The AURA Group:
E-CD Specialists

By Rod Ammons

The Aura is a group of new media professionals that work with fortune 500 companies to bring them new marketing media for web and interactives. Among flash packed CD-sized business cards and web positioning, Aura specializes in E-CD/CD-EXTRA. It is almost the only developer in the Southern California area to do Enhanced CDs (the combination of audio CDs and multimedia content). They have found that because of the changing formats for E-CDs, many companies do not develop for the CD format anymore. Aura gets more referrals from other developers because they cannot develop that format. I asked co-founders Joe Stammen and David Bailey a few questions about what makes them tick?

What sets Aura apart from other companies?
"We are one of the best sound designers for multimedia. Because of our audio and multimedia content developing background, we are able to create a better (more solid product) because of our bi-industry knowledge and experience." says Joe Stammen (Co-Founder of The Aura Group).

Click image to view 481k Quicktime VR

What services does Aura provide?
New media marketing for web and interactives including; Shaped CD-Roms, E-CDs/CDEXTRA, Flash and Director Presentations, Web Creation and positioning, Compact disc design and replication, Film and Video, Original and supervised audio scores and content for film, industrials, commercial radio, commercial music, interactives and web. Aura specializes in the creation and development of bluebook Enhanced CDs (which combine CD audio with multimedia content). Sound Design, and sweetening of tracks to be synced with film, video, or multimedia. File conversions and general audio editing.

What hardware does Aura use?
Mac G4 450MHz, 254MB RAM, Digidesign Audiomedia III PCI sound card, various outboard gear including Yamaha 03D digital mixer. KRK Kroc monitors. Alesis RA-100 reference amplifiers. Various studio mics, including Audio Technica 4050 and AKG 414. Writing tools include JD-800, R-8 drums, most acoustical instruments and amplified as well. DVD-RAM disc for archiving. A really fast PCI SCSI card.

Why the Mac G4?
I like the new 128bit Velocity Engine alot. It's very obvious when working with digital graphic and audio that your workflow and proccessing does not hit a bottleneck and slow down like 64 bit proccessors or pentiums. Filters and plug-ins are the activity that is most noticeable when it comes to performance excceleration. I love the DVD RAM drive. It allows playback of all DVD material while providing a 6 gig back-up device. Media cost to storage ratio is phenomenal compared to other archiving methods. The only thing that would compare is having a network up that you could swap/transfer files to/from, which also acts a back-up....but that is not removable media. : )

I don't like the switch over to all usb ports. Only for the reason that I have to purchase adapter solutions for all my old extentions; keyboard, midi ports, syncronizers, printers....etc. moves on, right? New ATA 20/27 gig drives work great as a backup drive. I would like to see the cost of scsii drives and cards for the mac come down, but they have always been that way! The thing I don't like most about the new smells funny!!?

Click image to view 160k Quicktime VR
What Software do you use?
All of them! Well, ones worth mentioning: Pro Tools and Audiosuite plug-ins -- Cubase VST 24 and all third party plug-ins (tracking and editing); Adaptec Jam and Toast (mastering); Waveconvert Pro (conversions); Sonicworx, Metasynth and Peak (sound design); Cubase 4/24/Score and Sibilus for scoring and notating.

Click to hear 5mb MP3 file
Who are your clients and what projects have you completed?
Lexus: Music cues for Lexus car commercials. Strategy was focused on new obscure european music with just a dash of American "trip-hop" flavor.

What were your special interest in the project?
We compressed the commercial into a Quicktime movie, imported the entire edited commercial into Cubase VST/24 authoring environment where we were able to score, edit and master in real time against the film. This was an excellent way to try multiple ideas and revise for the client on the fly -- and not bog down our system. Needless to say, the G4 handled 40 simultaneous digital audio tracks with eight bussed effects and 3 master plug-ins. Not to mention having other apps open in the background, plus the movies running synced full time.

Click to hear 3mb MP3 file

Clients and projects: Western Digital: Original scoring, tracking editing and mastering for Western Digital industrial film. Highlights were scoring music to fit their campaign which was just trying to target senior level recruits. We also needed to sweeten and sync audio to visual cues which was done by using the integrated feature of Pro Tools inside the Avid environment. A truely seemless environment when you have the RAM and speed to do it! Various multimedia projects including; URJet Internet, Suzuki, Dae Woo, Western Digital, Tycoon Records, US Sensor and others.
Various commercial audio projects including; Altered States - Warner Bros., Chino XL - American Recordings, Neil Ford - Tycoon Records, Copeland - Deja Entertainment and many others.

What's Aura's motto?
"We believe in knowlege driven creativity and focus on client and project marketing strategies. Not a lot of developers are concerned with that," adds David Bailey (Co-Founder of The Aura Group).

For more information contact: The AURA Group 888.580.8863 949.459.9097 affiliates: email: Joe Stammen [email protected].