Thursday, July 19, 2007

We DO have progress - honestly!

Hi all,

Sorry it's been a while for updates to be forthcoming, I realise now that the concert was a year ago and DVDs are still not widespread.

However, yesterday I spent the day printing artwork and cases for the DVDs, all I need now is a day off work where I can begin burning the content.

As you may or may not know I've changed jobs within the last two months so have had very little time free to do anything creative whatsoever, hopefully that will change within the next month or so.

Anyway, I'm expecting the DVDs to be ready within the next two weeks so for those who are expecting them, they will come.

Thanks for your patience,


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Copyright infringement?

I've been thinking a lot about my performance recently, and how it fits into the grand scheme of things, and if it infringes on copyright or not.

I'm aware that the use of copyrighted video materials from both Square Enix and other publisher's games is an infringement, but there was no other way to do the project.

However, in researching Square Enix's take on the matter, I found the following quite helpful:

"How do I obtain permission to perform Square Enix pieces for our school band or other event?

Square Enix charges a royalty fee to all those who wish to perform and/or arrange their game music for any for-profit performance venue. In order to perform their music legally, you'll need to obtain permission and pay the fee. Please contact Square Enix directly for information about how to obtain permission or find out more information."


It should be interesting to note the following... "music for any for-profit performance venue." As my final degree show was a non-profit (and an educational) event, I should be ok. I don't particularly want to contact Square Enix about the concert, because right now they are blissfully unaware such an event took place. I don't particularly want to be sued retroactively!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Steven Beaty & The Console Ensemble video

As promised, here is the final version of the concert.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Everything is finished!

The DVD is finally complete. a 2-disc, special edition copy will be on it's way to the following people once I've written them all and printed the artwork:

Jon, Simon, Henry, Dan, Sammy, Lucky, Emma, Lauren.


Toby, Nick and Claire.

Oh and I'll keep one for myself too.

I'll upload concert to YouTube asap...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Feature Disc is finalised

It is with great pleasure that I announce that the first disc is now almost finished. It's burnt, I'm just going to take it upstairs and make sure that it is all encoded into Dolby Digital and all the links work correctly.

If this proves to be the case then it means that the slew of blog updates here is coming to an end soon, so stay tuned for launch party details and updates.

Recut Game Reel

Yesterday, whilst creating the timeline for the Game Reel on disc one, I noticed that a large portion of the 24 footage, and all of the Metal Gear Solid footage was absent! This is also on the YouTube upload of the clip too, consequently this morning I have so far re-edited it, and have encoded a new version which I am now going to add to the DVD project file.

By the end of today I should have a finished DVD, just a few minor tweaks to the packaging then I just need to copy and distribute them (possibly after the launch party!)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Oh dear..."


Last night I sat and created a short Feature Disc Intro clip for the first disc, and also a motion menu background which looks really professional and makes the project look really good.

I'm now creating the menu and timelines for the feature disc, and unfortunately, the disc is filling up rapidly.

Consequently, it looks like the commentary that Dan and Simon are yet to record is not giong to make it onto the DVD! I'm not quite sure how to break that news to them either!

However, if they still want to go ahead and record it I'll cut it together and possibly make it an online exclusive clip possibly...?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Commentary mixed

I've just finished mixing the commentary track by Jon and myself. I'm now going to begin compiling the feature disc, including an animated intro and menus.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Commentary by Steven Beaty & Jon Plimmer recorded

I've just this minute come back from Jon's studio, and am pleased to announce that we have finally recorded the commentary for the concert.

It was a bit stop-start, but we think we've got most of the interesting stories on there (including Blind Penalties).

Stay tuned for updates...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bonus Disc amended

OK, first of all I apologise, I thought I'd finished the Bonus Disc, but I've since changed it. I've added an intro movie which segues into the main menu, and I'm also toying with the idea of adding DVD-Rom features (such as a link to this blog).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bonus Disc is finished!

As I type this blog update I've got Adobe Encore running, and it is currently encoding the Bonus Disc onto DVD (3.45GB for those who are interested).

Once it's finished burning, I'll begin copying them and adding the labels. When you pop it in your DVD player the SBP Chasm intro will play, before moving into the Menu screen. There is only the one menu, with 5 buttons, however there is a 60 second animated menu background which if I say so myself really fits with the tone of the overall project.

I'll update with some screen grabs as and when I can.

Only the commentaries to go, then the 2 disc Special Edition DVD will be finished...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Documentation / Photo Gallery Edited.

OK, I've been quite good with the work this week, and as well as the Music 2000 Mix being edited, I've also cut together the Documentation / Photo Gallery segment.

It starts off with copies of the Teaser and Poster Campaign, then features the Programme. This moves into some of the photos I've taken of the rehearsal process, then of the actual setting up of the Studio on the day.

The final image is a photograph of Jon and Simon and myself on the day of Graduation, to give a sense of finality and closure to the project.

The soundtrack is a version of Frontier Village Dali (Nobuo Uematsu - Final Fantasy IX), that I recorded for solo guitar as featured on the Final Fantasy Stratocaster album.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Music 2000 Mix update

Just a quick update to say I've worked some digital magic, and have managed to retrieve one of the two pieces of Music 2000 to put on the DVD. It's the first one I did (and not the best sadly) but it will give a good flavour to the Bonus Disc. I've edited it, and if you want to see it you'll have to request a copy of the DVD!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Lack of Music 2000 mixes.

Ok let me explain; in 2001 as a bit of an experiment, I decided to play around with the popular Playstation 'game' Music 2000.Using it's sampled instruments and preset drum riffs and such, I created two tracks of various Final Fantasy arrangements.

Although incredibly cheesy in nature due to the clichéd preset styles of sample riff (i.e. House, Rock, Trance etc), it did inspire me to begin on the road of arranging Final Fantasy tracks which would eventually lead to this project.

I had hoped to include these two videos on the bonus disc of the DVD, however, it seems that there are technical limitations which prevent this.

Having my Playstation 2 connected to my TV/VCR combi unit, I was able to record the footage of the tracks onto video. Then, I was able to copy from VHS to DVD using the DVD recorder stand alone unit. However, this is where the trail goes cold, as the DVDR only uses DVD+ media, and my Sony DVD writer drive cannot read the disc due to Cyclic Redundancy Check errors! Consequently, there will either be no footage on the final release disc, or possibly if I'm very lucky I may be able to pull some data from the corrupted files...

Conversion process.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

DVD Case design

After a good morning's worth of hard work, I've designed the DVD case as follows:

Click for large size.

For the inside of the case, as an insert, is the following chapter selection leaflet:

Click for large size.

The suggested "12" certificate may be subject to change, it depends on what exactly Dan and Simon decide to put into their commentary! The rating may come down accordingly, it will probably go up!

Also here are the labels for both the feature disc and the bonus features disc:

Click for large size.

Click for large size.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Steven Beaty & The Console Ensemble - Game Reel

Now uploaded in its complete form is the full Game Footage Reel of Acts I, II, and III plus credits.
Tomorrow will see the design of the DVD case come to life, so stay tuned for updates...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Game footage reels are DVD ready.

I've just finished encoding the Game Footage reels into one video. Unlike the three versions (one for each Act) released onto YouTube (see below), I've used the opening title and closing credits I created for the main Live Concert footage, and combined that with the three Game Reels.

This will create an alternative viewing option on Disc 1 of the DVD whereby you can choose either to watch the Live Concert (with our ugly mugs) or the Game Footage as a whole.

As soon as I've recorded the commentaries the DVD should be nearing completion.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

I still can't quite believe it myself, but I've now been developing this project for a whole year!

The first online blog entry (at the bottom) was submitted on Tuesday 10 January 2006, and has seen Jon and I arranging the music, myself locating and editing all the video to go with the performance, the rehearsals, the setting up, the performance itself (with video and audio recording), the editing, and even now, we have commentary tracks to record and the DVD to compile and author.

Can I just take the opportunity now to say what a fantastic time I've had doing this work, and especially now with the future of Dartington College of Arts looking bleak, that I couldn't have done it without the support and friendship of the students, college, and specialist technical people that made it happen.

Thanks a lot, here's looking to a completed DVD soon...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2 Disc Special Edition DVD release

You know, I've been thinking about how much I want to put on this DVD, and I've decided the only way to do it properly is to release the first ever 2 disc edition that I've produced.

