Strange Cameras for Strange Times

Too soon we have become blasé to the distortions of the current flock of optics. We pretend these are just sidesteps to the usual reality. Their peculiar qualities should be celebrated and their perversions articulated, and I am here to do just that.

The Lytro lllum. https://www.lytro.com/

original

Normally you point a camera, and light arrives at the lens in a wild range of angles. That forms a bright but blurry image. As you close the aperture the light is constrained to a smaller range of angles, and the image becomes coherent, while the exposure drops. The smaller the aperture the sharper the focus, and the more the camera has to work to expose the film. Hence the deep focus of Citizen Kane was a technical marvel. Now everyone is obsessed with shallow focus, because big lenses are expensive, and what better way to show you have money.

The Illum is a light field camera. Light arrives from all angles and hits one or more of hundreds of little ‘buckets’ inside. The computer notes the direction at which the buckets are filled and calculates the angle at which the light arrived. The camera sees both the light and its direction and from this records a perfectly focused image with depth information.

Lytro_ILLUM

You can use that depth to set focus after taking the shot, to calculate a 3D image or slice the image over the Z plane. Probably more – there’s a SDK available for trying out ideas. But most of us will just animate the focus after the fact and think that very clever. For a while…

Sensible review.

Lytro has set small, reasonable aims for the camera and provided them. The Illum is a well built, well thought out device with a defined purpose. But that purpose is not in itself very inspiring for very long.

Pulling the focus back and forward is exciting for about an hour after which you’re putting the camera in the cupboard next to the C64. Mine came out of a discount bin, still wildly expensive compared to an equivalent DSLR (because of Australian distribution). The Illum is not a game changer, because the technology is more interesting than what you’re encouraged to do with it. So you should think about misuse.

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Lytro is now onto surround video capture with an impossibly large and sexy UFO thing that photographs with 6 degrees of freedom inside a virtual space (but can it photograph itself?) I’m disappointed that they have leaped so far, when just a single lens 3D video capture would be really tops. The Illum is not able to shoot video, it maxes out at about 3fps. It might be insanely great as a stop motion camera, but no moving pictures.

The software can output its unique RAW format as set of TIFFs with the depth as an 8 bit gray scale image. The TIFFs show the scene from a range of angles, so you’re already alert that the depth must be some compromise of all these. It has a ‘cauliflower’ texture, by which I mean it shows a lack of detail evidencing some kind of fractal or wavelet tactic.

lytro-illum-raw-sample-image-1-editable-depth-map

Being lossy and 8 bit you are not going to get a clean slice where an object is magically cut out from the background. Fair enough. Probably the SDK can get a cleaner image from the RAW – but I tend to think that the Illum operates at the extreme edge of the hardware. It has the brain of an advanced mobile phone – impressive – but having to compromise greatly to get acceptable results.

My intention is to grab a whole variety of still images which I’m going to then mash together on the Z plane with some dirty and distorted depth data. It won’t be clean or realistic. It will hopefully be disturbing. You might have a pig and car sharing the same 3D space. You might like it.

The Ricoh Theta S – https://theta360.com/en/about/theta/s.html

2016 is the year where 360 cameras infest every gadget retailer the way that sports cameras did a few years ago, and 3D TVs before that. They will eventually die in large numbers. Right now they’re just touching on reasonable performance at a reasonable price, so the average enthusiast may as well have a look. That’s me.

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If you’re the sort of person that takes selfies, you’ll love the Theta. Here’s the pyramids… and me! The beach front… and me! My friends and me me me me again. There being no back and front to a spherical photo, you’re always there unless you hide in a garbage bin or wear it as a hat.

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Suspicious white object at 6 o’clock

Because it has no viewfinder (what use is a viewfinder in 360º?) you are encouraged to setup a wifi link between it and a mobile phone where you can preview the effect. It works, but mobiles aren’t really set up to be field monitors, as the glare is such that you can’t see what you’re doing. So you set up the camera on a tripod, run away some distance to hide, find some shade, look at the phone and only then find that the tripod has been knocked over by some passing brat.

When I got back to the camera, the lens cover was scratched, but there seems to be no effect on the photos, I guess the cover is out of the focus area. It is not a sports camera, but akin to a toddler – it can take a fall.

Sensible.

The quality of the earlier Thetas was horrible, and at 1080p the video on the improved S is still only a quarter of the needed resolution because it captures two circular areas inside that area. But the photo images are big enough for my purposes, which is to decorate some VR spaces I’m building in Unity with natural light and textures.

