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The next “Shmoosic” video: Ghost

Currently I am Directing and shooting the next Shmoo music video (a “Shmoosic” video) Ghost. It will feature the new single by the band and host a veritable smorgasbord of talents from practical effects to full 3D immersive worlds. So far its been green screen and tracking points all the way, but in the next month we will be getting the final shots in place to start editing this monster together.

The track, ‘Ghost’ is from the long overdue album and will be released as a single later this year. It’s deep basses and the classic touch of the Newport vocals and Vocoder make it an instant hit. We have been working with the Great Richard McEvoy Crompton from Bolton University to fashion our suits, which look amazing, and there will be some additional SFX greatness later on… all I can say is, bar tending robot…. nuff said.

Have a listen to the current offerings from this amazing duo !

Sync. It ain’t all clappers & code

If like me, you have spent countless hours and days pulling together all your audio for video takes, or correcting frame rates and frequency formats, then this little piece of software will help you pretty well!

Overtime audio engineers get to see waveforms and get use to reading the information within, I always find it to be a bit like the Matrix, after a while I just see blonde,  brunette, redhead…

So, you have recorded the clean audio onsite via a separate recording console (in picture Fostex FR-2LE and Marantz PMD660) and you have a good internal mic or external mic level onto the camera, well normally a good engineer would find a few peak points between the two audio recordings and sync them via that. A good engineer would have used a clapperboard on site to record a spike on to both units… And a great engineer that had lots of money would also have bought a timecode jammer to take over the reference timecode on all recordings.

But no matter which way you have done it, it all takes time in the edit depending on your method. Timecode will be the quickest and save money as you sync everything by one clock. It is truly great to see this method work and I love the fact that it really takes no effort, but you don’t always have the luxury of time code. Let’s look at a scenario that most filmmakers and professionals will come up against at some point.

You are on a location shoot, recording audio to a stereo recorder that does not have time code. The camera is a DSLR that has no additional mic inputs, and the runner has lost the clapperboard. Well… All is not lost to get perfect sound sync.

I always make sure that if I’m in this situation I make a loud clap or a recognizable sound that both camera and recording console with Mic attached can hear. This will give me an identifiable waveform that will allow me to easily align both recordings together. This sync in post is what normally takes the time, but like I said before after a while you get quick at it. Some NLE software currently includes a ‘scan audio and align’ process. It is hit and miss, but Final Cut X (uugh) and Avid media composer have such options.

How about syncing and prepping clips with the dailies and rushes a few minutes after the shoot? The editor would love this option and it saves so much time later for everyone. Editors and Directors are working with the clean audio from site and post mix just need to clean it up.

That’s where the new awesomeness of plural eyes 3 comes into play. ( So, here’s my advice. Have a DIT on set with you, some one that can transfer cards from cam and recorder to a hard disk, drop each in to the bins on Plural eyes and hit sync! Once done, either export an XML or the files with new sound. It really is that easy.

I’ve used it several times now with great success. Version 1 and 2 was a bit off in success of syncing but now this version is bang on. Watch the video of my latest project aligning. Nice.

Let There Be Light; On the cheap like.

I did another 15minute project today. I have been looking on eBay for some solid LED lights that run on battery and are perfect for shooting. I need a simple solution but most “Cheap” options are still £120 upwards for anything of any good size. I wanted dimmable, that hikes the price up, I wanted portable and stand mounted, that hikes the price up. In the end I did find a few units, but £90 with no stand and it was the size of an iPhone… so, I thought, why not make my own.

I had seen an LED light in the shops that runs 72 ultra bright LED from 4 batteries for over 6 hours, so I started there. £3.99 a pop is a great price. I got 6 of the units. Here are the stages to get to this magnificent specimen in the image.





1. I thought about attaching the 3 to a board. I used woodglue, real strong stuff. I measured out a board but made sure to glue the units with an overhang for the battery housing. Easy to change on the go.

2. From here I let it dry and then measured the back against a tripod head that fits in to the spare tripod I have.

3. I drilled some holes, whacked on some glue and screwed that head onto the back of the board, making sure I didn’t screw into the batteries underneath.

4. After letting it dry, I attached it to the tripod and locked it off. voila!  I can now use the lights on two spare tripods I have and use a series of ND filters to soften the beam. I haven’t made them dimmable yet but as they are three separate lights, its almost like a three stage dim. I could solder a pot on to the units and dim them, but that’s for version 2.0.




So for £24, some glue, wood, screws and two old tripods, I now have a small, compact, portable COLD light kit, ready to go in seconds and pack down in less time than it takes to drink a Coke. Boom!



Officer Saren has always believed in the law. Now he will test it.

The new film by Director Ash Tidball and written by Keith Lewis, ‘Recourse’ kicked off to a great start last week with the last piece of the puzzle, the uniforms, falling into place and fitting to the amazing talent we have been fortunate to work with.

Starring Peter Carruthers  & Gerry McLaughlin , we jumped straight in to a few of the scenes that require the break in bound of trust. Can’t say too much about the story yet, but every time there is a shoot day, there will be a poster of that scene put up on the facebook page and some onset info, so we’ll keep you “posted”.

The next few weeks will see some serious moves from the talented Greg WalshAdam Jowett, and Andrew Palmer the plethora of stone cold, bad ass, gang members. We still have a few locations to finalize and a few ‘scroats’ to cast, so maybe get in touch, lets see if you can be a part?

In the mean time, join us, be a friend… do all that social stuff?


I’ve recently had the great fortune to work with some amazing people over at 422 Vision. Some great developments coming up and a strong production force behind them.

A comedy twist on serious fashion for, currently sponsoring the Fox channel for original and classic comedy. A series of three different stings.

View Full Profile here.

Directed by: Will Herbert
Produced by: Fabian Martinez of 422 Vision.

