Ah! It feels right. Another project actually completed, this time with the benefit of deadline. It's my entry in a music video contest for the band Obi Best.
I heard this band on a podcast, which is my new most effective way of learning about new music. I liked the song in that 'cast ("Who Loves You Now") so much that I ordered the album from the label, although allegedly this album is not technically "released" yet, so I don't really understand that, and it came with a little hand-written message Enjooy! with the oo made into a googly-eyed smiley face, which was endearing. And I think it's a pretty good album. More sparkling clean than I'm used to but musically it is very clever. So then I got this new camera, as I've mentioned before, and I was in Connecticut over Christmas break in that leisurely time browsing web sites of bands I like, and saw that this band had a video contest going on. I had that project itch (unsagely ignoring all those 70–99% complete projects still) so I decided I'd throw something together as a way of experimenting and learning my camera and some animation techniques. But then five vacation days later it had grown out of hand in ambition and sunk cost, so here we have:
At first it was an accident, but as I was CMOS-ing a recent Pittsburgh snow storm to provide a Sweden-like backdrop, I decided to capitalize on my handheld camera shakiness for stylistic reasons—the various illustrations and animations are motion-tracked to the video to make them seem more present in the scene. I did this all by hand and also the animation by hand obviously, and the foolhardy rotoscoping of my hand by hand, which I will never do again, and fought a lot with software that just barely falls short of my expectations, so I think it took me a total of about 50 hours (!). But really it was mostly fun and I am quite happy with the result, especially some special parts.
Here's what I'm not happy with: Quality of video on Youtube. We're supposed to upload our videos into their contest group, but the regular Youtube quality on this high-motion video is absolutely unbearable. The "HD" version looks reasonably sharp but the framerate is ridiculously low and unstable. And it starts with some VHS malfunction kind of vibe. I don't know what the deal is. I am trying again, this time ignoring Youtube's advice to upload the highest fidelity I've got. Vimeo's doing a great job as usual so I simply point you to that version for your potential enjoyment/dismissal, but it'd be a real boner to not have the contest people be able to properly enjoy/dismiss it on account of Youtube encoding problems. Boo hoo.
So in post 1002 I told you about six projects and now 3 of those are totally done. I've been training for the Pgh marathon so that's in progress and obviously can't be done until May. Beatles visualizations are almost done. I got the Laser Suspension Womb parts so I can work on it soon. Boo yah!
As promised, we played our first real gig at Smiling Moose last night. This weekend has been real warm for February and nobody that I know of scheduled a competing event so we managed to get a very good crowd (I'd estimate about 40 (?) of our friends plus people I didn't know). I know that most people came on the basis of that's-what-friends-are-for or cuz that's where the party is and not out of legitimate fandom, so I am especially thankful to all of you for coming and being such a top-notch audience. Here is a picture of Nels and me before it got too hot up there to keep all those business casual clothes on:
You can see the remainder of the pics of Sick Ridiculous and the Sick Ridiculous, Big Hurry, and Central Plains at flickridiculous. These are with my new camera which I am very happy with. To use my old D60 in this amount of light would have been torture. (Thanks to Brendan for taking the glamor shots of us while we were playing.) There is some video too which I will share with you when I've found the best part. (Thanks to Brendan and Ryan for that.)
After we ironed out the sound and screwing-up problems in the first song, I think we did a good job. I had some anxiety about breaking strings. Last time I broke a string during the concert, having just replaced my strings due to breakage two days prior. This time I bought strings that are supposed to last longer ("Elixir") mainly because the store didn't have my favorites (Martin Marquis Phosphor-Bronze Medium), and those broke after a day and a half of mild playing (!). All of these failures have been right at the bridge. I don't get it. Anyway I thought the Elixir strings felt nice but sounded remarkably bad, so I was secretly happy to have to replace them. The night before I had one of those dreams where I'm performing a familiar activity (guitar playing) and something out of my control keeps recurring (string breakage). But these strings held up. It was a good time. I had also thought of some funny or meaningful things to say, earlier in the day, but didn't remember to say any of those during our scheduled banter moments. One I really should have mentioned is that the Smiling Moose bar where we played is immediately across from the place (Pittsburgh Guitars) where I bought my first guitar in college about 9 years ago. That is some hakuna matata shit right there. Also my first band was called Spastic Moose. And speaking of guitars, I really need to get a pickup for mine or get a new guitar with one built in. Is there no one that can advise me on this?
BTW, if you regret missing this show, we'll be playing at the CMU CS dept. semi-official house party at the end of the month.
#1: Steelers win Superbowl. You've probably also heard about this, so I just wanted to mention: (a) I have Steelers theme song covers; (b) Now Steelers have more Superbowl victories than any other team (6), which is Six Ridiculous; (c) My playoffs beard now becomes my private property, which means I can shave it at any time or link it to some other event out of my control (d) This was probably the best football game I've ever seen, though it could have been better with an intentional safety—which apparently Tomlin was planning to take (!) if only we had not gotten an accidental safety instead; (e) Guys, intentional safeties are so sweet, like rocket-jumping, or shooting yourself through the shoulder to kill the bad guy standing behind you at the end of the movie. Do you like it when I put other single characters (?) in parentheses in the middle of the parenthetical-letter-delimited list? Or is that confusing?
