During my 20 years in the production industry I’ve noticed that we are a very easy group to profile. Obviously we are a creative bunch. Many of us pay meticulous attention to detail. Many tend to be very goal-oriented. But, more than any other trait, music tends to be the common thread that binds us all together.
I find it uncanny the number of people I come across in the production industry that are musically inclined. Almost all of us play an instrument. Some are much more proficient than others but almost all seem to have had the same desire to play an instrument and make music. Many have taken some serious swings at a career in the music industry. I guess its a natural transition to use one’s creative drive in production once the reality of a stalled music career or the realization of limited musical talent sets in.
I believe that many of you will find this post interesting because of the production background that we all share. I’m also going to assume my “musical inclination” profile is correct and that you will agree with me when I say Troy Grady and his “Cracking the Code” site is the mother-of-all guitar instructional sites!! Even if you haven’t been bitten by the music bug then I believe that the production value and sheer amount of effort put forth by the team on Troy Grady’s website will still impress you.
I also think you will be surprised to learn that all of the editing and compositing work is done in Motion 5 and FCPX.
There is plenty to appreciate here for musicians, guitarists, animators, producers, composers and audio engineers.
Let me start by stating that Troy is a KILLER guitarist, a very good rock songwriter and a pretty damn good drummer. Going beyond his fretboard skills, Troy was smart enough to team up with Adam Payne and Brendan Schlagel to create a fresh take on a tired theme. What they have created is a ridiculously funny guitar instruction website that has some serious production value, a tremendous amount of music knowledge and a whole lot of campy swagger.
Check out the episode where he breaks down Steve Vai’s alternate picking run from the movie Crossroads.
You can tell that this 15 minute clip was well thought out in pre-production. There is an airtight voice over and some decent compositing and animating going on. For the guitar players, Grady displays some serious guitar technique in this video. Oh yeah, all the original music in the clips is written and recorded on site.
Take a look at the behind the scenes video about the recording of the site’s theme song.
These guys put some serious work into the “Arcade” animation. Without losing site of the website’s main focus, Troy also gives an extremely thorough music theory and composition lesson about the website’s theme song.
These guys have put a lot of thought and effort behind these videos. Each video was obviously scripted and storyboarded. They’ve done a ton of sound design and audio mixing as well. All of the original music that you hear in the videos was written and recorded by Troy with input from Brendan and Adam. While the animations definitely scream of being intentionally cheesy and terribly campy, the entire site manages to display a distinct style and a strong command of the tools that were used. Although I did rib Troy a bit for the lack of white balance (The eyedropper is your friend!!). The writing throughout the site and the videos is also very funny. While these guys are definitely not taking themselves too seriously, the time and effort that they have invested requires that we the viewer should. Any guitar player looking to improve his speed picking technique will definitely benefit from Troy’s meticulous teaching style. I can also guarantee that you will smile a few times along the way. I laughed out loud when Troy reaches for the non-existent tremolo bar on his Les Paul. Guitar humor at its finest!
All of the 2.5D animation work was done in Motion 5 not After Effects. When I first visited the site I assumed the animations were done in After Effects. I didn’t even think Motion was capable of some of the stuff that I was seeing.
Watch Episode 8: “Fast Forward” for some examples of their Motion and FCPX workflow.
Even more impressive is the thought and effort that went into the “Arpeggio Mystery” scene and how they used Motion to bring their “Enigma Machine” to life.
If you are a guitar player then you will get the most out of this site. Troy sells his lessons on a “Seasons Pass” basis. Season 1 is only $5!! Season 2 is currently in production and promises to further explore the secret to right-hand speed picking. You can pre-order Season 2 here for $20. A Kickstarter campaign is in the works as well. There was a lot blood, sweat and callused fingertips poured into this website. I think $20 is a small price to pay if you are a guitar player!!!
Now I don’t know if I should spend the time diving deeper into Motion 5 or practicing Vai’s alternate picking run from the Crossroads movie.
There really aren’t enough hours in a day!!!