The transition to a digital world comes
closer to being completed each day, and in
the meantime a new paradox has arisen.
While we have the ability to record pristine
audio and video, the ultimate destination
is going to be either a high-end system
where it’s reproduced accurately, or more
than likely a pair of small desktop speakers and a You Tube window, or a phone
earpiece with a 2” display. Video killed the
radio star, and now technology has made
it possible for anyone to try to be a video
star, regardless of quality. Music is now
and forever more a visual medium.
Starting in early 2009, all TV broadcasters
will only be transmitting a digital signal
(DTV) per FCC mandate. What that means
is that more sports broadcasts, commercials, talk shows, concerts, etc., will
be shot in high-def to keep from looking
dated against the competition. The NFL
and late night talk shows are already there.
Television manufacturers will rapidly move
away from the standard 4: 3 ratio TVs and
start pushing widescreen 16: 9 HD capable
sets, to go along with growing numbers
of Blu-Ray Disc and HD-DVD catalogs,
Playstation 3s and XBox 360s, and the
increasing availability of HD channels –
Direc TV claims that they’ll soon be able to
carry 150 HD channels. Radio has already
gone digital, with stations storing songs
and commercials digitally then cuing them
from a computer. Almost everything you
do with audio beyond your speaker cabinet
will end up being digital, no matter where
it’s seen or heard.
So how does that affect the modern musician and how can one make sure their
sound and image translate well to both
the HD world and the world of You Tube?
On the visual side, performers need to be
aware that shooting in HD differs greatly
from shooting in the standard NTSC we’ve
become accustomed to, just as recording
to digital is different than recording to analog. The black gaffer tape on the stage will
no longer just disappear in the darkness.
The smudges on the guitar will stand out
like spaghetti stains on a white dress shirt
and the fly-away hairs on the singer’s head
will call attention to themselves like a neon
sign. With standard TV, it’s a good idea to
wear makeup just to look normal, but in
HD it’s a must, because a person without
make-up will look ill. An amateur makeup
job in HD looks like a Halloween mask
gone wrong and the lines in a person’s
face become harder to hide.
Lighting and makeup for HD are hypercritical, as HD cameras are very sensitive to
the slightest difference in color and contrast. Attention must be paid to every detail
when shooting in HD, but when done right,
it looks amazing, and that’s all before you
get to the music.
On every street in the modern world,
somebody is listening to digital audio of
some kind. In the midst of it is the guitarist with instrument and vintage tube amp
in hand, ready to deliver pure analog tone.
But other than someone standing next to
the amplifier, that tube amp will only ever
be heard after it becomes a digital signal.
With the ever-increasing cost of producing tubes and the decrease in the cost of
making processors, the distant future may
consist of amp modelers modeling other
amp modelers, because nobody has heard
an original British stack.
So while we’re still walking the line
between analog and digital, it’s important
to get the best sound and look before
letting it out to the rest of the world. On
stage, in the studio, or on video, the rules
of the digital world must always be considered in regards to how your music will
translate to HD and to You Tube. From the
guitar pick to the mic-pre, pay attention
to what each piece of gear does to your
sound. If it doesn’t help it, get rid of it.
Anything that takes away from your quality – visibly or audibly – will make it that
much worse when down converted to an
Internet video, and will show its shortcomings if it’s presented in a high-def setup.
Therefore, our only option is to record
everything in the highest quality available
to us. Though what we record may only
be played on a Myspace page, you never
know who might look at your Myspace
page; just ask the growing number of pop
stars discovered this way. Even if it is only
played on the Internet or an iPod, you’ll
still look and sound way better than those
who take shortcuts or don’t pay attention
to detail. And if your audio and video is top
notch from the start, it will be ready for
the world of HD when you’re discovered
Creation Audio Labs, Inc.