17 February 2018

Black Panther

Fish swim in water, 
birds lay eggs, 
and Marvel movies are good whenever they're not great. 

(tosses napkin on the plate and excuses self from the table)

I swear I'm not trying to be a grouch about this, and none of my critiques are meant to put the movie down. This is one of the better ones, maybe not Thor or the 1st and 3rd Captain America movies, but definitely better than Iron Man 2, possibly the only Marvel movie I actively dislike (if only because I haven't seen The Incredible Hulk, which is only because I can't stand Edward Norton). As for Panther, the extent of my knowledge of the character begins and ends with a miniseries written by Reginald Hudlin and artwork by John Romita Jr., and as far as that goes they nailed the character and lore, delivering on all my expectations. I'm glad they kept the outside references to the other films at a minimum save some cameos and flashbacks, keeping it self-contained (like Doctor Strange) while firmly nested in the overall timeline. I'm certainly glad it didn't pull an Iron Man 2 and grind its own plot to a screeching halt to tell me how great Infinity War is going to be. On the whole, my only true criticism of the film is that while it's self-contained in terms of story, it is all still a bit familiar, and beyond some awesome art direction (What The Last Jedi did for red, Black Panther does for purple), there's not a lot it brings to the table we haven't seen before. There's a little Cap here in the car chases, a little Stark there in the gadgetry department, and a dusting of Thor (or even Guardians) for some of the battle scenes. Again, this isn't bad, but I think sometime after the end of Iron Man 3 and just before the halfway mark of Guardians 2, I may have hit my point of saturation. We had no idea what to expect from Thor or Captain America, certainly not their second installments, and those pre-Disney Marvel adaptations like Daredevil or Ang Lee's Hulk had their issues, but at least their flaws were interesting, even experimental on some levels. Now, we've clearly found a rhythm and a rhyme you can marry to any melody and it won't not produce a chart-climber. I hate saying that given how close to the brink of death the superhero genre has been from time to time, but on the whole the nicest thing I can say about this movie is that if you've loved all the past Marvel films, this one won't disappoint, but if you're maybe growing a little tired of filling out the MCU Bingo card, this isn't going to shake up the game. 
Then again, as I've implied, I am one of those weirdos who likes Eric Bana's Hulk and Ben Affleck's Daredevil, so don't let my damning with faint praise deter you from giving it a shot. 

09 February 2018

Frankly, Clover, I Don't Care-a-Toss

I liked Cloverfield. It was a legitimately novel approach to the kaiju genre that more or less delivered on what it promised: a giant monster's city-wide rampage caught on a camcorder. 
10 Cloverfield Lane is a serviceable little thriller that tries too hard to create tension and banks even more heavily on a "twist" so predictable that painting itself into a corner is a charitable description. It's that episode of the Twilight Zone you've never actually seen but know the premise and ending to because it's been referenced to death by everything else. Again, it's serviceable. 
The Cloverfield Paradox is... a mess. It's a mess from the start. If there's an underlying issue that plagues all of the films in this series, it's that they try wearing too many hats. It worked better for Cloverfield because the genres it tries to mesh have enough elbow room to gel with one another. 10 Cloverfield Lane tries to be a psychological thriller playing off paranoia and speculation about the unknown, but forgoes the character psychology/social commentary in favor of a flashy action set piece of payoff that's almost insulting. Its attempt at genre mixing fails because the parts are incompatible. 
The Cloverfield Paradox has this problem and then some. I could almost demonstrate this mathematically, but let's talk about what it means for something to be derivative. There's nothing inherently wrong with a movie being derivative or familiar or even formulaic. Everything borrows from something that came before, sometimes mixing and matching from other somethings along the way. Being derivative does become a bad thing when you miss the all important second step of referring to the past, and that's learning from it. Borrowing works best when you build on what you borrow, shoulders of giants and all that general wisdom. Not only does Paradox borrow from a number of sources without adding its own flavor to the mix, but it handles them so clumsily and ineptly that I wouldn't even call it experimental if I was desperately trying to be nice. If there were more jokes beyond token banter among the characters, I'd think it was a parody. 
Going back to what I said about building on what you borrow, one of my favorite horror movies is Event Horizon. If you've never seen it, it's about a ghost ship in space and the salvage crew sent to find out why it mysteriously vanished only to reappear with the crew's innards painting the walls. Needless to say, something's gone horribly wrong, and it's about to get worse. Granted, this isn't an especially great film (it's certainly aged quite a bit) as its premise loses steam around the halfway point and even gets a bit goofy towards the start of the third act. However, the reason it works is that albeit it's not exactly a surprise when we learn just what we're dealing with, it builds up to it. It creates an oppressive atmosphere with just enough plausibility that your suspension of disbelief can boot up slowly enough to ease you into the sillier bits of the narrative unfolding before you. 
Now, nearly 20 years later (I was a sophomore in High School when Event Horizon came out), I'm watching this ParaCloverDox mashup and in the first ten minutes, a talking head on a news program the characters are watching warns that this super-science power plant in orbit could not only rip open the fabric of space-time, but actually summon monsters and demons. He uses those exact words and even gets called on them by the interviewer. Why should I care about anything that happens in a movie if the movie itself practically tells me to my face that there's nothing to care about? 

