Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Spring Cleaning ... in Autumn (Part 3)

     Here we are!  Here's my workspace (unfortunately taken from a camera phone).  Instead of getting a new computer, why not divide tasks among old ones?  That's a 2006 Dell behind the Mac (both acquired used).  Old Dell still has a decent video card (more so than the Mac), so it's good for photo editing, burning the Lightscribe CDs, and killing virtual zombies.  The Casio Privia PX-320 is my practice keyboard after being retired from stage abuse; the output jacks no longer function properly.

     Here's the setup used for recording recent videos.  The office chair is one I've had since elementary school.  The cushion's non-existant, but has otherwise held up well over the years.  On the tripod is my trusty Panasonic Lumix used for shooting the videos.  On the floor is my makeshift lighting.

     Aside from tidying up some loose items, the new studio is basically good to go.  Feels great to have the place more streamlined for musicing.  We'll see if it makes me any more productive, haha.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning ... in Autumn (Part 2)

     I wanted to have two desks close to each other.  One would be dedicated for recording, mixing, and computer stuff while the other could be used for writing.  Yes, I still write by hand ... and in cursive.  Since I wanted to have Netflix running while I cleaned, the computer desk was the first to be set-up (you'll also notice that it's the only clean part of the room).  Not too much writing was going to get done.  The flatscreen monitor wasn't going to be used anymore so it's now in the guest room.  

I wonder NetFlix is loading now?

     I began cleaning stuff out of the closet like the quiver of skateboards and suit jackets (yes, a funny combination).  The stuffed animal in the top shelf was my very first stuffed animal bought from the Seoul Olympics.  It makes a squeaking noise that apparently made me cry when I was a baby (it might still: I'm just afraid to try).  The bookshelf in the foreground was filled with the textbooks mentioned in the previous post.  They all got thrown into the basement (AKA the library).  The shelves are now home to my show shoes and a whole bunch of music binders from my many musical endeavors.  

Yup.  Still a mess.

(For a goof, note all the little turtle gifts I've received over the years.  There are about nine turtles in this picture from a quick glance.  See if you can find them.)

Next week:  What the studio looks like now!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Honey Fest 2011: A PKD Charity Event Promo

     This is a beautiful video from this year's Honey Fest put together by Alexis Pyne and Marykate Santalucia.  Anyone who's gone through having a friend or family member suffer from medical conditions will be moved by the letter at the end.  


Friday, November 11, 2011

Watch Me Butcher ... #1: Wonderwall (Oasis)

     My very first iMovie 09 movie!  Man it was a pain in the butt getting this off the ground.  Apple really doesn't make it easy to import AVCHD-Lite files to their program.  That's usually fine and dandy because of a wealth free conversion software, but everything I found wanted my money.  I wanted my money more as tempting as it was to end my pain and drop $300 for Final Cut Pro.  

     Sure, there's a lot of trail software out there, but I needed a permanent solution.  I finally found it though it required using a Windows PC and transferring files between the two computers.  First world problems, eh?  

     Then there was the issue of editing the audio file to sound halfway decent and not so quiet that I'd have to turn my sound all the way up to hear.  I caved into using compression and got some acceptable results.  Synching the audio to video was relatively easy compared to hassle of figuring out how the transition and effect system worked on iMovie; my only prior video editing experience was with Window Movie Maker on WinXP.  

     Anyway, enough said about this.  Stay tuned for the next video set to be released a week from now.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Spring cleaning ... in Autumn (Part 1)

     It's funny how plans change.  A little over a year and a half ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  After college, I took some time to really explore every avenue of interest to see where my strengths were.  Among the many career avenues I was exploring, becoming a comic book artist (or children's book illustrator) was, surprisingly enough, a top choice.  

Concept sketch in ink and watercolor for a story I wrote but never finished illustrating.

     Music won out, but my studio hadn't changed to reflect the redirection of my efforts.  A lot of my art stuff sat around unused along with psychology and rhetoric textbooks that got little more than the occasional glance.  I decided it was about time to reorganize my studio to be more streamlined for the music work I was doing.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting pictures of the slow, messy transformation.  Looking at the old pictures now, the change wasn't as dramatic as I thought it'd be, but hopefully my productivity will be.  

The before picture.

     As you can tell from the cracked windows and tower fan, it was still hot when I started the mini-rennovation (which is my way of saying my studio usually isn't this messy).  In this picture, I'd already begun dismantling my sound system (seen on the bed).  At the bottom, you'll see two keyboards.  They were used in a failed attempt to save a dying desktop that has since been salvaged for parts and pitched.  And so it began.  

Next week:  Moving books and desks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Announcing: the "Watch Me Butcher" video series!

     Anyone who's come up to me after a show and asked me if I sing has been given the same response: "I can't sing."  That's silly.  Of course I can sing.  Do I sing well?  Not really.  Definitely not a year ago.  But I'd been hiding behind that excuse for a long time.  

Lighting test in my bathrobe
AKA blanket I wear around the house.

     It finally hit my impervious-to-common-sense brain that I wouldn't improve unless I practiced.  So I did.  Much as how I used YouTube to learn guitar and keyboards and drums and, well basically every instrument I play, the Internet proved to be an indispensable source of tips to get me started in the right direction.  Having some killer singer friends who freely gave tips helped even more.  

     Since my high school days of singing to Weezer records while driving (that's what we used to do to distraction ourselves before cell phones --> no joke, I had a bumper sticker that warned other drivers that I was singing) I was a fan of shamelessly harmonizing to whatever I heard.

     Fast forward to now when I'm in the process of recording EP II: Center but haven't made much progress because of my lack of skill in Audacity (I'm too cheap to shell out cash for ProTools, Logic, Reason, etc) holding me up.  Additionally, I wanted to up the quality of my video editing for future music videos but don't know anything outside of Windows Movie Maker on WinXP.  

     I have everything I need: a Panasonic Lumix point-and-shoot that records in HD, input preamps, a condenser, recording microphone, Audacity, iMovie 09, and a newly renovated studio to do the work (more on that come Wednesday).  The next step is to simply practice.  In the coming weeks, I'll be releasing some covers of tunes everyone covers.  They will be neither quality nor professional, rather good-humored sketches as I try to get a handle on steamlining all this tech.  

     Check back Friday for a blog post about the video if you haven't seen it floating around already!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Backstage photos from Hard Rock gig

I found some more pictures on my camera from the Hard Rock gig!

If you were to put these pictures side-by-side,
you'd get a somewhat panoramic view
of the room.

Drummer for The Way Home, Nick H on the right.

The guys from Gashouse Radio!

Singer/Songwriter James Hearne!