Join our mailing list for the latest news

Latest News

An Article on Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes via Phi Mu Alpha on his upcoming premiere "Tribute to Sinfonia"




Michael Dinetz's word on Why Independent Films fail financially! 

Most common mistakes in producing center around money. Quite often it's green lighting, a project with an insufficient budget as measured against the screenplay. Why do people do that? There's really only one reason, which you could text certain varied sub-reasons onto. Most producers and directors treat their relationship with film kind of like a heroin addiction. There's this constant itch to get on set and be making a movie. This is coupled with the fear that this amazing movie that they have crafted in the form of a screenplay or acquired may never see the light of day. Too many, this is terrifying. I would say to me, if I was going to go out and do that, I would rather wait 20 years if that's how long it took to raise enough money to deliver the screenplay at a sufficient level of quality that I don't feel that I did a disservice to the screenplay. Because at the end of the day if you make the movie and you ruin the greatness that the screenplay contained, what was the point other than temporarily scratching an itch? Few filmmakers want to face this reality. They would rather sweep it under the rug or make a bunch of excuses. And I've heard them all. Well. It's timely so we have to make it now. If we don't make it now, it'll never get made. I'm not independently wealthy. I don't know any rich people. The list goes on. They're all just excuses. You either want to make a great movie or you want to make "a movie" now. Not every movie is going to be Citizen Kane or The Godfather, but that doesn't mean that you can't make an entertaining film. You're going to pour your heart and soul into writing a screenplay that you think is really good, or you're going to cut a deal to acquire a screenplay that you think is really good, then I feel like you owe it to yourself and the audience, and certainly to the investor, to deliver a quality representation of that screenplay.

Not every movie needs a $100 million budget, but some do. It really comes down to the needs dictated by the screenplay and the relevant expenses that go along with those needs. If your budget climbs high enough, you're going to need Union crew, unless you're shooting in a part of the world where that's not a concern. If your budget climbs high enough, your name talent budget is going to have to climb steadily with it. That name talent is the backbone of the marketing of the movie. It's the pillars that hold up the house. You could make the greatest movie on Earth, but if you don't give marketing enough to work with, not too many people are going to see it and your return is going to be dismal at best.

Some other financially related mistakes. Sometimes people have enough money to do things right and they simply don't manage it well. So it gets misspent and thus you run out of money. Obviously that's not good. The people in charge of the money need to make sure they're starting out with a sufficient amount to do things right, but they also need to make sure that they stick to that plan.

Sometimes, this doesn't happen a ton, you end up securing more money than you need and that will dig into your return on investment for your investor. There's this idea that more money is always better. My feeling is that there's kind of a line that you cross at a certain point where all you're doing is hurting the return. Like if you're making a $5 million movie and each of the producers is making a million dollar producer fee, you could probably reduce the budget of the movie and drop yourself down and SAG tier which would reduce your actor scale rates. It might also put you in a position where you don't necessarily need a union crew. All of these things are going to allow you to make the very same movie that you would have otherwise made and do so at a lower cost and thereby increase your return on investment

One thing that people have a tendency to do with strangling budgets is you lose something that you need, and that's visual quality. Great dialogue and great acting are important, but if all you have is great dialogue and great acting, you might as well be producing theater. Poor visual quality is a massive distraction when watching a movie. We can debate things like plot holes and story structure and a whole bunch of other bullshit, and even quality of acting, on giant Hollywood movies, but the one thing you can almost never say about a big budget studio film is that it looks bad from the standpoint of the work of the various departments working on it. It's pretty rare that you're going to poke holes in the job of the art department or the makeup department or the costume department or various other visual representative departments. Nine times out of 10. You're not going to be able to complain about the quality of the sound recording or the cinematography. 

They may not be 10 out of tens, but they're usually at least an eight or nine. You're never going to watch a big budget Western and be like Wow, those costumes look to crisp or people don't look dirty enough. But these are the things that totally go wrong on smaller budget movies. And that's because the people in charge of the various departments just aren't good at their jobs or they were foolish enough to agree to a film where they weren't given the time and/or money to do their jobs correctly.

