Archive: » 2011 July

Sneaky Peek Timelapse With Sarah Bronsteen!

  • July 27, 2011

This past Monday we were very fortunate to work with the talented new model Sarah Bronsteen. Sarah was a lot of fun to work with and drew a lot from her past dancing experience. Constantly moving, the shoot was very fluid, and refreshing. Samantha Gribble did an amazing job with the hair and makeup. Her work never fails to amaze me, so once again I decided to capture her process. This time with 2 cameras!

The hair took 2 hours and 25 minutes and the makeup 1 hour and 50 minutes for a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes. So far pretty consistent with previous shoots. The Lightroom screen-cast was to show my standard photo manipulation process. It took 17.5 minutes, which is shorter than usual. This picture didn’t need too much work! I typically hand tweak all the settings for the first image, then copy and adjust the settings for the rest of the set.

The songs are excerpts from previous Ironchef of Music submissions. You can find them here and here respectively. Each were completed in 2 hours.

The intro title was some easy 3d animation, however the render took a whopping 17 hours. Perhaps I will stick to simple motion graphics next time!

Pro Tips from ’86!

  • July 22, 2011

Today’s Pro Tip comes from the distant past: 1986. At the sagacious age of 7, I was already unleashing some of my tip bombs on my fellow friends and colleagues. A true gem, my sister found this masterpiece while we were cleaning out a 30+ year old scholastic garbage pile we had amassed in my parent’s home.

Pantene Pro Tip: You can has shower

This brazen prose titled “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” relays a few juicy pro tips I had gleaned from the subversive yet enlightening movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off“. For those of you unfamiliar with the plot of this movie, it is best described by as “Amoral narcissist makes world dance for his amusement.” By following these tips you can have the wold dance for you!

Friends will notice that my handwriting and spelling has not changed a single iota since second grade. They will also notice that I still lick my pams[sic] when I want to get out of any unpleasant situation. Sure it’s babyish. But so is school.



  • July 19, 2011

      icom 7-17-11 ipa-arse pennies
Click to listen

I have been out of town this week, so I had to use my net-book for the last ICOM. It’s not a very powerful machine, so I didn’t want to bog it down with capturing the screen-cast. So just audio this week! Also, I didn’t bring my new ICOM compliant instruments, so that will have to wait until the next chef to make it’s debut. Regardless, I am pretty happy with this last submission. I used a tool that I have been playing around with for a while, but never used in a composition until now. It is Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch, and it lives up to it’s name. This tool is made to stretch sounds to ridiculous lengths such as 50x and up. If you ever wondered what a song would sound like over the period of a few days, this tool is what you would use. I really enjoy the textures it creates, and melodic sources sound very pleasing and grand. Check out this absolutely transcending 1000% stretch of the Jurassic Park theme to see what I mean. Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch is open-source and available for Linux and Windows. It’s free, so why not give it a spin?

You can find this week’s ICOM source and submissions here. The source was the audio from an ad for bit coins. I chose to utilize the melodic sound effects to create my instruments. Unfortunately, a lot of the vocals were layered with sound effects, making any type of clever rewording difficult, so I just went with an instrumental piece. The long pad in the background was from a short vibraphone flourish stretched to over 8 minutes. A shorter pad makes an appearance in the middle of the track which is just a pitched sample from this stretch. The rest of the instruments are just pitched vibraphone notes, and the drum sounds are mostly from other sound effects from the source. This piece is quite a bit longer than my typical 2 minute songs, but I feel like there is a lot less going on in this one. Still, the pads are quite pleasing, and the pace is a nice change from the norm. The title (bit coins=butt coins=butt pennies=arse pennies) is a low-brow homage to this Upright Citizens Brigade skit.

Let me know what you think!

Ipa Ipa Revolution!

  • July 13, 2011

Some mad genius decided to track steps for one of my songs Valse de Chaton in StepMania, a free rhythm game for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Above is a video of this insanely difficult game in auto play mode. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the step files for this song. If anyone can find it, let me know.

Crystals and Castles

  • July 10, 2011

7-4-11 Lisa Jablonski

For our last shoot, Samantha and I wanted to do a fantasy look. Jim Henson was a big influence on me when I was younger. His creative world seemed both rich and unending. So we decided to do something inspired by the Dark Crystal. Unfortunately no puppets where involved, but Lisa did a great job as a young gelfling! Samantha did amazing makeup and hair styling which you can see a time-lapse of in my previous post.

Much to many people’s surprise, I rarely use Photoshop for my photos. Almost everything is done with lighting, makeup, and a healthy dose of Lightroom. One of the exceptions is the image above which is a composite with another picture I took several years ago on a road trip out west. I rarely find the need for Photoshop in my photographs despite having about 17 years experience with the program. I find it’s easier to get the image I want in camera, and tweak the colors in Lightroom. However, the fantastical nature of this look seemed to call for it in this case. The other location shots where taken in Caldwell Woods. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got there, but luckily we found an inviting staircase tucked away in the brush.

