Michael Law - The Prowler

Michael Law - The Prowler (Original Song)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfZzsYwpmnQ

Buy the song
https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/the-prowler-single/id988036319


Michael Law - The Prowler (Original Song)


Song Credits
"The Prowler" - Music & Lyrics Written By Michael Law

Video Credits
Audio Recorded, Produced, Mastered - By Michael Law
Video Recorded, Edited - By Michael Law
Digital Colourist - By Michael Law
Visual Effects - By Michael Law 
Lighting Technician - By Michael Law 
Vocals, Backing Vocals and All Instruments - By Michael Law

RC-30 Looper (Old) vs RC-300 Looper (New)

RC-30 (Old) VS RC-300 Looper (New)

Just spent 5.5hrs rehearsing with my new looper.
My new looper has some insane new features that my old one did not. I was shocked today when I found out what this new looper can do.

1) It can create templates for each song, I used to write the settings of each song on a piece of paper with my old looper lol. This new one, you can program everything into its memory bank! Crazy! I can't tell you how much time this saves because before at the start of each song I had to waste 20 seconds recording a blank track on channel 1 and had to program in the tempo and drum pattern. Now I can program all that at home, so I can just rock up and start looping.

2) You can assign external pedals to control any parameter. I can now even control the drums with a footswitch which is nuts. You can change the drum pattern and control the drum volume with the expression pedal. This feature is HUGE!!!

3) The Undo/Redo function is much improved from the old looper. It's much faster and also you can clear the track while the song is running which you could not do with my old looper.

4) I no longer have to switch back and forth between channels, this drastically minimizes mistakes.

5) Loop effects are on a separate button which prevents accidentally turning on the loop effects while performing.

6) Drum patterns and Loop effects are far superior to the old looper.

7) New looper has in built metronome which the old one does not.

This new looping station has taken my new live act up 10 levels!!!
This cost nearly $600 but it's worth every dollar.

Live Recording WITHOUT a DAW!

If you're like me and can't be bothered moving your computer from one room to another just to record a live performance, you should consider getting an audio recorder eg Zoom H6. I've brought a lot of shitty music equipment over the years but this thing is amazing. I record all my song ideas on this thing and most of my youtube videos as well. 

When doing a live youtube recording, you can plug all your gear into your computer (DAW) but sometimes I have to record in another room where my computer is not present. So in those situations I use an audio recorder. 

In my newest youtube recording "BAD" I connected everything into a chain leading into the Zoom H6. It gave crystal clear audio recordings.

My setup: Guitar -> Boss RC-30 Loop Pedal -> Boss EQ GE 7 Pedal -> AER Compact Mobile Amp -> Zoom H6 Audio Recorder.

If you ever hear a buzzing noise, it's most likely you have shitty (cheap) cables. Buy decent XLR and guitar cables and you should be fine. 

It took me 3hrs of rehearsing to get this one take right. The performance was difficult but also the levels were adjusted by trial and error. A big disadvantage of NOT using your computer is that you can't record each instrument on a separate track. This made life a lot harder. I had to use trial and error to get the levels correct.

But after re-watching this new video, it's clear to me why I have been re-building my entire live act. Using the loop station pedal makes my act a lot more entertaining than singing solo acoustic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgT3komYqU0


Refine your live act!

Pretty excited about my new live set. Each song is about 10 mins long!!! lol
I use a looping pedal. I had to re-arrange my songs to work with this looping pedal but it's pretty sick. I usually start with guitar rhythm, then guitar riff then harmonies then drum beats (by beat boxing) or by guitar taps. 

I usually nail this all in one go, it looks bad if you make a mistake but the looping pedal does give you an undo function if needed.

2 years ago there was no way I could do any of this stuff. My timing and harmonizing are much improved now. I guess the point is to improve your live act anyway you can by practising, even if it means going well out of your comfort zone.

So far, I have rehearsed 2 songs (1 original and 1 cover). I will be posting this live performance on Youtube soon. The looping pedal can be connected to my AER Compact Mobile Amp to my Zoom H6 so the live sound recording is pretty good.

Eventually I want my live act to be an interesting experience by mixing 3 different aspects: 1) solo acoustic, 2) looping performance 3) singing with backing track. All these 3 things gives my live performance a much more dynamic sound and I think it makes it a lot more interesting than just singing solo acoustic.