So now we get to the mitigation of risk. We've identified what people screw up. So your job as a producer, and to a certain extent the director's job, is to make sure that these mistakes are addressed and avoided. Good department heads are hired, you secured enough money to be able to hire them and give them the expense money and prep time to do their jobs effectively. You've spent the time casting quality actors for your scale roles. You've spent enough to secure named talent that is commensurate with the size of your budget, thus giving the distribution company the tools they need to generate that return. You've taken the time to put this through all the proper paces in post-production and make sure that work is up to par. You haven't rushed necessary process. You've chosen quality locations that represent what the screenplay needs. You've done all the same stuff that the big budget movies do and thus you haven't fallen short in those regards.

In order to do all of this, you have to really really focus on not scratching that itch and doing what is best for the film. You have to treat the film like a good parent treats their child. You have to take your own desires, set them aside, and do what's best for the child. And the reality is not enough. Producers do that. If producers really did that on a broader scale, we wouldn't have that horrible statistic to compete with. It would be far easier to find equity investment for film. The reason it's so hard is because film is deemed the most dangerous type of investment you can make. The only thing riskier is going to a casino. It doesn't have to be that way. Foolish filmmakers, in large quantities, have made it that way. The people that came before you have shot you in the foot. The sooner you recognize that, and the sooner you do something about it, the better off you and your project will be.

Making a profit on a movie isn't complicated, it isn't a mystery, it's sheer understanding of statistics and methodology and addressing those statistics and methodology responsibly. Yes, there's always going to be the occasional curveball, like a global pandemic or something along those lines, or a massive shift in the distribution market, but other than major force majeur situations, the reason movies fail is irresponsibility of the producers.

JayZ and Beyonce bought a house "all cash." 

JayZ and Beyonce bought a house "all cash."

  Pinned by FinanceVaults

@everyneed3959 explained it here:

For those who don’t understand let me explain: 

1.) Jay Z and Beyoncé have $200 million dollars worth of assets. This can be stocks, bonds, etc. the assets have to be something the banks are interested in and I’m sure those 2 have strong relationships with their banks. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they put up their music masters as collateral as that’s something that could be very valuable to banks (tho I highly doubt this but it’s something to think about lol) 

2.) jay Z and Beyoncé asks the bank for a $200 million dollar cash loan and uses their assists as collateral. So if they don’t pay back the loan then the bank gets to sell off their assets to pay off the loan for them. Jay z and Beyoncé are basically saying “hey if I don’t pay back this $200 mill you can have all these assets to cover the loan” and the banks are like “bet say less” 

3.) Jay Z and Beyoncé now have $200 million dollars in cash but keep in mind it’s a loan still. They use the cash to pay for a $200 million dollar house IN FULL! They own 100% equity in the property. Equity is the value of the property vs. how much you owe. If you pay off the full value of the property then you don’t owe anything and that means you have 100% equity. 

4.) Jay Z and Beyoncé now refinance the property, or get a mortgage. This is just a fancy way of saying they got a loan AGAIN and used the house they now 100% own as collateral. They did the same thing twice, only difference is the type of assets. When you use a house as collateral they call it a mortgage/refinancing. The only main difference is the terminology. So now they got another $200 million dollars cash 

5.) Jay Z and Beyoncé now uses the refinance money, or new loan, to pay off the first loan fully. And now they are making payments towards the new property since they refinanced the house. This new refinance term, or new mortgage, has wayyy better rates and i am willing to bet their interest rate is 1% or even lower if that’s possible. And they can write off the interest payments on their taxes, lowering their taxable income. The main reason why they would do this is so that they have cash in hand without selling their assets. If all your “money” is in investments it might not be a good idea to pull your money out of them to then use them to buy stuff. It would be wiser to get a loan against your investments and use your investments as collateral instead. That way your money KEEPS GROWING in investments and you have cash ready to then buy more investments. If you have any questions lmk below. Thumbs up so ppl see.

 This Composer/Producer/Arranger/Pianist and Emmy-Award Winner is a native of Detroit, Michigan... 

 This Composer/Producer/Arranger/Pianist and Emmy-Award Winner is a native of Detroit, Michigan graduating from our own Mackenzie High School. He received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Instrumental Music Education from Southern University A&M College, and a Master’s of Music Education Degree from the University of Louisville and . This awesome musican also studied orchestration and arranging with jazz composer/arranger John LaBarbera. He was also a trumpeter, student arranger and Band Captain of the Southern University “Human Jukebox” Marching Band.