Mic Reflector

The Mic Reflector/ Absorber/ Baffle… what ever you want to call it… its OVERPRICED. Yes, its functional and yes they can help with reflections and direction, but man, dropping £100 plus on one is only good if you got money to burn. I’ve made several of these in the past but recently had a quick flash of an idea for a small 15 minute project.

Now before you start… ok they are not beautiful, but like me, I find them to be rugged and functional. Great little ones to surround your condenser mic whilst recording brass or guitar, and if you use a double bracket like at Maplin ( you can place the mic cradle on the front one and the mic baffle on the rear!

So the stuff you need:

  • 1x Top hat of a 100 size CD spindle
  • 1x Mic clip
  • 1x Acoustic Foam 15″ x 15″
  • Strong glue
  • Tools.


  1. Cut the foam in half or so the microphone is covered by 4 inch above and below the capsual.
  2. Cut the spindle in half.
  3. Take the mic clip head off and use the base post. Keep the screw.
  4. Drill, countersink and smooth a hole for the mic post to seat into.
  5. Bolt though the plastic and secure the mic post.
  6. File the edges of the CD spindle and make it pretty. I cut out the lid to give room for the mic.
  7. Glue your custom cut piece of foam to the spindle inside.
  8. Whack it on a mic stand. Boom! well, not a boom mic stand.

Now, if you wanna see what that looks like, here is a video I did made.

PowerCoaster G4

So a few weeks back, I spoke about the commitment to the longevity of equipment that is not yet dead, so why replace?

Take my friend, Matthew Adams, only recently has he finally given up on his PowerBook G4. Now this baby had seen some times and was battered, loved and pushed, but you know what… He recorded and produced some seminal work on that thing to the end… With 256mb of ram !

His works of ‘Julius Way’ makes deep textured guitar led tracks that are as detailed and inspiring as they are complex. After a chat with him about how and what he used for his project (stunned at his G4 still battling out), I feel sure there are people out there doing their thing to their own groove and not letting the tech (or lack of it) lead how they work. Not upgrading or buying constantly. Not waiting for that perfect mic or interface.

Now I tell you this because it goes straight back to my point. Updates and new stuff is good but it shouldn’t take away from your core goal, getting your project out there. Sure, new is awesome and old is sometimes the only option but workflow is what works best for you. On a side note, Matt is up-to-date and down with the kidz with his new mac book, oooo, but he recorded his last album (which you can hear here! He is also on Spotify now!)  on that baby.

But… there does come a time when that gear gets way, way to old. Like any ‘body’… After a while and a bit of hard life, the systems begin to fail until it’s done. Or is it?… I hate throwing stuff out, me and my buddy Neil were the vultures of Adelphi, collecting and hoarding lots of useful old crap that comes in handy… So when I see the beautiful PowerBook all dead, I thought, let’s see what I can do. It also allowed me to play with my new tools and mess about!

Why not make a “PowerCoaster” next time you have done all you can.

5.1 Vs SoundBar

A new year, a new assignment to be marked. As you may know, last November saw the undertaking of a research project into emerging technologies, #MScReT2013 has been the hash tag. Work with Paul Maddocks of 3khzStudio, kicked off with research into our question and pretty soon we started to run the test. Well the idea was this…  “5.1 Vs Sound Bar: a subjective evaluation of perceived audio differences.” One of the main brief outlines for the write up of the project was to make the whole write up like a paper or academic journal out in the real world. Hence the front page featured here… its not really endorsed by the AES… so please don’t go thinking it is. Although, after the presentation of the work to a flock of peers, it was mentioned if done right, it could be presented to the AES…? I don’t know about that, but if the assignment scores are good, you never know. 😉

So through out the winter I have been working from our collated data and getting my teeth into T-Tests (god shoot me) and a few other essentials (Harvard method… I’m a master now!). One thing I found really interesting is actually writing it like the standard of a journal, its different to most work I’ve ever done and seems a bit more palatable to compose, instead of the normal way to write up. I’m bet Paul has had enough of the texts asking random stuffs but i’m sure a celebratory Wagamamas in the next few weeks to say ‘its done’ will go down a treat.

Until the mark comes back and we are told what we can, or should do with the test and its results, I can’t let you see it, but rest assured once its done you shall all know which is better…. 5.1 or Sound Bar!


#Mscret2013, @3khz, #AES #conventionpaper # testing

Concept Album: Walking The Border

I am always inspired by the media I consume… like a Pac-Man type guy munching on the small sugar pills of films, TV, games and interwebs. I have recently been working on developing a concept artwork that ties many inspirational aspects together.

As I’m composing or Directing, I sometimes get a flash of an idea that could work out into something. Although my note pad is full of crazy flash thoughts, I never get the chance to work them. I was going through some old notes and I hit across a hidden theme that was almost like seeing the Matrix code for the first time. I have been writing notes over the past few years that imply that a ‘Tracker’, ‘Loner’, ‘Mercenary’ and/ or general ‘Mad Max/ Walker Texas Ranger’ type character is doing a thing. Rescuing someone, building something or just killing off hordes of zombies. (zombies always feature in my dreams) This, entwined with TV shows and Xbox games, has lead me to compose a few tracks.

From here my concept is now in full swing. I hope to be working with digital artist John Joesph from Media City and I will be updating my SoundCloud with the latest works to keep you all posted. For now, please enjoy the two tracks already done and have a look at the album cover.



Workflow: It really is everything.

Like so many of you that are in the profession of music/audio/media/doing-what-I-can-to-not-be-at-the-job-centre, will find, Technology is always a bane and a must have thing to make sure you are up with the buzz words and hip with the kids. We tend to buy and upgrade massively and excessively to the point we always just hit “automatically install updates” or we just instantly buy that Fruit phone 9c. Do we need too is my point. Have/are we becoming conditioned to instantly download or replace as soon as possible? is it just for the latest thing and buzzword? Examples of Buzzwords I’m sure you have heard of and are now quite sick of… “4k” “trueHD” “Full HD”  “8K” “DLSR” “Waves bundle”

Ok, ok… so I know what you are thinking out there…. “woh, woh, woh, Ash, you say these buzzwords” yes, I know. I am forced into saying them. right? well you see, it is a thing of nature, a call and response kinda thing… like hip hop…. “when I say hip, you say hop….. HIP…..(adoring fans) HOP” so when a student says to me “have you heard that {insert brand name here} are making the new ultra high def cut your eyeballs and spray salt in there 64K screen?” I instantly go for all the latest stuff I’ve been reading and spew out a stream of standards, figures and buzzwords to make them do the famous scene in “Catch me if you can”… “I concur”.