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Software wise Ricoh give you a desktop viewer (made in Adobe Air so banned from my work computer) which connects to their gallery (which only allows very short segments of video). The video can also go up on YouTube but ignore the instructions given on Ricoh’s site – it needs to be first run through a “Video Metadata Tool” before YouTube will see it. YouTube has a fixed viewpoint which only covers a small part of the video – so very nasty quality. I’m going to to try pre-processing the video in After Effects to make it big before encoding it.

What use is surround? Only as a means to capture an environment for more detailed images – that is, the same way you would use a stereo microphone pair to capture the sonic environment, followed by a shotgun mic for the detail. We have not previously had a crossed pair for video. The problem then is one of ‘handling noise’ – big distorted hands at the bottom of every shot. It’s as annoying as microphone handling noise.

The Theta is basically a Zoom recorder for light. For most people the Zoom recording is not the end of the creative act – only the beginning, and using the Theta as some kind of documentary device is not anywhere near to the real reason to own one.

Saloon and Sales

This is interesting: http://www.salon.com/2012/06/20/steal_this_album_what_happens_if_no_one_pays_for_music/singleton/

Mostly because it’s being debated with a little more intelligence than the usual ‘all musicians are lazy and rich therefore FYGM’. Salon is a funny website. Sometimes you feel so damn relieved to be reading above the usual YouTube moron level. But sometimes the USA Progressive rhetoric is clumsy and shallow. I love the old socialist banter that went with the 70’s post punk bands, but I’m well aware that it didn’t get far past the first record contract. It seems that many of the Salon writers have yet to see it in practice and still have high abstract hopes. Bless them for wanting good for all, that’s a rare thing.

Back to paid music: Curiously the switch from CD to DRM-free download has gone well for me. Sevcom shop has almost reached the point where BandCamp will take a lesser cut, and this on material that has been out and about for years. But the audience are generally sticking with what they know.

It’s good to have statistics, actually it’s disillusioning – both negative and positive meanings of that combined. Biggest seller is City Slab Horror. Biggest download is Return To Barbara Island, although it had already done over 1,000 downloads from MediaFire in the old store. Free stuff will always win. But it emboldens me to make a another new thing and give it away. I have about 9000 free downloads banked up.

In the last two months looks like I’ve had a lot of new customers show up. Again, City Slab Horror, Bigot … one thing is that not everyone buys the entire Adenoids set. True, most of the tracks are in the first package. I just thought they’d be completists.

Now, where do they come from? About half direct dial BandCamp, which shows the virtue of this site. A fifth went to sevcom.com first; would be better if I was more active there. A tenth came from FaceBook; I have no presence there. ALMOST NO SALES COME FROM YOUTUBE. Having people post my music on YouTube does not assist me in any statistically valid way. So fuck that argument. Let’s have the image…

Love it.

BandCamp allows me to download everyone’s email addresses as a spreadsheet. If I was a good marketer I’d use that to push info at people, but I think I am a better friend to people by not doing that kind of thing. At some point I’ll just send them all a present.

What about iTunes? Well I don’t get too deep into those statistics but it’s basically about a thousand bucks of Dead Eyes Opened every time I get a payment. Yay… zzzzzzzzzz. iTunes is like when you buy a greasy kebab on the way home from the pub… being Dead Eyes.

This week I have to pop down to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. to talk hosting of [H.H]. I don’t think they’ll notice the hit but sensible men want to check bandwidth. I guess if you had a couple of hundred people bashing away at it on opening night and they all tried the same tape recorder it could be nasty, but shit, it’s the ABC.

Not much development on Cavalcade so far. Looks like we don’t have the Mandala systems we thought we did. Anyone got an old Amiga Live card lying around?

For Capra, I’m trying to 3D render a night time city flyover. All those little bright windows are causing the worst Moire pattern, wasted days on that.

As for Opmitter, don’t ask. I just switched over from Jitter to Derivative TouchDesigner. The desperate move of a drowning man!

The Future of the Future

Time’s Harry McCracken does a worthy compilation of Futuristic prediction videos. He goes beyond the usual tittering by including both Future Past and Future Current and calling out the overall pointlessness of the exercise. As he says, imagining is not imagineering in the Disney sense and these dreams are rhetorical to the progress of engineering as a whole. The admen aren’t really aware of  the back end; they’re just another noisy user group. With a budget.