Seriously, I think this movie decided to go to Netflix instead of theaters to save itself the embarrassment of trying and failing to stand alongside the likes of Interstellar, The Europa Report, Alien, Solaris, Event Horizon, 2010, Total Recall, and even The Black Hole (which also knew how to build up an atmosphere and get people invested enough to ignore the goofy parts, and did so about 20 years before Event Horizon). 

If you want me to say one good thing about it, it's Elizabeth Debicki. She played an alien queen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and brings a commanding presence to this CloverLaneSlusho nonsense that does not deserve her. 

07 February 2018

A Sketchy Arc

Damn it, Sketchup, why do I have to fight with you so much? I keep trying to give you the benefit of the doubt that you've simply got a learning curve and how you work as a 3D modeling program isn't like those other 3D modeling programs. I write these long, angry diatribes about how making a sphere is like summoning a demon while on the moon and with a bucket over my head, yet I wait. 
Now, today, after revisiting the browser-based version, I swear you're pulling the wool over my eyes. 


I was literally trying to recreate what I saw in this video in another tab and at around the 4:10 mark, I see a sleight of hand. This is the comment I left verbatim and a screenshot of exactly what I was seeing when I tried to follow along.

Okay, I hate to be "this guy" but I feel like we're either missing a step or calling a tool by the wrong name. I'm literally following this to the letter in another tab right now and my arc tool isn't working like this... at all. I didn't even see you click on the arc tool, it was just selected after you made the line.
I make the vertical line, put the circle on top, draw another line from the center of the base to the edge... and then the arc tool acts nothing like what I'm seeing on screen. I click on the arc tool and I get a compass overlay that keeps trying to draw an arc that's convex to the vertical line. After some fiddling to try and at least get the arc to be concave, it doesn't go from the edge of the base to the circle up top. It's only as tall as it is wide and trying to tweak it gets me an error message about too many segments.
I have no clue what I'm doing wrong and I feel like this happens every time I try to do anything in Sketchup.

It may be a little hard to see, but that little green circle near the edge of the base is what I somehow have to place somewhere to make an arc between the edge of the base and the circle atop the line. It's also worth repeating that we saw this tutorial first select the arc tool, then change their minds and select the line tool, draw a line from the center of the base to the edge, and next thing we know we're drawing an arc between those two points. 


Let's be clear: you have to select the tools on the left hand side of the screen. His mouse cursor never ventures close to that and suddenly we go from a line tool to an arc tool. I can't find any keyboard shortcuts that would allow this, and even if I did, the arc tool doesn't work as it's being shown. 

This is why I hate learning any kind of software. There's always something in the tutorial (which I've sometimes PAID for the "opportunity" to sit through) that is not accurate, it's fairly important, and whoever I learn it from gets so embarrassingly tripped up it's like watching someone try to recite the alphabet backwards and start over every time they mess up. Normally, when I've written these, I leave them in the drafts folder until I calm down a little, I read a few more tutorials, wind up feeling stupid because I missed something obvious, and then the post never goes live due to its newfound inaccuracy. Given I've also left a comment on the video, I should probably wait until I get an answer to that before I go pressing the publish button. However, I've wound back this video at least five times and whatever the instructor is doing, it's not working when I try to do exactly as he says. 

Please, whatever I'm doing wrong, tell me. 
I'm not trying to shame anyone. I just want the damn thing to work as advertised. 

UPDATE: Okay, so about an hour after posting this, when I was still too frustrated to sit back down and give it another go, I reasoned that maybe it was the 2-point arc tool being used. This morning it turns out I'm right. So, that half of the mystery is solved, but it doesn't explain how he selected the arc tool, to say nothing of simply not specifying which of the 4 distinct arc tools he was referring to. I mean, that's kind of important. How many shapes are there?

