a whole lot of streams, a whole lot of royalty payments, and a tremendous amount of data.

The motivations of the person holding the filter dictate how the filter is shaped and how the filter is shaped dictates what gold you get.
The motivations of the person holding the filter dictate how the filter is shaped and how the filter is shaped dictates what gold you get.  Courtney Menard

DATA FILTERS

The motivations of the person holding the filter have a direct impact on how the filters are designed, and subsequently how much gold you get. For example, the primary goals for a streaming platform like Apple, Spotify, Google Play or Deezer is to turn non-paying subscribers into paying subscribers. A major label’s goal is to create, and then market hit songs while turning passive fans into super fans, similar to the rabid Beliebers of the world.

Two years ago, Spotify launched a marketing campaign called “Found Them First.” The microsite lets users see which musicians they heard on Spotify before they became a breakout artist. From a label perspective, Spotify quantified what it means to be an early adopting fan. The point is that this potentially impactful mechanism was used to drive subscriber growth, not artist careers.

Industry players who have access to the gold are now competing with the help of their filtration ability. How can you design your sieve to get the gold you need, when you need it, to drive a higher return than your competitor.

But music is not the only industry working to create the perfect filter. In fact, one should pay attention to the advancements being made in other industries because of the parallel applicability to the music industry.

Just like how dating algorithms match couples together, so can those similar algorithms match artists to potential super fans.
Just like how dating algorithms match couples together, so can those similar algorithms match artists to potential super fans.  Courtney Menard

DATING ALGORITHMS & AUTOMATED MARKETING TOOLS

In 2013, Amy Webb went on the TED stage and spoke about hacking the online dating code. She amassed 72 data points of her perfect man, everything from Jewish, to athletic, wants two children, is an adventurer, to even his appreciation of things. It was crucial for Webb that her perfect man appreciated an excellent spreadsheet. She then prioritized each data point, breaking them down into two tiers, giving each data point a score between 1 and 100. Amy then built a scoring system. If her perfect man scored 700 points she would send him an email, if he scored 900 points, she would have a phone call, and if her potential ideal man scored 1500 points, that meant there was long-term relationship potential, and they could go on a date.

Amy started getting all of these fantastic matches, except there was one problem. These men didn’t like her back. Amy had forgotten to analyze the competition. She scraped the top profiles on the dating site, in music this could be compared to examining the social or streaming patterns of similar artists. She analyzed her competition’s photo, humor, tone, voice, communication style, the average length of description, and time between posts. Amy’s profile ended up becoming the highest ranking profile on the dating site. Soon after, a man scored 850 points, which she hadn’t seen before. Three weeks later they went on a date. A year and a half later they got engaged, and two years later they had their first child. Now, If an algorithm can be used to narrow down your choices for a lifelong partner, then an algorithm can be used to find a fan that is guaranteed to spend $100 on your artist per year.

Just as Webb broke down her perfect man into 72 data points, so an artist can break down the characteristics of their potential super fan. For example, suppose Beyonce’s base of super fans could be broken down as female, ages 27-34, with a typical purchasing pattern of buying premium brand diapers because they want to show that they are good mothers. If you rank these points, give them a score and run them through a scoring system. It is then possible to target the fans that are most likely to engage with your artist. For example, if your fan scores 700 points, you send a targeted Facebook ad, if your fan scores 900 points you send them an email and if your fan scores 1500 points you send them a personalized email with a free concert ticket.

The ability to find your true fan suggests that automatic marketing capabilities are not only possible but in our near future. However, the type of marketing actions that a label might engage in will differ based on the stage of the artist and genre. This assumes that fan types differ per genre and fan engagement differs depending on the stage of the artist. However, online dating algorithms are not the only industry that provides interesting parallels to music.

The image above showcases different types of engagement metrics as well as data that is insightful but not necessarily actionable.
The image above showcases different types of engagement metrics as well as data that is insightful but not necessarily actionable. Courtney Menard

YOUTUBE & RECOMMENDATION ENGINES

Assume that you have access to granular level engagement data from streaming platforms such as the “rate of collections” and the “rate of replays per user,” all by a zip code level granularity. How could you use this information to not only target market but predict the likelihood of a potential superfan? The best industry parallel to consider in this example is YouTube’s Recommendation algorithm.

Youtube, fueled by their parent company’s artificial intelligence division, Google Brain, has successfully accelerated their recommendation capabilities through a series of micro-improvements. For example, roughly four years ago, YouTube made its first significant improvement to its recommendation algorithm when it decided to value the number of times users spent watching a video more than the number of video clicks per person. With this one move, creator’s saw their view counts decline, who had originally profited from misleading headlines and thumbnails. All of a sudden, higher quality videos which were directly correlated with long watch times came to the forefront. As a result, watch time on YouTube grew 50% year over year over the next three years.

Google Brain learns independently by picking up on less apparent patterns at an accelerated rate. This technique is called unsupervised learning. Another micro-change caused by Google Brain was the choice by YouTube to recommend shorter videos for users on mobile apps and longer videos on YouTube’s TV app. Google brain picked up on the notion that varying video length by platform would result in higher watch times. In music, this could be compared to varying advertising length based on the platform assuming shorting ads for mobile and longer ads for the desktop.

In 2016, Youtube launched 190 micro-changes on Google Brain and is said to be on pace to release 300 more microswitches by 2017. The implementation of Google Brain has increased the time people spend watching videos on YouTube by 70%.

Deep Reinforcement learning technology like this will be a catalyst to drive the music industry forward. This will likely be the case for United Masters, a recently publicized record label. Led by Steve Stoute, the former president of Interscope records, $70 million dollars was raised in a Series A investor round, led by Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet. Other investors include Floodgate, Andreessen Horowitz, and 20th Century Fox. One of the company’s core competencies will be its ability to target market high potential superfans based on learned data from sources including YouTube and Spotify.

Image above showcases examples of actionable engagement metrics.
Image above showcases examples of actionable engagement metrics. Courtney Menard

NBA & IDENTIFYING PATTERNS

When Joe Lacob became the owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, he adopted a data-driven strategy. Lacob and his team analyzed player behavior across the NBA and identified the number of three-point shots taken as being “market inefficient.” They concluded that roughly the same number of shots were being made from just inside the three-point line as outside it. Therefore they built their strategy around the notion that if their players, particularly Stephen Curry moved back a few inches from the three-point line before shooting, it would improve their point scoring average by 43%. With a data-driven strategy, Jacob Lacob took the Golden State Warriors, a team that hadn’t won an NBA Championship since 1975, to win against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 Championships.

The NBA identified a pattern based on a common activity within the game. Here are a few examples where patterns are likely to be found in the music industry; the genre of playlists people are listening to, the time of day people listen to certain genres, and the effect that holidays, political events, or an artist’s passing have on music consumption.

Image above showcases another example of engagement data.
Image above showcases another example of engagement data. Courtney Menard

BUZZFEED & ENGAGEMENT DATA

Buzzfeed is a social news and entertainment company. Buzzfeed invented an internal proprietary metric that curates articles based on reader preference. They do this by measuring the “rate of shares over time,” within the first weeks of an article’s release. Buzzfeed decided that a reader sharing a piece was more valuable than a click. Have you ever clicked on an article or played a song and walked away from your computer? What the act of sharing an article or saving a song to your Spotify collections shows is a higher level of engagement in comparison to a stream or a click. Arguably, this is helping to ensure a return on your investment.

So a “share” is more valuable than a “click,” and a “collection” is more valuable than a “stream.” By calculating the “rate of shares over time” or the “rate of collections over time,” you’re not only making sure that the consumers you are targeting are engaged but that they are growing significantly over time.

As of mid-2017, Buzzfeed was estimated at approximately $1.7 billion dollars and was processing roughly seven billion monthly content views.

