samulis's News

How my judging process works (NGADM '14)

2014-08-25 21:38:45 by samulis
Updated

**If you are interested in seeing a full breakdown of your score and you are not in one of my three review groups, please let me know via PM or comment!

There are five categories I judged you in. Each category was determined independently of each other, and the final result was a mathematical result of the determinations I made, so really, I put in my thoughts, and I get out a single number that is your score out of 10. The categories are weighted to add extra emphasis on more important categories. Below is a list of each category, the weight, and what it includes.

 

Production- /30
The quality of your sounds and recordings if sampled or live (less important), your mix's clarity (very important), the quality and depth of the mastering process, spatial positioning, balance, tasteful use of earcandy. I also include how well you use your samples- is it painfully obvious that is a 2xRR stacc violin? Do you use the 127 velocity of the horn ensemble in EWQLSO that has a 100 ms attack and sounds like shit? etc. If live performance, I include the tightness of your performance here. A top-rated production track sounds completely flawless and like it was recorded or produced in a professional studio and I could buy it on CD and not feel any regret.

Composition- /30
The complexity and detail of your work, relative to your chosen genre/style, tasteful choice of chords, varied chord prog. and cadences, effective use of form (i.e. not repeating the same thing over and over again, having a contrasting B section), tasteful use of backgrounds and counterpoint if applicable, tasteful layering of front, mid, and back sounds. Things like tasteful ornaments, subtle counter-melodies, and award-winning melodies will have a large impact. I add bonus points here for songs that use lyrics that are well written. A top-rated composition track will make Bach turn red in envy and make my jaw hit the floor with your incredible detail and mastery of music-ing. A piece that is super complex but unclear or boring as a result will not receive many points.

Instrumentation/Orchestration- /15
Did your instrument or synth choices properly reflect the feel and style you were going for? Less focus on sound quality and more on the actual choice of instruments. I'm looking for use of texture, blending, zones, layering, arpeggios, using different instrument families, having variation in the synths/instruments that are present with the melody, and how well you used each synth/instrument. Extra points if you perform parts live, with focus on the tone and timbre of the instrument or vocals and if they match the music (i.e. blasting trumpet is a no no on quiet sad song, quiet trumpet is a no no on a loud blasting song during blasting part). For orchestral songs, I also look for traditional orchestration techniques and practices- use of texture, function, and balance. A top-rated track in this category will have all the instruments required in the genre/style chosen, and if adds others, uses them tastefully and appropriately.

Originality- /10
It is okay if your piece "sounds like you" (in fact, that's a good thing). What I am more concerned about is if your piece sounds like every other piece I hear in this genre (i.e. your cinematic music sounds like exactly what I would expect for cinematic music and has no remarkable features other than that), as well as if your piece's content, both melodic and harmonic, felt trite and boring. I rewarded pieces that also presented innovative approaches, such as sampling household items, or pieces that presented innovative combinations of genres that worked. Note that if you are innovative and it sucks, you will not gain extra points here. A top-rated originality track presents an innovative method of either blending ideas or elaborating on an existing genre to create a personalized sound and touch that stands apart from the rest.

Interest/Emotion- /15
This category is kinda a 2-for-1 sort of thing. Part of this is straight up how much I like listening to your piece as an end user. Is it tolerable? Does it hurt my ears? Does it feel good? The other part is if it conveys any meaning or emotion (or if it is supposed to and does not). If you write a happy song about bears dancing with hot girls on clouds, I want to be grinning so wide you will mistake me for the Joker. A top rated interest track will have my foot tapping the floor so hard it shatters and have so much feeling I cry out all the water in my body and turn into a mummy.

 

Now, I'd like to talk a bit about what I think about when I am judging.

I'll admit, I unfortunately am not a sadist. I am, however, brutally honest. In this contest, I'm not just comparing your pieces to you, I am comparing your pieces to industry standards and professional recordings/compositions, and not just in production values. I want the person who wins this contest to be the kind of guy who will go on to score the next big game or record a big album. I want the people who don't win to want to be that guy, so I've decided to be honest and exacting in my grading. I reward creativity. I reward your best ever effort. I do not reward tracks that feel like the same quality and depth of detail as all of your other tracks.

If you are a good composer, I expect a brilliant, 5-star composition that will leave me cold, hungry, and rocking back and forth like a baby wanting to quit music and go do underwater basket weaving for my career. If you are good at synthesis, I expect you to build your pads by hand or even crazy stuff like formulas and not just use presets. If you are decent but learning, I expect something that pushes beyond what your best existing peice has achieved.

All this may sound hard, but really, that's how the real world works. When you pick up a scoring job, they don't say "I want you to really not try at all and just spit out a bunch of your normal fare." Even if they don't say it out loud, their thoughts and actions say "I want you to dedicate yourself to making this score the best you can possibly make it." This is the same with people working as artists- the label doesn't want NORMAL. They want INSANELY EPICLY AWESOME. Pieces that can capture and bring people along with them for the ride that is their duration.

