A SONAR Story with Cory Hawthorne

After seeing Vancouver’s own “Payolas” at the age of 15, singer songwriter, guitarist and sound designer Cory Hawthorne knew he wanted to become a musician. 2 weeks later he bought his first guitar, a no name Les Paul copy and it changed the rest of his life. He went on from there to get a degree in music from the University of British Columbia in 2000 and release his first solo album in 2012 under his name called The King of the Broken Hearts. In the midst of pursuing his dream to be a rock star, a guitar student Cory was teaching approached him about getting into sound design for video games, and for the last 18 years has become an expert at the craft. He has released many titles including Prototype; one of the best-selling games from Radical Entertainment along with Scarface and Simpsons Hit & Run, which went on to sell over 7 million copies . This last June, with a small team at Charm Games, Cory released his first virtual reality game titled “FORM”.

In January 2017, Six soon to be very tired people, started on what would become a new benchmark for VR games through a lot of blood, sweat, support from their families, and sacrifices.

“It’s immersive, engaging and beautiful, setting a new standard for virtual reality and visual design”
 4/5 – Hardcore Gamer

“FORM shows a command of the medium that few have grasped with such clear intention”
 8.5/10 – Road to VR

“Charm Games has created a mesmerizing experience from start to finish.”
 4/5 – VRFocus

Cory had a very limited time of 6 months to compose all the music, create all the sound FX from scratch, and record all the voice over dialog for FORM but he used this hard constraint to ground him in the project. Collaboration with his team allowed him to make decisions quickly and focus on what was most appropriate for the game.

“Working on FORM was like a sound designer’s dream. I had unlimited options but there was one thing that I knew and that was if it sounded good, so I had to trust myself all the time throughout the process. We reached the end of the line and I had to write and record 3 tracks in 3 hours because we were releasing the game in 2 days. I tried to focus on the mood and nail it and not get caught up in what scale I should use. Is this a Lydian vibe? I didn’t have time for that stuff because I had to finish a track in that hour.”

At the start of the project, Creative Director Derek Young told Cory to “Be Weird” and “Do something no one would recognize”. For Cory, that meant that everything needed to be unique and made from scratch. He utilized the Rapture Pro synth for nearly all the FX design, sometimes starting with a simple sine wave and tweaking from there. The lesser known synth company, WOK VST Plug-in’s Ghost synth was utilized for several simple lead sounds in the musical compositions. To create the voices for the game, Cory recruited local talent for many of the roles but ended up being the voice of the lead character’s computer. What originally started as a test recording from an iPod 5 microphone had just the right nuance to be the real voice so all the rest of the computer dialog was recorded on the same iPod 5 and used in the final game.

 

How can others get into game sound design?

“It’s a weird thing. You have to be tough and be ready to move with all the changes. Get ready for a lot of late nights. You need to go into it knowing that the industry is changing all the time and for most, the days of having your own studio is gone. It’s all contract work or not a full-time job for most people. I’m very grateful to be where I am at Charm. A great way to start though is to make your own original FX library using synthesis and your own recordings, as well as to find the students in your area who are making games or going to school for it and connect with them. Work with them for what they can afford, or even for free or on spec if they have no budget and you like the project, until you can get off the ground.”

If you could give one piece of advice to other SONAR users, what would it be?

These days you can get a mic, an audio interface, a copy of SONAR, and a laptop for almost nothing so there is no excuse to not make music but you should start now using what you have and don’t try to sound like anybody else. As Stravinsky said “The more constraint one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution”.

Cory Hawthorne

You can hear Cory’s music on Spotify, SoundCloud, and also at his webpage www.coryhawthorne.com

Follow him on Twitter: @CoryHawthorne

Charm Games

For more information, visit the Charm Games website at: www.charmgames.com

Subscribe to their YouTube channel: youtube.com/c/charmgames

Follow them on Twitter: @CharmGames

Like them on Facebook: Facebook.com/CharmGames

Play FORM Today

Oculus Rift Store: www.oculus.com/experiences/rift/1491102584268860/

Get it on Steam: store.steampowered.com/app/408520/FORM/

Cakewalk wants to tell your story!

