Mix Challenge - Gossip and Discussion

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KVRAF
14476 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Post Sat Oct 25, 2014 1:28 pm

Today's topic:
Feedback on the new KVR rules and guidelines on the "client evaluation system"

Source: http://www.kvraudio.com/forum/viewtopic ... 5#p5915525

This is a split from the MC05 thread.
Please share your thoughts.


Fritze wrote:In the real client - mixer situation it's possible to talk to the client about what she/he likes.

While I enjoy these competitions for the sheer mixing of diverse material
I miss the direct contact to the client to find out what she/he really wants.
Well... in a real C2B situation, what we really try to emulate with this route now, you pretty much go the same route:

The Song Provider (client) "provides" you with a track and ideally a demo mix, then writes down what he/she/they want to see in this mix. As detailed as possible, or as scarce as they like. They then trust the participant (the business/the audio engineer) to get the best out of it.

This is the closest you can get to a direct contact of the client - and you need to pay attention.

Fritze wrote:So getting disqualified after working on the mix with the sparse start info
and then getting different decision criteria after having finished the mix
is frustrating for the "I want to win" component of a competition. ;-)
It's not frustrating at all, it's actually fairer than before.

Previous MC's wen't by the "win by popular vote" rule, which clearly didn't work as the song provider (the client) had no final word in it. So we actually switched up the system with MC04 indeed, however with a warning in the MC03 thread during the submission period. We actually also massively upped the introduction thread with "additional rules" set by the song provider, and an own paragraph what the "client" wants to see as focus on the mix, as people did whatever they felt like with the first two challenges. So, even closer to a real life scenario.

MC04 on the other hand omitted the so called "Round 2" and the feedback like Photonic did with MC05. But what you describe and slightly criticize here, is the closest we can get to a regular C2B arrangement. Only that you don't win a studio tool in this case, but you might gain a new client and you get paid - if the client decides if you get the deal or not.


In the last years I'm doing this, I had clients (especially new ones, or those that didn't know my style of work yet) that contacted me, I invested time and efforts and could still hear "don't like it - sorry, but thanks for your time". Deal over, short and simple.

The same is happening here: a client might look for several mixers (since he/she/they isn't/aren't sure of a certain sound yet), sends out stuff to get an idea of the sound they might provide, and then agree on the mix or not.

It's just how this works - handling clients is always a challenge.
Only in this case, with a different skin.


Fritze wrote:There are various ways to solve this prob for such a competition situation. Please discuss!
To be honest, we changed the rules/guidelines several times at this point. Always after feedback from the users, every time with focus on more fairness and objectivity. The current concept (mix challenge initiators start the thread, client adds to the "core rules", client decided who goes on the winners podium) can't get any closer to the reality.

And aside from the resubmission and feedback thing for the learning process (so that everyone can benefit of it), it's actually like a regular 08/15 challenge/competition/contest on music planet internet as well.

That the change happened mid MC04 was unlucky indeed. But we announced it several times, talked to the song providers about this, and both (MC04 and MC05) agreed to this risky move. It turned out fairly well IMO, a lot of known faces came back, and we even got new ones.




Unless I'm understanding you wrong - I tend to do that lately.
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KVRAF
1888 posts since 13 Aug, 2011 from Berlin

Post Sat Oct 25, 2014 3:02 pm

Compyfox wrote:Unless I'm understanding you wrong - I tend to do that lately.
Yeah, I guess you did. :-D
Compyfox wrote:
Fritze wrote:In the real client - mixer situation it's possible to talk to the client about what she/he likes.

While I enjoy these competitions for the sheer mixing of diverse material
I miss the direct contact to the client to find out what she/he really wants.
Well... in a real C2B situation, what we really try to emulate with this route now, you pretty much go the same route:

The Song Provider (client) "provides" you with a track and ideally a demo mix, then writes down what he/she/they want to see in this mix. As detailed as possible, or as scarce as they like. They then trust the participant (the businessis /the audio engineer) to get the best out of it.

This is the closest you can get to a direct contact of the client - and you need to pay attention.
Hm, strange. As you know: you and I are men of many words. And now you say that less than 5 sentences (by Photonic in this case) is as close as it can get? No conversation about it with me asking questions like: Do you really like your mix that dry? What's your concept of "orchestral"? etc. etc. that I normally do with real clients happened. And as I wrote in the post you answered to I -did- pay attention to the sparse information that was given. I dunno how I should understand your sentence?
Compyfox wrote:
Fritze wrote:So getting disqualified after working on the mix with the sparse start info
and then getting different decision criteria after having finished the mix
is frustrating for the "I want to win" component of a competition. ;-)
It's not frustrating at all, it's actually fairer than before.
Well, I should have written: To me it is frustrating. I didn't mean to speak for everybody else and may I suggest that you refrain from that, too. :wink:
I didn't compare any before/after.
Compyfox wrote:...So, even closer to a real life scenario.
Compyfox wrote:This is the closest you can get to a direct contact of the client ...
So which one? "As close" as or "closest"? 8)
I'm not here for a fight but to me it seems that you feel that I'm criticizing you. I'm not. My intention is to give constructive feedback, not to diss anybody.
Compyfox wrote:In the last years I'm doing this, I had clients (especially new ones, or those that didn't know my style of work yet) that contacted me, I invested time and efforts and could still hear "don't like it - sorry, but thanks for your time". Deal over, short and simple.
Been there, done that, no T-Shirt about it. I learned from these experiences that it's important to talk to people as much as possible to feel comfortable about what the clients want. (listening to demos, getting reference tracks, getting extensive answers to precise questions, etc.)
Compyfox wrote:The same is happening here: a client might look for several mixers (since he/she/they isn't/aren't sure of a certain sound yet), sends out stuff to get an idea of the sound they might provide, and then agree on the mix or not.