Also, the top of the pawn is hollow now, and that's an improvement over the first time I tried using the "Follow Me" tool in order to make the upper portion.

UPDATE II: It's the mid-afternoon, and Sketchup responded to my YouTube comment, but only about halfway. 
Het Matt! InSketchUp Free, the nested tools show the last tool you clicked on. In this video, Aaron is showing the default tools (the ones that are available by default when you first start Sketchup Free). In the case of the Arc tool, 3 point Arc is the default, but if you clicked on 2-point Arc previously, that will be the tool that activates when you click on the Arc icon. Your best bet is to start a totally new session of Sketchup Free and try again.
Like I said before about the 2-point arc, he selected that particular arc tool, which means that if he ever goes back to it, that's the one that's selected. Fine, except that's not my problem. Not specifying which arc tool is annoying enough, but he seems to select it without using his cursor at all. There's a keyboard shortcut for the Arc tools, which is "A" conveniently enough. What's not convenient is that he doesn't mention this in the video and I don't even think it's mentioned in another video dedicated to explaining all the different arc tools. Exactly how "Step 1" is this chess piece tutorial? Admittedly, that's on me. I'm hardly a stranger to Sketchup, and I haven't touched the software in a while, so forgetting a shortcut or two isn't Trimble's fault. Known issues, though.... 

A quick check on the forums also revealed that if your model is too small, Sketchup will not draw certain faces. In my case, because my pawn is small, it puts a hole in the top. Here's where this software starts to fail at justifying its 800USD full version. If I take my model, before I use the "follow me" command to make a sphere and a pillar, and scale it up, it not only makes the sphere whole, but if I then scale it back down to where it couldn't draw the full sphere, there's still no hole. 
I'm not changing the number of polygons when I scale it, so why does the overall size matter? 

05 February 2018

DIY 3D Printing: A Memoir

Damn, I missed January. I had an entry in my drafts that was scheduled for around the last week, but 2018 has started off rather busy and hectic for me apart from getting two (count 'em, two) types of flu in the same month and about a fortnight apart. Anyway, that entry is still in the works and does need to get done as it's sort of my own State of the Union address, only with at least 90% less bullshit and 150% more diplomacy. Until then, here's a reply to a forum post on Thingiverse about building one's own 3D printer. It got a bit long-winded, I'll admit, but maybe it'll act as a little microcosm of what I do, how I do it, and why I don't take a fire axe to the damn things sometimes besides obvious reasons. 

I would like to 3D print a 3D printer.
Have you lost your damn mi--That sounds like a fun project you won't regret undertaking in any way, shape, or form... Honest.

Do I need any special hand skills?

No. If you've ever assembled a piece of furniture that didn't rely solely on gravity to hold it together, fixed a door hinge or desk drawer, checked the fuses in your car, wired a speaker, upgraded the RAM in your desktop, or have ever done a science project involving batteries and lightbulbs, you have literally all the skills you could possibly need to go ahead with this.


How much will it cost if filament to build it is 5 cents a gram?
This is tricky. As counter-intuitive as it may be to the best part of a 3D printer, I have to agree with an old coworker of mine and say the fewer 3D printed parts you're using to hold your machine together, the better. If they're not printed right, the instability will ruin your prints (and therefore you can't make your spares or replacement parts), plus factor in the time and energy into printing your own spare parts versus, say, waiting a day or two for a box of miscellaneous hardware to be dropped on your doorstep. 

Will it be very challenging?
Yes. You don't build a 3D printer to save time or even money. You build it for the customization and the learning experience, and the former is only the case if you need something very specific, like an extremely large build area or an experimental toolhead/extruder assembly. The market has reached a point to where many mid-range kits cost more than low-end, fully assembled printers (with very generous warranties), and you'll probably get more mileage out of the low-end premade unit than your DIY, if only at the start. 

Is there anything else I should know before undertaking this project?
A wise man once said art is never finished, only abandoned. In our fleet of 3D printers, there's a Prusa i3+ clone my boss built in college during a single wild and crazy night at an engineering conference. After sitting in a box in a basement for 18 months, he brought it in to help with our workflow. Needless to say, it needed a lot of work when he brought it in. Over literally the course of the next year, about a half-dozen of us worked on getting this thing up and running to where it wasn't making tumbleweeds anymore. We replaced at least half of its hardware (including the frame), reflashed the firmware countless times, replaced every electronic component except for 3 of the 5 stepper motors, and rewired it from the ground up at least twice. If this sounds like a waste of time and money, it may have been, but it's surprisingly reliable despite its looks to the contrary, and I can't tell you the volumes of information I learned that no class could ever prepare me for. I'd build more for fun in my spare time if I didn't enjoy drawing and painting more.