With the sheer volume of streaming data growing year over year, the ability to enhance and fine-tune marketing capabilities in the music industry is endless. It comes down to access to the data that you need and the software capabilities to intelligently process and act upon that information. Moving forward into 2030, success as a label will come down to a company’s ability to pair its human capital with intelligent software.

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Kristin Westcott Grant. Contributor

Kristin Westcott Grant. Contributor

I am the CEO of Westcott Multimedia, an advertising technology and software firm that leverages streaming data to optimize online engagement for the entertainment industry. I am originally from Toronto, Canada or as Drake calls it, “The 6.” As a contributor at AudioMicro.com, I write about the business of music technology, media and entertainment. Previously I managed Global Playlist Strategies at Universal Music Group in Nashville and worked as an Entertainment Analyst at Magna Investments in New York City. I received my Masters in Music & Business from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture and studied at the Stern School of Business. My work has also appeared in Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Medium and The Hook Brief.

Data Privacy, Social Media, Visual Content and Adobe: Through The Lens Of Generation Z

Understanding the Think Tank that is Gen Z

“With Creativity, rich ideas flow through the system from the minds of Gen Z. With Intelligence those ideas are executed. With Power Gen Z takes control of what happens around the world with the use of social media.”  – Marco Garcia . (Social Media Command Center, We Are Gen Z, 2018)

On March 25, 2018, Adobe, a software company, hosted its annual Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference had “experience” as its theme and brought together influencers from all walks of life, from the founder of NVIDIA, Jensen Huang, to Sir Richard Branson.

Adobe teamed up with 12 students representing eight high schools in Charlotte, North Carolina, from the 11-largest school district in the U.S. This was facilitated as a part of the We Are Generation Z initiative and Career Technology Education Program, a new trend in interactive education. Adobe empowered the students to act as influencers and report on their interpretation of what they see and hear.

I got the chance to sit down with four of the Generation Z representatives. In a candid conversation we discussed data privacy, social media and the growing importance of visual content to convey information all through the lens of personal experiences.

The Significance of Gen Z 

Generation Z is made up of young people between the ages of 14-22 years old, born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. According to a study conducted by The National Retail Federation and IBM’s Institute for Business Value, the members of this cohort are considered to be “digital natives,” and cannot remember what it is like to exist without the internet. Globally, they hold $44 billion in buying power. They love collaborative and interactive engagement, such as online games and product reviews. Gen Z representative, Alana Jones, explained that she feels that her generation works harder than they are portrayed. Damien Watson Jr. told us that 75% of his high school already has a job. They explained that this behavior was in part a result of their digital environment and the pressure to overachieve was related to the feeling of being, “always on.”

We Are Gen Z Initiative & CTE Program

According to “The Next Era of Human Machine Partnerships” report published by Dell Inc., 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. The Career Technology Education and Marketing Pathways Program prepares students with 21st-century skills by engaging with industries to better understand their needs. To date, the program has generated 777 paid internships. One of the optional CTE pathways requires students to attain five certifications in Adobe visual design and graphics in preparation for careers involving the creation of online content. The We Are Gen Z initiative is spearheaded by Kathleen Hessert. As Hessert notes, “our intention is to create and connect children within a network so the voices of Generation Z can be heard.”

Gen Z Representatives

Each of the four Gen Z representatives that I spoke with – all seniors in high school and participants in the CTE program – showcased varying perspectives. Damien Watson Jr. shared with us that it is his goal to start a non-profit that introduces minority groups to interests beyond athletics. Jogle De Leon is currently studying 3D modeling, simulation, game design and posts his graphic work regularly on Behance, Adobe’s social portfolio platform. Alana Jones is a certified Adobe associate and is working toward her goal of joining the military after graduation. Social media enthusiast and community activist, Avery Primis, has spoken publicly about generational differences in social media. The rest of the Gen Z team was stationed back in Charlotte and was responsible for manning the social media command center. They included Marco Garcia, Nina Merritt, Ashley Dickenson, Patricia Garcia, John K Bell, Harmoni Riggins and Trent Couse. Trent, a senior data analyst, was responsible for analyzing the engagement of his fellow students on Twitter, in order to optimize their effectiveness throughout the summit.

Data Privacy

When it comes to data privacy it appears that Gen Z is rather desensitized to the request for access to their personal information. As Damien describes it, “if someone really wants to find something out about you on the internet, they can. So I’m pretty open to my information being shared.” Alana is willing to make a trade-off, stating, “If you are going to use my data I want to know what you need it for. That way, I know that my data is being used for a purpose.” It is possible that widespread acceptance of personal data collection as the status quo could get in the way of realizing its long-term ramifications. Across all generations, instantaneous gratification in return for personal data distracts consumers from considering the impact that carte blanche access to their information will have twenty years from now.

As Alana noted, data transparency as it relates to the purpose of its acquisition plays a role in her willingness to provide it. It is important to note as we move from awareness to managing data privacy, that intention and value to consumers differ drastically based on the industry and players involved. In the music industry, access to consumer data and understanding how fans are listening to their music is vital to grow and sustain an artist’s career.

“In the music industry, access to consumer data and understanding how fans are listening to their music is vital to grow and sustain an artist’s career.”

Social Media

When speaking to the representatives of Generation Z, their clarity and awareness towards social media and the environment that it creates was apparent. According to Avery Primis, social media is creating an increasingly large number of job opportunities from social media influencer to managing a brand’s social presence. Social media also creates opportunities to communicate with different industries and people all over the world. However, when touching on its negative side effects Primis stated, “I can see a spike in mental health issues because of social media.” The students went on to describe how they felt that social media was impacting their generation’s people skills. Damien elaborated on this saying, “I feel like we create a persona online and are so open on social media and when it comes to talking and having a conversation in person we lag in that category.” Beyond social media, the web facilitates a commercial arena where content is in abundance.

Importance of Visual Content

Across all generations, the challenge now becomes: how do I most efficiently determine the information I need from the information I do not want. In Alana’s view, “there are so many things that you can do with an image, if you can convey information with a picture, you have done your job.” When I asked the group if they felt like their attention span was shorter than their parents’, the unanimous response was, “yes.” In Jogle’s view, when speaking about how best to garner that attention, he explains, “To me, the design is the most important part because it guides your interpretation, which is the most important part of the marketing.”  Beyond just standard emoji’s, the need for visuals to communicate complicated subjects is becoming increasingly apparent.

Taking the time to understand the perspectives of Generation Z and generations to come is vital. Their interpretation of our current environment foreshadows the future. It is time we start paying more attention.

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Congratulating 2019 Grammy Winners: The Complete List

Congratulating 2019 Grammy Winners: The Complete List

 

Album of the Year

(This award is given to an entire album and all of its songs.)

  • Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B
  • By the Way, I Forgive You, Brandi Carlile
  • Scorpion, Drake
  • H.E.R., H.E.R.
  • Beerbongs & Bentleys, Post Malone
  • Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe
  • Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves
  • Black Panther, Kendrick Lamar

Record of the Year

(This award goes to the overall production of a single song and is awarded to the artist who records it.)

  • “I Like It,” Cardi B, Bad Bunny, and J Balvin
  • “The Joke,” Brandi Carlile
  • “This Is America,” Childish Gambino
  • “God’s Plan,” Drake
  • “Shallow,” Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
  • “All the Stars,” Kendrick Lamar, Sza
  • “Rockstar,” Post Malone
  • “The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey

Song of the Year

(This award goes to the songwriters of a song.)