It's just how this works - handling clients is always a challenge.
Only in this case, with a different skin.
Fritze wrote:There are various ways to solve this prob for such a competition situation. Please discuss!
To be honest, we changed the rules/guidelines several times at this point. Always after feedback from the users, every time with focus on more fairness and objectivity.

The current concept (mix challenge initiators start the thread, client adds to the "core rules", client decided who goes on the winners podium) can't get any closer to the reality.

And aside from the resubmission and feedback thing for the learning process (so that everyone can benefit of it), it's actually like a regular 08/15 challenge/competition/contest on music planet internet as well.



Unless I'm understanding you wrong - I tend to do that lately.
I've got no prob with that basic concept. I guess I should just have asked the typical questions that I do when dealing with a real client. Dunno if that's uncool in this context here. I hope not.
I can understand it if clients are "lazy" and don't want to provide reference tracks, answer such question in detail and just say "Well, let's try it!". And obviously the success rate in such a case is lower than otherwise.

Peace. 8)

KVRAF
14476 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Post Sat Oct 25, 2014 4:46 pm

Fritze wrote:I dunno how I should understand your sentence?
Simple: as general information.

Fritze wrote:I've got no prob with that basic concept. I guess I should just have asked the typical questions that I do when dealing with a real client. Dunno if that's uncool in this context here. I hope not.
I can understand it if clients are "lazy" and don't want to provide reference tracks, answer such question in detail and just say "Well, let's try it!". And obviously the success rate in such a case is lower than otherwise.

Peace. 8)
Let's just cut it a bit short here:
We tried to recreate an as-close-as-possible playground to a real C2B scenario. But we're still talking about a challenge/competition/contest/raffle. We tried to loosen the otherwise limited, strict and boring rules of x-competition on the internet with something that is interesting, where people can learn from it and still win something on top of it.

If there is something not clear to you, and there are questions for this particular challenge, do ask them. Some participants might be happy with the information they have already from the main info post (I mean: a couple of sentences, an audio demo with a general guideline how the mix shall sound in the end - a lot of people still seem to ignore that). Others might benefit from the possible answers given to your questions. If the client won't give any further answer, then consider this your "conversation" - it's as far as it can go. Work with it. It's part of the job.

I do understand your point - the conversation/information it's too limited to you. And you took the shift of the rule set with a couple of bruises. But otherwise, this is how every other mix contest in the world works and it's too much work for us to do it differently.
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KVRAF

Topic Starter

12344 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Post Sat Oct 25, 2014 11:45 pm

Fritze wrote:I can understand it if clients are "lazy" and don't want to provide reference tracks, answer such question in detail and just say "Well, let's try it!".
We can make a concerted effort to get more details upfront and get reference tracks (good idea!). However, I think we're already doing more in this regard than most contests do, especially with there now being a Round 2 on Photonic's track. If you analyze his feedback one-by-one, you can composite together a very clear picture of what he's looking for.

The best way for you make your point would be for you to be a song provider and then provide the entrants with the kind of upfront information that you wish you'd been given. We really need song providers so this would be a huge win-win! :)

KVRAF
1888 posts since 13 Aug, 2011 from Berlin

Post Sun Oct 26, 2014 5:30 am

Uncle E wrote:
Fritze wrote:I can understand it if clients are "lazy" and don't want to provide reference tracks, answer such question in detail and just say "Well, let's try it!".
We can make a concerted effort to get more details upfront and get reference tracks (good idea!).
Cool. :-)
Uncle E wrote:The best way for you make your point would be for you to be a song provider and then provide the entrants with the kind of upfront information that you wish you'd been given. We really need song providers so this would be a huge win-win! :)
Good idea. I wrote several private songs during the last years. Maybe I forgot a tune for public consumption that could fit into this format. I will check that. Could be a fun thing, indeed. 8)

KVRAF
14476 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Post Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:26 am

We don't have a "set format" (as in "specific genre/specific song length", etc), we pretty much take anything at this point.