Oddly he includes the British Post Office in ‘Corporate America’. I smell a subeditor.

He’s shy to analyse the latest videos in the collection – the dreams of the late 2000’s are ‘too soon to predict’. Hell, I’ll predict them – that’s my job. I’m mainly looking at Microsoft’s 2009 opus Productivity Future Vision:

PIPES: all these videos are obsessed with pipes (or what Brazil called ducts). Whether it’s railroads, highways or datastreams, the visionaries can’t get over moving stuff from place to place, which is just a sublimation of their childish vroom vroom. This goes with centrally controlled data, the cloud and all that push to have everything locked up in a safe to which you can hire access. Local storage is smelly right now. It’ll take a few oops events to change that view back to having a library at home. Like your own garden (which is currently fashionable).

CLEANLINESS AND ORDER: Even the goddamn coffee cup has an allocated space on the virtual office desk of the future. Walls are clean of fingerprints. All the children have clean hand inspection every 30 minutes and jam sandwiches are verboten. No chair has a coat thrown over it. Every future office looks like an ad agency (e.g. Google circa 2009). The future is always off-white with tasteful splashes of colour – a world that looks like a magazine layout.

Everywhere I have worked has been a chaos of shit everywhere and where the hell is my pen. I am a mess and yet I am in the main efficient. My data is all over the place despite every attempt to corral it, and heaven help any algorithm that thinks it’s going to ‘smart folder’ anything.

Part of ‘the future’ is hiding unpleasant things. Amazon delivers neat clean little packages to your door so you don’t have to see the wait staff or have any sympathy for their situation. An interface is a way to hide unwanted information. Like other people’s bodies.

WEALTH: Good for those Indian kids in the video, the ones teaching American children how to write funny. They are obviously not the 58% under 5 years old who are stunted by malnutrition. Here’s a nice infographic that could be really cool to put up on the virtual classroom wall. The wealthy American and Indian kids can discuss it by drawing animated poor people chasing food scraps.

I like the house that the American guy owns, maybe it’ll become unoccupied by foreclosure – it would make a good squat. But really the point is that shovelling graphical information around in circles is not the same as actually making things which is what I thought was ‘productivity’. No one seems to make anything in utopia; they just graph what the Morlocks are doing in some remote part of China and wonder at their increasing irrelevance. Twit all you like, it’s not actually creating a damn thing and you are going down the toilet.

AGE: People are getting older, and they can’t work out the bar at the top of Microsoft Office let alone all the cyberpunk that the ad people are hurling onto every surface. My direct experience with trying to help the aged in using technology was a humbling one, and I expect that humbling to be the dominant feature of the coming years. Only when the people making the ads are themselves arthritic will they stop with all this pinching and flicking and diddling all over bits of glass. The elderly will not be using tablets, and you are going to be elderly.

LOGISTICS: Did you like the bit where the Chinese guy catches a plane and there’s no queue? (I mean there’s no one in the damn airport at all, which is back to the whole paleofuture fetish about hiding other human bodies which are utterly distasteful). There’s no one on the plane? So how the hell does Boeing manage to keep flying when no one is on their damn plane and fuel prices just keep rising and rising? Maybe we could push some graphs around a piece of glass and work that out.

(Oh yeah I should mention the teacher at the beginning flying first class and working out her curriculum on the plane. Can I have that job please? Sure would be sweet to just arrange stuff and make it happen without being on the ground to physically make sure that it’s going right.)

ACTUAL REAL WORLD TESTING: We recently had an upgrade at our main teaching hall. To operate the lights and sound you use an iPad fitted into the lectern. So to turn down the lights you push the button on the pad, swipe to open the application, touch the interface to start it, touch the tab to switch to lights and then touch one of about 5 lighting levels to set the mood. That sure beats turning a knob. I mean if you had a knob that would mean you could instantly set the lighting level to a near infinite number of levels. With the iPad, you get to see the logo of the university each time, and that my friends is the future.

My executive take on this is that to create our optimal future as shown in this genre of video we should immediately tear down anything old and start genocide of the poor, elderly, and children that have dirty hands. You might find that sentence distasteful, but why didn’t you find the video version of it distasteful?

Hugo this way I’ll go that way.