Now don’t get me wrong I love tech, I do upgrade and get that Fruit phone 9c, and I’m not getting in the way of progress or against the future coming soon. There is all kinds of awesomeness out there and it’s great really that we have technology and its staggering rate of development going on, but.. and a big but…. I have noticed people, including professionals I know, and friends etc get hooked too much on the gear we use to accomplish what we are trying to create. Factoring the success of something down to the systems we use.


“I can’t do this without the “{brand} plugin, it just is not possible”

“You can’t work with that OS, it’s soooo buggy and slow”

“4gb of Ram?! Ha! even with 16gb of Ram you are going to run into problems.”

“That’s your problem, you built your machine.. a team of experts calculated every piece to work on mine already… THATS why its £3000 more.”

Now, ok. I admit. One or two of you….ok, or the one or two of you that actually read this, will be waving your fist at the screen going “Tidball! Why I oughtta…!” and feel like bashing this out with me. Yes I have have said that in the past, or words like it, but come on, who doesn’t get excited when they get that new system or an amazing plugin…. but you will always hear me say it comes down to one thing… and to discover what that one thing is, send $199.99    😉

The one thing is, Wait for it,…… Work Flow.

Work Flow?! I want my $200 back! No seriously. Its something I learned whilst on the job. Let me break it down.



I always start at the end. What is the product I need to deliver here? What are the time restraints, and most importantly, how much is the budget? This approach can be applied to almost anything. University assignments, corporate works, film production. You prioritize the Product in terms of how much, how long. Never compromise on quality though. Think about how much time it will take you to realistically finish the work and always add on a few days just for any issues or even a flash of brilliance. A problem can occur with what I call “the perfection factor”. Some people never finish work due to this. You can get stuck in a loop of not being able to finish as your work never feels up to the quality you desire which makes you feel like you are compromising. You need a cut off. Or a kill switch. There are sometimes that even if it is your own loving project, you must learn how to kill your babies… so to speak. I find a cut off is essential and more vital than a piece of hardware.


Little Johnny is recording  a really awesome guitarist who has limited time to perform, but liked Johnny’s spark of enthusiasm and says “hey kid, lets make a track’. Johnny is excited and realises there isn’t much time… He grabs a mic he’s used at gigs and sticks it in the front. Bam. Hit record as little Johnny’s mate says the classic line “we’ll fix it in the mix”.

Freeze frame. At this point, hit little Johnny’s mate in the face with the gig mic and tell him to sling it. “Fix it in the Mix” I have done that in the past and I am telling you now, it is not an efficient workflow, never mind good practice. I’ll tell you what that gets you… it gets you 27 hours of comping an entire rhythm section into a live  multi-track recording as some one didn’t patch the gear correctly… NEVER rely on Fix in the Mix. ALWAYS look at the source. Little Johnny would spend 15+ hours EQ’ing and processing his guitarist sound. He could have done two simple things like, Mic choice (A better acoustic mic), and better Mic Placement. Both would have taken about 3 minutes of testing and the result would be better. Johnny would have worked those 15+ because he is a perfectionist. He didn’t know when to stop and  would go on to never using that work as he was not pleased with it. 3 years later, Johnny is found in a dumpster with a note… “If only I didn’t Fix in the Mix”.

Johnny should have had a cut off. A point where his perfection levels should be capped for this project, a realists point of view. He will never get the amazing sound he is looking for with the work. Instead he uses the kill switch. Here is the best mix I can do with this work. I can present that or I could offer to re-record.
Time management is vital to work your product from a business sense. Too much time spent will mean you are working for £2.09 an hour, trust me, these figures are correct. I always now block my project into workable goals and limits. A day here, a week there and 3 days error factor. Things WILL go wrong. Developing a target/goal approach, a kill switch and a way to tackle problems will quickly narrow your work load and focus the project.



Working backwards, we have a cost, a time, and the project brief. We know a rough guide of our working hours. We know our final format/delivery.

Delivery is paramount. I know many people (including me) have been asked for a Final stereo Master mixed in ProTools. Some people instantly ask “do you need the mix session or just the final output” this is because (and I’m betting some have already laughed at this thought)  you will already be thinking about taking the raw work and loading it into your favorite DAW like Cubase or Logic. This is your workflow. You know that you have a certain set of tools and a way you work, templates, plugins, setups… already to go and get you on the way to finishing this piece. Working in your environment is a great thing. You are king… but hold on, the director of this piece has said they want to send it to there guy in New York and tweak your work around the film and he needs the ProTools session…. now you are thinking, shit, I need to get this Cubase mix into Pro Tools…. and now my friend, you are back to “Fix in the Mix” adding countless hours on to your time of completion. Maybe a bit of work in ProTools is not so bad to do from time to time.

This is the main core of my process of Work Flow. The systems. Now I love working with many different products, and I do find sometimes I am bias towards the “fruity” computers but I try not to get stuck and become an OS or DAW snob. Look, if you don’t know ProTools because its not like Cubase or Logic, then shame on you and people like me may get your work. I know what you are saying but what Im saying is don’t stick with one thing for ever, after all its only software. I suggest that if you don’t like a program, find out why not. Break it down yourself, Don’t rely on Sound on sound to make up your mind for you, actually play with it. Its the same for editors for video. Don’t believe Final Cut is the world. Now before you start slamming me, realise my point. I’m not saying you can’t have favorites, I’m saying be open and work with whats needed. They are TOOLS at the end of it, and if the company that has hired you has said they want a ProTools mix and you have to deliver one, then that’s why you should know that system.