You can find the whole set on flickr here.

7-4-11 Lisa Jablonski

7-4-11 Lisa Jablonski

7-4-11 Lisa Jablonski

7-4-11 Lisa Jablonski

7-4-11 Lisa Jablonski

Sneak Peek Time Lapse Video!

  • July 6, 2011

This last fourth of July, we had the fortune of shooting with model Lisa Jablonski. We wanted to do a fantasy look inspired by Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. Samantha Gribble styled Lisa’s hair as well as did her makeup, and it looked fantastic! I wanted to capture her process, so I made this video. I enjoy seeing people’s creative process so I think I will make more of these videos in the future. You can see a few sneak peeks of the shoot at the end of the video. Those shots were taken at Caldwell Woods north of Chicago. The hair took 2 hours, the makeup took 2 hours, and the music is a previous Ironchef of Music composition, which took 2 hours. You can view that screen-cast time-lapse here. So I guess the magic number for this production is 2 hours. Stay tuned for the whole set!

Sneak peak at my ICOM workbench

  • July 3, 2011

Drums from Anything

Ironchef of Music is a competition to create new music from unlikely sources. We love ICOM because it allows us to use sample manipulation in new ways that otherwise wouldn’t be necessary in typical music production. One such practice is creating drum sounds from any given sound.

Typically you would just record a drum, or use one of many drum synthesizers or sample packs. However in ICOM, we do not have the luxury of using outside sounds, or any outside oscillations from drum synthesizers. So what do we do? Using similar techniques of drum modeling found in synthesizers, we reshape the sounds we are given to become more drum like. I was giving some fellow “cheffers” some tips on how to do this, when I decided that it’s a rather tedious task to redo for every chef session, where time is very limited.

Where there is a need, there is innovation! So with a night of tinkering around in Reaktor, I put together a genuine ICOM compliant sample oscillated drum synthesizer. ICSODS uses the mystery sample as the heart of the synthesizer, and models a drum sound out of whatever you throw at it. Since it is all live, you can tweak all the parameters live, making it sound close to a real drum synth in one second, and like a bizarre sound-scape the next. I still have a lot of work I’d like to put into it, but I’m very happy with the different and unexpected sounds I could extrapolate from it that I never would have been able to achieve hand editing the sounds.

Give a listen to a sample of ICSODS as I morph between several presets I made (morphing presets is another unexpected bonus to the machine!) The following recording is produced entirely from the sound of Obama talking about ducks, a sample from a previous ICOM competition.

      ICOM DRUMS test morphs 1

Above is a recording of the plug-in morphing between 3 presets and finally slowing down to a stop in real time to show some of it’s capabilities. The presets are: non-drums, junkyard kit, and a house kit. I use presets to make new kits from the same sample, and because there are so many controls, it is an easy way to mess with it. Morphing between presets is a Reaktor feature that works well with this instrument.

The kit consists of 8 modules; bass drum, snare, closed hat, open hat, low tom, high tom, zip, and cymbal crash. Each module can be output to a separate routing channel and can send to rudimentary delay, reverb, and phaser modules. I might work on more modules like claps and cow bells. You always need more cow bells.

Ring-like modulation from Anything

One tool that is common in electronic music is a ring modulator. Typically a ring modulator multiplies a sound source with a sine wave. This the reason hard-core “cheffers” frown on the tool. It inserts an outside oscillation into the mix. But ring modulators are a lot of fun, and very useful sound designing tools. So to be able to produce something similar, I made a machine that replaces the sine wave with oscillations found in the mystery sample. It turned out to be easy to make, but also very fun, creating lots of unexpected sound textures.

The first recording is a few examples using a Glenn Beck sample on a Glenn Beck sample from a previous ICOM session, and another using a tone sample with different oscillations on both left and right channels to show off how it works with stereo signals and to show off the updated stereo icom drum machine which is also using the same sound.

      ICOM Ring-Like Modulator Test_Beck
      ICOM Ring-Like Modulator Test_stereo tones and drums

Hope you like the weird sounds. I plan on using these tools for the next ICOM, so keep an eye out! Let me know if you have any suggestions!

Banging shots with Ammunition

  • July 2, 2011

6-30-11 Ammunition

Ammunition is a Chicago burlesque performer that specializes in sideshow acts. We are talking fire eating, angle grinding her body armor, and even flesh hook suspension! Very dangerously exciting stuff. So dangerous, that our first scheduled shoot was postponed due to an unfortunate fire eating accident. But Ammunition is all better now, and as you can see, just as fabulous as ever! Samantha did the excellent make up, and even designed those amazing peacock eyelashes. View the whole set here.

6-30-11 Ammunition

6-30-11 Ammunition

6-30-11 Ammunition

6-30-11 Ammunition

6-30-11 Ammunition

6-30-11 Ammunition