Any suggestions on which one to build?
Going back to what I said about building printers for fun, I'd really like to try a Delta printer someday, purely because I find their design fascinating. It's like watching some slinky alien insect build a nest. Otherwise, if I had to recommend a good jumping off point, just go with a Prusa clone; they're beyond commonplace and come from a variety of manufacturers, all of which are to the point where it's harder to find a bad one than a serviceable one. I'm actually working (for work) on a Lulzbot clone, which is basically a Prusa that's built like a tank. 


Don't say I didn't wa--HAVE FUN! SERIOUSLY!

29 December 2017

Batting for Apples


I have a Playstation Vita and I swear that after one particular upgrade to its firmware, my battery life got cut in half. I thought it was just my imagination or finally taking notice of how long I'd had the thing. However, I found a few other users on forums reporting the same issue, with one offering the possibility that the firmware has a new protocol for the Wi-Fi antenna. I don't have the exact post, but it was something about refreshing more often or using more power. If this sounds familiar, you've likely been following the news of Apple slowing down performance of older phones for the sake of preserving battery life (or not, depending on how you read the nuance of various conflicting statements). 

So, as an iPad user who uses an iPhone as a backup for my Android daily driver, here are my thoughts on Apple's whole battery "fiasco".

I don't care. 

I'm not going to go so far as to say #appledidnothingwrong because that's fueling a fire that nobody asked to have started. As far as big corporate deceptions go, this is small potatoes. When I was at T-Mobile, HTC had this "hybrid" style of smartphone (bit of a last hurrah before Android) with battery life so atrociously below specifications that they offered trade-ins for bigger battery packs. 

From my perspective, as someone who got to see the Google G1 phone in person months before any consumers got their hands on it, Apple's exclusivity deal with AT&T was a massive blunder on their part, but also the very definition of serendipity. I have no doubt we'd have gotten Android phones anyway, but that "power vacuum" created by Big Mama Bell had an undeniably immeasurable impact on the smartphone landscape. Smartphones were now for everyone, and everyone deserves as many options as possible for the consumer-based economy to work best. Some people like to tinker with what they buy, while others just want the damn thing to work as advertised. 

My point is, if you're just joining us, welcome to the wonderful world of how upgrades work for Apple fans. You trade customization for stability, and that stability means every few years you get a whole new machine. That sounds cynical, and even condescending, but it's really what Apple users have expected, asked for, and gotten in spades since the beginning. They want their creative productivity machines to be super easy to use and ready to roll right out of the box. In short, Best Buy's Geek Squad is an aftermarket version of Apple's entire business model. If you own a Mac, chances are the most work "under the hood/bonnet" work you've ever had to do with it is upgrade your RAM. Now, by a show of hands, who knows what RAM stands for? Don't be embarrassed if you don't know. As far as adventures in technology goes, RAM upgrades are like changing a diaper or your car's oil. It may not be intuitive or obvious, and can certainly seem daunting, but you can be walked through the whole process in about 2 or 3 steps. 

If you're an iPhone user, you're only holding onto your phone because A) it's still working fine for what you need and you probably don't use it enough to even notice the battery's gradual diminishing, B) you've upgraded and it's now a backup in case something goes wrong with your new one, or C) it's good enough as a hand-me-down or something to occupy a kid or other family member who only needs it for something specific. Speaking of specific needs for family members, check out Music and Memory if you've got a few old iPhones, iPods, or even iPads resting in drawers. 

In my admittedly limited experience with Apple's iPhone line, they're sort of like the original Star Trek or Batman films in that every other iteration seems to get things right. For example, the iPhone 2 was panned by critics for having a lackluster camera despite a high price tag (their Macbook Air had the same problem). Later, the iPhone 4 became a laughingstock because you literally couldn't hold it in your hands without interfering with its reception. The iPhone 6 gave us #bendgate, enough said. More recently, the iPhone 8... well, admittedly those swollen batteries were a rare occurrence possibly blown out of proportion, but they didn't address complaints about the headphone jack from the iPhone 7, so we'll count that as a missed opportunity. Jury's out on the X, though that facial recognition feature causes more problems than it ever solved. Not only can it be fooled by an embarrassingly crude mockup, but if you're under arrest, a cop can unlock your phone just by pointing it at you. It's a scary prospect. 

