Music Production –
The musical activities of music producer Iain McKinna


Edinburgh Recording Studio |

Edinburgh Recording Studio & Music Production Company

The new website for Offbeat Music Productions has been launched. The site features the Edinburgh Recording Studio & Music Production services on offer which include:

Music Production
Recording Studio
Custom Backing Tracks
Audio & CD Mastering
Musical Accompaniment For Singers, Songwriters & Solo Artists
Audio Services For Film/Theatre & TV
Music Composition
Recording Studio Experiences

The company has been in business now since 1992 and celebrates 20 years as a Recording Studio in Edinburgh & an International Music Production Company.


Cereproc Text to Speech project

We recently had Graham and Chris from Cereproc in the studio recording a text to speech project with a Lancashire female voice over artist called Jess to add to their growing range of dialects.

CereProc has developed the world’s most advanced text to speech technology. Their voices not only sound real, they have character, making them suitable for any application that requires speech output.

CereProc is a Scottish company, based in Edinburgh, the home of advanced speech synthesis research, with a sales office in London. The CereProc team have extensive experience across the entire speech technology domain.

Roger Ebert

They are famous for is helping the former “At the Movies” host Roger Ebert regain his voice after battling with thyroid cancer which took away his lower jaw and his ability to speak. Through its CereVoice product, the five-year-old company offers custom-tailored text-to-speech software that takes previously recorded clips from the patient and patches them together to approximate — in a more natural way — the user’s original voice.

As befits a longtime television show host, CereProf mined Ebert’s tapes and DVD commentaries to create a voice that’s as Ebert-like as possible.

Here’s Ebert describing the process:

“This began a back-and-forth process with CereProc, which had to transcribe every recording with perfect accuracy so they could locate every word. The “normal person” may use 5,000 words, not all of them on the same day. A college professor may use 15,000. Shakespeare used more than 25,000, but he was making up a lot of them as he went along.

Anyway, CereProc didn’t need to hear me speaking a specific word in order for my “voice” to say it. They needed lots of words to determine the general idea of how I might say a word. They transcribed and programmed and tweaked and fiddled, and early this February, sent me the files for a beta version of my voice. I played it for Chaz, and she said, yes, she could tell it was me. For one thing it knew exactly how I said “I.”


J A Connor – Mysterious Lady no1 on Celtic Radio USA

A track I produced earlier this year  for Jim Connor has reached no1 in the Celtic Radio Charts in the USA being the most requested track.

Jim sang a great lead vocal on the track which he wrote himself. The track also features Border Pipes by Matt Seattle.


The Story Of Film – An Odyssey. Finally completed!!

Over the past few months I’ve been working with Mark Cousins, recording his commentary at the Offbeat studio for his epic documentary. The film is based on Mark’s book of the same name and it’s taken him and producer John Archer from Hopscotch Films 6 years to make this series.  It’s due to be screened on More 4 starting from Saturday night at 9.15 and will run for the next 15 weeks. The whole 15 hours is premiering at The Toronto Film Festival next week and is then going around the world to various film festivals and cinemas.

Mark Cousins & Iain McKinna I attended a special screening at The Filmhouse for friends and colleagues on Sunday morning and it was the first time I had seen any visuals having just been in involved in the audio so far. It was amazing to finally experience the movie and I’m now really looking forward to watching the whole series.

For more information and wacky comments visit Jen Offbeat’s blog

The following info is by journalist Thom Powers.

Filmmaker and historian Mark Cousins adapts his book of the same title into a 15-hour exploration of cinema’s artistry with a global perspective from the silent era to the digital age.

The Story of Film is a feast for cinema lovers. Mark Cousins adapts his celebrated book of the same title into this audacious fifteen-hour project, screening over multiple days at the Festival. He traces the entire history of film, concentrating on artistic vision (rather than business or celebrities) from the silent era to the digital age. Unlike historians who place an emphasis on Western cinema, Cousins takes a more global approach. He showcases iconic film clips from Asia, Africa, India, the Middle East and South America — woven into the more familiar legacy of Europe and North America. His treatment succeeds at being both erudite and accessible.

Often this kind of ambitious project requires the backing of an institution, which can result in a bland sensibility. But Cousins’ approach is more individualistic. Based in Scotland, he earned his expertise from an eclectic background of festival programming, filmmaking and teaching. For his popular BBC program and eponymous book Scene by Scene, he interviewed the likes of Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski and Bernardo Bertolucci. Now he marshals that wealth of knowledge to narrate TheStory of Film in his endearing brogue. He supplements his commentary by interviewing cinematic history makers such as Wim Wenders, Claire Denis and Alexander Sokurov. The conversations are shot with the idiosyncratic style of a one-person crew in locales around the world.

By taking a DIY approach, Cousins preserves an editorial independence that normally gets lost with a bigger budget and committee decision-making. His achievement represents a breakthrough for the multi-part documentary. After experiencing this history from such a distinctive viewpoint, you may crave similar treatments for music, literature, politics or whatever compels you. Of course, Cousins has the advantage of drawing upon image makers who take our breath away: Buster Keaton, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Fritz Lang, Yasujiro Ozu, Satyajit Ray, Orson Welles, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Youssef Chahine, Agnes Varda, Nicholas Roeg, Ousmane Sembene, Abbas Kiarostami — to name only a sampling. In The Story of Film, you’ll drink their visions and walk away thirsty for more.
Thom Powers

Mark Cousins is a Northern Irish writer, film critic and director. His short documentary films are The Psychology of Neo-Nazism: Another Journey by Train to Auschwitz (co-director, 93), I Know Where I’m Going! Revisited (94), Cinema Iran (05) and First Impressions (08). His feature documentaries are The New Ten Commandments (co-director, 08), The First Movie (09) and The Story of Film (11).


