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The John Lennon Education Tour Bus

Next Destination: Anaheim Convention Center

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September 13, 2011

Making Midi Magic

Written by Ryan L'Esperance

 

Hey everybody! So the Lennon bus staff recently went through some really cool Pro Tools training. We learned a ton of cool new things and most definitely enjoyed the Avid facilities. One of the cool things we went over is writing music from scratch using midi. A cool way to write from scratch is to use loop playback with midi merge. Check out this quick demo on how to build a drum performance using this easy and fun technique! Let’s build a basic drum beat… first lay down your kick normally, for a one bar loop. Now you want to add more elements to the beat, but you don’t want to have to play the whole performance at once. Here’s how you build one from scratch! The next step is to enable Midi Merge, shown above, and you’re good to go. Just record enable the track in loop playback and add the other elements to the kit. If you do not see the Midi section in the toolbar, simply right click on the toolbar and add it to the shown tools. Once you have your rough parts added into the loop like kick, snare, and hat, there may be a couple timing issues that you want to fix. The next process is simple.  Just select the loop, and in the Event menu select Event Operations > Quantize. This will allow you to snap your beat to the grid by a specified grid value or apply preset grooves to your beat for …

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September 06, 2011

The iPad: A Songwriting Singularity

Written by Hans Tanner

 

  With Steve Jobs’ recent step down from Apple, I feel it may be an opportune moment to show the team over in Cupertino a little love.  This will be chapter one of an on-going segment highlighting one of Apple’s more recent innovative creations, the iPad.  Along with a set of these device’s for every Lennon bus crew member with extras for people to demo when on-board, Apple has been donating a significant amount of hardware and software to the bus every year, equipment which has become integral to achieving our daily mission.   I don’t know about you, but when the iPad was first announced I had extremely low expectations for its arrival.  I initially pegged it as an oversized iPhone, reminding everyone of the fact that tablets had their go some years back and failed miserably.  Man, was I jaded!  After spending a significant amount of time with the “iDevice,”  I’m currently of the belief that this thing is the absolute future of a number of industries, and may or may not lead to the singularity. Most pertinently, however, I strongly believe it can change education forever, and for the better.  Imagine at the start of kindergarten, High School and College that you are given an iPad, complete with all of your lessons, books, homework and projects for the entire year.  Any of which can be updated or added to at any time.  The cut in costs of foresting each year would aggressively decline, the current book selling scam …

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September 06, 2011

Lennon Bus Gets Trained: Avid in San Francisco

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

In all of my years of recording music, I have never received any formal training in that area. Unlike some of the other engineers, I got my degree in English Literature, which put me a step behind when it came to knowing how to use all of the technology on the bus. In addition to that, my newly knitted passion for video had not training basis to exist on either. Much to my joy, we were brought to Avid in Daly City for five days of hands on training in Avid Media Composer with Bryan Castle and Pro Tools with Eric Kuehnl. In the two days of Media Composer training, the fabulous Brain opened his brain to us and we were able to figure out things with Media Composer that will make the flow of editing video on the bus easier and quicker. It was fab being able to see how Media Composer gets used in a professional setting and then seeing the cool little features that make me want to do some more interesting videos. Like Auto Title, which was mind blowing. Seriously, check it out. On our last day with Mr. Castle, we all got delicious Indian food out in San Francisco at Chutney. We then had three days of Pro Tools training with Eric and we got to have some hands on experience working with my new love, the Avid Icon D-Control. That combined with the live room that we got to do some tracking in was a …

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August 29, 2011

Recording On The Road, And In Forest

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

One of the stranger aspects of living on a mobile recoding studio is that you become confronted with different ways of recording your music. While we were posted up in forest of South Carolina during Warped Tour 2011 , it allowed an opportunity me to reflect on how each of the engineers that live on board can utilize the aspects of the bus to our own creative advantage. There were a series of obstacles that were posed to us while we were in South Carolina. First of all, we were there because the generator of the bus was getting repaired and thus, we were deprived of most of the electricity that we would be normally. Second, we were also in a forest, which was an environment that is not normally akin recording good takes. With the M-Box, however, I figured out that recording off of the bus is not only a viable option but also can be a part of the recording workflow. I discovered that the following workflow through usage of Pro Tools 9 allowed for a seamless passage between creativity and output. Step 1: Demo guitar on M-Box. Thanks to the M-Box being bus powered, I found out that it was effortless to record the guitar through DI and then listen back to it through the outputs.. Step 2: Play back drums to the demo-recorded track. Once the basics of the track was laid down, I could either put down drums by using the electronic drum kit on …