Limitations of the BOSS RC-30 Looper

I'm currently learning to use the Boss RC-30 Loop Pedal. My timing and harmonizing are starting to improve ridiculously quickly because of this pedal. It's amazing. This pedal is taking my live act to a new level. I am now doing things that I couldn't have imagined 2.5 years ago.

But there are some limitations regarding this pedal. Even though the Boss RC-30 has 2 channels, you can only record on 1 channel freely. On the 2nd channel you can only use it to record layers on the first channel. If only you can use both channels separately (eg 1 channel for verse and 1 for chorus). So basically you can really only loop 1 section of a song (eg verse) with the RC-30. I may upgrade to the Boss RC-300 later on but this unit is larger and much more expensive ($570 on Ebay) and does not operate on batteries. I do like the RC-30 because it works on batteries which I can use when busking.

Stand Out From the Crowd!

If you're a solo acoustic performer and you want to stand out from the crowd, my advice is to use a loop pedal. I never realized how amazing these little units are and what they can do. You can create an entire backing track in front of a live crowd which is much more impressive than singing solo. It shows you have a high level musicianship that not many other musos have. You can basically create a band right in front of the crowd.

From what I've seen, 99.99% of solo acoustic performers don't use a loop pedal so using one automatically makes you different from everyone else. If you can use it well, it will definitely attract a lot of attention.

Mastering the pedal technique is an art in itself, not to mention your timing and harmonizing have to be perfect for it to sound good. But I am very excited and impressed with my BOSS RC 30 Loop pedal. Once I get comfortable with this unit, I will be using this loop pedal for all of my live performances. I can guarantee you, I won't need to sing covers anymore to attract attention if I use this loop pedal with my original songs. A full band will always sound better than a solo acoustic artist. That's a fact.

Making Youtube Videos (Live VS Studio)

There are 2 methods to making Youtube videos: Live or Studio.

Before I used to like the studio version because you can control literally every aspect of the video from the audio production to the visual side of things. However one negative thing about studio recordings (video & audio) is that it takes 5 times more editing in both audio and visuals meaning it requires a lot more work. But you do get a much more clinical result.

With LIVE recordings it's much easier, you just need to nail the live performance in one go and minimal editing is required. The hard work is actually doing 1 good take. Some people prefer live performances because there is more emotion than a studio recording. It's the same reason why people pay money to see their favourite artists perform live.

These days I would prefer to do LIVE recordings because it's much less time consuming. But once in awhile I may come up with a crazy video concept which requires a lot of visual effects so I would prefer to use studio techniques for such videos.

Unlock your potential

First you must recognize and acknowledge your potential before you can even intend on using it. We all have potential to achieve greatness inside of us but it's whether or not we choose to pursue it, nurture it, care for it that it may lead us somewhere special. If you neglect something long enough, it may end up leaving you.

I strongly believe that confidence is the key to all success. But where does confidence come from? It comes from the endless hours of practice we put into perfecting our skills. Without practice, without hard work and without dedication you can not perfect your skills and you can not reach that next level.

Once your skills improve and evolve your confidence will be sky high. However it is important not to mistake confidence for egotism. It is important to have confidence so you can perform at your best but it is important to take your ego out of the equation. I've learned through my many mistakes that ego can be a very ugly thing and does nothing to help your cause. Instead learn from your mistakes and failures. But be humble when success comes your way. Throughout my many failures in the last 2.5 yrs, I've learned that failure once in awhile keeps your feet on the ground. It reminds you that you are not the center of the universe.

I no longer fear rejection or failure because I've experienced it so much in the last 2.5 years. There have been many days where I wanted to give up everything and walk away from music and my artwork altogether. But everytime I felt this way, I always asked myself the same question "What else would you rather be doing than music and art?" And everytime I fail to find an answer. This is why I must continue my journey regardless of what happens.

Instead of being defeated by failure, I choose to learn from it and I choose to become stronger with each fall, more experienced with each stumble. I've learned that there is more to life than to just merely exist. Living each day to work purely for money without happiness is not living. It is called existing. But to enjoy your work and still earn a living from it, that's the life I want.

The amazing thing is, I feel like I am slowly getting there for the first time. Of course a lot of it has to do with the endless hours of practice I am putting into perfecting my skills. But most importantly, my life has truly turned from a depressing never ending cycle to an exciting prospect because I have learned the values of life. The value of hard work, dedication, tenacity, no fear and respect.