I wrote several thousand words on Hugo and the evils of retrospective editing of a real man’s life. No one should be forced to read that but by God it made me feel better to rage it out. I will now give you the essential crib notes:

Fuck you Scorsese for allowing the life of Melies to be drowned in infantile revisionism. You should know better. You took a children’s book, lit it orange on one side and blue on the other and threw some Film 101 into the pot. A lot of what you concealed is the dirty history of film. We have our own trains pulling into our own stations: we don’t need your old magic tricks, we have too many of those. What we need is the grey reality of greed and folly that you want to gloss over. Film is not a family. Film is a pack of hyena.

Show us Melies signing the deal with Pathe that lost him his house. Show us his brother churning out shitty westerns for that brute Edison. Show us how film society dribbled money to him when he was running the toy store. Show us the reality. SHOW THE TRUTH. Then talk to us about ‘your love of film’.

Hugo is just another shiny robot movie. The recreations of the early cinema are wonderful, but then, shiny robot.

That over too many pages.

I have finally released the 25th Anniversary remaster of Come Visit The Big Bigot on BandCamp. I had been holding off for a release on CD – 25 years was 2011, but I think that release may now not happen. If you’ve been following you know why. It’s free to listen and Strange Brew is free to download.

Related – I am nearly all gone from YouTube. You will find me at Vimeo. Just use the ‘Videos’ menu at the top of the page to see what’s there. YouTube is really not the place for me – when 100,000 people watch my video by accident, do you call that a successful communication?

What to do with “Australian Film”?

Have you ever owned a pet that uncontrollably shits everywhere? It’s usually a cat but probably ferrets and turtles are just as bad. You love the little blighter to death but it would be really great if you could somehow CORK IT UP. Meanwhile you get pretty good with paper towels.

This is the Australian Film Industry. Love the poor little furry thing but Jesus will it stop shitting things out?

Recently three more films plopped onto screens around this great nation, slid down onto the floor and were mopped up with very few people even noticing. Much discussion ensues about where the funding went (and I must say that the 7 million bucks pissed away on A Heartbeat Away is a sackable offence) but all of this really misses the point.

Let’s start with two phrases, and see how they resonate with you:

A Good Film.      A Good Australian Film.

Note how the second phrase seems to pull the punch. This is a Good Film, but it’s Australian. Seeing as all you really wanted was the Good, the second descriptor can only be a qualification. The only people that would really care about Australian are Screen Australia, because Screen by itself doesn’t collect much glory.

And, really why does the federal government fund films? Well, we have a grudge. Our first film studio opened in 1897, a division of the Salvation Army. They produced the first long format film / mixed media presentation in 1899 called Soldiers of the Cross. We made the first feature film The Story Of The Kelly Gang in 1906. Australian film production was bigger than that of the UK and the USA up until 1912 when some idiot banned bush ranger (basically cowboy) films and the distributors signed a deal with theatres to import cheap American films.

Australia does two things (a) come up with ideas well before other countries and then (b) totally fuck it up. As you play audio samples on your mobile phone marvel at two things that came out this country – samplers and WiFi. That the CSIRO won back the rights to WiFi is unusual, that Fairlight created a giant white elephant that was quickly nibbled away is typical. (And have you seen the Fairlight CMI app for the iPhone? They want 12 bucks for the DEMO, the full thing is 40 dollars.  GarageBand is 5 bucks. Fairlight will not learn).

The current paradigm came about  when John Gorton become prime minister in 1968. Some facts about Gorton: He went to school with Errol Flynn, who probably used the Inception device on him given later events. In second war he was a fighter pilot, and losing a dogfight landed pretty much face first. It would be two years before he would get hospital treatment which was two years too late – he was the first guinea pig to run a country. He became PM on the machinations that followed the disappearance of Harold Holt who it was said was captured by a Chinese submarine, but I suspect Errol Flynn. Initially slightly to the right of Genghis Khan, he mellowed rapidly and went on a mad spending spree for the arts, starting up AFTRS, the Australia Council, and the Australian Film Development Corporation. He would in 1973 sponsor the law decriminalising homosexuality in this country. Good for him.

(I met John Gorton and his wife. The meeting was photographed by a newspaper. When it was published they had mysteriously replaced myself and wife with some other couple. Again I blame Errol Flynn).

Once the government started to fund films there was a gold rush of what are now called Ozploitation films, which over some time honed into our golden age of pan flutes, little girls in slow motion and Mel Gibson. Australian films were for a while pretty cool, but that was a while back and the people that made it happen have all gone overseas where you can get a reasonable budget. Leaving a large hole that just never seems to heal.