The features are set to include:

Disc 1:

Steven Beaty and the Console Ensemble - Live Concert.

Commentary with Steven Beaty and Jon Plimmer.

Commentary with Simon Frankton, Dan Dooney plus guests.

Game Footage Reels for Acts I-III.

Disc 2:

Kontakt sample recording / demo projection reels.

Outtakes and Speech.

Music 2000 Mixes from 2001.

Documentation / Photo gallery.

Trailer / Teaser Campaign.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Title Animation modified.

After a test screening of the concert with Sammy, Dan, and Simon, I realised that although cutting the opening titles to Advent: One Winged Angel worked well, there was not a lot of "wow" factor.

Consequently I animated a section in Adobe After Effects that will hopefully make for a much more dramatic opening to the show.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I've just this minute finished rendering out the final concert footage! It starts with intros, then Acts 1, 2 and 3, then an end credits sequence.

I'll be taking it round to Jon's as soon as possible to record the commentary, then the DVD will be more or less finished give or take some extra bonus features like slideshows and things to be added.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Outtakes and Speech clip edited.

As I haven't put the speech I made into the main concert, I've decided to feature it along with some classic outtake behaviour from myself, Simon, and Henry as a kind of hidden easter egg.

Consequently, I've cut together a small clip to the Kontakt version of the Tetris theme, and the most notably thing to mention is the return of Henry's TowelSaber (those who have seen Towel Wars will understand)...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cutting Edge - Act II is edited

Hello everyone, just to say that today I have edited Cutting Edge - Act II.

As an exclusive treat to my friends on the official 24 Forum, I've uploaded the 24 Theme segment to YouTube (below).

Only one act to go!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Final Fantasy - Act I is edited.

Good morning everybody, I'd like to announce that the first full act has been edited together.

Act I (the Final Fantasy one) is all ready to go, I just have to do the other two now and record the commentary with Jon for the DVD. They will be on the way as soon as I next have a day off work!

And as I've already lessened the exclusivity of the DVD by uploading the Game reels to YouTube, the concert itself won't be uploaded until after the DVD launch party.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Game Footage Reels online

It took a while - namely due to 3 complete XP reinstalls and one blown motherboard and processor, but the game reels are finally uploaded.

Containing the projection reels and the live recorded audio, these will form one of the ways of viewing the show that will be present on the DVD.


Act I - Final Fantasy

Act II - Cutting Edge

Act III - Classic Retro

Sunday, September 10, 2006

YouTube Director approval

After goodness-knows-how-long of waiting for them to get back to me, I'm now a YouTube Director! This means that I will be soon uploading the Game Footage reels for you all to enjoy.

My YouTube channel can be viewed at:

Friday, August 11, 2006

YouTube Director status applied for

Because I wasn't happy with having to split the Kontakt reels due to YouTube's maximum 10 minute video limit, I've applied for "Director" status.

This basically means that I can upload more than 10 minutes of footage in any file and also have customised graphics and URLs on each YouTube video I submit.

I will hopefully be able to upload the Game Footage reels in their full 11 minute entirety once this is approved.

Stay tuned for updates...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Game footage reels complete!

I've been a good boy today and finished all 3 performance reels. Similar to the projection reels, they contain footage from each game edited to the soundtrack of our performance.

I'm just about to split them and downsize them so they will fit on Youtube.

Game footage video reel development

I've recently started re-working the projection reels of game footage into more cohesive and workable video files ready for adding to the performance DVD.

As well as editing the video footage to the actual performance soundtrack (as opposed to the Demo Reels - Kontakt editions), I've improved the quality of the video footage by ripping it directly from the game disc!

Using a program called PSX Multi Converter, I've replaced the Balamb Garden footage with hi-res captures direct from the Final Fantasy VIII game discs. This is not only far superior quality to the original projection reels, but has also enabled me access to certain scenes that I was unable to find online.

The Act I Performance Reel (Final Fantasy) is 75% complete expect an online version to appear in the near future!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

MySpace Exclusive Videos

In keeping with the whole MySpace reolution, I've decided to create a profile. If you go to you will find me!

There are also 3 MySpace exclusive videos which combine the one camera angle with the newly remixed soundtrack.

For those who are not MySpace users, never fret, they can be viewed below:

Still More Fighting

Super Mario Land

Metal Gear Solid

P.S. Sorry about the interlacing issues, must be a side-effect of the MPEG4 compression I used.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Minor OST alterations

This morning I've tweaked the soundtrack recording slightly. Basically I've added the correct applause tracks from the video audio to the end of each track.

A contentious point herein lies; I've also overdubbed the guitar track in the correct timing during the Metal Gear Solid 3 segment. Now it sounds like the melody is in the correct place with a touch of echo on the guitar, as opposed the the melodic framework of the piece breaking down (which is actually how we played it). I'm tempted to use this as the audio for the DVD, and simply backtrack the video so it looks like I was playing in the correct time.

However, upon listening, something has happened during the export process, and the "T Electrics Mix" (from Nick) sounds a lot cleaner than my version. The version I did ended up ever so slightly distorted. If I can rerecord the applause and guitar without a loss in quality then I'll do so, watch this space for updates...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

CD Soundtrack delivered

I went round to see Jon today and he gave me a special delivery from Nick: a CD of the live recording he did for each member of the band!

It sounds amazing much better than I had anticipated, and I'm relieved to hear just how good it sounded and how well we all played.

Subsequently I can now start working towards the DVD once I've found someone I can borrow a miniDV camera off.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Full Score notation available for download.

Without further ado, and after much deliberation, I've decided to share the full scores for the three acts with the world.

If anybody uses these please give Jon and I credit where credit is due, as we've spent months and months working on this project and would hate for some unscrupulous person to pass this work off as their own.

Anyhoo, strict finger-wagging over, the following links open the score in a new window.

You must have Adobe Acrobat installed for these to display.

Act I - Final Fantasy Act I - Final Fantasy

Act II - Cutting Edge Act II - Cutting Edge

Act III - Classic Retro Act III - Classic Retro

Friday, June 30, 2006

Final Performance Feedback

The following is a transcript from my performance assessment feedback. The assessment was completed by Gris Sanderson and David Prior. As with the Interim performance feedback my comments will also be presented here.

Mark: 60

Technical skills:
The material you chose for this performance did not allow much scope for demonstrating technical ability, though there were one or two more challenging sections. However, what you did demonstrated an acquisition of a good basic technical grounding and some variety in style and technical skill.

See, this is what upsets me about these assessments. To have somebody assessing your playing who does not play your instrument puts you at a distinct disadvantage before you have even played a note! I have been told by guitarists who are more skilled than I (Toby Morgan among others) that the material chosen to play (Still More Fighting and Halo in particular) are very challenging guitar pieces and to attempt to play them is very adventurous and difficult to achieve.

You were fairly limited by the nature of the material in the sense that it allowed for no individualistic 'soloing'. The constant presence of notation meant that there was no opportunity for us to see how you would cope with improvisational issues.

Actually, there were some parts where I missed cues, or mis-hit notes, whereby I had to improvise until the end of the phrase and then come back in, obviously if these were missed then I pulled it off convincingly. There were also improvisational passages featured in Halo and Operation Market Garden that were not notated, just because the notation was there doesn't mean it was completely through-composed.

We felt it needed more imagination than simply mimicking another performance, and this has been a constant issue with your playing.

I still don't understand where this "mimicking another performance" comes into play; all these pieces were composed ELECTRONICALLY and as such there have been little to no live performances of this repertoire anywhere in the world. Personally I think that taking these pieces out of their original context and arranging them for live players into themed acts shows quite a lot of imagination and skill.

There were some rhythmically uneven passages e.g. the triplets in the opening sequence.

That'll be because that's the hardest piece I've ever had to play, and the room was very warm and my hands were very sweaty.

However, you are on top of your equipment, and despite some rather rushed change-overs from electric to semi-acoustic guitar you coped well with the technical challenges.

The changes of guitar were neccessary to the integrity of the works, in the same way Lucy had to switch from tenor to bari sax and back again. The only slight issue was when nerves made me think I had longer to change and by the time I realised where we were I had to improvise as the melody had escaped me.