Just 2.5yrs ago it seemed impossible to make a living purely from my music alone. But now, that is my reality, right now I am making enough money from my music alone to live comfortably. But also I've turned several other hobbies into skill sets that can also generate income. The next step is the truly exciting part...Touring...

The best is yet to come!

Improve your timing and harmonizing

I'm buying this BOSS RC30 LOOP STATION. After seeing what Ed Sheeran can do with this thing there's no doubt this pedal will add another dimension to my live act. What Ed did is not too difficult to do you just need A LOT of practice using the pedal. Learning music production has greatly improved my harmonizing abilities. Now add in this pedal for my live act, it will not only further enhance my harmonizing but also perfect any timing issues I have. I am also learning percussion techniques on my guitar (creating drum loops on my guitar by tapping and hammering). Basically I am trying to improve in every aspect of my game (songwriting, singing, guitar, live act, music production, photography, film making). In a competitive industry like the music industry you need every edge you can get over your competitors. 

rc-30_top_gal.jpg

Reduce Video Noise

Neat Video for Premiere Pro is one of the most incredible software programs I've ever used. When I shot the wedding, I kept my studio lights at low brightness to prevent the lights from overheating. As a result I had to turn up my camera ISO to 2000 which created a bit of digital noise. It looks fine in my calibrated screen but a bit grainy in my non-calibrated screen which seems to be a bit brighter. Since I have no idea which monitor the client will view the video from, I want the footage to look great regardless of the monitor they use. I applied a software program called Neat Video to reduce the digital noise in the video. The difference is quite incredible. I highly recommend Neat Video if you have very grainy/noisy video footage that you need to fix. This is by far the best noise reduction software for video.

Good Luck Comes in 3's

I've heard people say Luck (Good or Bad) comes in 3's. I never truly believed that but in the past month I've experienced 3 incredible strokes of luck. It's almost creepy. I won't go into the specifics of the events that occurred but I will say because of what has happened in the last month my income has skyrocketed. For the first time I feel like I am slowly getting somewhere with my career (both music & photography). I've been working so hard to start a career in music and I feel like I am finally getting there because now I am making more than enough money to live comfortably just from my music alone (not including my other sources of income). Hopefully this luck will continue because I can tell you we can all use a bit of luck once in awhile!

Difficulties with Film Editing.

This is the 1st time I have edited film/video and received payment for it. Editing film is way more difficult than editing photos.

Why?

Because the files can get so massive with video and even with a very powerful computer, it can still takes ages to render your video especially if your video is the length of a feature film eg 1.5hrs.

To combat this problem, I had to change my video editing technique in that I will now only render out the parts that need changing. Otherwise I will be waiting til the end of time if I had to re-render the entire video everytime I noticed an error.

You learn something new everytime you go out of your comfort zone!

 

Creating a Creative Business

So I've been songwriting for about 15 years now and it's definitely my main talent. All the other skills I have are just things that I happened to acquire along the way through my curiosity of how everything works. I've always been a curious person, when I see something amazing I want to learn how to do it. I absolutely love learning new things, it's what keeps my life exciting.

As you may or may not know I recently started my own photography business while continuing to build my music repertoire and preparing to gig around Australia again. It's only recently that I realized "Hey I'm actually getting really good at photography, film making, music production and I can actually start charging people for my services".

It is a wonderful feeling when people actually pay you for your creative services. It makes you feel like you have something to offer this world. Very often you will hear people say the term "starving artist". While creating a job from your artwork can be liberating, there is no doubt that it is a tough road to walk along. There is a very fine line between success and failure. But for me, creating art is what makes me happy and I can't see living my life any other way.

Editing Film From the Wedding

After having a listen to the audio I was relieved, the audio sounds fine with no distortion. I decided to keep the audio level lower while recording just to be safe. If your audio is low you can always bump it up in post production but when audio is too loud and distorts (peaks) there is nothing you can do to fix this.

Then I started to view the video I recorded. I will be the first to admit, I made a shit load of mistakes shooting this video. Firstly the ISO was set way too high since it was a very dark room and I didn't turn my lights on too bright. I was scared the lights would over heat because the speeches went on for nearly 1 hour. So I had to bump up the ISO on my Canon 5d Mark 3 to 2000. This resulted in slightly noisy video footage. However, thanks to editing techniques I've learned over the years this is totally fixable using After Effects plugins "Remove Grain"  or "Neat Video".

After you apply noise reduction this kind of blurs out your video so I had to apply a high pass filter to sharpen the image again. Then I colour corrected the video and applied a colour grade to make the video look "pretty".