I am the doctor.

First, geography is no longer of any importance when one of the largest nations on earth is FaceBook. Australia is just another suburb within flying distance of the main shopping mall, hardly exotic. Nationhood is quaint. Every time somebody starts a project dependent on nation, they are polluting art with politics. The word ‘Australian’ should no longer appear before ‘film’.

Secondly, somebody should go around to AFTRS with a broom and sweep out the 1970’s. AFTRS is a training ground for cavalry officers – who ride off gallantly on their shining white horses straight into machine gun fire like the French at the start of world war one – but played on an endless loop. Film school is a kind of military training that has not adapted to guerilla warfare. The guerillas are winning.

Thirdly, ‘film’ itself is a questionable means of story telling bolstered by a wall of spurious and pretentious pseudo-science. That somebody somewhere is still lecturing about the filmic ideas of Lacan is as horrifying as the call to enforce creationism in science classes. ‘Film’ is a vain attempt to insulate against the hordes that happily make their own moving pictures and upload them to the web – 35 hours a minute. ‘Film’ despises the hordes at the same time pretending to entertain them. The neuroticism of this relationship is all on the side of film makers, the hordes don’t give a fuck.

Fourthly, if you only have enough ideas for a short and only enough money for a short then make a short. That goes for a whole nation as much as an individual. Look how our animated short films are world class. Do that.

‘Film’ started with the cinematograph. It was ended by the DV camera.

COMMENT ON ‘WHAT TO DO WITH AN AUSTRALIAN FILM?’
As always you make me laugh out loud Uncle Tom. And laughter leads to thinking and thinking leads to commenting…

Alas, I am dismayed at the post i want to comment on has its comment fields disabled..? Thus Im am commenting here as a by proxy way of commenting  on the previous post entitled “What to do with an Australian Film” (hopeful that you may paste it over to its correctly associated post)
I too am frustrated with Australian Film and indeed my frustration is on many levels;
– the word FILM itself
– The idea that feature films are top of an arbitrary hierarchy
– that in the age of netflicks we should even think box office numbers relevant.
– that Australia is still obsessed with ‘quirky Aussiness and ‘telling our stories’
– that we insist on making $10 million films when the best you can hope for at the Aussie feature in Australian is 2million (and that assumes its done well)
BUT… where I have to call you a point is your assertions about AFTRS.
You say “somebody should go around to AFTRS with a broom and sweep out the 1970′s.” You’re not the first to say it and indeed when i was at the national screenwriters conference back in feb I coped a public whacking from playwright David Williamson who seemed to think AFTRS and its focus on Auteur Directors was the primary problem with Australian Screenplays being so bad. (if nothing else I think DW greatly over estimates the influence of AFTRS) But… my main response is to suggest that the broom has indeed already gone through and the AFTRS you refer to is, in fact, no more.
Now, of course I do work at AFTRS and my federally funded welfare payments to do so, ensure that i must defend the place. But I think I can respond with some evidence not conjecture that the old auteur feature film centric cavalry-charging artiste is not the dominant paradigm at AFTRS any more (and hasn’t been for a good number of years) That old the paradigm and perspective has shifted seismically. Of course, the results of this change we shan’t see until our graduates stat making good stuff over the next 5-10 years but such is the nature of educational institutions.
The perception that AFTRS is Auteur Art centric and introspectively self absorbed doesn’t hold up when you look at the kinds of courses we teach and how they’re taught. I don’t want to espouse an essay so I’ll go in dot points.
– the first two weeks for all Grad Dip students are spent studying Genre cinema and working collaboratively on no-budget, fast turn around, all digital sketches in genres of scifi, horror, rom-com, magic-realism, mockumentary and so on. This sets a collaborative and audience-focused tone to the entire course for all students.
– The Foundation diploma is an all digital laptop and video camera 1yr program where the core modules include virtual worlds, website development, 360 transmedia storytelling and game design along side classical storytelling, screenwriting, doco and short filming.
– AFTRS has numerous courses in numerous states specifically on animation, 2d and 3d, compositing and Animation Directing which are enormously successful.
– There are barely any projects made at AFTRS on film anymore. I think only 2 last year across the whole school and all courses. DSLRs, RED, Sony VG10’s, Alexa and so on are the mainstay. Its very much a digital school with a very forward-thinking future focused head of cinematography in Kim Bannerham.
– The Screenwriting department has been completely reinvented with an entirely new curriculum under the guidance of Ross Grayson Bell (the creative producer of Fight Club) and a mix of Australian and International teachers who’ve worked across film, Tv and online media. We have current students in this program for example working in placements with Australian cable TV drams producing parallel web-series projects.
– This year saw a brand new graduate course that i co-designed and am teaching which is specifically dedicated to Online Episodic Series development. Every student is handed a laptop, a Sony VG10 HD video camera and a backpack to put them in. The course focuses a long-form process of developing an episodic drama or reality series to be delivered online and exploiting the delivery and audience engagement opportunities the web offers. The students continually shoot, sketch, draft, upload and shoot again – very much a guerilla approach to fleshing ideas and addressing that major missing element of so much australian screens production – proper development time. The course is also designed to circumvent the short comings of short-films as both industry calling card and learning vehicle and focus on making audience-focused stories with broader appeal and Bigger ideas.
These are just a few of the forward-thinking programs AFTRS offers and we havnt even got to the research projects we’re undertaking and publications we’re producing all focused on ensuring we are thinking hard about the future and not self-absorbed about the past.
The real challenge for AFTRS is communicating to the wider world that the 70s have long been swept away, and prompt everyone to see that AFTRS, as the national screen arts and broadcast school, is very much alive and vibrant and relevant in the digital age.
Your criticisms of the problems with ‘Australian Film’ are more than valid – tragically so – but your perspective on AFTRS as an ongoing part of that problem is sorely outdated my friend.