Converting video files from AVCHD files to Final Cut Pro –

Converting MTS files (AVCHD) for use with Final Cut Pro.

What to watch out for:

We recently shot a video for one of our artists on a Panasonic Lumix —- and a Sony HD camera but came up with different problems for
each camera dealing with the conversion of the MTS files for editing on Final Cut Pro.

We hadn’t really anticipated problems trying to use these cameras for professional use and have since invested in a Sony HVR camera which
handles file use easily but if you are needing to convert files using either of these camcorders then be glad you googled the problem and
found this article before buying one of the file conversion programmes available online.

First with the Lumix camera, the quality of the files were amazing but it was a bit impractical to use without a decent tripod. For that
reason we decided to continue the shoot using a dedicated camcorder. However we still wanted to convert the files as some of the takes
were usable.

We downloaded the MTS convertor for after googling ‘best mts convertors’.

The trial version worked well on the Lumix files, and even though we had to convert twice, once on the MTS convertor and again on Final
Cut, the conversion worked well, of course it contained the watermark on the demo version.

We noticed that the files on the Lumix were in a folder called AVCHD. We did a further check online and found a programme by a company
called They actually made a programme dedicated to converting MTS files with the AVCHD protocol direct to Final Cut’s
linear quicktime format so that seemed like a good option. However after a search for reviews of the programme the company had a
terrible reputation with posts from lots of purchasers of the product so we decided not to buy it.

We then decided to film on a Sony camcorder, it also used MTS files and the AVCHD protocol but our assumption the it would convert in the
same way as the Lumix was mistaken.

After filming the video for the song, we were confident enough to purchase the convertor and converted all the files.

When I inserted the first file into Final Cut I was to find out that the Sony files were not converting well. The audio being out of sync
with the film. I had by this time converted all the files without checking as i had expected it to work as it had on the demo using the
Lumix ones.'s AVCHD convertore programme

I then checked the support section of the iorsoft website and was alerted to a particular AVCHD converter product that worked with Final Cut friendly files. It was stated on the site that the product could be swapped if it didn’t work on the files – so although I had wasted a considerable period of time converting at least I could get on with the job and actually complete the video which was a relief.

Despite a few misunderstandings on my part and a couple of communication problems, I was very happy with the support I received from Crystal at the support team. She went to a lot of trouble to get me the right programme and swappedand refunded me for the programme that didn’t work for the Sony camera.

I highly recommend using for file conversion programmes.


Offbeat Featured Client – The Abbeystills

The Abbeystills debut album

The Abbeystills have been recording here at the studio for over a year now. I had the great pleasure of working with Valentina Cazzola and Graham Hannah on their debut album Square Circles which is now available for download on Itunes.

The band are now joined by Gordon Sheppard on keyboards and programming and have booked in again to complete more of their songs later this month.
On the album they recorded most of the parts on their home studio set up using Cubase before bringing the files into the studio for me to add Bass & Drums as Offbeat Rhythm Section prior to mixing the tracks. For a few of the tracks, including our featured track Blue Summer, Valentina came into the Offbeat Studio to record her vocals.
For more information and to read an interview with Graham Hannah from The Abbeystills, go to Jen’s Blog.

Offbeat Featured Client – Jim Connor

Jim Connor - Americana singer/songwriter

Americana artist Jim Connor has been working with me now since last Autumn, working on songs for his forthcoming album. Jim is primarily a singer and he sends me demos of his voice with a beatbox and I create the music before he comes into the Offbeat studio to lay down his vocals.

Jim has done demos of these tracks before but we both thought it best that I didn’t hear them so that we could approach his tracks afresh.This is already bearing fruit as he is currently enjoying airplay on two tracks he has submitted to Celtic and Uplift radio in the USA with the songs Drift Away and Mysterious Lady.

Here is the latest track I’ve produced for him as Offbeat Rhythm Section entitled ‘Beautiful Day’.

To read an interview with Jim and for more information visit Jen Offbeat’s blog.


Offbeat Featured Client – Samantha E

Sam in the Offbeat studio in early June 2011

Sam never fails to amaze me. Every time she comes into the Offbeat studio she has leaped ahead and improved on the preceding session. She came in recently to record a cover version of the song “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence. It was a stripped down piano version she sang to, and all performances, including ad-libs were recorded in single takes. Then she proudly showed me her certificate in Midi before laying down midi strings and percussion which completely transformed the track!  The whole job was done and dusted within an hour!

Sam is a great ambassador for Autism Awareness, having performed on many fund raising records before she recently reached her 17th birthday. To read much more on Sam and to watch a video of a recent ‘live’ video performance in the studio visit Jen Offbeat’s blog


Offbeat featured client – Skinny James Malinki

Skinny James Malinki has been a regular at the studio for about a year now in which he’s been developing his sound in a linear and progressive way.

His Scottish hiphop style is amongst the best I’ve heard as he manages to be cool, funny and incisive all at once with his unique lyric style. James is now working a lot on his own beats too and then making his own videos to go with the tracks. He’s recording a series of vocals for his songs at the Offbeat studio which will culminate in an EP later in the year. For an interview with Skinz check out Jen Offbeat’s blog.


Offbeat Featured Client – Colin Asquith

Colin Asquith

Singer/Songwriter Colin Asquith is currently in the studio recording a series of songs. As well as recording some of his own songs Colin records acoustic guitar versions of cover songs by Artists as diverse as Abba and Depeche Mode with surprisingly good results.

Colin recently came in to record one of his own songs entitled ‘Fireworks Fade Away’. He played acoustic guitar and sang and I assisted as Offbeat Rhythm Section on Bass and Drums with a sprinkling of Hammond Organ.(

You can hear the track here

To read a full interview with Colin read Jen Offbeat’s blog

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