Sometimes you may have to get hold of certain gear to achieve the final result, but this is a step that you should really think long and hard about. Do you really need that 4K camera when your delivery is for short film and internet? The expense and the additional computational workflow for that system alone will need more time and more money. Do you really need that 12 channel Nagra recorder for location when you are doing an interview setup?
People argue to the cows turn blue that ProTools has a better DAW “sound” and cubase can do this and Logic is better for that… its the work flow you are use to that dictates  your passion for a system. “You can’t mix that with only 3 plugins and 2GB of RAM” Im sorry to tell you this but, yes… yes you can.

This brings me on to the gear.


You need the gear relevant for the job. A boom operator would not use an SM57 to mic the lead role, for example. Work in to the cost if you need to hire but plan out ever step where possible. If its a location shoot and on set you have 6 people talking do you hire boom ops or clip mic? all channels or downmix? Its choices that you make, that define your workflow process. There is always the chain around your neck that says “you can’t do this with that as its 3 years old”. Listen buddy. I live by the rule I was once told by a master… “never trust a man that has not used an Atari 1040st” What I actually mean by this is… if your system is 5 years old and craps out with 4 channels of audio… look at stepping up before you do yourself a professional injury. Its not gonna get you through… but if your system records 16 audio channels has a really great audio interface and could produce top results for clients 5 years ago and still can today…. why upgrade so quickly just because of the operating system is out of date? 

Technology is my point and If you have already invested time and money into making your work flow… work, then you need to review your projects coming in and ask “could I be making more money are developing better or creating better if i upgraded to xxx unit” if the answer is maybe, re-look at the question and see what areas need the improvement. Most of the time everyone has only upgraded to keep with the curve. Just think. People where/are making entire albums of amazing work, editing fantastic films and production professional results with gear slightly older (or even analogue) because they have the perfect work flow for them, they KNOW what is the best way to produce what is required and they spend the time in the planning stages.

Technology is, like spiderman, a blessing and a curse. If you get hooked up on the fact you are always upgrading or getting the latest, you can’t develop a workflow. I am not saying don’t learn and keep up-to-date, because the people that dwell on the past and the glory days/equipment will Die out with that stuff. Instead, take time to seperate the two elements. Celebrate technology and integrate the new into your workflow when you feel it will make you more efficient. Keep your workflow working and making money. Define your outcome, your time, your cost, your gear and your product. Work backwards and always check at the source.

I have equipment that is getting on, but I’m not pushing my upgrade until I hit the wall that will not let me progress. A computer from 2 years ago that was the top spec then, is a million times better than what year 2000 Ash Tidball had. If I can’t perfect myself with this machine, what will the new system do? Also award winning product is down to the delivery of the content. The users or people on the other side of the curtain will never judge or break things down just because of an operating system or a version4 piece of software compared to version 5.2, and as creators and producers, why should we?




More On ‘Civvy Street’ Retweet By Patrick Stewart

The film I Directed, ‘Civvy Street’, is currently on the schedule at the ‘Pentagon Channel’ in America. Its hitting a lot of people and getting some interest, and even Sir Patrick Stewart has commented; even retweeted for us. Here is so information that is currently out and about in the big “w w w”.

powerful British films @CivvyStreetFilm and ‘Fallout’ every 4hrs on Pentagon Channel. On next 18:00 EST

Don’t you just love it when Patrick Stewart enjoys the film you Directed? I do! @PeteCarruthers & I been working hard on “@CivvyStreetFilm”

‘Civvy Street’ and ‘Fallout’ are currently being broadcast every 4 hours on The Pentagon Channel! Next one is at 23:00 GMT (18:00 Eastern time) and then 03:00 GMT (22:00 Eastern). You can stream it live using the link below, although the quality isn’t amazing. You American peeps might have access to it on cable/satellite, so let me know what the quality is like over there. The program is a combination of 4 shorts, with Civvy Street 1st and Fallout 3rd.
Share it around thanks!


“The Test is Complete…”

…. as the Flaming Lips once said. Yes the project of the surround sound system battle has been completed with massive success, all thanks to you! Yes we had a great response to our call and our results are in and are now ready to be sorted and turned into T numbers and Mean mediums.. or medians, ( keep thinking of that Show “Millennium” with Lance Henriksen, I can imagine him as a mean medium, beating people up if they say his powers are weak….) Anyway. It’s all that statistical stuffs that I will need to talk to some one who cares enough about numbers to help me out. We had fun, we had doughnuts, and we have an interesting set of scores for our referenced ITU 775 standard Genelec (thanks to Bernie) 5.1 setup verses our Bose Sound bar. It’s too early to tell, but I know my ears can hear a distinctive coloration of the sound via the Bose unit and also it has a very interesting “immersive surround’ offering. I will say more once the test is in.

A Massive thank you to Lee from Bose, Arndale Manchester, for whom the test would not be possible.


#bose #Mscret2013 #research #MaddocksTidball #surround #genelec @Trolomite

Listening Tests

I am putting a call to see how many people would like to be involved in a immersive surround sound listening test? To be held on Thursday at 5PM – 7PM (depending on the group sizes) at media city. The test only lasts about 12 minutes and you have free doughnuts! It will be a chance for us to collect data on Surround sound systems using your expert ears. Please let me know if you would like to come and be involved and don’t forget…. free doughnuts. We do need the numbers so please help us out. Ash Tidball & Paul Maddocks.

Spreadable… like butter.

