<![CDATA[Saulo Silva fine photography - News/Blog]]>Sun, 05 Nov 2017 10:54:44 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[MC video up: Nesbyen to Geilo, stopping at Brusletto]]>Sun, 05 Nov 2017 18:35:57 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/mc-video-up-nesbyen-to-geilo-stopping-at-bruslettoIn july I had a nice motocycle trip and finally I visited some of the museums in Oslo. More on this later.
The weather was, as usual, terrible when leaving Bergen but surprisingly good, or very good, when returning. Last year I quicky went to Oslo to pick up the Suzuki RF900 I bought, riding on the E16 back home. This year I decided to give the Rv7 a try, and boy was that the best decision I could make.

My father had asked me to find the replica of Roald Amundsen's knife used during his north and south pole expeditions early in the XX century. The knife was made by a local factory called Brusletto. But I will talk about it in another post.

In fact he already has a replica, bought some 20 years ago, so I decided to make him a surprise and instead of buying another of this, I went to the very factory and bought, among other things, a Nansen. This knife is made after Fridtjof Nansen, an important Norwegian sailorman/explorer who preceeded his friend Amundsen by a few years.

In the first half of my ride from Oslo I was just enjoying my time, but after a stop at Nesbyen for the usual gas/water/food/piss, I decided to put the camera on and capture part of the ride. So you have here this Nesbyen-Geilo stretch, stopping at Brusletto.
Have fun.
<![CDATA[Music Up: Tao Space. NASA, ESA and ISS graphics]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 10:13:45 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/music-up-tao-space-nasa-esa-and-iss-graphicsThis is one of the tracks that  will be featured in my upcoming album, which is a little bit delayed by my motorcycle trips during the "almost summer" we had.
I recorded it during pauses from recording the latest soundtrack for Hugo Sese's drone video over fjords.
1080p resolution is available, so make sure you watch in high quality and, as usual, raise the volume.
Enjoy the trip.
<![CDATA[New drone video with music by Nyquist Dream]]>Wed, 27 Sep 2017 21:45:56 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/new-drone-video-with-music-by-nyquist-dreamSome months ago I made the soundtrack for a drone video from a colleague at work. For some reason he likes my music, I mean, Nyquist Dream's music, and I like his images very much, so we are doing this cooperation.

In July he came with a very nice spring footage a bit north of where we live and I came up with something that would suit the fast paced video. The video is up and you can watch it below. I hope you enjoy it:
<![CDATA[Landscape Video with music by Nyquist Dream]]>Wed, 28 Jun 2017 20:45:37 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/landscape-video-with-music-by-nyquist-dreamOne of my customers at work, and also a friend, was flying his drone over the city and made some great images during spring with good weather. Then he asked if I could made a soundtrack for his video.
I never say "no" to a task like this, and proceeded to compose and play what I thought was suitable for the video, in the hopes that my friend would like it.
You can watch the music video here, and I also hope you enjoy the experience:
<![CDATA[G-Force, Guardians of Space remix]]>Sun, 23 Apr 2017 17:59:41 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/g-force-guardians-of-space-remixI have just finished recording/remixing the title intro of G-Force - Guardians of Space, a popular cartoon of early 80s based on a japanese anime of the late 70s (Gatchaman).
Hopefully you 70s and 80s junkies out there have some fun and show your kids (if any), "hey, look at what mommy/daddy used to watch when I was your age".
And yes, the "g-force" speech is me, but since I am shy, my voice is disguised. Crank the volume and go:
<![CDATA[Remix up: Alien 3]]>Wed, 07 Dec 2016 21:22:30 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/remix-up-alien-3Time to headbang with this favorite intro music from Alien 3 of the Sega Genesis.
Reproduced in the details, with extra instruments and effects that the console could not do.
Crank the volume and have fun.
<![CDATA[Remix Up: Let's Dance with Shinobi 3]]>Sun, 27 Nov 2016 14:02:43 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/remix-up-lets-dance-with-shinobi-3My latest remix is up: Shinobi 3, Solitary.
The game is a follow up to The Revenge of Shinobi, not as challenging but definitely an improvement on graphics and moves, as the hero can run and do a dashing slice, which renders him invulnerable for a very short time.
Soundtrack is also great, even when compared to the classic one by Yuzo Koshiro in The Revenge of Shinobi.
No mercy on your speakers, I want you to have fun.
This one goes to my friend Iceferno, who made a masterpiece remixing Terrible Beat.
<![CDATA[Gear Review: M-Audio Oxygen 25 4th gen]]>Wed, 23 Nov 2016 21:24:26 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/gear-review-m-audio-oxygen-25-4th-genThis is an entry-level MIDI controller from M-Audio that I have been using for some months and have mixed opinions about it. Before I start overanalyzing the thing, let's keep in mind its price point: in Norway you will pay the equivalent of 120-130USD. It might be a bit more or less in other places.