Ensemble skills / musicianship:

Transcribing material such as this does lead to a few problems concerning interpretation. We felt you could have done more to make this your own work, perhaps by using your effects differently and adding more variety to the sound. It was a bit formulaic in style. The only dynamic changes came about through alterations in the instrumental / texture, and not through the playing itself. Again, this is an area where you could have personalised the music and brought it to life a bit more, rather than simply replicating what was on the original soundtrack.

Actually Jon and I spent a lot of time working out how far away from the original material we could stray before the audience would become disenchanted with us. I'd like to think we struck a healthy balance between making the music new and interesting (Vamo Alla Flamenco with lots of electric guitar) and staying true to the original composers.

The idea of an orchestra-like group of instrumentalists conducted by a director worked to a degree. It allowed you to focus on your parts. Unfortunately it also had the effect that you did not need to interact with the other players.

Actually group interaction was key to this performance. Although it may not have come across during the show, listening and responding to what each other was playing was vital during the rehearsal process, particularly when you have electric guitars and basses sharing the same space as flutes and cellos.

However, the group was well-rehearsed and you did well to select intrumentalists who were keen to work on this project.

That is very true, without their unwavering enthusiasm and commitment the show would never have gone on.

It is unclear whether you transcribed the parts yourself.

To which I would ask what bearing does it have on the live performance of the material? If somebody were to perform a Bach chorale would it have any reflection on the performance if they had worked the music out themselves or bought it in a shop? I can however say that the arranging process combined listening and transcribing the material, using the original source music files (for the older scores) and collaboration in equal measures.

Organisation / presentation:
For the sake of the look of the thing, you could have memorised some of the simpler sections.

I did, but I still had to keep my place in the music.

Your manner came across as a little pompous, without any real dramatic effect. However, the effort you went to in presenting this work deserves some merit. The stage layout, lighting and use of video demonstrated that a lot of thoughtful consideration and hard work had gone into the planning of this event. Sadly the sound quality was not as good as it could have been. The 'cello sound was very poor, and occasionally your own guitar part did not cut through very clearly.

I have been told by numerous people that the sound that night was fantastic, and certainly listening back to the live recording and video of the performance I would have to agree. Nick Tee and T Electrics did a stellar job with a difficult spread of instruments, and I don't have a single complaint from my end about the work they did. The cello sound suffered from last minute (as in, on-stage) technical issues, however the pure signal was in keeping with the sound of the ensemble and although her effects pedals weren't working, Sammy did a great job.

This was an interesting concept for performance. Although there are precendents for this type of thing it was a fairly unusual challenge to take on. You put together a programme that was entertaining and contained some variety.

Actually in terms of the genre of music it contained I really think that I put as varied a programme together as possible. I could have chosen my favourite Final Fantasy pieces, yet I chose those that were distinctive and stylistically different in order to create an interesting show.

The large audience demonstrated that there is an interest in this type of work, and there was a general feeling of enjoyment and recognition amongst the audience members.

I couldn't agree more, for that size audience to attend on the night of an England World Cup game was more than I could ever have hoped for.

We wish you all the best with future projects.

Thank you very muchly.

I got a Degree!

I've just come back from college to pick up my results, and I am pleased to say that I came away from Dartington College of Arts with a "BA (Honours) Degree (Second Class, Upper Division)"

I also got a respectable 60% for my final performance, the feedback for which will be posted in due course...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Performance pictures

I thought today would be a good day to share some photos of the performance day. I didn't take that many pictures namely because we were so busy setting up and things! Dan also brought his camera up and was snapping away, so I'll try and see if I can get hold of the photos he took and upload them at a later stage.

Studio 1 layout.

Click for larger size

Jon programming the lighting.

Click for larger size

Dan checks the seating is ok.
Click for larger size

Nick and Claire soundcheck us.

Click for larger size

Dan gets ready to play.

Click for larger size

Very dark me during the performance.
Click for larger size

The aftermath.

Click for larger size

Friday, June 16, 2006

Video compilation

This afternoon I've been trawling through the video from last night; I've got good footage from Dad's camera (stage right), John's camera (stage left), and Dan's drum camera.

I've also got workable footage from Henry but only until Act II when the tape runs out (I forgot to rewind it first). I completely forgot to put a tape in / and turn on the balcony camera, but if I'm really lucky maybe SPU took a video for themselves from up there.

I also set up a fantastic angle on Simon and his setup, but after I put the camera there he put a music stand in the way, so I have three Acts of his head floating over a stand!

Using the footage from Dad's camera, I've cut together a rough teaser for online hosting, which can be viewed below. Once I have the soundtrack on CD from Nick I can start to cut together the DVD.

Included on the DVD will be: Commentary with Jon and myself, DVD version of this blog, special projection reels cut to our soundtrack recording, plus some promotional artwork and things.

Thank You!

Good morning all!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the main contributors to this project.

Thank you to:

Jon Plimmer - for his guidance, commitment, enthusiasm and effort into making this project what it is, it couldn't have been done without him.

Lauren, Emma, Sammy, Lucy, Henry, Simon, and Dan - for playing their socks off and keeping up with rehearsals and learning the material. Without them I'd have just been some guy playing a guitar, not very exciting.

Nick and Claire from "T Electrics" - for all their technical support. My Dad said last night "that's the best sound I've ever heard"; considering he knows his stuff that's high praise indeed. I knew starting this project that Nick knows how to get the best results, and with Claire helping him they make a great team. Thank you.

Sarah - for taking care of the lighting demands of the show, without her control we'd have been another bland group on a white stage.

Tam and Anna - for mixing the projections live and making the difference between nobody knowing the repertoire, to everybody finding something they could appreciate.

Cathy - for being such a good front of house coordinator, for running around getting programmes and lunches and goodness-knows-what else sorted for the show.

Pete, Adam, Will, and Jane from Sound and Vision - for all the support through risk assessments, equipment bookings, lighting, projection and camera setups.

Toby - for his mentoring and input into the musical material and the playing of the music.

Gris and David - for casting their knowledgeable eyes over proceedings and (hopefully) making some favourable comments.

Stacey - for all the support and understanding shown to me over the last six months, and for all the help with setups and rehearsals this week.

a final thank you to everybody who helped with the setup and arranging of the show.

The performance is now over, but the work will continue in the production of the special edition DVD.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Performance Day Analysis

Ok, I've just got home after a very long and tiring day, and I will attempt to make sense of what has happened. I will do this in sections, so that it isn't too much of a tribulation to read. Another point I should make at this is that if my description of events at any stage is a bit on the vague side, it may be because I had to rig and run lights for someone else's performance on the same day as mine!

Morning -
I got into Studio 1 and Jon and Henry had had thoughts on the staging. We compromised and the final stage layout was quite different to what I'd originally looked for; but it looked good.

This also worked for the lighting design, as Jon had partially designed the lighting scheme already.

We had already figured out that this was going to be a very hot day, as by 10am we were very warm.

Once Nick and Claire arrived, we unpacked the van and let them get on with setting up the PA.

SPU mounted the projector from a lighting bar for us, and we began to set up instruments.

Dan had brought 3 Roland pads with him that he set up with an electronic hi-hat sound, an electronic snare sound, and a triangle sound. We attempted to get into the percussion store to retrieve the gong but we couldn't get hold of the keycode. Subsequently we had no mark tree and no gong.

Whilst we were setting this up Jon finished programming the lights.

Once the instruments were set up and Nick had miked them, we started to soundcheck.

Afternoon -
After the soundcheck, we had a run through of the whole show. This was not the greatest run through of all time, but it was clear that it was a lot better than any previous rehearsal so far.

Cathy, bless her, ran up to the library and photocopied the programmes for me. She also agreed to run front of house.

Whilst the musicians have a break to get changed and relax, I helped Tam set up the vision mixer and laptop. For some unknown reason the Chocobo and Balamb Garden video files didn't want to play; something about missing codecs (which shouldn't happen as they were pre-rendered MPEG files). We agree to miss those files out. I talked her through the cues and cue sheet as best I could, but it would take her another run through to have them locked off.

Evening -
Sarah arrived and Jon talked her through his lighting cues so that she could operate the Hog during the show.

The band then got together for a final run-through of all the acts, and they were absolutely note and rhythm perfect. The tricky section in Snake Eater was flawless and I was so impressed.