Media…. Viewers. How to spread the word? Well you need content, the luck of the internet and some social tools that will push your awesome thing to the furthest reaches of the world wide web… Oh, and I don’t know what the magic combo is but if you do, please contact me. So to create spreadable media can be achieved, but several things need to be in place and a difference in how its presented makes something from spreadable to go viral… the difference is: my little video here, although totally awesome and has been out for a year or so and pushed, only a select number (429) people have actually watched it. I don’t know why, but maybe I need more awesome beautiful people to say its cool? do I need more monkeys in my work? more boobs? what is the magic…. 429 shows that, although my work is good, its not viral. Compare that to this little ditty and you’ll see 127 million views… viral. No doubt. All from a security camera feed of a panda. Shit, viral is odd.

Ok so, a while back a good friend of mine, let’s call him “Mr. Bane”, and I had a tackling discussion about the concept of creating a piece of content for the “viral” success of the internet. We waged on, I said its possible, and he said it wasn’t. I believe that content can be created to go viral, it just takes the content makers to package the damn thing correctly. He said the success of such a thing is not something that can be generated commercially, its a natural thing. Viral just happens… or words to that affect.

Take this viral video… quite the incident right? Poor girl. Not fake but a really bad accident, or ‘epic fail’ as the kids say.

Well, linking back to my story, I almost shit the bed when I got a email from “Mr Bane” a few months later. “Turns out you can go viral on purpose” was all it read, and a link to here.

Wow. Ok so now you too can go viral… well, not quite. From what I can figure it takes a ‘trending’ theme, “Twerking”, a pretty girl and a disaster. Well that’s what I think. I don’t think it would have been successful if these three elements weren’t in place. I mean, if it was a dude in the same situation people would watch but you wouldn’t get that same thing. I don’t know but I see that viral normally has a funny or destructive element. Genius and beauty get their turn but nowhere near as high a hit rate, all because someone says “ah man did you see that woman catch on fire” or “shit bro, this guy ran into a wall, its funny shit”.

So after my rant, where are we. well, I’m no closer to making anything viral but I always hope my work gets seen. I think more and more companies will find a way to make “viral” more mainstream and a marketing thing and when that day comes we’ll all be bored of that stuff. It’ll be like flash mobs dancing to some Glee crap in a train station, or people jumping on the auto tuning TV band wagon, a thing can be taken and remixed and messed with and eventually people grow tired of the same rehashed blagh…

So… in the meantime, here is some funny arsed stuff, by some talented men that don’t catch on fire but allow you to laugh your face off…. and of course, directed by me. This is BlackHand Productions ‘Mime Wars: Mime to the death – There will be mime’. Like it, spread it.


“I Love You” – Michael Constantino Music Video:

“The Sneezing baby Panda” – Original footage LJM Productions:

“Worse Twerk Fail ever” –

“‘Mime Wars: Mime to the death – There will be mime” –

Our Question.

In the next few months, I will be pestering several of you lucky people to take part in our Research project and our one question… “What are the perceived differences in the spatial impressions of surround sound formats”. This week we are tasked with making a video… I decided to make an advert to draw you into wanting to be part of the project.

We are currently breaking down our process to make it streamlined and to the point. We hope to be contacting the masses very soon.

Research Question Trailer. Track: One Step – Ash Tidball
On the other side to this advert, the video was made with a selection of mobile tools and apps on the iphone and also Final Cut to complete the edit.

#Mscret2013, #research, #MaddocksTidball5.1

Recording ‘Nothin’ To Say’ the album

The past few years has seen the development of the album by my band ‘Dr. Tid & The Triple Eights’. Its been a very long time in the making and refining the tracks and ideas has been a process stretched over two incarnations of the band. For now the band are resting whilst the completion of the album comes to an exciting resolve. As some may know, we have been recording with ‘The Brass Monkeys’ and ‘The Brass Masters’ along with additional honorary members of the band that have graced our recordings with some amazing play… at present, our tracks are now being conformed to greatness with the introduction of our outstanding female vocal troop. Rachael Swan & Tosin.

Now its true, not all the tracks will have these powered soulful vocals, but currently having 2 tracks down, the dynamic of the songs have really opened up to something with more soul than I could have imagined. The process has been quite straight forward, if not a long time coming, but the ladies have been working the harmonies in the sessions and coming at it fresh with new ways of hearing the melodies, and reworking my feeble attempt of falsetto, into a ‘brick wall’ sound of harmonies that Brain Wilson would be proud of.

Tech speaking, I have been using the Audio Technica AT3035. No processing on the way in, and currently, keeping with the 1970 sound of Dr. John, there is very minimal process in the mix of these vocals. I am using a slight SSL compressor on all 4 harmonies to pull it together. Now, the audio Technica AT3035 may not be a industry leader but, the tone is incredible. Clear and transparent with little presence peak. A large sound with weighty bottom end but with the clarity up along side some of the AKG counterparts at 3x the price. Back in 2001 this mic was about £200 (that’s like £200 in today’s money) the value is outstanding. I’ve compared this alongside the SE2000 and others of the same range and it wins hands down every time. SoS did a great review over 10 years ago?! jeez…

also here is the spec sheet: Audio Technica AT3035 Tech Sheet

With the tracks pulling together, we are on the road to get the album finished in the next 6 months…. I hope. Watch this space for some examples.  For now… have a listen to me band!


Sound on Sound Article, 2001:

Audio Technica AT3035 Tech Sheet

Rachael Swan – SoundCloud



Research Questioning?

The time has come. The research question for this years bout at the MSc. Currently we are working on narrowing one question. The question is…. “What are the Perceived differences in the spatial impressions in surround sound formats”… and if that didn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will!

Working with Paul from 3khz Studios, we aim to smash this research in to a fine statistical pulp. We are looking at the main parts to break down. Will codecs affect our preserved understanding of the sound? Will the AES standards of positioning and degrees of speaker separation change our immersive response? We shall select different formats or configurations but using ITU-R BS.775-3 (ITU, 2012) as a reference for system setup. Our initial thoughts will be to conduct subjective tests of approximately 20 participants in a controlled listening environment, and follow up with blackbox hard data.