Through blood, sweat and tears you’ve overcome obstacles to reach a level of success that you’re proud of. We want to hear your stories, and with your permission, we’d like to share them with our community.

We will not publish any of this information without your permission. If your story is selected, we will reach out to you via the email address you provide, and we will schedule a follow-up interview with you to learn more.

Tell us your story here!

Norman Matthew Faces Life – “As Strange as Angels” – New Solo Record Created in SONAR Platinum

Norman Matthew Heads Back Into His SONAR StudioIt’s a cloudy summer morning in Dallas, TX, and Norman Matthew is crawling back into his SONAR Studio seemingly picking up where he left off a year ago, July 2016. During that month in 2016 on TX Interstate 10, his previous band Murder FM found themselves road-challenged and entangled in an accident in their tour vehicle 20 miles outside of a tour stop in El Paso, TX.  At this moment, Vocalist/ Guitarist/Producer Norman Matthew knew his life was about to take a turn.”

“I loved and still love Murder FM. It was my identity. I loved those guys more than anyone can imagine. We had a thousand ups and downs together—we traveled the world with our music—we saw more miles than many will see in their lives, and we did it together. We went through marriages, divorces, and even saw a man lose his life in front of us on tour—obstacles were no stranger to us. Mistakes… I made plenty of them but the road was the only place that ever really felt like home. It was the only time I truly recognized myself. But when worlds collided on the road in July 2016, already embroiled in chaos in my own personal life, I knew there was nothing more important than making sure every breath I took was for my son. I had to make a change—and it became evident that my son meant everything to me, and I needed to put that at the forefront of my life.”

Continue reading Norman Matthew Faces Life – “As Strange as Angels” – New Solo Record Created in SONAR Platinum

Pro SONAR User Murray Daigle Holds Mixing Clinics at LONG & MCQUADE – ONTARIO

Producer/Songwriter/Mixer Murray Daigle out of Toronto concludes a successful short run of Mixing clinics this evening at Long & McQuade stores in Canada. Murray Daigle is a Toronto based Music Producer, Songwriter and Mixer with a long illustrious career in the Canadian and international music industry. His songs and productions have earned him Certified Gold and multiple Socan #1 Awards. He has extensive experience in developing and launching many successful music careers, including his consulting work with the Vic Park Group, developing Canada’s pop sensation Neverest.

His most recent success includes Producing, Mixing and Co-writing “Together We Are One”, The official theme song of the 2015 Pan Am Games (Performed by Serena Ryder). His list of hit records spans two decades, beginning with hit making bands like Not By Choice and US Billboard charting acts like Cauterize, selling numbers well into six figures. Murray has worked for all the major labels and numerous indie labels around the world, producing, engineering, mixing and mastering hundreds of tracks, all from his home base MDS Recording.

"The new SONAR is like a music partner for me.  I rely on it daily for so many different things relating to what I do to deliver radio-ready tracks. There are so many different ways to approach music with SONAR, and the inspiration it generates is creative and effortless." 

Continue reading Pro SONAR User Murray Daigle Holds Mixing Clinics at LONG & MCQUADE – ONTARIO

A New Era For Cakewalk (an open letter from CTO Noel Borthwick)

Why we introduced Lifetime Updates

With the introduction of Lifetime Updates for SONAR Platinum, there have been many theories as to why Cakewalk would take such a bold move. For us it’s simple—it’s better for customers, it’s better for us, and we believe this way of doing business is the future, so we’re embracing it today.

Some history: In the past (pre 2015), we followed a more traditional annual upgrade cycle where we released a single version of SONAR each year. This model was flawed on many levels, both for developers and end users. As developers, we’re under extreme pressure to finish a product by a certain date to meet a revenue goal – often regardless of whether it’s ready or not.

SONAR-Platinum-Lifetime-Updates

Adding a lot of features to a product in a short cycle can create problems even skilled QA teams and beta testers won’t find. Furthermore, end users have to try and learn a huge amount of information at once—which is much less efficient than learning features at one’s own pace over time.

Rolling Updates: So we did away with annual versions of SONAR and decided to work on one version —continuously. We can make smaller incremental changes at a faster pace without disrupting the end user’s stability and workflow, as well as react more quickly to user requests. No more waiting until the next version to get problems resolved as is the case with many other products. We call this model “Rolling Updates” and as a developer and CTO of Cakewalk, I love it!

