Monthly Archives: April 2009

CMUN 297 Final

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My my my, how the time does fly when you know your project’s due by the end of the night.

Anyway, here’s the final thing. The whole culmination of this class.

It’s not a very comprehensive look at the Chicago DIY/Craft scene, I admit. But it is an intimate look into three seperate pieces of the puzzle that make it up. I may, in the future, add to it. Who knows? But for now, enjoy what we’ve created.

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And since I have to be on the bus downtown to present this thing in less than half an hour, I’m afraid the music will have to wait, for tonight (sorry Rob).

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Gratuitous Bike Videos

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I wrote a pretty long post last night, so instead of boring you with my words, I’ll just share a couple of videos that I found today.

The first is for Anchor Butter, which I’d never heard of, prior to my internet-browsing this evening. It’s a New Zealand-based free-range butter company, churning out spreads that may not be any better for you, but at least come from happy cows. Here’s a fantastic stop-motion felt advertisement they put out:

It’s cute, and the fact that it’s stop-motion-craft-y makes it a winner for me.

Speaking of cute, I recently saw a video (via Boingboing) that made me realize I live in the wrong country. Now, the USA isn’t all that bad, and it’s getting better (I hope), but check out what these policemen are doing in Denmark:

Hugs! And free helmets! Nice ones, too. I guess when the Danes embrace their two-wheeled bretheren, they really mean it. While I’m tempted to go to Denmark anyway, now I know for sure I’m not going to be wearing a helmet. Just in case.

All of tonight’s mashups will be courtesy of the Illuminoids. Click on that link. And appreciate their fantastic intro/jump page. You actually have to click, though– the “SnapShot” image when you hover over the link isn’t the one I want you to see.

The Temptations never sounded so electro-pop as they do in this first track.

I was interested to see where they went with LCD Soundsystem in this second track. Turns out, they used one of the only songs I really like on Sound of Silver. I guess I’m still not sold on the rest of the album.

This final track does a great thing: it takes the Velvet Underground and keeps Nico away from the microphone.

Music Mess

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It’s that time of year again– Finals week!

Of course, with the screwy classes that I take, this usually means that there’s a lot more project-oriented work going on, and a lot less test-taking, compared to others. Last year, I had three studio/production classes, and the studio time almost killed me. I vowed never to let that happen again.

This year, I again have three studio/production classes, but with the added pressure of the Lisagor video project (now passed, of course). I don’t learn my lessons. I don’t have any more studio time, though– it’s all video production at this point.

I really like audio/video production. Usually I’m not a very nitpicky person, but I just can’t get enough of the little annoying things that make such production work a time-consuming mess, especially in audio, but that’s just because I’m better at that side of the puzzle. While I can edit a video well enough to present, I’m not great. I have no formal training whatsoever, and I just know there are things I could do in Final Cut to make my stuff better.

One of the things I enjoy most about audio (and audio to video) is scoring. The simple addition of music can turn a piece completely around– and therein lies the problem. The rule is that music is supposed to support the mood, not drive it. If you listen to the bare version of a piece and compare it to a scored version and the two are radically different, there’s a problem. Often, however, this is done as a cover-up for bad writing.

Poynter has a good article in its “Ethics” section about this. They even offer several videos to illustrate the difference a simple scoring decision can make:

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See?

Another contributing factor to this issue is the problem of licensing. If your piece is going to be shown publically or gains significant popularity, you’re going to need ASCAP licensed music. And most people can’t afford that. Even some broadcast stations can’t afford that. Under Fair Use, you can get away with about 30 seconds of audio before the goonies from the record labels start coming after you. At that point, you’re in trouble. Shuffling though music 30 seconds at a time makes for pretty obnoxious video, though, and can run into this same mood-problem. Tricky stuff.

Of course, you can get by all of this by not using music (or writing your own), but that’s not as fun.

Speaking of music, here’s a little bit for all of you out there.

When I need to wake up after a late night, I used to blast the Fatboy Slim song in this first track, which is one of my favorites in recent memory.