We aim to keep our subjective tests controlled and understanding the MUSHRA line of testing as defined by ITU-R BS.1534 will help us stay on target.

I’m already going mental from reading standards and white pages, but I do believe we have a structured layout of when we are to commence with testing. I maybe firing some questions out to you, the people that matter! Keep an eye out in the next few weeks to become involved in our research project.

#Mscret2013, #research, #mushra


ITU. 2003. Recommendation ITU-R BS.1534:!!PDF-E.pdf

ITU. 2012. Recommendation ITU-R BS.775-3:!!PDF-E.pdf

ITU-R BS.775-3 (2012): Multichannel stereophonic sound system with and without accompanying picture.

ITU-R BS.1534 (2003): Method for the subjective assessment of intermediate quality level of coding systems.

3khz Studios

ZomCo – HandMade Film Festival

The film I wrote with Keith Lewis, ‘ZomCo: Waste Management & Body Disposal” will be show at the HandMade Film Festival….

The Venue? ‘A Small Cinema’ – Teddington Rd, Moston

It will be featured in a line up called ‘The Cinema Expericence” ZomCo will be shown Between 2-30pm – 4-30pm. The festival aims to bring people together and showcase the talent on their own doorstep. Films that celebrate the creativity of filmmakers and the communities of North Manchester. Come on down, support cinema and little old us in the process.

Check out the info here:

You can also see the film at

Also… follow us on facebook


New start to the new year, academically speaking

20130926-230523.jpgThis week has seen the introduction of over 330 new students into the Media City University of Salford TV studios. For the past three months we have been recalibrating, refurbishing, and unfortunately, not resting, to make sure the start of semester for our new crews is smooth sailing.

As well as stepping up a gear at the University, Directing for an NHS supported film ‘Civvy Street’ written by Peter Carruthers and composing for the Christie
20130926-230535.jpgthis summer, I also have several commitments to complete, or at least get underway this year; my band’s album, a concept album with art, my new film (with writer Keith Lewis and actors Peter Carruthers and Gerry McLaughlin), the music video for the band Shmoo and last but not least, the continuation of my MSc in Audio Production. #Mscret13

I shall be posted a few words over the next 13 weeks to keep you all abreast of the success rate… If any!

Follow The White Rabbit!

WhiteRabbitsThe past few months I have been on the set, in the film and behind the desk to InnerDarkStudios working on the post production audio to help shape ‘White Rabbit’ the new feature length opus from Director/Writer David Gowin. Being a Southerner like me, we had had some great laughs on set, even allowing me a small cameo as a copper! Can you imagine? The process of the production has been a smorgasbord of different locations and shoots, but the end result is a 59 minute killer, thriller, crazy world of intrigue and detective work.

We follow Alice,

“Alice Carter believes she has the ability to see visions. What is the truth behind her unique gift? When the visions become more disturbing Alice is referred to specialist Dr John Hatton. Has she met him before? What is the significance of the message ‘Follow the White Rabbit’?  As her search for the answers continue, Alice uncovers dark secrets and ruthless assassins determined to stop the truth from being discovered.

A story of mystery, murder and the totally bizarre!  Inspired by the classic tale ‘Alice in Wonderland’.”

On set I was working on the location sound with others on alternate shoots. This means in my head, until I saw the Final Cut, I had about a third of the film… sound varied from setup and location but after 5 days in IDS, I was able to clean and work what was required. I was also able to be adventurous and work additional effects, foleys and processing to how I saw (or heard) fit. Some great scope on making a few sections really pop by the addition of everything from transformed voices to scratching rabbits. I also got to bounce some director ideas round for alternative shots with Dave.

Most of the location equipment was either NTG2 mics or my AKG 416. The portable recorders were the old faithful Marantz 660 and I think the 670. Solid little units. Most of the sessions I was on, I setup a Sennheiser wireless relay to the Canon 5D/7D depending on the shoot day. Taking the out from the 660 I had a clean signal that could be used  and was really easy to sync with.

Make sure you see it via the links or go to one of the festival screens.

White Rabbit Website

The Christie – composing for a cause.

ChristieA week ago marked the launch of the Christie’s new campaign ‘The Christie Cancer Trust’s Living With and Beyond Cancer’. A wonderful section of films to allow people to explain and talk toDamian and ash others about who they are and the affects cancer has had.  Working closely with ‘Into Productions’ and director Damian Cox, I was asked to compose for these compelling stories. Originally set with 2 months to write, the release date was brought forward and composing became a battle of beautiful piano recordings vs coffee fueled nights. The premiere of the ‘soft launch’ was a complete success, the patients who starred in the films were able to give their thoughts on the project and all aspects from creation to completion. It was a great evening meeting the people I came to know through the edit viewer in real life.

The purpose of the documentaries is to provide advice and information to viewers about what they can expect once their treatment comes to an end. The films all follow former and current Christie patients and were designed to be peer-to-peer pieces, with the subjects sharing their own stories and anecdotes about life after cancer.

Those involved in making the films hope they will be a form of support for anyone else who completes their cancer treatment and is left wondering what comes next, and how (or if) their lives will ever return to normal. Although the three films follow Christie patients, they are designed to resonate with any person who has had cancer, no matter where they were treated.

Here are links to the finished films online. Living with and beyond cancer

Here is the link to our good friends.



Civvy Street – Premiere at the Corner House

Civvy StreetThe Time has come. the official launch party. Tickets are free, but only a limited number are available.
Please only book if you are definitely attending. You can book by:
Messaging  (Peter Carruthers) on Facebook.

Civvy Street – Filming underway

pikeRecently filming of the project ‘Civvy Street’ has been in full swing. Peter Carruthers has been in the USA to promote our film ‘FallOut’ and in the process, delivering his monologue (Civvy Street), written for the NHS, to the masses of the world. He, along with Emma Kennedy, have adapted the works ready for a 20 minute cinematic version. I have been asked to head the film as Director, and let me tell you, I run a tight ship. Its been a full 2 months of prep just to get to the first shoot, and with only 6 weeks total from shoot day one to cinema release, I have felt the burn, but like I always say, “You don’t feel the burn, you don’t get the return” meaning… work hard and you’ll see results. Results are an all time high currently. We finished the official shooting on Sunday. We have a few pickups and a shot we are in talks with a friend of ours about which will add a higher level to the film.