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August 22, 2011

A Bokeh (BOH-Kay) for You to Behold

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

All right all you video and photography buffs, let’s talk Bokeh (which is pronounced BOH-kay). What is it?  Why is it there? How can we manipulate it?   First off Bokeh is pretty darn cool.   Essentially, Bokeh is the area of a video or photographic image that is out of focus. It is generally associated with the highlighted regions, or light sources, that are out of focus. When you are shooting (either video or still images) and you have a low aperture setting (which allows more light into your camera), you get a shallow depth of field, meaning you get a very selective focal region. That shallow depth of field will then cause bokeh to occur everywhere that is not in focus. This is what I’m talking about:       Using our array of Sony video and still cameras on the Lennon Bus, such as the Sony EX-3 and Sony Alpha-900, we can achieve some pretty cool effects with bokeh.Sometimes, lens aberrations or aperture can change the way the out-of-focus area of the image is perceived, creating either good bokeh or bad bokeh. The shape of the aperture is directly related to the shape of the bokeh.  Most lenses have a sort of polygonal aperture opening, thus, unless the aperture is all the way open, the defocused areas will be made up of a bunch of polygons.   Like This:       When the aperture is all the way open, the shape of the aperture is then a …

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August 15, 2011

Big Low-Budget Movies

Written by Jeff Sobel

 

On the Lennon Bus, we work with some fantastic equipment.  But one of the points that the Lennon Bus tries very hard to impress upon people is that you don’t need much money to bring your ideas to life.  Modern technology provides immense amounts of power per dollar and the tools available to non-professionals are now capable of producing results nearly on the same level as the very expensive equipment big-budget productions rely on.  In fact, one very highly regarded movie director recently quipped, “you can go into the store now and buy a laptop that is faster than the computers they used to make Jurassic Park.” The director who said that should know; he’s Gareth Edwards, and last year he released his breakthrough movie, “Monsters.”  Monsters is a suspenseful, science-fiction, alien movie shot entirely on location across several countries and incorporates exquisitely integrated computer generated FX (it is, afterall, an alien flick.) Gareth wrote, shot, directed, and created all the FX himself and the total cost of the equipment used to produce the film was about $15,000.  Now, if you haven’t seen Monsters yet you should definitely do so, otherwise you simply have to take my word that the movie appears in every way to have had a budget 100x more than it did.  If you’re a Netflix member you can stream Monsters right now, then hurry back to lennonbus.org. How is it possible that a movie shot on $15,000 looks like it cost $15 million?  For the most part, …

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August 08, 2011

Re-Amping with Pro Tools 9

Written by Ryan L'Esperance

 

    Hey Everybody! Ryan here, with a cool new tip for all you prospective studio peeps out there. Ever been inspired to put down that EPIC guitar lick or that funk-tastic bass line, but don’t have the time or space to set up mics and get that killer tone? Or perhaps you live in a place where making loud sounds is just not an option? Well never fear, the Lennon Bus guys are here to deliver a quick and easy way to capture those in the moment performances without the hassle. This clever little concept is called “re-amping.” The principal is simple enough. Just plug your guitar, bass, or really anything with a pickup in it, and plug it into the instrument input on your Mbox or a standard DI box. Utilizing Pro Tools, record that shredding guitar solo you’ve been waiting so long to capture,  and lock it in with that good ol’ “save” button we all know and love. Now that your performance is in the can, or box, you can take it anywhere you want, let’s use your friends basement for this example.  It’s here where you can properly set up mics and crank that puppy! So you want to experiment with guitar tone?  Just Re-amp! It’s easy! Re-amp devices come in many different shapes, sizes, and costs. The whole concept is to take a signal coming out of your interface, which is line level and low impedance, and make it the instrument level or the high …

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August 06, 2011

Multiplicity with the MC

Written by Hans Tanner

 

There is nothing traditional about working for a travelling recording studio.  As you may already know, this particular studio bus takes part in activities throughout its yearly tour that make it impossible to think of it as a “normal studio”, as in one you would see in Nashville or Los Angeles.  Between the student sessions, public tours, music festivals, celebrity interviews, and many other interesting events we apply this bus to, we have to be constantly adaptable, able to serve multiple purposes at any time.  Hopefully you’ve been keeping up with our activities, and are familiar with a particular type of recording session we do, known as a Lennon bus Live.  Traditionally, this involves a band that has won some sort of contest, where the included prize is having the opportunity to come on board and take part in recording their song in a full HD professional studio, while simultaneously capturing the performance on video.  In the end the band has an HD music video they own the rights to, and can do whatever they want with free of charge! Pretty sweet deal, I know.  But enough of that Jazz, this blog is pertaining to a recent Lennon bus Live that occurred in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which was a little different from the rest… we only had one winner to work with!  Number one lucky guy Kevin Cedar got the chance to come on board and get his very own Lennon bus Live session.  As you are now familiar with the …

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July 27, 2011

Eleven Racks and Bedrooms

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

I remember my bedrooms and the little recording set-ups that I had in them throughout the years and the one predicament that was perpetual was the problem of space. With time and different houses, factors changed and what I was able to accomplish in each bedroom studio was different than the last, but I was always in perpetual (proverbial) fisticuffs with being able to fit everything I wanted to into the space. I would stack microphones or mandolins on-top of desks and see if I could balance guitar amps on the bed. We having amazing guitars on board and can cater to whatever is needed but a huge part of a guitar’s tone is the amp. There is always a tone that is being chased after and being in a studio with limited space, we have to be able to cater to whatever sounds could be desired (because in the end, it just makes it that much more fun). Our back trailer isn’t filled with a plethora of perfect preamps and amps, space is just always too limited for that. I learned that we don’t throw in the towel for that, we work around the constraints. It is this idea, that creative constraints can always push you forward, which made me seek out a way to get a guitar tone that I would be happy with and that other people would be happy to hear as well. I knew that there were options inside of the recording programs but there …