I quickly reaslised I had 5 cameras to set up, posters and strobe signs to put up, pre-show music to give to Nick, and I had to get changed too, and this was at 7.10pm!

Cathy sorted the posters out for me, and Dan and Stacey put up the cameras. Speaking of cameras, we now had:

  • 1 fixed on Henry,
  • 1 fixed on Dan,
  • 1 fixed on Simon,
  • 1 fixed balcony camera (wide shot of whole band)
  • 1 roving cameras stage left (my brother)
  • 1 roving camera stage right (Dad).

I put a tape in every single one, except I forgot the balcony camera! I then gave Nick the pre-show music CD. The problem was, because I had run out of CD-Rs during this project, I popped the pre-show material on a CD-RW., which didn't play in Nick's CD player! Luckily he found some random tranquil pre-show stuff to play instead, but it mean no One Winged Angel.

By this time the temperature had reached uncofortably warm, but the air conditioning was too noisy to be up high when a performance was on!

I got changed, and hid behind the back door to Studio 1. Jon did too, and the band were already on stage when the assessors and audience arrived.

Jon strode out to take his place, and 10 seconds later, as I did the same and the stage lights went up, I got some applause yay.

The show was a resounding success and I'm so proud of every single person who collaborated with me or worked on the team towards the show. I can't say how pleased I am that things worked out so well, so all I will say is thankyou.

I won't critique the show itself here, but wait for more details on the DVD so that you can all make your own minds up.

Pre-show music CD & programmes

I've just put together a CD of pre-show music that will play as the audience come in.
The tracks were all (except 2) taken from the Final Fantasy Piano Collection albums, including tracks from IV - X-2:

  1. Main Theme - FFVII
  2. Dark City Treno - FFIX
  3. 1000 Words - FFX-2
  4. Besaid Island - FFX
  5. Terra's Theme - FFVI
  6. Eyes on Me - FFVIII
  7. Dear Friends - FFV
  8. Tifa's Theme - FFVII
  9. Blue Fields - FFVIII
  10. Loss of Me - FFIX
  11. Fisherman's Horizon - FFVIII
  12. Melodies of Life - FFIX
  13. Rydia - FFIV
  14. Eternity = Memory of Lightwaves - FFX-2 OST
  15. Aeris' Theme - FFVII
  16. One Winged Angel - FFVII Advent Children OST

One Winged Angel will kick the show off with a lighting extravaganza and loud music, then an announcement "Ladies and Gentleman, Steven Beaty and the Console Ensemble" and we will come on stage.

I've also designed the programme that the front of house team will hand out on the door. I need at some point to go to the library and get copies made.

Front / Back Cover
Click for larger size.

Click for larger size.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Post rehearsal comments

I've just got back from another rehearsal and missing from today's line-up were: Simon and Dan due to work, and Lauren is still away until today.

We played through the bits of Act II that we didn't need a rhythm section for, which was good, then we stormed through Acts I and III. Although we could all play competently, I'm still worried that as a group we lack togetherness. We can all play our individual parts, but it's when we come together as a group that things don't go quite as well.

Sammy was using effects on her cello such as octave and chorus, which will add great depth to her playing.

Roll on tomorrow

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Post rehearsal nervousness

Tonight's rehearsal was...interesting.

Dan made a surprise appearance as he'd told me he couldn't attend, so his presence was very welcome. Sammy was getting drunk, so I must be honest and say that with two days to go before the show I am a bit annoyed. And Lauren doesn't come back until tomorrow, but I'm actually not worried about her because I know she can play the parts.

We started off going over Act II again. I must admit that it is indeed sounding better each time we do it, and the addition of Henry compared to Sunday is welcome indeed. Then Jon had to disappear to run lighting for Emma Cooper's performance, at which point I took the lead and we ran through Acts I and III complete, then started going over a few difficult bits, like the rit. at the end of Super Sonic. Once we'd done that, I led us in Act II, at which point Jon arrived again and we continued under his leadership.

There are a few tricky moments in Act II that just need constant hammering out, but I'm sure we can get it. This was also the first time I had a semi-acoustic with me too, so the guitar changeovers were...again, interesting.

The only contention was regarding dress code. I'd clearly stated on previous occaisions what was to be worn, yet Si and Dan seeed unhappy with this. I want to keep them happy, and I'm really really grateful for everything that they're doing for me but at the end of the day it's my performance and therefore my decision. I just hope that they can appreciate that.

Emails and portals

I've sent an email to David Prior (who is marking the performance) with a link to this blog, just so that should he be so interested he can see the progress of this project from start to finish.

I also designed this amazing html email advertising the performance that I wanted to send out to everybody, but that function on the college email server has been disabled. So instead I've put a post up on the DCA Forum advertising the gig.

Also the only locations I haven't put posters up in yet are the library and Aller Park.

Monday, June 12, 2006

2 spanking re-strung guitars

Just finished re-stringing Jon's electroacoustic guitar after I fixed the input a while back. I've also re-strung my Strat, so I have 2 nice sounding guitars ready for Thursday night.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Post-rehearsal happiness

I've just got back from tonight's rehearsal, and I'm happy for a number of reasons:

1) Lauren is back with us properly and played fantastically well on the clarinet.

2) We played through Act II. Although we kept messing it up, and Henry and Lucy were notably absent, considering it was the first time we had played it, and that Dan Simon and Lauren hadn't even heard Act II yet bodes well for Thursday.

However I messed up Si and Dan's music so the final final scores that I gave out were actually the penultimate ones now.

Projection Cue List

In addition to the demo reels, I'm giving Anna a list of all the cues and corresponding video clips so that she should be able to easily control the mix of the projection setup. I've just finished writing it and it should be reasonably self-evident.

I'm also finishing the Health and Safety and Risk Assesment form for the college (which was due in on Friday - oops). In playing the demo reel to Sammy the other day she said how the Sonic clip was really fast, and it got me thinking about strobe lighting and video projection. To be safe I've made some warning posters that will go on the doors on the performance day.

Click for larger size

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lighting tutorials

Today Jon had a refresher, and I had a tutorial regarding the lighting system in Studio 1. Powered by Flying Pig software and hardware, the programmable computer-powered lighting controls and automated lanterns will be a great asset to the show.

It also means Jon and I can design and record the entire show, and Tam can cue it without us needing to worry about what it might look like.

All Demo Reels in one post.

The following video player contains the video files for all 3 Acts, in order as they will appear in the show.

Depending on your internet connection it may well take a long time to load.


Act II Demo Reel online!

As promised here is the demo projection reel for Anna to work with for the performance next week.

You can view it (in two halves due to Youtube's file size policy) below:

Part 1

Part 2

Post rehearsal hair pulling

Morning all, last night we had a rehearsal and I'm a bit confuddled now how to move forward.

Henry couldn't make it because he was still in Stratford, fair enough. Lucy was playing in an orchestra and couldn't make it, fair enough. Jon had to work, fair enough. Simon (and presumably Dan) wouldn't have been able to get there until 9pm, and there was no sign of Lauren.

Emma and Sammy turned up and we played through what we could, but it wasn't the same as having the whole band there. Not that I'm getting more than slightly nervous or anything now!

Anyway, got an email from Gris yesterday, looks like it'll be her and David Prior marking my performance. Chocs away...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Streaming Audio files

Below are links to all 3 Acts as streaming audio files. Just in case you wanted something to listen to!

Final Fantasy - Act I

Cutting Edge - Act II

Classic Retro - Act III

Dress Code

After being asked last night about what the performers are expected to wear, I have the following plan in mind:

All musicians -
Black trousers / skirts.
Black open collar shirt with no tie or black smart top.
Black shoes.

Steve Beaty -
White open collar shirt with no tie (not tucked in).
Black trousers.
Black shoes.
Also around my neck will be the Griever chain from Final Fantasy VIII, and also on my right index finger will be the Griever ring too.

Basically, my outfit should allow me to complement the look of the rest of the band, but also allude to the costume of Squall from Final Fantasy VIII (see image below). I may even brush my hair for the performance!

Click for large size

Jon Plimmer -
The same as the rest of the band but with the inclusion of a black suit jacket.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Post-rehearsal analysis

I've just come back from a rehearsal and there's good and bad news.

