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Guide to using Anchors in Feedback
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Finalizer  
 




Joined: 18 Apr 2007
Posts: 1413

PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 3:46 pm    Post subject: Guide to using Anchors in Feedback Reply with quote

GUIDE TO USING ANCHORS IN FEEDBACK
Or, How To Get Near Perfect Sync

(I hadn't seen any guides effectively explain anchors yet, so please forgive me if any exist)

This guide is designed to explain what anchors are, and how to use them in order to achieve better synced charts in Feedback. This guide assumes the user already understands the basics of syncing (BPM, tempo, alignment to measure, etc), but still hasn't discovered the usefulness of the anchor system.

Programs I'll be using for this guide:

Feedback (Duh)
Audacity
Mixmeister BPM Analyzer

1. WHAT ARE ANCHORS?

This was the question that confused me the most, and I never had a really clear answer until I messed around with anchors myself. In short, an anchor will force that specific location on a chart to sync up to a specific time in the song, regardless of BPM changes before the anchored point. In other words, you can place an anchor on a specific location on your chart, adjust the time in the music which it syncs up to, and force that moment of the audio to sync up with that point of the chart. In essence, it forces the song to sync with the chart, rather than the other way around.

2. HOW DO I USE ANCHORS?

Understandably, the above explanation may not make much sense, so I'll go ahead and show an example:



(I apologize for the odd graphical disorders. For whatever reason, Feedback doesn't agree with my X1900XT, but it's still plenty functional, and you can still tell what's going on easily enough)

What we see here is an attempt to align the first note of the song through the usual means: Play with the initial BPM until it lines up with the first note of the song, then set the actual BPM of the music itself. Normally, this requires a bit of guess-and-check, until playing back at 50% proves the note to be accurate. However, we can eliminate much of the guessing and time taken just to line up the first note by placing an anchor at the first note.



What we now see is an anchor point. Basically, the numbers after the A represent the time, in milliseconds, that anchor is placed at, and the BPM under it shows the BPM of the chart after that anchor. Currently, however, the anchor has served no useful purpose, as the anchor itself is currently lined up to where the chart already was according to our original BPM. In other words, nothing has actually changed.

What we need to do at this point is figure out the time at which this first note occurs. To do this, we need to be able to look at the waveform of the song itself. This is where Audacity comes in. I'll load the song I'm using into Audacity now, and I get something like this:



Right now, it looks like an unintelligible mess, so we'll zoom into the exact section we're interested, the very start of the song. Personally, I zoom in until the ruler displays every half of a second, like so:



At this point, we can see the 'fat' of the notes, and get an idea of when something is happening (Drum, guitar, that sort of thing). What we're really interested in is that first note. Luckily, nothing else but the drum is playing (Yes, that first note is a drum, but it still works for our testing purposes), so it gives a clear pulse for us to use. Now, what you want to do is select the left-most section of the 'fat' of the note. Basically, you want to try to find where the note is most obviously being initially played. You can use the left an right arrows in Audacity to adjust the cursor until it selects that 'fat' part for you. (It should change from blue to yellow)



Notice the part I've circled. That is the exact time that note is being played, according to the waveform. What we can do now is put this number into the anchor, so that the anchor forces itself to align to that exact moment of the song.



Notice, after inserting the new time into the anchor, the BPM before it has automatically changed. Feedback has forced the anchor to line up with that moment in the song by changing the previous BPM. In other words, instead of having to guess where that note was by trial and error, or going with my initial guess (Which was apparently wrong), I was able to simply take a look in Audacity, and know where (Or when, I should say) that note occurs, and transfer this information to Feedback.

Of course, it could turn out that I accidentally selected a wrong part of the 'fat' in Audacity. You can easily go back in, select a different part of the waveform, and transfer that information back into Feedback. By doing this, you can instead get a general idea of where the note is, and simply change the alignment in time to whatever seems more precise, rather than guess with BPM changes until things appear to line up.