The reason I bought it is because I wanted something that would fit on my desk while still having a lot of stuff around, such as a Macbook, a PC, a large monitor, multimedia speakers and also audio monitors. It fits exactly at what was left of space on my desk. It is a 2 octaves keyboard. There are a lot of offers around and one may be tempted to buy something that looks flashy and then realize it is too much for what they are doing, or pay a lot less and realize it is not good enough. This is where I am at the moment.

It got "synth action" (?!?!) keys, velocity sensitive but no aftertouch. Modulation and pitch wheels are there, as well as 8 drum pads (also velocity sensitive), transport keys, 8 knobs, transpose buttons, a couple of other function buttons and a slider. The display is 3 digits. For a MIDI controller of this price, I would say it does exactly what it should: it can input notes and lets you do some drumming. If you are not into playing heavy stuff and instead focus more on making beats, inputting some simple rhythms or need to control a few other things, then this might be for you.

However, if you already have a synthesizer experience, with good and fast keys and easy to use, then it might not be for you. The manual provides the basic information to start using it, and if you need detailed information, go to the homepage. I still think the documentation is not good enough, there is no concrete example of anything, even assigning controls to the bundled software (Ableton Live Lite). For Garageband, and I suspect it is the same for other DAWs, you need to download a profile so it can use the transport keys. In Auto mode, it will control the DAW, if it is off, then it controls the active plugin. I hope you guys have better luck than me on other DAWs, since in GB the only way I could assign a parameter to a knob was when the plugin had the MIDI Learn button, but without it, it is up to the DAW to allow the assignment.

I know the price point of this controller, but I still think a 3 digit display no longer has space on the market today. This thing is from 2014!!! A 3 digit display?!?! And the keyboard feel, after playing the clacky and precise DX7 keys, Oberheim OB-Xa fast keybed, this excellent Sledge v2, I have to say this "synth action" is not for me. The drum pads don't seem to be sensitive enough for fast hitting. If you are going to do mostly 4/4 or those slow/groovy beats, and instead rely more on a drum/rhythm machine for the dirt job, this controller will fit you no problem. However, if you record fast-paced stuff like I do with video game music remix, the pads don't seem to respond so fast and misses some beats. Of course, one can always use the piano roll to fix what is out of place (or missing), but if you are like me who wants to get it right as much as possible in the playing stage, then the DAW is more a tool for music production than for music correction. It is like in photography, you want to get it right on the camera and not just shoot anything, take to the computer and hope for the best.

The other problem is how the function programming works. You have some buttons like Edit, Shift, which will trigger some modes where you need to press the key corresponding to the funtion you want, then things start blinking, and this damn 3 digits display really doesn't help. I don't like to waste my time figuring out this stuff, if I don't feel comfortable or have pleasure with my instrument, my productivity drops a lot. But as I said, it is just me, if your focus is on beat making, turning knobs and controlling other things, then go for it. Hey, if it is good enough for Kraftwerk then it should be good enough for us, yes? Even though they use tablets, pads and other stuff for visual feedback.

As for competition, the market is flooded with a lot of junk and a lot of the same things. You will find controllers in the same price range of compact synthesizers, but these allow you to immediatelly make sound while the former sometimes don't even offer a proper software bundle. Dude, this Ableton Live Lite thing comes in pretty much any piece of gear you buy. If it doesn't have a proper software or good interface or integration, then invest on something else that offers this. I never tried, but that Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol looks great. Today I ordered something else that seems to offer great quality and integration, as well as an excellent software pack, I hope to have it next week. And it fits my desk.