Of course, either of the songs in this second track would get me up just as quickly.

I’ve never heard Marley and Eminem mashed together like they are in this final track.

PS– In eleven days, I’m going to be camping by myself at Camp Chick. That may or may not mean nothing to you.

Alt. Transportation 4

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Now this is a transportation post that my mother could support.

Apparently, back in Europe during WWII, gasoline was scarce. Duh. What I didn’t know, however, was how they made up for that fact. Internal combustion engines are wonderful in that they don’t much care what you put through them, just as long as they explode at the right time and don’t gum up the valves. The Europeans exploited this by using gasification generators (pictured) to run their cars on hydrogen-based syngas. The technology is carbon-neutral, time-tested, and still available today!

The chemistry is fairly simple. Woodchips (or sawdust, or peanut shells, or really any other organic compounds) are burned in an oxygen-deprived environment, which doesn’t allow the hydrogen gas to be bonded with oxygen, creating the usual H2O byproduct of combustion. The hydrogen gas is then routed to the cylinders through the car’s fuel delivery system, and voila! It runs. I should mention, however, that this wouldn’t work on a Diesel engine, since those use pressure-ignition, rather than spark.

Instructables has a wonderful rundown of how to install this in a car and make it run, with this accompanying video of the generator in action:

I believe the correct term to use here is “do want.”

Now, while this isn’t technically steam-powered, I can’t help but see this being used to create some wonderful steampunk vehicles.

What I really envision, however, is fitting one of these bad-boys onto the back of a Delorean. Flux-Capacitor or no, it would be badass. And carbon neutral, to boot.

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The future is cold. Air cold.

To the music!

Whether or not Britney has a future is another story, but she sounds good in this first track.

The “Futuresounds of London” apparently decided to immediately date themselves with their name, but they’re brought into the 21st century for this second track. Not my style, though.

“The Futureheads” probably didn’t sound as good before they were mashed with 50 Cent in tonight’s final track.

Not Alt. Media 2

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This is an even less alternative project than the last video I posted. This is the video I produced (with Kristen Thometz) for SPJ (the Society of Professional Journalists). They’re giving Fran Spielman, the City Hall reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times the Lisagor Journalism Award, which is essentially an award for lifetime achievement.

It was incredible making this video, as I got to shadow Fran for a day, as well as attend a press conference with the mayor, where I signed in on the media sheet, and was filming alongside the local TV stations. My camera, as much as I like it, felt very small next to those huge broadcast-bazookas.

I also got to interview the editor-in-chief of the Sun-Times for this, as you’ll see in the video. So now he knows my name, and hopefully will be impressed with the outcome of the project.

The coolest part of this, though, is that this video will be shown publicly at the awards ceremony on Friday, downtown. It’s going to follow a piece produced by ABC7 Chicago, and the audience will include real, important people from the Chicago mass-media community. This could open doors.

Anyway, here’s the final product. Since it’s so late, I’m not going to post any music today. Hopefully this will be interesting enough.

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Let me know what you think! I still have a day to make any last-minute changes.

To the Point… Illism

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I’ve always been a fan of Makita tools. My dad always used them when I was growing up, and still does today. I remember fondly the Christmas when he passed the old power drill on to me, complete with a leather tool belt and a set of pliers that I use to this day. It’s a wonderful tool.

I’ve never really thought of the company outside of its practicality, however. I like the trademark blue color, but as far as I’ve been concerned, Milwaukee tools still has the edge as far as cool logos go. Makita’s is nicely 60’s, but Milwaukee has an even more delightfully retro 20’s look to it.

Not content to sit in Milwaukee’s graphic-design shadow, Makita has recently created this incredible advertisement (via BoingBoing):

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To emphasize their drills’ incredible precision, they drilled over 20,000 holes in a wall, creating a pointillist rendition of one of their drills. Whether or not it’s an effective demonstration of the drills’ ability (they seem to be using some a Black & Decker or something in that third thumbnail), it’s a great idea. And a cool art installation, besides!

