This week’s been a bit quieter than last, but still pretty hectic.
Saturday: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse… Struggling to remember words some of the time. Not sure why it’s so hard. What’s going on? Make sure I have one song in my set that is mostly instrumental.
Sunday : Gig at Sonophilia Festival, Lincoln, on their ‘experimental’ stage, “Sono | Sonic”. Lovely audience; I know about half the people here already. Other acts fantastic, glad I’ve managed to get to see them. My part of the gig is OK apart from the new song Death Blinked First, which was a failed experiment this time. Will have to approach it slightly differently to make it work, but there was a positive reaction, anyway.
Monday: Get confirmation that Spotify have got my new track, Death Blinked First, that will come out next Wednesday. That’s good – it means that the new distributor meets the timescales. Migraine starts. Glad it didn’t hit yesterday! Add the new track to BBC Introducing site. There’s a tech issue with the ISRC code* I’ve been issued with for the recording, so I let the distributor know this has happened, in case they’re not already aware there’s a problem.
Tues: BBC Introducing already listened to my track! Hopeful that might mean I get airplay on their Lincolnshire show this weekend. Start animating the skeleton character in the Death Blinked First artwork for an animated GIF. I think I’ll write a separate article about this, as it is a slightly different method of making ‘video’ without a video camera to what I’ve done before.
Weds: Finish animating the skeleton and work on finalising the lyrics video. Uh-oh, the skeleton animation won’t upload to Twitter, where it is intended for, but goes nicely onto the video. Nice! I hadn’t been sure that would actually work… It uploads to Facebook OK. Hmmm, might be the filesize with Twitter. Will have to think about how to sort that. Contact various indie radio stations about the new single.
Thursday: Housework and DIY. Clearing out a drain in my back yard, and some rubble from the garden. Only got the tip of the iceberg of rubble but it’s a start. Sanding down some new plaster that needed smoothing off, plus some woodwork that Dad filled holes in when he visited the other week. Might have to go over the plaster with a thin layer to get it really flat before I eventually paint it. Not sure when I’ll fit that one in!
Friday: Slowish day. Pretty tired and the migraine still hasn’t completely gone away. . Update website with latest videos that I have made. Shrink the skeleton animation to reduce the filesize, and it goes onto Twitter just fine this time. Attend a gig in the evening with the Gruinard Trio and Vacuus Otiosus (hopefully spelled both those right). Suddenly feel really rubbish when I’m home again. Snuggle up listening to the radio (Folk Union on Chelmsford Community Radio – I’m going to be played on there for the first time) and go online to make sure I’m all caught up. Feeling better again for these home comforts… Check my email before I go to sleep and find that the BBC are going to be playing Death Blinked First on their show tomorrow. Hooray, it worked!
*the audio equivalent of an ISBN number for books
If you’re really eagle-eyed, you may have spotted that I’ve had a new video, Savannah, up on YouTube for a few months, but I haven’t mentioned it in this blog yet*.
This video was coded in Processing 3 (Java), again, similarly to some of my earlier videos, but I tried to design some rather basic animations that were more descriptive of the video’s theme this time around as well as messing around with some other visual ideas.
I’ve been more than a little distracted with my Dad’s ill-health the last few months. (That’s my best excuse for not posting something here about the Savannah video, and I’m sticking with it!). Dad’s still in hospital, but is doing a bit better now – most days, anyway – and I’ve been trying to catch up on Things I Started or Forgot About – this post is one of those. Soon I’ll be making more progress on some actual music, but I’ve got a tax return to sort first, and not a lot of time to do it.
It is about time I updated everyone on how things are going. My Dad is still in hospital: it’s been eight weeks already. He has been moved twice now and is back in the original hospital he started in. The move away was because they thought he would need an operation, but it was decided that wouldn’t be necessary, even though he had been as far as having a probable date for it and going nil-by-mouth on the day. So he’s been moved back nearer to home. It’s only a few miles difference, but the rush hour isn’t as horrific, and visiting hours are better for avoiding the worst traffic, so there’s a little less time pressure. I still haven’t met Hugh Laurie or his glamorous team…
We think Dad will be in hospital over Christmas and New Year now; they have identified the cause of his illness and he’s being monitored pretty closely to make sure the antibiotics are winning. We don’t know if he will fully recover, though, and his state can vary a lot between visits. I’m the optimist and my Mum’s the pessimist. I’m looking at the good days and thinking that he could be nearly back to normal as soon as this infection is beaten, even if it does take a few more months; Mum’s looking at the bad days and talking about the worst-case outcomes. Of course, either is possible, but Dad is a pretty determined individual, and given enough hope, he will fight this thing.
I’ve been really tired myself, and am missing my creative work. I have taken a few days respite, though, and have been working on a video for Manipulant’s track Run, which I contributed vocals to a few months back. I can’t share it with you yet, as it’s not quite finished, but will do once it’s up on YouTube. It’s a bit different to the other videos I’ve made so far, because it’s a ‘straight video’ rather than an animation or being made from stills.
