Friday, January 11, 2013

Project Movie: Part Nine - Creating a Choir

When things get busy at work I wind up missing posts. Luckily I was working on some pretty interesting stuff the last couple days so I've got a mini podcast ready to show you some of it.

The task at hand was to come up with some choir vocals to finish up the music for our DVD at work. At our live performance the choir entered the room from the back and spread out through the audience in white robes. It sounded pretty cool in the room but there was no way to get a good recording of that. The plan was to get the choir back in and record their parts.

A couple weeks of illness and daily grind business put us very close to being finished with the live elements but still without a choir. We resolved to take the DIY path and have a couple ringers sing all the parts. In the end we went one better than that and my boss (who has an unbelievable falsetto) just sang them all himself.
This solved a couple problems and also let us make a couple really cool artistic choices. The first was logistics. It's just plain difficult to get two dozen volunteers all in one place at the same time. With just me and my boss in the room, we wrapped it all up in less time than it probably would have taken to do with a full choir. The second problem is phrasing and intonation. If you listened to the first mini podcast  about merging three separate performances together you'll remember that one of the issues was the ends of phrases. With just one person singing (one very talented person mind you) the phrasing was nearly identical and there weren't any bad notes.

What this left us with though, as you'll hear, is a very unearthly sounding choir. You might think it sounds synthetic and that's because it is. The best choir in the world couldn't sound like this because it's all one voice. Lucky for us that's what we wanted. A choir of angels shouldn't sound like Sunday morning down at the church, it should sound better, different. And that's what we got. It ended up sounding kind of like a boys choir.

Check out the MP3 link below Brethren of the Knob and Fader and I'll show you how we did it.


  1. Im curious as to why you couldn't record the choir itself when you had it.

    All you needed was a matched pair of decent condensers.

    Sample delays, and melodyne's randomize effect is useful in this application.

    1. The choir itself was out in the house, spread out over a 1500 seat aud. There also wasn't time in the production schedule to shoe horn in a choir session. If we had, we would have had a choir like everyone else. Doing it with one good voice let us match phrasing and intonation and come up with a feel that's a little unnatural which was exactly what we wanted.

    2. I get what you're saying about delay and randomizing now. That's exactly what I did to a lot of mono sources on the project to widen them out and make room in the middle. With the choir we just kept doing takes. The singers phrasing was nearly dead on so it was very consistent but just enough different that it doesn't sound like a mult-ed single track.


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