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June 20, 2011

Audio-Technica 20 Series Mics

Written by Jeff Sobel

 

Are you a home recordist in search of a better sound?  Got your Pro Tools chops honed, but still having trouble getting that big, smooth vocal or guitar sound you crave?  It’s probably time to consider upgrading your microphone.  Stepping up to a quality studio microphone is the single best way to improve the sound of your recordings.  When you have a great mic paired with a quality mic preamp there is nothing stopping you from getting the same quality out of your home recordings that pros burn thousands of dollars a day to get in a big name recording studio. In the Lennon Bus’ studios we live and breathe Audio-Technica microphones.  Many of the 40 series mics (4060, 4050, 4047, 4033) are heavily used in our recording sessions and we absolutely love them, as do studios across the world.  If they’re in your price range, you can’t go wrong with an A-T 40 series mic.  But did you know that Audio-Technica also makes a budget-conscious series of studio mics?  The Audio-Technica 20 series studio mics (2020, 2021, 2035, 2050) provide nearly the same professional sound as the premier 40 series, but at a fraction of the price.  The AT2050 is a lovely sounding, multi-pattern large diaphragm condenser studio mic that sounds great on vocals, piano, guitar amps, drum overheads and room sound.  It looks slick, sounds amazing, and is as versatile as any mic out there.  You can easily find the AT2050 for under $250 in stores, making it one …

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Recent Posts

  • “Come Together” by University of Miami Biscaydence Watch University of Miami BisCaydence students sing a live a cappella version of “Come Together” arranged by the incomparable Ben Bram with additional support from Alex Green on the Lennon Bus during The Betsy - South Beach A Cappella Festival. What an original and refreshing take on The Beatles’ classic! …
  • “Phenomenal” at Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts Students from The Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts in Harlem, NYC created an original song and music video in one single day on The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus presented by Canon USA. Special thanks to NYC Council Member Mark Levine, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mayor’s …
  • FEATURED VIDEO: “Better Than A Broken Heart” ft. Jeff Timmons Students from Del Sol Academy of the Performing Arts came together to create an original song and music video on The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus presented by Canon U.S.A., Inc. during the Apple Ed Tech Teacher’s Conference in Las Vegas, NV with special guest mentor Jeff Timmons from 98 …
  • NEW VIDEO: “We Can Fly” by Bronx Academy of Letters feat. Prince Royce Students from Bronx Academy of Letters High School in NYC got the opportunity of a lifetime to collaborate on an original song and music video with alumnus and Latin superstar Prince Royce on The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus presented by Canon USA. Special thanks to NYC Council Speaker Melissa …
  • NEW VIDEO: Atlas Genius - “Balladino” (Acoustic) @ Hangout Fest At the 2016 Hangout Music and Arts Festival in Gulf Shores, AL the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus teamed up with the Hangout Foundation & 92ZEW for exclusive live artist performances and interviews on board the bus. Special thanks to Canon U.S.A., Inc., Juniper Networks, Securematics, Audio-Technica, Yamaha, Genelec, Neutrik, …
  • NEW VIDEO: Atlas Genius - “Balladino” (Acoustic) @ Hangout Fest At the 2016 Hangout Music and Arts Festival in Gulf Shores, AL the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus teamed up with the Hangout Foundation & 92ZEW for exclusive live artist performances and interviews on board the bus. Special thanks to Canon U.S.A., Inc., Juniper Networks, Securematics, Audio-Technica, Yamaha, Genelec, Neutrik, …
  • NEW VIDEO: “On My Way” - Garland High School Students from Garland High School had the opportunity to write, record and shoot a full production music video in one single day on board The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus during our Texas residency thanks to Juniper Networks, Securematics and Canon U.S.A., Inc. read more
  • PERSPECTIVE: John Lennon Bus, Episode 1x02 “George Clinton” Austin, TX Round Rock ISD students David Venish, Kara Barfield and Jordan DeStefano created an original short film as part of The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus original series PERSPECTIVE. The piece features funk legend George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and explores the peaks and valleys within the professional lives …
  • NEW VIDEO: ‘From Studio to Stage’ with Dr. John & The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus Imagine having the opportunity of a lifetime on board The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus! New Orleans Grammy winner / Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John invited three lucky students from Berklee City Music, A Place Called Home and the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center to join him …
  • All we are saying: Lennon Bus wraps up borough tour October has been quite the month as the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus kicked off its New York City residency with stops in all five boroughs. The first visit was to PS171 / CPE II in East Harlem with Yoko Ono Lennon. That set the stage for our stops in …