Rolling Updates also provides benefits beyond making new features available as soon as they’re ready. If something needs fixing or improving, we can just fix it and ship it without your having to wait a whole year. For example the Mix Recall, Patch Points, and Upsampling features all benefited from this interaction with end users. And doing features incrementally, in shorter time periods, promotes better stability and performance.

Although it’s never easy to do something disruptive in an industry that’s resistant to change (remember the outcry when Netflix decided to focus on streaming instead of DVDs?), the response has been decisive and positive. We didn’t want to end up like the record companies who refused to acknowledge the emergence of MP3s and digital media as a distribution model, and became almost irrelevant in the process.

Doing Rolling Updates for the past year-and-a-half has convinced us this approach is far superior to the huge yearly update—so much so, that for a limited time, we’ve made the bold decision to offer Lifetime Updates for SONAR Platinum, giving you all future SONAR updates for free.

Lifetime Updates shake up the mix even more, and offer a better way of doing business that benefits everyone. One great side effect is you get to help us improve SONAR during this process with your feedback and suggestions, creating a partnership with a common goal: You want to use the finest software in the world, and we want to create it.  That’s why we are doubling down by offering the opportunity to join us on this journey.

With SONAR Analytics now at our disposal, and a responsive feedback portal on its way, we’ll be monitoring your comments, feedback, and requests closely so we can respond quickly and ensure that your experience with SONAR is…awesome. At Cakewalk, we believe that there’s no better way to succeed than by having happy customers. It really is that simple.

SONAR OS X Alpha for Mac

OS X Compatibility Coming

What’s more, SONAR will soon be available to a brand new audience of music creators with our SONAR OS X Alpha, coming this Fall.

With Windows and Mac split almost evenly among musicians, it made no sense to ignore half the market—or ignore the numerous requests over the years from music creators who’ve wanted to experience SONAR’s superior workflow, audio quality, and tools on the Mac.

For PC users who wonder if we will keep up the same pace of Windows development, the answer is an emphatic “yes”—we will never give up our lineage as a Windows-based DAW.

Since our announcement, I’ve received many e-mail’s from industry peers showing genuine excitement about SONAR on the Mac. In fact, having more people using SONAR will benefit Cakewalk long-term and improve the product as a whole. However we are still in the early stages of the Mac development project, so please be patient 🙂

All of this may seem too good to be true, and some people wonder if there’s a catch. But we’ve put a lot of thought into how we can make changes that benefit everyone. Cakewalk has experienced a major rejuvenation, and we want nothing more than to continue what has brought us to this point. We love the new Rolling Updates model, and even many users who resisted the idea at first have become converts after experiencing the many benefits.

Welcome to a better way to produce and experience music software, and thank you for joining us on this journey of innovation and excitement. We couldn’t have gotten to where we are without you.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Noel Borthwick
CTO, Cakewalk

[Noel Borthwick started at Cakewalk 18 years ago and has actively contributed to SONAR development since its inception. He is also a jazz guitar player and a SONAR user.]

HOW The Duke Western USES SONAR TO CREATE MUSIC FOR DUCK DYNASTY (AND MORE)

Here at Cakewalk we are fortunate to have an external team of rocket scientists who help test out SONAR beta releases.  This team is dedicated, passionate and most of all appreciated by all of us internally here at the Cake shop.  Recently I received a general email from one of my esteemed colleagues mentioning that one of our trustworthy beta soldiers was jumping off the beta-battlefield in lieu of another SONAR related activity.  Huh?  This peaked my curiosity and I felt obliged to dig a bit deeper on the subject.  What could “another SONAR related activity” involve?  SONAR Olympics? SONAR CPU Racing? SONAR Academy?

Featured Music Placements on Discovery Channel, History Channel, CBS, Bravo Network

Continue reading HOW The Duke Western USES SONAR TO CREATE MUSIC FOR DUCK DYNASTY (AND MORE)

How iLan Bluestone used SONAR Platinum on his new track “Bigger Than Love” (#1 on Beatport)

Just a few short years ago, we learned of a new up-and-coming artist who was using SONAR.  After introducing ourselves and learning more, the one thing that kept resonating were the infectious melodies and counterparts embedded into his tracks.  We were delighted to witness him working in SONAR, but at the same time very intrigued that he was using SONAR 8.5.

