Producing music on a computer with a mouse and keyboard is possible, but it usually takes longer to get things done than it would with an instrument. There’s also something of the musical experience that is lost when a mouse and QWERTY keyboard are your only tools.
For many musicians, a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) controller is a great upgrade. They typically look like the keyboard of a piano, and act like “real” instruments when used with music production software. Hit a key, and watch the corresponding note appear in your composition.
Want to add a MIDI controller to your setup? Here are the four best models you’ll find.
If you want a full-sized MIDI keyboard, the Novation Launchkey 61 MK2 is a solid choice. With 61 keys and multiple sliders, switches, and pads to help you create your vision, it’s a great option for students who want a good amount of capability in an inexpensive package.
This product is designed for use with Ableton Live production software, and while it does map onto other programs, it could take some time to make everything work. Still, Novation promises that it “works with any HUI-compatible DAW,” so if you put the time in to tweak the settings, it should be a fairly versatile pick.
Students attending music production school who want something compact, but that still has a decent number of keys, will appreciate the M-Audio Keystation 49e.
Lightweight, and able to connect to iPads for on-the-go production, this controller also packs in a few dials and buttons for tweaking your tunes, but not as many as some other controllers. Like most MIDI controllers, its keys are velocity-sensitive, meaning the strength of a press will determine the loudness of the corresponding note in the software.
It’s not the most feature-packed option, but if you need a 49-key MIDI controller that is basic and compact, this is a good choice.
For students who want something small, but also really good, there’s no beating the Akai MPK Mini MKII 25-Key. It’s the #1 seller on Amazon, and with good reason.
With the Akai MPK Mini, you get several backlit percussion pads, eight knobs, octave adjusters, and a built-in arpeggiator—all of which help musicians get the very most out of this small musical package.
It’s a great option for students in music production programs to take on the go, and as Equipboard—the world’s largest database of musical gear—puts it, “Some users like this MIDI keyboard so much, that despite originally buying it for travel use, they end up using it as their primary studio keyboard.”
This model is quite a bit more expensive than the others on this list. If you’re just dipping your toes into the water, or don’t have the budget for something expensive, this won’t be for you. However, if you don’t mind a bit of expense and want something that packs in a ton of features, the Akai MPK249 is a great buy.
This model comes with 49 keys, eight knobs, and 16 percussion pads, each of which has four banks (essentially upgrading it to a 64-pad system). Overall, it’s definitely the best option on this list for the budding professional who wants lots of tools at their disposal.
Whether you want something small and portable or something big and full-featured, there’s a MIDI controller for you. Add one to your setup to take your digital music production to the next level.
Are you thinking about taking your talents to music production courses in Toronto?
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Getting steady shots is essential for professional quality productions. While this is usually best accomplished with a tripod, dolly, or shoulder rig, sometimes convenience, economics, or artistic preference will motivate you to use handheld camera techniques. Fortunately, modern video cameras have come a long way in terms of weight, flexibility, and stabilizing functions, but even so the deciding factor in handheld camera success will be the techniques you employ.
“Being quick on your feet at producing quality film and video work is what employers require,” notes Kalman Szegvary, director of Trebas Institute’s Film and TV Production program. In the program, students gain extensive hands-on experience in everything from screenwriting to post-production, including best practices in cinematography.
Here are some things to keep in mind to get great handheld camera shots.
If you don’t have a tripod, forgot it at home, or your subject matter lends itself to moving shots, handheld shooting may be necessary. It’s an essential skill for all camera operators to develop and an important artistic concept for film directors to understand. It’s often used in television news and documentaries to capture urgent or demanding situations when speed and flexibility are top priorities.
Handheld camerawork is also an increasingly popular technique in film and television, easily adaptable for unpredictable conditions and adding an element of immediacy and realism. Commonly used in music videos and reality TV, it can be a powerful way to grip an audience and pull them into the action, enhancing emotional content like violence and chase scenes.
Students in film production courses know that while shaky camerawork can be effective for certain artistic purposes, attaining a steady view is the more challenging issue at hand. Start with a steady stance, legs shoulder-length apart and slightly bent to act as a natural shock-absorber for your camera. Make your body like a tripod by keeping your balance, leaning against a tree or building for support if possible.