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT GENRE OR STYLE YOU CHOOSE. I WILL JUDGE YOU SOLEY BASED ON YOUR ABILITY COMPARED TO PROFESSIONALS AND ROLE MODELS IN THAT GENRE OR STYLE.

Remember: I'm proud of everyone who has made it through the open round. This is an insanely hard contest. I myself have never made it past the first round with the exception of the time I worked with Bosa. If I give you a low score, it does NOT mean you suck. It means I expected and hoped for more from you, for greater, for more emotion and more energy put in to the work. This is not Throw It Together: The Contest. This is a deathmatch, which means I want strangling and teeth and hair ripping, not just little pushes and shoves. ;)

Your insane judge,

-Samulis


Instrument Collection

2014-07-10 03:08:46 by samulis
Updated

I've finally finished cataloguing my instrument collection! I posted the updated list in the "show NG your epeni- err, instrument" thread. I figured I might link a few pieces that featured those instruments in the thread without doing too much, but I figured if anyone wants to hear more, here's a link or two for every instrument I could find a clip of on my computer! This list will be added to when I do more recording and whatnot.

3153983_140497616231_ngbbs53be29abd33cb.jpg

List going clockwise around from the trombones...

Trombones (left to right):
VDH Tenor Sackbut
Early 1900's King
1905 Conn 1 (bass part) 2 (mono)
1945 Olds Super 1 (main parts) 2 3 4 5
??? German Rotor Trombone 1 (main parts, doubled)
2012ish Getzen Custom Bass 1 (dat low C 'n Ab) 2 (bass part) 3 4
1980's King 1

1872ish Mason and Hamlin Reed Organ 1 2

1970's Gusles (violin-sized and cello-sized) 1 2 (as drum) 3 4

 

Miscellaneous Instruments (bottom right):
(clockwise starting at top)
Tourist Steel Drum
Three Nepalese (?) Bells 1
Fretless Zither, Standard 1 2 3 4 5 (almost impossible to hear, but it's there doing banjo part)
Giant Jug
German Chord Zither 1 2 3
Washboard
Fretless Zither, "Mandolin" 1

 

Main Collection (bottom left):
(clockwise around outside starting from F Horn (top left) to bass recorder on the bottom)
Amati Single F Horn 1 2 3
Replica Bugle
German Oval Alto Horn in Eb 1 2
German Oval Tenor Horn in Bb 1 2 3 4
Plastic Bass Recorder 1 2 3 4 5
Wooden Bass Recorder 1 (samples)

Right part of middle (left to right):
Bb/A Clarinet
Concert Flute 1 (samples)
Plastic Tenor Recorder
Plastic Alto Recorder 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Plastic Soprano Recorder 1 2 3
Moeck Soprano Recorder
German Soprano Recorder
Plastic Sopranino Recorder 1
German Double Whistle
C Fife 1 2 3 (samples)

Left part of middle (top to bottom):
Mayan Whistle
Nepalese Flute 1
Flutophone
Plastic Slide Whistle
Metal Slide Whistle
Native American Flute 1 (samples)
Kazoo 1 2
Harmonica

Not pictured/forgot:
Tin Whistle 1 2
Small Ocarina

Cardboard Cello! 1


Musical Instrument Tote Bags

2014-06-04 13:40:53 by samulis

I was bored and I now have way too many instruments, so I created up some tote bags on RedBubble (which is an awesome site btw). Feel free to check 'em out!

http://www.redbubble.com/people/samulis/collections/294011-instrument-tote-bags

Now I just need to get Camo to send me some pics of his epic collection!

3153983_140190365373_tb1200x1200flat.u2.jpg3153983_140190365281_tb1200x1200flat.u2.jpg


Versilian Studios- Spring Sale!

2014-04-27 12:32:17 by samulis

Hey guys,

We're doing a 25% off sale over at Versilian Studios through April 30th. Come check out our range of virtual instruments and kontakt plugins today! :)

3153983_139861630531_springsaleBanner.jpg


Walkthrough of Judging Process

2014-04-15 23:37:12 by samulis
Updated

In case you got one of my reviews, first, I'd like to apologize. I'm being brutally hard for this. This post is a basic walkthrough of my judging process and what everything means in the judging form I provide. Note that the rating I give you is NOT the official AIM judgement, it's just MY piece of the puzzle! I am only one of several judges.

How I Judge:

  1. I pull up your track and the image. Read your description, then listen 1x through without stops with the image up. With this pass, I judge the most surface things- how it feels, how it fits, how it flows.
  2. Listen a second time, taking notes of more specific things.
  3. Start writing things down, listen a few more times while I write to keep the song fresh.
  4. Complete the rating form (below). Post results in review. Publish revew!