As for the odd-numbered lot, I can only really speak for the iPhone 5, which is damn near perfect. The most important feature was the variety of 5 models available. There was the standard 5 and the slightly nicer 5s, but then there was the 5c. Intended as an economy/budget-level device, I had a 5c and while it definitely felt like its price tag, it still felt way more solid than any similarly-priced Android phones, and the display alone ran circles around the competition. Later, after I'd finished having my laugh over the 6, I admit to getting genuinely excited for the iPhone 7. Sure, the headphone jack was nowhere to be seen, but they'd given us an awesome camera and finally, finally made it at least splash resistant. For comparison, my Xperia Z Ultra is about 3 years old and nearly every review you'll see from its launch has it getting dunked in a fish tank. It's a small gesture, but I'll take it. 

Building on the success of the 5, Apple made another smart move that may not quite fit the odd-numbered pattern, the SE. The phone has almost identical dimensions to the 5s, but with upgraded guts from the bendy 6. In terms of price, it's filling the same position as the 5c. Sadly, this is a model that's been listed as afflicted by the battery throttling. That said, I've had mine for a few months, and I haven't noticed it. Then again, I only have it as a backup for my Xperia, the same as my old 5c, which I'll be carting off to Music and Memory along with my old iPad Mini 3. I'm sure whoever gets them won't mind some less-than-stellar battery performance. 

27 December 2017

Even I Use MSPaint

I didn't have MSPaint growing up because mine was a Mac household. Plus, by the time I was drawing digitally, I had a wide array of apps to work with, but I've always had a respect for the use of a limited toolset in creating art. A professor of mine had a quote from Jean Cocteau on every syllabus of his, and I still love it. He said, "Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper."
Similarly, I used to use a 3D modeling program called Strata Base. The company is still around, but the exact freeware program is long since retired. On its user gallery, someone commented on an image made with the software, "It's not the tools, it's the talent." I don't know of a concrete origin for that quote, but it's effectively saying the same thing as Cocteau
It shouldn't surprise anyone that many talented artists out there have done some incredible things with MSPaint, which in no small part helped keep it from the brink of extinction. Recently and thanks to Vox, I came upon an artist named Pat Hines, who shared some of his tips and tricks, including the use of gradients. Making gradients is actually easy, but it may not be obvious to users of more ample drawing applications. 
Zenbrush, my personal favorite drawing app despite the likes of Procreate and Autodesk Sketchbook residing on my tablets, has many similar qualities to MSPaint in terms of having a limited toolset, so this is a little bit of a handshake between these two gateways. 

18 December 2017

Sirens in the Old Mountain Town

Had a few entries kicking around in the drafts bin, but not really feeling it on most of them. Some are outdated, and others just turned into "out of my system" exercises that I was satisfied with once I had enough on screen. In any case, until I get those solidified, here's a new ambient soundscape to go along with a recent painting. 

01 December 2017

Twit Tweets About Tech

I call it "Addled Existentialism... With A Toolbar"
As much as I like to think of this site as a tech-blog, I also have to be realistic about a few matters. The most important of these is that I am not an early adopter, not as a rule. I'm of the opinion that nobody gets a product right on the first try. Unless you're resigned to buying the same product twice, it's best to wait until all the bugs are ironed out. Sure, I still have my first generation PSP, and while improvements were made since then, I still like mine, almost more than the Vita. The other matter of importance is that we've reached a point in product development, particularly on the software side of things, where this "extended beta" paradigm is not only acknowledged, but deserves to be nurtured. Yeah, day one patches are annoying, but at least they get patched to begin with. Yeah, it gives developers an easy out on the QA and deadline fronts, but it also opens them up to a wider spectrum of feedback they may not have had before. 

I was going to do a write-up of Fifty-Three's latest update to Paper, its native app meant to accompany their Pencil stylus. In the interest of full disclosure, I've been very impressed with the support I've received from Fifty-Three and I appreciate them going above and beyond the call of duty in resolving a small issue with connectivity I was having with a stylus I'd purchased over a year ago. I have genuinely used the Paper app in the workplace when discussing design challenges with coworkers. All that said, the Pencil is not my favorite stylus. It is the second, once tied with Adonit (who are now dead to me for reasons I'll get into another time), paling in comparison to the ever-versatile Sensu Brush. Obviously, that is not a fair comparison, but that's my point when I talk about the Paper app, and why I decided to take a different approach to discussing its recent overhaul. 