The good, is that Lauren was there, the bad is that she's away Sunday until Wednesday. She suggested somebody else should play because of her commitments and she didn't want to let us down. Having not had a chance to see the music before the rehearsal, I suggested she play with us for the night, and if she was able to play the material easily then I'd be happy to carry on with her playing.
Jon is going to ring her tomorrow to see how she feels.

Everybody now has music for Act II, and the wind players also have a CD of the Kontakt recording (of all 3 acts) plus solo parts. I ran out of time to do CDs for the other guys so they will be on the way tomorrow.

It was a difficult rehearsal for a number of reasons: I forgot to bring my guitar music, but I did bring the score on laptop. Jon had to work so it was difficult to cue people and play at the same time, so we did have to restart sections a fair bit. However, it sounded tighter than ever and I could tell that everybody had been practicing hard.

The girls asked about folders and have very graciously offered to go and buy some for their music. That's saved me an added expense and something else to try to remember!

They also asked about dress code which I will up as a separate post.

And to make sure it wasn't all pressure and there was some fun, we finished the night with a round of Blind Penalties!

Act II Kontakt finished

I've just finished a rough Kontakt mix of Act II: it's not perfect - but I just wanted to be able to give the musicians a rough idea of how it goes. Also I need it to cut a video reel for Anna to practice with.

To download click here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Act II is scored!

I've spent all day at home today, polishing Jon's arrangement of Act II, but it's now done. His work is clearly exceptionally good, all I had to do was add dynamics and ornamentation, and also changed a few drum parts here and there (just because Jon forgot how to get Sibelius to write cymbals).

The next job as always is to make a Kontakt recording of it.

ACT II – CUTTING EDGE (1998 - 2006)

Halo Theme Mjolnir Mix - Halo 2 (2004) - Martin O'Donnell / Michael Salvatori with Steve Vai
Secure Place - Resident Evil 2 (1998) - Masami Ueda
Operation Market Garden - Medal of Honor Frontline (2002) - Michael Giacchino
Metal Gear Solid Theme - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) - Harry Gregson-Williams
"24" Theme - 24 - The Game (2006) - Sean Callery
Metal Gear Solid Theme - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) - Harry Gregson-Williams

As you can see I initially wanted the climax of Snake Eater to seque perfectly into the main Metal Gear Solid theme, but Jon's sandwiched the 24 theme in between them. All I can say to this is that it really works and once the Kontakt version is mixed you can judge for yourselves.


Oh and by the way, Jon can't get out of work Tuesday and Thursday this week; so I'll be running those two rehearsals ARGH!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Post rehearsal diatribe

That was the best rehearsal so far! Dan was down in Newquay for the weekend and so was missing for the first half but once he arrived we played really well.
The parts are really starting to come together now and only the inclusion of Lauren will see things perfected...which is good because we now no longer have a rehearsal as a full group until the day of the performance!

I've received Act II from Jon and am currently proof-reading and tidying the Sibelius file ready to play this week.

Here are some photographs taken at today's rehearsal:

Dan, Simon, and Henry

Emma, Lucy, and Sammy

Dan, Simon, Jon and Henry

Sammy and Dan

Simon Frankton

Samantha Bitmead

Emma Stone

Emma, Lucy, and Sammy

Promo Poster Campaign

Well, having woken up stupidly early this morning to update and finalise the cello parts for Acts I and III, I've also designed the posters to advertise the performance. I will take them with me up to the rehearsal today and will put them up where I can on campus (see locations list).

Main Poster:

Click for larger size

Act I Poster:

Click for larger size

Act II Poster:

Click for larger size

Act III Poster:

Click for larger size

Poster Locations:

Main Poster - Upstairs Lower Close (Vending machines)
Act I Poster - Outside Studio 3
Act II Poster - Music Noticeboards
Act III Poster - Near PTC / DMC

Main Poster - Main Corridor Higher Close (Programmes)
Act I Poster - Refectory noticeboard
Act II Poster - Rat & Emu (in the bar)
Act III Poster - Rat & Emu (stairs noticeboard)

Main Poster - Main entrance Aller Park noticeboard
Act I Poster - Rat & Emu (pool table)
Act II Poster - Library noticeboard
Act III Poster - Sound and Vision noticeboard

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I'm back!

Apologies for the lack of updates, but I've been away this week. So in that time what has happened?

Jon was due to rehearse without me on Wednesday evening, however Sammy and Lucy got drunk in the afternoon and weren't fit to play, and there was no point in doing it with the remaining members so Jon cancelled.

We're not happy bunnies over this, but it's a situation we'll have to closely monitor.

Jon has also assured me that Sarah will be dropping the score for Act II (yes, the elusive missing masterpiece) into me in work today.

So that will be nice...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Post rehearsal post.

Another day, another rehearsal; and today was the first appearance of Henry. We played through the new Act I (where the score has been cleaned up - and the cello part is more developed).

We played through all of Act I except for Ending Theme and it went rather well, I'm feeling quietly confident about the performance now.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Sound and vision...and scores

I've just come back from a lesson with Toby, and we have concocted a clever guitar solo to play during the final repeat of Vamo Alla Flamenco. I've also picked up Jon's amended and proof-read scores for Acts I and III, so not only will I be writing in a new guitar line, but also cleaning up the baritone sax and cello parts.

I've also swung into SPU, sorry, Sound and Vision, and Adam asked whether I was certain I wanted Nick to run sound for me, as that would mean taking his PA out of Studio 1 then putting it back in afterward. We compromised (which meant I got my own way) as long as we helped de-rig his PA and put it back in after the performance. I also booked all the video and projection I need for the 14th and 15th of June.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Post-rehearsal analysis

Well I've just got back from college after tonights rehearsal, and it was a blessing in disguise that due to work commitments Dan and Simon were unable to attend - a blessing because it meant that Jon and I could drill Sammy, Lucy and Emma into a very tight unit.

Lauren was ill with a migraine and was unable to attend also - I must confess to being slightly worried about her now as she hasn't been to a single rehearsal and her part is really hard.

After much ridicule about my inexplicable choice of key signature for some pieces (Vamo Alla Flamenco written with four sharps when it's actually in A minor?) Jon has volunteered to clean up my scores, and also to add his cello parts too.

The best part of the night had to be when; after arriving back from a 10 minute coffee break, Jon and I discovered the girls playing along to the Kontakt recording whilst we'd been away - what commitment!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bookings, bookings, and more bookings...

Ok we now enter the final few weeks before the show, and I now need to get spaces and equipment booked. I'm just about to head up to college, and once there I will book rehearsal spaces for the following dates and times:

Week 25:
Wednesday 24th May 7pm - 10pm (Studio 6)
Sunday 28th May 3pm - 6pm (Studio 6)

Week 26:
Tuesday 30th May 6pm - 10pm (Seminar 3)
Sunday 4th June 1.30pm - 5pm (Seminar 3)

Week 27:
Tuesday 6th June 6pm - 10pm (Seminar 3)
Thursday 8th June 6pm - 10pm (Seminar 3)
Sunday 11th June 7pm - 10pm (Seminar 3)

Week 28:
Monday 12th June 11am - 3pm (Studio 6)
Tuesday 13th June 6pm - 10pm (Seminar 3)
Wednesday 14th June 2pm - 6pm (Studio 6)
Thursday 15th June from 12pm onwards (Studio 1 - already booked for me)

I will also go to Sound and Vision and book the equipment that I have already cleared with them to use:
  • Strand 300 lighting desk
  • Vision Mixer (plus cables for 2 laptop inputs)
  • Multimedia Projector
  • 5 miniDV cameras
  • 4 power extension cables (4-ways)
  • 4 tripods

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Another Rehearsal completed...

Well, today we had another rehearsal, and this time we had Jon and Sam there with us as well. Henry had car troubles, so was waiting for the AA in Weston Super Mare whilst we were playing, but he'll be able to make the rest.

It's certainly sounding a lot tighter than last week, but I can't help but feel we still have a mountain to climb to be perfect.

We're having another rehearsal Wednesday evening, then every Tuesday as well after that.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Jon composition session

I dropped off Lucy's baritone sax music today and looked in on Jon as he was arranging Act II. He played me the Halo theme that he had put together and I offered a number of contructive suggestions for certain parts. Although he seemed receptive to these ideas I don't think I'll offer feedback whilst he's working again because Act II is his baby and I don't want him to think he doesn't have any say creatively.