The script is extremely diverse and interesting to work with, funny quips, dark humor and shock realizations are a beautiful contrast up at pikeallowing me to try a plethora of techniques. And The Crew…. Well I’ve had a stellar team behind me on this, writer, actor and AD, Pete has been solid and concise. Audio has been set to our friend Rob Baldwin, with his many successes in film, he is showing us that he has the skills and clarity to keep the workflow smooth and hassle free. Fiona Broadbent has been on board as Chief Grip and Technical assist and also keeping us on target with her keen sense of continuity, realism of the shot and ideas a plenty. Casting has been superb for the roles required, I think this is aided a lot by Pete’s keen eye for finding people that are matched well to the characters. With over 37 locations from Rivington Pike to Salford’s Old PintPot used and differing weather conditions, we needed all the help we could get and I’m glad we had Dave Gowin and James Grady on hand to help with tech and gripping.

Its been a light hearted shoot, lots of laughs and innuendos, as you expect, but all the way the cast and crew have been outstanding and professional, our makeup guru Cara Frost has been on every step to get our characters integrated into the scenes and some of our people have even become on set sandwich makers. Its a busy 3 weeks left, with a workflow of edit, cut, eat chicken wings, edit, ADR, more wings, Audio, Music, color, Wings, Master, Test, do it again as I burnt the master wrong, wings, Blu ray, DCP, Cinema. heart attack. Rest. Success.

watch this space for more details on launch and how to see.



FallOut – Spreading Awareness & Winning Awards film FallOut in 2012 was dedicated to spread awareness of the condition that millions face daily, PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can and does affect all types of people, not just military personnel, but in this film we follow the life of Mike. A British Army veteran suffering with the psychological wounds of war. We follow a day in Mike’s life as he struggles to adjust and survive in an increasingly lonely and hostile civilian world.

Written by Peter Carruthers and directed by Dan Price, we worked non stop over the space of 4-6 months as a small crew to piece together this short 10 minute film. I can’t tell you how many hours the edit took between us or how many times I almost went insane listening to the war scenes I had to develop, but after the grade was done and the sound was leveled, we took a step outside into the sunlight and let our eyes adjust. Editing is always a dark, caffeine fueled party and the chance of scurvy is quite high not seeing the sun. Our set crew was minimal with key players helping and crafting along the way. Special effects masters Rik McEvoy Crompton and Cara Frost were on the scene helping enrich the realism and finer details. The shoot days were relatively compact and smooth, the leg work was in compiling the raw images and tailoring the story narrative with little dialogue. For the first instance, Dan and Pete put together a test shoot, almost shot for shot, of what would be the storyboard. From here I had a lot to work from. The sound design for this project was always a key role in selling the story. Alongside Pete’s sculpted writing (and the bleak portrayal of Mike through his acting) and Dan’s meticulous eye, I had to realize the horror and torment of how a PTSD sufferer may feel. I started the work by researching weapon sounds and recurring themes like the helicopter (a recurring forever present sound that is relentless and yet normal in Mike’s unfortunate state.) to bring the aesthetic of war to the film. We took key moments to enhance the emotion with a single sound gesture (in some cases silence) and in other scenes a simple letter falling to the ground could seem explosive to Mike. Following the edit and sculpting to the visual, we were able to enhance and convincingly allow the listener to be in Mike’s world. I started to become concerned on completion of the soundscape and the film, how would veterans or sufferers react? I’ve not suffered from PTSD and my main fear was that my portrayal of what I imagined it could be like was way off. Our first official screening put this to rest. A cinema (The Corner House Manchester) full to capacity of media makers, PTSD sufferers, PTSD support groups and guest speakers was the test field. I watched the crowd more than the screening to gauge their reactions. After speaking with several ex army and military people and support group organizers, I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that were ready to congratulate us, congratulate the Film…. and my sound design. One guest said “its odd how you can reach into my head and pull sounds out I’d thought no one would ever hear”.

Our Film has been used by Universities, Support Groups and schools to help spread the awareness and recently we have been working closely with the NHS on a project in the near future.  In addition we have been in the film festival circuit and gaining notoriety across the UK and now the USA.

We were entered into the G.I Film Festival in Washington D.C A prestigious non-profit educational organization dedicated to sharing the military experience in and out of the arena of war.  The festival is the first in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film. After entering in and Pete going to the US, he also performed his monologue ‘Civvy Street’ (more to come on that project),  ‘Fallout’ won best short  (best short narrative or documentary under 20 mins) at the GI Film Festival.

This news has been wonderful and several talks are in motion for our film to hit support networks in America. Here is a review on the event. full Link here

‘One of the films, Fallout by Peter Carruthers, did a particularly excellent job of showing the experiences of a “normal” day through the eyes of a British Army veteran (and you can watch a short trailer for it here). Literally “seeing” how terrifying or confusing walking down a perfectly ordinary city street can be for someone with PTSD, or the way in which a veteran can be trying so hard to reacclimate to his family and former life, and still fail, was both wrenching and enlightening.’

The Film is not available online but if you are interested in seeing it, contact me.


A growing list of places, festivals and people the film has reached:

Greater Manchester Film Festival (printworks) – official short film selection.
Leeds International Film Festival.
Filmed Up – Cornerhouse.
Screening and Q&A  for National Veterans Mental Health Conference – university of York.
Screening and Q&A for PTSD awareness evening – Edge Hill University.
Screening and Q&A as part of East Lancashire Drug and Alcohol recovery services seminar.
Ongoing training for North West MV IAPT staff (Military Veterans Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) – NHS.
Ongoing training for all HMP staff by VICSO’s (Veterans In Custody Support Officers).
Training for all Remploy staff to aid their understanding of veterans issues.
Screening and speech by Peter Carruthers as part of ‘Beyond Fighting Fit’ Military Mental Health Conference in London (attended by service leaders from all over the UK, including ministers from the MoD and Department of Health.