Audio Mouth Breathers

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a new breed of idiot to celebrate.

Recently I become annoyed at people on You Tube that had my music up as soundtracks to a still image. There’s plenty of reasons to despise this:

* If they had made a video to go with the music, they would have added some small thing to the store of art. They didn’t and haven’t.

* They often see themselves as providing something that otherwise would not be heard. 10 seconds with Google would have told them otherwise. Their self promotion allows no such deviation.

* They often describe themselves as some sort of collector. A collector, the way that somebody picks up my garbage. Again they have not actually researched anything, have no idea of what it means and have no inkling that the year 1990 passed some time ago. It’s 2011. You are old and fat and so are The Bangles.

* Like all good Fascists they pretend to speak ‘on my behalf’. Particularly distressing are those academics that promote their redistribution of other people’s work as ‘a gift economy’ – the same that would condemn anyone that spoke on behalf of another person with less power – but then academia and hypocrisy are siblings.

congratulations-idiot

I could go on. But let’s get to the meat.

I was told by one that he was a connoisseur of vinyl and that he wanted people to hear what the music sounded like on that format. Now, the idea that by streaming audio over the incredibly low bandwidth of YouTube Flash format you were demonstrating the quality of analogue audio is so UTTERLY FUCKING STUPID that I regret my membership of the human race.

Perhaps it’s not clear – let me put it this way – if you said that an original oil painting was better than a print and you prove this by providing a black and white photocopy of the painting then you are as thick as two short planks. No one would for a moment believe a word you said. And yet somehow there are people out there who are commenting on the superior sound they are streaming down from YouTube.

One particular serial retard based an entire critique of my later music on what they had downloaded from YouTube. Well yes, everything I have done recently has a bandwidth of 12KHz. You’re so perceptive.

It’s worth repeating (how many more times?) that everything we recorded since 1985 was recorded digitally. The record labels would make a tape from that and press vinyl and leave me to cry at just how BAD these unnecessary modifications have made the sound. Then when some oaf tells me that the vinyl sounds superior it broadcasts their ignorance. Let alone over YouTube. Ye Gods!

congratulations-idiot

I have the original recordings. Telling me what it is supposed to sound like makes you a fool. Get it?

Now I am getting some people who complain about how loud CDs can be. It’s on the level of ‘Why is this loud-over-the-top-noise-music loud-and-over-the-top? Why are you making this thumping sound like thumping and this screeching sound like screeching? This is not how it sounds on the vinyl I bought 25 years ago!’ Well no shit Sherlock. When you cut vinyl you have to turn it down. You have remove bass. You have to compress the stereo image. You have to run it through limiters. You end up with something which is called ‘warm’, like a pie that’s been too long on a heating tray. Vinyl sucks and the really loud and crunchy CDs are free of these compromises that I have hated.