He has toured professionally as a pianist with jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield and the late jazz clarinetist Alvin Batiste. He is multi-talented and has composed, produced, performed and arranged music for recording artist such as: gospel great, Yolanda Adams, Howard Hewitt, Keith Washington, and L.J. Reynolds. His remarkable musicianship landed him studio time and work with Detroit’s legendary Music Producer Michael J. Powell. and was the understudy for the most sought-after string arranger and composer, Motown Arranger Paul Riser. He also served as Co-Director of Music for the nationally televised funeral of Rosa Parks, Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, while serving as Director of Music for Oak Grove AME Church.

He currently teaches music with Southfield Public Schools, while serving as the President/CEO of the Michigan Fine Arts Institute, (Beverly Thomas Fine Arts Institute.) He is an active member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity, The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). I present to you during Black History Month, Detroit's Own: LaShawn Gary.

What if....Rap had given proper credit  


It's 1993. Hip Hop is huge.  I'm loving it.  I know I want to be a producer and as I'm loving hip-hop, I am simultaneously falling in love with jazz (thanks to Benjamin Pruitt!)   I get this idea to put jazz with funky beats.  No one is feeling me, although my friends love Gangstarr, who has done it already. 
There is a problem.   I don't have any money to get equipment.  Oh well, I'm going to try.  Then as I have my portable FM radio on me riding the Dexter Bus to Northland Mall, I hear this song come on FM98 in Detroit.   I hear this bass player walking a bass line.  NICE!!!! Who is this playing?  Then the drums come in  NICE!!! Then I hear these horns.  YES.  I'm like what am I listening to that is that is sooo smooth.  Then the chorus. 

I'm so sold.  

The song? Rebirth of the Slick: Cool like that by Digable Planets.  THIS IS A HIT!  I also thought, "This was the music I want to write! I told y'all you could do music like this live!" 

Once again the chorus

I see my good friend Kindra Parker who is equally a hip-hop head like me.  I say to her, Did you hear that song on FM98?

She starts singing.

I'm cool like dat, I'm cool like dat
I'm cool like dat, I'm cool

I jump in too.  This is awesome.

I go back on the bus later to Northland and go to Musicland, one of the best record stores later rebranded as Sam Goody.   I can't wait to find it.

Now, I learned how to red from two items: architectural digest and record covers.  I always read the album credits.  I wanted to know who was on every person who created the masterpiece I was listening to. 
When you have the single "Rebirth of the Slick: Cool like that), you see this in the credits:

Conceived, freaked, and produced by Butterfly
Written and made lovely by all of the insects of digable planets. 

So at this point, I'm thinking they had some live bodies in the studio.  Why? Well, that's how I made music at the time.  So I thought everyone did that.

Then later I found out the truth: they SAMPLED.

What if you bought the single or full album and it said this instead.  Nope.
Even on the vinyl, there is no mention of the sample origins.

I had no idea that it was a sample and it's wrong that the composer didn't get his credit. Mind you, I'm 15 years old at this time. I'm still trying to understand what sampling was.  Being a young classical and jazz musician, this idea of sampling was foreign to me.  What about the musicians? They are the ones that made the music?   Now, this isn't to cast aspersion on Digable Planets.  They are wonderful and I still bump their music regularly.   AND, this problem isn't on them, it's on the label and producers (Pendelum and Elektra.)  Then around 1995, I had learned that many (which is an understatement) songs hadn't been cleared.

Just for clarity, sampling is when you take an a portion of the actual source  of a recording (whether analog or digital) and use it in a project. It is different from recreation or interpolating, which is when you literally perform another's person creation or sing/play a portion of a song respectively.

This came to a head about three times when the great James Mtume had some interesting words about sampling.  If you don't know who Mtume is, let's just say he has had arguably four great careers in music.  We can start that he was a percussionist with Miles Davis.  That automatically makes him a legend.  
The his own band, Mtume, had hits. Yeah, that song Juicy Fruit, that's him.
Third, we can take about as a songwriter and producer for other people.  How about "The Closer I get to You" or  "You know how to Love Me." He also scored "New York Undercover."  The fourth career is how coincidently about how his music has been a lifeblood for hip-hop.