In the end, there is nothing wrong with it except for this 3 digits display. Are you kidding me... beat makers, hobbists, you will have this controller for a bit more than 100USD and have your needs fulfilled. Synthesizer players, pianists, video game or fast-paced music players, you may want to look for something else that gives you the feel (and joy) of playing a real instrument.
<![CDATA[Remix Up: Elemental Master]]>Wed, 23 Nov 2016 19:06:22 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/remix-up-elemental-masterI have just finished what at least to me is an all-time favorte from the Sega Genesis: Cursed Destiny, the song of the first cutscene of Elemental Master.
It is a 2 minutes track but very addictive. I hope you enjoy.
<![CDATA[Gear Review: Studiologic Sledge v2 synthesizer]]>Tue, 22 Nov 2016 21:36:24 GMThttp://saulosilvaphoto.com/newsblog/gear-review-studiologic-sledge-v2-synthesizerStudiologic Sledge v2 review

This is a short-term user review on the Sledge v2 synthesizer. I have had it for 3 weeks or so and will try to share my view of it until now. I will spare you from details such as inputs, outputs, weight, dimensions, oscillators specifications and the nice yellow finish (there is a version in black), and instead will focus on how it sounds and how it performs in a small home studio used by a hobbist. The instrument was plugged directly to a pair of Presonus Eris E4.5 monitors, which are suitable for home studio use.

The Sledge's interface, as many others have pointed out since v1, is heavily influenced by the MiniMoog. You program stuff from left to right and everything is accessible via the dedicated (and large) knobs, almost everything can be controlled in real-time and it is 1 knob per function. As I once read, it seems to have come from a time when men were men, synthesizers were synthesizers and PA speakers were scared to death.

Fatar provided the keybed, very good quality, fast and responsive for an instrument at this price point. One may argue that synthesizer A or B has a better feel without taking into consideration it certainly costs a lot more. The keys are velocity-sensitive and also feature the always desirable "aftertouch", however it is applied to the whole channel, but it is better than nothing. No, you are not going to do CS-80 or DX1 extravaganza with it. It has a flexible arpeggiator but no sequencer. It also serves well as a MIDI controller if you feel like using your DAW's sounds for some recording. There are 2 sets of effects that can be applied simultaneously: flanger/phaser/chorus, reverb/delay. Reverb and delay can be enabled at the same time, so you end up with 3 effects if you want.

The display is simple and will show the name of the current active preset and what category it belongs to. When navigating through the menus, it is 1 item at a time. Very straightforward. My unit came with a very strange OS version, v3.5, even though the latest one is v2.1, so I suspect someone installed the OS for the V1. I fixed this with the USB cable and downloading the OS image from Studiologic and then I re-uploded the factory preset file. It has 100 presets and a total of 999 memory spaces.

They are distributed into categories like Pad, Lead, Keys, FX, Atmosphere, and some of them are ready for immediate use such as the "Eight Brass", "Quadra-Trio" (a nice searing monophonic lead), most of the organ sounds and other effects. You may want to tweak things like Velocity, most of the presets, notably the leads, are set to 0 velocity, which means that all the sound comes out regardless of how fast or slow you press the key. Oscillator 1 allows you to select one of the 66 waveforms from PPG, vastly extending the kinds of sounds you can make in addition to sawtooth, square, sine, pulse... I suspect you are wondering if it sounds like synth X or Y. First, to get the most out of it, you will need to put some hours programming the thing, which is easy but takes time, specially when experimenting the PPG waveforms.

Being a virtual analog instrument with subtractive synthesis, it will naturally sound more like some instruments than others. For example, with the 3 oscillators you will get Moog-like sounds very easily, it has a resonant low/high/bandpass filter that can be switched between 12 and 24dB, ADSR for filter and amplifier, quite flexible. Within a few minutes I made the accompanying sound of Tom Sawyer (that simple arpeggio before the guitar solo and at the end) which is a very distinct Moog sound. But there is no way I could make it sound like an Oberheim, I mean, something that will make you mistake the real instrument. I have the plugin OB-Xd on my Mac, a faithful digital reproduction of the OB-X family, and made a sound there with 2 detuned oscillators and some changes in filtering/ADSR, then tried to replicate this on the Sledge using the same parameters, it just didn't sound similar.

To some extent I could make ARP Odyssey-like sounds with 2 oscillators, even its very distinct sound of square waves, but the Sledge lacks native Ring Modulation, though you can do some tricks with the wavetable. There is a patch called RingMod, which works ok but not to be compared to the Odyssey or the famous ring modulation of the CS-80. The wavetable has FM piano and sounds very good, but you can see it is obviously not a FM synthesizer.

