MacUser Vol. 29 No.5 – Computer-Generated Vocals in GarageBand

MacUser Vol. 29 No.5 – Computer-Generated Vocals in GarageBand

MacUser 2905 Cover 500One Thursday night back in 1978, when I was 10 and first really getting into music, I witnessed a band on Top of the Pops called ELO playing a song called Mr Blue Sky. The middle 8 came in with its vocoded vocal and my pre-adolescent mind was instantly blown. Vocoders have been one of my favourite things on the planet ever since, and it’s long been a mild frustration of mine that GarageBand, a piece of software that I know and love well through my monthly iCreate tutorials, has not had the ability to produce a decent vocoded vocal. So, I made it my personal mission to try and perfect a technique that would not only make this possible, but that would produce great-sounding and properly useful results.
Yes, in the May 2013 issue of the new-look, bigger, monthly MacUser magazine, I take up six whole pages of the posh, shiny new paper with a step-by-step guide to producing coherent, computer-generated vocals in GarageBand without a vocalist or microphone anywhere in sight. It’s all thanks to one particular freeware third-party plug-in that happens to function in such a way that GarageBand’s lack of signal routing options no longer poses a problem to cash-strapped would-be vocoderists.
Beginning on page 78, this colourful and informative guide takes you through the entire process from scratch, starting by generating the source vocal as spoken text and ending up with a finished lead or backing vocal generated entirely within your Mac.
So if you’re a GB user who fancies a bit of vocoding fun (and it’s great fun, trust me!), get your May 2013 copy of MacUser today!

MacUser Vol.28 No.22 – Fission 2.0 Review

MacUser Vol.28 No.22 – Fission 2.0 Review

OFC_MU2822_Cover.inddOut this week, the new issue of MacUser contains my review of Rogue Amoeba’s Fission 2.0 audio editing app, found on page 28. Nip down to the shops and pick up a copy to find out what I thought of the newly-updated version of this well-regarded, pared-down software solution that allows you to pull off lossless edits quickly and easily and convert and save them between multiple formats.

MacUser Vol. 28 No. 18 – OS X’s Hidden Helpers.  I made the front cover!!

MacUser Vol. 28 No. 18 – OS X’s Hidden Helpers. I made the front cover!!

Excuse my excitement (and the accompanying double exclamation marks), but it’s not every day that a feature you’ve conceived, written and illustrated becomes the main cover feature of one of the UK’s most eminent computer magazines.

Shining the spotlight on the hidden apps lurking in your Mac’s Utilities folder, this eight-page feature is the latest, and hopefully not the last, in a slow-yet-steady stream of pieces I’ve had published in MacUser over the last year or so, but this is the first time one of my articles has been featured so prominently. Hopefully people will find it useful, as I know that I for one, prior to researching the piece, had no clue what the majority of the apps in this folder were for, and there is some really quite useful stuff in there. It goes without saying that all the information in the piece is bang up to date and Mountain-Lion savvy, outlining any major changes implemented with the new operating system in any of the applications covered.

To discover the secrets that lie within, pick up a copy from Smiths or download it to your iDevice, Mac or PC via Zinio. Be quick though – MacUser is published every two weeks, so this issue will only be around for another few days! The article begins on p.56, and I have to take this opportunity to say a huge thanks to Adam and the MacUser team for making it look so good.

Another MacUser GarageBand Tutorial Published

It’s a nice problem to have, I guess, but I sometimes lose track of which article is coming out when in what magazine. The current issue of MacUser is a case in point, as it features a four-page GarageBand tutorial, starting on page 86, in which I demonstrate how to use the Musical Typing feature as a rudimentary sampler, create your own Apple Loops with the resulting instruments and thereby personalise and expand your Apple Loop library with your own custom sounds. So if you want to learn how this is done, get hold of a copy sharpish, as my lateness in getting this post up means that it’ll only be in the shops for another week or so!

The Answer Is Yes – Videosong Collaboration with Polkadothaze

This is the first in what will hopefully turn out to be a series of videosong collaborations with the uber-talented Lucy Hirst (aka Polkadothaze).
For those interested, the video for this was all shot between Christmas 2011 and January 2012 using an iPhone 4, which also handled most of the audio recording due to the lack of a proper microphone. It came about while I was researching a tutorial article for MacUser magazine on how to make videosongs on your Mac – I figured that the best way to research the topic was to actually make a videosong of my own!
The track was put together in GarageBand and the video was edited in Adobe Premiere Pro, largely because of iMovie’s limited split-screen effects capabilities. Luckily for me, the leg-slapping was achieved in one take, so no major bruising was suffered! The article was eventually published on page 84 of the 17 Feb 2012 issue of MacUser (Vol.28, No.4). (See post below). Check it out if you want to find out how the video was done.
If you like how it turned out, please do like the vid on YouTube and subscribe to Lucy’s channel, as there’ll hopefully be more songs from this amazing new talent appearing soon.

How to Make a Videosong with iLife ’11 – MacUser Tutorial

Videosongs are home-made music videos where you record both audio and video of your performance, then edit it together so that what you hear is also what you see. They’re a fantastic and fun way to show off your musical talents to the world at large, and as promised in an earlier post, the 6-page videosong tutorial I was working on in January appears in this fortnight’s issue of MacUser magazine. In a massive 28-step guide on how to record, edit and share a complete multitrack audio and split-screen video performance, I take you step by step through the process from start to finish, using only a camcorder or iPhone 4, together with the GarageBand and iMovie software that comes free with every new Mac. So if you fancy getting stuck into a rewarding and entertaining creative project, why not nip down to Smiths this afternoon and pick up a copy of the mag?

More MacUser Column Inches

Happy New Year everyone!

After a hugely enjoyable Christmas break for both me and my trusty MacBook, I’ve hit the ground running with a short contribution to the cover feature in the current issue of MacUser magazine. The feature deals with broadening your creative horizons by expanding your Mac skillset into other areas, such as video, CGI, photography, web design or app development. I was chuffed to be asked to contribute to the Music section, and you’ll find the results on page 48 of the 6th January 2012 issue.
The first working week of this year has also been taken up with work on an exciting 6-page feature for another upcoming MacUser issue – watch this space for more details later this month!

MacUser Xmas Gift Guide

Check out the latest issue of Mac User for some inspiring gift ideas for your Mac-obsessed friends or relatives. I was honoured to be asked to participate in suggesting a couple of things, which you’ll find on page 48! The brief was to come up with really useful stuff you can’t be without, so there are some brilliant apps and gadgets on show here, making it well worth a look if you’re stuck for what to give the Mac geek in your life.

Debut piece for MacUser is out!

You know you’ve made it as a tech writer when you make it into a publication as well-known and as well-respected as MacUser, and this week I’ve finally made it onto the pages of this prestigious magazine with a tutorial about how to use GarageBand’s built-in pitch correction feature on page 86 of this issue. After years of relative anonymity writing for iCreate, the novelty of a photo byline takes a bit of getting used to! Here’s hoping it’s the first of many…