  • “All the Stars,” Kendrick Duckworth, Solana Rowe, Al Shuckburgh, Mark Spears, Anthony Tiffith
  • “Boo’d Up,” Larrance Dopson, Joelle James, Ella Mai, Dijon McFarlane
  • “God’s Plan,” Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels, and Noah Shebib
  • “The Middle,” Sarah Aarons, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Marcus Lomax, Kyle Trewartha, Michael Trewartha & Anton Zaslavski
  • “The Joke,” Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth, and Tim Hanseroth
  • “In My Blood,” Teddy Geiger, Scott Harris, Shawn Mendes, and Geoffrey Warburton
  • “Shallow,” Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando & Andrew Wyatt
  • “This Is America,” Donald Glover and Ludwig Göransson

Best New Artist

(This award is given to artists who have released their breakthrough recording during the Grammy eligibility period — October 1, 2017, to September 30, 2018, in this case — not to artists who made their first recording during that time.)

  • Chloe x Halle
  • Luke Combs
  • Greta Van Fleet
  • H.E.R.
  • Dua Lipa
  • Margo Price
  • Bebe Rexha
  • Jorja Smith

 

Pop Categories

Best Pop Solo Performance

  • “Colors,” Beck
  • “Havana (Live),” Camila Cabello
  • “God Is A Woman,” Ariana Grande
  • “Joanne (Where Do You Think You’re Goin’?),” Lady Gaga
  • “Better Now,” Post Malone

Vocal Album

  • Camila, Camila Cabello
  • Meaning Of Life, Kelly Clarkson
  • Sweetener, Ariana Grande
  • Shawn Mendes, Shawn Mendes
  • Beautiful Trauma, Pink
  • Reputation, Taylor Swift

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance

  • “Fall In Line,” Christina Aguilera featuring Demi Lovato
  • “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” Backstreet Boys
  • “Shallow,” Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
  • “Girls Like You,” Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B
  • “Say Something,” Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton
  • “The Middle,” Zedd, Maren Morris, and Grey

Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

  • Love Is Here to Stay, Tony Bennett & Diana Krall
  • My Way, Willie Nelson
  • Nat “King” Cole & Me, Gregory Porter
  • Standards (Deluxe), Seal
  • The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic!, Barbra Streisand

Best Dance/Electronic Album

  • Singularity, Jon Hopkins
  • Woman Worldwide, Justice
  • Treehouse, Sofi Tukker
  • Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, Sophie
  • Lune Rouge, Tokimonsta

Best Dance Recording

  • “Northern Soul,” Above & Beyond featuring Richard Bedford
  • “Ultimatum,” Disclosure (featuring Fatoumata Diawara)
  • “Losing It, “ Fisher
  • “Electricity,” Silk City & Dua Lipa featuring Diplo & Mark Ronson
  • “Ghost Voices,” Virtual Self

Best Contemporary Instrumental Album

  • The Emancipation Procrastination, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah
  • Steve Gadd Band, Steve Gadd Band
  • Modern Lore, Julian Lage
  • Laid Black, Marcus Miller
  • Protocol 4, Simon Phillips

 

Urban, Rap, and R&B Categories

Best R&B Album

  • Sex & Cigarettes, Toni Braxton
  • Good Thing, Leon Bridges
  • Honestly, Lalah Hathaway
  • H.E.R., H.E.R.
  • Gumbo Unplugged Live, P.J. Morton

Best R&B Performance

  • “Long As I Live,” Toni Braxton
  • “Summer,” The Carters
  • “Y O Y,” Lalah Hathaway
  • “Best Part,” H.E.R. featuring Daniel Caesar
  • “First Began,” PJ Morton

Best Traditional R&B Performance

  • “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand,” Leon Bridges (TIE)
  • “Don’t Fall Apart On Me Tonight,” Bettye LaVette
  • “Honest,” MAJOR.
  • “How Deep Is Your Love,” PJ Morton featuring Yebba (TIE)
  • “Made for Love,” Charlie Wilson featuring Lalah Hathaway

Best R&B Song

  • “Boo’d Up,” Larrance Dopson, Joelle James, Ella Mai & Dijon McFarlane
  • “Come Through and Chill,” Jermaine Cole, Miguel Pimentel & Salaam Remi
  • “Feels Like Summer,” Donald Glover & Ludwig Goransson
  • “Focus,” Darhyl Camper Jr, H.E.R. & Justin Love
  • “Long As I Live,” Paul Boutin, Toni Braxton & Antonio Dixon

Best Urban Contemporary Album

  • Everything Is Love, The Carters
  • The Kids Are Alright, Chloe x Halle
  • Chris Dave And The Drumhedz, Chris Dave and the Drumhedz
  • War & Leisure, Miguel
  • Ventriloquism, Meshell Ndegeocello

Best Rap Album

  • Invasion of Privacy, Cardi B
  • Swimming, Mac Miller
  • Victory Lap, Nipsey Hussle
  • Daytona, Pusha T
  • Astroworld, Travis Scott

Best Rap Performance

  • “Be Careful,” Cardi B
  • “Nice for What,” Drake
  • “King’s Dead,” Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, Future & James Blake (TIE)
  • “Bubblin,” Anderson .Paak (TIE)
  • “Sicko Mode,” Travis Scott, Drake, (Big Hawk) & Swae Lee

Best Rap/Sung Performance

  • “Like I Do,” Christina Aguilera featuring Goldlink
  • “Pretty Little Fears,” 6lack featuring J. Cole
  • “This Is America,” Childish Gambino
  • “All the Stars,” Kendrick Lamar & SZA
  • “Rockstar,” Post Malone featuring 21 Savage

Best Rap Song

  • “God’s Plan,” Aubrey Graham, Daveon Jackson, Brock Korsan, Ron LaTour, Matthew Samuels & Noah Shebib
  • “King’s Dead,” Kendrick Duckworth, Samuel Gloade, James Litherland, Johnny McKinzie, Axel Morgan, Mark Spears, Travis Walton, Nayvadius Wilburn & Michael Williams II
  • “Lucky You,” R. Fraser, G. Lucas, M. Mathers, M. Samuels & J. Sweet
  • “Sicko Mode,” Khalif Brown, Rogét Chahayed, BryTavious Chambers, Mike Dean, Mirsad Dervic, Kevin Gomringer, Tim Gomringer, Aubrey Graham, Chauncey Hollis, Jacques Webster, Ozan Yildirim & Cydel Young
  • “Win,” K. Duckworth, A. Hernandez, J. McKinzie, M. Samuels & C. Thompson

 

Rock and Alternative categories

Best Rock Album

  • Rainier Fog, Alice In Chains
  • M A N I A, Fall Out Boy
  • Prequelle, Ghost
  • From The Fires, Greta Van Fleet
  • Pacific Daydream, Weezer

Best Rock Performance

  • “Four Out Of Five,” Arctic Monkeys
  • “When Bad Does Good,” Chris Cornell
  • “Made An America,” The Fever 333
  • “Highway Tune,” Greta Van Fleet
  • “Uncomfortable,” Halestorm

Best Rock Song

  • “Black Smoke Rising,” Jacob Thomas Kiszka, Joshua Michael Kiszka, Samuel Francis Kiszka & Daniel Robert Wagner
  • “Jumpsuit,” Tyler Joseph
  • “Mantra,” Jordan Fish, Matthew Kean, Lee Malia, Matthew Nicholls & Oliver Sykes
  • “Masseduction,” Jack Antonoff & Annie Clark
  • “Rats,” Tom Dalgety & A Ghoul Writer

Best Alternative Music Album

  • Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, Arctic Monkeys
  • Colors, Beck
  • Utopia, Björk
  • American Utopia, David Byrne
  • Masseduction, St. Vincent

Best Metal Performance

  • “Condemned to the Gallows,” Between The Buried And Me
  • “Honeycomb,” Deafheaven
  • “Electric Messiah,” High On Fire
  • “Betrayer,” Trivium
  • “On My Teeth,” Underoath