#2: You are hereby invited to our first real Sick Ridiculous & etc. gig on Saturday February 7 at 9pm at Smiling Moose. I am pretty sure this show is going to really happen unlike last time because, for example, we are the featured event on Smiling Moose's web site. We're playing with two other bands: one which comprises our friend and his friends and which I like a lot (reminds me of Steven Malkmus side projects, but bearded), and one that I don't know but their music sounds good on the Myspace. Because I have a particular kind of hangup about this, I want you to know that I don't expect any person to come just because he or she's my friend (except Nels; you gotta come dude because you are in the band), nor does becoming a "fan" obligate you to attend future concert outings. But, more people makes it more fun for everyone. If you are dying of grad school destitution and cannot afford, I will pay your cover and buy you a drink. This animated concert poster may or may not hypnotize you into compliance:
I also have a highly probable but not finalized gig for Tom 7 Entertainment System on March 27 at Belvedere's, with a few other chiptune bands. Please place a tick mark in your calendar. This will be my first time performing that stuff publicly too (though I conveniently have some hot technology in the works for it), and a rare opportunity.
Is it live... or is it Maxwell House?
(18 Jan 2009 at 22:44)
#1: Steelers win, Superbowl here we come.
#2: Nels and I finished off a new song yesterday and recorded a music video with my new camera (secret project LOMH). It took me longer to put it together than it should have because of unreliable software, and this was frustrating to the max, but now it is ready:
As always, but moreso than usual, I recommend that you click through and watch in high resolution, or even download the original 1920x1080 file. I'm really excited about the quality of the video that this camera shoots, and once I get familiar with using it it's going to be even better.
This is a song about coffee delirium. It is a leading aggravating factor in accidental deaths among young professionals. I'm curious to know whether you understand the joke in the title—it's one of those ones that I think most people from my era and area should know, but I also suspect maybe not like when I dressed as Mikhail Gorbachev and nobody knew who that was.
Jury duty was a bust: I basically did not interact with anyone the whole day. I was impaneled as prospective juror number 23 out of 30, and then spent several hours sitting and watching them voir dire the jurors number 1–17 and then announce the process complete. I actually would have been interested in doing a trial that took a few days, or at least be interviewed and peremptorily challenged as too-whatever. And then at the end the most bittersweet insultliment is that you get paid $9 for the day's "work", with a treasury certificate you must exchange for the other kind of treasury certificate by waiting in line at the bursar. I declined and donated to the kids.
Steelers won their game handily and endearingly (only allowing the Chargers one offensive play in the whole third quarter!) so they have advanced to the AFC championship game today. There was another opportunity for an intentional safety, but I was again denied the pleasure. If they win this vs. Ravens, then they go to the Superbowl. Our upstart mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, has temporarily changed his name to Luke Steelerstahl by popular request. If you wanted to do something illegally nude and outdoors in Pittsburgh, today might be your best chance. For any big game, during it and right before it, the city becomes eerily deserted. (The only exception is grocery stores.) Second, we had a moderate snowstorm and it is still snowing, which adds to the quietude. I hope your nude outdoors activity generates sufficient intrinsic heat. Third, even if someone sees you being nude, it will be interpreted as Steelers celebration or commisery. This is always legal as discussed in earlier posts.
Speaking of coldwave, another event is that it became briefly extremely cold in Pittsburgh, which caused our pipes which already have heat tape on them to freeze. I fixed it.
Also cold: When you think you and your band has its first not-at-a-party show but it doesn't happen. Sorry my peoples. But we have an actual show with real prosumer other bands that we like on Feb 7 at the Smiling Moose. There is no reason to doubt that this will both occur and rule. Details soon.
Public shaming time: I have not yet finished any of the Mission 2008 projects, and I have accumulated the following new projects:
Laura and I decided to listen to every Beatles album in order all in one day, as a variation on my Listenquest projects. We succeeded last weekend. The project is to prepare a nice visualization of the data we collected and write the story.
Secret project SB is about 75% done. I spent almost my whole New Year's break on this. For deadline and timing reasons I will probably not work on this one much until February.
Secret project LOMH is about 90% done, and I should really have this for you this weekend or else there is something seriously wrong.
I agreed to make posters for the aforementioned show that we're playing.
I believe I ought to construct a Laser Suspension Womb for another more distant event. Still trying to figure out where to get bulk laser diodes for cheap.
I signed up for the return of the Pittsburgh Marathon in May. 104 days left to train, and I am in decent shape for distance still, but it is really hard to train in winter with the short days and the -20°F with windchill and the inches of snow and ice. Most indoor machines they limit you to 20 minutes which is frankly a joke unless you are training for 5K.
OK, so, bets: Do you think I can finish these projects or will they become the saddest kind of casualties?