Soon after being in touch with iLan, we were able to catch up with him face to face in his studio just north of London for a night where we introduced SONAR X3 to him.  It was a fun night and very interesting to watch a pro’s reactions going from 8.5 to X3 considering that undoubtedly the platforms are truly different.  There were some moments of, “Whooaaah… that will save me a ton of time,” and there were moments of, “Ummm…that will take a while to get used to.”  Leaving iLan to his own devices we were really unsure where he would take it.

 

 

Toggling back and forth from 8.5 to X3 for a while, iLan finally found his stride with SONAR Platinum.  He told us, “After working on both 8.5 and X3, once I was on Platinum there was no going back.  The basic features alone like the smart tool and Mix Recall not only save me a lot of time, but allow me to create things I could not create in 8.5. With the amount of tracks I create and pace of my workflow, the fact that Platinum is rock solid and really fast means everything to me.  8.5 always allowed me to ‘not’ sound like everyone else in my genre, and Platinum just continues that path for me.”  iLan’s first full production in SONAR Platinum titled “Bigger Than Love,” a collaboration with singer/songwriter/artist Giuseppe de Luca was recently released on Anjunabeats and quickly found its way up the charts to the #1 spot on Beatport.

Continue reading How iLan Bluestone used SONAR Platinum on his new track “Bigger Than Love” (#1 on Beatport)

Completing the RPM Challenge with SONAR

RPM Challenge

Every February, a group of folks who can be described as ambitious, crazy, or some combination of the two undertake a challenge that few of us have ever considered. The challenge itself, at least in description, is simple. In twenty-eight days, or twenty-nine in this case, an album must be written and recorded in its entirety. Pre-existing material is not considered eligible, nor are covers. Yet despite this seemingly insurmountable workload, this challenge grows in participation by the year.

The challenge in question is known as the RPM Challenge. Created by the New Hampshire alternative newspaper The Wire in 2006, the RPM Challenge has proven year after year to be an irresistible hurdle for an ever-growing number of songwriters. After giving them some time to rest, we spoke with some SONAR users who participated in the 2016 edition of the challenge to get their take on the experience.

RPM Challenge SONAR Album 1Matt O’Grady participated with his project, The Wasted Miracles. Citing an immense amount of support from the RPM community via their forums and blogs, Matt has actually participated in multiple RPM Challenges. He finds the process to be exhausting (fair enough) but also incredibly rewarding. “Even the years in which I haven’t completed the challenge, I’ve walked away with one or two more songs than I normally would have,” he added.

Gary Fox also took part, and as someone who thrives under pressure he particularly enjoyed the tail end of the process. “I enjoy the marathon recording sessions of the very end. This tends be when the random moments of inspiration happen, where an idea for a part of song just kind of occurs that make the entire song,” he said, adding that after conferring with fellow RPM participants that this is a common experience. Continue reading Completing the RPM Challenge with SONAR

Create the trailer for Just Cause 3

Do you think you have what it takes to create the Just Cause 3 Launch Trailer? Now is your chance to prove it! Show us what you can do in a one to two-minute video. Square Enix is giving you complete freedom to come up with your own unique trailer, and the winner will become the official Just Cause 3 launch trailer!

Download the free, fully-functional SONAR Steam Edition demo and enter for a chance to win a Gibson music studio kit, including prizes from Cakewalk, Tascam, Neat Microphones and Epiphone – and a top spec gaming PC-rig!. Submission deadline is November 12th, 2015.

Visit the official Just Cause 3 Trailer Contest page

Here’s an example video that SoundtRec created using SONAR Steam Edition: (download the actual SONAR Project File to see how it was created)

Plus don’t forget to check out SONAR Steam Edition, now available on Steam!

What Windows 10 Means for Music Creators

Windows 10 is here, and our trusted code-commanders have been working closely with Microsoft to ensure an enhanced experience for our valued Cakewalk community.  Our benchmark testing has shown the new operating system to be very efficient with a lighter footprint.  In general, Windows 10 has outperformed Windows 8 in all of our tests in terms of performance and efficiency.  Subjectively speaking, the “look and feel” of this free upgrade is a much welcomed improvement over the “Metro” landscape of the previous operating system.  But what does this mean for music creators?