 

Country Categories

Best Country Album

  • Unapologetically, Kelsea Ballerini
  • Port Saint Joe, Brothers Osborne
  • Girl Going Nowhere, Ashley McBride
  • Golden Hour, Kacey Musgraves
  • From a Room: Volume 2, Chris Stapleton

Best Country Song

  • “Break Up In the End,” Jessie Jo Dillon, Chase McGill & Jon Nite
  • “Dear Hate,” Tom Douglas, David Hodges & Maren Morris
  • “I Lived It,” Rhett Akins, Ross Copperman, Ashley Gorley & Ben Hayslip
  • “Space Cowboy,” Luke Laird, Shane McAnally & Kacey Musgraves
  • “Tequila,” Nicolle Galyon, Jordan Reynolds & Dan Smyers
  • “When Someone Stops Loving You,” Hillary Lindsey, Chase McGill & Lori McKenna

Best Country Solo Performance

  • “Wouldn’t It Be Great?” Loretta Lynn
  • “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” Maren Morris
  • “Butterflies,” Kacey Musgraves
  • “Millionaire,” Chris Stapleton
  • “Parallel Line,” Keith Urban

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • “Shoot Me Straight,” Brothers Osborne
  • “Tequila,” Dan + Shay
  • “When Someone Stops Loving You,” Little Big Town
  • “Dear Hate,” Maren Morris featuring Vince Gill
  • “Meant to Be,” Bebe Rexha & Florida Georgia Line

New Age and Jazz Categories

Best Improvised Jazz Solo

  • “Some of That Sunshine,” Regina Carter, soloist, from Some Of That Sunshine (Karrin Allyson)
  • “Don’t Fence Me In,” John Daversa, soloist, from American Dreamers: Voices Of Hope, Music Of Freedom (John Daversa Big Band featuring DACA Artists)
  • “We See,” Fred Hersch, soloists
  • “De-Dah,” Brad Mehldau, soloist, from Seymour Reads The Constitution! (Brad Mehldau Trio)
  • “Cadenas,” Miguel Zenón, soloist from Yo Soy La Tradición (Miguel Zenón featuring Spektral Quartet)

Best Jazz Vocal Album

  • My Mood Is You, Freddy Cole
  • The Questions, Kurt Elling
  • The Subject Tonight Is Love, Kate McGarry, Keith Ganz, Gary Versace
  • If You Really Want, Raul Midón With The Metropole Orkest Conducted By Vince Mendoza
  • The Window, Cécile McLorin Salvant

Best Jazz Instrumental Album

  • Diamond Cut, Tia Fuller
  • Live in Europe, Fred Hersch Trio
  • Seymour Reads the Constitution, Brad Mehldau Trio
  • Still Dreaming, Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley & Brian Blade
  • Emanon, The Wayne Shorter Quartet

Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album

  • All About That Basie, The Count Basie Orchestra Directed By Scotty Barnhart
  • American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, John Daversa Big Band featuring DACA Artists
  • Presence, Orrin Evans And The Captain Black Big Band
  • All Can Work, John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble
  • Barefoot Dances and Other Visions, Jim McNeely & The Frankfurt Radio Big Band

Best Latin Jazz Album

  • Heart of Brazil, Eddie Daniels
  • Back to the Sunset, Dafnis Prieto Big Band
  • West Side Story Reimagined, Bobby Sanabria Multiverse Big Band
  • Cinque, Elio Villafranca
  • Yo Soy La Tradición, Miguel Zenón featuring Spektral Quartet

 

Gospel and Contemporary Christian Music

Best Gospel Performance/Song

  • “You Will Win,” Jekalyn Carr; Allen Carr & Jekalyn Carr
  • “Won’t He Do It,” Koryn Hawthorne
  • “Never Alone,” Tori Kelly featuring Kirk Franklin; Kirk Franklin & Victoria Kelly
  • “Cycles,” Jonathan McReynolds featuring DOE; Jonathan McReynolds & Will Reagan
  • “A Great Work,” Brian Courtney Wilson; Aaron W. Lindsey, Alvin Richardson & Brian Courtney Wilson

Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song

  • “Reckless Love,” Cory Asbury; Cory Asbury, Caleb Culver & Ran Jackson, songwriters
  • “You Say,” Lauren Daigle; Lauren Daigle, Jason Ingram & Paul Mabury, songwriters
  • “Joy,” For King & Country; Ben Glover, Matt Hales, Stephen Blake Kanicka, Seth Mosley, Joel Smallbone, Luke Smallbone & Tedd Tjornhom, songwriters
  • “Grace Got You,” MercyMe featuring John Reuben; David Garcia, Ben Glover, MercyMe, Solomon Olds & John Reuben, songwriters
  • “Known,” Tauren Wells; Ethan Hulse, Jordan Sapp & Tauren Wells, songwriters

Best Gospel Album

  • One Nation Under God, Jekalyn Carr
  • Hiding Place, Tori Kelly
  • Make Room, Jonathan McReynolds
  • The Other Side, The Walls Group
  • A Great Work, Brian Courtney Wilson

Best Contemporary Christian Music Album

  • Look Up Child, Lauren Daigle
  • Hallelujah Here Below, Elevation Worship
  • Living With a Fire, Jesus Culture
  • Surrounded, Michael W. Smith
  • Survivor: Live from Harding Prison, Zach Williams

Best Roots Gospel Album

  • Unexpected, Jason Crabb
  • Clear Skies, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
  • Favorites: Revisited By Request, The Isaacs
  • Still Standing, The Martins
  • Love Love Love, Gordon Mote

 

Latin

Best Latin Pop Album

  • Prometo, Pablo Alboran
  • Sincera, Claudia Brant
  • Musas (Un Homenaje Al Folclore Latinoamericano en Manos de lost Macorinos), Vol. 2, Natalia Lafourcade
  • 2:00 AM, Raquel Sofía
  • Vives, Carlos Vives

Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album

  • Claroscura, Aterciopelados
  • Coastcity, COASTCITY
  • Encanto Tropical, Monsieur Periné
  • Gourmet, Orishas
  • Aztlán, Zoé

Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano)

  • Primero Soy Mexicana, Angela Aguilar
  • Mitad Y Mitad, Calibre 50
  • Totalmente Juan Gabriel Vol. II, Aida Cuevas
  • Cruzando Borders, Los Texmaniacs
  • Leyendas de Mi Pueblo, Mariachi Sol De Mexico De Jose Hernandez
  • ¡Mexico Por Siempre!, Luis Miguel

Best Tropical Latin Album

  • Pa’ Mi Gente, Charlie Aponte
  • Legado, Formell Y Los Van Van
  • Orquesta Akokan, Orquesta Akokán
  • Ponle Actitude, Felipe Peláez
  • Anniversary, Spanish Harlem Orchestra

 

American Roots Music Categories

Best American Roots Performance

  • “Kick Rocks,” Sean Ardoin
  • “Saint James Infirmary Blues,” Jon Batiste
  • “The Joke,” Brandi Carlile
  • “All On My Mind,” Anderson East
  • “Last Man Standing,” Willie Nelson

Best American Roots Song

  • “All the Trouble,” Waylon Payne, Lee Ann Womack & Adam Wright
  • “Build a Bridge,” Jeff Tweedy
  • “The Joke,” Brandi Carlile, Dave Cobb, Phil Hanseroth & Tim Hanseroth
  • “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door,” Pat McLaughlin & John Prine
  • “Summer’s End,” Pat McLaughlin & John Prine

Best Americana Album

  • By the Way, I Forgive You, Brandi Carlile
  • Things Have Changed, Bettye LaVette
  • The Tree of Forgiveness, John Prine
  • The Lonely, The Lonesome & the Gone, Lee Ann Womack
  • One Drop of Truth, The Wood Brothers