Just in case I don’t manage to post again in the next few days, please do have a lovely Christmas and New Year! I’m quite intrigued to find out what Christmas will be like in the hospital. All the wards seem to be making a big effort with decorations. We are having a family get-together as normal, it will just be a bit different.
Drooble – a social media site for musicians and music fans – are running a song competition at the moment. They have two prizes, one for most original song and the other for the song that gets the most votes.
I thought I might as well put an entry in – it can’t hurt, can it? So I have entered Sleepwalker.
P.S. (If you fancy joining me on Drooble and discovering a load of other indie artists, as well, here’s a link for joining, too.)
Today the TrickJazz Mobile App Kickstarter campaign, um, started. There are three games in the chillout series that are part of this Kickstarter campaign, but Dreamwalker is the game that my tune is going to feature in, on the menu screen. All of the games are aimed at being relaxing for the players and feature chilled out hiphop triphop and jazz music with a beat. One game involves popping on-screen bubbles, another is a colour-changing game where you have to change the colour of a ball at the right moment to match the moving ‘glass portals’. Dreamwalker is all about doing parkour (aka ‘freerunning’ – running and jumping your way through an obstacle course) in a dreamy environment.
TrickJazz have already got a simple game out called Chicken!, but that one is really not about relaxation – it’s more likely to wind you up, in fact… But perhaps that’s where the idea for making relaxation games came from!
If you’re not familiar with this whole Kickstarter-ing business, the idea is that a lot of people get together and pool resources to make something happen, with the people that contribute normally getting some kind of reward in return – aka Crowdfunding. It’s important to note that, with Kickstarter campaigns, unlike some other Crowdfunding initiatives, it’s all or nothing: the fundraisers have to hit their target amount by the deadline, or the project gets nothing and it’s all been in vain.
In this Kickstarter, the goal is the launch of the three initial games in the TrickJazz games series, and they are looking to raise £10k to get these launched. That sounds like quite a lot, but the aim is that this will be made up of lots of very small pledges from a large number of supporters. The deadline for reaching the £10k target is on 8 June – the same day as the UK General Election.
If you would like to know more about the game series and the Kickstarter, there’s a page with ALL the details on, including a better description of the games and rewards, and you can also have a look at this video which explains what it’s all about.
The last week has been a bit bonkers, as I’ve been trying to fit work around helping a good friend with a family crisis. I haven’t got as much done as I would have liked, but some things are just more important, and I’ve still been able to make a little progress.
Over last weekend, I wrote an article for an online publication called Code Like A Girl, which you may possibly have heard of if you’re interested in encouraging more girls to do STEM subjects, or you’re a bit of a computer geek. During the week, there has been communication with the editorial team, minor changes made, and they have published it this evening. The article is a bit of a mashup of a couple of the articles in this blog, and describes how I made the video for Sunrise but I thought I’d share it here anyway as I’m feeling somewhat chuffed to have been included on their writing team and had an article published about my work. I anticipate writing at least another article about a different video I’ve made with a similar technique, maybe going into a little more depth about the code this time.
I made various video backgrounds from animations that I worked on in Processing in preparation for a gig I played at the start of January. In the event, the venue’s projector wasn’t available, so they weren’t used. But the preparation work isn’t wasted, I have some videos in hand for future live performances. Plus, I took some of the footage generated for Silver Bird and edited it into this video.
In fact, the timing could not have been more perfect. No sooner had I finished the video than I got an email from BBC Introducing (Lincolnshire) to say they had used Silver Bird in their show the previous Saturday. This was an exciting end to what has been a brilliant month for me, where I’ve made a lot of new contacts and felt like I’d scratched the surface of whatever this music thing is.
After some more headbutting and reaching a point where I didn’t think I would be able to solve the original problem of routing live sound through a self-programmed music visualiser, I went back to basics. Ditching the sound module provided on the Creative Programming course, I looked into Processing’s own sound library using the online documentation.
And bingo, using the available sample code in the online tutorial, I suddenly had something that was responding to input from the soundcard. Just like that. The graphics were terrible – just a fuzzy line at the bottom of the screen, but the body was still twitching, so to speak.
So, moving on from there, I’ve incorporated the relevant commands into the visualiser code, and developed the graphics further to create something workable. The short video here is just a teaser: I want to keep the full graphics for live shows. Here, output from Ableton Live Lite is being picked up by the visualiser from the signal going through the soundcard, and processed on the fly.
I nearly forgot to share my new video, which is available on YouTube. This is the video that I made by taking lots of stills photos a few weeks ago, and made a blog post about.
If you get travel sick easily or suffer from epilepsy, I should warn you that it’s quite wobbly because of how it is made, with rapidly changing images. It was an interesting technique to use, though, a bit like stop motion, and I wouldn’t mind making something in a similar style but using a tripod or similar stand to reduce the wobble factor another time.