I've also decided that while we play we will be dressed in black and white to reflect the strandard concert convention, and that when the audience are entering I will have a CD of Final Fantasy piano collections playing over the PA.

Monday, May 15, 2006

No brass I'm afraid

Just thought I'd point out that Jon has nixed his idea for the euphonium and other brassness in Act II. Which means they won't be appearing anywhere. Apologies to any fans...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Post-rehearsal sigh of relief

Well I've just come back from the rehearsal and can officially confirm that my mind has been put at ease! I faced today with more than a little trepidation mainly due to the fact that I not only didn't know if people had been practicing; but that I hadn't even heard some of the band play before!

However, I should have known better than to worry, the guys did not disappoint me!

First of all, the absences; Jon was not there because of work, Lauren was in Dorset, and Henry is still in Stratford. However, Simon, Dan, Emma, and Lucy played better than I ever could have anticipated, and for a first rehearsal I'm really impressed with how things went.

We got there and started off by listening to Kontakt Act III. I'd already told people before that we'd focus on that one first. We played a lacklustre version of Tetris but already I could feel that the quality of musicianship was very high. Another run through of Tetris with much higher energy instantly felt very very promising.

Due to Henry's skivingness, we didn't play though Zelda, but went through both Mario tunes and the Sonic ones with very very few problems. We skipped Final Fantasy too because of the predominance of piano in that arrangement.

After a break we cracked on with the Victory Fanfare and Still More Fighting from Act I. This was good because neither Dan nor Si had properly looked at Act I, but they still managed to impress me.
..Fighting was slightly slower than it should be, yet I even managed to play the tricky triplet quaver passages with minimal mistakes; another week of practice and I should have it up to speed.

I had been slightly perturbed by not starting rehearsals until now, but with a solid group of musicians behind me I really think we'll put on a cracking performance.

The only major issue to arise from this is that Lucy hasn't the world's greatest Tenor Sax, as she usually plays the baritone. Consequently, I'll rescore her part for Baritone instead of Tenor Sax.

Pre-rehearsal Issues

Jon has text me early this morning after having been working all night and he's not able to make the rehearsal today. To be fair, he warned me he'd be working a 12-hour overnight shift when I organised the rehearsal, and I did tell him that if he needed to sleep that we could go ahead without him.

Of course now, I actually do have to go ahead without him! Right now I'm just going to print a booklet mini-score for my reference now I'm leadind the rehearsal. Expect an update this afternoon and see how it goes.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Interactive Stage Plan

To help best communicate the setup with various people, I've designed an interactive Stage Plan that shows the various facets of this performance.

Click to use Interactive Stage Plan.

To use it, just click here or on the above image.

You may need to install a newer version of Shockwave to use this control.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Workload gathers apace

Today I not only had a meeting with Gris to talk over my performance intentions and the interim feedback, but I had a meeting with SPU about my technical requirements.

They were surprisingly open to Nick doing the sound, as long as they make sure all his gear is safe, and the lighting and projection stuff too. I'll book the shopping list on Friday when I go up for a guitar lesson.

The good news is that Studio 1 is booked for my performance all day so we can set up whenever we want to.

I've also booked Studio 6 11-3 on Sunday for our first rehearsal.

Technical shopping list for SPU

This is the shopping list of technical specifications that I am going to ask SPU...sorry, Sound and Vision for at our meeting today:

  • Strand 300 lighting desk (there should be enough lights in Studio 1 for our purposes)
  • Vision Mixer (plus cables for 2 laptop inputs)
  • Multimedia Projector(s)

And as I also want to do a multi-angle mixed DVD of the performance I'm trying to figure out how many cameras and angles I'll need:

1 wide shot of whole band (camera at back of seating on tripod + 4-way),
1 camera operator solely on my playing (Dad with his Sony?)
1 roving camera operator / two is preferred (Ron with SPU camera?)
1 on piano (plus 4-way and tripod)
1 on woodwind section (plus 4-way and tripod)
1 on rhythm section (plus 4-way and tripod)

which in total is:

  • 5 miniDV cameras
  • 4 power extension cables (4-ways?)
  • 4 tripods (no, not Henry)
Let's see how much of this I can realistically get hold of; although, to be fair, if Nick is able to come with his rig and do the sound then at least I don't need to book a massive amount of PA gear from SPU!

Teaser Poster Campaign 2

Today whilst going up for a technical meeting with SPU I'm going to take the new teaser posters and put them up around campus.

The main differences between the old and new designs is the inclusion of a washout game character in the background and the URL of this blog.

They can be viewed below:

Click for larger size

Click for larger size

Click for larger size

And as an exclusive sneak preview via this blog, here is the first official promotional poster, including the widely anticipated name of the band!

Click for larger size

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

We have a date!

Gris has got back to me and apologised because her PC has been playing up, and we have a date that isn't a big problem:

Thursday 15th June in Studio 1 at 7.30pm. However, at the mo we can only get in there to set up from 4.30 onwards, so I'm going to see if whoever is in there before can be shifted.

I have to go and see SPU tomorrow to talk technical requirements, hopefully if Nick is still available then all I will need to sort with SPU is lighting and Vision mixing / Projector.

I'll also have a chat with Gris tomorrow and let her see this blog so that she can better understand the concept.

Musicians will actually have music!

I've just finished printing off the last part to hand to the musicians today. They are to receive a pack containing Act I, Act III, and an audio CD comprising of Act I Kontakt, Act I solo instrument (depending on their own), Act III Kontakt, and Act III solo.

Dan and Si picked their copies up on Sunday night, the rest will get them today.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Act I Videos and Demo Reel complete!

Not only did I manage to finish the Final Fantasy VII video reel today, but I completed all the videos for Act I and compiled a demo projection reel for it.

You can view it (in two halves due to Youtube's file size policy) below:

Part 1

Part 2

Friday, May 05, 2006

Final Fantasy X Video Completed

I've just finished the video reel for the Final Fantasy X portion of Act I. This moving and emotive piece will be the finale of Act I and I'd like to think that the video to accompany it does it justice.

Next up will be the Final Fantasy VII reel, using footage from the original game, Advent Children movie, Last Order anime, and the new PS2 Dirge of Cerberus game.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Act I Kontakt version finished

This morning I finished mixing the Kontakt recording of Act I. Not only is the final mix complete, but all the solo parts are finished as well. These will then go on a CD along with notated parts for each of the musicians.

I've uploaded the recording for public consumption and if you click the link below you can begin the download...

Opens in new window

Thursday, April 27, 2006

It really is finished!

I've just finished a composition session with Jon regarding Act I, and surprisingly (because I wouldn't really call myself a composer) he's only made two minor amendments to the score.

Namely, he's added a harmony in thirds and fourths to the piano melody in Balamb Garden, and some guitar power chords / woodwind harmony to a small section of Vamo Alla Flamenco.

He's now taken the finished scores for both Act I and III, and is in the process of issuing parts to all the musicians.

Rehearsals will begin next week as soon as dissertations are handed in...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Act I Arrangement Complete

Yaahoo... You heard right guys, I've just this second put the finishing touches to the score of Act I.

Containing the following pieces,

Fanfare - Final Fantasy VII (1997) - Nobuo Uematsu
Still More Fighting - Final Fantasy VII (1997) - Nobuo Uematsu
The Place I'll Return Someday - Final Fantasy IX (2000) - Nobuo Uematsu
Brass de Chocobo - Final Fantasy X (2001) - Nobuo Uematsu
Balamb Garden - Final Fantasy VIII (1999) - Nobuo Uematsu
Vamo' Alla Flamenco - Final Fantasy IX (2000) - Nobuo Uematsu
Ending Theme - Final Fantasy X (2001) - Nobuo Uematsu

it runs at just over 11 minutes.

Next, a Kontakt recording will follow and I expect to start rehearsals with the band this week.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Work progressing nicely...kind of

Apologies for the delay in posting updates recently, but a series of serious personal issues have more than slightly hampered my work rate of late. Suffice to say the work has still been progressing, just not as fast as I'd have liked it to have.

I'm still trudging along with Act I, I've completed 7 mins of the 10 min length, with only one more piece to go; it just needs a little bit of...finesse. And Jon has also told me he's got a Cellist for my Act I too! Oh well, really can't compain about that.