Gloves and lumbar support belts can help for long handheld shots, and two hands are better than one when holding the camera. Do some pre-shot stretching and deep breathing to be relaxed and limber. Keep your elbow tucked in close to your chest, with the camera tight to your body, or firmly on your shoulders for heavier cameras.
When working on your final project at film production school, you might want to experiment with different shots and effects, such as the “zolly effect,” through handheld camerawork. The zolly effect, also known as the dolly zoom effect, gives a vertigo-like illusion to your shots. That’s because the zolly effect makes it appear as if the subject in your shot is being pulled toward the camera while the surroundings are being pushed back, or vice versa.
Here’s an example of the zolly effect in action:
Would you like to learn camera techniques at film school in Toronto?
Contact Trebas Institute to find out more about our Film & TV Production program.
It’s tough to beat the glitz, glam, and excitement of an album release event. Not only is it a huge party, but there’s a crackling, electric excitement in the air, brought by attendees thrilled to be witnessing music history.
Attending event management school is a great way to get a handle on creating unforgettable events like the showcase for a new album. Throughout their studies, students learn the ins and outs of properly marketing an event, negotiating contracts, and budgeting—all of which play an important role in helping any event go smoothly. If you’re interested in organizing a great album launch, it’s also a good idea to look at recent successes when developing your game plan.
Here are a couple of tips for hosting flawless album release events after your graduation.
If you organize an album launch after completing your event management course, it might be worth taking inspiration from Kanye West. Kanye West has a way of working his big personality to big advantage. This strategy was in full force with the album launch for The Life of Pablo, which is a perfect example of how a well-marketed and simple event can draw up plenty of excitement.
The party went down at Madison Square Garden, with the Kardashians, Rihanna, and Frank Ocean in attendance, among others. West just talked up a storm, played his album off a laptop, and then turned control over to the attendees, letting them have a big party until their time in the stadium was up.
Though there wasn’t anything elaborate at play, West did work two important things to his advantage:
Whatever your thoughts about West, there’s no denying that bringing in big names to your events, as well as drumming up plenty of excitement on social media, can be some useful ways to manage a successful album release.
As students in event management school know, effective marketing is often key to an event’s success. Many event planning programs, like the one offered at Trebas, include an entire term on communications and marketing so that students graduate prepared to advertise their events.
However, as students might know, sometimes an alternative to big, showy parties is to keep things mysterious. In fact, some events and album releases benefit from a more enigmatic and low-key approach. This tactic is exemplified by Frank Ocean, who was so reclusive in the lead up to the release of his last album, Blonde, that the hashtag #FrankWatch began to trend.
After sharing very limited details about the album in 2013, Ocean was mostly silent about progress on the work. Nearing the release of the album, he started limiting public appearances. He shared an enigmatic video of himself working at building a staircase, and then an entire visual album, called Endless. Perhaps most notably, he offered a limited number of free copies of Blonde inside of (also free) magazines he distributed in pop-up shops around the world.
By limiting advance information on the album and creating time-sensitive, unique distribution methods, Ocean managed to make his album release not just an event, but the resolution of a long-running mystery. And fans ate it up.
Want to develop top-notch skills while studying in event management courses in Toronto?
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It’s no mistake that iconic television shows have great names. It takes a stroke of creativity and some careful consideration to come up with a show name that’s unique, fitting, and memorable.
As critics, filmmakers, and film school instructors can tell you, a good title sets the stage for a great TV show, while a bad title can sour even the most promising of premises. If you pursue film and TV training, you’ll have the chance to create your own exciting projects from the ground up. You’ll learn the ins and outs of both production and post-production from real industry experts who can help you put your best ideas on film (with the best titles possible!).
Prepare for success by following these tips for choosing a great TV show title.
“Single-word titles are very strong,” says Blue Bloods executive producer Michael Pressman. “Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Damages—these are such dynamic titles.”
Keeping it short and sweet can be as easy as using the story’s setting (Downton Abbey, Twin Peaks, Cheers) or its main character’s names (Seinfeld, Dexter, Sherlock). It can also be effective to use a simple descriptive word or phrase that suits the general topic of the show, like Scandal, Freaks and Geeks, Law & Order, or Lost.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, titles of six words or less tend to be better-received by both critics and audiences. In the age of Twitter these shorter titles are practical, too. Professionals now know that fans will shorten their titles if they take up too much of that precious character count—think How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) and Orange Is the New Black (OITNB). This can obscure a title’s meaning for those not in the know, and take some creative control out of the writers’ hands.