So, if you’re in the market for a drill, I’ll give you my old spiel from my hardware-store days: If you want “made in America” street cred and legendary quality, buy Milwaukee. If you want a tool that will last a lifetime, buy Makita. If you want to go a bit cheaper, buy a DeWalt. If you’re a hopeless cheapskate, Black & Decker is on isle 2.

As a short follow-up to last night’s post, I found a more detailed explanation of the gallery opening here. The author admits to sounding a bit like an advert, but I think he’s just as smitten with the bike as I am. Harley-Davidson also created a youth-oriented blog about their Dark Custom line, here. It’s a total marketing ploy, and there’s absolutely no journalistic integrity in anything that’s on the site, but that’s a given. Besides, it’s kind of neat.

To the music!

If men with accents speaking low makes you uncomfortable, avoid this first track.

If you’re not into Rick James either, then skip this second track, too.

But everyone loves MGMT, so make sure to listen to tonight’s final track.

Alt. Transportation 3

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My internet wasn’t working last night. It was a catastrophe. Not only could I not check my Facebook, but I couldn’t update this site. Luckily, I’m only operating on ResNet’s terms for another two weeks.

In my continuing infatuation with motorcycles, I’ve been looking at all different varieties. This isn’t as much for potential ownership as pure appreciation and curiosity. If I got one, it would probably be something dreadfully efficient and practical, if not beauteous, which is exacly the opposite of this motorcycle:

The motorcycle aside, I love the commercial. While the average age for a Harley buyer is somewhere north of 50, this commercial imagines a town entirely filled with beautiful 20-something hipsters with a penchant for retro/rat-rod culture. And, of course, Iron 883s. I can’t say I blame them– I’d love to live there! Though with a town economy apparently centered on mechanics and pool halls, I’d have to brush up on both skills considerably.

The marketing ploy seems to be working somewhat, though. As Motorcycle magazine points out:

Harley’s blacked-out and matte-finished “Dark Custom” line has proven to be attractive to younger buyers, appealing in both style and price. H-D sold 29,000 bikes to people under the age of 35 in 2008, and the Dark Custom line holds particular interest for the younger demographic. Sales of DCs were up 24% in ’08, aided by the addition of the bobber-like Cross Bones.

Like I said, it worked like a charm on me, too. If I had that kind of money, I’d probably blow it on this. Even if it’s huge, heavy, low-tech, and uncomfortable for someone as tall as I am. There’s just something about Harleys that is spellbinding. I read somewhere that almost everyone who starts out on a Harley never buys anything else, and I don’t doubt it.

I’m equally attracted to the retro look though, which Triumph has been working on, as well. From the fork gaiters to the slammed suspension to the black, powder-coated… everything, the bike is dripping with rat-rod style. But what does that say about the current situation with rat-rodding, as it is?

Have you had your fill of virtually everything under the sun being called “old school” (or old skool, oldschool and oldskool; take your pick)? I know I have. What was once a genuine urban turn of phrase suddenly finds its way into everyday language, and its trendy tone is spewed casually from grade schoolers to grannies. Thanks for nothing, mindless advertising agencies!

Now that you know how I feel about that, let me share a great piece of slogan: “An iron fist in a soft-bellied world…”

…The Iron 883 not only advances the Dark Custom line, it also reflects a trend toward bobbing in the bike culture that’s now moving into the mainstream. Makes us wonder if at that point it’s still rebellious?

Again, Motorcycle seems divided on the point. Still, the Iron 883 was released at a gallery that was featuring artwork by Shepard Fairey, among others. It seems perfectly appropriate– Fairey, like the style that this motorcycle represents, started out on the far side of alternative, and has now become (to some extent, at least) a part of mainstream culture.

Regardless, I still think they’re both ridiculously cool.

Speaking of retro, Dr. Dre is BACK in this first track.

According to this second track, so is disco.

Elvis Costello is kind of retro, right? Whatever. This final track sounds awesome either way.