Best Bluegrass Album

  • Portraits in Fiddles, Mike Barnett
  • Sister Sadie II, Sister Sadie
  • Rivers and Roads, Special Consensus
  • The Travelin’ McCourys, The Travelin’ McCourys
  • North of Despair, Wood & Wire

Best Traditional Blues Album

  • Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here, Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
  • Benton County Relic, Cedric Burnside
  • The Blues Is Alive and Well, Buddy Guy
  • No Mercy in This Land, Ben Harper And Charlie Musselwhite
  • Don’t You Feel My Leg (The Naughty Bawdy Blues of Blue Lu Barker), Maria Muldaur

Best Contemporary Blues Album

  • Please Don’t Be Dead, Fantastic Negrito
  • Here in Babylon, Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps
  • Cry No More, Danielle Nicole
  • Out of the Blues, Boz Scaggs
  • Victor Wainwright and the Train, Victor Wainwright And The Train

Best Folk Album

  • Whistle Down the Wind, Joan Baez
  • Black Cowboys, Dom Flemons
  • Rifles & Rosary Beads, Mary Gauthier
  • Weed Garden, Iron & Wine
  • All Ashore, Punch Brothers

Best Regional Roots Music Album

  • Kreole Rock and Soul, Sean Ardoin
  • Spyboy, Cha Wa
  • Aloha From Na Hoa, Na Hoa
  • No ‘Ane’i, Kalani Pe’a
  • Mewasinsational – Cree Round Dance Songs, Young Spirit

Reggae and world music category

Best Reggae Album

  • As the World Turns, Black Uhuru
  • Reggae Forever, Etana
  • Rebellion Rises, Ziggy Marley
  • A Matter of Time, Protoje
  • 44/876, Sting & Shaggy

Best World Music Album

  • Deran, Bombino
  • Fenfo, Fatoumata Diawara
  • Black Times, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80
  • Freedom, Soweto Gospel Choir
  • The Lost Songs of World War II, Yiddish Glory

 

Miscellaneous

Best Children’s Album

  • All the Sounds, Lucy Kalantari & The Jazz Cats
  • Building Blocks, Tim Kubart
  • Falu’s Bazaar, Falu
  • Giants of Science, The Pop Ups
  • The Nation of Imagine, Frank & Deane

Best Musical Theater Album

  • The Band’s Visit
  • Carousel
  • Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert
  • My Fair Lady
  • Once on This Island

Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media

  • Black Panther
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Coco
  • The Shape Of Water
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media

  • Call Me By Your Name (Various Artists), Luca Guadagnino, compilation producer; Robin Urdang, music supervisor
  • Deadpool 2 (Various Artists), David Leitch & Ryan Reynolds, compilation producers; John Houlihan, music supervisor
  • The Greatest Showman, Hugh Jackman (& Various Artists), Alex Lacamoire, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul & Greg Wells, compilation producers
  • Lady Bird (Various Artists), Timothy J. Smith, compilation producer; Michael Hill & Brian Ross, music supervisors
  • Stranger Things, (Various Artists), Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer & Timothy J. Smith, compilation producers; Nora Felder, music supervisor

Best Song Written For Visual Media

  • “All the Stars,” from Black Panther, Kendrick Duckworth, Solána Rowe, Alexander William Shuckburgh, Mark Anthony Spears & Anthony Tiffith (performed by Kendrick Lamar & SZA)
  • “Mystery of Love,” from Call Me By Your Name, Sufjan Stevens (performed by Sufjan Stevens)
  • “Remember Me,” from Coco, Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez (performed by Miguel featuring Natalia Lafourcade)
  • “Shallow,” from A Star Is Born, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando & Andrew Wyatt (performed by Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper)
  • “This Is Me,” from The Greatest Showman, Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (performed by Keala Settle & The Greatest Showman Ensemble)

Best Comedy Album

  • Annihilation, Patton Oswalt
  • Equanimity & The Bird Revelation, Dave Chappelle
  • Noble Ape, Jim Gaffigan
  • Standup For Drummers, Fred Armisen
  • Tamborine, Chris Rock

Best Spoken Word Album

  • Accessory to War (Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang), Courtney B. Vance
  • Calypso, David Sedaris
  • Creative Quest, Questlove
  • Faith — A Journey For All, Jimmy Carter
  • The Last Black Unicorn, Tiffany Haddish

Best Music Video

  • “Apes***, “ The Carters
  • “This Is America,” Childish Gambino
  • “I’m Not Racist,” Joyner Lucas
  • “Pynk,” Janelle Monáe
  • “Mumbo Jumbo,” Tierra Whack

Album Notes

  • Alpine Dreaming: The Helvetia Records Story, 1920-1924
  • 4 Banjo Songs, 1891-1897: Foundational Recordings Of America’s Iconic Instrument
  • The 1960 Time Sessions
  • The Product Of Our Souls: The Sound And Sway Of James Reese Europe’s Society Orchestra
  • Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 (Deluxe Edition)
  • Voices Of Mississippi: Artists And Musicians Documented By William Ferris

AudioMicro Royalty Free Licenses 101

A U D I O M I C R O   M U S I C   L I C E N S E S   1 0 1

 

 

 

 

 

Want to know more about what our Standard License for Music Track covers?
Let us give you the 411.

We’ll cover all the music licensing types in this article, but will focus on our tried and true- The Standard License for our Royalty Free Music Tracks.

We’re stoked to offer you the most affordable Standard License price in the industry, not to mention our HUGE library of HIGH QUALITY tracks, all for just $34.95 per song.  Woot!

So where can you utilize these tracks?  Let us count the ways…

  • In any free apps, podcasts, software, and games, utilized on iPhone, iPad, Android, & Facebook.  As long as it’s free, you’re free to use these songs as many times as you’d like!  Score!
  • In any non-downloadable casual games played exclusively via a web browser, both free and paid.  Live Games = Game on!
  • In any creative project videos that are non-advertisements, for TV, Radio, Wedding Videos, and Corporate Videos.  No Ads = No Problem!
  • ANYWHERE on the world wide web (we like to call it the Interwebs), including on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Websites, Web Videos, & Slideshows.  That’s right, anywhere on YouTube land – so create away!
  • In any Film Festivals projects, both student and professional.  We love making big screen debuts!

And what about Reproduction?

The Fine Print :: The Standard License includes the reproduction of up to 1,000 copies of your project in physical, tangible products like CD’s, DVD’s, VHS tapes, Blu-rays, toys, and console games.

So, in sum, the Standard License is all you need, unless of course, you are using the music in the following scenarios. ::

  • For Ads- In an Advertisement to be run on Television or Radio
  • For Films Not at Film Festivals – In a commercial film release or theatrical presentation (excluding film festival screenings)
  • For large-scale Paid Games- In a paid (i.e. not free) iPhone/iPad/Android app, podcast, or downloadable software/game where more than 1,000 copies will be downloaded. Notice: Apps and games that offer “in-app” purchasing by the user are considering paid (i.e. not free) and require the Mass Reproduction License if more than 1,000 will be distributed.
  • For large-scale Reproduction- In over 1,000 physical/tangible reproductions of a product like CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-rays, toys, and console games.

So there are the In’s and Out’s of our Standard License, and all for $34.95!
Quite the steal, wouldn’t you say?  And just a reminder that your dollars are supporting the very deserving and talented musicians and artists who spend countless hours providing you with premium sounds!

Now remember, these deets cover our Music Tracks only.  Interested in Sound Effects SFX Licenses, click here.

Didn’t cover your intended use?  Keep reading for increased coverage.

Here’s a run-down of ALL the MUSIC LICENSE options – depending on your use:

B) MASS REPRODUCTION – $134.95 for up to 10,000 copies to $284.95 for unlimited.