The brass sounds will be Prophet-like, very good, and general sounds with square or pulse will be more like old Rolands. But so far I was unable to make exotic sounds from a D-50, for example, the flute sound with percussive noise such as that used by Rick Wakeman on Catherine Parr during his live performances in the 80s. And though the oscillator 1 can be used to modulate oscillator 2, and 2 to modulate 3, even using sine waves (there is also the triangle wave) you won't make it sound like an FM synthesizer, such as a DX7. It has frequency modulation, like older synths, but it is not the FM implementation made famous by Yamaha's digital instruments. If you want proper FM sound, buy a FM synthesizer or use those plugins like FM7 or Dexed (which still won't sound exactly like a DX7 even though mathematically both are FM).

You can upload up to 60MB of samples to be used by oscillator 1, not too much but better than nothing. I haven't tried yet, so I can't comment. If you are still wondering if it will make sounds like this synth or that, there is a channel in YT on which the presenter demonstrates, step by step, how to make on the Sledge some famous sounds, providing the exact parameters. And I have to say that the majority of them come closer than one might expect, so I believe the strength of this synthesizer is clear: it sounds like itself, but allows the user to get very close to sounds by the most distinct instruments.

When I purchased the Sledge I wasn't really expecting it to sound like this or that, it was an experience and I admit I am very, very pleased with what it can do. This versatility, 24 notes of polyphony, 3 oscillators and 3 different modulation sources, easy programming, semi-weighted keys with velocity and channel aftertouch, able to replicate many instruments, you don't get all of this at under 1000USD, which is the price point of the Sledge. I have no idea of what is its closest competitor, a polyphonic synthesizer with 5 octaves with that much flexibility. One will probably have to either compare it to older synthesizers or venture into workstation territory, and these will cost you at least 3x more for a 5 octave version. We can always mention the new Korg/ARP Odyssey, the Minilogue, Yamaha Reface CS or DX, Roland JD-Xi or the smaller Boutique modules, but they are either very specialized in what they do, I mean, they will sound exactly like themselves while the Sledge falls more into a grey zone assuming different identities, or they have just 2 and 3 octaves, or limited polyphony, or not enough dedicated real-time knobs/sliders.

There is the Yamaha MX61 with its 1000 presets from the big mamma Motif, which you can customize, but you need a computer and the editor to fully program the thing. There is the MoXF6, which is a stripped-down version of the Motif XF but still a very powerful workstation, costing you around 30% more than the Sledge. Keep in mind this thing was made to be a master controller for your studio, so if you are not a professional, chances are you won't use everything it offers. There are the Korg Kross and the Roland Junos, entry-level workstations, both will require navigating through menus and might more of sequencing features but at the cost of navigating into menus.

So depending on what you compare it to, there will always be a trade-off. However, not everything is perfect, the v2 is what people think the v1 should have been, with its lots of bug fixes. There are still some quirks, like stepping when changing certain parameters while playing a note (detuning an oscillator or changing the cutoff with certain parameters), it is not as smooth as in other digital synthesizers, some MIDI issues that need the OS v2.1 for a workaround, the modulation will always be at maximum if you leave the expression pedal set to modulation in the configuration, but no pedal is connected to the keyboard. Very small quirks, but I can live with them.

For a home studio it is an all-in-one instrument: a complete synth, a FX generator, a MIDI controller. Unlike the monstrous workstations, that you have to justify paying what they cost if you are just a hobbist, and are often loaded with features you will never use unless you are a full-time professional, they are generally much better than you are. The Sledge is as good as you are, the features are very accessible and are more an experience of trying and making sound than hours of reading manuals and watching demos to properly understand what they do. And for under 1000USD, make no mistake, this versatile instrument will surprise you, specially when playing it loud.

There are many demos online, but if you want to know how it sounds when recorded, check my remix of Journey to Silius, the first 2 synth solos were played on the Sledge. The interface used was a Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 2nd gen:
In the end, we come to that known point: a Roland will always sound like a Roland, a Korg, like a Korg, and a Yamaha, like a Yamaha. Think of the Sledge as an Agent from the Matrix: when turned on it can be everyone, or it can be no one. If you are looking to invest in a fun instrument, go check the Sledge v2, try before you buy. If you still need to justify paying this money for an instrument (remember you still a pair of monitors and possibly a sound interface!), you have compact synths that might make you feel at home, like the Roland JD-Xi, the Korg Minilogue or the Yamaha Reface CS (which is in my shop list). For now, check a few shots of the Sledge, with the details of the oscillators, modulation, mixer and filter sections: