Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Sad Tax

New name THE SAD TAX it's the new thing I'm doing. It's a lot like the last thing only a little less.
62 minutes, pretty experimental, maybe a bit more focused on mood and a bit more song based then SUPERGOD!. I think of it as a transitional album, I guess. What I'm transitioning to I'll leave that up to your imagination.
It's listed on bandcamp as "name your price" which means you can pay nothing for it if you are inclined to being a cheap bastard. I would recommend downloading it from bandcamp because when you stream it off the web player you miss out on how awesome the track transitions and segues work and each track has it's own special artwork. And I learned some basics on Blender to do the album art and I have to say without a doubt it's my favourite part of the project.
Anyway, giver a listen. I think it works really well as an album listening experience as opposed to an individual track experience. So clear an hour off your schedule and wrap your ears around The Sad Tax "Red Pearl Mountain"!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Alright folks, after almost a year of work I'm ready to d├ębut this sonnavabitch to the world in Youtube form! This Christmas I spread it around as a DVD (which makes a lovely present for a loved one and can be easily purchased through my Bandcamp page here) and had a couple of small screenings but now it's time for the internet to get it's chance at it.

The movie is a strange little experimental thing I got the idea for last January while I was musing about what I was going to do for the RPM Challenge. I wanted to do something more ambitious. So I decided to actually do it and throw myself into this album length video project I've had in the back of my head for a long time, for my RPM project. I figured I would film most of it during January and do the music and editing in February. After about a week into February I realized that I was never in million years going to be making that deadline. So instead of killing myself to get a really shitty film done by the end of the month I decided to concentrate on making the soundtrack album first and then try to make the film as best I could afterwards.

When figuring out the plot and concept of the film there were three things I had to keep in mind, for one I knew it had to be something that I could do all by myself or otherwise it wouldn't get done (anyone who has experience organizing volunteers knows this to be true). For 2, it can't cost any money (I'm poor). And for 3, the story has to be something that can be expressed without dialogue because I am not an actor and I am not a fan of my speaking voice. While I was in Hava Java's on my Christmas visit last year I had some inspiration while recalling a short British film from the 60's I'd seen a few months earlier (I've been trying to find the name of it for the last 4 hours without any luck, if after my description you think you know what it's called please tell me). The film was about an intellectual and sceptical man on a sabbatical retreat to a coastal village who after an argument with a local resident about the nature of the universe goes on a walk and finds an ancient looking flute thing in an exposed grave site on a cliffs edge, and after picking it up and trying to play it without thinking much of it, is then followed by an apparition of some sort that in all a flurry appears in his room at night (which ends the film). I thought something like could be evocative and could be done by one person essentially and not need much or any dialogue. The perfect plot! But I had to screw around with it.

The movie was definitely a learning project. Pretty much every scene of the film involves some sort of fairly complicated effect that I had to figure out.from scratch. The movie was definitely influenced by (and I'm going to make the bad decision of comparing the works of proper masters to my cheap and shitty student film) the work of Svankmajer, Lynch, Tarkovsky and Maddin and it features many loving shots of food, random music videos, vaseline lenses, triptychs, moody drone pieces and a drawing that is either 1.21 billion miles across or 1 millionth the size of an atom depending on how you view it (it starts about 34 minutes in if you're curious). If you are curious about how the drawing sequence was accomplished then check out my entry on the Vicar Ouroboros video as it's pretty much the same method only slightly more elaborate and using 32 panels instead of 9.

Anyway, I'm pretty damn happy with the film and I guess the challenge now is to figure out what I can do with it since it's finished. I'm gonna try getting it into some festivals (possibly as a much shorter edited down version) and see what else can happen with it, but I'm the type of creative dude who as soon as I finish a piece I don't want anything more to do with it and only want to move onto the next project. And I gotta lotta ideas for new projects I wanna jump on. So I hope you all like it and don't just watch the first few minutes and move on to some other youtube piece of crap. You can buy a copy of the DVD or download the Score from me from my bandcamp page here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Here Stands Your Lover - Another new video by me!

I have a weird way or procrastinating where if there's a project that should be taking priority over other things (let's say it's a short film project you have about 25% finished and promised everyone would be done by May) and I find myself not wanting to work on it for some reason I end up doing every other project I can think of. I guess that's not really a weird way of procrastinating, more like the definition of normal procrastination. Anyway, I made this video instead of working on my movie (or finding a job or doing my taxes) it's a dark and moody performance piece for a dark and moody song from my still new "Let's Celebrate With Blood" album. This came together a lot easier then I thought it would. 
My original idea was to do a really fuzzy experimental piece. It would start with a simple lip sync that I would edit it into a sorta finished piece, I would then point the camera at the monitor and re-film the initial edit and then dump the re-filmed version onto the computer and then film that version and repeat the process x amount of times. I was then gonna layer all the re-filmed videos on top of each other until it made an interesting mess of computer screen textures and hazey feedback, but when I tried it I realized it wasn't gonna give me the effect I wanted. So I went with just one of the layers (it was re-filmed four times) which I placed over top the original lip sync and carefully moved it around and scaled it to fit the composition from scene to scene. Since the song is about a car crash and a drunk driver I then layered in some footage I had lying around that I took from the window of a Megabus ride I took from Toronto a couple months ago. All in all I think it's one of the better looking videos I've made which is pretty good considering all it took was a camera, a flashlight, a dark room and bottle of red face paint. 
I've been spreading around the youtube version but I think I'll put the vimeo version up on the blog since I think the vimeo compressors did a nicer job on it and youtube's view counters seem to be all fucked up and not giving me accurate numbers lately. It's hard to get people to watch your videos when they think that nobody is watching your videos. People are dicks like that. Anyway, enough of that petty bickering, here's the video, enjoy! 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vicar - Ouroboros (How I made the video)

When Tyler Lovell asked me to do the album art for the next Vicar album I had to say yes and not just because he used an image of mine for his last album but because Vicar is one of the most interesting bands to come out of St John's ever (IMHO) I want to contribute what I can. When he told me the concept for the album I got even more excited. 
Ouroboros is an album designed to be played on random and repeat, it is one long 6 minute song and forty five 16 second "chunks" each chunk is a different chord that segues into the next chunk seamlessly, listening to it on random mode makes the song it plays different each time but it never feels "random". The albums theme is infinity so it only fits that you listen to it on repeat until you are sick of it, it's so hypnotic I ended up listening to it for about three hours the first time I tried it. 
When discussing the album art Tyler said he wanted something that evoked an infinite void, while sketching out ideas for it I came up with something, but soon realized that it would work best as a video piece as opposed to a simple image, but it was compelling enough (to me anyway) that I wanted to try it. Here, just watch the video I made to see what I came up with:   

The video ended up being a lot trickier then I thought as I had to figure out the process while I went along. The process for making the cover image was pretty simple though (simple but lengthy). First I started with a simple ink drawing of my interpretation of a black hole (you can see it at the very top left hand corner of the image below) I then took the drawing and scanned it into the computer. Then I took the scanned image and printed it off at 60% the original size. I then took the smaller printed version of the image and drew around the outside of it until I get to the outer edge of the paper (this is the drawing directly beneath the first drawing on the picture below). I then take this drawing and scan it into the computer and print it off at 60% the original size. I repeated this process four times until I got a shape I was satisfied with and the rich density of thin thin lines towards the centre that I like. This is the final cover image. I then went back to the first drawing and blow up the tiny hole at the very center of it until I can print it off at a decent size. I then take my sharpie and fill in the hole a little bit (this is the drawing at the top right hand side of the image below). I then scan this in and enlarge it by 60% and print it off again and repeat. I do this a couple times and then take the final cover image and shrink it down and place it in the center of the hole and print it off. I then take my pen and fill in the spaces between the inner edges of the hole and outer edges of the final image and scan it in. I then go into photoshop and start crafting the master image.
For the master image that I use in the video I took a very high resolution scan of the cover image and blow it until it's about 56000 pixels wide (any larger then this and my computer freezes up, I find this out the hard way). I then take the scan of the drawing that came before that one (it would be the second one up from the bottom of the first column on the picture below) and blow it up and tweak it until it fits in where it's supposed to in the last drawing. I keep doing this process until it reaches a point where I have to shrink down the scans to fit it in, at that point I realize I would be sacrificing resolution and I start a new image from an appropriate cropping of the master image where I continue this process of blowing up drawings and fitting them into one another.  

The final video uses three master images that are around 50000 pixels wide. Making them this large allows me to zoom in on them without losing any resolution or have it get pixel-y. This process might sound kinda complicated but it wasn't that hard, but getting everything to work in the video editing programs was a whole other ordeal in itself, and that proved to be the hair pulling experience of this project. I won't get into that since I've bored you enough as it is and I tried so many things in After Effects and Premiere Pro that I can't remember how exactly it all worked. But anyway, I'm pretty happy with the final product, I can't find any other examples of drawings mimicking fractal zooms anywhere on the internet and I think it matches up with the atmosphere Tyler's sounds pretty well. I think I'm gonna try this process again as I know more or less how to do this now and I think I could make it much deeper and more bizarre. I'd love to see it projected up on a wall really huge somewhere.
Suppose I should go work on my movie now.
Give Vicar some friggin' money, they deserve it!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SUPERGOD!!!!!! The Motion Picture Soundtrack: Rainbows, Piss & Meat

Well another February has came and went and that can only mean that now the deluge RPM Challenge albums will now start raining down from the heavens like hastily made indie manna. Here this years entry from me "SUPERGOD!!!!!! The Motion Picture Soundtrack: Rainbows, Piss & Meat". As you can tell from the title this is a soundtrack album to a movie I am currently working on. The original plan was to complete a short movie in the month of January, or at least get enough done so that I could start scoring, and then do a score during RPM month. This plan failed... It's not that I didn't get enough done to get started, I had about 15 minutes or so past the editing stage, I just realized fairly quickly that if I pushed myself to get this movie and score done by the end of February I'd just end up with a totally unwatchable movie with a shitty score. As much as it would've been awesome to pass in a finished DVD this year instead of a lowly CDR I didn't think it would worth it if it ended up looking like shit. So I swallowed my pride and just worked on getting some decent music down all the while thinking "cinematic" in my head. About 10 minutes or so of this album is actually scored to some scenes, which is trickier then I thought, but I'll leave it up to you to figure out what parts will make it into the movie or not.
This is without a doubt the most minimal SUPERGOD! album I've made yet, my whole focus this last year of music production has been trying to get more from less, while some parts are quite layered (there's about 20 guitars at the end of "Training bra stapled to a prison shed") most tracks have around 4 or 5 instruments instead of 20 or 30. I also took this project as an opportunity to try out some new software, I was sorta forced into this decision as I discovered that the software I've been using was giving me latency issues on this new computer I'm using with the fancier soundcard. This new program (I'm using REAPER by the way) took awhile to get used to but ended up winning me over with some nice features (or at least nicer features then my outdated version of Adobe Audition had) and it allowed me to come up with the loop studies on tracks 7, 9 and 16 that I'm quite pleased with.
I'm pretty happy with this years RPM, some songs like "A cage match with benefits" and "Don't listen too carefully to what the gunman says" got the atmosphere I was going for just right. Of course this wouldn't be an RPM without a few concessions: If I had more time I would've probably changed the vocal or pretty much all the lyrics on "Training Bra..." I'm not very satisfied with the transition between "The world is smiling now that I have no legs" and "A cage fight with benefits" even though I worked on it forever (the bandcamp player fucks up all the transitions anyway by adding the pause between tracks)  and the album as a whole could use more RAWK (although it has a bit here and there) and a bit more silliness. But y'know, deadlines make things happen.
I can't wait to hear what everybody else came up with this year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Next New Video! "Hope is Fleeting"

I didn't lie, here is the next video off "Let's Celebrate With Blood" for a song called "Hope is Fleeting". I worked on this thing on and off for a few months, I wanted to try my hand at some animation. For some reason. I'd frigged around with the animation tool in photoshop a few times in my "Crutches" video a couple years ago but this is the first time I used it to animate something frame by frame instead just selectively adding filters and crap to some footage. That being said; this is really basic animation stuff, I pretty much used the smudge tool exclusively for 90%  of it. But I think it's got an interesting atmosphere to it. I was watching a lot of old NFB classics when I got the idea to start this project and I'd like to think some of it rubbed off on me a bit. "Hope is Fleeting" is kinda a weird track and it's not at all what you would call a break away hit or even slightly indicative of what the rest of the album sounds like, but I made the  visuals first and none of the other songs came even close to synchronizing as well as that one. Anyway, here it is.

I know I said I didn't lie at the beginning of this post, but I did lie a bit last week when I said three videos in a row. Due to some shitty personal shit going on in my life right now I don't think I'm going to have a video ready for next week. In fact I don't think you'll see a new video from me until the end of February when I debut my dvd that I will be filming and scoring for the rpm challenge next year. So look forward to that, when that happens.
I hope you enjoy my video, spread the fucker around if you got a chance, I need some viral action working for me.