1.)    More responsive: Out of the gate people will notice a much snappier operating system.  The tweaks Microsoft made to the kernel and other parts of the OS in general have given it a responsive overhaul.

2.)    Upgrade ease:  Moving into Windows 10 is a very quick and easy upgrade.

3.)    Unified OS:  The best elements of Win 7, Win 8, and Win 8.1 have been combined into a streamlined experience with Win 10.  Store Apps and Desktop Apps seamlessly run side by side for a smooth universal experience.

4.)    New MIDI API available across all devices:  The new API allows multi-client access to single MIDI hardware and new jitter-free operation.  Microsoft worked hard on bringing this all together for better MIDI implementation.

5.)    Enhancements to the kernel: Microsoft has made changes in the multimedia scheduler and kernel components to minimize spikes – this can make a big difference in low-latency streaming apps like SONAR.

6.)    FLAC and ALAC Support:  Windows 10 has native support for these two codecs.  Both “Apple Lossless Audio Codec” and FLAC  could mean great things for Windows audio moving forward.

7.)    Much faster boot-time:  A lower footprint in memory combined with some new optimization techniques will get you up and running and making music faster than ever.

8.)    Runs smoother on older machines:  The lower memory footprint and optimization tweaks will also allow Win 10 to run more efficiently on older machines.  This is great news for Wn 7 users who never upgraded to Win 8.

9.)    Lower Latency:  15ms lower roundtrip latency using WASAPI (shared mode).

10.)  Core isolation: Drivers and applications can now isolate and dedicate low latency audio processing to a single CPU core.  This can minimize the effect of DPC latency spiking from networking, Bluetooth, or other DPC spiking processes by preventing interruptions to audio processing.

At Cakewalk, we are dedicated to staying on the forefront of technology.  Our CTO (featured below) and his team worked closely with Microsoft to make sure our products run smoothly on Windows 10.  We are very excited about this free update, and highly recommend it to our customers. Try SONAR with Windows 10 today for the ultimate music creation experience.

How Norman Matthew and Murder FM got their Recent Record Deal (Sony/RED)

Congratulations to SONAR user Norman Matthew and his band Murder FM for their first major-affiliated record released just last week.  Entitled Happily Neverafter, the 12 song full-length album was tracked mostly in SONAR over a period of time.  As many commercial records these days, this recording project started out as a demo and then as fate would have it, ended up in the hands of a label and a real-deal mixer (Famous/Sony Red and Beau Hill).

Murder FM have been on the fence about signing with different labels over the years since they debuted a video on http://www.revolvermag.com that shot out of nowhere.   In 2013, the track/video “We the Evil” took over the top spots surpassing major label artists next to Rob Zombie, and projected the band into the public eye as well as the industry eye.  The video alone had 150k views within a short time of it being released and is now up to 320k globally.

Finally, and recently, the band found the right label partner with Famous Records Global (Sony/Red) and the final touches were made which includes a death-defying remix of the focus-single-track by Tommy Lee of Motley Crue.  Interestingly enough, many of the tracks mixed by Beau Hill on the record were created by Norman in his SONAR studio stemming from demos he created over the years.

“SONAR allowed me to capture a lot of great moments where there was really no need to go back to the drawing board.”

Already sharing stages with bands such as Black Veil Brides, Orgy, Halestorm, Powerman 5000, Young Guns, Korn, The Used, The Birthday Massacre, Sick Puppies, Trapt, Rob Zombie, Deftones, Avatar, Five Finger Death Punch, and The Pretty Reckless to name just a few, they embark on touring in support of the new record for the rest of 2015.  As MFM supports their first official global release distributed by Sony/Red, the future is wide open and arena rock will live and breathe again in the fiery form of Murder FM!

For more information on Murder FM visit http://www.murderfmmusic.com

The all new SONAR comes in 3 different versions and can truly help you to create your own artist story.  Click here to try SONAR for free

Last week’s interview on 97.1 The Eagle/Dallas

We the Evil Official Video