This license is ONLY required if you wish to make over 1,000 physical/tangible reproductions of your product or utilize the music in a paid (i.e. not free) iPhone/iPad/Android/Facebook app, podcasts, software, and/or games where more than 1,000 copies will be downloaded.

Notice: The Standard License allows up to 1,000 downloads of both free and paid software/games as well as unlimited downloads of free (and not allowing in-app purchasing) iPhone/iPad/Android apps, podcasts, softwares, and games. Therefore, you do NOT need to purchase a mass duplication license unless you’re distributing over 1,000 physical/tangible reproductions of videos, softwares, games, toys within media such as CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and the like OR using the music in paid (i.e. not free) iPhone/iPad/Android apps and podcasts to be downloaded more than 1,000 times.

Mass Reproduction license prices:

  • The standard license price of $34.95 plus $100 for up to 10,000 reproductions
  • The standard license price of $34.95 plus $250 for unlimited reproductions

 

C) TELEVISION/RADIO ADVERTISEMENT – $134.95 to $284.95.

This license is ONLY required if you are using the music in an Advertisement run on either Television or Radio.
Television / Radio Advertisement License prices:

  • For Music used in Local/Regional advertisements played on Television or Radio (with a range of 250 miles in all directions from the broadcast center), the price is the Standard License price of $34.95 plus $100 ($134.95)
  • For Music used in Nationwide/Worldwide advertisements played on Television or Radio, the price is the Standard License price of $34.95 plus $250 ($284.95 total)

 

D) THEATRICAL / COMMERCIAL FILM RELEASE – $284.95 for worldwide rights.

This license is ONLY required for commercial film releases and theatre presentations. Utilization of the music in non-commercial, educational, and editorial projects, like student films and contest submissions, is included in the Standard License. Please be sure to credit “Royalty Free Music by AudioMicro” in your project.

Theatrical/Commercial License Price:  The Standard License price of $34.95 plus $250 per track

Notice:
All of our licenses allow you use the music solely in your own projects. You cannot resell the music as a standalone product or create a derivative work that primarily contains just the music and the resell it as your own, such as a meditation CD with your voice running over the music. If you’d like to use the music in such a manner, please contact us for a special license arrangement.

Bonuses:
We offer a bonus of 20% on purchases over $500 and in the form of store credit to be used with your next purchase. Simply contact us after you have made your purchase and we’ll place the bonus into your account. We also offer bonuses for verified charities and nonprofits.

So that’s AUDIOMICRO’s Licensing 101 friends.

Let us know if you have any questions, and Go Forward and Create!

~The AudioMicro Team

Best Drones for Filmmaking

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In this new era of filmmaking, getting complex shots has become much easier thanks to technological advances made by vendors across the world. It’s more affordable to get a rising shot thanks to jibs and cranes that are accessible to even the most low budget filmmakers. Getting stabilized shots are easier now thanks to amount of rigs available. Aerial shots have now become cheaper due to the influx of drones available on the market. I want to highlight some drones you may want to consider adding to your filmmaking kit so that you can increase your production value.

DJI Phantom 3 Advanced/Professional $1,3000

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This aerial drone is a new release from DJI and can capture great high quality footage from great distances. What makes this drone so popular is the following:

  • 3 Axis Gimbal camera which shoots HD (for the Advanced model) or 4K (for the Professional model)
  • Captures photographs at 12 megapixels
  • Live HD camera view via smartphone or tablet attached to the remote controller through the DJI app
  • Vision positioning through visual and ultrasonic sensors
  • Intelligent Battery with battery level indicator
  • Worry-free AutoPilot

As an owner of the DJI Phantom 3 Pro, I can attest to the incredible media captured with this camera. Within three days of learning to fly this drone, I was capturing great aerial shots that I would have had to pay a helicopter pilot to capture. With a $1,300 price tag, it is a steal for what you get from this drone. I would personally recommend this model for any prosumer or high end shooter who needs to capture aerial shots of client locations.

 

DJI Inspire 1 $3,399

 

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The DJI Inspire 1 is the more advanced and expensive model of the Phantom models offered. This drone is designed with strong carbon fiber arms and gives the user a full 360 unrestricted view when in flight. The Inspire features:

  • 3 axis gimbal 4K camera which shoots up to 30 fps, or 1080p up to 60 fps and takes photos at 12 MP
  • Optional dual remote control function
  • Powerful propulsion system
  • HD wireless video transmission
  • Vision Position system
  • Intelligent Power Management system

If I had the expenses, I would have considered investing in this. I would definitely say that this model is meant for high end, big budget filmmakers that have the funds to afford it.

3DR Solo Quadcopter $999.95

 

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The 3DR Solo is an all-in-one personal drone with a great ease of use and powerful new features. Within these powerful features are the following:

  • Computer assisted cinematography through the Solo app
  • Attach a GoPro to gimbal harness and stream HD video from your GoPro to your iOS or Android mobile device, at ranges of up to half a mile.
  • Easy to use aerial photography controller
  • Powerful smart battery which displays remaining time
  • Up to 20 minutes of flight time with GoPro attached

I haven’t had the opportunity to try this drone, but based on the preview video above and the feature list, it has a lot to offer. With the ability to mount a GoPro, you know what type of quality you are getting. With a price tag of $1,000, you are getting an advanced video production tool that will give see a greater return.

Overall, these three drone models are great if you want to add aerial videography to your business and skill set. I’ve only began my journey into aerial photography, but already I feel that it has added much value to my current projects. I look forward to seeing what I can do next.

Royalty Free Music

Using Adobe Hue CC

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Adobe recently released their Creative Cloud 2015 update, and it came with a whole new bunch of apps for your smart device that partner up with your full applications. One new and powerful app is Adobe Hue CC, which allows you to take a photo using your smart device, select a color swatch from the photo, and apply it as a color hue to your video footage via applications such as Premier Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC. In this tutorial, I will show you how to operate the app and then apply a hue to your footage in After Effects in three simple steps:

– Understanding Adobe Hue

– Capturing an image with Adobe Hue

– Applying the look to your footage

UNDERSTANDING ADOBE HUE

Adobe Hue CC is a recently released app in conjunction with the 2015 application updates to Creative Cloud. The app works with your smart devices (currently only Apple products) and allows you to capture an image with the device’s camera, and then allow you to take the color data and apply it to your video footage.

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Here is a quick overview of how the app performs.

CAPTURING AN IMAGE WITH ADOBE HUE

The app itself is very intuitive. Simply open the app and give it permission to use your smart device’s camera. Once the camera is opened just point and shoot.

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You will notice as you point the camera there are a series of color orbs floating in the image. These are the swatches that are sampling the color data from the image you are providing. Once you snap the photo, you will be taken to a page with a stock sample image and the same color data swatches. Here, you can test and choose which color hue is best suited for your needs. In addition, you are able to increase and decrease the amount of the applied effect with the slider control, and even upload additional reference photos or videos to preview with your look.

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When you are happy with the look, simply select the CHECKMARK icon at the bottom of the screen and you will be taken to your LIBRARIES page. Here, you are able to review your looks, edit them with alternative color data swatches, and create and categorize new libraries as needed.

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APPLYING THE LOOK TO YOUR FOOTAGE

Back in Adobe After Effects CC, you are now able to load up and work with your footage as usual. However, next to the EFFECTS & PRESETS tab you will now notice a new tab for LIBRARIES.

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Here you will find all the looks you have created on your Adobe Hue CC app. To apply the look to your footage, simply drag and drop the look directly onto the footage, or first create an adjustment, and apply the look to the adjustment layer.