Example form:

My ratings:
Originality- -/10
Relevance- --/30
Composition- --/25
Instrumentation- --/15
Mastering- -/10
Emotion/Interest- -/10

Total: --/100 (NG: - stars)

Originality: How unique is your musical interpretation of the art piece? How do you set your piece apart from what I would expect of you and/or the genre you are writing in?

Relevance: How well does your piece connect with the art? Note that this is a highly SUBJECTIVE category. There's always the chance I just don't get the connection from your piece even though you do. If a piece has a high score in this, it means to me the art piece almost seemed to move before my eyes with the music and take on another dimension (figuratively speaking).

Composition: How interesting are your chord choices? Do you use variation or just repeat the sampe thing over and over again? Are there transitions and how effective are they? Is the melody effective and used effectively? Is the form of the song easy to descipher and fitting?

Instrumentation: Do your choices regarding the instruments in the piece make sense? Do you use instruments idiomatically? Are there any unique or creative uses of instruments? Did you make an effort to simulate a live performance or actually record live the parts? Is there a good ensemble texture and balance?

Mastering: How effectively do you use processing to bring out the best parts of the song? Is the type and level of reverb fitting? Does the piece SOUND good?

Emotion/Interest: Most subjective category- does the piece really "pull me in"? Is this something that I would put on loop for an entire evening and browse the internets in the throes of melodic and harmonic ecstacy? A 10/10 is "oh mah fuggern gerd dis is awesumz!!!"

 

If you want to get a certain rating, send that amount of money to me and I will happily oblige. :3


Big (and small) words I might say:

  • Ostinato/Ostinati: A repeating melodic pattern (could be an arpeggio/arp).
  • Balance: How the track sits between the left and right channels. Too far to one side and it is irritating to the listener.
  • B Section: A contrasting, second part to the form of a piece.
  • Melodic: Dealing with the melody/solo/lead.
  • Harmonic: Dealing with the chords/bass/background.
  • Texture: The combinations of rhythms and the timbres of instruments to create a certain feel.
  • Timbre: The way an instrument sounds at a certain pitch and velocity vs. other instruments.
  • Variation: How an idea might be changed/mutated over time to make it feel less repetitive.
  • Dynamics: The range between the softest and loudest sounds.
  • Dissonance: Things that sound "bad" together.
  • Consonance: Things that sound "good" together.
  • Tempo: Pace of the song.
  • Reverb/verb: the reverberation effects added to the sound.

200 Followers!

2014-03-26 01:22:28 by samulis

Wow! Today I finally hit 200 followers. Thanks to all of you for your support and interest!

Let me give a quick update on where things are now...

I've been continuing work on Airscape: The Fall of Gravity. We're looking at a release sometime over the summer after recently having been Greenlit. There's still a great deal of music to be done, but we're progressing at a good pace and should be complete well on time. This is some of my best work yet honestly and I've been pushing myself to write better and better for it.

In other news, Camoshark and I have been continuing our work on sample libraries. We should have Kontakt versions of most of our libraries out next month and some new instruments coming out soon thereafter, as well as graphic revisions standardizing most of the previous instruments and unifying the product lines by mid spring.

So enough about me, what have you guys been up to?


Airscape Greenlit!

2014-03-20 00:23:59 by samulis

Hey guys!

If you like my work, adorable cephlopods, or anything remotely close to either, you might be pleased to know that the game I've been working on scoring for the past few months, Airscape: The Fall of Gravity, just got greenlit today! It really is a fun (but very challenging) game and has been a joy to work on.

Linky

Check out the demo too!

If you're from NG PLEASE come stop by the Indie Megabooth at floor 3 of the West hall today or tomorrow, I'll probably be there!

Also, a shoutout to @Headphoamz. Her game was one of the nominees for the Independent Games Festival awards ceremonies and got recognized tonight! It all just goes to show how many amazingly talented composers and producers we have here on Newgrounds. I really hope to see more of us Audio Portal dwellers if I ever get to do one of these again (which is probably rather unlikely). NEWGROUNDS, REPRESENT! :D

-Sam


Airscape: Demo Out Now!

2014-02-22 12:09:18 by samulis
Updated

Hey guys,

If you like my music, check out the demo of this awesome upcoming game I'm doing the score for. You're a cute little dumbo octopus and you get to jump around lasers and robots 'n shit! :D

Give it a try and let me know what you think of the game and the music! A special thanks to @skyewintrest for doing some of the awesome sound effects.

http://www.airscapegame.com/download.html


Want to Learn how to Make Games?

2014-02-17 04:45:33 by samulis

There's a guide for that now. :D

https://www.scirra.com/tutorials/862/game-design-and-development

Signed,

- The very tired person


Redesigned Mah Website

2014-02-15 10:51:06 by samulis
Updated

So the website was getting to cluttered again. This previous iteration lasted about a full year! I decided to go with something more sleek and minimal. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments! Suggestions? Thoughts?

I also put up the score to a game I did a while back if you want to check out what my game music sounds like. Some sweet old battle tracks in there.

Also: How's everyone's day going? :)