He's having some problems with his soundcard, so at the moment his Act II workrate is non-exsistent, but I'll sort him out some new drivers and we'll be up and running again.

I've also spent some time with my video recording PS2 and Playstation games. I couldn't find on the net anywhere some footage of Chocobos. Consequently, I've had to scour my old memory cards and Final Fantasy games, and record onto video some in-game footage of the giant feathery bird. This then went from video onto a DVD, which I could then rip to an AVI in order to edit together, which is what I'm doing now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Youtube comments yay

Wow, hosting the projection demo on Youtube has introduced a wider audience to my work. Someone has just commented on the content:

"Seeing these games in action once again with this music brings back some of the best times of my childhood T_T You wont believe how much joy this brings me... I HATE YOU
5*rs (Yggdrasill4) "

Exactly the kind of response I want Act III to induce...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Act III Projection Demo Reel

As promised is the demo reel for the projection of game images for the finale of the performance.

Please note that the sections of video that are blank will be when there is no video projected behind the band, just us playing.

Due to file size restraints the demo reel is in two parts.

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, April 03, 2006

Final Fantasy (Act III Finale) Video completed

I've finished cutting together a collection of clips to go with the Final Fantasy rendition at both the close of Act III, and indeed the close of the performance.

I'm also in the process of cutting together the video clips from Act III, coupling them with the Kontakt recording, which I can then give to whomsoever will be doing the vision mixing / projection during the live performance. Use the player below to watch a low-res version:

[video needs to be split in two in order to be displayed - watch this space for availability]

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Kontakt recording of Act III

Classic Retro (Act III) is now available as an audio file for download.

As well as this version I have recorded both solo intrument parts to help the players to learn, and also backing tracks minus their parts to rehearse to.

The audio file can be downloaded from here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Classic Retro - Act III is complete.

The Grande Finale of the show is finished. Barring any changes requested by the musicians during the rehearsal process (set to begin in earnest as soon as the Easter break is over), Act III will not change.
The song selection is as follows:

ACT III – CLASSIC RETRO (1985 - 1992)

Music A - Tetris (1985) - Trad. Russian Folk tune (Korobeyniki).
Overworld - The Legend of Zelda (1986) - Koji Kondo.
Overworld - Super Mario Land (1989) - Hirokazu 'Hip' Tanaka.
Overworld - Super Mario Bros (1985) - Koji Kondo.
Green Hill Zone - Sonic The Hedgehog (1991) - Masato Nakamura
Marble Zone - Sonic The Hedgehog (1991) - Masato Nakamura
Super Sonic - Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992) - Masato Nakamura
Final Fantasy - Final Fantasy (1987) - Nobuo Uematsu

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Interim Performance feedback from Gris

I've just received my Interim performance feedback from Gris, and I'm slightly bemused and amused at the same time! I think to clarify things; I'll copy the whole document, and add my own responses accordingly.
I also think that it would be beneficial to let her see this Blog, as most of the issues she has raised have already been addressed in my planning. So without further ado...

MUS311/MUP310 Critical Arts Practice: Music Performance

Interim Performance Assessment

: Steve Beaty

Assessor: Gris Sanderson

Date: 17.3.06

Technical skills:

As is often the case in your performances there is evidence of a secure guitar technique, but you never seem to really push yourself. However, in this instance, 'technical skill' also includes any other technical issues, such as the use of electronics etc. I have to mention then the quality of the pre-recorded/sequenced backing. There seemed to be no separation in the sounds and the balance was very flat over all. The drums in particular were poorly programmed, sounding very flat in tonal quality and too loud in comparison with the other parts. If you are going to use this type of gimmick it needs to be much more creative in its realisation.

Unfortunately my knowledge and skills with sampled sounds is limited, and as such this was never supposed to be a true representation of the final arrangement, only a way of playing it live without having rehearsed with the full band.

I'm sure that had we had longer to set up and do a full sound check Jon could have balanced the recorded backing better, but only insofar that I'd already mixed it down in the recording process. It's near impossible to get a perfect sound anyway when you have to set up 4 performances in the same space in a mere 30 minute period.

"there is evidence of a secure guitar technique, but you never seem to really push yourself" - I'm not sure if I'm flattered or not that she has a high opinion of my playing abilities; some of the more jazzy Mario parts were very difficult, and although I hold my hands up and say that I made it harder on myself by not practicing as much as I should have, I'd say that taking this
material and playing it on a live instrument is anything but simple.

Ensemble skills/ musicianship:

There really was minimal input from you on the live front. The arrangement was very odd in the way that you occasionally had a little melody, then reverted to a simple part that added a texture somewhere within the structure of the rest of the music. The sequenced part dominated your own playing to a degree that is really unacceptable. I suggest you rearrange the parts to give yourself more of a key role.

I can understand how this may have appeared if it was always intended as an electric guitar performance to recorded backing track; however, in the fully realised final performance the concert is more of a Guitar Concerto where the guitar features significantly but not at
the expense of the ensemble.

I don't think the other instruments will dominate my own playing either; the arrangements are solid and thoughtful and feature everybody at some point adding to both melodic and harmonic content of the Acts.

Organisation/ presentation:

This is where the whole thing really fell down. You presented it in such a deadpan way with no imagination. You must remember that the type of music you are presenting is part of minority
cult status. You and all your mates may get all the little jokes and know the games intimately, but it is restricted to a very limited era and social group i.e. white British males now in their early 20s. This is not concert music and you must make the setting apparent.

People who state this is not concert music as a fact rather than as an opinion are the exact reason why I chose to perform this type of material. Taking the music from it's original electronic context and bringing it into a live acoustic environment is a worthy concept and if it wasn't for the idea that somehow film and game music is not as valid as "other" musical forms then the talented composers who create it would get the same critical acclaim as their
alleged 'high art' counterparts.

In the recent "More Friends" concert in Los Angeles renowned Composer, Musical Director, and Conductor Arnie Roth (who has worked with Charlotte Church, Patrick Stewart, the LSO, Stephen Alltop, Roxanne Layton and George Vosburgh) arranged and conducted an evening of Final Fantasy scores, not to mention his work with the PLAY symphony tour.

As for the "limited era and social group", not only is this insulting (and not because I'm a 22 year old white British male), but it's really not very accurate in terms of race, age, and indeed nationality; as this article here clarifies.

We're not saying it's a bad idea, but you really need to do a lot to make it work as a final performance. First of all, get rid of the music stand. It just looks ridiculous, and the parts are not hard.

Bearing in mind that Act II contains a piece played by Steve Vai, and that the score for Act III in it's (near) completed state is 117 pages, that's going to be over 300 pages of notation, and as the featured guitarist most of the time I will be playing, I really don't think I can do
without the music stand. I always try to play without music, but in a concert of this magnitude it would be foolish to try to do without it. Plus all the other musicians will be playing from music too so I won't look out of place.

Secondly, get a good sound engineer who can make the sequenced parts
sound good in relation to one another.

Aside from the fact that the final concert will contain no prerecorded material, I thought I was told that I couldn't have a professional sound engineer on Health and Safety grounds?

Thirdly, use the genre of the games to set an atmosphere and put it all in context. For example, you should project the games on the wall at least, and have some kind of visual element that is going to make it interesting to an audience, because at the moment I cannot imagine anybody would want to sit through more than 5 minutes because of the dull presentation.

Which has always been the concept of the show, to bring the burgeoning history of early game music and the cutting edge professional (and Grammy and Emmy award winning) new game scores together in a celebration of an art form that is about as contemporary as you can get. Combining a new realisation of the music with the images that have shaped the genre of game music into the success that it is!

General Observations:

I know this is an idea that has been bubbling around for some time. It could work really well, but you really need to be much more creative about presentation. I suggest you talk to Mel Thompson about some 1-1 sessions on the more theatrical side of staging this as a final performance.

This is a good suggestion but it comes from an ill-informed viewpoint. I hope once Gris reads this Blog not only will she see how passionate I am about it, but how all the planning and preparation and sheer hard work I've put in over the last couple of months is turning out.

Whatever response I get back will be posted in due course.

Finalised Repertoire (II)

With the "24" theme added to Act II, I've revised the list of pieces we will play, having had to move some around slightly for thematic and musical integrity.