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If you twirl open the layer you can go through EFFECTS and see what options you have. You can adjust the opacity of the look – which simply means you are able to fade off the look and blend it more with the original footage if the look is too intense or needed to be keyed on or off over time. You also can create a mask around a section of your footage and set the MASK REFERENCE to use the mask you create to apply the look only to the masked region on the footage.

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Overall, I find the app extremely intuitive and provides the ability to apply the looks I find in everyday life to a project I am working on. This is most definitely a welcomed addition to the already very powerful Creative Cloud line up.

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Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects – Part 2

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Visual Effects, VFX for short, is a big ocean and covers numerous jobs. Last time, in part 1, I explored several roles including previs artists, data wranglers, research & development, math moving, compositing, roto/paint artists, and technical directors. Each plays a smaller part towards a larger goal. I’m here to help make sense of all those roles to give you a better informed decision if you plan to heading into VFX, or at the very least, offer some clarification to some of those more obscure sounding roles. So with that, let’s start with the fur groomer!

*Take Note* Each role header is a link that leads to a related creative reel or article going more in depth on the material. Enjoy!

Fur Groomer

This title kind of makes me giggle whenever I read it, but actually this name is quite apt given their role. A grooming VFX artist is the person who specifically focuses on fur, hair, and feathers. Designing them in 3D, controlling how they move throughout the elements, and all other physical parameters surrounding those points. Most grooming artists are well versed in Maya and similar 3D modeling and shading programs.

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Modeler

This artist, as you might have guessed, is the person who creates the 3D models of people, creatures, etc. using various 3D modeling software such as Maya, Cinema 4D, or 3DS Max.

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Environment Artist

Similar to the Modeler (and most modelers market themselves also as environment artists), this artist develops the digital 3D landscapes found in some CG films, TV shows, and video games.

Texture Artist

As the title sounds, this artist creates the textures that go on the 3D models and environments. This can be anything from human skin, scales, cobblestone roads, or a brick and mortar castle exterior.

Matte Painter

A matte painter creates digital paintings of a landscape or set and is then composited into the background, giving the illusion of an environment that did not exist at the time of filming. Sometimes, the scene could have been shot in a green screen room, and an environment artist could develop the 3D foreground. Then a matte painter would create the 2D painting composited in the background. Sometimes, instead of flying to Paris for that one shot, a matte painter will develop a French landscape that is then composited into the background of a live action shot giving the illusion the actors are sitting at a café in Paris with the Eiffel Tower perfectly positioned in the background.

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Rigger

The rigger then takes the 3D model created by the modeler and creates the skeleton – the physical structure, joints, flexibility, range of motion, etc. – that defines how the model moves and interacts with its world.

Animator

The animator then takes the rigged model and breathes life into the object by moving it around as required for the specific scene. This can be anything from walking, talking, blinking, breathing, pointing, or any number of specific movements and actions. It is not uncommon to have a team of several animators working on a single model to create the most realistic motion.

Motion Capture

Aside from an animator, motion capture is another process to breath life into a rigged model. This process is a bit more physical as a performer wears a motion capture suit that is covered in marker points that correspond with similar marker points on the models rig. Therefore, when a motion capture artist moves their arm in real time, the model moves its arm. This method has been gaining popularity over the last decade with memorable performances from actors like Andy Serkis playing the role of Golem in Lord of the Rings.

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Visual Effects Supervisor & Coordinator

Visual Effects Supervisors work directly with the director on and off the set to ensure planning and execution of the final image is achieved. The coordinator works directly under the supervisor and makes sure the artists work smoothly and coherently with the same vision the director and supervisor are working towards. For instance, the supervisor works with the director to create the physical space with all the correct markers and camera movements to have a dragon destroy a village. The supervisor then has the coordinator coordinate the team of artists to execute that vision (environment artist creates the town, matte painter designs background, modeler designs dragon, texture artist designs the scales, rigger builds the dragons skeleton, etc. etc. …).

I hope this post has helped educate you on some of the most crucial roles in the big machine that is visual effects. Each role is a small cog in a much larger working device – each equally important and necessary to reach the final goal. If you have any questions or comments about any of the roles I mentioned, or if I’ve forgotten a role you wanted to learn more about, then leave a comment below!

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Understanding the Roles in Visual Effects – Part 1

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Visual Effects, VFX for short, is a big ocean and covers numerous jobs. I am here to help make sense out of the plethora of names and titles out there so you can make a more informed decision as to what avenue you would want to explore as a visual effects artist. At the very least, maybe I can explain some of those weird credits you see scrolling at the end of the movies that make you say, “Data Wrangler?! Is a cowboy hog tying numbers on a movie set?!”

*Take Note* Each role header is a link that leads to a related creative reel or article going more in depth on the material. Enjoy!

Previs Artist

Previs is short for previsualization – this artist will work collaboratively with a team to develop the director’s image for specific physical or digital shots. These are taken from the script and recreated digitally as a quick rough animation. It is no mystery that movies cost money – and tons of it! By spending a small percentage of your budget on developing previs shots of key moments in the film in order to figure out the logistics, you can potentially save yourself thousands – if not millions – come time for the shoot and you know exactly how every moving part goes together (camera, lighting, scenery, explosions, etc).

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Data Wrangler

Also known as a Data Loader. This person works with the camera crew, post production editors, and VFX team to ensure all camera information is accurately recorded and stored on multiple hard drives (never erase anything without at least two copies backed up first! Redundancy is key). This not only includes the raw data itself, but also settings, frame rates, etc, that would be essential for editors and VFX artists to match with their own work.

Research and Development

There are people on the VFX team that are dedicated solely to R&D. For example, a VFX artist needs to create a medieval village. These people will research everything about a shot and will provide necessary sample shots, textures, settings for basis, and anything else necessary for the artist to create an accurate depiction of what was requested of them.

Matchmoving

Also known as Camera Tracking. This is the process of producing a 3D digital camera that matches the exact movement of what a physical camera has shot. It is essential for the VFX artist’s work to fit in a particular shot when the camera is rotating, panning, and moving around. A digital element needs to match each of these movements in order to not float off into space.

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Compositor

A compositor takes all the digital effects, environments, video, and images and combines them into a final rendered image.

There are two types of compositing: node based and layered based. Node based creates a “node tree” where each branch links a new media file or effect. The most popular node based software currently is NUKE by The Foundry. Layer based compositing manages media files and effects through a stacking system – bottom layers are at the base and everything layered is built on top. The most popular layered based compositing software is Adobe’s After Effects.

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Roto/Paint Artists

Rotoscoping is the process of creating a matte for an element that can later become composited into another background. For example, an actor might be shot on green screen, would need to be cleanly keyed out, and then sent to the compositor to be composited into a background shot. Sometimes, an actor may be wearing wires or some form of harness for a particular shot, and the artist would then need to go frame by frame and paint out those wires to seamlessly match the background. This role is generally looked at as an entry level position for aspiring compositors.

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Technical Director

He is regarded as the department ‘expert.’ They are equal parts artist and programmer. In a film studio, this is commonly for camera, animation, and lighting. “But I thought the Director of Photography was the expert cameraman?” You are correct, however, this is about Visual Effects roles and so the Camera TD in VFX is for all digital cameras implemented in virtual and digital environments. This also applies for the Lighting TD who is the expert at digitally creating realistic and accurate lighting in any given scene. This can be an entirely digital scene or digital lighting can be composited – by a compositor – created by a lighting TD – into a physical scene.

Additionally, some TD’s can program new software implemented in pipeline flow specific to that studio (pipeline is the term referred to the flow in which a post production VFX shot is created), developing character rigs, or any number of detailed oriented technical tasks in the VFX world.

These are just a few roles in the sea of visual effects. If there is a specific VFX role you would like to see me explore next, leave a comment below!