Either way, it's a win-win situation for you as you can get one of your tracks mixed for free, by currently 15+ very talented musicians/mix engineers.
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KVRist
127 posts since 19 Aug, 2012

Post Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:53 pm

Fritze wrote:While I enjoy these competitions for the sheer mixing of diverse material
I miss the direct contact to the client to find out what she/he really wants.
So getting disqualified after working on the mix with the sparse start info
and then getting different decision criteria after having finished the mix
is frustrating for the "I want to win" component of a competition. ;-)
There are various ways to solve this prob for such a competition situation. Please discuss!
That's just the nature of these contests, dude. Don't feel like your output's not good just because you don't win these things. Due to the subjective nature of these contests, if you do not win, it means nothing. There are plenty of professional musicians out there who have never won contests. ;)

KVRAF
1888 posts since 13 Aug, 2011 from Berlin

Post Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:12 pm

Thanx for the encouragement, cruisy18!
I think the same. But winning is nice, too. Right? :-)

KVRist
127 posts since 19 Aug, 2012

Post Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:17 pm

Fritze wrote:Thanx for the encouragement, cruisy18!
I think the same. But winning is nice, too. Right? :-)
No worries, man. Winning is definitely nice, but just because one wins these types of contests does not necessarily mean he is the "best" contestant, just like if one loses, it does not necessarily mean his output was worse than the winner's. Though, don't get me wrong, that can still be the case- but I wouldn't define myself or my work based on the results. If you win, awesome, if not, move on. You still worked on a track and that's experience right there. :D

KVRAF
14476 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Post Mon Oct 27, 2014 4:37 pm

cruisy18 wrote:...just like if one loses, it does not necessarily mean his output was worse than the winner's. ...
I can definitely relate to that with my entry for MC03, which happened to score second to last with the old voting system (winners declared by popular vote).

Don't let the challenge discourage you. You can learn from it either way. And if it counts for anything, it also works as a portfolio since it shows what skills you have/utilize.
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KVRAF
14476 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Post Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:32 am

:!: :!: :!: PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT :!: :!: :!:

Due to the holiday season, which in turn explains the lack of participation (busy days at the job/with freelance work and with the family), the KVR Mix Challenge 07 (MC07 December) has been extended to 11th January 2015 (11-01-2015, 11:59PST).


The KVR Mix Challenge will take a break in January 2015.
During that time, the submission and re-submission (Mix Round 2) period of MC07 will be handled.


MC08 will start fresh in February 2015.


Depending on the participation during the following months, December might become a challenge-less month in the future.


Thanks for your understanding.



If you want to see a track of yours being mixed by the excellent talents of the Mix Challenge, please get in touch with us. But we'd also love it, if you share this challenge through social media and other music related communities. Through Twitter for example with the hashtag #kvrmixchallenge
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KVRian
551 posts since 30 Aug, 2012

Post Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:44 am

I did not read through all 28 pages of this post, so I apologize in advance if this has already been discussed, but I think there is a certain expectation that a good mix should sound like a finished record - i.e., "mastered".

Perhaps one of the rules should be that no buss compression, limiting or saturation be applied - although I'm not sure how you would enforce that since buss FX can also be a creative tool. Buss processing has become commonplace in mixing and there is sometimes a fine line between buss processing and mastering. There are already rules in place for peak levels, etc., but somehow we need to keep "mastering" out of the equation - or allow it.

Fact of the matter is, nearly all commercial mixes are mastered and the purpose of mastering is to make the mix sound as good possible. It's usually a "group effort" by more than one set of experienced ears.

I'm not sure how to isolate the two, or enforce this rule, but it can certainly make a difference in overall impression if mastering is applied in a "mix" contest submission.

KVRAF
14476 posts since 19 Oct, 2003 from Berlin, Germany

Post Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:24 am

We somewhat applied a rule in form of a general information (see the guidelines). And during KVR MC02 to KVR MC06, we also offered the infamous "statistics sheet" and "loudness normalization" process, which pretty much eliminated the need for bus treatment.

Since then, people try to work with reference levels - albeit some are still too low. But the message came across and even slight bus compression/treatment doesn't fall into severe issues anymore. Though we still don't recommend to add "pre-mastering" on the summing bus - it's a mix challenge after all, and we made that clear right from the start.


Enforcing the rule itself is difficult. We can only give warnings/indications. Stuff that is heavily treated on the sum is usually ruled out by both the listeners and the song provider anyway. So this is taking care of itself.
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KVRAF

Topic Starter

12344 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Post Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:03 pm

Fender19 wrote:I'm not sure how you would enforce that since buss FX can also be a creative tool.
Compyfox came up with an ingenious system that normalizes all the tracks based on average levels. Thus, if something has been mastered, it ends up sounding both quieter AND less dynamic. It will probably (hopefully?) lose.

We may try variations on this contest in the future, including allowances for mastering, remixing, etc. If those end up being more popular, we might change the contest to suit.

KVRian
551 posts since 30 Aug, 2012

Post Wed Jan 28, 2015 8:24 am

Uncle E wrote:
Fender19 wrote:I'm not sure how you would enforce that since buss FX can also be a creative tool.
Compyfox came up with an ingenious system that normalizes all the tracks based on average levels. Thus, if something has been mastered, it ends up sounding both quieter AND less dynamic. It will probably (hopefully?) lose.

We may try variations on this contest in the future, including allowances for mastering, remixing, etc. If those end up being more popular, we might change the contest to suit.
Excellent! Thank you.

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