Screening and performance of ‘Civvy Street’ plus Q&A session with Peter Carruthers in Nassau County, New York.
Winner of Best Short Short at the GI Film Festival in Washington DC.
Screening and performance of ‘Civvy Street’ plus Q&A session with Peter Carruthers at the Walter Reid National Military Medical Center in Washington DC.
Screening and Q&A session at Imperial War Museum North.
Screening and Q&A session as part of a GP training session at Prestwich Hospital.

Hopefully more to come. Watch this space…


The RE20

The Re20… Ah many days from my youth, and up until two weeks ago, I had longed for my own Re20. I finally coughed up the cash and bought one after debating for months over the Shure SM7b. I said to myself, yeah the SM7b is awesome, and was good enough for Michael Jackson, but i know this mic sound and that first impression was all it took. The first time I heard this mic on my vocal, well, it was something different. A body, tone, clarity and impact that said “hey, if life goes wrong Ash, you could be a radio presenter with that voice, you got the face for it too.”

This is a common response (to the mic, not my face) as most people who have ever heard a radio would have heard this mic being used. Presenters and DJs alike love this mic for a number of reasons, the above I’ve already mentioned, but mostly due to what Electro-voice says is the Variable-D technology helping to keep the proximity effect under control… Basically you can get close and the bass will stay nominal. To me, it feels like a natural compression the minute you get close.

The EV RE20 is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. Its stated to have a response of 45hz-18Khz and is generally flat with a slight peak around 9kHz. It features a bass rolloff switch cutting a slope from 300HZ. It does require a large amount of gain. Up to 50-60db. I have the Apogee duet for this and the preamps are clean with a plentiful amount of headroom. You can get very close to the mic to the point where your face is up in the grill, Its has a sturdy frame made from steel and a solid little clamp grip which means lower handling noise.

It’s early days and only been working on a few test vocal parts but I aim to record the entire vocal section and vocal lead of the new ‘Dr. Tid & The Triple Eights’ album “Nothin’ to Say”

If you get the chance, try this mic on a vocal or a guitar amp. I guarantee you’ll love the result. We used to call it “The Pleasurer” for the joy it brings, not because it look obscene.

Watch this space.

InnerDarkStudios: Reconfig

Ash @ InnerDarkStudiosGoing to start working on a new project fairly soon, a secret concept album with Julius Way. (Whom is a genius by the way.) All I can say is it involves a Linn Drum, all my synths and some amazing guitar skills for him…. umm, alright, I guess there will also be a talkbox in there.

On another note, Its taken almost two years and several band members but my band ‘Dr. Tid & The Triple Eights’ Album ” Nothin’ to Say” is almost ready to start mixing. Now we are looking at putting the guest female vocal artists on and also the final brass parts.

In the meantime to prep for the workload (and the second stage to my MSc) I’ve had to do a bit or rewiring and configuring at InnerDarkStudios. “New MIDI lines and audio patching for all the synths in the picture?” I hear you cry… well yes. I thought it was a good chance to get the ‘GoPro’ out and take a wide shot. Enjoy the jaw line!

SSL C10 HD: Interview

As part of my job as TV Studio Manager at the University of Salford, I occasionally have to play with the latest broadcast toys in town… sigh… but one must go on. In the year of setting up and programming the desk for the different lessons and arrangements for students, academics and commercial work, I was asked by SSL (New York Office) for some words on their systems in performance and functionality. You’ll be pleased to know, you can read it here.


Recording Robert John

Recording with Robert John and the band for a 5.1 surround project. Close mics and the Soundfield SPS422B.An MSc project was in place for me and a team last November to seek out a band and record in a variety of different recording situations and to achieve one goal… A broadcast grade 5.1 surround studio recording and a 5.1 field recording. I thought the best option would be to combine these elements for a comparison and contrast. With the project being predominately audio, I decided that we would need to get a band that were tight and have something that would allow the project to shine, a little room to breath… An acoustic act I’ve always loved “Robert John featuring Kevin Morel & Sam Buckley.


The Full writeup and examples can be read and watched here. This achieved a ‘1st class’ distinction grade.

Digital Studio Production Recording Project PDF to view

A massive thankyou to the lads, it was a great day of recording. Make sure you all check out these guys live. Click here to get in touch with Robert John
Videos of the recording with the stereo Studio mix.


Surround: The Double Mid Side Pair

For an MSc project I set out to record a Double Mid Side pair. Interesting results? well yes. the Jerry Rig V2 was what went out in the field for the actual recording.

Phasing and creating channels from a mono source had confused me until a few years ago.  Once I had mastered mid side recording I felt that this would be the perfect opportunity to try the double mid side setup.  This arrangement calls for two mics with a cardioid pattern facing front and rear, and a figure 8pattern from a third microphone.  The idea is to record all three channels and then on playback split the figure 8 into four channels.  Hard left, hard right out of phase, rear left, rear right out of phase.  Adding these four channels to the signals from the front central and rear central mics, reproduce the illusion of being stood dead centre of the event, in my case the central reservation of a dual carriageway.  The mix for this only had a compressor on the main.  I wanted to keep this recording as natural and raw as possible and true to the ways of the panning and phase.  I feel with more space between the microphones I may have got bigger separation and made the sound wider but for a first attempt at double mid-side I have learnt a lot about this technique and feel I will be using it on future recordings.  The microphones used were 2x TBone condenser mics with cardioid pattern and an AKG C414 xls in Fig8 pattern. (See right) I recorded in 16-bit 48 kHz on a Tascam four channel portable recorder. For the video, a Go Pro Hero 2.