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Timelapses & Breakdowns

 

A Team NLE

The craft and method of editing is what drew me to filmmaking. Knowing what editors, visual effects artists, and others are capable of doing to tell an intricate story is quite incredible. They are responsible for weaving, manipulating, and inserting assets into frames that help and/or invigorate a story. The best way to see the what the post production process is like is through behind-the-scenes clips on DVDs, or making of featurettes, online. In this article, I’m going to highlight some VFX breakdowns and timelapsed video edits that showcase how much work it takes to bring a film or a video to the masses.

VFX Breakdown #1: X-Men Days of Future Past

One of the top blockbusters of 2014 saw the X-Men mythology returning to top form with this entry into the ever expanding saga. Set in a dystopic future where most of mankind and mutant kind have been eradicated by man made machines know as Sentinels, the remaining X-Men rally together to change the past to ensure a better future before it is too late. To bring the sentinels to life, as well as showcase the various mutant powers that were brought to the screen, required 372 visual effects shots. In the breakdown above, the talented folks of MPC, led by visual effects supervisor Richard Stammers, took upon the task of creating the visual effects of the future mutants and sentinels. Utilizing techniques such as match-moving, rotoscoping, matte painting, chroma keying, and more, they were able to bring various elements to life that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible using practical effects. The photo-realistic effects featured in this film were essential to bringing the audience into this universe.

VFX Breakdown #2: The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3, the third entry into Sylvester Stallone’s homage to classic action films, included more actors, as well as more insane action sequences. We saw everything from insane stunts, more explosions, and combat sequences. For this sequel, the folks at Worldwide FX were responsible for about 1200 VFX shots. In the breakdown above, the Worldwide FX team used a lot of matte painting in certain scenes as well as animating 3D vehicles, like the Expendables’s airplane and helicopters. Watching the breakdown, it is surprising how much green and blue screening was used to set up certain shots. Thanks in part to the efforts of the artists, they are able to seamlessly work with the actors involved. The one thing that caught my eye is how well they are able to rotoscope and integrate objects into scenes with lots of moving parts.

Timelapse Edit #1: SNL “Testicules”

This timelapsed edit session done by SNL film editor Adam Epstein features a short starring actor/producer Andy Samberg. Edited using tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud, Adam takes footage coming DSLRs and RED cameras, and puts together a digital short that has the look of a short film. During the rigorous 48 hour edit session, Adam is responsible for all aspects of post which include sorting out takes, multi-camera editing, color correction, motion graphics/visual effects, and audio selection. The crazy part is that he can still be editing and making changes while SNL is airing and get it uploaded just before it ends. The thing that impresses me about watching his edit session is the amount of quality he is able to pack into his shorts in a 48 hour timeframe. Essentially, cutting an SNL digital short is the equivalent of doing a 48 hour film race every weekend for six months. Anyone who can endure that is a masterful editor.

Timelapse Edit #2: Red Productions Christmas Video 2014

For their annual Christmas video, the folks of Red Productions did a timelapsed edit session on their latest video. Just like Adam, they utilized tools from the Adobe Creative Cloud and completed this video within 24 hours. This video featured greenscreen footage, composited objects and explosions, motion tracking, and many other post production facets. What interested me about this timelapsed session was that they were able to turn around a comedic piece in 24 hours. From what I have seen in editing comedy, it may take a little longer as you need to account for pacing and timing of the humor to occur. Cutting all this in a 24 hour timeframe is impressive to say the least. What stood out to me was how easy they made their visual effects look. They had a plethora of visual effects you’ve come to see in internet videos, and it looked really clean.

Those are just a few breakdowns and timelapsed edit sessions that are floating online. It’s always amazing to see how films and television shows achieve such high level visual effects, as well as watch the talented artists put it all together.

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5 Tips/Tricks for Premiere Pro CC

Premiere Pro CS6

Over the last few years, Premiere Pro has really stepped up its game as being a dependable NLE for professionals across the world. Its ability to make almost any codec native editable allows it to be more than a viable choice for editors to use. I’ve professionally relied on it to get many projects done over the years, and with each iteration that has been released, Premiere has shown that it can compete with the best of the NLEs. With the release of the Creative Cloud, we have been introduced to features that make the life of an editor much easier. I want to share a few tips/tricks that can help you in using this versatile NLE.

Using Drop Down Menus

The source, program, and title monitor each have a drop down menu above them indicating what item is currently in view. Every time you enter a new item into these monitors, it changes to that item. The cool thing about the source and title monitor is you can load multiple items into them and cycle through each individually by using the drop down menu. For example, if I want to look at multiple video clips and not have to load them into the Source monitor one by one, all you have to do is select a group of clips in the project browser and drag them into the source monitor. By using the drop down menu, you can go through multiple clips one by one. Aside from using the drop down menu in CC, you can map shortcuts to these commands below to cycle through clips using the keyboard. Personally, I’ve found this to be a timesaver for high volume footage edits.

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You can also load multiple titles in the Title Tool and cycle through different titles. You can also edit them one by one without having to double click them individually.

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You can also use the drop down menu for the Program monitor when you have multiple sequences open. I rarely use the drop down menus when cycling between sequences, but it’s always good to know multiple ways to move around your interface.

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Opening Multiple Sequences

Having to double click to open sequences in Premiere can be a pain in the ass, especially if I have to do it to multiple sequences. Luckily, there is a shortcut in Premiere Pro CC that allows you to open multiple sequences at once. If you map a keyboard shortcut for the command Open in Timeline, this will definitely be handy for opening multiple timelines. Select your group of timelines in the Project browser, hit your custom keyboard shortcut for Open in Timeline, and all of your sequences will open at the same time. I discovered this trick while working on commercial spots recently, and it has been a real timesaver. I strongly recommend you try it out yourself.

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Creating Custom Dimensions for Layers

Not too many people know this, but you can actually determine the dimensions of a Color Matte, Black Video, Adjustment Layer, or Transparent Video Layer before you commit to it. When you go to create one of these layers by selecting the create new item button, a dialog box shows up with dimensions of your current sequence. Let’s say, for example, that you wanted a red square and you didn’t want to go to the title tool to create it. If I create a Color Matte with dimensions of 500×500, I will get a red square Color Matte.

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Knowing this tip can reduce the time you may spend creating shapes in the Title Tool, or farming out to Photoshop if you are so inclined.

Change Duration of Multiple Transitions

One of the things I enjoy about the Creative Cloud version of Premiere, is that I can select multiple transitions and change their duration at the same time.

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As cool of a trick as this is, I hope future iterations will have the ability to map a shortcut to change transition duration as opposed to using the mouse all the time.

Importing Favorites Bins/Custom Presets onto other machines

This was a tip I learned recently from the Adobe forums. If you create custom presets and bins for favorites, it is saved in a file known as Effect Presets and Custom Items. This file updates each time you import a preset or custom bin into Premiere Pro. The best things about this file is that you can copy and import it into other systems with Premiere Pro installed. The instructions I’m giving are on a Mac, but you can find instructions for this file on PCs if you search the help pages. First, copy the file from the User>Documents>Adobe>Premiere Pro>version #>profile folder. With the file on a flash drive, open Premiere Pro CC (2013 or 2014 works) and go to the effects browser. Right click on the Effects tab and select import presets. Select the file on the flash drive and you will get the custom presets you created, as well as the favorites bins you created on your other machines.

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This trick is also useful when Premiere is being sluggish and you need to trash preferences. You won’t need to recreate everything all over again. These are just a few tips/tricks that Premiere Pro has to offer. There are many more available when you really get to know the program. In fact, the updates coming for the next release of Premiere Pro CC 2014 look more promising than any release I’ve seen in years. Try these tricks out yourself and discover ways to move faster in Premiere to get your work done.

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