Bottom line – if you want to live in the past go ahead. But to try drag it all back to your youth is desperate. Let the rest of us go on ahead, we don’t need you.

BONUS BEATS!

And here it comes … the hate mail!

A depressing number of people of course didn’t actually read what I said and started another chorus of that tired old song about analogue, unicorns and rainbows. Good for you.

One guy decided that I was in no position to call the Bangles (and presumably him) fat. Actually that’s the point dear chap, I’m not the one injecting sonic Botox. The sweet bird of youth is dead on the bottom of the cage, so let’s all be grown ups now. Look in the mirror. I’m near 50 years old, it’s 2011, and 1982 may as well be 1882 for what it matters any more.

I particularly liked an impassioned plea that I respect ‘fans’. You have to ask what a ‘fan’ means? Let’s see:- no idea about what’s been happening for the last 20 years, never buys anything, steals my shit, never contacts me. Oh yeah, right that’s a FAN. With fans like that who needs indifference? Or maybe it’s a case of be kind to these people because they are particular delicate flower who ‘mean well’?

I have a community of people who I DO respect, and they in turn respect me and this is far healthier than the notion of a ‘fan’ – a kind of hostile dependency that should have been taken out back and shot a few decades ago.

The rant is valid, the rant calls out bullshit. I will denounce things that suck.

The Nine Billion Names of Blog

300px-50_meter_rifle_targetsvgThis blog is back on target. SMJ took that superglue and pumped it (laughing in a manly way) into that open source, sealing the jimjams that were doodling the ohplats or something. The useless categories are back in place, my tedious attempts at amusing tags are clouding in the etherblogcloudingscape and I can get back to avoiding part two of the synthesiser class. It’s good to be back, polluting your cyberspace.

Not that I haven’t been busy, dear no. Week two of Kunst Kamp and we have the kunstlers blogging away for dear life. Their word count threatens to smother the universe in blogmass and good riddance to all that open space, I say. When the newspapers all fold we will be ready! I feel like the guy that tied a bunch of balloons to his lawn chair. We are going up, all of us, with no plans of how to come down. Think of it – right now 150 students are typing! Soon it will be 250! Then we will link to main campus blogs and have thousands… the blogs will become sentient and launch an attack on civilisation as we know it.

Take for example categories. Now if you allow students to choose their own, how many categories will they create? As many as there are fish in the sea. Even when I said please use the course code, you can type that in an endless variety of ways – there’s soma1603 or SOMA1603 or SOMA 1603 with a gap … each is a new category. Once we connect with main campus there will be 9 Billion categories, one of which will be the name of God… and the stars will go out one by one.

On the home front I finally got around to sending up two of the Severed Heads clips as High Definition at YouTube. The HD mode is not too shabby. Certainly better than the old playback. I guess I’ll repost all of the old videos again, although most of them are standard old 4:3 format. It makes me think some day I had better get back to making some art, if there’s ever time to make art, or any audience left that wants it.

Also, for the special two people & dog that read this thing – I can preview the incomplete version of OP4 which eventually shall reside at:

http://sevcom.com/op4/

This has more holes in it than a spaghetti spoon, but over the coming weeks I’ll be fixing it as I can. Yes, the tracks are either remastered or remixed from the old multitracks. Why? Because that’s what OP was always about – keep on reworking and rerecording the tracks over and over again. Why? Because it is amusing for me to keep folding the sources in different directions – frankly I’d do that if no one was listening at all, but if somebody wants to, you are welcome.

Also busy is SMJ. You have seen these haven’t you? A very interesting development is brewing … but you will have to wait to find out …

Actually useful information.

I have long essay about multimedia tools I can’t yet finish, in the meanwhile something useful.

YouTube is currently ‘broadcasting’ in two systems – the FLV you have grown to hate and MP4. The MP4 files are better quality and will probably be rolled out in the next few months. Meanwhile you can hack your way from 405 to 625 lines. Numerous variations on the hack exist – this is the best so far.

http://www.joeyhagedorn.com/2008/04/16/youtube-in-mp4-via-quicktime-plugin

You need to have real QuickTime installed, not seeming to work with QuickTime Alternative. Tested on a PC running Firefox.

It’s not entirely explained on that site how to use it – I can help. Go to the YouTube page of the clip you want to see. Then launch the bookmarklet. It refreshes the page with a QuickTime player instead of the Flash player. If there’s no high resolution version, you get a question mark.

This one works.