To place an anchor, use the "A" key.
To change the time of an anchor, use the bracket keys ("[" and "]") to change them in seconds.
Shift + [ or ] = Tenth of a second (0.x00)
Ctrl + [ or ] = Hunderedth of a second (0.0x0)
Ctrl + Shift + [ or ] = Thousandth of a second (0.00x)

3. ADVANCED ANCHOR USE

So now we can see that anchors are useful in alignment, but what really makes them shine is how you can apply them to an entire song. Bascially, by replacing an entire song with anchors, rather than BPM changes, you can ensure that changing the sync of any individual section will NOT affect the sync of any other part of the song. So, if you screw up one part of a song a bit, you wouldn't have to go re-adjusting any other part of the song just because you fixed one little section.

Let's go ahead and put this into practice. First, what we want to do is find a general BPM we can use to go ahead and get a 'general' alignment. While this certainly wont help us achieve perfect sync, what it will do is help us figure out the general location of a note. Ideally, you'll be using a song with a generally consistent tempo (No obvious changes in tempo, such as Iron Man, which has an obvious BPM increase during the solo). In this case, I use BPM Analyzer to find a tempo to start out with. It's handy because it's free, and you simply drag a song in, and it spits out a number for you, as such:



So, we can say that the average BPM is ~98. (I'm not concerned with being entirely accurate here, as that isn't the intention to begin with; we just want something to get us started)

Now then, lets go ahead and plug that number into Feedback: (I've removed the green note, as it was simply there for the example. It's actually just a drum beat)



With that BPM, we'll be able to play back the song and find out the general location/time of the next note. In this case, we'll go head and play back until that note comes about.



I've gone ahead and charted out the first few notes according to their general location; however, I realize that they're not entirely accurate. That said, I still have a general idea of when the note occurs based on the time information displayed in Feedback. I can now go back into Audacity and focus in on that location to find out the exact time of that note.



The obvious problem now is that we see a lot of individual pulses occuring around this time. We can narrow it down to a very specific location by looking at the time displayed in Feedback, and seeing the pulses around that location. Looking closely, we can see a very obvious pulse right around the 5.2 mark. We'll go ahead and select that time, and see what Audacity displays:



So, now we have our number (0:5:183), so we can go ahead and place an anchor into Feedback, and plug that number into the time.



What we see here is that our previous BPM change (Occuring on our previous anchor point) has now changed in order to align our new anchor point to that specific moment in the music.

BPM changes on an anchor point simply refer to the BPM of the chart after that anchor point.

Let's go ahead and take a more in-depth look into this by removing our new anchor, and placing some random BPM changes before that note.



Obviously, our song will be very out of sync now. However, let's see what happens when we put that anchor back in:



Notice how only the BPM before the anchor was changed after placing the anchor. Neither the 98 at the first anchor point, nor the 105 between the 98 and the 90 were affected, only the 90 that came before the new anchor point.

Anchor points only affect the previous BPM change. Any other BPM changes before that are completely unaffected.

Also, notice how the BPM at the anchor point is now 90, just as the previous BPM change used to be.

The anchor point will retain the value of the previous BPM.

Alright, now I'll go ahead and undo some of these changes, and we'll get back to placing more anchors throughout the song. I'm going to go ahead and place a new anchor at the chord, and use the same method I've been using to anchor it to a specific time. Since I've already already shown the steps, I'll go ahead and show the end result:


(Sorry about the background change, had to restart Feedback for a moment)

Alright, so I've got my new anchor. Obviously, as the last tempo change was at the previous anchor, the BPM was changed at that point. This all makes sense, of course.

