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October 10, 2011

Avid Scorch: An Insight Into Burning Away Wasted Time

Written by Hans Tanner

 

Chapter two!  As you may remember from my last post we focused on the iPad app known as Garageband.  This provided an easy and efficient way for beginning or mobile songwriters to get their ideas out.  So at this point we have your song, which you can now travel around listening to. You enjoy it more and more every day and it’s mixed just the way you like.  A great point to be at but there’s one problem: it’s exclusive to one person… yourself!  You’ve just realized you want to share this song with your friends who also play instruments with the intention of seeing how they could contribute to the components that make up your song.  Option 1: You gather your friends together and explain to each of them the melody, the chordal movements, the arrangement, the key and tempo.  All the while doing your best to translate for each specific instrument.  Unfortunately you keep hitting snags whenever a particular question arises regarding a part of your tune that wasn’t properly communicated.  Option 2:  Utilizing an iPad equipped with the Avid Scorch app in conjunction with Avid Sibelius, you create a notated document of your song also known as a score or sheet music.  This score has all the notes written out for each instrument with clearly indicated sections for your arrangement i.e. intro, verse, chorus, bridge, etc.  You now have an exact representation of the song within Sibelius, which you can then upload to Scorch and have your song …

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October 03, 2011

Photography in My Eye: Part 1: Glass

Written by The Lennon Bus

 

Photography, to me, is a means in which I can alter the way I remember things. I can see things a certain way with my eyes and thus my memories are formed but my eyes always see things the same way. If I change the lens of a camera and take a picture, or edit that picture in a certain way, then we can really alter our memories of reality. A day that you saw in one way will look different in your mind when you look at the photos you have taken as the camera saw something different than you. Not better, not worse, but the camera can make subjects pop, it can blur out buildings, it can zoom across a field. So I want to start a blog series explaining how I use photography to remember things and what it means to me as I go around the country and also how it can help you change your world. With each of these lenses, the first set of number reference the aperture of the lens while the second set of numbers is the zoom of the lens. We will get into the specifics of zoom and aperture in another blog post, but for now, we can see some photographic evidence of how each of these numbers react to one another and how each of different types of glass shape how a picture can be taken. The first is the Sony Wide 4.5-5.6/11-18, the “wide-angle lens.” If you notice for …

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September 19, 2011

Codecs: A Brief History

Written by Jeff Sobel

 

If you’ve worked in video you’ve certainly been in contact with codecs.  Probably many codecs, in fact.  So what is a codec?  Codec is an abbreviation for “Compressor-Decompresor” or “Coder-Decoder” (technically speaking, it’s a portmanteau, an amalgamation of two words (a favorite tool of tabloid sites who live to gossip about ScarJo or Brangelina), but i digress). The vast majority of digital video is processed by a codec, each of which has its strengths and weaknesses.  In the broadest sense, there are two types of codecs:  Lossy and Lossless.  Almost all commonly used video codecs today are lossy, but many “lose” so little information in the encoding process that the resulting video appears identical to the original video source under normal viewing conditions, yet achieves much lower bandwidth than uncompressed video.  Another upper-level classification of codecs is “Intraframe” or “Interframe.”  Intraframe codecs compress each frame of video discreetly, while interframe codecs look at sequences of frames and compress them in groups by looking for the elements in the group that change from frame to frame (anything in motion, for example) and applying more bandwidth to encoding those elements while omitting the repetitive data inherent in the static elements (backgrounds, for example) of the group (groups of frames are referred to as “GOPs” (Group of Pictures).  There are pros and cons to both types of encoding and this frequently results in choosing different codecs for capturing, processing and delivering video content (more on that in a later blog). The first popular consumer …

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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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