Final Performance Repertoire

ACT I - FINAL FANTASY (1986 – 2006)

Fanfare - Final Fantasy VII (1997) - Nobuo Uematsu
Still More Fighting - Final Fantasy VII (1997) - Nobuo Uematsu
The Place I'll Return Someday - Final Fantasy IX (2000) - Nobuo Uematsu
Brass de Chocobo - Final Fantasy X (2001) - Nobuo Uematsu
Balamb Garden - Final Fantasy VIII (1999) - Nobuo Uematsu
Vamo' Alla Flamenco - Final Fantasy IX (2000) - Nobuo Uematsu
Ending Theme - Final Fantasy X (2001) - Nobuo Uematsu

ACT II – CUTTING EDGE (1998 - 2005)

Halo Theme Mjolnir Mix - Halo 2 (2004) - Martin O'Donnell / Michael Salvatori with Steve Vai
Secure Place - Resident Evil 2 (1998) - Masami Ueda
Operation Market Garden - Medal of Honor Frontline (2002) - Michael Giacchino
"24" Theme - 24 - The Game (2006) - Sean Callery
Metal Gear Solid Theme - Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004) - Harry Gregson-Williams
Metal Gear Solid Theme - Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001) - Harry Gregson-Williams

ACT III – CLASSIC RETRO (1985 - 1992)

Music A - Tetris (1985) - Trad. Russian Folk tune (Korobeyniki).
Overworld - The Legend of Zelda (1986) - Koji Kondo.
Overworld - Super Mario Land (1989) - Hirokazu 'Hip' Tanaka.
Overworld - Super Mario Bros (1985) - Koji Kondo.
Green Hill Zone - Sonic The Hedgehog (1991) - Masato Nakamura
Marble Zone - Sonic The Hedgehog (1991) - Masato Nakamura
Super Sonic - Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992) - Masato Nakamura
Final Fantasy - Final Fantasy (1987) - Nobuo Uematsu

"24" Theme for Act II

Ok, now I've just finished watching the latest episode of Fox's award-winning (and my favourite of all time) TV show 24 and since it's release less than two weeks ago I've completed the PS2 game twice over (yes, that's why I haven't been working as hard).

"What does this life story mean?" I hear you ask, well, I've decided to kick The Front Hall from Resident Evil 2 out of the second act and replace it with an arrangement of Sean Callery's amazing "24 Theme"! The full version, mind you, not the short excerpt played during the closing credits. You can hear what I mean by using the player below:

Obviously this also requires me to acquire some video of the game, but I've already seen this website, not to mention FileFront and FilePlanet as well, and between those and a number of excellent trailers released for the game, it will all be sorted...

Final Fantasy archive videos

I am very very very close to having all the video files I need for both Act I and the finale of Act III (having already mixed the clips for Act III and acquired the source videos for Act II).

Blue Laguna has some errors on it's CD 2 Final Fantasy VII videos. I'm currently trying to pull them from FileFront, but trawling through the wealth of files on that server is a mammoth task in itself!

I've also acquired footage from Final Fantasy XII (released in Japan on 16th March), which alongside clips from Advent Children, Last Order, and Dirge of Cerberus, will make a fitting tribute to the enchanting game series during the playing of the series' signature theme Final Fantasy (or Ahead on our Way from the original game soundtrack).

I'm also going to add some clips from the jaw-dropping Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer which you can watch in the player below. Be amazed...very amazed...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Simon and Dan visit

Today Si and Dan came around to see how the musical arrangements were progressing. Having already given them a CD of the source music, plus their parts (so far) for Act III, they were having trouble equating the original pieces with the arrangements. However, I played them the Sibelius files of Acts I and III and now they can more clearly see how each song segues into the next.

Simon ended up sight singing his bass line as the music played, which gave me a lot of confidence that he will be able to learn the three acts with a minimum of fuss.

Dan explained that he'll have to learn the performance by heart as there will be no chance for page turns during the event. I personally think that if the page turns are placed correctly that there will not be as large a problem, and that at least Jon will be conducting.

Dan also suggested that having only 2 tone kettle drums for the whole performance might be pushing things slightly, so at least for Act III I've kicked the kettle drums out of the finale, and (am in the process of) replacing them with militaristic snare and tom rolls instead.

I can say with some certainty that the final version of Act III (at least so far that the piece selection and transitions between them) will be completed by the end of tomorrow; then it's just a case of changing things when the live musicians pass comment.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Environmentally friendly score

In keeping with the electronic theme of the performance, and because the scores for all 3 Acts will equal over 200 pages of music, Jon is going to conduct from a computer screen instead of a conventional paper score.

If I have time I'm going to design a program in Macromedia Director that will enable him to view a two page spread of music, with a left click to go back 2 pages, and right click to go forward two pages.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Arranging and vid update

It's been a while since I posted an update but that's due to how busy I've been!

I've had some problems in the arrangement of Act I; nothing major, just enough to require me to do some video work and come back to it.

I've reencoded the source files for the Act II video, and so far have cut together a Halo 2 (3 min) clip. Hopefully I'll have the rest of Act II videos completed soon.

I've also continued to download Final Fantasy FMVs, and I'm also considering inclusion of Advent Children material.

I'm not sure if it's lucky (in that we've got more time to finalise the arrangements) or not, but we won't be able to start rehearsing until after the Easter holidays as everybody goes home for a couple of weeks! Oh well, better get cracking...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Electronic Score

In keeping with the electronic nature of the source material for this project, and because the final scores are 257 pages in total, Jon is going to conduct the performance (and rehearsals) from a computer screen (either lapton or his Mac).

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sound technician issues

With regards to the ongoing saga resultant from Gris' email about not letting Nick do the sound, I'm going to see Pete in SPU and ask his advice on the matter.

Also, to double check any Health and Safety requirements, Jon is going to talk to Julia Salloway and see if we can carry on with things as they were planned.

I just get so frustrated that whenever you try to do your very best on a piece of work that you end up being inundated with restrictions, it's like when they brief you they say "Go and do this piece of work, but you can't do that, and you can't have it this time and date, and you can't use that..."

How are we supposed to do our best if all the well laid plans fall apart?

Interim Performance Evaluation

Well, despite Jon threatening to have to work straight after the performance (which would have left me without a sound spod), things went rather well. Lets break it down into various component parts -

Sound - Well, I don't know how well it sounded front of house, but the backing CD was lovely and loud in my monitor, but I could have had a bit more guitar in there too I reckon. Putting in the effort to make my chorus and distortion sounds as similar in level as possible was worthwhile, just need to tweak the distortion up a bit more now.

Space - It was always going to be difficult to have 4 completely separate performances stylistically in the same space, as witnessed by Emma being very badly lit. Hopefully just the white lighting that was on was adequate for my needs, I didn't want Jon neglecting the sound by farting around with the lighting desk too. Obviously the video projection and lighting design for the final performance will be sorted, with separate people responsible for lighting, sound, and video mixing / projection.

Playing - This went better than expected namely because of
1) the masses of extra practice I put in this morning
2) the adrenaline that was a-pumping.

The only major stumbling block within this performance was a little hiccup during Super Mario Bros. That piece is just so tricky at speed. More practice needed on that part, and a small mishap during Green Hill Zone turning into an improvised solo until I found the melody again; hopefully not too noticeable.

Material - This was the predominant raison d’être of the performance; to see how well the Classic Retro game themes would be received by an audience. Because of the lighting I could not see faces of audience members (nor would I have had lapses in concentration long enough to do so) but Jon tells me that there were smiles of approval during the playing, and Gris even gave a small chuckle to herself at the end.

However, although I've pretty much perfected the TAB fingerings for Act III, the page turns need a lot more close scrutiny, bearing in mind I had to play the entire Zelda 2-octave melody from memory as I couldn't turn the page half way through it.

Overall if I had to give this performance a mark out of 10, I'd probably have to say around 6 or 7, which is good considering I really need to learn the material bettter.

Some of the comments from my peers at the end of the afternoon:
"You're absolutely insane mate" - referring to the choice of material hopefully.
"You're going to have to explain those pieces to me" - not everybody is going to "get it"
"I even got the bling reference - very subtle" - referring to my Lionheart from Final Fantasy VIII chain that I wore. Now that that was picked up on, I'll wear it again for the full performance, and also the Squall ring that I have (as seen below).

Lionheart Necklace set