However, I've come across a small problem: It turns out that, for whatever reason, playing the chart back in Ghex reveals that my note for the chord is actually behind the music! This seems unreasonable, as we selected the exact moment the sound occured, right? Well, let's take a look back in Audacity:



Notice what I've pointed out. Now, what we'd like to believe is that the large pulse pointed out in red is exactly where the guitar starts. However, notice how that pulse looks very similar to all the large pulses before it, and recall that all those pulses were drum-only. What we can deduce from this is this: What I've anchored the song to is the drum note, not the guitar note. This would be fine if we were doing a drum track for Rock Band, but we aren't.

Of course, then I had to realize that, at least for the first part of my song, the guitar is somewhat muted, and is very overpowered by the drums. It isn't nearly as obvious as the drums, so it probably doesn't have such an obvious pulse to it. Also, it wouldn't be suprising if the guitar and drums were a bit out of alignment; this is a band, with normal human beings who make small mistakes, so something as small as this probably would've been ignored in the original recording.

Going by this, I've looked around the same general location for any other possible notes, and have noticed that much smaller pulse pointed out in green. It is entirely possible that it could be the actual guitar pulse, as it is much smaller than the pulse after it. (Which makes sense- I've already noted the muted guitar bit) Playing back in Audacity from that point shows that there isn't any obvious silence on part of the guitar from that point, so we'll go ahead and assume that it is the actual point we want to use for our notechart.



After selecting the start of that pulse, we see that what we assume to be our note actually starts out much sooner than we originally anticipated. If this is correct, then we can plug it into Feedback, and see whether or not it yields better sync in Feedback or Ghex.



What we see here is that the previous BPM (Set at our first anchor point) is now changed in order to accomodate our new anchor point. Even so, the timing of the previous anchor point itself remains unchanged.

Adjusing an anchor will not affect the timing of a previous anchor.



Looking here, we can see that the timing of the anchor after our adjusted anchor has not changed either. However, the BPM at the anchor we adjusted did change, in order to accomodate the timing change of our anchor.

Adjusting an anchor will not affect the timing of a later anchor.

In this lies the true beauty of anchors: It allows Feedback to deal with any BPM changes itself, and allows the user to adjust the sync of any specific note without affecting the sync of every other note after it. By using an anchor-only system, you can avoid having to guess-and-check over and over again, and you don't have to worry about completely ruining a songs sync with minor adjustments, and you also have the ability to make minor adjustments to timing if a note seems off, rather than having to move the note itself around the chart.

All in all, the anchor system is simply a more functional way to achieve better sync in chart files. It saves tons of time figuring out sync, and removes a lot of the human error usually involved.

So, yeah, that's pretty much it. Mr. Green

4. TIPS

I've already explained almost every use of an anchor I can think of, but here's some various other tips that come to mind:

-If you notice an obvious tempo change in your song, you can try copying it out of the song and analyzing it's BPM to see if the analyzer can give you an approximate BPM for that section.

-If you're having trouble finding a specific pulse, you could try either adding anchors around that specific point, or you could try using the Amplify effect in Audacity. Select the specific section of the song, go to Effect -> Amplify, and just enter a number larger than the one present. (I usually use 10) Don't forget to unselect the box that says "Don't allow clipping". I do warn you, however, that it makes that selected part VERY loud, so actual playback isn't recommended.
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Last edited by Finalizer on Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:10 pm; edited 8 times in total
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nickb611  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So many guides..... So...



Many....




Must.....



Link to..........



All of them...........


Because there has to be some kind of index for all the shit.

Once this furthers in development I'll add a link in the dB section of my guide.
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Finalizer  
 




Joined: 18 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nickb611 wrote:
So many guides..... So...



Many....




Must.....



Link to..........



All of them...........


Because there has to be some kind of index for all the shit.

Once this furthers in development I'll add a link in the dB section of my guide.