When you choose titles for the projects you create in and after film and TV school, it’s very important to write them for the right audience. Who will watch this show? What kind of language do they use? You’ll want to match the title to the tone of the show itself, so viewers understand what to expect and whether it’s something they’d enjoy.
“You’ve got to have something that makes people say, ‘I want to check that out,’” says David Janollari, the TV exec who chose the title of the hit show, Friends. “It has to be catchy, and it has to frame for the audience the context of the show. If a title really contextualizes the tone of a show, that’s a big factor in helping you launch a show and market and position it to an audience.”
On the flipside, poorly-chosen titles can alienate prospective viewers and misrepresent a show’s tone. Cougar Town is about a mature women balancing work and home responsibilities after a divorce, but mature, conservative, female viewers didn’t tune in because of its slang-y title. Avoid this risk by taking time to consider your audience.
Even for professionals, it usually takes multiple attempts to find the most unique and effective show title. For example, the Ellen DeGeneres ‘90s sitcom These Friends of Mine quickly became Ellen because ABC producers felt it was too easily confused with the other ‘90s hit Friends.
Graduates of top TV schools like Trebas know that if a title feels like it could be stuck on any one of a dozen shows, it’s probably the wrong title. When creating a TV show of your own, it’s wise to take a close look at what your show is offering that no others are, focus in on that unique element, and brainstorm from there.
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If these terms sound like a foreign language, don’t worry—the right DJ training program will sharpen your skills and bring this expertise within reach. At a training institute like Trebas, you can get hands-on experience and an overview of the different equipment today’s DJs have at their disposal, including: mixers, controllers, vinyl and CD turntables, MP3s, encoded records, mixing software, and related components.
Put simply, a controller is used to send mixing signals to a computer or in-house sound system software, which then plays out the desired mix to the masses. Controllers are more spacious ways for DJs to modify music than laptop keyboards or iOS touchpads, involving the various elements mentioned above (from jog wheels to faders) along with output channels that allow DJs to preview their sounds as they mix them.
Interested in getting your hands on a controller of your own? Check out three controller options ideal for passionate, up-and-coming DJs like you.
When it comes to DJ equipment brands, Pioneer is known for offering excellent control and functionality on the affordable side of premium offerings. It’s similar to the top-of-the-line, approximately $2,500 Pioneer DDJ-SZ, offering similarly high-quality results at a significant price cut (SX2 is about $1,400 in total).
The SX2 is the closest you’ll come to a stationary club setup, with top-notch Serato control and high quality pads for spinning. Serato is music-mixing software that many of today’s top controllers are built to use. Students with DJ training understand how to adjust machinery to suit their preferred mixing software (known in the industry as ‘MIDI application’).
“Most controllers are MIDI assignable, which means they can be manually set up to work with most DJ software,” explains David Michael from the Passionate DJ podcast. He recommends the SX2 for anyone wanting “fantastic in-the-box control” at what he considers to be a “reachable price.”
If that price is not reachable to you, the Gemini G2V is a good mid-level choice at just over $350, with lots of connectivity options and good build quality. While it’s on the clunky side, this solid and durable mixing machine will serve you well in DJ training and beyond.
It comes bundled with Virtual DJ Lite Edition software, limiting to you to the number of decks you can mix—so it’s possible that you’ll outgrow this software as your skills expand in DJ school. But if you’re willing to dish out a few extra dollars for software upgrades every so often, this is a system and mixer that can grow with you.
For students at DJ school who don’t need a full-fledged machine but want versatility and quality without breaking the bank, the MixTrack Pro III is a great solution. Compared to mid-level options, the pads feel a little lackluster, but it also includes high-level features like touch strips, individual channel metering, and full-size jog wheels.
Consider its spacious layout and approximate price tag of $299 and this might seem like the ideal starter controller for you. Like the Gemni G2V, the MixTrack Pro III comes with the ‘Lite’ version of its DJ software, only this time it’s Serato DJ Intro. For upgraded software you’ll have to open your wallet again, but the basic package is a great and completely practical choice for DJs at the start of their careers.
Want to get your hands on industry-standard equipment at Toronto’s best DJ college?
Visit Trebas to learn more or speak to an advisor about getting started.