So Mtume lambasted producers on a radio show "Open Lines" for being lazy which garnered a nice attack by rap group Stetsasonic called Talking All that Jazz.  Now what is interesting about this:  They MISSED Mtume's main point was to give PROPER credit to the people sampled and PAY the people who's music which conveniently gets lost in the sauce.

So now, what if....a big what if......

What if Rap had given proper credit when they originally started sampling. What I mean by "proper" is that they gave credit to Everyone. What if they adequately and accurately cited the songwriters and musicians?  I dare say, we would look at the music differently. WAAAAAYYYYYY differently.   We would recognize the performers of the sampled and they would get their due!   Mtume has said MANY composers did not get paid and lost out on  millions of dollars.

Then the question must be asked: How did the unjust due start?  Well, that is a looooong conversation.  I think a better way to have this conversation is to look at Rap/Hip-Hops fun history.  See, rap started off in its early form by DJs.....well ,ONE Dj (Kool Herc) prolonging jams by buying two of the same albums and playing the breaks, going back and forth to keep the party going.  This technique kept going and eventually, people started to rap over these extended breaks.   These breaks were usually found on the 12" versions of singles.  Now people started looping these breaks and rapping over them.  Thus is born Rap Music.  

With this type of simple beginnings, it became easily approachable.

So as people started recording over these loops and breaks, no one thought over the legal repercussions. An essential loophole (or so they thought) was how sampling was not included in the copyright language of the time especially with digital recreation. Remember, just like Apple's Garageband can have the average joe make a song, these were just regular people having fun and saying stories/poetry over prerecorded grooves.  All you needed was a turntable and a mic.

So did the authors of the music own the rights when someone put the actual recording in their music?  Oliver Wang wrote beautifully on this matter:

When sampling technology and practices became hip-hop's musical blueprint in the late 1980s, the business and legal rules were a thoroughly gray area. Since the techniques created digital copies of source material, copyright holders could argue that unauthorized sampling violated their intellectual property. Those doing the sampling could argue they were repurposing fragments of recorded music to create something entirely new. Up until 1991, disputes around whose argument carried more weight tended to be settled outside of court.

Per usual. technology comes faster than the law. Similar thing happened when VHS came out.  Movie companies at first blocked it. Now movies like Frozen and Avatar have sold over 7 million DVDs and BluRay.  Let's just say the companies have changed their mind!  So now the court has to determine this gray area about sampling.  Oops.

Now back to Cool Like That.  There is another problem.

And it should have.  YES, the song is amazing,  It is a Classic.
This isn't an attack on rap, DP, or even sampling itself.

HOWEVER, when a song wins a Grammy, the musicians on that song get it.  Wait a minute, the musicians from the sample should get it too!!!  And the person who wrote the sampled song didn't even get credit.

So what is the song?  Stretching which was composed by James Williams on the 1978 album Reflections in Blue by Art Blakley.   It's a fiery song in Bminor that is in Blues form, but doesn't quite follow traditional blues progressions. Featured on this song is Bobby Watson, someone I came to know while I lived in Kansas as he is the former chair of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri Kansas City,

Rebirth of the Slick: Cool like that is an amazing composition and recording.  It deserves everything it has earned.  It still resonates with my generation.  Right is right and wrong is wrong however. THIS was the original point of  James Mtume criticizing sampling.  Have integrity. PAY the people of the music you sampled.  Now, perhaps they did pay James Williams.  I don't know.  Mr. Williams has passed on.  When I talked to Mr. Watson, he said he was unsure.  What is crazy is as bug as that song is, NO ONE KNOWS WHO PLAYED THE HORNS ON  THAT!   The composer of the sampled song and the band needs their due.  Musical Integrity needs to prevail.  Pendulum and Elektra Records should have known better.  For that matter, ALL of the uncredited sampled song need their due. But for now, let's fix the aforementioned problem. Give these people their Grammy.  If they hadn't made the song, there is no "COOL LIKE THAT!"   Let the credits from this point read:

Rebirth of the Slick: Cool like that
Composed by Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, Mariana "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira, and Craig "Doodlebug" Irving. James Williams.

Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler: vocals
Mary Ann "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira: vocals
Craig "Doodlebug" Irving: vocals
Art Blakey - drums
Valery Ponomarev - trumpet
Bobby Watson - alto saxophone
David Schnitter - tenor saxophone
James Williams - piano
Dennis Irwin - bass

Now we see the full music greatness of this composition.  We see LIFE.  We can read about the great musicians who are on this song!

Just for the fun of it.  How about we take a few other song and give proper credits/citations of AL the players.  These songs were CLEARED FYI: however, I just want to show you the musical depthness of these songs if they were to list all of the performers and include the songwriters.

Young G's
Combs, Shawn Carter, Christopher Wallace, Burton Smith, Oliver Sain, Donny Hathaway)
Sean "Puffy" Combs: vocals
Christopher Wallace aka Notorious BIG: vocals
Jay-Z: vocals
Kelly Price: vocals
Oliver Sain - vibraphone
Earl Wright - Guitar
Paul Jackson - bass
Sammy Harris: Drums
Burton Rashad Smith: Drum Programming and keyboards

One Love

(Nasir Jones, Johnathan Davis, Jimmy Heath)
Nasir Jones: vocals
Stanley Cowell - Kalimba
Percy Heath - Bass
Albert Heath - Drums
Tiki Fulwood: Drums
Q-Tip: Background vocals and Drum Programming

Steady Mobbin

(O. Jackson, A. Gorrie, M. Gaye, Leon Ware, George Clinton, B Nelson, R. Ford)

Ice Cube: Vocals
Debbie Wright, Jeanette Washington, Lynn Mabry, Dawn Silva, Cordell Mosson, Mallia Franklin:           
          Background Vocals
Hamish Stuart – guitar
Onnie McIntyre – guitars
Roger Ball – piano
Alan Gorrie – Bass
Chuck Rainey: Bass
Robbie McIntosh – drums, percussion
Bobbye Hall Porter, Eddie “Bongo” Brown – bongos, congas
James Gadson – drums

I Like It (I wanna Be Where You Are)

(Leon Ware / Etterlene Jordan / Arthur Ross / Maxwell Dixon / Anthony Martin / Eldra De Barge / William De Barge, Don Addrisi)

Grand Puba: Vocals
Bunny DeBarge, El DeBarge, Randy DeBarge, Mark DeBarge and James DeBarge:       
   Background Vocals
Raymond A. Crossley, Russell Ferrante: piano, keyboards
Roger Ball – piano
Chuck Rainey: Bass
Robbie McIntosh – drums, percussion
Carl Tjader –vibes
James Gadson – drums
Mark Sparks: Drum Programming

With this type of credit listing, the argument of Hip-Hop not being music is absurd. People are being recognized and knowledge is being passed.   Granted, Hip-Hop shot itself in the foot by not doing this first.
This would be amazing,  This looks amazing. Let's make it right!  If we can rename schools that once bore the names of crazy people, we can give the sampled performers their Grammy easily.


I need to finish: 

 Amen, finished my 3rd and 4th cello suite.  BOUT TIME CHAD!!!

Now, I need to finish:

  1. Alma Mater (choir and Piano)
  2. Percussion Concerto
  3. 18th and Vine (orchestra)
  4. Benjamin and Caroline (big band)
  5. Baking Scene (Big band)
  6. Rewrite a few bars of Indigo Child Opening Credits.

Living Composers 


Some awesome pieces from living composers!!!!!!!1

Kevin Day

William AR May

Brooke Pierson

Armando Bayolo

James Lee II

What goes around, comes around 

Back in the 48109, One of my composition teachers sat me down and opened up a great score. He saw what I was doing (which was terrible) and he showed me what this MAGNIFICENT composer had done. Few weeks later, I told one of my teachers about that score. He subsequently gave me that score. The composition was Beethoven 7th, the teacher in that lesson was Erik Santos and the buyer of the score was James Aikman.  23 years later, I gave that EXACT same lesson Santos gave me with score Aikman bought me to my orchestration class. Thank you Father for Santos, Aikman, and Beethoven being in my life! You all have been such a HUGE blessing in my life. Oh, and GOBLUE!