Yeah, I know there's a lot of guides now, but I figured I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

Ideally, I think the software section should just be chopped down to only a few stickies, with the guide to Feedback linking to all of these individual guides. That way, each individual guide could entertain questions & comments to that specific feature of the program.
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spikedog07  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice guide. I finally understand anchors now.
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Aric  
 




Joined: 06 Apr 2007
Posts: 480
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, now i know what Anchors do =/
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covery wrote:
you should get star power by hitting the notes with stars on them, then use your start power to activate start power so you get lots of scores. Make sure you hit your notes good becuase they make score go ^^^. This is a key point, do not forget.


Lmfao.
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Finalizer  
 




Joined: 18 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow... I just realized that I never specified that "A" places anchors... Common sense, but still, the guide that explains the damn thing should say how to place one in the first place.
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GHCity  
  
  



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since I was too lazy (), I just stopped at the 3rd chapter. When I am done with my previous chart, I'll look back. Until then, WE NEED TO LINK TO ALL THESE GUIDES. There are so damn many. Boot's, you's...
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Finalizer  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

GHCity wrote:
Since I was too lazy (), I just stopped at the 3rd chapter. When I am done with my previous chart, I'll look back. Until then, WE NEED TO LINK TO ALL THESE GUIDES. There are so damn many. Boot's, you's...


Nickb611's guide links to all of those guides IIRC, and I think he'll probably add mine as well. What would be best is if the mods sorted through all the stickies & removed all the useless stickies, maybe having only a few stickies that have links to all these little topics so they don't have to clutter up the software forums with stickies.

And yeah, you should have a pretty good understanding of anchors by the end of chapter 2. Mr. Green
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metalrocks2340  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks dude, at least I understand what anchors are now and how they're used
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nickb611  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finalizer wrote:
Nickb611's guide links to all of those guides IIRC, and I think he'll probably add mine as well.


Yeah... I got around to adding it now... I'm just a lazy SOB.


Ehh. It happens.
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GHCity  
  
  



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nickb611 wrote:
Finalizer wrote:
Nickb611's guide links to all of those guides IIRC, and I think he'll probably add mine as well.


Yeah... I got around to adding it now... I'm just a lazy SOB.


Ehh. It happens.


Thanks nick. We're all son of a b**** at one time or another.

I looked over everything now Finalizer, and I can say, I have a much ebtter understanding of anchors.

They still confuse the hell out of me.
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GHCity  
  
  



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

nickb611 wrote:
Finalizer wrote:
Nickb611's guide links to all of those guides IIRC, and I think he'll probably add mine as well.


Yeah... I got around to adding it now... I'm just a lazy SOB.


Ehh. It happens.


Thanks nick. We're all son of a b**** at one time or another.

I looked over everything now Finalizer, and I can say, I have a much better understanding of anchors.

They still confuse the hell out of me.
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Finalizer  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That one guy wrote:
Thanks dude, at least I understand what anchors are now and how they're used


Heh, no problem. Good to see I'm actually helping for once. Mr. Green

That other guy wrote:
Yeah... I got around to adding it now... I'm just a lazy SOB.


Ehh. It happens.




Some other guy wrote:
Thanks nick. We're all son of a b**** at one time or another.

I looked over everything now Finalizer, and I can say, I have a much better understanding of anchors.

They still confuse the hell out of me.


Well, I can only advise you to just try 'em out. Sure, it looks confusing at first, but I guarantee you once you figure out the basics and get a feel for 'em, you'll never use the "=" and "-" keys in Feedback again.

(Okay, maybe not never, but you get the picture. )
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GHCity  
  
  



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 10:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some Weird Guy wrote:
Well, I can only advise you to just try 'em out. Sure, it looks confusing at first, but I guarantee you once you figure out the basics and get a feel for 'em, you'll never use the "=" and "-" keys in Feedback again.

(Okay, maybe not never, but you get the picture. )


Mr. Green

I may be testing this out when I go to do Hot For Teacher.
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buttfaceninja  
 




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PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holy hell this in depth. But now that I have a basic understanding, they seem SOOOOOO much easier. And yes the amount of guides here is getting kinda ridiculous.
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