There were some dodgy filming parts during the video but I got rid of those parts using cross fading between video clips. It looks nice and conceals the parts where you stuffed up recording the video haha. If I hadn't admitted my mistakes on this blog, I doubt anyone would notice.

I sequenced my video in Premiere Pro and then imported the sequence into After Effects. To save time, I applied 1 adjustment layer above the entire sequence and colour corrected and graded the entire video in one go. This saves a ridiculous amount of time but I knew it would work in this case because all the clips were taken in the same room with the same lighting. If you had recorded different clips in different lighting scenarios this technique would not work.

The video (part 1) is now rendering...The video looks good in the preview but I will have to watch through the entire part 1 to get a clearer picture of the result.

First Wedding Shoot

I had my 1st experience shooting my 1st ever wedding tonight. I'm pretty experienced with doing fashion photo shoots but I've never done a wedding before until tonight. There were many things that made this event special for me.

Firstly, the wedding is for one of my good friends from university. He's one of the nicest human beings I've ever met and it was really cool to use my many skills to create for him some great memories.

Secondly, I was hired not just as a photographer but I was also in charge of video, lighting and sound. This placed tremendous pressure on me because I am not an expert in these fields. I was pretty nervous about recording audio because if you stuff it up, you're pretty much screwed.

One of my greatest fears was that my gear would be stolen or damaged. I had to bring my entire studio to the venue. It was over $10,000 of gear. Luckily my dad was nice enough to come along to keep an eye on my equipment so I can concentrate on doing my job. When I got home, I realized if my dad hadn't come along I would have been totally screwed. I ended up paying him $300 for his effort. His job was pretty easy, he just had to stand there like a body guard and watch my stuff.

All my video production, sound production, photography and lighting knowledge came from making Youtube videos. But with Youtube videos, if you stuff up something you can redo it. In the case of a wedding you get 1 chance, if you blow it...you're in big trouble.

Doing photography on its own is a piece of cake, there isn't much gear to bring and much less to worry about. Recording video and audio adds so much more factors.

I almost forgot to mention, I had to learn to use the glidecam HD 4000 stabilizer. It stabilizes your camera to prevent shaking as you move. But this thing is a bitch to balance and is extremely heavy. It also makes it very difficult to switch between video and photos.

Overall, I think things went very well and even though I was thrown in the deep end I learned a lot tonight. It was a really cool experience too. Sometimes in life, to learn something new you need to go out of your comfort zone.

6 jobs in 1

This will be me this Sunday. I will be doing 6 people's jobs all in one. I will be the photographer, videographer, sound guy, lighting guy, film and photo editor. I have to transfer all my studio gear into the venue which is pretty scary cuz I am paranoid about my stuff getting stolen or damaged. Usually I just use my studio gear to make Youtube videos or do studio photography. And yes I will be stressed out of my mind this Sunday. Normally I would only accept the job as being a photographer which is pretty easy. But this is a good friend so I am doing things well out of my comfort zone just to help him out. Otherwise he would have to pay ridiculous amounts of money to hire 5-6 people instead of just 1 guy.


Cool Tip for Singers

Here's a useful tip I discovered. If you ever have the choice to choose between pronunciations of words, go with the one you feel more comfortable with especially when you are near the peak of your vocal range.

eg

I noticed it was much easier for me to sing "Ohhh oooo" than "Wooaah ooo" in one of my songs. Starting with the "W" makes it much more difficult to sing and if you are near the peak of your vocal range, it may be the difference between your voice breaking and not breaking. 

Rehearsals

Just recorded a live performance of myself singing my new original songs. It sounds better than I thought. Timing is still a bit off in some songs. But the big positive is that even though I am playing solo acoustic it sounds really interesting. My new arrangements allow for new and different sounds to be played on acoustic, enough to keep the song interesting with just 1 guitar. I definitely didn't have this ability in the past.

New Youtube Video Concept

I have a new idea for a new Youtube video. Let's just say it involves a Michael Jackson song, Darth Vader, Spiderman, Wolverine and Godzilla lol. It's a pretty epic concept but making this video will require a ridiculous amount of VFX (Visual Effects). I'm pretty sure I can pull this off by myself but it's not gonna be easy. Visual effects do take sometime to do on After Effects. I've had this idea for a long while now. Projects like these are always fun to do cuz they are just so ridiculous LOL. But you probably know by now that I have a pretty big imagination.