I Wonder Why I Love Music so much? 

I Wonder

I Wonder Why do I love Music so much?

I wonder

Is it because first and foremost, my father and his sister played the music of Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Motown, Patrice Rushen, and many others over, over and over. 
Did my love for jazz come from hearing "Boy Genius" Ray Charles, Killer Joe (perf. by Quincy), and Oh Lonesome Me by Count Basie
Or is it because when I attended Birney Elementary School, in Detroit, MI, my music and art teacher Lawrence Cotter introduced me to a plethora of composers like Leroy Anderson, Mozart, and Beethoven?
Is it because I was inspired by the pen of Dick van dePitte and Paul Riser and power of the DSO?
Is it because Howard House taught me trumpet and euphonium at that same elementary school, supplemented by seeing Wynton Marsalis playing a piece about a carnival on that instrument?
Or is it because when I heard Daisy Gaines play organ at Christ Reformed Baptist Church, I wanted to play like her?

I wonder? I wonder...

Is it because in Concert Band I played Gustav Holst, Granger, Vaughn Williams.  Then you add Elgar, Sullivan, and Britten.  Does this give me a undying love of British Music and its composers?  
Is it because in opera, you learn about Verdi, Leoncavallo, and Puccini. Does this give us a undying love of Italian Music and its composers?  Does it not want to make you go to La Scala?
Is it because in all facets of music, you learn about Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, and Mussorgsky. Does this give us a undying love of Russian Music and its composers?  Does it not make you want to go to St. Petersburg?
Is it because in jazz, you learn about Armstrong, Bechet, and Marsalis. Does this give us a undying love of New Orleans Music and its composers?  Does it not make you want to go to Bourbon St?

I wonder, I really wonder...
This really has me deep in thought.

Is it because Mendelssohn make you want to know what was he dreaming that Midsummer Night? Or what was in Fingel's Cave?
Is it because I wanted to cower and not go after my dreams, but Bird and Diz said "Now's the Time?"
Is it because Spyra Gyra and Al Jarreau had me dancing in the morning?
Is it because it felts so good to ask Mister Magic about street life during Mardi Gras with Angela looking her Naima in a Taxi?
Is it because Sonny Rollins give me interest to travel to Nigeria while Weather Report told me about Birdland?
Is it because DouDou make me want to learn Djembe or breeze on 6 strings like George Benson?

I wonder, I really do wonder.

Is it because Ellington made me want to Take the A-Train or Basie having me jump when it's One O'Clock?
Is it because Dr. Hailstork reminded me, "I made my vow?"
Is it because Beethoven had me ask my mother, "Who was Elise?" or Smetena wanting me to take a boat down the Moldau?
Is it because I heard Rostropovich play Bach's Cello Suites so flowingly or Andre Watts tickling the ivories?
Is it because Marvin asked what was going on? and I answered, "My pain and headache follows me everywhere I do?"

I really have to ask these questions.

Is it because Mr. Morris told his dear love "You are the sunshine of my life"
Is it because I didn't go to Clarksville, I decided to take that late train to Georgia?
Is it because Benny Goodman had me ask "Where was the Savoy" or Duke Pearson and Eddie Jefferson had me ask "When was the last time I saw Jeannine?" 
Is it because I was busted and I wasted time at the Bay thinking about how funk of a drummer I could be?
Is it because I whispered in her ear, "You're my shining star, always and forever, please don't go way from me?" or is it because I took a soulful strut to Cafe Reggio?

I wonder this at times.

Is it because I love the fountains and pines of Rome or want to ride a faniculi?
Is it because no one must sleep until I find Daphnis and Chloe?

Is it because I find out why Joe was so killing or me trying to keep Freddie from Freeloading?
Is it because I'm running for no reason and I can't hide love from her, who shines like a sun goddess?
Is it because I don't believe He brought me this far giving me melodies from Heaven saying how wondrous is His Name?
Is it because I want to be the Chairman of the Board driving down Route 66 teaching the boy from New York City how to make money?
Is it because I'm on the hill, not just blueberry or sugar, relaxing electrically because my account is paper thin?
Or is it because I had an inner urge to play dominoes and celebrate being Black & proud?

The question is, "Why do I love Music so much?"
I Wonder, I wonder, 
I wonder

© MMXXI Chad E. Hughes

Virtual Performance Video: How Long does it take? 

Many people have asked how long does it take from from "start to finish" to make a virtual performance video. I have to give you an almost full-unabridged explanation so you can understand what needs to be done.  It's not to scare you, but this is not a one-stop shop or an overnight feat!  If someone asks you for one overnight, please allow them to read this.   This is my response to a letter someone asking me," How long does it take?"

1.) Pre-Production: I had to make the click track. This was done by arranging the music of both Lift Every Voice and Sing and Star Spangled Banner.     The average arrangement may take  8 - 10 hours.  Even with my Synesthesia (I see color as I hear the music, which tells me the chord structure of the music as soon as I hear it.)  Some may say it is absolute pitch, but I don't hear it "stacked," I see the overall sound structure.  So as far these arrangements and because the chords are already in my head, the songs took me 4 hours.  It's not just about placing notes, it's about voicings and setting the music to perfectly fit your ensemble. With me having a smaller ensemble, voicing can be complicated.
Total Hours Pre-Production: 4 hours

2.) Editing & Mixing.  This is where a bulk of my time is done.  One could have crappy video, but EVERY expects great audio quality.  What Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) do you have: ProTools or Logic?  With your size band, GarageBand isn't going to cut it. 
So to begin, you can't just take everyone's audio and just drop it.   You'll have to align everyone's audio after you set up your template in your DAW.   That comes to about a minute per track.  Imagine if you were to have sixty people in your group!  Some students had stereo tracks, some had mono.  You'll have to decide how you'll want to do that.  

Some sent 24:44 resolution, some sent 24:48, some 16:44. That's technical jargon on how the music was recorded and how the computer will read it. It's kind of like old VHS recorders at SLP, LP, and EP.  I even had a kid send an 8-bit recording which is the resolution of the first Nintendo Entertainment System.  Translation: All files need to be the same resolution, or you can't play or edit them all together.  If you are curious on what those numbers mean, here's a good link for that:  I strongly recommend recording at 24:48.

You have to give time for the computer to convert all of those files to the same resolution. Some of the students sent files that didn't work so I had to wait on them to resend the audio. You also have to factor in time if the students don't know how to send separate audio and video files.  MOST don't know how.  Even fellow teachers don't know how.  That can be about an hour for every thirty people. This is just PREPARATION to edit.

With all of that, now you must make it sound like a band. With thirty tracks, I had my time cut out for me.  

Lower instruments take up more sonic room.  What does that mean?  
Picture the offensive linemen of your favorite football team. Now imagine them sitting on a bus.  They aren't sitting two in a seat. If they do, it's uncomfortable for them. So with bass frequencies, you must let them breathe. Your bass guitar, string bass, tuba, bass drum, sometimes your trombones/euphoniums, violoncellos, and low range of piano are all fighting to get through the same door.  When mixing, the engineer is trying to find a place to sit for all those low frequencies comfortably.  This is a task. Do you want more tuba or more bass drum?  There's not a right or wrong answer; however, it's a constant fight in your mix especially given the range of the tuba and bass guitar.  You may have to automate who comes out more. This itself is a 1-3 hour process by itself sometimes.  In gospel music, R&B, and house (where bass is more expected), it will definitely take more than an hour.

Now that we have the low-end done, I'm trying to make the rest of the band sound good.  You have to align eighth notes/sixteenth notes which can be tedious.
Prayerfully, everyone plays the right articulation.   I haven't even talked about intonation.  We haven't been in the band rooms so it's hard to expect them to remember pitch tendencies. Decent tuning programs cost about $349 but you really need the mid-level option:

I'll end it there on this section.  I could type more about editing and mixing, but I think this gives you the general idea.  Just with editing along is a 20-40 curve with a 5-10 curve for mixing per song. 

Total Editing and Mixing Time: 26 hours

3.) Video Editing.
You would think this is self-explanatory; however, it's further from the truth. The bigger the band, the more you will have to edit. I only had seven people complete videos; this saved me a bunch of time.  That still doesn't make the work easier; it's laborious no matter what.