I am not the person this app was made for. 

Paper is not an art program. Their Twitter feed may have you believe otherwise, but this is not the primary, or even secondary, function of the app, talents of the users notwithstanding. Paper is a productivity app, and a very simplistic and accessible one to boot. It is Microsoft One Note for visual thinkers. It is Evernote for doodlers. It is Powerpoint/Keynote on the fly. It is Post-It Notes without the litter. It is a dry erase board without the noxious fumes and notable lack of portability, fume-induced out-of-body experiences notwithstanding. 

If apps were physical items you had to visit a brick-and-mortar store to purchase, Autodesk Sketchbook would be at Michael's and Paper would be at OfficeMax. However, apps are not physical items and there's generally only one store you get all of them from. Given that they're not physical items, some consumers view this as anti-them, taking away their precious ownership... that they didn't really have to begin with because that's a sales receipt and not a stock certificate. The point is that the law rightly treats digital media as physical ones as its ultimately a human (or team thereof) producing it on their own time and dime for others to use, but that doesn't mean they're used in the same manner, much less produced. If I bought a game on my Sega Genesis and it was a glitchy, slowdown-riddled mess that may have even had a level or two that were simply impossible compared to what came before, that was your lot. Now, 20-some years after the fact, the lead programmer for Sonic 3D Blast is revisiting his old game and updating it. It won't be available in physical form (yet), but any user with a PC running an even half-decent emulator will be able to play this game that once may have been charitably described as rough round the edges. While I only rented Blast back in the day, I'm honestly excited to see a game I thought was impressive get that extra little bit of polish it needed. Why throw something away when it can be fixed? 

After summarizing all this in a brief tweet, someone commented: 
Ok so I am not the only one. Did the same: 2 emails. I found huge productivity loss with Paper 4 due to regressions and bugs.
I'll give this guy the benefit of the doubt (i.e. anonymity) that he wasn't fully paying attention to the original tweet, namely the part where I specify that the gripes I have with Paper's 4th iteration are cosmetic. What may not have been so clear is that I consider these faults cosmetic because I was trying to view Paper as an art app rather than a productivity app. As for it being a productivity app, the blame-shifting here is hilarious. Sure, it utterly bites (bytes?) when a piece of tech essential to your job doesn't work, but holding up Paper on some kind of pedestal makes you look more than a little inept. There's a reason I still carry a Moleskine and a handful of pens in the same bag as my tablet. 

To put this in perspective, here's a funny-if-pitiful story about when I worked for T-Mobile in customer service. I once got a call from an especially irate customer who wanted 60,000USD. He wanted 60K from us as compensation because of a business deal that fell through. Said unspecified business deal fell through because a text message was delayed by an equally unspecified amount of time. I can't emphasize enough that his complaint was that the SMS text was delayed briefly. Unless you were an early adopter of the iPhone or you've never known a time when smartphones looked like the illegitimate offspring of a graphing calculator and a toy keyboard, you've probably experienced a text not showing up the instant the other guy hits send. 

What kind of business banks a five-figure deal on a text message? 

Seriously, you're either so financially secure and well-off that it's a risk you're as willing to take as you are to shrug off as small potatoes if it falls through, or you're so desperately incompetent you can't even make a call to confirm someone got your urgent, time-sensitive message on time. 

28 November 2017

18 November 2017

Incompatible Terracotta


First of all, super duper shout-out to Luke Phillips for his theremin app. 

I'd checked this out some time ago, but didn't start really putting it through its paces until a few weeks ago, getting a good sense of what soundscapes it can put together just using its own looping/overdubbing features. I decided to make a small project out of it due to it being criminally underrepresented on YouTube apart from Phillip's own demonstrations. Saying that, though, I didn't have a good setup for filming the actual composing/performing that I was happy with. I figured it would be more in line with the spirit of musique concrete to let the sounds speak for themselves.

This is a roughly 50% improvised composition using a theremin app on an Android device pumped through a bass effects pedal's ring modulator setting. It was all recorded in one go with no post-processing on a Zoom H2N. When I say 50% improvised I mean that I had criteria for what notes to use, what waveforms to use (only square and sine wave), what pedal settings to stick to, and what an acceptable overall length would be to convey (if only in an abstract sense) a suggestion of a narrative.