Everyone didn't shoot at 1080p; some shot at 720; some filmed at God-only-knows!  Just to make sure we're clear, the resolution is basically how many lines are captured on the camera and how it is viewed on the screen.  HD video (720 and higher) is about twice the resolution as SD (standard definition, what we grew up watching.)  That's why old TV shows can't quite fit on Flatscreen TVs when watching it nowadays.  Therefore, some people's video you will have to stretch/alter the video so it can fit the full view of the screen.  Now you will have a streamlined video.  Lord help us if someone filmed Portrait instead of Landscape. Now we will have to wait for them to refilm it.

Now you must line up the videos, do transitions, and tell a story.  Oh, don't forget to add your title cards, and everything.  All this for a 2:30" video.  For your band since it's bigger than my ensemble, you will need almost three times the amount of time I did for a cinematic feel.   You could "cascade" the separate videos, but that's a hassle depending on how much power you have and those videos are the least enjoyable.  That really should be used for effects.  That's why when we watch professional films and television, they switch camera angles.  Don't believe me? Watch a show and see how often they change the camera angle per minute.  You'll be surprised.

What type of computer do you have?  I have to warn people who desire to do video editing.  Everyone who has a Mac has iMovie.  Problem is, HD video requires a lot of power and memory.  Most people don't have sufficient memory and graphic cards to push multilayers of video. If you don't, the computer will sputter and drop frames.  What I have found is that school-issued computers can barely handle two layers of videos let alone four! So when you have, or shall I say, when you see a video that has six people playing side by side, you need a computer to handle six separate million-color graphic videos at the same time. Go back to our football analogies.   Try placing four offensive lineman in a Honda Civic and you're trying to race.  Not going to happen.   Ever wonder why your phone gets hot while playing certain games or watching movies?  Same reason.  

Oh, you can't do 4 layers in iMovie.  You have to buy Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.  They have two TOTALLY different workflows.  You'll computer will have to also render cuts and the more transitions you have, the more power you'll need.

I had to buy two 16 gig RAM chips so I can run my iMac at Optimum capacity.  My iMac is a 2011.  I really need at least a 2013.  Even at 32Gigs of RAM, it still stutters. Oh, that was additional $320 for my computer. All this for a 2:30" video.

Total Hours: 10 hours

4.) Mastering
I won't get too much into this, but you need to do it. It makes your music wider.  I did a "Cheap" master since I was stuck on time.  No matter what, you need to do it to make sure your music is line-level and reaches the widest and fullest bandwidth.

Total Hours: hours

Grand Total Time for 2:30 video: 41 hours.

Perhaps I was loquacious; however, I had to tell you everything so you wouldn't get caught off-guard.  Remember, I do this for my church and the process is much longer for all of the aforementioned.  Why?  I'm dealing with about 10 vocalists and a six-piece rhythm section.  A Six-piece rhythm section is about 14 tracks (8 for drums, 2 for piano, and everything else is mono.)

 Oh, before I go, I really implore you to have a dedicated workstation for your audio and video.  If I remember correctly, your computer was short on RAM.  The Macbooks from the last seven years can't get upgraded.  The RAM is soldered on the motherboard.  You'll need to purchase a new computer.  The new Macbooks you will need will cost about $5200.  This includes all the cables, adapters, and all the memory (128G) you will need.   You won't be able to do all of that on a Chromebook or iPad.

I ALMOST forgot! How big is your hard-drive?  You will need a separate hard drive to handle all those videos. Why?  If everyone shoots at 1080p (Full HD), that will be about 330MB for a 2:30 min video, or roughly a Gig for 3 videos.  You have 60 people? That's 20 Gigs. That's five DVDs of information. All of that memory for a 2:30" video.  

So, if you do a concert of 8 songs (and the average concert band compositions/movements are 3 minutes long) it could be anywhere from 200 to 400 Gigs of information.  Most computers only come with a 500G hard drive. Now imagine if you do a year's worth of concerts? That's six computers' worth of information.

Love you Frat! Hope that helps. We also haven't talked about microphones and audio interfaces. All this for a 2:30" video.

Musically Yours,
Dr. Chad "Sir Wick" Hughes

Latest Track